I have your letter. A man who owns land which is haunted by wild beasts
will be able to excuse himself for shooting them. It would be classed
as inevitable Himsa. It will be justified on the ground of necessity,
but there is no doubt that, if one has a full perception of Ahimsa,
it would be well for him to let his land be overrun by wild beasts
or be himself killed by them. Ahimsa is not a mechanical matter, it
is personal to everyone. More¬over, possession of property against
the whole world is inconsistent with Ahimsa. A man who will follow
the principle of non-violence to its uttermost limit has nothing in
this world he can call his own. He must merge himself into the whole,
which includes snakes, scorpions, tigers, wolves, etc. There are instances
on record of innocent men whose innocence even wild beasts have recognized.
We must all strive to reach that Stage.
The same remark applies to your second question. It is Himsa to kill
the germs and the insects, but even as we commit Himsa by taking vegetable
food (for vegetables have life) but regard it as inevitable, so must
we treat the germ life. You will recognize that the doctrine of necessity
can be stretched so as to justify even man-eating.
A man who believes in Ahimsa carefully refrains from every act that
leads to injury. [My] argument only applies to those who believe in
Ahimsa. The necessity that I have in mind is a universal necessity,
hence it is not permissible to take Ahimsa beyond a limit. That is
why the Shastras of custom only permit Himsa in certain cases. It
is not only lawful but obligatory upon everyone to make the least
use possible of the permission and relaxation. It is unlawful to go
beyond the limitation.