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ahi (non–violence)

the foremost hallmark of jainism


What Is Wrong With Hiṁsā?

If we keep our eyes open and look around us, we cannot help noticing the huge incidence of violence that pervades the world in its most hideous and nefarious manifestation.

We must be shocked out of our reverie at the fact that 99.99 percent of this violence is man–made. The humankind has gone berserk. The world is beset with the killer instinct of the humans sharpened, many–fold, by the newer and newer means of destruction at its command. Be it the wars that rage amongst nations for political and economic reasons or the killing of the members of another creed in the name of religion or those of another race in the name of racial superiority or those of lesser species like the animals, birds and fishes for food or fun or the wanton destruction of the flora and fauna of any region in the name of progress or an unconcerned fouling of the environment, it is all violence in its most devastating forms. But are we so shocked? Each one of us must ask this question to oneself.

The humankind is drunk with the power bestowed upon it by its superior intellectual capacity as compared to other species that inhabit the planet Earth. The (so called) scientific and technological progress gives it the power of mass destruction, at times annihilating the complete species of living–beings. Many3

ahim[sĀ (non–violence)

the foremost hallmark of jainism

What Is Wrong With Hiṁsā?

If we keep our eyes open and look around us, we cannot help noticing the huge incidence of violence that pervades the world in its most hideous and nefarious manifestation.

We must be shocked out of our reverie at the fact that 99.99 percent of this violence is man–made. The humankind has gone berserk. The world is beset with the killer instinct of the humans sharpened, many–fold, by the newer and newer means of destruction at its command. Be it the wars that rage amongst nations for political and economic reasons or the killing of the members of another creed in the name of religion or those of another race in the name of racial superiority or those of lesser species like the animals, birds and fishes for food or fun or the wanton destruction of the flora and fauna of any region in the name of progress or an unconcerned fouling of the environment, it is all violence in its most devastating forms. But are we so shocked? Each one of us must ask this question to oneself.

The humankind is drunk with the power bestowed upon it by its superior intellectual capacity as compared to other species that inhabit the planet Earth. The (so called) scientific and technological progress gives it the power of mass destruction, at times annihilating the complete species of living–beings. Many a species is already extinct and many more are at the verge of extinction. Are many of us moved by this grim reality? The present indicators force us to infer that the answer to this vital question is in the negative. This leads me to another vital question – “Whither are we headed?” Not to the dark doom of the world of concrete and steel – totally bereft of vegetation and other lesser species of living–beings, I hope. If we go at the present rate, that day may not be in too distant a future. And if that happens, how long thereafter the human race, too, will last? ‘Not much longer’ should be the voice of reason.

What can save the Earth, its flora and fauna, its life–sustaining environment and the human race itself is a realisation of the harmful effects of unnecessary violence and disciplining ourselves so that the human race may continue to live in harmony with other living–beings of the Earth. The answer lies in the concept of Ahiṁsā or non–violence preached in greater or lesser measure by the seers down the ages – the seers or Prophets that brought various faiths and creeds into being.

The Jaina concept of Ahiṁsā excels both in form and content as it touches upon the finer facets of non–violence hither to unnoticed by many others. The omniscient Jaina prophets – Tīrthaṅkaras – saw the ultimate in violence and the means to overcome it not only at the physical level but at the thought level as well. They spelled the norms for the survival of the members of not only the human race but that of all other species of living–beings down to the microscopically minute life–forms such as the fine creatures of vegetable origin as well. They presented vividly detailed models to show that the survival of any one species depends on the support and co–operation extended to it by the creatures of other species. In other words they preached non–violence so that the perpetuation of the natural life–cycle can be ensured and no species becomes extinct. They emphasised that harming or extinction of one species jeopardises the survivalof other species also. In their deeply realised wisdom, they gave us the ‘declaration of dependence’ and the mantra of ‘interdependence of species’ by saying that all living–beings live with each–others’ support (Parasparopagraho jīvānām).

The Life–cycle –

What we and the animals, birds and fishes eat comes from the world of vegetation; what we excrete becomes food for the plants; we inhale the vital Oxygen released by the plants and they convert the Carbon–di–Oxide exhaled by us as food by the process of photosynthesis; the micro–organism survives on and converts the waste into manure that serves the food needs of the plant–life and the plants, in turn, provide food for higher life forms. The nature has its own checks and balances to keep everything to the required levels. The deer eats grass, the predators eat deer, the predators die and their bodies become the food for insects and carrion birds, and so the life cycle goes on balancing itself and providing for everyone’s needs. It is only the human interference, driven by the race’s greed rather than its need that the natural balance is disturbed. It is the human greed that results in mass deforestations, large–scale movements of species from their natural habitats to inhospitable circumstances and consequent destruction and extinction. The deforestation results in lesser rain–falls, global warming and famines and avoidable all–round misery. The human greed wipes out entire species and puts the survival of the others in gross jeopardy. The industrial progress, sans environmental concerns, has resulted in drilling holes in the Ozone layer, massive industrial and town effluents have polluted both, the ground and ground–water and effluent gases have not only resulted in global warming but have made breathing difficult for the living–beings.

Who is responsible for all this dismal picture that stares us in the face and who can take us out of this morass? The answer is as clear as the lines on our palms; it is that the thoughtless and unconcerned gross violence that is responsible for all this misery and that only the pursuit of non–violence can save us.

This chapter endeavours to examine, at some length, the issues relating to Ahiṁsā (Non–violence) as juxtaposed to Hiṁsā (Violence).

The Universal Character of Non–violence –

Non–violence supports not only the human lives but also those of all other creatures – big and small – of the universe. It is not possible to think of life without the support of non–violence. Also, no progress is possible in an atmosphere of violence and, therefore, non–violence is an essential ingredient of progress, material as well as spiritual. It is the pursuit of non–violence that results in noble human qualities like love, mercy, compassion, sympathy and morality. All the religions, societies and cultures of the world – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism Jainism, etc – have accepted the concept of non–violence in greater or lesser measure in accordance with the development of human values in their respective societies and cultures. The concept of non–violence emanated from a consideration for one’s own kith and kin and gradually extended to the entire societies, cultures, humanity and to all the living creatures of the universe. It is, therefore, not surprising that all major religious philosophies of the world have preached non–violence in one–way or the other. The Jaina Prophets propounded it as the central theme of their creed around which their entire religious philosophy and ethics were woven.

While the Vedic seers saw it as a means of co–existence and mutual protection and universal friendship, the authors of the Upaniṣadas looked at it as a means of spiritual emancipation and accorded it the same importance as to austerity, charity, simplicity and truth. Manusmṛti, the foremost book of Hindu law, prescribedNon–violence, truth, non–stealing, piety and sensory restraint as the complete religion for the members of the four social classes of Brāhmins (the wise), Kṣatriyas (the warriors), Vaiśya (the tradesmen and the traders) and Śūdras (the menials). Mahābhārata, the most famous and important epic tale of victory of the good over the evil, says that ‘Non–violence is the complete creed and violence the ultimate sin’.

Buddhism, yet another major religion of the Indian subcontinent, says that one who kills the living cannot be noble; the noble practice non–violence towards all the living. Depicting non–violence as spiritually liberating, it says that those non–violent ones who practise bodily restraints undoubtedly liberate. Lord Buddha is quoted as having said that he considered only those noble ones as Brahmins who never troubled the stationary or moving classes of creatures.

Guru Nānak, the first spiritual master of Sikhism, said that if a piece of cloth is soiled by blood–stains, how could the inner selves of those who drink blood be pure and pious?

Thou shalt not kill’ is the most important of Ten Commandments of the Old Testament realised by the Moses. On the positive side it preaches love, service and charity.

Jesus Christ not only accepted the Ten Commandments but went a step ahead and said, “Killing apart, you must not hurt the others. If someone slaps your one cheek, offer the other one to him. Love not only your friends but also your enemies.” It is plain that He emphasised non–violence even more than it was done in the Zoroastrianism.

Islam also advocates non–violence. “One who kills others without reason is liable to death–sentence as per law”, it says. To overload and to underfeed the animals is prohibited there. There, Allah (the supreme self) has been described as generous and merciful (Rahamān–ur–Rahīm).

Thus we see that non–violence has been universally accepted as a noble virtue and all religious philosophies of the world have emphasised it.

Non–Violence (Ahiṁsā) –

As mentioned earlier, non–violence is the only saviour of life and, hence, it ought to be the most important tenet and hallmark of any rational creed. Jainism has given it that distinction. In the following sections of this chapter I have examined various facets of violence and as to how they can be avoided for enjoying a wholesome life. Not limiting the discussion only to the negating of violence by prohibitive means, I have also dwelled, at length, on to the positive and creative side of non–violence.

Although non–violence is an essential ingredient of almost all the religions of the world; the meanings ascribed to it differ widely in accordance with the development of humane qualities like social consciousness, human discretion and sensitivity. The more socially conscious, discreet and sensitive a society became the more emphasis it laid on the observance of non–violence. Likewise, the scope of non–violence also enlarged from that towards the kith and kin to towards the members of one’s own culture and creed to the entirety of the living universe. It will be worth our while to have a bird’s eye view of the meanings ascribed to non–violence in various religious traditions.

The concept of non–violence preached by the Zoroastrians, Christianity and Islam remained limited to the kith and kin or, at best to the members of their own creed or the human race. Though the Christianity preached universal love and tolerance, the Crusades of the days of yore told a different story of hatred and intolerance. Though, in Islam the Allah has been depicted as the epitome of generosity and compassion, in practice the followers of Islam have not been seen to be sensitive enough to thesensibilities of the members of other creeds whom they referred to as heretics and pursued holy wars against them.

On the Indian peninsular soil also, in the human societies before the Vedic period, the scope of non–violence was limited to the members of the human race. Although the Vedic seers emphasised the noble values like universal friendship and mutual protection and also preached the noble precepts of not killing any living being, in practice it did not flinch at praying for the annihilation of those inimical to their interests and prescribing animal–sacrifice as a religious ritual. They even went to the extent of saying that any violence to perform rituals prescribed in the Vedas was no violence.

The Śramanic traditions – Buddhism and Jainism amongst others – took the concept of non–violence to newer heights and opposed the religious violence on the ground that if shedding blood of innocent animals on the altar of the ritual sacrifice was not violence and did not yield hellish rebirths for the perpetrators of such violence, then what did? This resulted in more sublime form of Hinduism that shunned such gross violence and replaced the ritual sacrifices with pursuit of knowledge and devotion to the deity rather than offering animal sacrificial offerings. The Hindu ascetics – Sanyāsins also shunned flesh foods and subsisted on bulbs, roots and fruits abundantly found in the forests.

The Jaina thought gave the fullest possible expression to the meaning of non–violence and included not only the visible, gross and moving living beings in its ambit but also the immovable static living beings of the vegetable and other origins such as earth, water, air and fire bodied living beings. It did not stop at saying that non–violence was not confined only to not killing any creature but also to not hurting or compromising any of it ten kinds of vitality (described later in this chapter). It said that non–violence must be practised at nine levels – 1–3. Not indulging in any violent activity bodily, vocally or mentally; 4–6. Not asking anybody else to indulge in any violent activity bodily, vocally or mentally; 7–9. Not approving of anybody’s indulgence in any violent activity bodily, vocally or mentally. It is only a sad corollary to this noble and rigorous prescription of non–violence by the Jaina Prophets that even there the violence (towards fine creatures of the one sensed static living beings) practised in the construction of temples and prayer–halls, idol–worshipping, pilgrimage, etc has been condoned, thus taking the edge off from their criticism of the violence in performing the rituals by the Hindus and the followers of the other faiths.

The Basis Of Non–violence –

Various philosophers have advanced various grounds that promoted non–violence. Some said that the fear of counter violence prompted the weaker sections of humanity to follow the path of reconciliation and consequent non–violence. However, there are not many that subscribe to this misplaced view–point. If this were so, one would be non–violent only towards the strong and not towards the weak. The concept of non–violence towards the weakest of the weak is the non–violence of the strong and brave and not that of the weak and the cowardly. Others – liberal Hinduism and Lords Buddha and Mahāvīra – advanced more logical explanations. The Jaina thought placed the concept of non–violence on a sound psychological footings. “All living–beings love life, none wishes to die or suffer”, it says. “Therefore, we must not kill or torment the others as we would not like to be killed or tormented ourselves”, it proceeds to round the argument. According to this thought, this psychological truth and not fear or any such negative instinct is the basis of non–violence. Buddhism preached equality of life in all forms and so, no one might kill anyone. The Gītā also says that one ought to treat the others as one’s equals and treat them with kindness and compassion. This shows that the real bases of non–violence arethe concepts of equality of life–forms, consequent respect for life, and the feeling of oneness towards the other creatures.

The Jaina Concept of Non–violence –

In the Jaina tradition, the concept of non–violence has clearly been interpreted in two ways – the proscriptive and the prescriptive. The very term ‘Ahiṁsā (non–violence)’ is proscriptive as it preached negating of violence while the prescriptive form of non–violence prescribes the noble activities like help, service, charity, compassion, etc.

From negating of violence point of view, the very term ‘non–violence’ suggests that it is avoidance of violence towards all living beings. It will, therefore, be pertinent to examine what is violence. We shall examine this issue at three levels – 1. What can be termed as violence? 2. What are its manifestations? 3. Who are the victims of violence?

What Is Violence?

From a gross or perceptible point of view violence is to kill, injure or hurt any noticeable living being either knowingly or unknowingly. From a finer point of view, however, the term violence has different connotations. Generally, it means to kill, slay or hurt any living being through violent acts, injury, harm, deprivation, mutilation, disfigurement and causing pain and suffering to others. Again, violence or hiṁsā can be either physical (Dravya Hiṁsā) or at the thought or intention level (Bhāva Hiṁsā). According to the Tattvārtha–sūtra of Vācaka Umāsvāti it means impairing or even hurting any one of the ten vitalities (Prāṇa) of even the most minute microscopic creatures of the finest Nigoda variety and includes such fine creatures of the vegetable kingdom that are seen, with difficulty, even under very powerful microscopes. The concept of violence is so firmly associated with the vitalities of the living beings that in the Jaina parlance violence is known as injury to vitality Prāṇatipāta).

The ten vitalities are –

1. Vitality of the sense of touch (Sparśa–prāṇa),

2. Vitality of the sense of taste (Rasa–Prāṇa),

3. Vitality of the sense of smell (Ghrāṇa–prāṇa),

4. Vitality of the sense of sight (Cakeṣu–prāṇa),

5. Vitality of the sense of hearing (Śbade–prāṇa),

6. Respiration vitality (Śvāsocchavāsa prāṇa),

7. Longevity (Āyu prāṇa),

8. Physical prowess (Bala prāṇa),

9. Verbal vitality (Vacana prāṇa) and

10. Mind–power (Manaḥ prāṇa).

Killing a creature terminates all it’s vitalities while an injury or hurt may impair one or more of its vitalities either temporarily or permanently. Also, it must be understood that all creatures are not endowed with all the vitalities. While the finest creatures, the Unisensory or one–sensed (Ekendriya) ones like earth, fire, air, water and vegetation bodies have only four vitalities of touch, respiration, longevity and physical prowess, the rational pentasensory or intelligent five–sensed beings such as intelligent animals and human beings have all the ten vitalities.

Coming back to the question of violence, to cause even such a minor hurt as to render even one vitality, of even the finest unisensory being, incapacitated is violence because, even the most minute creature – the unisensory Nigoda or plant life – is endowed with consciousness (Cetanā), the power to feel pleasure and pain, wishes to experience all its vitalities and derive the pleasure due to it thereby. Hurting, injuring or impairing any vitality of any such being causes pain to it and is, therefore, violence. It can be deduced that the living beings of the higher categories are more so and that they can feel the effects of violence more vividly.

Having defined violence, we can now venture to define non–violence as ‘Not causing hurt, injury or impairment to any one of the ten types of vitality of any living being either intentionally or unintentionally’. This, of course, is the ideal situation or absolute non–violence. In practice, however, it may not be possible to practise such absolute non–violence. We, therefore, have to draw a distinction between absolute non–violence (Niścaya Ahiṁsā) and practical non–violence (Vyavahāra Ahiṁsā). Practically, we ought not to cause hurt, injury or impairment to any vitality of any creature by any of our intentional and deliberate action or through negligence. As long as we are alive in the mundane existence, we constantly interact with our environment, which comprises both the gross as well as fine animate beings and inanimate objects. This interaction constantly results in violent hurt, injury or impairment of one or the other vitality of mostly fine and invisible creatures but at times those of the gross and visible ones as well. The first type of violence is, generally, unavoidable and cannot be helped and will be caused in spite of our acting with utmost vigilance and will always be unintentional. We, possibly, cannot live without it. However, the violence of the second type – to gross and visible creatures – is generally caused either through intentional and deliberate action or through negligence. Both are sinful and avoidable. Out of these two, again, the intentional and deliberate violence is the most deplorable, abhorrent and disgusting and in the interest of peace, harmony and greater good of all, it is to be avoided at all cost. The violence caused by negligent or reckless action (Pramattā-caraṇa) is though not that abhorrent, can be avoided by vigilance (Apramāda) and ought to be so avoided by all those who are right–minded and wish to promote good life for themselves as well as the others. This can only be achieved by

((“Kahaṁ care kahaṁ ciṭṭhe, kahamāse kahaṁ sae ™

Kahaṁ bhuñjanto bhāsanto, pāva–kammaṁ ṇa bandhai? ™™”

Daśavaikālika, 4.7.))

firstly, having non–violent intentions and, secondly, by acting with utmost vigilance.

Lord Mahāvīra, when asked by His principal disciple – Gaṇadhara Gautama – as to how one ought to act, stand, sit, lie down, eat and speak so as not to incur sin, replied that one, who acts, stands, sits, lies down, eats and speaks carefully (vigilantly), does not incur sin. So much so for vigilance as a tool of non–violence.

Pramāda or recklessness or negligence being the sole and potent cause of avoidable violence, a little deliberation on it will not be out of place here. Pramāda is caused by one or more of the following fifteen causes : –

The activities are of three types – those of the mind, body2Jayaṁ care jayaṁ ciṭṭhe, jayamāse jayaṁ sae ™

Jayaṁ bhuñjanto bhāsanto, pāva–kammaṁ ṇa bandhai ™™”

Daśavaikālika, 4.8.

3 First steps to Jainism, p. 84.

1. Intoxication (Mada),

2. Sleepiness (Nidrā),

3. Anger (Krodha),

4. Pride (Māna),

5. Guile or deceit (Māyā),

6. Greed (Lobha),

7. Misuse of the sense of touch (Sparśanendriya),

8. Misuse of the sense of taste (Rasanendriya),

9. Misuse of the sense of sight (Cakṣurendriya),

10. Misuse of the sense of smell (Ghrāṇendriya),

11. Misuse of the sense of hearing ( Karṇendriya ),

12. Gossip about food (Bhakta kathā),

13. Amorous talk/thoughts (Kāma kathā),

14. Talking about the matters of the state (Rāja kathā), and

15. Thinking or talking about the matters of administration (Deśa kathā).and speech and consequently, one ought to be vigilant about what one thinks what one does and what one speaks if one has to avoid violence.

We can conclude this discussion on practical non–violence by saying that one, who acts (mentally, bodily and verbally i.e. by thought action and words) without recklessness (vigilantly), without any ill–will towards anybody and without any intention to cause hurt, injury or impairment to any vitality of any living–being practises practical non–violence (Vyavahāra ahiṁsā). In other words practical non–violence includes not thinking ill, not acting ill and not speaking ill.

From this deliberation emerge two constituents of violence– negligence and injury to vitality. These two give rise to the following four combinations: –

1. Absence of negligence as well as injury,

2. Injury in spite of utmost vigilance,

3. Negligence not resulting in any injury, and

4. Negligence resulting in injury.

It can be appreciated that the first combination is the ideal combination and is perfectly non–violent. The second combination is practically non–violent as one can only be vigilant in his actions and if an injury occurs in spite of being vigilant, it is unavoidable and cannot be helped. The third combination cannot be accepted as non–violent, even from a practical standpoint as it is only a matter of chance that the injury did not occur in spite of the negligence of the perpetrator, it could have occurred and is, therefore, not to the credit of the negligent person. Though it did not result in any physical violence (Dravya Hiṁsā) but such violence is termed as volitional violence (Bhāva Hiṁsā) and ought to be avoided. The fourth category in which there is injury occurring due to the negligence is the worst case in point and ought to be avoided at all cost. From this discussion it is quite clear that negligence is violence whether or not it results in injury to any vitality of any living being. This is quite logical, too, as negligence or recklessness is a state of mind and any act performed under such a state of mind will constitute volitional violence.

Violence to Others And Violence To Self (Para Hiṁsā Aur Sva–Hiṁsā) – About violence we generally think that it is an activity that hurts others. However, it must be clearly understood that while this may be true of the physical violence, the volitional violence (Bhāva Hiṁsā) hurts the self more than it hurts the others. The violent thoughts or intentions or ill–will towards others injure the real nature of the self (soul) by disturbing its equanimity. Therefore, it is Sva–Hiṁsā as well.

Manifestations Of Violence –

According to Jaina thinkers’ view violence manifests itself in the form of acts of violence of different gravity under different circumstances. The four types of violence, categorised on the basis of the intention behind the acts of violence and the circumstances under which it is practised are –

1. Intentional Violence (Saṅkalpī Hiṁsā) – This is intentional, deliberate, aggressive and purposeless violence, which is to no one’s benefit. It is violence for violence’s sake. The examples of this type of violence are terrorist activities, hunting, organising bullfights, ram fights and cockfights, gladiators’ contests etc.

2. Violence In Self–defence (Virodhī Himsā) – This is an essential form of violence, which is committed in self–defence when one’s life, people and property are threatened and can be termed as protective violence committed in order to protect lives and honour and to establish peace and order in personal, social and national lives.

3. Industrial or Occupational Violence (Udyogī Hiṁsā)This type of violence is unavoidable for the householders when they pursue various vocations for earning a livelihood. The examples of this kind of violence are agricultural and industrial activities. This may be termed as essential violence but only in some cases where the intention is to earn a livelihood through the practice of minimum violence. While even deliberate but necessary violence towards the static uni–sensory (one sensed) living beings, such as plants, earth, water, air, fire, etc. is permissible, the householders are forbidden to practise deliberate and intentional violence towards mobile bi–sensory (two–sensed) and higher forms of life. Even the lay followers of the Jaina faith are not supposed to pursue highly violent vocations such as running slaughter houses or plying the trade of butchers, poultry farming, cutting of forests, making of charcoals, etc.

4. Essential Violence (Ārambhī Hiṁsā) This type of violence is always unintentional and is necessary for performing various kinds of tasks necessary to lead a normal and meaningful life. The examples of such violence are walking, talking, bathing, washing and carrying out various household chores such as cooking, cleaning etc.

Who are the victims of violence?

Having considered violence and its manifestations we must deliberate on the victims of violence if we wish to get rid of gross or fine violence from our lives. As the readers must have gathered by now that violence being an aggression on one or more vitalities of the living beings its victims are all kinds of living beings with four to ten vitalities. The unintentional violence towards fine creatures of uni–sensory (one sensed) category with only four types of vitality is, generally, unavoidable and is termed as fine violence (Sūkṣma Hiṁsā) while the intentional violence against the mobile bi–sensory (two sensed) beings and other higher forms of life is considered to be gross violence and is to be totally avoided.

Non–violence –

Having dealt with the concept and form of violence in sufficient detail, we can now deal with the concept and form of non–violence.

As we had done with the term violence, to define it at the thought and action levels, so we can do with non–violence as well. As violence is taken as violation of one or more of the vitalities (prāṇātipāta) of the living beings, so the term non–violence must mean lack of violation of any of their ten types of vitality (prāṇātipāta viramaṇa). This lack of violation can be at the thought level as well as at the action level. Actually, for the rational beings the thoughts precede any deliberate and intentional action and, hence, volitional non–violence is more important than the physical non–violence.

All life forms love life and fear death, they like pleasure and avoid pain. They are equal in this consciousness. The concept of non–violence, therefore, must spring from the thought of considering and treating all life forms as equal to oneself. To be non–violent is to honour the rights to life and pleasure of the other living beings just as we would like our rights to life and pleasure to be honoured by the others. According to Jaina point of view all forms of living beings have equal right to lead peaceful lives. Just as we think that the others have no right to kill or hurt us so we, too, have no right to kill or hurt the others. The principles (mooted by some selfish thinkers) like ‘Jīvo jīvasya bhojanaṁ (one creature is the other’s food) and ‘living by killing’ are self–contradictory as they violate the very basic principle of equality of lives.

We can appreciate that it may not be possible to avoid violence, especially that of the fine one sensed creatures, completely, ‘lesser violence’ better living’ should be our guiding thought. As I had pointed out earlier, life is sustained by mutual support and cooperation between creatures of various species, therefore, the phrase ‘co–operation for existence’ must replace the phrase ‘struggle for existence’ in our life’s dictionary.

Proscriptive Non–violence –

From the abovementioned it follows that from the negation of violence point of view, proscriptive non–violence means possible and avoidable avoidance of killing, hurting or compromising of any of the ten kinds of vitality of any living being either deliberately or through negligence.

It is true that the Śramaṇa tradition in general and Jainism in particular have given the term ‘non–violence’ a much wider and deeper meaning than their other counterparts. The emphasis on the equality of life from the lesser developed one sensed beings to the fully developed rational five sensed beings has resulted in the proscriptive side of non–violence to overshadow its prescriptive or positive side. Here, we must not forget that Jaina philosophy is a non–absolutist philosophy and any one–sided interpretation of its principles is likely to lead one astray. From the multifaceted standpoint, the proscriptive side of non–violence is more relevant for the ordained ascetics while the laypeople have to adhere to it’s positive and prescriptive side. We shall examine this aspect of non–violence in greater detail in the next section of the chapter.

Positive Side Of Non–violence –

So far all the examples of violence taken are destructive ones and non–violence has been defined as negation of such destructive activities. However, life based on only a set of denials will not be a wholesome one but a form of drudgery. There are positive and creative sides of non–violence, which should not be lost sight of. We must recall that violence is causing hurt or injury to or impairment of any of the ten vitalities of any living being and is, therefore, undesirable. It must, there from, follow that any activity that promotes the well–being of the living beings and their vitalities must be the opposite of violence and must, therefore, be considered as desirable. Therein lies the positive or creative side of non–violence. The acts of charity, service and forgiveness; mercy, compassion and sheltering; helping, co–operating and protecting the helpless creatures must constitute acts of creative non–violence. The Lord (Mahāvīra) when asked by His principal disciple, Gautama, as to who was the true believer, the one who worshipped or the one who served, replied that the one who served was the true believer.

According to the Jaina thought non–violence is not a negative command only but also embraces the noble thoughts and acts. Jainism takes non–violence as synonymous to compassion (Anukampā), which is so important a concept that it has been taken as an essential attribute of Samyaktva or right–vision, the starting point of the right path to spiritual emancipation. Compassion is the feeling for the others’ pain and misery and a desire and endeavour to do everything in one’s power to mitigate it. It is this feeling for the others that actuates creative non–violence. It is not limited to not tormenting others but also to relieve the tormented ones of their pain and misery. If one studiously avoids hurting others but fails to be moved by their torments and does not act to relieve them, he could only be called heartless.

It is true that the prescriptive non–violence will certainly have some element of violence towards the fine creatures but we cannot shun it by saying that it is poisoned milk. The students of the science of medicine well know that even some poisons whenused in judicious doses save lives. So is the case of positive non–violence. The element of violence in such non–violence is for the greater good of the greater numbers and from the non–absolutist standpoint, it is perfectly justifiable. Even then, it is essential that though condonable, the violence part in the positive non–violence is still violence the tendency of the person rendering service must be to resort to as minimal violence as possible.

The issue of positive non–violence at the expense of some even minimal violence to lesser life forms has been hotly debated and some schools of thought proscribe violence totally and ban any act of compassion or service that involves such violence. They advance the following arguments in favour of their stands:–

a. All life forms are equally important and one must not be saved at the expense of the other,

b. Violence is bad, nothing good can come out of a bad practice,

c. If a life is saved or served at the expense of another (even much lower form of) life, it smacks of attachment for the saved or served life and aversion towards the other forms of life. Attachment and aversion are causes of karmic bondage and must be shunned totally,

d. Even the pious deeds result in karmic bondage,

If we examine each of these arguments in the light of non–absolutist view–point, they do not stand scrutiny as follows: –

a. The natural life–cycle is such that one form of life thrives at the expense of the other. Plant life thrives at the expense of soil and water; the animal life thrives at the expense of plant life and so on. If we wish to save a mobile creature of two to five senses it would necessarily involve compromising the lives or vitalities of the lower species of one–sensed beings. When confronted with this problem of violence towards creatures of the lower species the masters had to resort to the principle of lesser and greater violence and surmised that the violence towards the creatures of the lower species cannot, per se, be equated to that towards the creatures of the higher species. This principle, in itself, is also not arbitrary. It is based on the considerations like the mentality or the motivating factors behind such violence. The motivating factors can also be of two types – 1. Based on just discretion and 2. Based on selfish interests. It goes without saying that if the necessary violence towards the creatures of lower species is being resorted to with a just and discrete consideration, it is unlikely to result in same kinds of karmic bondages as the one resorted to with selfish motives.

b. There is no doubt that from the absolute standpoint all violence is bad and must be shunned. However, life in this mundane existence cannot be led by sticking to the absolute alone and, of necessity, we have to resort to practicality. From the practical standpoint the necessary violence resorted to with just and discrete motives with a view to render selfless and detached volition is considered to be condonable and is said to be free from the incidence of karmic bondage. Therefore, from the practical standpoint all violence is not bad and the pious deeds do bear good fruits even when they involve some unavoidable violence towards lower forms of life in spite of taking all due care to avoid it.

c. It is not wholly logical to say that when an effort is made to save some life at the cost of causing some inconvenience to another being it must involve attachment towards the former and aversion towards the latter. When we save a pigeon being attacked by a cat with a purely unselfish motive it does not involve any attachment towards the pigeon and aversion towards the cat. The whole action is motivated by our sense of duty. Surely, such action (termed as iryāpathik karma or detached action) cannot result in karmic bondage.

d. Yes, the pious deeds do result in positive karmic bondage that is much easily shed than that of the impious variety. Even in fruition they are pleasurable as opposed to the painful retribution of the latter. Again, while analysing the issue of pious action in helping, protecting and rendering selfless service to the others, the point of detached action being free from karmic encumbrance must not be lost sight of. Here, it is pertinent to cite the example of the Tīrthaṅkaras who earn the merit by rendering selfless service to the ill, old and feeble and also of resorting to an yearlong spree of charity just before accepting the monastic vows as also their going about on preaching peregrinations after gaining enlightenment while they could have just sat at one place and avoided all fine violence towards the fine one–sensed beings. The reason why the enlightened ones chose to move about and preach rather than sitting silent and inactive was that all these actions were selflessly pious and with a view to benefit other lesser beings. These actions fell within the ambit of detached actions and were free from the incidence of karmic bondage. Also, I would like to mention that the ultimate aim of all spiritual endeavours is spiritual salvation and it is easy to approach through the path of piety rather than that of sin or inaction. The way from sin to salvation must pass through the patches of piety.

Non–violence In Relation To Environment –

The environmental issue was never more relevant than it is today. We are not only passing through the phase of environmental crisis but through that of environmental catastrophe. The Jaina concept of violence and non–violence impinges on this issue squarely. The Jaina seers had seen beyond the unseen and given us the concept of live earth, live water, live air, live fire and live vegetation much before Sir Jagdeesh Chandra Basu mooted the idea of vegetable life in early twentieth century. This being so and the Jaina concept of violence being related to violation of any one of the four vitalities of these one–sensed life–forms, observance of non–violence towards them would necessarily involve refraining from polluting the earth, water, air and resorting to cutting of trees and forests. I must emphasise that even in admissible industrial violence for plying one’s trade and earning one’s livelihood the Jaina precepts proscribed highly environment degrading activities like deforestation, burning of jungles, charcoal trade, emptying and drying water reservoirs, trading in animals and animal–produce like teeth and tusks, hides, bones, flesh etc; trading in drugs and poisons was also prohibited.

Another environment balancing aspect of wild and marine life must also not be ignored. It is a well–known fact that undisturbed wild life restores ecological balance and that marine life maintains the purity of river and ocean water. Hunting and fishing are, to say the least, not only violent acts towards gross and rational five–sensed beings but also heavily environment degrading acts. Non–violent life cannot and must not permit such gross violation of life and environment.

Non–violence In The Scientific Age –

The scientific and technological advancement has been a mixed blessing for the humanity. It has given us the means of physical pleasure and eased the tedium but it has also resulted in some negative throw back in the form of competition, rat–race, tensions, environmental degradation, industrial diseases and the like. The increased mechanical and nuclear power at our command have also given us a false sense of security and a mentality to tread on the others’ toes. All this does not augur well for the life–system in general and the human race in particular. After all, the means of mass destruction are only the tools of self–destruction more than they are the tools of others’ destruction. The reports from the more advanced nations are more disturbing. Theincidences of alcoholism and drug addiction amongst the populace of so–called developed nations tell a different story. All the scientific and technological advancement has resulted in loss of peace of mind that was our very strength in the primeval existence. Rather than making us more humane such advancement has made us more and more beastly. Even as beasts we had our natural levels of satisfaction, which are sorely lacking in this age of grabbing more and more irrespective of requirements. The greed is the operative word instead of need and it is taking its toll.

The science and technology has made the world a smaller place with greater distances between hearts. From peaceful, loving and co–operative human beings we have become warring, hating and hostile beings. Even our animal instincts are gone. Rather than having a sublimating influence on our nature it has made us more racy and self–centred. The weapons that are considered as the means of security have, actually, become the sources of fear and insecurity. They have only resulted in arms–race and resultant increased threat. Our undue reliance on power of science and technology rather than the power of human heart and healing touch has made us more dangerous than the dragons of the days of yore.

Who is responsible for all this danger lurking at our doorsteps? The science and technology that was supposed to serve the humanity has become its master. Does the fault lie with science or with our thinking? ‘Nothing is good or bad, only thinking makes it so’ is an age–old adage, which is as relevant today as it was aeons ago. Science is neither good nor bad but its good and bad use makes it good or bad.

What is the way out of this morass? We have to revert back to our non–violence as it is the only glimmer of hope in the otherwise dismal scenario.

The Ideal Of Non–violence –

Non–violence has been defined at two levels – volitional and practical. While it is perfectly possible to attain completely non–violent attitude, in practice it is well nigh impossible to achieve its ideal perfection, which means not hurting even a single vitality of any – even the finest one–sensed living beings. However, it must be appreciated that even in practice the amount of violence that anybody indulges is directly proportional to the amount of physical facilities he indulges in. It implies that reducing one’s sensory indulgence will also proportionately reduce violence and make one non–violent to that extent. From this we can conclude that the ascetics who enjoy minimal physical facilities commit minimal violence and amongst the lay people, too, those who lead an indulgent life are guilty of greater violence as compared to those that lead frugal lives. It follows that as long as we live an embodied corporeal life it is possible to avoid gross violence only and impossible to abstain from fine violence. For the corporeal existence complete and perfect non–violence is impracticable and remains only an unfulfilled ideal.

Here, it is worthy of comment that although the Jaina monks and nuns themselves lead reasonably non–violent lives, the amount of violence perpetrated in their names is substantial. If we take the examples of a large number of people walking with them from place to place when they go about their monastic peregrinations or a large number of people travelling long distances for gaining their glimpses and then setting up kitchens so that they may earn the merit of giving alms to them or undertaking the constructions of frivolous temples and prayer halls, at their behest, while simple ones will serve the purpose as well if not better.

We can conclude this discussion by saying that while it is not possible to avoid the minimal violence towards the finecreatures as we continuously hurt one or the other kinds of their vitalities as we breathe, as we move about, as we speak, as we do any thing for that matter, as long as we remain conscious of the fact that we do so only because it is unavoidable and, thereby, avoid any unnecessary violence, we remain volitionally non–violent.

The Social Aspect Of Non–violence –

In the last section our thoughts were centred around non–violence at the personal level. However, our discussion will not be complete unless we also considered its social aspect also. One may argue that it may well be possible for an individual to practice utmost non–violence by grossly limiting his needs and activities but on the social plane it may well not be possible at all. Here, it is pertinent to note that the very fibre of society, which means co–existence, is made up of positive qualities like love, affection, sensitivity, tolerance, co–operation, etc, all of which spell non–violence. Any violent society will exhibit negative qualities like hatred, animosity, aggressiveness, etc and co–existence will well nigh be impossible. Violence, even at the thought level, breaks up societies.

Generally, there is a conflict of interests and sometimes it so happens that the interests of one rest on harming those of the others. Such circumstances give rise to violence in the society. As long as the interests of one conflict with those of the other and as long as there are individual interests that conflict with the group interests and the individuals act against the group interests; as long as there are individuals or groups of individuals that are bent upon meeting their ends at the expense of the others; as long as one state or nation act contrary to the interests of another state or nation and does not heed the voice of reason or justice; violence becomes unavoidable. Non–violence, certainly, does not mean that the non–violent individuals, societies or nations have to put up with undue hegemony and violence of the others. When confronted with circumstances that are detrimental to their just and reasonable interests they have to act to defend their interests even by violent means. They, certainly, cannot be expected to observe cowardly non–violence. As long as even one member of human society believes in animal behaviour the society will have to act to restrain him in its larger interest. Until each individual member of the society becomes fair and just, it is futile to think of a non–violent society. Ridiculous as it may seem, one might have to resort to violence even to protect one’s non–violent culture. The scriptures have vexed themselves eloquent to say that when the safety and security of the religious order or any of its members is threatened the members of the order, even ordained monks and nuns might act to protect themselves and the order. Violence in self–defence by the laymen and in the defence of the order even by the ordained ascetics have been condoned as necessary and unavoidable violence. As an example of one such necessary and avoidable violence we may consider that if a young nun is being abducted or molested in the presence of some monks, they must protect her, even by resorting to violence, rather than remaining impotent and silent spectators. The struggle for existence may, at times, become violent, but it can, certainly, not be called unnecessary and wanton violence. The same is the case with minimum necessary violence resorted to for the sake of life sustaining activities and industries.

Compassion : The Liberating Force –

Compassion has been variously hailed as a liberating force for the dispenser and as a mitigating force for the receiver. William Shakespeare has rightly said, “The quality of mercy is twice blessed; it blesses him that gives and him that takes.” In this section of the chapter we will try and appreciate various facets of this force. Compassion : The Concept –

Lord Mahāvīra laid down the scheme of soul’s liberation from the mundane existence in the form of following a three–way path comprising Right–vision (Samyagdarśana), Right–knowledge (Samyagjñāna) and Right–conduct (Samyakcāritra). Out of these three, too, He laid the most emphasis on the first constituent of the liberating path – Samyagdarśana or the right vision. The concept of compassion is inseparably linked to the very first and the most important ingredient of the liberating path – right–vision that it has been hailed as one of its five indicators.

The vision is closely related to the very inner thoughts of a person known as pariṇāma. The Pariṇāma is said to have three kinds of manifestations, namely inauspicious (aśubha pariṇāma), auspicious (śubha pariṇāma) and pure (śuddha pariṇāma), in their increasing order of spiritual benefit. The first, inauspicious thought current or aśubha pariṇāma results in bonding of inauspicious karmic bondage and resultant painful retribution and increasing worldly transmigration. From the spiritual point of view, it is the most undesirable type of psychic disposition to have at any point in one’s life. It hinders soul’s liberation and keeps it wandering in the worldly wilderness. The spiritual journey from the inauspicious thought–current to the pure one must pass through the auspicious or śubha pariṇāma. Śubha pariṇāma, therefore can be looked upon as a launching pad for the pure thought–current or śuddha priṇāma.

Compssion and Auspiciousness –

Compassion is the crux of auspiciousness. It is at its very core. Speaking purely from the karma–doctrine point of view, although the auspicious psychic disposition and the resultant actions are also taken as karma–bonding, it must be remembered that firstly, they are auspicious karma–bonding thoughts and actions, which result in pleasurable fruition, and secondly, they also lead the soul towards purity of thought that frees it from the karmic bondage. Viewed from this standpoint, the auspicious thoughts and activities are desirable from the spiritual emancipation point of view as well.

The Jaina scriptures have vexed themselves eloquent in eulogising the auspicious thoughts and actions and in condemning the inauspicious ones. The auspicious thought–currents and activities have been termed as spiritually meritorious (Puṇya– karma) while the inauspicious ones have been called sinful thoughts and actions (Pāpa karma).1 Further, the soul whose psyche is imbued with the thoughts of compassion attracts the auspicious karma–matter towards itself, and the one who torments others attract the inauspicious or sinful karma–matter.2 The importance of compassion has been highlighted in the Upāsakādhyayana by saying that it is at the very root of dharma.3 According to Praśnavyākaraṇasūtra, the Lord had preached protection and kindness towards all creatures.4 In the canon laying down the essential duties for the followers of the faith, the Lord has once again said that service to the diseased is the true obedience to the Jina teachings and that one who serves the ill serves me.5 Another canonical dictate is to be ever ready to help the helpless.6

What is Compassion?

Defining compassion, the author, Ācārya Kunda Kunda, says that anyone who feels the pain and misery of others like those suffering due to hunger, thirst, and other maladies and acts favourably in order to mitigate their misery is said to be compassionate.7 The Vṛhatkalpa Bhāṣya also says that anyone who is not moved by the others’ misery is said to be compassionless; because, compassion means ‘to be shaken by seeing others shaken’.8 Another definition of compassion describes it as friendliness towards all the living beings,9and yet another one as mercifulness towards all static and moving beings.10 The Tattvārtha Bhāṣya by Haribhadra also describes it as a feeling of mercy for the miserable.11 The Tattvārtha Bhāṣya by Siddhasena Gaṇi defines compassion as the feeling of a well meaning, charitable and merciful person by which he identifies with the others in pain and treats their misery as his own and acts in a manner so as to mitigate their pain and misery.12According to Kunda Kundācārya, to be religious one has to be merciful.13 The Dhavalā commentary to Ṣaṭkhaṅḍāgama says that compassion is natural to the living and to say that it is karmic activity isagainst the scriptural spirit.14 According to the ‘Yoga Śāstra’, compassion is nothing but a strong and uncompromiseable desire to relieve and mitigate the pain and misery of the other without favour.1815 Ācārya Śivakoṭi has also said that the disposition to relieve the pain of the miserable beings is compassion.1916 Muni Candra, while commenting on Dharma Bindu, has said that favour shown to the living beings in pain and misery is compassion.2017

Other works like Aṇagāra Dharmāmṛta (2, 52); Lāṭī Saṁhitā (3, 89), and the Tattvārtha commentary by Śrutasāgarasūri (1, 2) have also given similar definitions of compassion and have upheld the view that compassion is the feeling of identification with the miserable and the mentality and activity of relieving their pain and misery. However, the term does not mean only being moved by seeing others in pain at the psychic or thought level but also to act, according to one’s capacity, to relieve their pain and misery. In this sense, the term compassion is quite comprehensive and includes both – compassionate thoughts and mitigating actions.

The concept of charity is closely linked to compassion because it can relieve others’ misery in more than one ways.

Who Deserves Compassion?

Generally, any human or subhuman creature that is in pain and is miserable for some reason deserves our compassion. However, in our immediate vicinity, the children, the old and the aged and the handicapped ones deserve our compassion the most.21 It is for this reason that our scriptures have alwaysencouraged the followers and exhorted them to be compassionate and charitable. They have variously said the one may not be compassionless, may never be unmerciful, may never be proud, may ever be charitable and always content with oneself.2218

How Does Compassion Contribute Towards Spiritual Emancipation?

As already highlighted in the introductory paragraph, compassion is one of the five (subsidence, desire for liberation, aversion from mundane existence, compassion and unshakeable faith)2319 indicators or signs of right–vision – Samyaktva or Samyagdarśana. Anyone with right–vision must display the inner core quality of compassion. In other words we can say that a compassionate soul that is easily moved by the others’ troubles and travails must be endowed with the quality of right–vision. Converse of this proposition is also evidently true: ‘anyonewithout compassion is certainly devoid of right–vision and therefore far from being religious or spiritually or even temporally dutiful’. Anyone who denies acts of compassion under self–contrived explanations of the canonical literature and quote scriptures to support their misplaced and false views is like devil quoting the scriptures. Ācārya Abhayadevasūri, the commentator of as many as nine canonical works, has, while commenting on the 36th aphorism of the 8th section of the fifth primary canon – Vyākhyā prajñapti – that the Lords Jina have never proscribed the compassionate charity.2420

Right–vision is the very first step towards the final goal of spiritual emancipation and final deliverance. There is no gainsaying the fact that only the rightly inclined and righteous souls proceed in that direction. Thus, compassion is an essential ingredient in the psychic make up and activity profile of any spiritually inclined devotee. A compassionate soul is imbued with the highest and the noblest thoughts of selfless service to not only the humans but to the entire living world at large. Selfless service has been hailed as one of the twelve kinds of penance and makes a potent means of karmic separation from the soul and resultant liberation.

Can Compassion Ever Be Sinful?

No, compassion is the noblest manifestation of humaneness, which has been hailed as one of the four (humanity, right–knowledge, right–faith, and right–endeavour in the direction of self–restraint) rarest of the rare achievements that comes about after a lot of wandering in other species.2521 These four have been described, as the liberating quartet and the very crux of humanityis compassion. How can, then compassion ever be sinful? Yes, there is only one possibility and that is if one is not compassionate at heart and just puts up a show of it for name and fame, he certainly gathers no merit but collects a lot of sin in the process. Otherwise true compassion can never be sinful.

We can conclude this discussion on compassion by saying that compassion is meritorious. It is a stepping–stone towards higher spiritual achievements, and that it is the noblest form of selfless service, which makes it karma–shedding penance. Thus, compassion, at its best, is liberating and, at its least, it is meritorious.

Non–violence In Practice –

In the Jaina tradition the practice of non–violence has been prescribed at two distinct levels – monastic and laypersons. The prescriptions for the monastic non–violence are justly more rigorous and stringent while those for the laypeople are comparatively lax. The details of such practices have been discussed, at length, in the fourteenth and the fifteenth chapters that deal with Jaina ethics in relation to the lay followers and the ordained ascetics respectively. However, a brief account is being given here for the sake of continuity.

The Lay Followers’ Non–violence –

The lay followers have fewer restrictions as compared to the ascetic members of the order. Their non–violence is limited to not committing any intentional, unnecessary and avoidable violence against any innocent creatures that are capable of motion. They as a rule can act in self–defence and also to protect their kith and kin as well as their servants, live stock and other material wealth. This is termed as refraining from committing any gross violence.

The householders’ violence may fall in any of the four categories like –

1. Necessary violence that results from their day–to– day activities such as cooking, cleaning, etc. This type of violence is called Āraṁbhī Hiṁsā. It can also be purposeful and unrelated or arbitrary. While purposeful violence is condoned, arbitrary violence is not.

2. Intentional Criminal Violence or Aparādhī Saṅkalpī Hiṁsā, which is committed with criminal intent, is strictly prohibited for the believers.

3. Violence committed in pursuing means of livelihood such as that committed in constructing houses and business premises, digging wells, ploughing and irrigating the land for farming, etc. is termed as industrial violence or Udyogī Hiṁsā and is condoned. And

4. Retaliatory violence or Virodhi Hiṁsā becomes necessary for protecting the self, family and social institutions. Such intentional violence is condoned.

The Monastic Non–violence –

As can be expected, all ascetics – monks and nuns – observe a much more stringent and rigorous code of conduct with much harsher and stricter mode of non–violence. They observe non–violence at action and thought levels and neither knowingly kill or hurt any creature nor have them killed or hurt nor approve of any such violence either physically or verbally or volitionally. This is the most important of their monastic vows – Mahāvrata – and all their actions and thoughts are directed towards its most careful observance.

Vegetarianism: An Essential Attribute Of Non–violent Lifestyle –

It is said that the kind of food that a person takes shapes his thoughts. If his very food is derived by the most violent meansof hunting, slaying or killing animals, birds or fishes it is not possible for him to nurture non–violent thoughts. It has been observed that the flesh foods are deficient in the amino acid called Triptofen and this deficiency causes a reduction in the quantity of Serotonin in the brain, which, in turn, makes the non–vegetarian flesh eaters cruel, merciless, violent and aggressive. Statistics also support the view that flesh foods increase a person’s tendency to commit criminal acts of violence.

It is plain that flesh foods, derived from animal sources, cannot be obtained without killing. Slaying of animals is essential for getting flesh foods. One can hardly slay a living writhing and bleating goat or calf, or any other creature for that matter, without being cruel and heartless. On the other hand, even when we concede to the existence of vegetable life–forms, foods of vegetable origin are obtained with comparatively much lesser violence. These two types of violence cannot be compared, as the animals, birds and fishes are fully developed life–forms that are capable of expressing themselves and struggling to escape the cruel fate that awaits even the most harmless of these creatures. Only the cruellest of the cruel can slay such creatures. It is, therefore, not surprising that flesh foods breed barbarous wildness in a person and makes him uncivilised. It deprives him of humane sensitivity, which is the very hallmark of humanity. The flesh eater may still look like a human being on the outside but within himself he is full of animal instincts worse than those of a predator.

Even from the health considerations vegetarian foods have long been accepted as healthier than the flesh foods. Flesh eating has been associated with a large number of diseases that the vegetarians do without. Flesh foods are difficult to digest, remain longer in the intestines and increase acidity, flatulence and many other disorders of the digestive system. Flesh foods are also carriers of many contagions of animal origin, which are transmitted to the humans consuming them. Even in the western world, where the people are traditionally flesh eaters, they have realised the harmful effects of flesh foods and are converting to vegetarianism in large numbers. It is ironic that the Indians, especially the Jainas and Vaishnavas that have traditionally been vegetarians, are falling prey to the menace of flesh eating in the name of fashion.

Vegetables are the natural food for the human beings. Even the flesh eaters eat almost two thirds of their food from the vegetable origin. There are pure vegetarians but there are no pure non–vegetarians. One can, possibly, not survive on animal foods only. Flesh eating is against the very grain of human nature.

Non–violence : An Assurance Of Healthy Environment –

The mother Earth is not so much reeling under the pressure of population as it is under the environmental pollution caused by the irresponsibly consumerist human race. Whenever we tinker with nature even in the name of so called progress and industrial growth, we damage the natural balance between various elements and creatures of nature and disturb the ecological balance and damage the environment. The heavily polluted environment due to poisonous, carcinogenic and toxic solid wastes as also the liquid and gaseous effluents and consequent wasting of lands, unacceptable levels of toxicity in farm produce that gives rise to diseased men folk and livestock and heavily laden air that makes breathing not only difficult for the time being but results in many a breathing disorders are all results of human greed. The greedy humans exploit rather than explore the natural resources such as water, forests, minerals, fossil–fuels and the like without taking into account their rate of regeneration and, thereby, deplete them to a level whence they cannot recoup. All this is also a form of violence because it adversely impinges on not only fine, static and invisible one–sensed life–forms of earth, water, air, fire andvegetation origin but also on gross, visible and mobile two–sensed to five–sensed life–forms of insects, animals and humans. The overall picture is so frightening that in the coming times, in not a very distant future, we are going to be faced with gross deficiencies of coal and petroleum products and cooking and natural gases but also of drinking water and clean air fit for breathing. The environmentalists have predicted that the time is not far when the current scenario of masked humans on the streets may change to those walking about with cylinders of clean air. It must be a matter of grave concern for all of us. The question of restoring ecological balance and ensuring environmental protection has, therefore, assumed vital importance and global dimension. It is essential that the efforts in this direction be directed immediately. If we fail to wake up to the disturbing signals like global warming, holes in the ozone layer, changes in weather and seasons patterns for the worse, progressive lessening of rainfall (Cherrapunji, known as a place for world’s heaviest rainfall, receives only scanty rainfall now), and thickening of the air in the atmosphere, we and our future generations will be doomed to not only unhealthy but miserable lives from which there will be no remission. To ignore this concern is certainly gross violence towards not only the present generations of living beings but also towards the future ones.

We vex ourselves eloquent about chemical and nuclear pollution but give little thought to noise pollution and thought pollution that are even more dangerous. If we have to evolve any system for pollution free environment we have to address ourselves to these two forms of pollution also.

It is a welcome sign that due to the initiatives of some sane and well–meaning ecologists and environmentalists and those of the propagators of non–violence, the awareness has dawned and efforts are being made in this direction. Some scholars have also woken up to the teachings of their seers and prophets that may translate themselves into environmental friendly policies. Religions, after all, have profound influences on their followers and anything that has religious overtones are likely to be observed with due alacrity. From this point of view, it is pertinent here, to mention the Jaina precepts that are environment friendly.

The following precepts and conduct rules that are the offshoots of the Jaina insistence on non–violence, and which are clearly enunciated in the Jaina scriptures go to promote not only environmental awareness but also make a positive contribution in restoring ecological balance and environmental protection: –

a. Non–violent life–style that includes non–killing and non–destruction of any vitality of any living being – fine or gross (Fine life in the form of Water–bodied creatures, Earth–bodied creatures, Air–bodied creatures, Fire–bodied creatures, Vegetation–bodied creatures and gross life in the form of bacteria, insects, animals, birds, fishes and humans).

b. Restrained life–style,

c. Non–accumulation of material adjunct,

d. Prohibiting pursuit of grossly violent forms of professions or industries,

e. Prohibition of hunting and eating of flesh foods,

f. Prohibition of eating at night, etc.

Conclusion –

Non–violence is at the centre of Jaina thought and philosophy. In this chapter I have tried to examine, at some length, the issues connected with violence and its opposite – non–violence. In doing so I have tried to explain that though the term non–violence seems to be a negative command, it also encompasses its creative and positive side in the form of renderingselfless service to the threatened, ill, old and feeble as well as protecting of life and environment.

As mentioned earlier, non–violence is at the very root of Jainism and, therefore, all its precepts and practices are designed to serve this single and solitary purpose of ensuring enduring non–violence as far as possible.


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  1. “Suhapariṇāmo puṇṇaṁ asuho pāvaṁ ti havadi jīvassa ™”

    Panc~āstikāya, 132. []

  2. “Rāgo jassa pasattho aṇukampāsaṁsido ya pariṇāmo ™

    Cittamhi ṇatthi kalusaṁ puṇṇaṁ jīvassa āsavadi ™™

    Paraparitāvapavādo pāvassa āsavaṁ kuṇadi ™™” – Ibid, 135, 139. []

  3. “Dharmasya paramaṁ mūlamanukampā pracakṣate ™”

    Upāsakādhyayana, 230. []

  4. Praśnavyākaraṇasūtra, 2.2.22. []
  5. Āvaśyaka, Haribhadrīya Tīkā, fol. 661–62 []
  6. Sthānāṅga, 8 []
  7. “Tisidaṁ bubhukkhidaṁ vā duhidaṁ daṭt,hūṇa jo du duhidamaṇao ™

    Paḍivajjadi taṁ kivayā tassesa hodi aṇukampā ™™” – Ibid, 137. []

  8. “Jo u paraṁ kampantaṁ daṭṭhūṇa na kampae kaḍhiṇa bhāvo ™

    Eso u ṇiraṇukampo aṇu pacchā bhāva joeṇaṁ ™™”

    Vṛhatkalpabhāṣya, 1320. []

  9. “Sarvaprāṇiṣu Maitrī anukampā ™” – Tattvārthavārtika, 1, 2, 30. []
  10. “Trasasthāvareṣu dayā anukampā ™”– Tattvārthaślokavārtika, 1,2,12. []
  11. “Anukampā duḥkhiteṣu kāruṇyaṁ ™”

    Tattvārthabhāṣya, Haribhadrīya Vṛtti, 1, 2. []

  12. “Anugrahabuddhyārdrīkṛtacetasaḥ parapīḍāmātmasaṁsthāmiva kurvato`nukampanamanukampā ™”

    Tattvārtha Bhāṣya, Siddhasena GaṇI Vṛtti, 6, 13. []

  13. Bodhpāhuḍa, 25 []
  14. Dhavalā, Book 13, p.362 []
  15. “Anukampā duḥkhiteṣu apakṣapātena duḥkhaprahāṇecchā ™”

    Yogaśāstra, Svopajña Vivaraṇa, 2, 15. []

  16. “Kliśyamānajantūddharaṇabuddhiḥ anukampā ™”

    – Bhagavatī Ārādhanā, Mūlā Comm. 1696. []

  17. “Anukampā duḥkhitasatvaviṣayā kṛpā ™”

    Dharma Bindu, Municandra Vṛtti, 3, 7. []

  18. “Mā hoha ṇiraṇukampā ṇa vañcayā kuṇaha tāva santosaṁ ™

    Māṇatthaddhā mā hoha ṇikkimpā hoha dāṇayarā ™™”

    Kuvalayamālā, para 85. []

  19. 1. “Uvasama saṁvego vi ya nivveo taha ya hoi aṇukampā ™

    Ātthikkaṁ ciya pañcavi havanti sammattaliṅgāiṁ ™™”

    Pañcaliṅgīprakaraṇaṁ, 1.

    2. “Praśamasaṁvegānukampāstikyābuhivyakti lakṣaṇaṁ samyaktvaṁ ™” ^P – Dhavalā, 1/1,1,4.

    3. “Saṁvego cia uvasama nivveo taha ya hoi aṇukampā atthikkaṁ cia ee sammatte lakkhaṇā pañca ™”

    Vṛhatkalpavṛtti, 1.2.

    4. “Saṁyaktvaṁ kīdṛśaṁ bhavati? Pañceti, pañcabhiḥ śamasaṁveganirvedanukampāstikyarūpairlakṣaṇaiḥ liṅgair–lakṣitamupalakṣitaṁ bhavati ™”

    Dharma Saṅgraha, Ch. 2.

    5. “Saṁvegaḥ praśamaḥ sthairyaṁ asammūḍhatvamasmayaḥ āstikyamanukampetijñeyā samyaktvabhāvanā ™”

    Mahāpurāṇa, 29/97. []

  20. Vyākhyāprajñapti, Comm. by Ācārya Abhayadevasūri, 8.36. []
  21. “Cattāri paramaṅgāṇi dullahāṇīha jantuṇo ™

    Māṇusuttaṁ suī–saddhā sañjamammi ya vīriyaṁ ™” – Uttarādhyayanasūtra, 3.1. []