Ahimsa (Sanskrit: Devanagari; अहिंसा; IAST ahiṃsā, Pāli: avihiṃsā) is a term meaning to do no harm (literally: the avoidance of violence – himsa). The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence.
It is an important tenet of the Indian religions (Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism). Ahimsa means kindness and non-violence towards all living things including non-human animals; it respects living beings as a unity, the belief that all living things are connected. Indian leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi strongly believed in this principle. Avoidance of verbal and physical violence is also a part of this principle, although ahimsa recognizes self-defense when necessary, as a sign of a strong spirit. It is closely connected with the notion that all kinds of violence entail negative karmic consequences.