What is the meaning of ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’?

An old story with the highest ideal of Hinduism is presented. A sage, seated beside the Ganges, notices a scorpion that has fallen into the water. He reaches down and rescues it, only to be stung. Some time later he looks down and sees the scorpion thrashing about in the water again. Once more he reaches down... show more An old story with the highest ideal of Hinduism is presented.

A sage, seated beside the Ganges, notices a scorpion that has fallen into the water. He reaches down and rescues it, only to be stung. Some time later he looks down and sees the scorpion thrashing about in the water again. Once more he reaches down to rescue it, and once more he is stung. A bystander, observing all this, exclaims, “Holy one, why do you keep doing that? Don’t you see that the wretched creature will only sting you in return?” “Of course,” the sage replied. “It is the dharma of a scorpion to sting. But it is the dharma of a human being to save.”

Compare this with ‘one can kill a cow if it tries to kill you’.
Update: What to do with the cow? If possible we can escape without killing the cow. Hypothetically if one can escape only by killing the cow, then what can one do? Killing the cow or getting killed by the cow? Ahimsa Paramo Dharma and cow is also sacred. Can the later be chosen ? I do not know the answer. Please... show more What to do with the cow? If possible we can escape without killing the cow. Hypothetically if one can escape only by killing the cow, then what can one do? Killing the cow or getting killed by the cow?

Ahimsa Paramo Dharma and cow is also sacred. Can the later be chosen ?

I do not know the answer. Please give your opinions.
Update 2: ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’ in Mahabharata: (i) Book 1, Chapter 11, Verse 12 ahimsa paramo dharmah sarvapranabhrtam smrtah tasmāt pranabhrtah sarvan na himsyad brahmanah kva cit (ii) Book 3, Chapter 198, Verse 69 ahimsa satyavacanam sarvabhutahitam param ahimsa paramo dharmah sa ca satye... show more ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’ in Mahabharata:

(i) Book 1, Chapter 11, Verse 12

ahimsa paramo dharmah sarvapranabhrtam smrtah
tasmāt pranabhrtah sarvan na himsyad brahmanah kva cit

(ii) Book 3, Chapter 198, Verse 69

ahimsa satyavacanam sarvabhutahitam param
ahimsa paramo dharmah sa ca satye pratisthitah
satye krtva pratistham tu pravartante pravrttayah

(iii) Book 13, Chapter 116, Verse 1

ahimsa paramo dharma ity uktam bahusas tvaya
sraddhesu ca bhavan aha pitrn amisa kanksinah

(iv) Book 13, Chapter 117, Verse 37 &38

37 ahimsa paramo dharmas tatha ahimsa paro damah
ahimsa paramam danam ahimsa paramas tapah
38 ahimsa paramo yajnas tatha ahisma param balam
ahimsa paramam mitram ahimsa paramam sukham
ahimsa paramam satyam ahimsa paramam srutam
Update 3: अहिंसा ahiMsaa f. Non-injury अहिंसा ahiMsaa f. Non-violence अहिंसा ahiMsaa f. Harmlessness अहिंसा ahiMsaa f. Not injuring anything. ‘Ahimsa’ means not to perform ‘himsa’ on the affordable. It is like anger. If someone is not showing anger to weak then that is virtue. Can anybody say “I am not getting... show more अहिंसा ahiMsaa f. Non-injury
अहिंसा ahiMsaa f. Non-violence
अहिंसा ahiMsaa f. Harmlessness
अहिंसा ahiMsaa f. Not injuring anything.

‘Ahimsa’ means not to perform ‘himsa’ on the affordable. It is like anger. If someone is not showing anger to weak then that is virtue. Can anybody say “I am not getting /showing anger against my boss or “I am not showing/getting anger against any muscle powered person”. This is not virtue because he can not get anger against the powerful.

In Mahabharata war, the combined strength was Eighteen Akshauhinis (5117580 men and 2361960 animals). Almost all died in the war except very few. The ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’ and ‘Ahimsa’ were mentioned many times in the epic Mahabharata. This may look like a paradox. War Dharma is not against Ahimsa. The fight is against equal in status, position, power, having ability to reason and mental strength.
Update 4: Arjuna was reluctant not because of ahimsa. Arjuna said ‘…. are here arrayed for battle ready to give up life and wealth, viz., preceptors, sires, sons and grandsires, maternal uncles, father-in-laws, grandsons, brother-in-laws, and kinsmen. I wish not to slay these though they slay me…… O Madhava can we be... show more Arjuna was reluctant not because of ahimsa. Arjuna said ‘…. are here arrayed for battle ready to give up life and wealth, viz., preceptors, sires, sons and grandsires, maternal uncles, father-in-laws, grandsons, brother-in-laws, and kinsmen. I wish not to slay these though they slay me…… O Madhava can we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?” (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter I).

Punishment or pardon of war prisoners is the prerogative power of the general. That is nothing to do with Himsa or Ahimsa. One has to foresee the consequences. That is leadership and foresight.

All scorpions use their stings as a defense mechanism. They are not on war on you. The scorpion stings by instinct. It’s his nature and thus Swadharma.
Update 5: Scorpions cannot discern when someone is trying to help or hurt them. Beyond instinct, people have the ability to reason and the capacity for compassion. People can ultimately choose their nature—that is, they can to choose to be good or bad. Like other species, we’re born with an instinct for survival and a... show more Scorpions cannot discern when someone is trying to help or hurt them.
Beyond instinct, people have the ability to reason and the capacity for compassion.
People can ultimately choose their nature—that is, they can to choose to be good or bad.

Like other species, we’re born with an instinct for survival and a disposition towards selfishness. Yet, blessed by a sense of compassion and the power to reason, we also have an instinct to think and act beyond our self-interest.

Human nature is complex. It’s as much in our nature to be kind, loving and generous as it is to be cruel, selfish and dishonest. We can nurture or ignore our nobler instincts.
Update 6: Some people act like scorpions. Trapped by negative instincts and response patterns, they think it’s their nature and hide behind the belief, "That’s the way I am." No one is born with good or bad character. We’re born with the capacity to have either, to choose our ultimate nature. When we choose to be... show more Some people act like scorpions. Trapped by negative instincts and response patterns, they think it’s their nature and hide behind the belief, "That’s the way I am."
No one is born with good or bad character. We’re born with the capacity to have either, to choose our ultimate nature. When we choose to be good, we are good.
( http://www.muhsd.k12.ca.us/1879107617192... )

Cow is against its Swadharma when trying to kill a human. The cow can be killed then.
Update 7: Chandogya Upanishad, 8 -xv-1: “……… atmani sarvendriyani sampratisthapyahimsan SARVABHUTANY ANYATRA TIRTHEBHYAH | sa khalv evam vartayan yavad ayusam brahmalokam abhisampadyate | na ca punar avartate na ca punar avartate ||” ‘……he who withdraws all his senses into the Atman, who practises NON-INJURY TO... show more Chandogya Upanishad, 8 -xv-1:

“……… atmani sarvendriyani sampratisthapyahimsan
SARVABHUTANY ANYATRA TIRTHEBHYAH |
sa khalv evam vartayan yavad ayusam brahmalokam abhisampadyate |
na ca punar avartate na ca punar avartate ||”

‘……he who withdraws all his senses into the Atman, who practises NON-INJURY TO ALL BEINGS except in places specially ordained, he who behaves thus throughout his life reaches the world of Brahman and does not return again – yea, he does not return again.’
Update 8: We can not speak truth always like Harichandra, but we require his life for an ideal example. We can not live like Lord Rama with One Word (Pithir Vakya paripalanam) (and with One Wife, Ekapatni vratan for few), but we require His life as an ideal example. We can not live as taught in Vedic way now, but we... show more We can not speak truth always like Harichandra, but we require his life for an ideal example.

We can not live like Lord Rama with One Word (Pithir Vakya paripalanam) (and with One Wife, Ekapatni vratan for few), but we require His life as an ideal example.

We can not live as taught in Vedic way now, but we require it for showing the ideal path of Sanatana Dharma.

But we can discord this ‘Ahimso Paramo Dharma’ because it is the one which is not practicable and saying that it is the one due that we had all short falls in Hinduism!

Then there is no point in answering questions here!

I have given my thoughts and you decide what ever way you think.
Update 9: I am a learner. I treat all answers are letters of gold. ‘No point in answering in YA’ is a frustration.It is due the non acceptance of ‘Ahimsa paramo Dharma’ even as an ideal asset (and thus not practicable for many!). There is proverb in Tamil on cow can be killed if it tries to kill you. This is very... show more I am a learner. I treat all answers are letters of gold.

‘No point in answering in YA’ is a frustration.It is due the non acceptance of ‘Ahimsa paramo Dharma’ even as an ideal asset (and thus not practicable for many!).

There is proverb in Tamil on cow can be killed if it tries to kill you. This is very familiar phrase in Tamil Nadu. This proverb is in a book published even in 1912. This proverb is based on the derivation from dharma Sastras Manu (8-348 to 350) and Sukraniti Neti (3-160). Here to save one’s life as defense, he can kill a Vedic Brahmin or even his Guru.
Update 10: So Killing of an attacking Cow is equal to killing ones own mother, even she tries to kill.
What about female infanticide by her young mother?
Update 11: Here the mother is not an ordinary mother but like a mother who is doing infanticide. The mothers here is not like Satyavati (Ganga) who was doing on Asatavasu’s request.
The question is not on a normal cow. It is on the hypothetical cow.
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