In India there are innumerable religions and sects. All of them believe in non-violence. Non-violence can be interpreted in two ways – 1. Negatively, and 2. Positively. In the negative sense non-violence means not to commit violence and in the positive sense it means to undertake altruistic activities like mercy, charity, service, benevolence, etc. Almost all religions and the laity accept both these aspects – proscriptive in proscribing violence and prescriptive in prescribing the activities like mercy, charity, service, benevolence, etc – of non-violence as lawful religious pursuits. However, there are some sub-sects of Jainism that do not consider the positive-prescriptive aspect of non-violence as religious. They consider them as meritorious activities and that these activities do not result in karmic separation, which is an essential feature of religious activities, but result in karmic bondages albeit of the auspicious types which fructify in pleasurable fruition, an essential feature of meritorious acts. They also emphasise that even these meritorious karmic bondages of the auspicious types result in continued worldly transmigration and hence defeat the very purpose of religious pursuits, which is nothing but seeking spiritual emancipation and resultant liberation by bringing the worldly transmigration to a halt. Such cessation of worldly transmigration is possible by complete karmic separation and as these meritorious activities of positive non-violence do not result in karmic separation but in fresh karmic bondages, they are contraindicated as religious activities. In other words they consider them as irreligious activities. Therefore, these ought not to be pursued by religious persons. They lay so much emphasis on this belief of theirs that they consider those that do not fall in line with them as false-visioned, and do not consider them as fit to attain spiritual emancipation and liberation. According to them, the very reason for the souls’ continued worldly transmigration and lack of liberation is nothing but the false belief that meritorious acts are not deplorable and fit to be abandoned. “If the living beings had considered these meritorious activities of service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc., also as deplorable, in their right perspective, and abandoned them, they would have been liberated long-long ago”, they say. Some of them even go to the extent that these activities result in violence towards living beings of the one-sensed type, etc and these are, therefore, sinful and irreligious. To consider irreligious acts as religious is the false viewpoint. The main arguments that are advanced in order to prove the activities like service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc that constitute positive non-violence as sinful, irreligious and obstructive in the process of liberation are as follows: -
- Meritorious activities like service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc., are mundane activities and are, therefore, karma bonding and fit to be abandoned.
- Meritorious activities are auspicious in nature. Auspicious activities result in influx and bondage of meritorious karma. Such karmic bondages hinder liberation.
- Auspicious activities like service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc., are in the form of puṇya (merit). Merit is not dharma (religious duty). There is no liberation without dharma.
- There is violence towards living beings in pursuing the meritorious activities like service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc. Violence is sin. Sin is fit to be abandoned.
- The creature that is saved due to Meritorious activities like service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc., may be beset with false vision and he may indulge in sinful activities after being so saved. Thus, the saviour incurs the sin of abetting its sins.
- All creatures from the one-sensed beings to rational five-sensed beings are equal. Therefore, violence towards any one kind is equally sinful.
- When some creature kills some other creature and we save the one being attacked, the attacking creature feels miserable, which is violence towards the latter. It is best to avoid this form of violence.
- When some creature kills some other creature and we try to save the one being attacked, it means that we have attachment towards this one and aversion towards the attacking creature. Attachment and aversion are sinful and results in increase in worldly transmigration.
- When we undertake activities like service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc, we make a sankalp (resolution). If our resolution remains unfulfilled, we get the feeling of vikalpa (uncertainty). These mundane feelings are sinful and results in increase in worldly transmigration.
- The activities like service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc., results in karmic bondage, albeit of the auspicious type, which is contrary to spiritual nature and, therefore, irreligious and so fit to be abandoned.
- Any single activity cannot result in sin and merit both or it cannot be religious and irreligious both at the same time. Because violence towards innumerable one-sensed creatures like earth-bodied, water-bodied, air-bodied, fire-bodied, vegetation, etc., perpetrated while undertaking activities of service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc., termed as positive non-violence, are sinful and irreligious, they cannot be auspicious or meritorious and religious.
Besides the abovementioned arguments, too, many similar ones are also advanced, but they are all aimed at the same object of proving that the activities of service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc., even are contrary to the spiritual nature, irreligious, and sinful and that they result in increase in worldly transmigration and are, therefore, only fit to be abandoned.
All the abovementioned beliefs give rise to hardness of attitude, heartlessness, brutality, and unfeeling pitilessness. They are inhuman and purely irreligious. In this book all these beliefs have been proved to be contrary to the canonical dictates, false, baseless and insubstantial on the basis of many proofs. Also, on the basis of proofs from the canonical texts and the doctrine of karma, it has been proved that the activities of service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc., are positively non-violent, spiritually natural and result in separation of karmic bondages and not in karmic bondage. It is only the fruitional (audayika) activities that result in karmic bondages and not otherwise. Activities like service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc., do not happen due to the fruition of any earlier bonded karma and are, therefore, not fruitional activities and they cannot result in karmic bondage. Again, the anubhāga bandh (intensity of karmic bondage) and its sthiti (duration) are decided by the rise of passions and it is because of the durational bondage that the karma remains attached or stuck to the soul, it is not possible to incur karmic bondage in the absence of durational bondage. Therefore, the destruction of the durational bondage itself has been termed as the karmic destruction or karmic separation. The potency of the bonded karma to result in given intensity of fruition is said to be its anubhāga. The intensity bondage is decided by the intensity of the passions with which the activity resulting the said karmic bondage was performed. Increase or decrease in the intensity of passions results in corresponding increase and decrease in the potency of the karmic bondage and intensity with which the karma would fructify. Therefore, it is plain that it is only the rise of passions that is responsible for deciding the quantity of karma matter that would be bonded and its intensity of fruition. No passionate activity or indulgence can be meritorious and result in auspicious bondage. All passionate activities are sinful. Therefore, it is the passions or sinful dispositions, if any, accompanying the meritorious activities and not the auspicious dispositions that can result in auspicious karmic bondage. Meritorious activities can come about only when the passions are on the wane. The waning of passions is said to be kṣāyopaśamik bhāva (destructo-subsidential volition), śubha bhāva (auspicious volition) and complete absence of passions is referred to as śuddha bhāva (pure spiritual volition). The auspicious volition results in the influx of auspicious karma.
It is a principle of the doctrine of karma that auspicious (meritorious) influx blocks the inauspicious (sinful) one and results in karmic stoppage. For example, when the influx of fourteen auspicious karmic subtypes such as of pleasurable feeling producing, high status giving, mobile body giving, obedience inducing, fame giving, etc., karma take place, influx of their fourteen inauspicious counterparts – painful feeling producing, low status giving, immobile body giving, disobedience inducing, infamy giving, etc., karma cannot take place. During the auspicious karmic influx the influx of corresponding inauspicious karma is automatically blocked. i.e.. the influx of auspicious karma automatically results in the stoppage of the corresponding inauspicious karma. Not only this, but the intensity and duration of the earlier bonded inauspicious karmic bondages also reduce at the same time. This is also accompanied by the saṅkramaṇa (conversion) of sinful types of karma into corresponding meritorious karma types. What we clearly and unequivocally mean here is that 1. Auspiciousness, 2. Auspicious karmic influx, and 3. Auspicious karma are respectively opposite of and destructive of 1. Inauspiciousness, 2. Inauspicious karmic influx, and 3. Inauspicious karma. Thus, they destroy the sins and destruction of sins eventually results in liberation.
It is true that positive non-violence in the form of activities like service, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc, results in auspicious karmic influx, but innumerable times such auspicious karmic influx and coming into being of its high intensity results from practicing of monastic renunciation, penance, austerity, right viewpoint, right knowledge and right conduct, which are all non-indulgent kind of practices.
When these non-indulgent practices reach their culmination on the destructional ladder, then the auspicious karma types like pleasurable feeling giving, high status giving and fame giving, etc also rise and when they reach their respective culminations one attains enlightenment in the form of Kevalajñāna (all revealing pure knowledge or omniscience). None has ever accomplished nor will anyone ever accomplish this supreme accomplishment in the absence of reaching this culmination of auspicious karma types. This attainment remains at the pinnacle of auspicious karma types right up to the moment of attaining nirvaṇa or liberation, and does not reduce even a bit.
The positive activities like service, friendship, kindness, compassion, co-operation, helping, etc., are different forms of positive, prescriptive or practical non-violence. In the Jaina literature, mercy has been mentioned as the very foundation of the religion and compassion towards the living beings has been termed as mercy.1 Religion is what liberates. That the practice of mercy liberates, is a well-established fact. So much so that at the conclusion of any Jaina monk or nun’s discourse, the following couplet is always recited enmass –
“Dayā sukhānni belaḍi, dayā sukhāni khāna| Ananta jīva mukti gayā, dayā taṇo phala jāṇa\”
This couplet means that mercy is the creeper of pleasure, it is the mine of pleasure and infinite number of living beings have liberated due to the liberating effect of mercy. Thus, to oppose the practice of mercy is to oppose the pursuit of liberation and to oppose the practice of religion, is to take out the very roots of religion. To even consider, opposition and prohibition to mercy is to consider pitilessness and brutality as religion and it is to accept sin and irreligion as religion, which is nothing but false belief.2 Pitilessness has been said to be an angeral reflection.3 Even knowledge is meaningful in the presence of mercy only.4 Knowledge without mercy is useless and can be termed as false knowledge. In respect to Mercy or saving of life some advance the argument that while saving one life some other forms of life are compromised and, therefore, saving of life is flawed with violence. However, to believe thus is contrary to the teachings of the canonical works. In our canonical literature the word employed for violence is prāṇātipāta or depriving a vitality, which indicates that the meaning of violence is limited to deprivation of one or more of ten kinds of vitality (rather than depriving a creature of its life), four to ten of which are present in one-sensed to rational five-sensed living beings respectively. The one-sensed creatures are endowed with four types of vitalities namely, 1. Vital power of the sense of touch, 2. Vital power of the body, 3. Vital power of respiration, and 4. Vital power of longevity. The two-sensed creatures are endowed with six types of vitalities namely, 1. Vital power of the sense of touch, 2. Vital power of the sense of taste, 3. Vital power of speech, 4. Vital power of the body, 5. Vital power of respiration, and 6. Vital power of longevity. The three-sensed creatures are endowed with seven types of vitalities namely, 1. Vital power of the sense of touch, 2. Vital power of the sense of taste, 3. Vital power of the sense of smell, 4. Vital power of speech, 5. Vital power of the body, 6. Vital power of respiration, and 7. Vital power of longevity. The four-sensed creatures are endowed with eight types of vitalities namely, 1. Vital power of the sense of touch, 2. Vital power of the sense of taste, 3. Vital power of the sense of smell, 4. Vital power of the sense of sight, 5. Vital power of speech, 6. Vital power of the body, 7. Vital power of respiration, and 8. Vital power of longevity. The irrational five-sensed creatures are endowed with nine types of vitalities namely, 1. Vital power of the sense of touch, 2. Vital power of the sense of taste, 3. Vital power of the sense of smell, 4. Vital power of the sense of sight, 5. Vital power of the sense of hearing, 6. Vital power of speech, 7. Vital power of the body, 8. Vital power of respiration, and 9. Vital power of longevity, while rational five-sensed creatures are endowed with all ten types of vitalities namely, 1. Vital power of the sense of touch, 2. Vital power of the sense of taste, 3. Vital power of the sense of smell, 4. Vital power of the sense of sight, 5. Vital power of the sense of hearing, 6. Vital power of speech, 7. Vital power of the body, 8. Vital power of respiration, 9. Vital power longevity, and 10. Vital power of reasoning. The deprivation of any vitality in any creature ought also to be viewed corresponding to the number of vitalities it has. The development of sensitivity of any creature also varies in proportion to number of vitalities it enjoys. Therefore, the flaw incurred in the case of depriving the vitality(ies) of a comparatively insensitive one-sensed creature cannot be viewed as the same as that in the case of more sensitive two and more sensed creatures. Again, the flaw of depriving the vitalities at each stage of development of sensitivity is not simply proportional to the number of vitalities at each stage but it is innumerable times higher at each stage. Therefore, doubts can be set at rest if we take the term depriving of vitality in its correct sense and do not mix it with deprivation of life.
Charity is the practical aspect of mercy. Therefore, charity is also religious.5 All detached omniscient Tīrthaṅkaras are infinitely charitable. All Tīrthaṅkaras give one hundred and eight hundred thousand gold coins in charity every day for one year just prior to the accepting monastic ordination.6 They give, without any discrimination, to anyone who comes to ask for it. Charitability is a sign of religiosity.7
Another practical form of mercy – service to the needy – has been included as one of the six internal types of penance. This means that it has been considered as more important form of penance as compared to six kinds of external penance like fasting, abstinence, etc. Amongst internal penances, too, it has been given a higher priority than the penance of self-study,8 and it has been said to be a means to overcome all causes of pains and miseries. In service, too, rendering service to the miserable creatures has been said to be better than serving the Lord.9 “One who serves those in pain and misery serves me,10 he is the true follower of my views.11 Service is nothing but to render the kind of help that anyone in need requires.12 Mercy is the natural disposition of any living being,13 and religion is nothing but to act in accordance with one’s natural disposition.14 Mercilessness or cruelty is said to be a form of angeral reflection, which is sinful.15 Compassion has been described as a sign of right vision while mercy and compassion have been given prominence in monastic conduct.16and17 Affection has also been said to be a sign of right-vision and right conduct.18 Mercy and friendship have been included as factors for karmic stoppage.19 If the positive activities like service, co-operation, kindness, compassion, friendship, etc., were to hinder liberation, had they been contrary to natural human disposition, there ought to have been provision for their renunciation as is there for all sinful activities. As this is not so, it is fundamentally erroneous to consider them as irreligious and contrary to natural disposition.
The purification of the soul is nothing but destruction of the bonded sinful karma. Therefore, destruction of the sinful karmic bondage and spiritual purification are simultaneous. And destruction and eventual separation of the sinful karma from the soul is called dharma and purification of the soul is called puṇya (merit). Thus, puṇya and dharma are closely related to each other. Puṇya cannot be separated from dharma. Therefore, where there is dharma, there is puṇya. When the stoppage and renunciation of sinful activities of violence, untruth, stealing, brutality, etc., take place, the meritorious activities like non-violence, truth, mercy, kindness, etc., originate. Considered from this standpoint, the activities like mercy, kindness, charity, service, etc., that constitute positive non-violence, destroy the sins and are the manifest forms of dharma; and as they also purify the spirit, they are the manifest form of puṇya as well. Therefore, dharma and puṇya are synonymous, 20 and they are the two sides of the same coin. The pure volition gained through subsiding or destruction of passions is the volitional puṇya. Mercy, kindness, service, charity, etc., are the practical form of this volitional puṇya. These two – volitional puṇya and practical puṇya – together are known as the puṇya tattva (fundamental element) or puṇya. This puṇya tattva is the indicator of spiritual purity. According to the principle, as the spirit becomes purer and purer its sensory, bodily powers and vitality increase proportionally. This itself is said to be the influx and incurring of puṇya. The puṇya-influx takes place when the wickedness and impurity are removed from the inner self.21 Meaning that it takes place through purification of consciousness.22 The influx of meritorious karmic configurations gives rise to proportionate quantity and potency of various kinds of puṇya types.
Again, according to the principle that karmic influx and bondage either of the sinful type or of the meritorious type cannot be said to be dharma, it must be understood that it is the puṇya tattva which is dharma, and not puṇya-āśrava and puṇya-bandha. However, though puṇya is a form of karma, it does not hinder spiritual emancipation and enlightenment. Therefore, as per the doctrine of karma, all the types of meritorious karmic configurations have been considered as non-destructive (aghātiyā karma) types. These have not even been considered as partially destructive types of karma. This means that meritorious karma types do not even partially destroy any of the spiritual qualities of a soul. On the contrary, the meritorious karma types automatically result in transformation and destruction of sinful karma types. Thus, meritorious karma types do not hinder but help the emancipation and eventual liberation of the spirit. It is true that liberation is gained only when complete destruction and separation of both the sinful and meritorious karma types is achieved, but it is only in the destruction and separation of the sinful karma types that an effort is required to be made, no religious practice or effort is required for the separation of the meritorious karma types. Their durational bondage is automatically destroyed and separated along with the destruction and separation of the sinful karma types. It is for this reason that in all the Jaina scriptures there is no provision for any practice or effort or endeavour for the destruction and renunciation of puṇya karma. What is meant, here, is that positive non-violence in the form of mercy, kindness, service, charity, etc., is dharma and they result in incurring of meritorious karma types, which help and not hinder spiritual emancipation and eventual liberation.23 Like this, it is quite clear that positive non-violence in the form of mercy, kindness, service, charity, etc., are helpful and do not hinder spiritual emancipation and eventual liberation.
Examined from another angle, mercy, charity, compassion, kindness, magnanimity, benevolence, affection, service, friendship, love, etc., are the positive aspects of non-violence, they are in the fundamental nature of the living, they result in the destruction of sins, and are therefore, causal to the gaining of spiritual emancipation and eventual liberation. This book deals with all these subjects and topics at length. The analysis given herein is based on self-analysis, is related to the conditions of life at present and it is without taking recourse to beliefs and expositions regarding afterlife, hells, heavens, etc.,. These have, rather, been based on the natural logic and reason.
For dispensing with aforementioned doubts, it has been necessary to repeat some principles and aphorisms more than once. It should not be taken as a flaw of repetition for the simple reason that it has been done for clarification and emphasis. For dispensing the false beliefs and emphasising the right ones it was necessary to do so. If such repetition was not resorted to, the treatment of various issues raised herein would have been incomplete and doubts expressed thereupon and false beliefs could not have been fully refuted and curiosity of the readers could not have been fully satisfied.
The conclusions drawn in this work are in conformity with what has been mentioned in the Jaina canonical works and the works on Jaina doctrine of karma. I have tried to be dispassionate in presenting them in a balanced and unprovocative language. However, it is possible to err due to my own limitations of knowledge and language. I, therefore, beg pardon from all scholars of canonical lore and welcome any constructive and dispassionate criticism on this work that may be forthcoming from any direction.
The grace of Ācāryapravar Shri Hastimalji M.S. has been greatly responsible for shaping my life and in fostering the spiritual interest in me. Whatever I am today, it is due to his grace to me. I have been closely associated with Shri Devendra Raj ji Mehta and he has constantly encouraged me for my writing activities and has been taking a very keen interest in publishing my works through Prakrit Bharati Academy. This book also owes its existence to his encouragement. Dear Dr. Dharmachand Jain co-operated in editing this volume. I am deeply indebted to all of them.
- Kanhaiyalal Lodha