Positive Non-Violence





Ṇissankiya-ṇikkankhiya-ṇivvitigicchā-amūḍhadiṭṭhī ya|

Uvavūha thirikaraṇe, vacchalla – pabhāvaṇe aṭṭha\

- Uttarādhyayana sūtra, 28.31.

Right vision has eight characteristics – 1. Doubtlessness, 2. Desirelessness, 3. Disgustlessness, 4. Undeluded vision, 5. Protection of the faithful, 6. Stabilisation of the wavering faithful, 7. Affection for all, and 8. Promotion of the faith by various means.

These have also been mentioned in Mūlācāra (Ch. 20), Sarvārthasiddhi (6.24), Rājavārtika (6.24), Pañcādhyāyī (479-80), etc.


Dhenurvatse akātrimasnehamutpādayati|

- Tattvārtha Rājavārtika, 6.24; Mūlācāra, 20.

As a cow is naturally affectionate towards her calf so an affectionate person also has natural affection for all living beings.

A cow bestows her natural affection on her calf and selflessly rears it with lot of care, it constantly keeps an eye on it all the time and does not tolerate any harm coming to it. Similarly, a person’s undiminishing flow of selfless love and affection for the others, his cooperation for others and never to desire any harm for them is said to be his affection for them. Such selfless affection is a part of right vision. In the absence of such affection the right vision can never be complete. Right vision has been considered essential for spiritual liberation. Therefore, this automatically proves the necessity of the feeling of affection for attaining spiritual emancipation and liberation.

In a true feeling of affection there is no place for attachment. The attachment comes in only where there is a desire for acquiring and enjoying means for own sensory pleasures. In a mother’s affection there is no desire for getting any comfort or solace from the child. The cow can even sacrifice her own life in trying to protect its calf even when on growing up it does not serve or help the cow in any way. The cow has no desire for getting anything in return from the calf and, therefore, her affection for the calf is said to be natural and selfless affection. The reason being that where there is a desire to get anything in return, there is attachment, there is delusion and not affection. Affection denotes natural and selfless love.

When a child is born it requires to be fed with mother’s milk. It cannot survive if the mother would not feed it. For its survival it is essential that the mother feed it. Not only feeding but to help the child in all possible ways is the sacred duty of the mother. The mother that does not perform this duty does not discharge her mother-dharma and does not even know the meaning of affection. Therefore, besides natural love practically affection also represents concrete help and cooperation.

There is a significant difference between humans and other living beings. The mothers in other species of living beings give birth to their offspring but cannot give them as much affection as a human mother can. The main reason behind this is that the mothers in subhuman species have to arrange for their own food for which they have to go about here and there leaving their offspring behind and unattended. They also have to struggle for their own survival and safety and invest their time and effort towards this vital need also. Another reason is that the linguistic ability and intellect in the mothers of other species are not as well developed as they are in human mothers. Because of these reasons the quality of the feeling of affection in the human mothers is that of a superior quality than that in the mothers of the other species. This feeling of affection is their power and their wealth. The mothers inherit this feeling of affection from the time when they were breast fed by their own mothers. This feeling of affection itself is variously called as humanity or humaneness. The development of affection itself is the development of humaneness. Without the feeling of affection a person does not only becomes inhuman but also descends below the animal level to become demonical, which is innumerable times worse than being an animal. An animal does not resolve to harm anyone; it attacks or harms another creatures only when either it is hungry or when its own safety is threatened. It does so for satisfying its needs and not for accumulation whereas the selfish human beings exploit the world for accumulation and for the sake of their insatiable greed. In this process they cause a great deal of harm to the others. Their hearts are very hard and cruel.

The Lords Tīrthaṅkaras observe the vow of non-violence in three ways and by three means. The canonical works have especially used the epithet of ‘universally affectionate’ for them. From this it is clear that the Lords’ activities were for the general weal of the living beings of the world. As has been said in this aphorism from the Saṁvara dvāra of the Praśnavyākaraṇa sūtra,

Esā Bhagavatī

Ahiṁsā jā sā aparimiyanāṇa-daṁsaṇadhrehiṁ


Titthaṅkarehiṁ savvajagavacchalehiṁ tiolgamahiehiṁ

Jiṇa-Candehiṁ suṭṭhu diṭṭhā”,

meaning that the Tīrthaṅkaras that are endowed with unlimited knowledge and vision, that are leaders in righteousness, humbleness, austerity, restraint and renunciation, that are universally affectionate and are venerable in the three worlds – upper, lower and middle – of the universe have rightly seen or known and preached the importance of the goddess non-violence. In this quotation, there is a special meaning attached to calling the Tīrthaṅkaras, the preachers of non-violence as universally affectionate. This speciality of theirs’ points at their unlimited kindness and love for all.

Affection is the prescriptive or practical form of non-violence. This is also known as love. Purification of attachment results in love. Therefore, love is the purified form of attachment. Where non-purified attachment becomes a cause of spiritual downfall, love raises it to new spiritual heights. Attachment is always with gross physical objects whereas love is with the spiritual qualities of a living being. Attachment establishes a relationship with inert objects and produces inertia where as love is about consciousness and it develops one’s consciousness. Love ends in detachment, which finally results in completely detached condition of the soul. Service or acts of benevolence are the practical aspects of detachment. What is meant here is that with respect to development of consciousness service and affection are important from the beginning to the end.

There is a great deal of difference between delusory attachment and affection. In delusory attachment the aim is to obtain pleasure from others while in affection the desire is to mitigate the pains and to give pleasure to others. Here, there is no desire even to get pleasure in return for the affection bestowed on others. It is purely selfless. In delusory attachment there is the desire of reciprocal favour or pleasure whereas in affection there is a desire to give away even the available means of pleasure to others and it helps the affectionate one to overcome the shackles of sensory pleasures. In delusory attachment there is always a selfish interest while in affection there is no selfishness but only generosity. When we treat someone with affection and generosity we pass on the feeling to the recipient also and the resultant rise of affection in him helps him also to develop his self.

There is an inverse relationship between affection and attachment. Wider the field of affection leaner will be the attachment. As a rubber balloon is inflated bigger and bigger its rubber walls become thinner and thinner and when it is inflated to its critical limit it bursts. Similarly, as the area of affection of a person becomes larger and larger his attachment becomes thinner and thinner. His feeling of affection expands from the family to the neighbourhood, from neighbourhood to the society, from the society to the entire humanity and from entire humanity to the animals, birds, fishes, insects, etc., to the entire livingset and then it becomes universally beneficial. In the end when the balloon of attachment bursts, the attachment is destroyed and one comes to the destroyed delusion or fully detached (vītarāga) state.

The practical form of the feeling of affection is service. In the scriptural language service is called ‘vaiyāvātya’. Vaiyāvātya has been included among the six internal types of penance. The internal penance has a very important role in reduction and separation of karmic bondages. What is meant is that affection in the form of service is one of the very important means of karmic reduction and separation. It is for this reason that affection has been included among the eight attributes of right vision.

As a mother looks after all her children with equal affection and she does not distinguish between one child and the other. Even then she knows the child that has more troubles needs more help from her and, therefore she accords priority to serving him. Likewise the weaker sections of the society, the poor and the weak need our help the most. Therefore to serve this lowest stratum of the society and to raise them to the level of the rest should be the first duty of the society at large and of the affectionate ones in particular. This feeling of affection is behind the concept of ‘antyodaya’ or the rise of the last of the downtrodden.

There is a feeling of affection in saving some creature. Affection is a godly quality. The Lord has universal affection. As the mother has the feeling of benefiting her offspring and all her activities are for their benefit, so the universally affectionate Lord also has the feeling of universal benefit. If two sons of a mother quarrel or fight with each other and hurt each other, she tries to stop them and tries to save them from any undesirable consequences. In this there is no feeling of discrimination for or against one or the other child. In her heart there is no feeling of attachment for one and that of aversion for the other child, she wants everyone’s welfare. This feeling of affection that transcends attachment and aversion is the best feeling; it is not sinful because it destroys the feeling of attachment that shackles the soul. That is why affection has been termed as beneficial. The heart of the saviour is full of affection for the one that is saved and for the one from whom he is saved. He has affection for both, for all, which is a godly quality.

In the affectionate feeling there is love, too. It is not born out of any expectation from anybody. What is born out of expectation is selfishness, not love. In love there is no expectation of any kind. Love is totally selfless. Love is not narrow but widespread and it is the same for everyone. There is no greater or lesser in love. Where there is a distinction of greater or lesser in love, there is a feeling of attachment and aversion. Wherever there is a feeling of aversion there can be no love. Love transcends the considerations of caste, creed, cults, sects, cultures, classes, societies, isms, etc. Mother’s love for her sons transcends the feeling of good son and the bad son. She loves both equally. She can give up everything, even her life for protecting her children. A cow can confront a lion and sacrifice her life in trying to protect her calf. The rise of such affection for all living beings itself is universal love. As the attachment wanes the feeling of love automatically expresses itself with greater strength. Attachment is fatal for love and it is also the greatest hindrance in love. Therefore, giving up attachment itself is the expression of love. As the enjoyment of sensory pleasures and attachment towards them reduces, the consciousness develops and manifests itself. This has been called the destruction cum subsidence of enjoyment obstructing karma (bhogāntarāya karma) and repeated enjoyment obstructing karma (upabhogāntarāya karma). Affection has been included among the attributes of right vision for these reasons only.

Right vision is dharma because it is amongst the three-way path to attain liberation. Therefore, the feeling of affection is also dharma. The feeling of affection is natural and that is why some do not consider it as dharma but only as merit or puṇya. However, if we do not consider affection, which a part of right vision itself as dharma then other parts like doubtlessness, disirelessness, etc., should also not be considered as dharma. This will be against the canonical dictates. Therefore, the feeling of affection is a part and parcel of dharma.

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