One of the first people to mention nonviolence in a broad social context was the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama, circa 563-483 B.C.E.). He spoke at length about nonviolence, but only some centuries later did the idea percolate into Indian civilization. Nonviolence is the English word used by Gandhi and others for Ahimsa, the Sanskrit antonym of himsa, which means ``hurt'' or ``harm.'' The idea of nonviolence is simple: not to hurt or harm. Nonviolence implicitly includes the ``golden rule'' which says that we should not treat others as we would not wish to be treated.
It is clear even from the word's etymology that a civilization that is not based on nonviolence will ipso facto generate violence--hence, pain, suffering, etc. This is why it is morally imperative that we collectively strive to reconstruct society along nonviolent principles. This chapter introduces the reader to the power and use of nonviolence, according to Gandhi and to the Bahá'ís.
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