Himsa, aka: Hiṃsā; 7 Definition(s)


Himsa means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Buddhism, Pali, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Dharmashastra (religious law)

Hiṃsā (हिंसा) refers to “violence, hurting”. It is the opposite of non-violence, non-hurting (ahiṃsā). It is used throughout Dharmaśāstra literature such as the Manusmṛti and the Baudhāyana-dharmasūtra.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Dharma-śāstra
Dharmashastra book cover
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Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.


1a) Hiṃsā (हिंसा).—Born of Lobha and Nikṛti;1 wife of Kali, of bad mind.2

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IV. 8. 3.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 59. 9; Vāyu-purāṇa 84. 9.

1b) One of the five heinous sins—narrated to Indra by Bṛhaspati; it is a sin against men, women, animals, and creatures of all sorts. Exceptions are given. Any man of any caste or any animal attacking may be attacked and killed in self-defence; this applies to family members also; wild animals like lions and tigers may be killed by the King for the benefit of Gods and Brahmans, and not for self-enjoyment; Bhagavatī Māyā created men and Gods and 14 kinds of animals as also sacrifices and ordered the worship of Gods by sacrificing Paśu to get oneself blessed with health and wealth; Paśus may be killed for Gods, Pitṛs, and for feeding great and respectable persons; in times of danger no sin in the eating of flesh by Brahmans; animals could be sacrificed in honour of Śakti.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 6. 37-67.

1c) Gave birth to Nikṛti (daughter) and Anṛta (son) by Adharma.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 10. 39; Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 7. 32.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Hiṃsā (हिंसा) refers to “injury”, desisting from which is part of the fivefold vow (vrata) according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 7.1. What is meant by violence (hiṃsā)? Severance of vitalities (prāṇas) of self or others is violence.

According to the Tattvārthasūtra 7.13, what is meant by injury /violence (hiṃsā)? To severe the vitalities (prāṇas) of self or others out of passions is injury /violence. How many types of violence are there? Violence is of four types namely defensive (virodhī), in-profession (udyogī), life style (ārambhī) and intentional (saṃkalpī).

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 7: The Five Vows
General definition book cover
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

hiṃsā : (f.) teasing; injury; hurting.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

Marathi-English dictionary

hiṃsā (हिंसा).—f (S) Slaying, killing, depriving of life (wrongly). 2 Injuring or hurting. Distinguished by the Shastras into three modes; viz. mental (malice, malignant purpose), verbal (abuse, execration), personal (killing, striking).

--- OR ---

hiṃsā (हिंसा).—a (hiṃva) Cold;--as water or bodies.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

hiṃsā (हिंसा).—f Slaying, killing. Injuring. a Cold.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Hiṃsā (हिंसा).—[hiṃs-a]

1) Injury, mischief, wrong, harm, hurt (said to be of three kinds:-kāyika 'personal', vācika 'verbal' and mānasika 'mental'); अहिंसा परमो धर्मः (ahiṃsā paramo dharmaḥ).

2) Killing, slaying, destruction; गान्धर्वमादत्स्व यतः प्रयोक्तुर्न चारिहिंसा विजयश्च हस्ते (gāndharvamādatsva yataḥ prayokturna cārihiṃsā vijayaśca haste) R.5.57;3.313; Ms.1.63.

3) Robbery, plunder.

(Source): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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