Positive Non-Violence


To Consider Mercy As

Abandonable Is Erroneous



Mercy is the inherent nature of a living being. To consider it as delusion or deluding is not correct.

Karuṇāe kāraṇaṁ kammaṁ karuṇeti kiṁ na vuttaṁ?

Karuṇāe jīva-sahāvassa kammajaṇidattavirohādo|

Akaruṇāe karuṇāe kāraṇaṁ kammaṁ vattavvaṁ|

Ṇa esa doso, sañjamaghādi kammāṇaṁ phalabhāveṇa tissaṁ abbhuva-gamādo\

- Dhavalā Book 13, 5548, p. 361.

Question – Why has this not been said that the karuṇā-karma is the cause of karuṇā (mercy)?

Answer – No, this has not been said because mercy is the inherent nature of all living beings and, therefore, to consider it as caused by some karma is contradictory.

Question – Then karma must be a cause of mercilessness.

Answer – There is no flaw in this argument, because it (mercilessness or cruelty) has been accepted as a result of the conduct destroying karmas (infinitely bonding, renunciation – even partial – preventing and renunciation obscuring).


That is to say that the reason behind cruelty or lack of mercy is the fruition of deluding karma. Therefore it is abandonable. Said in other words it means that if there is an expectation of some kind of return from the object of mercy then it is selfishness and delusion. The extent to which this flaw of delusion reduces from the acts of mercy, it becomes pure and flawless to that extent. When this flaw disappears completely, the mercy becomes absolutely pure and devoid of any delusion (fully detached) and then the quality of mercy becomes infinite and takes the shape of infinite charity.

Erroneous Concept – Some followers of Jainism say that the activities of mercy, kindness, compassion, service, benevolence, etc., extended to the near and dear ones like the members of the family, neighbours, friends, etc., are due to auspicious attachment, delusion and extrinsic mode (vibhāva) and it is the cause of karmic bondage. Therefore such delusory mercy is abandonable for the spiritual aspirant.

Rectification – Delusion is abandonable. To consider mercy as abandonable is a mistake. Except the fully detached omniscient Lords the virtues of all attached living beings are always flawed with some flaw or the other. It is so, because the rule is that if one quality manifests itself fully, all other qualities also appear simultaneously. Likewise, if one flaw disappears fully, all the other flaws also disappear at the same time. All the virtues and vices are thus intermingled. To consider the quality of mercy flawed by delusion as abandonable is to consider the inherent quality of the living beings as abandonable, which is a great and frightful error. As a rule the virtues like kindness, compassion, etc., manifest themselves to the extent that the flaws like delusion, selfishness, enjoyership, etc., fade away. Anyone who remains immersed in his own selfishness suffers from gross inertness and he cannot be sensitive to others’ pain and misery. As compared to him one who serves the members of his family has lesser delusion and greater compassion. Likewise the qualities of kindness, compassion, charity, service, etc., find greater and greater expression as one expands the ambit of his activities from the family to the society, to the town, to the country, to the entire humanity and eventually to the whole living set. As this happens the pettiness decreases and these noble qualities come to the fore. When the feeling of kindness and compassion for the entire living set awakens the quality of charity manifests itself in the form of infinite charity. That is why the detached Lords Jina are said to be infinitely charitable. When a rubber balloon is blown, as it expands in size its walls become thinner and thinner and when it is blown to the limit it explodes and disappears in the infinite space. Similarly, as the balloon of mercy and generosity expands to progressively take the family, the society, the town, the state, the country, the humanity of the world and the entire living set, the walls of delusion, selfishness, pettiness, desires, passions, etc., get thinner and thinner and when the flaws are completely destroyed, the quality of mercy manifests itself in the form of infinite charity, infinite generosity and infinite affection. Like this, the expansion of the virtues of kindness, compassion, etc., eats away the flaws of selfishness, desires, passions and pettiness and makes the aspirant flawless. What is meant here is that except in the fully detached omniscient Lords the flaws of sensory desires, passions, attachment-aversion, delusion, etc., are always present in lesser or greater measure.

During the spiritual practice phase of an aspirant some flaws are present along with the virtues. Out of these, the flaws are fully abandonable but not the virtues that are mixed with some flaws. The reason being that as much we overcome and abandon the flaws the virtues increase and when the flaws are fully abandoned, the virtues manifest themselves fully.

Before becoming fully detached, the partial virtues and partial flaws manifest in the attached living beings. Let us take the example of wheat with pebbles. Such wheat is uneatable but we do not abandon the wheat along with the pebbles. Only pebbles are discarded and wheat is saved for eating. Similarly, when virtues are mixed with flaws, it is the flaws that are to be discarded and not the virtues. When kindness is mixed with delusion it is the delusion that is to be discarded and not the quality of kindness. The objects of our mercy are also not to be discarded. The reason for not discarding the quality of mercy mixed with delusion is that the quality of mercy and generosity themselves, melt away the attachment and delusion. What discarding the flaws of delusion and attachment means is that by overcoming them we have to develop our qualities of mercy and generosity fully and make them all pervading. Therefore, from the virtues mixed with vices, it is the vices and not the virtues that should be discarded. When the virtues manifest themselves the flaws automatically weaken and separate. Therefore, the object of saying that the flawed virtues are not acceptable is that the flaws must be fully discarded and the virtues must be given fullest expression and not otherwise. It does not mean that we may discard the partially expressed virtues also along with the flaws, that we must not serve the family and the neighbours, etc.,. When the partially expressed virtues are discarded they make way for more flaws and delusion and attachment only increase. This is harmful and no aspirant would want that to happen to himself. What is meant here is that it is a mistake to say that out of kindness mixed with delusion, the quality of kindness is also abandonable.

The expression of the qualities, like love, mildness, friendship, simplicity, generosity, kindness, mercy, etc., that constitute positive non-violence does not come about due to the fruition of any earlier bonded karma. On the other hand they are expressed due to the destruction cum subsidence of passions such as anger, pride, guile greed and delusion. Therefore, the qualities of mercy, kindness, compassion, etc., are not fruitional volitional dispositions but inherent natural ones. It is not possible to transcend the basic nature; therefore, it is not at all possible to discard the qualities of mercy, kindness, compassion, etc.,. Only the flaws of delusion, attachment-aversion, etc., can be discarded. Therefore, out of mercy mixed with delusion, it is the flaw of delusion that is abandonable.

It is the rule that as the flaw of delusion gets reduced, the dependence on sensory pleasures, selfishness and inertness also reduces and eventually disappears, which gives rise to the increased expression of the qualities of generosity, compassion, sensitivity, consciousness, etc.,. As opposed to this, discarding mercy, kindness, compassion, generosity, etc., results in the increased manifestation of the flaws likecruelty, mercilessness, delusion, attachment-aversion, etc.,, which are abandonable for a spiritual aspirant. Therefore, out of delusion mixed mercy, only delusion and not mercy is abandonable.

The fact that delusion mixed mercy is not abandonable has been beautifully presented by Jainācārya Śrī Vidyāsāgarjī as follows –


Mercy is not a part of delusion but its undoing. The play of mundane pleasures is delusion while the development of mercy is liberation. One is flagrant amber that blights the life while the other is the mascot that gives meaning to life. Yes, partial mercy is not a part of delusion but its partial undoing. The life of indulgence is unconscious … wilderness. Mercy, kindness, etc., are timeless. The epicentre of mercy is the feeling of consciousness and life giving like nectar. The pitcher of mercy drips with the fragrance of equanimity and who can say that kindness is related to desire?


To summarise, we can say that the fruition of delusion lasts up to the tenth virtue-station (stage of spiritual development). Therefore, the auspicious activities like mercy, kindness, compassion, charity, service, affection, etc., of anyone except the fully detached omniscient Lords will always be flawed with delusion. Therefore, they continuously incur the destructive karmic bondages of the deluding, knowledge obscuring, vision obscuring and obstructive types. Delusion and not the auspiciousness is the reason behind these karmic bondages. Therefore, the auspicious activities of self-study, meditation, renunciation, etc., do not become abandonable just because they happen to be mixed with delusion. It is the destruction of delusion that is essential for the full expression of these auspicious qualities. Only the partial delusion associated with the auspicious activities of mercy, kindness, compassion, charity, service, affection, etc., is abandonable. By discarding this partial delusion these auspicious qualities find their fullest expression. By discarding the auspicious activities we will only facilitate the unacceptable increase of flaws.

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