What does ‘Ahimsa’ mean?
While you know me, Linda Voorhis, as Veganification, the name of my company I formed which is the umbrella for all that I do is called “Ahimsa Wellness, LLC”. It is on all of my documents; so I am frequently asked, “What does ‘Ahimsa’ mean?”
I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you what Ahimsa means and what it means to me. The classic symbol of Ahimsa is the palm of the hand with the Sanskrit word in a circle at the center of the palm.
A Bit of History of Ahimsa
There is much written regarding the origins and evolution of the practice of Ahimsa. In modern twentieth century, Ahimsa was first notably practiced by Mahatma Gandhi during his civil disobedience. The movement began on March 12, 1930, as a non-violent march to the shores protesting the British hold on salt. Gandhi, himself, preferred to use the term ‘satyagraha’, which translated means ‘devotion to truth’. Satyagraha has come to be synonymous with his mass civil disobedience movement.
Although continually faced with violent acts from the British, Gandhi and his followers refused to succumb by responding similarly. They held steadfast to the practice of Ahimsa.
In August, 1947, India was declared an independent country, although Gandhi never really got see the manifestation of his efforts as he was assassinated only six months later.
Our other modern-day non-violent protestor, Martin Luther King, Jr., was also assassinated for his efforts. He, too, sadly never really got to see the results of the Civil Rights Movement. His son, Dexter, continues to carry out the work his father started. He avidly proclaims his dedication to Ahimsa and how living a vegan lifestyle is an extension of that peaceful practice.
Inspiration to Go Vegan
It was Freya Dinshah, Director of the American Vegan Society, who inspired me to transition to a vegan lifestyle. That’s a whole other story for a different day; but if you aren’t familiar with the, I’d like to suggest that you check out their website and become a member.
For me, the American Vegan Society describes it best as “Dynamic Harmlessness for daily life”:
A – Abstinence from Animal Products
H – Harmlessness with Reverence for Life
I – Integrity of Thought, Word, and Deed
M – Mastery Over Oneself
S – Service to Humanity, Nature, and Creation
A – Advancement of Understanding and Truth
Thanks to Freya, the practice of Ahimsa has been at the forefront in my personal blueprint for living. I truly believe that if we want to live in a peaceful world: it must start within each of us. The best way to do this is to live a vegan lifestyle, as it truly embodies all that Ahima means…..
If you need help with transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, there are many avenues of support—such as:
- a vegan lifestyle coach and educator (I am a —you can find someone in your area by clicking on the link)
- there are a plethora of Facebook pages supporting a vegan lifestyle. Just enter ‘vegan’ into your search bar, and you will pleasantly surprised at how many options exist (, , , , , are some of my favorites). So give it a whirl, there are vegan groups that are even specific to locales. I’m sure there’s one in your area.
- Join your local Vegan group. When I moved from North Jersey to South Jersey back in 2006, I didn’t know anyone. I joined the local Vegetarian Society, the , and immediately connected. Even though I now live in Arizona, some of my closest friends I met through that group.
- Check out Meetup for a local group. If there isn’t one, consider starting one. I did that that in the Sedona area back in 2013 – . I was not yet a permanent resident; however, I visited at least once every two-three months. So every time I planned a visit, I scheduled a meetup event. When I finally became a permanent resident back in 2015, I already had an established community of vegan friends.
- There are VegFests happening everywhere throughout the year. Google it and attend one. A wonderful exposure to vegan speakers and food, not to mention the array of people you gain an opportunity to connect with.
- Volunteer at any of the local veg events in your area. To use one of the mottos from the 12-Step arena, “Go Early and Stay Late”.
So if you haven’t done so already, please GO VEGAN today.