What is Your AQ?

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ) are two popular measures of an person’s usefulness as a functioning adult in a society. However, low EQ or IQ score may not indicate lack of compassion or intelligence respectively. Richard Feynman once famously quipped: “Winning a Nobel Prize is no big deal, but winning it with an IQ of 124 is really something.

IQ and EQ may be useful. But, what is your AQ?

I talked about the H.U.M.A.N. mode in the previous post and how Ahimsa is the ultimate work out that gets us into the H.U.M.A.N. mode.

Ahimsa is part of Kriya Yoga i.e. a set of action oriented practices that helps one to achieve higher levels of concentration. This ability to concentrate at will, on any object and for desired duration of time is useful in achieving discernment, which ultimately leads one to be free from the bondage of attachment (to pleasure), aversion (to pain) and fear (of death) that frequently characterise our interactions with the world.

Ahimsa is something that one can train to become better at. Some may be naturally inclined towards a lifestyle that exemplifies Ahimsa. Some come to such a lifestyle through critical reasoning and personal experiences. Some may practice it in a restricted way. Vyasa in his commentary of Yoga Sutras gives examples of these restrictions. For example, a fisherman may observe non-violence towards all other beings except fish. Some may not use foul language or assault others in the premises of a Church or temple. Some may not eat meat during specific days (typically religious injunctions). A warrior may observe non-violence to all except those designated as enemies in the battle field.

We all observe some of these restrictions. For example, most people love dogs and cats more than they love pigs, chickens and cows (as exemplified their eating habits). Racism and xenophobia are not exactly extinct (they may be restricted in public discourse). A friend of mine eats vegetarian on Tuesdays. Another friend of mine observes a month long religious fasting ritual during which period he does not eat meat, does not smoke, does not drink alcohol and does not use foul language. Other days, as they say, are business as usual.

Becoming aware of and dismantling these restrictions to make the observance of Ahimsa universal across beings, space, time and circumstances is what Ahimsa training is all about. The powers of concentration one acquires through Yoga helps one to become aware of the subtle and not so subtle restrictions we have come to adopt over the course of our lives. Other practices helps the Yogi to master one’s mind and the sense organs, so these restrictions are removed and our H.U.M.A.N. nature flows like a river without any obstacles.

Ahimsa Quotient (AQ) is a fun concept that measures where you are on the ladder. Knowing where you are helps you train better and smarter!


Here is a short quiz to check your Ahimsa Quotient. Answer the questions as truthfully as you can.


1. I eat vegan. On rare occasions, I may eat something that has dairy.

2. I do not eat meat, but I eat dairy products frequently.

3. I eat meat occasionally, perhaps once a week or on special, festive occasions.

4. I am a cave dwelling, paleolithic hunter-gatherer.


Q2: When you see a homeless person in tattered clothes, you

1. Feel pity and give him/her some small change.

2. Ignore him/her.

3. Feel grateful that you have a roof over your head, a job and god health.

4. Become annoyed and get angry at this sight and bemoan that your lovely town these days is being run over by homeless people.


Q3: Your colleague and team member gets promoted and gets a massive bonus. You

1. Feel happy and congratulate him/her.

2. Are upset that you did not get promoted, but congratulate him/her with a fake smile and wonder why you did not get the same when you are better than her.

3. Are livid that you did not get promoted, as you are better than him/her.

4. Secretly wish bad for your colleague.


Q4: A corrupt businessman you know donates a large sum to the local university towards building a library and gets the library named after him. You

1. Applaud the generosity of the businessman.

2. Deride the businessman for buying fame and goodwill with money.

3. Are upset at the university for accepting his donation.

4. Wish bad for the businessman.


Q5: Over the past week

1. I have been a saint in thought and deed!

2. I have generally been nice except for those couple of occasions when that guy in legal dept drove me mad.

3. I had to yell daily to get things done. I deal with idiots all the time.

4. I verbally assaulted that annoying counter clerk. And yes, I punched this other guy. He was asking for it.



1. I do not buy animal products. My shoes are vegan!

2. I do not like leather clothing or bags. I prefer leather shoes though.

3. I have an impressive collection of bags and shoes handcrafted from finest leather.

5. I am old school. Nothing beats the leather upholstery.



1. I do not smoke. That is the worst deal ever. I would rather burn cash than smoke.

2. I take a puff or two once in a while, usually in a big party.

3. I smoke occasionally.

4. I smoke everyday to de-stress from my job.


Q8: You are walking down a busy shopping street. There are people lined up by the side of the street, smoking. The smoke destroys the other wise beautiful summer evening covered with a clear blue sky. You

1. Cover your nostrils and feel pity for the smokers as they are destroying their health sincerely, while paying good money for that.

2. Are used to the smoke, so you wave it away and carry on with your window shopping.

3. Are angry that these idiots do not get it and that they are destroying the air for others.

4. Wish hell upon them (or at least lung cancer as a lesson).


Calculate your Ahimsa Quotient using this simple formula:

AQ = 100 – number of 2’s in your answers x 1 – number of 3’s in your answers x 3 – number of 4’s in your answers x 5

The lowest score is 60 (which is in keeping with the Yoga Philosophy’s notions that some amount of injury to others in unavoidable). The highest is 100 (gives motivation to score a 100!).

AQ is not a snapshot. It is more like an income statement than a balance sheet. It is not a fitness test. AQ is measured over a period of time.

As you can see, A high AQ indicates how you take care of yourself (e.g. eating) and how you interact with others.

Remember, you can train to get a high AQ. So get your Ahimsa trainers on and get going!


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