Is it wise to kill an insect just because it is wandering around your apartment or just because it is bothering you?

I've seen people killing small insects just because it is wandering/jumping/hiding in apartments. I always wonder why people kill an insect if it is not harmful. They can just carefully take them away or show them some other path.

People kill insects for two reasons 1) they might bite them or 2) they might spread disease.

But an insect isn't aware of that. It doesn't know whether its presence will create the disease in the human race.

I googled "dangerous insects" and at the top I got web page titling "25 Most Dangerous Bugs In The World". Below is an excerpt from the article.

Termites: While they are not dangerous in the typical sense of the word as they play a critical role in the environment and even in some culture’s diets, they have the potential to cause major damage to crops and infrastructure.

Fine, they have the potential to damage our crops and infrastructure, but is it their fault? They are just trying to survive. Is it wise to kill an insect in such situations?

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    @AnilKumar you told exactly opposite. "Rajo/Rajas" Is responsible for fruitful actions. Police killing criminals as part of their duty to reduce their anti-social bothering activities is "Sattva/Satvik". Killing criminals for personal vendetta or just to get rid of them for own relaxation or genuine killing but to have more number of encounters as a trophy is "Rajas". Killing criminal without verifying whether is he really criminal or just for fun is "Tamas". Now apply the same concept to insects or anything.
    – iammilind
    Oct 24 '15 at 5:42
  • @iammilind yeah my sentence 'Police killing Criminals" gives rajo is wrong as it has 3 sub cases.
    – The Destroyer
    Oct 24 '15 at 5:57
  • Possible duplicate of How Sattva Guna Lord Vishnu killed Demons or evil people in his incarnations?. I have answered your question in detail with a more general case than an insect. Hope it will help.
    – iammilind
    Oct 28 '15 at 14:18
  • Yes, you can kill a mosquito if he is attacking you. Also you have right to clean your house, which means you will kill some ants, insects, and spiders in doing that. This is not forbidden. However you should not kill any living being, not even a plant or insect unnecessarily. To save ourselves from possible sin in cleaning house, killing of mosquitoes, etc, we should perform some yajnas (sacrifices), or devote ourselves to the Lord as advised in the Bhagavad gita, and then we are atoned from sins. Jul 12 '16 at 16:40
  • @brahmajijnasa actual a she attacks not a he. Because female mosquitoes need blood to produce eggs, whereas male mosquitoes dwell upon flower nectars like other insects.
    – user12826
    Dec 9 '17 at 15:10

Damaging crops and infrastructure eventually leads to damage to humans. Worry about the karma you are creating by not helping a human in need. The amount of karma from killing an insect, even thousands, is inconsequential compared to the karma for harming one human, much less killing one. As Swami Vivekananda has pointed out, we are surrounded by life, just the act of taking a breath of air kills thousands of bacteria. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to kill lice in his bedding.

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    Could you clarify what it means when you say the karma for killing an insect is less than harming a human? Practically speaking, it would be difficult or impossible to live without killing a single microbe. How much more karma is it to hurt a human than kill an insect? What did Ramakrishna Paramahansa say about that?
    – user3547
    Oct 24 '15 at 22:37
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    @user3547 He did not say specifically what the karmic differences are between killing a human and an insect. Two incidents are given in the book "Sri Ramakrishna - The Great Master" In one instance he tells a disciple who catches a cockroach in Ramakrishna's clothing drawer to take outside and kill it. In the other, Balaram, later Swami Premananda, never injures anything, even mosquitoes, even when bothering him during worship. He remembers he never saw Ramakrishna injure anything so he never asks him. One day, he decides to ask Ramakrishna. As he approaches Ramakrishna's room, he sees... Oct 26 '15 at 11:11
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    @user3547 ...Ramakrishna taking bugs out from his bedding and killing them. Ramakrishna says "There are many bugs breeding in the pillow. They bite me day and night, produce distraction of the mind and disturb sleep. I am therefore killing them." Balaram had been coming to Ramakrishna for 2-3 years, seen him day and night, and never saw him do this. Ramakrishna knew his question before he even arrived. Oct 26 '15 at 11:27
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    @user3547 - Swami Vivekananda had harsh words for those who valued animal life over human life. See Complete Works, V6, Conversations and Dialogues, I. - available here - cwsv.belurmath.org/volume_6/vol_6_frame.htm Oct 26 '15 at 11:27
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    It's human centric philosophy. Every creature is significant & if a human is not aspiring for the ultimate truth, his life is as valuable as an insect. Dec 16 '17 at 18:14

It is foolish to assume that one can get away with killing an insect(for whatever reasons it might be) or it(the act) does not create sins of any significant amount.

Manu Smriti(Chapter 3 slokas 68,69) says:

A householder has 5 slaughter houses viz the hearth,the grinding stone,the broom,the pestle ,mortar & the water vessel,by using which he is bound.And in order to expiate these sins the sages recommended the 5 sacrifices(Pancha yajnas) for the householders.

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The Parshara Smriti says:

What a sin a fisherman incurs in the course of one year is incurred by the ploughman with a iron plough within just one day.

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Even Kaurava mother Gandhari had supposedly killed ,in her previous birth,100 eggs of an insect.And that resulted in the death of her 100 sons in the Mahabharata battle.So,we can't assume that death of an insect to be an insignificant event in Almighty's eyes in any way.

But please note that i have generally tried to collect what scriptures say about the sins that we can incur by killing insects(even if you are performing swadharma) without touching another half in your question viz-killing insects that are "harmful".


If insect doing any harm to people then such kind of insect called 'tamas' & to kill such insect is not any kind of sin.

If you do some thing for a good reason, it’s not a sin, but if you do something for a bad reason, it is not accepted.

Most of the time, when we kill an animal, we do it because we are protecting ourselves from the potential attack of that animal later on. This is why in our house, when we see a spider, we catch it and let it go outdoors.

Sri Ramsukhdas Maharaj answers this in His Prashnottar Mani Mala. He says we should not harm them unless and until it is compulsory.

Srila Prabhupada answered to a similar question. If we kill any living being , we create a hurdle in completing the karma bhoga of that soul in that particular body and that soul has to take rebirth in that body to complete it. This results in delay in getting his human form plus our karma towards that soul.

  • "Most of the time, when we kill an animal, we do it because we are protecting ourselves from the potential attack of that animal later on. " - Do you mean insects? otherwise, the statement will not be true. Oct 17 '19 at 6:36
  • 'Sri Ramsukhdas Maharaj answers this in His Prashnottar Mani Mala' - can you quote his exact words? 'Srila Prabhupada answered to a similar question' - where did he answer this? In one of his talks or commentary on a verse? Oct 17 '19 at 22:30

Yes, you can kill a mosquito as it may eventually lead to damage of your body. This is what Sri Yuktewsar Giri says to disciple Paramahamsa Yoganada in the book Autobiography of a Yogi.

The instructive mosquitoes served for another early lesson at the ashram. It was the gentle hour of dusk. My guru was matchlessly interpreting the ancient texts. At his feet, I was in perfect peace. A rude mosquito entered the idyl and competed for my attention. As it dug a poisonous hypodermic needle into my thigh, I automatically raised an avenging hand. Reprieve from impending execution! An opportune memory came to me of one of Patanjali's yoga aphorisms-that on ahimsa (harmlessness).

"Why didn't you finish the job?"

"Master! Do you advocate taking life?"

"No; but the deathblow already had been struck in your mind."

"I don't understand."

"Patanjali's meaning was the removal of desire to kill." Sri Yukteswar had found my mental processes an open book. "This world is inconveniently arranged for a literal practice of ahimsa. Man may be compelled to exterminate harmful creatures. He is not under similar compulsion to feel anger or animosity. All forms of life have equal right to the air of maya. The saint who uncovers the secret of creation will be in harmony with its countless bewildering expressions. All men may approach that understanding who curb the inner passion for destruction."

"Guruji, should one offer himself a sacrifice rather than kill a wild beast?"

"No; man's body is precious. It has the highest evolutionary value because of unique brain and spinal centers. These enable the advanced devotee to fully grasp and express the loftiest aspects of divinity. No lower form is so equipped. It is true that one incurs the debt of a minor sin if he is forced to kill an animal or any living thing. But the Vedas teach that wanton loss of a human body is a serious transgression against the karmic law."

I sighed in relief; scriptural reinforcement of one's natural instincts is not always forthcoming.

  • @Atinesh This is not my explanation. Sri Yukteswara Giri explained this to his disciple Paramahamsa Yogananda. This is taken from Autobiography of Paramahamsa Yogananda. (Autobiography of a Yogi).
    – The Destroyer
    Jul 9 '16 at 7:29

Terminating the life of any living being willfully is certainly sinful. However there are exceptions to this rule. Pathogenic parasites (Bacteria, viruses) that bring in diseases, death or do harm to personal hygine can be killed without suffering any guilty conscience. Similarly any predator that attacks and brings threat to life can also be killed. Mosquitoes, bugs, leaches, cockroaches, rats, rodents, poisonous snakes and many such insects can be destroyed if they invade your residence as they also pose threats to your well being. However, we should earnestly strive to keep them out of your living area by taking proper precautions to avoid killing them. The Ahimsa Dharma says "Do not to harm anyone who do not harm you or intend to harm you". Any transgression on this rule is a sin. Accidental killing is not sinful so long as you regret the violence and seek repentance to God if you realize later that your action had caused the death or distress to some creature-human or animal or plant.

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    Can you please cite sources for the 'Ahimsa Dharma' ("Do not to harm anyone who do not harm you or intend to harm you") in your answer? Oct 27 '15 at 19:00
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    Bhagavad Gita, Vidhura Neethi and Bheeshma's Hitopadesa to Yudhishtira in Raja dharma are references Oct 29 '15 at 10:10
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    @SampathKumaran Then you should give quotes from those sources. Oct 29 '15 at 13:07

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