A new feature-length documentary aims to restore the meaning of ahimsa – respect and non-violence towards all living beings – across India.
The Land of Ahimsa, which will launch on the Plant Based News (PBN) YouTube channel on November 17, looks closely at the meaning of the word. Ahimsa dates back roughly 4,000 years, and is inspired by the notion that all living beings share a spiritual energy. And therefore, to harm another is to harm oneself.
Ahimsa is a central part of the Dhārmic religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. But India has become disconnected from its meaning, according to vegan activist and filmmaker Dolly Vyas-Ahuja. Instead, the South Asian country has seen a rise in the mistreatment of and violence towards animals. This is especially true of those in the food system.
“Once I found out about the cruelty of dairy and animal agriculture, I started to see the world through their lens. Their baby being taken away was my baby, their milk being stolen was my milk being stolen, their anxiety, fear and pain became a part of me,” says Dolly Vyas-Ahuja, granddaughter of freedom fighter Chhaganlal Joshi. “I had to take action and share my truth with the rest of India.”
‘A call to action’
Teaming up with director Aryeman Ramsay, son of the late Bollywood film producer Keshu Ramsay, The Land of Ahimsa sees Dolly Vyas-Ahuja journeying across India and the US. There, she speaks to physicians, environmentalists, philanthropists, and experts in nutrition, spirituality, and advocacy about the importance of ahimsa and its role in modern-day India.
The country’s growing health crisis, for example (India is known as the diabetes capital of the world), has strong ties to the population’s rising consumption of dairy, meat, and other animal products. Dr. Neal Barnard, who appears in the film, states that more and more vegetarians are suffering from diabetes due to increased consumption of dairy and oils. Meanwhile, the planet as a whole is seeing the effects of climate breakdown, largely driven by unsustainable animal farming practices.
The Land of Ahimsa is a call to action. It is a demonstration of how reconnecting India with the meaning of ahimsa (along with veganism) can bring us closer to a non-violent world and ease the suffering of all living beings.
In a joint statement, PBN co-founders Klaus Mitchell and Robbie Lockie said: “It’s an honor to be hosting The Land of Ahimsa on the Plant Based News YouTube channel. This documentary dives deep into some hard-hitting topics that are so often overlooked, and could not have come at a more important time.
“Digital media is a gift and can help connect audiences to these issues, spark dialogue, and instill change in a world that needs it more than ever.”
The Land of Ahimsa cast
The documentary features author and Advaita teacher Acharya Prashant, politician Maneka Gandhi, Philip Wollen (former vice president of Citibank), Keegan Kuhn (Cowspiracy, What the Health), Dr. Neal Barnard (Founder of the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine), Jane Velez-Mitchell (founder of UnChainedTV), authors Dr. Rupa Shah and Dr. Will Tuttle, Abhishek Sinha (founder of plant-based meat brand GoodDot), radiologist Dr. Munish Chawla, physician Dr. Bandana Chawla, Darshana Muzumdar (founder of Ahimsa Land Foundation), Dr. Nandita Shah (founder of SHARAN), optometrist Dr. Deepak Kotecha, mountaineer Kuntal Joisher (thought to be the first vegan to climb Mount Everest), Arvind Animal Activist, Dr. Sulekh Jain (founder of the Jain Academic Foundation of North America), and many more.
The Land of Ahimsa is produced by Dolly Vyas-Ahuja and Mayur Ahuja. It is executive produced by Dr. Sailesh Rao (Cowspiracy, What the Health) and actor Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones, Ripper Street).
The Land of Ahimsa will be available to watch for free on the Plant Based News YouTube channel. It will be released on November 17, 2022. Those interested can watch or set a reminder for the film’s premiere by clicking here.