Nonviolence can have many meanings. Sometimes it means merely avoiding, or intending to avoid, causing physical injury to anyone. When nonviolence is motivated or justified by religious commitment, it usually means refraining from violence on principle rather than merely for practical reasons, intending to avoid harm of any kind to anyone, and wanting the best for everyone. However, there can be no single definition, because every religious community or tradition defines and deals with nonviolence in its own distinctive way. Sometimes there are differing views about nonviolence within the same religious tradition.

This entry demonstrates the complicated relations between religion and nonviolence by focusing on three traditions in which nonviolence has played an especially important role: Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. It also briefly explores the relation ...

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