Positive Non-Violence


Kindness And Compassion



Uvasama saṁvego vi a, nivveo taha ya hoi |

Aṇukampā atthikkaṁ ca ee, sammatte lakkhaṇā pañca |

- Pravacnasāroddhāra, dvāra149, verse 940.

That is – Subsidence (upaśama), Desire for spiritual emancipation (saṁvega), Detachment (nirveda), Compassion (anukampā) and Spiritual belief (āstikya) are the five indicators of right vision.


Tisidaṁ bubhukkhidaṁ vā duhidaṁ daṭṭhūṇa, jo du duhidamaṇo|

Paḍivajjadi taṁ kivayā, tassesa hodi aṇukampā |

- Pañcāstikāya,.

That is – on seeing the thirsty, the hungry or the miserable if one is moved to act to mitigate their misery, that is one’s quality of compassion.


Jīve aṇukampae aṇubbhaḍe vigayasoge carittamohaṇijjaṁ kammaṁ khavei |

- Uttarādhyayana sūtra, 29.29.

That is – One who is compassionate, and without pride and sorrow, destroys the conduct-deluding karma.


Tadevaṁ praśamasaṁveganirvedānukampāstikyābhivyakti-lakṣaṇaṁ Tattvārthaśraddhānaṁ samyagdarśanaṁ |

- Sabhṛṣya Tattvārthādhigamasūtra, 1.2.

That is – Like this, the right vision manifests in the qualities of subsidence, desire for spiritual emancipation, detachment, compassion, and belief in the soul and in the existence of the fundamental verities.


Praśamasaṁveganirvedānukampāstikyābhivyaktilakṣaṇaṁ samyaktvaṁ |

- Dhavalā 1/1.1.4.

That is – the right vision manifests itself in the qualities of subsidence, desire for spiritual emancipation, detachment, compassion, and belief in the soul.


Tae ṇaṁ Mehā! tāe pāṇāṇukampayāe jāva sattāṇu-kampayāe saṁsāre parittīkae, māṇussāue nibaddhaṁ |

- Jñātādharmakathā, Beawar, Ch.1, p. 86.

That is – “O’ Megha! you substantially reduced your worldly transmigration due to practicing compassion towards the creatures, souls, living beings and their vitalities.


Karuṇāe jīva-sahāvassa kammajaṇidattavirohādo |

- Dhavalā Book 13 p. 362.

Kindness is the soul’s natural attribute and hence to consider it as an outcome of karmic fruition is a contradiction.




- Tattvārthasūtra, 9.6.

That is – One must show the feelings of friendship, joyous veneration, mercy and non-reacting neutrality towards all the living beings, the virtuous, the miserable and the insufferable respectively.


The detailed analyses about kindness and compassion are available in the literature of both the traditions – Digambara as well as Śvetāmbara. The Śvetāmbara tradition has depicted them as qualities that can aid the limiting of the worldly transmigration of a soul and destroy the conduct deluding karma. In the Digambara tradition, Kundakundācārya has said, that compassion is nothing but to be moved to the aid of the miserable creatures suffering from thirst, hunger or pain. As has been depicted in the author’s own commentary (Svopajña Bhṛṣya) on Umāsvāti’s Tattvārthasūtra that is universally acceptable in the Jaina tradition. Both the traditions accept compassion as a sign of right vision. At the same time, the qualities of subsidence, desire for spiritual emancipation, detachment, and belief in the soul have also been mentioned as the signs of right vision. The quotations from Pravacana-sāroddhāra and Dhavalā commentary also support this view. This proves that anyone who is deprived of compassion cannot have right vision and he cannot liberate, because right vision is essential for liberation. This is the simple and straight forwards conclusion of the Jaina belief. To ignore or oppose it is simply irreligious.

Compassion is an offshoot of mercy and kindness. Kindness and compassion go hand in hand. Digambarācārya Vīrasena has said that mercy is not due to the fruition of any karma and that is the reason why it is a natural attribute of the soul. The Tattvārthasūtra carries the message of kindness towards the miserable creatures. The feeling that others’ misery must be mitigated is the feeling of mercy. It has been called, “Paraduḥkhavināśinī karuṇā”. The quality of sensitivity is also closely related to that of kindness.

Sensitivity is an indication of consciousness. As a living being develops so does its sensitivity also. When the sensitivity increases beyond a particular limit the person so endowed can sense others’ pains and sensations as well. At this stage he becomes sensitive to others’ pain and misery and is moved by the feeling of mercy and kindness and tries to mitigate them. This sensitivity to others’ pain and misery is called kindness or compassion. A person who is so moved by others’ pain and misery rises above his own pain and misery and employs his powers in others’ service. A person’s nobility and depth of consciousness depends on the nobility and depth of his compassion.

The spiritual aspirant who is sensitive to others’ pain and misery naturally uses his powers and capabilities in order to ever mitigate the misery of all the creatures. This is his infinite charity (ananta dāna). A person so moved by mercy loves all living beings and his heart is filled with nature’s beauty and glory. His own pains and misery do not matter for him. He rises above transient pleasures and starts enjoying the fountain of everlasting joy that springs eternal within his self, as such pleasure is permanent, it is eternal. He thus enjoys eternal spiritual pleasure. A kind person considers everyone as his own and he becomes one with them. For the others, too, he becomes their own. This feeling of unity with others is always shown in his intimacy with them and he develops friendliness with all. This feeling of friendship remains ever fresh. This ever fresh sense of friendship with all the living beings has been said to be the ‘infinite enjoyment (ananta upabhoga). Once this infinite enjoyment is gained nothing more remains to be gained. The enjoyer of such infinite enjoyment becomes ‘all accomplished’ (kātakātya). He, then, has no expectation from others and, therefore he does not depend on anyone else. In this sense he becomes absolutely independent. Anyone who is independent is never incapable. Having thus overcome his incapacity he becomes infinitely capable. In the canonical lore this infinite endowment itself has been said to be ‘infinite prowess (ananta vīrya)’.

Like this, a person who is moved to mercy by others’ pain and misery becomes endowed with infinite charity, infinite enjoyment, and infinite prowess. When the disqualification of delusion gets reduced the feeling of mercy increases and so does sensitivity. When the inertia dies out consciousness develops. An indulgent person’s conscious-ness remains unconscious and inert to the extent of his indulgence in sensory pleasures. He remains so immersed in his own sensory pleasures that he is not moved to mercy even when he inflicts pain on others. He enjoys at the expense of others. His cruelty and heartless truculence and mercilessness are indicative of his unconscious conscience and inert consciousness. As the delusion gets reduces the selfishness also gets reduced and as selfishness gets reduced the feeling of mercy starts to rise. Therefore, the feeling of mercy is indicative of reduction or destruction of delusion. As the delusion is destroyed the desires aredestroyed too and on destruction of desires one never feels any deficiency. He always feels gainful and fulfilled. The destruction of desire results in the destruction of attachment due to fulfilment of desires and of aversion due to their non-fulfilment. The destruction of attachment and aversion destroys the feeling of duality with others and fills one with affection towards all. This fills him with self-enjoyment on the spiritual plane.

The qualities of kindness and compassion spring from one’s inner self. To identify one’s own feelings and experiences with those of the others is sympathy. When the feelings of mercy and sympathy are on the rise, the feelings of attachment and sensuality wane, the mental tension gets reduced, one becomes inward looking and is inclined towards introversion.

The feeling of mercy starts with sympathy for those who are near about and for the five-sensed creatures. We are generally aware of the feelings of those who are our near and dear ones and, therefore, we are moved by compassion towards them. We are generally not aware of the feelings of those that are not within the circle of our relationships or acquaintance and are not moved by mercy their conditions. As the circle of our affection and intimacy increases the circle of our mercy also increases. Then gradually we start including entire humanity, animals, birds, insects and even immobile creatures such as vegetation, etc., within the circle of our affection and intimacy and are moved by mercy for them. Finally we develop a feeling of mercy for the entire animate world. The reason being that all the worldly living beings are flawed and the flaws are in themselves, reasons for misery. This results in pain and misery and suffering for the entire set of living beings. Looked at from this standpoint all the worldly living beings are miserable and in pain and suffering and, therefore, deserve mercy. Like this, when one appreciates the infinitely miserable nature of the entire worldly living set, one is moved by infinite mercy towards them. Such infinite mercy irresidually destroys attachment and results in perfectly detached state. This is indicative of the fullest spiritual development.

Mercy and delusion are quite different. In delusion we expect pleasure from others and in mercy we are moved by others’ misery and wish to sacrifice our own pleasures for their sake. The mercy extends itself equally towards all without any distinction of caste or creed, rich or poor, classes or masses, own or other, etc.

Mercy is an indication of spiritual development. The merciful gives up his own pleasures for the sake of others while the indulgent are always eager to snatch them form the others. The latter is always begging for the means of physical enjoyments and is, therefore, a beggar. One who serves others is charitable. He constantly radiates happiness.

Mercy melts the heart of man. With this melting of the heart melts the feeling of attachment therein. Just as heat melts solid into liquid and liquid into gaseous state, which eventually evaporates, so does mercy or the warmer of his sensitivity towards others’ troubles and travails, melt the dense ‘delusion’ into fluid delusion and then fluid delusion into vaporised delusion that vanishes eventually.

Jainism accords the highest priority to the quality of mercy. The Dhavalā commentary on Śaṭkhaṇḍāgama depicts mercy as a natural attribute of the living beings -

Karuṇāe kāraṇaṁ kammaṁ karuṇeti kiṁ ṇa vuttaṁ?

Ṇa, karuṇāe jīvasahāvassa kammajaṇidattavirohādo |

- Dhavalā, Book 13, p. 362.

Question – Why has this not been said that any activity that is responsible for mercy is mercy-karma?

Answer – No, because mercy is a natural attribute of the soul, to believe it to be an outcome of karmic fruition is contradictory.


Mercy is a natural volitional disposition. A natural attribute never leaves a soul. Therefore, the disposition to mitigate the miseries of others remains ever present in the merciful. It has been said of mercy –

1. Dīnānugrahabhāvaḥ kāruṇyaṁ |

- Sarvārtha-siddhi, 7.11; Tattvārthavārtika, 7.11

Mercy is nothing but to have a volitional disposition of compassion for the miserable.


2. Dīneṣvārteṣu bhīteṣu yācamāneṣu jīvitaṁ |

Pratikāraparābuddhiḥ kāruṇyamamidhīyate |

- Hemacandra, Yogaśāstra, Prakaraṇa 4, 120

The inclination to mitigate the troubles of those that are poor, miserable, frightened and begging for life is to have the quality of mercy.


3. Kāruṇikatvaṁ ca vairāgyād na bhidyate |

- Syādvādamañjarī.

Mercy is not different from detachment. Where there is mercy, attachment is always on the wane.

Compassion -

Where there is mercy, there is compassion, too. One whose heart does not shake on seeing those in pain and misery, he is not kind but cruel and heartless. He is stonehearted and is beset with inertia and insensitivity. That is, his quality of right vision is heavily obscured. His consciousness is undeveloped. Consciousness or sensitivity is the sign of life. One is said to be inert to the extent that one lacks sensitivity. To that extent he is undeveloped and at a lower order of life. The development of sensitivity itself is the development of consciousness. A person is as compassionate as his heart is filled with the quality of sensitivity. Compassion is a sign of right vision. Where there is no compassion, there is no right vision also. A person who lacks compassion can never be endowed with right vision and one who has not the right vision cannot liberate. Therefore, only that person can aspire for spiritual salvation that is right-visioned and right-visioned is one whose heart is filled with compassion. As has been said –

Samyaktvaṁ kīdāśaṁ bhavati? Pañceti, pañcabhiḥ śamasaṁve-ganirvedānukampāstikyarūpairlakṣaṇaiḥ liṅgairlakṣitamupalakṣitaṁ bhavati |

- Dharmasaṁgraha, Adhikāra 2.

Saṁvego cia uvasama nivveo taha ya hoi aṇukampā atthikkaṁ cia ee sammatte lakkhaṇā pañca |

Vāhatkalpavātti, 1.2.

That is, the right vision is indicated through these five signs – subsidence, strong desire for spirituality, detachment from the mundane, compassion and firm belief in the existence of the soul.

Saṁvegaḥ praśamaḥ sthairyaṁ asaṁmūḍhatva-masmayaḥ āstikyamanukampeti jñeyā samyaktvabhāvanā |

- Mahāpurāṇa, 21.97.

That is, strong spirituality, subsidence, stability, detachment, pridelessness, spiritual belief and compassion are the seven expressions of right vision.

Praśamasaṁvegānukampāstikyābhivyaktilakṣaṇaṁ samyaktvaṁ |

- Dhavalā Book 1, p. 151, 1/1.1.4

That is, expression of subsidence, strong spirituality, spiritual belief and compassion is the sign of right vision.

This means that compassion is one of the five signs or indicators (subsidence, strong desire for spirituality, detachment from the worldly, compassion and firm belief in the existence of the soul) of right vision. Since right vision is a part of the path of spiritual liberation, which is dharma, therefore, compassion is also dharma.

Explaining the form of compassion it has been said –

1. Bālā ya vuḍḍhā ya apaṅgā ya, loge visese aṇukampaṇijjā |

Vāhatkalpabhṛṣya, 4342.

Children, old people and the disabled ones are specially eligible for compassion.


2. Mā hoha ṇiraṇukampā, hoha dāṇayarā |

Do not be without compassion; be charitable.


3. Trasasthāvareṣu dayā anukampā |

Tattvārthaślokavārtika, 1.2.12.

To be kind to the moving and the stationary creatures is compassion.


4. Anukampā duḥkhiteṣu kāruṇyaṁ |

Tattvārthabhṛṣya, Haribhadrasūri vātti, 1.2.

To be merciful to the miserable creatures is compassion.


5. Anugrahabuddhayārdrīkātacetasaḥparapīḍāmātma-saṁsthāmiva kurvato’nukampanamanukampā |

Tattvārthabhṛṣya, Siddhasenagaṇi vātti, 6.13.

When a kind person of altruistic inclination is moved by mercy by considering the others’ pain as his own, it is compassion.


6. Sarvaprāṇiṣu maitrī anukampā |

Tattvārthavārtika, 1.2.30.

Compassion is the feeling of friendship for all the living beings.


7. Anukampā duḥkhiteṣu apakṣapātena duḥkha-prahāṇecchā |

Yogaśāstra, svopajñavivaraṇa, 2.15.

An impartial desire to mitigate others’ misery is compassion.


8. Dharmasya paramaṁ mūlamanukampāṁ pra-cakṣate |

Upāsakādhyayana, 2.30.

Compassion is the foremost foundation of dharma.


9. Kliṣyamānajantūddharaṇabuddhiḥ anukampā |

Bhagavatū ārādhanā, Mūlā tīkā, 1696.

An inclination to deliver the miserable creatures from their misery is compassion.


10. Anukampā duḥkhitasatvaviṣayā kāpā |

Dharambindu, Municandra vātti, 3.7.

Kindness for the miserable creatures is compassion.


11. Anukampākhilasatvakāpā |

Aṇagāra dharmāmāta, 2.52.

Anukampā kāpā jñeyā sarvasatveṣvanugrahaḥ |

Lāṭi saṁhitā, 3.89; Pañcādhyāyī, 2446.

An altruistic kindness for all the living beings is compassion.


12. Sarveṣu prāṇiṣu cittasya dayārdratvamanukampā |

Tattvārthavātti, Śrutasāgarasūri, 1.2.

An inclination towards kindness for all the living beings is compassion.

Ācārya Abhayadevasūri who has written commentaries on nine primary canonical works, has warned those that prohibit compassion in the following words –

Aṇukampādāṇaṁ puṇa Jiṇehiṁ na kayāi paḍisiddhaṁ|

- Commentary on Vyākhyāprajñapti, 8.36.


That is – Lords Jina had never prohibited compassionate charity.

In the fourth part of the Āhāṇāṅga sūtra the following four alternative combinations have been mentioned –

Cattāri purisajāyā paṇṇattā taṁjahā –

Āyāṇukampae ṇāmege ṇo parāṇukampae,

Parāṇukampaeṇāmege ṇo āyāṇukampae,

Ege āyāṇukampae vi parāṇukampae vi,

Ege ṇo āyāṇukampae ṇo parāṇukampae|

Āchāṇāṅga sūtra, Āhāṇā 4, aphorism 352.

Commentary– Ātmānukampakaḥ ātmahitapravāttaḥ| Pratyekabuddho Jinakalpiko vā parānapekṣo nirghāṇaḥ| Parānukampakaḥ niṣṭhitārthatayā Tīrthaṅkara ātmānapekṣo vā dayaikaraso Metāryavat| Ubhayānukampakaḥ sthivara-kalpikaḥ ubhayānanukampakaḥ pāpātmā Kālaśaurikādiriti|

Meaning – 1. Those who are self-compassioned but not compassionate for the others. This first alternative applies to three types of people – Pratyekabuddha, Jinakalpī anda cruel person that does not care for others. These three are always engaged in helping themselves and do not help others.

2. Those who are not self-compassioned but compassionate for the others. This second alternative decidedly applies to the Tīrthaṅkaras as well as to the likes of Metārya muni and Dharmaruci Aṇagāra, etc., who did not care for themselves but cared for the others.

3. Those who are self-compassioned as well as compassionate for the others. This third alternative applies to the Sthavirakalpī monks who care for both.

4. Those who are neither self-compassioned nor compassionate for the others. This fourth alternative applies to great sinners like the butcher Kālaśaurika, etc., who cared for none.

In this example with four alternatives it has been mentioned that it is the Sthavirakalpī monks that care for both – for themselves as well as for the others. That is they ought to be compassionate towards themselves as well as the others. Thus, to save a dying creature is the religious duty of a Sthavirakalpī monk. Therefore those monks who say that we do not save others but avoid sinning ourselves must be included in the third type of persons – the cruel ones – in the first alternative.

Thus, to be compassionate towards the self as well as the others is the religious duty of the Sthavirakalpī monk. If he avoids this duty he shirks the performance of his duty and can only be categorised as cruel. This is the implication of this example of four alternatives.

Meritorious Influx and Karmic Destruction from Compassion –


Puṇṇassāsavabhūdā aṇukampā suddhao uvajoo |

Vivario pāvassa hu āsavaheuṁ viyāṇāhi |

- Jayadhavalā, Book 1, p. 52.

That is – Compassion and pure volitional consciousness both result in meritorious karmic influx; on the other hand, their opposites – lack of compassion and impure volitional consciousness result in sinful karmic influx. The reasons for karmic influx must be understood in this light.

In the abovementioned verse, Vīrasenācārya has clearly said that compassion and pure consciousness result in meritorious or pious karmic influx. The first implication from this is that even the pure consciousness results in karmic influx and the second one is that compassion and purity of consciousness go hand in hand and aid each other. That is, the result that can be achieved through pure volitional consciousness can also be achieved through compassion. The third implication is that it is the pure consciousness and not the impure one (vibhāva) that results in meritorious karmic influx. Actually, the impure volitional consciousness or vibhāva results in sinful and not meritorious karmic influx. These three facts are the heart and the soul of the Jaina culture and its doctrine of karma.

On page 5 of the same Jayadhavalā Book 1, Śrī Vīrasenācārya has said that the auspicious and pure volitional dispositions result in karmic destruction also while on page 96 of the same book they have been said to result in meritorious karmic influx. From this it becomes clear that the volitional dispositions that result in meritorious karmic influx are also responsible for karmic destruction. This means that the reasons for meritorious karmic influx and karmic destruction are the same. This implies that more the meritorious karmic influx, the greater will be the karmic destruction. By prevarication we can say that meritorious karmic influx results in sinful karmic destruction. Also, the rule is that which results in karmic destruction cannot result in karmic bondage. Thus, meritorious karmic influx in not a cause for sinful karmic bondage.

Presently, the prevailing viewpoint among the general public in the Jaina society is that where there is karmic influx, there is karmic bondage, too. However, this viewpoint must be considered from the points of view of the fundamental verities of merit (puṇya tattva), influx (āsrava tattva), and bondage (bandha tattva). If all forms of karmic influx were to result in karmic bondage then there was no justification in considering them as two different elements. They ought to have been combined into one element only. However, karmic bondage takes place due to passions and actions both. Again auspicious activities do not result in karmic bondage and it has been said to be a reason forkarmic destruction. Because auspicious activities indicate lessening of passions, they result in reduction in the duration of the bondage due to destruction of such duration of bondage. As a rule as the auspicious or pure volitional dispositions increase, auspicious activities like kindness, compassion, renunciation, restraint, penance, etc., will also increase and consequently the meritorious influx will also increase. This increase in the quantity of these auspicious natured karma will take place by the destruction and reduction of the corresponding durations of inauspicious natured sinful karmic bondages.

In the abovementioned verse, compassion and pure volitional consciousness have been mentioned as the reasons for meritorious karmic influx. This shows that what is done by pure volitional consciousness is also done by compassion because the auspicious volitional dispositions are the practical aspects of pure volitional consciousness. Actually, the pure consciousness results in purification of the soul, which results in the increase in its sensitivity, which is an attribute of its quality of right vision. This sensitivity itself manifests itself in the form of compassion, affection, kindness, mercy, etc. All these are the expressions of quality of rightness of vision and are, therefore natural attributes of the soul.

Like this, compassion is a form of pure volitional consciousness and cannot be separated from it. Therefore what can be accomplished through pure volitional consciousness can also be accomplished by compassion. Kindness is also a form of compassion only and, therefore kindness is also a natural attribute of the soul. Both – kindness and compassion being pure or auspicious volitional dispositions result in sinful karmic destruction.

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