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Is Ahimsa related to Hamsa (both the symbol and the name)? If so, does this lend credence to those who view Hamsa as being of non-Jewish (at best, or pagan, at worst) origin?

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Probably not. One is from Sanskrit and one from Arabic. – b a Jan 22 '13 at 2:41
Are you asking whether the object (hamsa_ is related to the practice (ahimsa), or whether the words are related (etymologically)? Could you clarify in your question, please? – msh210 Jan 22 '13 at 3:22
In a weird epilogue, Target was selling throw pillows with Hindu or Budist pictures on them (I guess one of their buyers thought that's cute?) and along with the pictures of their idols was also a hamsa. I guess someone somewhere thinks these things go together. – user6591 May 2 at 1:20


Ahimsa is from the Sanskrit for non-violence: Origin: Sans ahimsā, non-injury < a-, not + himsā, injury < IE *ĝheis-, to wound < base *ĝhei-, to hurl, projectile.

Hamsa is the Arabic for "five", and since the hand has five fingers (or four + a thumb, for the pedants), it is an obvious connection.

Now, the origin of the hamsa symbol is a whole other question which I have neither time nor space to answer here. Perhaps another time.

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You're telling me that the entire world uses the same numeral system and drinks tea because of medieval interactions between Indians and Arabs, but the use of two nearly identical symbols with nearly identical names and (remotely) similar meanings must be coincidence? – Seth J Jan 22 '13 at 12:55
Well, ahimsa is not a symbol - it is a theological/philosophical concept in Hinduism/Jainism/ Buddhism, with an established etymology as described above. Now, the concept of ahimsa is sometimes represented (mainly in Jainism) via a hand with the wheel of dharma in the middle. Visually, it is definitely similar to the hamsa, so I totally get where you're coming from. Unfortunately, I'm not enough of a scholar of Jainism to tell you when that symbol was adopted. Was it inspired by the hamsa? Possibly. Does it "come from" the hamsa? Most likely not. – Noam Sienna Jan 23 '13 at 4:17

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