Positive Non-Violence


Appendix: Canonical quotes in support of positive non-violence (13)

1 Violence a cause of harm and ignorance

2 Beneficial non-violence

3 Importance of vigilance in non-violence

4 When is violence flawed?

5 Eternal discourse on non-violence

6 Violence towards all categories of living beings is not equal


Atthi satthaṁ pareṇa paraṁ,

Natthi asatthaṁ pareṇa paraṁ |

- Ācārāṅga, 1.3.4.

That is – Weapons (violence) are each greater than the others but non-weapons (non-violence) are not any greater than the other. It is unique and there is no practice greater than the practice of non-violence.

Esa khalu ganthe, esa khalu mohe, esa khalu māre, esa khalu ṇarae |

- Ācārāṅga, 1.1.2.

That is, – This violence itself is the (inner) knot, it is the delusion, it is the death and it itself is the hell.

Evaṁkhu nāṇiṇo sāraṁ, jaṁ na hiṁsai kiñcaṇa |

- Sūtrakṛtāṅga, 1.14.10.

That is, – The essence of being learned is that one might not kill or hurt any living being.

Ṇissāraṁ pāsiya ṇāṇī |

Uvavāyaṁ cayaṇaṁ ṇaccā aṇaṇṇaṁ cara māhaṇe |

Se ṇa chaṇe, ṇa chaṇāvae, chaṇantaṁ ṇāṇujāṇati |

- Ācārāṅga Cayanikā, Aph. 61.

That is, – O learned one! See and understand from the sapless conditions of life. O non-violent one! Know about the miserable nature of births and deaths and act with equanimity. For, one that acts with equanimity neither kills nor gets killed by others nor he approves of anyone else killing any creature.

CommentsBhagvān Mahāvīra has depicted non-violent conduct as the essence of being learned, and has given the message that truly learned is one that does not indulge in any kind of violence. One can be violent only as long as one is ridden with delusion and ignorance. The light of knowledge brings him face to face with other creatures’ consciousness and then one replaces violence with non-violence, friendship, compassion, and service and comforts the living beings rather than tormenting them.

Imassa ceva jīviyassa parivandaṇa-māṇaṇa-pūyaṇāe jātī-maraṇa-moyaṇāya dukkhapaḍighātaheuṁ se sayameva puḍhavisatthaṁ samārambhanti, aṇṇehiṁ vā puḍhavi-satthaṁ samārambhāveti, aṇṇe vā puḍhavisatthaṁ samā-rambhante samaṇujāṇati |

Taṁ se ahitāe, taṁ se abohīe |

- Ācārāṅga Cayanikā, Aph. 6.

That is, – For the sake of protecting this life or for gaining praise or respect or worship, or for gaining a good afterlife or for fear of death in the present life or for gaining liberation and eternal peace or for dispelling miseries someone kills a lot of earth bodied living beings or has them killed by others or approves of their being killed by someone else. However, for him that violent act becomes the cause of harm and for lack of enlightenment.

Comments – In this aphorism the Lord has drawn our attention to many causes of indulging in violent activities. Someone may kill, get killed or approve of the killing, for the sake of getting prsise, respect and worship; others may do so for fear or for future gain. The Lord terms this violence indulged due to attachment for some worldly causes as a cause for harm and ignorance and urges us to give up such violence.


Ahiṁsā tasa-thāvara-savvabhūyakhemaṅkarī |

- Praśnavyākaraṇa, 2.1.

That is, – Non-violence is benefical for all moving and non-moving livig beings.

Comments – Violence tarnishes the consciousness of the perpetrator; it also inflicts pain, misery and death on the victims of violence. On the other hand non-violence benefits both the practitioner as well as those on whom it is practiced.


Na ya hiṁsāmetteṇaṁ, sāvajjeṇāvi hiṁsao hoi |

Suddhassa u sampattī, aphalā bhaṇiyā Jiṇavarehṁ |

- Oghaniryukti, 758.

That is, – No one becomes violent only by externally visible violence. If the innerself of the practitioner of essential external violence is devoid of attachment and aversion, the Lords Jineśvara have said that his external violence is not a cause of karmic bondage and is, therefore, fruitless.

Jā jayamāṇassa bhave, virāhaṇā suttavihisamaṇassa |

Sā hoi nijjaraphalā, ajjhatthavisohijuttassa |

- Oghaniryukti, 759.

That is, – Even the minor violent acts inadvertently done by the vigilant spiritual aspirant that is pure of heart and acts according to the canonical dictates, become the cause of his karmic separation.

Caradi jadaṁ jadi ṇiccaṁ, kamalaṁ va jale ṇiruvalevo |

- Pravacanasāra, 3.18.

That is, – If the spiritual aspirant acts with vigilence, he remains as unsoiled as lotus in water.

Jayaṁ care jayaṁ ciṭṭhe, jayamāse jayaṁ sae |

Jayaṁ bhuñjanto bhāsanto, pāvakammaṁ na bandhai |

- Daśavaikālika, 3.18.

Anyone that walks, stands, sits, sleeps, eats and speaks carefully does not incur karmic bondage. That is, any vigilant activity does not result in any karmic bondage.

Comments – In Jainism there is a prescription for doing any activity with care. Here, care means vigilance and discretion. Carelessness or negligence and indiscretion always result in karmic bondage and may result in disastrous situations at times. It must be noted that even the auspicious activites such as works of compassion and service, etc., must also be done with care and discretion. Even these become flawed if done with a desire to earn name and fame.

Āhacca hiṁsā samitassa jā tu, sā davvato hoti ṇa bhāvato u |

Bhāveṇa hiṁsā tu asañjatassa, je vāvi satte ṇa sadā vadheti |

- Vṛhatkalpabhāṣya, 3933.

That is, – Even if a violent act is committed by a restrained aspirant it is only material violence and not volitional violence. However, an unrestrained one may not kill but he constantly commits volitional violence.


Asubhapariṇāmaheū jīvābāho tti to mayaṁ hiṁsā |

Jassa u na so nimittaṁ santo vi na tassa sā hiṁsā |

- Viśeṣāvaśyaka bhāṣya, 767.

Any harm caused to a living being due to inauspicious volition is violence. Where there is no inauspicious volition, there is no violence as such even when there may be physically violent acts. That is, such acts do not result in karmic bondages. Similar facts have been mentioned in Oghaniryukti also (Verses 748-758).

Radu va jiyadu va jīvo, ayadācārassa ṇicchidā hiṁsā |

Payadassa ṇatthi bandho, hiṁsāmetteṇa samidassa |

- Pravacanasāra, 3.17.

That is, – Externally, the creature may live or die but internally the negligent is always violent. However, anyone that tries to be comported and vigilant does not incur karmic bondage merely by external violence towards any living being.

Comments – In the matter of violence and non-violence the volitional disposition is of great importance. Many a great man acts with compassion even when they appear to be violent externally, while many a wicked ones are emotionally violent even when they do not commit any physical violence. Due to their auspicious volition the former do not incur any karmic bondages even while appearing to be violent and due to their inauspicious volition the latter incur karmic bondage even when they appear non-violent.


Savve pāṇā savve bhūtā savve jīva savve sattā ṇa hantavvā, ṇa ajjāvetavvā, ṇa parighettavvā, ṇa paritāveyavvā, ṇa uddaveyavvā |

Esa dhamme suddhe ṇitie sāsae samecca loyaṁ khetaṇṇehiṁ pavedite |

- Ācārāṅga, 1.4.2.

No living being, no creature, no living existence ought to be killed, subordinated, enslaved, tormented or distressed. This non-violent faith, preached by the learned sages in the know of the living set, is pure, permanent and eternal.

Se bemi – Je ya atītā je ya paḍuppaṇā je ya āgamessā Arahantā Bhagavantā savve te evamāikkhanti, evaṁ bhāsenti, evaṁ paṇṇaventi, evaṁ paruventi – savve pāṇā jāva savve sattā ṇa hantavvā, ṇa ajjāyevvā, ṇa parighettavvā, ṇa paritāveyavvā, ṇa uddaveyavvā |

Esa dhamme suddhe ṇitie sāsae samecca loyaṁ khetaṇṇehiṁ pavedite |

- Sūtrakṛtāṅga, 2.1..680.

I, (Sudharmā Svāmī), say that – all the Lords Arihantas (ṛṣabhadeva, etc.,) in the past, the Lords that are at present (Bhagvān Mahāvīra) and the ones that will be in future preach, discourse, tell and propound that no living being, no creature, no living existence ought to be killed, subordinated, enslaved, tormented or distressed. This non-violent faith, preached by the learned sages in the know of the living set, is pure, permanent and eternal.

Comments – The violence towards other living beings has been proscribed by relating it with their consciousness. This also gives expression to compassion, which is the volitional and emotional side of non-violence.

Hiṁsaṇṇitaṁ vā ṇa kahaṁ karejjā |

- Sūtrakṛtāṅga, 1.10.10.

Do not tell violent tales or the ones that may cause violence.

Comments – Why should no living being be killed? The abovementioned aphorisms bring out many reasons in support of non-violence. Bhagvān Mahāvīra established oneness with the consciousnesses of the other living beings and thereby came to know of their desires to live on and not to die. He, then, preached for upholding their desire for life and thus the preaching for non-violence.

Taṁ pariṇṇāya mehāvī ṇeva sayaṁ chajjīva-ṇikāyasatthaṁ samārambhejjā, ṇeva’ṇṇehiṁ chajjīvaṇikāya-satthaṁ samārambhāvejjā, ṇeva’ṇṇe chajjīvaṇikāyasatthaṁ samārambhante samaṇujāṇejjā |

Jassete chajjīvaṇikāya-satthasamārambhā samārambhejjā pariṇṇāyā bhavanti se hu muṇī pariṇṇayākamme tti bemi |

- Ācārāṅga Cayanikā, 17.

Having understood the results of those violent activities the wise person neither indulges in violent activities towards the living set of six categories himself nor does he have any violence towards the living set of six categories caused by others nor does he approve of any violence towards the living set of six categories to be caused by others.

Anyone who has come to understand the form of violence towards the living set of six categories is so wise as to know about such violence. I say so.

Comments – The characteristics of the wise monk in the know of various forms that violence towards the living set of six categories can take are important from the point of view of granting a gift of fearlessness to the living beings of the set.


Egaṁ isiṁ haṇamāṇe aṇante jive haṇai |

- Bhagavatī, 9.34.

Anyone that kills a sage is, in a way, guilty of killing infinite number of living beings.

Comments – From the consideration of violence, the stage of development or evolution, from the points of view of the vitalities, senses, knowledge, etc., at which a particular living being is, is very important. The violence towards a more developed creature is more deplorable as compared to that towards a less developed creature. In this connection the example of Hasti tāpasa given in Sūtrakṛtāṅga (2.6.52-53) is also worth consideration.

Continued …

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