One Being Should Not Hurt Another

The UN Convention Against Torture states that torture should be abolished because it violates “human dignity.” From your perspective, what … Continued

The UN Convention Against Torture states that torture should be abolished because it violates “human dignity.” From your perspective, what is wrong with torture? Should perpetrators be prosecuted? What does your faith tradition have to say about torture?

Ahimsa paramo dharma is an ancient Sanskrit formula meaning that ahimsa (nonviolence, wishing no harm) is highest dharma (ultimate law).

In the Hindu ethical code, ahimsa is a foremost virtue. It means that one should not hurt — mentally, physically, emotionally, morally, etc. — another being. Ahimsa doctrine is a unique contribution of Hinduism to ethics. It is sometimes thought of as a means of acquiring punya (merit). Moreover, ahimsa is one of the yamas (virtues/rules) a Hindu is supposed to practice. Panchatantra (around fifth century CE) says: “Ahimsa is the first moral law, from it all welfare grows. Therefore, protect even the mosquito, louse and the flea.”

Life is sacred and in Hinduism; every act/thought has consequences. Torture consists of harming or threatening to harm another living being merely for our selfish advantage. If we need to uphold our morality and ethics, then torture will be wrong, because all beings, being precious and unique expressions of nature, deserve our concern, respect, and nurturing. Without ethics and morality, we are reduced to brutes. Torture has been a weapon of the physically/materially strong and morally weak to enforce conformity when other resources have failed.

We need to discover underlying reality that unites us but cause of our major problems has been repeated highlighting of our differences. Hindu scriptures stress unity as basic law of life and thus pointing to a loving and compassionate approach to living beings. Underlying unity can resolve our differences. Hinduism will not condone torture.

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  • lewaml

    The accomplishment of ANY desired end – no matter how laudable – is NEVER justified when the means employed to accomplish that end are questionable at best. I am a christian and I am sickened to learn, according to a recent Pew Research Poll, that there are many American christians who apparently deem the use of torture appropriate in some instances. It is the torturer who loses his/her own soul and it is an indictment of any society that supports its use as an instrument of public policy. This president has got it exactly right: the use of torture has a corrosive effect on the soul of a nation. Democracy is frequently a messy and inconvenient enterprise. But Lincoln was exactly right, for all time and forever, when he said: ” Let us strive to learn that it is right that makes for might.” God help us all, if we succumb to the temptation to take some convenient “short cuts” in the search for the “evil doers” and attempts to bring them before the bar of justice. For in the doing, we will have become just like them! The moral high ground is the only viable position for us to take as a nation, seeing as how we have been crowing about our own exceptionalism for a very long time.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    End the torture of one hundred seventy million enslaved Dalit in India.First “World Conference on Untouchability” to be held in London, 9-10 June 2009