Positive Non-Violence


Appendix: Canonical quotes in support of positive non-violence (14)

1 Non-violence: the means of liberation from pain and misery

2  Usefulness of auspicious activities

3 Universal weal

4 Mutual cooperation


Uḍḍhe ahe tiriyaṁ ca, je kei tasa-thāvarā |

Savvattha viratiṁ kujjā, santi nivvāṇaṁ āhiyaṁ |

- Sūtrakṛtāṅga, 1.11.11.

One must refrain from violence towards all the moving and the non-moving creatures in the upper, lower and the middle parts of the universe.


Asuhādo viṇivittī, suhe pavittī ya jāṇa cārittaṁ |

- Ācārya Nemicandra.

Refraining from inauspicious activities and indulgence in the auspicious ones is the right conduct.

Bhaṇantā akarentā ya, bandha mokkhapaiṇṇiṇṇo |

Vāyāvīriyametteṇa, samāsāsenti appayaṁ |

- Uttarādhyayana, 6.10.

Those who believe in the principles of bondage and release from them and also believe in the fundamental knowledge to be a means of liberation, but do not act in accordance with them only console themselves on the strength of their volubility.

Comments – Only the knowledge of the fundamental principles is not enough for liberation. It has to be put into practice. The abovementioned verse brings out this fact very vividly and urges us to accept this truth. Another thing that it clarifies is that – as the right knowledge without right conduct cannot liberate, so the right volition without the matching right conduct also cannot liberate. A combination of emotional and practical aspects is essential for gaining the desired fruit of liberation.


Savvajagajīvarakkhaṇadayaṭṭhayāe pāvayaṇaṁ Bhagavayā sukahiyaṁ |

- Praśnavyākaraṇa sūtra, 2.1.22.

The Lord preached for protection and mercy for the living beings of the entire world.

Ahiṁsā tasa-thāvara-savvabhūyakhemaṅkarī |

- Praśnavyākaraṇa, 1.5.

Non-violence is for the benefit of all the moving and the non-moving creatures.

Bhūtahitaṁ ti ahiṁsā |

- Nandī cūrṇi, 5.38.

Non-violence means doing well for the benefit of the living beings.

Tae ṇaṁ se Kaṇhe Vāsudeve Bāravaīe nayarīe majjhaṁ-majjheṇaṁ nigacchamāṇe ekkaṁ purisaṁ juṇṇaṁ jarā-jajjariyaṁ-dehaṁ jāva (āuraṁ jhūsiyaṁ pivāsiyaṁ dubbalaṁ) kilantaṁ mahaḍamahālayāo iṭṭagarāsīo ega-megaṁ iṭṭagaṁ gahāya bahiyā ratthāpahāo antogihaṁ aṇuppavisamāṇaṁ pāsai |

Tae ṇaṁ se Kaṇhe Vāsudeve tassa purisassa aṇukampaṇaṭṭhāe hatthikhandhavaragae ceva egaṁ iṭṭagaṁ geṇhai, geṇhittā bahiyā ratthāpahāo antogihaṁ aṇuppavesie |

Tae ṇaṁ Kaṇheṇaṁ Vāsudeveṇaṁ egāe iṭṭagāe gahiyāe samāṇīe aṇegehiṁ purisehiṁ se mahālae iṭṭagassa rāsī bahiyā ratthāpahāo antogharaṁsi aṇuppavesie |

- Antakṛddaśāṅga sūtra, Varga 3.

Then at that time, as Kṛṣṇa Vāsudeva was passing through the town of Dvārakā, he saw a very old and feeble man very painfully taking one brick at a time from a great heap of bricks and shifting it from the side of the main road to the inner part of his house.

Out of compassion for the old man Kṛṣṇa Vāsudeva, from the elephant back only, lifted one brick from the heap by the side of the main road and threw it to the inner part of the house.

Seeing Kṛṣṇa Vāsudeva lifting one brick, his many followers lifted bricks from that great heap and shifted them from the side of the main road to the inner part of the house.

Comments – This reference from the Antakṛddaśāṅga sūtra urges us to help and cooperate with the old and the feeble.

Pañcahiṁ ṭhāṇehiṁ suttaṁ vāejjā, tañjahā –

  1. Saṅgahaṭṭhayāe,

  2. Uvaggahaṭṭhayāe,

  3. Ṇijjaraṭṭhayāe,

  4. Sutte vā me pajjavayāte bhavissai,

  5. Suttassa vā avocchitti-ṇayaṭṭhayāe,

- Sthānāṅga, 5.3.

The scriptures must be taught for five reasons –

  1. For making the disciples canon-learned,

  2. For favouring the disciples out of kindness,

  3. For shedding the karmic bondages,

  4. For strengthening own scriptural knowledge, and

  5. For perpetuating the tradition of canonical studies.

Comments – The canonical knowledge is transmitted from the guru to the disciples not only for uplifting the own spirit but also for the benefit of the disciples and for perpetuating the tradition of canonical studies and knowledge. This means that the canonical authors have held the benefit of the others as equivalent to their own benefit. This also supports the principle of others’ benefit as a part of positive non-violence.

Cauvvihā kahā paṇṇattā, tañjahā –

1. Akkhevaṇī

2. Vikkhevaṇī

3. Saṁvegaṇī

4. Nivveyaṇī

- Sthānāṅga sūtra, 4.2.

The religious stories are of four types, such as –

  1. Ākṣepaṇī – The stories that attract the listner or reader towards right knowledge and right conduct,

  2. Vikṣepaṇī – The stories that establish the right faith,

  3. Saṁveganī – The stories that encourage detachment by telling about the destructibility and preponde-rance of misery in the world, and

  4. Nirvedanī – The stories that promote neutrality towards the mundane life by telling about the inevitable retribution of one’s auspicious and inauspicious actions.

Comments – It seems that these four types of religious stories have been categorised for others’ benefit only.

Agilāe dhammamāikkhijjā |

- Sūtrakṛtāṅga, 2.1.690.

That is, – Preach the faith happily without weariness.

Comments – The faith is preached for the benefit of the world at large. Therefore it must be done happily.

Dasavidhe dhamme paṇṇate, tañjahā – gāma-dhamme, ṇagaradhamme, raṭṭhadhamme, pāsaṇḍadhamme, kuladhamme, gaṇadhamme, saṅghadhamme, suyadhamme, carittadhamme, atthikāyadhamme |

- Sthānāṅga, Sthāna 10.

Dharma has been said to be of ten types, such as –

  1. Grāma dharma – To abide by the traditions and order in the village one lives in,

  2. Nagara dharma – To abide by the traditions and order in the town one lives in,

  3. Rāṣṭra dharma – To discharge one’s duties towards the country one belongs to,

  4. Pāṣaṇḍa dharma – To abide by the conduct that obviates the possibility of sinful activities,

  5. Kula dharma - To abide by the traditions and order of the family one belongs to,

  6. Gaṇa dharma - To abide by the traditions and order of the republic one belongs to,

  7. Saṅgha dharma - To abide by the traditions and order of the religious order one belongs to,

  8. Śruta dharma – To regularly study the sacred scriptures and to abide by the provisions mentioned therein.

  9. Cāritra dharma - To abide by the prescribed code of conduct and lead a restrained life, and

  10. Astikāya dharma – To know about and appreciate the natural attributes of the astikāyas or aggregated living and non-living matter.

Comments – Here, in these ten types of duties to be observed by any faithful person, we find the mentions of both – the spiritual duities as well as the social duties for the general weal. From the practical standpoint a person has some duties towards the village, town, country or the society one lives in and these duties have also been given a place as dharma in the canonical works.


Jaṁ icchasi appaṇato, jaṁ ca na icchasi appaṇato |

Taṁ iccha parassa vi, ettiyagaṁ Jiṇasāsaṇayaṁ |

- Vṛhatkalpabhāṣya, 4584.

What you wish for yourself and what you do not wish for yourself, wish the same for the others as well. This is the essence of the discipline propounded by the Lords Jina.

Jaha me iṭṭhāṇiṭṭhe suhāsuhe taha savvajīvāṇaṁ |

- Ācārāṅga Cūrṇi, 1.1.6.

As the pleasure and pain are desirable and undesirable for me so are they for all the living beings.

Parasparopagraho jīvānāṁ |

- Tattvārtha sūtra, 5.21.

All living beings coexist and benefit from each other.

Ātmavat sarvasattveṣu sukhaduḥkhayoḥ priyā-priyatvadarśanena parapīḍāparihārecchā |

- Śāstravārtā Ṭīkā, 9.5.

Knowing that pleasure and pain are respectively desirable and undesirable for all living beings we must try to mitigate the pains of others like we try to do the same for ourselves.

Comments – Thinking that other living beings also desire pleasure and do not desire pain, we must treat them accordingly. In the Ācārāṅga Cūrṇi, a parallel has been drawn between the self and the others. The message of Sūtra-kṛtāṅga, contained in its aphorism, ‘Āyatule payāsu’ is also similar. A proper human and humane behaviour with others is possible only after this realisation. The Saṁskṛta literature also conveys the same message in ‘Ātmanaḥ pratikūlāni pareṣāṁ na samācaret’ that is, we ought not to treat others in a way that we do not like for ourselves. One ought always to remember that as the adversity and bad behaviour are painful and undesirable for one, so are these for the others.

The End of Canonical Quotes

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