Positive Non-Violence



Mittiṁ bhūesu kappae

- Uttarādhyayana sūtra, 6.2.

There must be friendship amongst all living beings.


Mitti me savvabhūesu |

- Āvaśyaka sūtra, 6.2.

I may be friendly towards all living beings.




- Tattvārtha sūtra, 9.6.

Let there be friendship for all the living beings, a feeling of praise and joy for the virtuous, kindness for the miserable and a feeling of equanimity in dealing with adversity.


Sattveṣu maitrī guṇiṣu pramodaṁ,

kliṣṭeṣu jīveṣu kāpāparatvaṁ |

Mādhyasthabhāvaṁ viparītavāttau,

sadā mamātmā vidadhātu deva |

- Ācārya Amitagati.

Lord! Grant me the boon that in my soul there may be friendship for all the living beings, a feeling of praise and joy for the virtuous, kindness for the miserable and a feeling of equanimity in dealing with adversity.


Mittibhāvamuvagae yādi jive

bhāvavisohi kāūṇa nivvae bhavai |

- Uttarādhyayana sūtra, 29.17.

When a living being gains the feeling of friendship he also attains purity of volition and becomes fearless.


Medyati snihyatīti mitraṁ, tasyabhāvaḥ

samastasattvaviṣayaḥ snehapariṇāmo maitrī |

- Yogaśāstra Svo. Viva. 4.117.


Anyone who is affectionate is a friend. A feeling of affection for all the living beings is (universal) friendship.

Anyone who has guileless affection is a friend and the friend’s feeling of affection for all the living beings is called friendship. Friendship is one of the dimensions of non-violence preached by Bhagvān Mahāvīra. The Uttarā-dhyayana sūtra and the Āvaśyaka sūtra urge the faithful to have friendship for all the living beings and say that anyone who is friendly purifies his feelings and becomes fearless. A friendly being is himself fearless and he conveys this feeling of fearlessness to all those that come in his contact. Without the feeling of friendship there can be neither a gift of fearlessness nor a feeling of cooperation. Friendship is characterised by cooperation with the friend.

When there is a feeling of friendliness in the heart, it becomes immersed in love and where there is love, there is happiness. Such a heart feels ever fresh and remains free from desire, attachment, aversion, delusion, etc.

In friendship there is love but no attachment. Attachment appears only where there is some expectation and a desire to get pleasure from the others whereas in love the feeling is that of sharing our own pleasure with others. In friendship the feeling is to mitigate the pain and to benefit and to increase the pleasure of the friend even at the cost of one’s own pleasure. A friend remains ever ready to take any troubles and relinquish own pleasure so that his friend may remain free from trouble and be happy and even then he does not expect anything in return from the friend. In friendship there is selfless forsaking, which is dharma and devotion. Thus, friendship is a living example of dharma and devotion.A friend cannot remain without helping his friend. A friend cannot eat and drink when his friend suffers hunger and thirst and it cannot happen that a friend does not come to help and attend to, when his friend suffers from any malady and that a friend falls down and his friend does not lift him. Anybody who does otherwise is no friend and even if one claims to be a friend without helping, such a claim is false. It is not friendship but animosity. It is like laughing at the very concept of friendship. It is gross cruelty and it is grossly inhuman and animal conduct, which has no place in human life.

Friendship means love. Where there is love, there is no attachment and where there is attachment, there is no love. All living beings naturally like pleasure, which can be gained only through love and friendship. Attachment is a distorted form of love. In attachment there is a desire to get pleasure from others. Therefore, where there is attachment, there is enjoyment of sensory pleasures and there are feelings of inferiority, poverty and dependence. On the other hand in love and friendship there is the generous desire to give pleasure, to serve and to help. The generous feelings give rise to happiness in the heart and anyone whose heart is filled with happiness does not have to seek pleasure outside. Where there is no such necessity, the desire to get pleasure from others just does not arise. Thus, friendship is also a means to rise above sensory or worldly pleasure and to transcend such mundane thoughts. Freedom from mundane pleasures is the real freedom or liberation from the world.

Where the difference between the low status and high status remains, there can be no friendship. Friendship is possible only where there is a feeling of equality. There is equanimity in equality and equality in equanimity. These two terms are mutually inclusive. Equality or equanimity overcomes inequality. Inequality is at the root of all conflicts and pains, therefore, overcoming inequality is like overcoming conflicts, flaws and misery. This is liberation. Thus, it will not be an exaggeration to say that liberation is a gift of friendship.

In the Āvaśyaka sūtra, it has been said in support of friendship that –

Mitti me savvabhūesu, veraṁ majjhaṁ na keṇai |’

I have friendship for all living beings and animosity for none. This aphorism is repeated every morning and evening by all faithful followers who undertake the practice of Pratikramaṇa or retracting from the excesses committed by them and consequent flaws. In this aphorism the author does not stop at the negative in just saying, ‘I do not have animosity for any living beings’ but goes on to add the positive part, ‘I have friendship for all’. If the canonical author had just desired to convey the proscriptive side of non-violence, he would have stopped at saying, ‘I do not have animosity for any living beings’ and it would not have been necessary to add the part, ‘I have friendship for all’. From this aphorism it is clear that the author wishes to emphasise both the proscriptive and the prescriptive sides of non-violence. The reason being that in saying ‘I do not have animosity for any living beings does not imply saying ‘I have friendship for all’

To overcome enmity is important because it gives eligibility and strength for friendship. Actually, it is the feeling of friendship that is important. Not only this, without the feeling of friendship the absence of enmity will not last long. The reason is that the heart in which the spring of friendship does not flow eternal is a dry and sapless heart. Dryness results in boredom. Therefore, a true spiritual aspirant’s heart is always full of the feeling that everyone must be well and happy. This is the true feeling of friendship. As has been said in the Sāmāyika rendering, ‘Sattveṣu maitrī’ or ‘friendship for all’.

In what follows, we present some thoughts on friendship and animosity and their benefits and harms –

1. Enmity destroys peace and happiness, because seeing others’ flaws is at the root of enmity. When we recall the instances of our hurts and harms we can only be driven by the feelings of retaliation. This gives rise to flames of enmity. The heart that is aflame with feelings of animosity cannot have peace and happiness. 2. Enmity is such a deadly poison that hits the head and affects and destroys its softest feelings and produces imbalance and disorder, which spoils the health.

3. In the fire of animosity the creative faculties of the brain are burnt away and leave it without any creative powers. A person with such weak heart cannot make any great contribution and spends his life in trivial pursuits.

4. To harm one who has harmed us is like biting one that has bitten us. This is the dog instinct and not that of a gentleman. This is the animal instinct and not human instinct. The human instinct shows itself in friendship and not in animosity. A human being wins over animosity with friendship and maltreatment with good treatment because he knows that the fire of animosity cannot be doused by pouring the kerosene of animosity but only by pouring the water of friendship.

5. The main reason behind seeing others’ flaws is that we measure others’ actions by our standards and consider them as inviolable. Anyone who considers his own standards as the best, expects that entire world must follow them. Anyone that rejects or does not follow his standards is considered as a bad or a flawed person. However, the principle of many-ended reasoning says that everyone is guided by his own wisdom and powers and lives his life according to his own standards. Therefore, it is the lack of discretion that is to blame, which is not acceptable even to him and, so, he is entitled to our forgiveness and not to aversion and punishment. The truth of the matter is that between the saint and the criminal there is only the difference of stages of virtues to which one has developed at that time. The saint of that time might have been a criminal at some time in the past and the criminal of that time could have been a saint at another time in the past. In the stages of development the sinner is like a child and the saint is like an old man. Therefore, to hate the sinner is like hating the innocent, disobedient and playful children who will keep committing mistakes. It is neither logical nor justified.

6. To hate the sinner happens because we feel bad and harbour animosity towards them. This is not proper. We must hate the sin and not the sinner. The hate must be directed towards bad qualities and not to the bad person. No body likes to be bad and even then if he behaves badly, it is because he is not aware of the bad results that would eventually come to him sooner or later. Otherwise who will be so ignorant to imbibe the poison of bad qualities knowing them to hurt him only? To hate the ignorant is also ignorance. If an infant spoils his clothes by defecating in them he needs to be helped sympathetically and not hated or rebuked. Therefore the efforts of the learned must be directed at obliterating the sins and not the sinners. The wise and the learned do not harbour any aversion or anger towards any living being how-so-ever bad his deeds may be. When there is no anger in the heart, there remains no need for forgiveness also. Forgiveness is needed only when one feels bad about something. The best situation is when the need for forgiveness just does not arise. This situation can come about when we forgive all the living beings beforehand for all their known and unknown flaws and faults and forger all feelings of animosity towards them and establish a feeling of friendship with them.

7. The question is raised that why should the criminals and sinners not be considered as punishable? Why should there be no feeling of aversion towards them? In reply we will have to say that in the entire human race there would not be even one person who would be completely flawless from birth. The reason is that birth itself is a result of attachment, which is the breeding ground for all flaws. Therefore, everybody is flawed right from birth onwards. No one’s past is flawless. Flawlessness is a result of long and arduous spiritual practice and everyone is capable of attaining this state with spiritual practice. No worldly creature is free from some flaw or the other; therefore, if we were to punish the flawed persons, every one of us will have to be punished. If each of us were to punish each other for their flaws there would be great disorder and pandemonium in the world and the world would become hell.

According to the doctrine of karma, every one gets the natural retribution for his good or bad actions naturally. The sin is itself like poison that punishes the sinner with many miseries like lack of peace, inner turmoil, etc. The sinner is definitely miserable. A miserable person is entitled to kindness, sympathy and help not to punishment. Call him entitled to kindness, sympathy and help or to friendship, it is one and the same thing. When even a sinner is entitled to friendship then what to say of a flawless person? He is definitely entitled to our friendship. In other words, all people, whether they are flawed or flawless are entitled to friendship and not to our animosity and punishment.

8. The learned and the enlightened ones appreciate virtues. They know that everyone’s nature and actions depend on his spiritual development. The stage of spiritual development is different in different people and, therefore, it is natural that their nature and activities also differ. The basic reason for flaws and badness in people is lack of spiritual development otherwise all the souls in the universe have similar potential and powers. Therefore, the way to reform a sinner is not through revenge but through spiritual development.

9. The meanest of persons even have many good qualities. We cannot find even one person in the entire world who is only flawed and totally devoid of virtues. The learned look at their virtues and they are filled with love for them. This makes them happy. Like this, the happiness born out of friendship eats away the melancholy born out of animosity. A person endowed with the feeling of friendship always remains happy while gripped by the feeling of animosity, the ignorant ones remain sorry, melancholy and depressed.

10. Where looking at others’ flaws is bad, looking at one’s own faults is good. By looking at our own flaws we can help ourselves in becoming flawless. No one wants to remain flawed. Therefore, when one comes to know about one’s flaws he tries to overcome them. A person embraces a flaw only till such time that he does not consider it a flaw and considers it as beneficial for him. Like this, in the field of spiritual practice looking at one’s own flaws is considered very important. In the scriptural language it known as ‘āloyaṇā or ālocanā’. Every one knows about the importance of āloyaṇa for a spiritual aspirant.

Where there is no darkness, there is light. Similarly, where there is no animosity, there is friendship and where there is absence of animosity and presence of friendship, the giving and receiving of forgiveness is naturally available.

Actually, in the above mentioned aphorism, the utmost form of spiritual practice and its supreme accomplishment have been mentioned. Forgiveness, generosity, begging for forgiveness, humility, giving up enmities, equanimity and love indicate the quality of friendship in a person. The development of these qualities can change one from a bad person to a good one and eventually makes him the supreme soul or God.

Friendship can be there only where there is no animosity, where there is love, willingness to cooperate and affection. Affection means considering and treating all living beings as oneself. Therefore, in friendship there is an element of equality. Where there is a desire to get sensory enjoyment from some one, there is enjoyment there, but there is no friendship. Friendship can be there only where one is ready to selflessly and happily sacrifice one’s own pleasures for making a friend happy.

Friendship represents affection. Therefore, ‘Mittī me savvabhūesu’ means affection for all the living beings. Where there is affection there no feeling of own and other, everyone is our own. In universal affection no living being is alien or strange. Therefore, there is a feeling of helping and cooperating with everyone. Actually active cooperation itself is service. In service, there is an active feeling of universal benefit, which is the feeling of friendship. Where the feeling of universal service is not there, but there is a tendency to ignore them by thinking that they are miserable due to their own karmic retribution that we do not have anything to do with them, one tries to use all the available means, abilities and powers only for one’s own use rather than using them for the benefit of all. In such a case there is no feeling of universality but of selfishness and where there is selfishness, there is no friendship but only desire for pleasure and enjoyment. Mundane pleasure is at the root of all misery.

Although the practical form of service is always limited due to one’s own ability and capacity, but the volitional form of service is unlimited and can extend to the entire universe. This is the universal feeling of service. This universal feeling itself is in the form of affection or love for all. This itself is the feeling of friendship for all the living beings. In friendship there is love, which destroys attachment. All flaws come in only where there is attachment. The law of nature says ‘where there are flaws there is misery’. Thus, in order to be free from misery one should free oneself from flaws. In order to be free from flaws one must free oneself from attachment and the way to be free from attachment, is to have the feeling of love and love is nothing but friendship. Therefore, where there is a feeling of friendship for all living beings, there is a natural freedom from attachment, flaws, and misery. There is no doubt about it what-so-ever.

The feeling of friendship not only destroys attachment but also the feeling of aversion. The reason for this is that the opposite of feeling of friendship is the feeling of animosity and, therefore, to give up animosity and to adopt friendship means to give up aversion and to adopt love. Like this the feeling of friendship destroys the feeling of attachment and aversion. It is, thus, a way to practice total detachment, restraint and renunciation. As has been said in the Tattvārtha sūtra:


satvaguṇādhikakliṣyamānāvinayeṣu |

- Tattvārtha sūtra, 9.6.

That is – Let there be friendship for all the living beings, a feeling of praise and joy for the virtuous, kindness for the miserable and a feeling of equanimity in dealing with adversity.


In these four kinds of feelings, the main feeling is that of friendship. It is so because only a person endowed with the feeling of friendship can have a feeling of joy for the virtuous, a feeling of kindness for the miserable and a feeling of forgiveness for the flawed. Therefore, the rest three feelings follow the feeling of friendship. Where there are differences, divisions and a feeling of lesser and greater, there can be no friendship there. In friendship there is unity, equanimity, affection, love and lack of distinction between the two friends. Where there is friendship, there exist the godly feelings. Friendship and equanimity coexist and the God resides in equanimity. In other words we can say that the God lives where there is friendship. It is for this reason that in Buddhism friendship has been referred to as ‘Brahma-vihāra’.

Where there is selfishness, that is, where there is a desire to get pleasure for oneself, there is no friendship there. There can be no friendship in an environment of selfishness. Friendship exists only where one feels happy in the happiness of the friend. A tendency to enjoy oneself is that of mundane pleasure. To renounce own pleasure is not bhoga – enjoyment but yoga – renunciation. Bhoga is the cause of karmic bondage whereas yoga is the cause of liberation. Bhoga is adharma whereas yoga is dharma. Therefore, where there is friendship, there is dharma. Friendship and dharma are one.

The love that is born out of friendship destroys attachment. Attachment is where there is a desire to enjoy worldly pleasures. Where there is a feeling of renouncing own pleasures and to mitigate others’ misery and melancholy, and that of being happy in their happiness, there is love. Love is the manifestation of God. Therefore, where there is love there is God. The heart in which the love does not spring, the attachment grows. Where there is attachment, there is karmic bondage and worldly transmigration. Love can be gained only by overcoming attachment. Where there is no attachment, there isdetachment. Where there is detachment, there is God. Therefore, where there is love, there is God. Thus, godliness is possible through universal friendship and love. This feeling of love and universal friendship is eternal, unhindered and infinite. This is the indication that one has achieved godliness.

In friendship there is a feeling of benefiting everyone. The selfishness and desire for mundane pleasure is totally absent there. The feeling of own and the other is destroyed only when the pride is destroyed. Because as long as the feeling of ‘I’ remains, the feeling of distinction and difference would remain and a feeling of friendship is not possible. The feeling of affection or friendship rises only when the feeling of ‘I’ or pride is destroyed and the feeling of nothingness – ākiñcanya – comes in. Where there is no feeling of pride, there cannot be any desires, myness, desire for mundane pleasures, selfishness, delusion, etc. Therefore, friendship strengthens detachment.

In Uttarādhyayana sūtra, Chapter 29, aphorism 17 it has been said that – “Mittibhāvamuvagae yādi jive bhāvavisohi kāūṇa nivvae bhavai” that is – When a living being gains the feeling of friendship he also attains purity of volition and becomes fearless. Thus, the feeling of friendship being a means of volitional purification is ‘dharma’.

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