“ O my Lord, Make
myself such that I may always have love for all living beings, pleasure in
the company of the virtuous, sympathy for the afflicted and tolerance for
those perversely inclined.”
fact as to how zealously the slogan of disarmament is shouted today in the
U.N.O. by experimenting the unparallel weapon of non-violence is the gift
of Jainism alone. The blood stained slogans and misdeed pushed the Indian
culture absolutely towards violence by declaring, for example, at the time
performing worship old Vedas, violence in sacrifice in the yajnas is not
violence. It was merely Jainism, which established non-violence in the
form of guardian of inner purity and spiritual soundness.
The jain Saints told the Indians- The Indian religion and
faith established by the lord is very minute, So, the theories and customs
that there is nothing wrong in the violence for the sake of religion can
never be true religion.
Killing the violent,
troubled and suffering creature is nothing but violence. The violent
feeling in the form of mind, speech and body resulted in violence merely
by presenting such a rational subject. Jainism saved and protected various
kinds of creatures against being burnt in ‘yajnas’ forever. The utterances
of the holy books by the holy saints, for example,
“live and let live”,
became dear to every
peace loving human being.
Jainism said- Non-
violence is the root of the personal asceticism of purification of the
inner soul, the method of salvation and desire of establishing world
peace. Non- violence really means, the equalitarian view towards each
other and every creature. It is the opinion of the Jain saints that all
the living beings possess the same inner strength from those possessing
one sense to the others that possess five senses better than the
conscience strength of the soul. So all are brethren together; killing any
creature is like killing of kith and kin, in other words, it is the
involvement of sin. The non- violent person automatically becomes drawn
towards the vegetarian way.
The very first principle of
Jains religion is Ahimsa, i.e. non-injury to living beings, which must be
observed very scrupulously and thoroughly. One should behave towards all
living beings with proper restraint and control. There has been a very
detailed and minute description of Himsa-Ahimsa in Jain philosophy. In
Tatvartha Sutra one of the scares scripture of Jains
written by Uma Swami about one thousand years before has defined
Himsa as thus:- Any life killed through carelessness is Himsa. Killing any
creature directly or indirectly is Himsa. Even the thought of killing in
the mind is also Himsa. Thus first the mind and then speech and body come
into action in Himsa.
Violence in any form to any living being
small or big is not permitted in Jainism. Violence with intention and
through care-less ness is strictly prohibited e.g. while removing any
object, it should not be dragged but carefully lifted and put at another
place after seeing that there is no creature under-neath and likewise
while walking one should be so careful to avoid harm to any creature.
Jain view of Ahimsa enjoins not only compassion
towards human or sub-human beings, but also abandoning even the thought of
causing injury. If you have evil thought to cause harm to others, it
amounts to have committed the offence of violence spiritually, no matter
the idea may not have been translated into action physically. The basic
spirit of this humane way of life is "
To live and to let
that is to live a life of understanding, tolerance, sympathetic
co-operation, and peaceful co-existence, nay, the still fuller and nobler
Lord Mahavira has summed up the Ahimsa in one word-Restraint. He states
that he alone is non-violent who keeps restraint on his hands, feet,
speech and senses ie restraint is Ahimsa and it materializes by
Father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi
was a great devotee of Ahimsa. The 1st President of India Dr.
Rajendra Pd. Also states-‘Ahimsa is a unique possession of Jainism.’ In
the words of sardar Patel- ‘Non-violence is the religion of brave.’ India
succumbed to slavery not due to Ahimsa; rather she won freedom through
According to Jainism absence of the
feelings of attachment or ill will (malice) is Ahimsa, and their presence
is Himsa. Only the monks and ascetics, who are adorned with forgiveness;
who have renounced the world and who feel no sorrow even when tortured,
can observe non-violence in letter and spirite. But the mundane souls
should also shun violence as far as possible keeping in view that they
have to attain this ideal.
Violence (Hinsa) is of four types: -
i.e. Violence committed intentionally
and knowingly for meat eating, to perform violent yajnas in the name of
religion, or hunting of animals for procuring their skin/bones and dead
bodies for display.
i.e. Army or Police
Violence committed to keep law and order in the country and defense of the
nation, Violence committed in agriculture, trade and industry etc.
committed in digging, pounding, cooking and such other activities
essential to daily living.
i.e. Violence caused in the safety of
personal or other’s life, property and religion etc. from a beast or
The central of Jainic Ahimsa is that you should try well to discharge your
duties of warrior, artisan, merchant, ruler etc. You should discharge your
duty honestly and honorably with a humane heart. Intentional injury in any
form must be avoided. The Jain masters have ordained that intentional
injury to the living must be abandoned at any cost.
From the historical point of view this
message of Ahimsa was in fact taught to the world by the 1st
Jain Tirthankara- Lord Rishabhdev later on lord Mahavira, the 24th
Tirthankara further advanced it and translated it into action.
The Jain concept of Ahimsa is quite positive, and it is useful for the
social development. From individual point of view, it is a social virtue
as well as individual one so that there would be peace in society. In
today’s context of world tension, fear of war, hatred towards each other,
Ahimsa as understood by Jainas is an essential factor to bring about peace
and sane social order in the world.
To sum up this principle of Ahimsa, non-violence or nom-injury to life, is
one of the extreme importance and universal application. And, it pervades
the entire length and breadth of Jaina code of Right conduct, the path.
The chief criterion with which to judge the rightness and goodness of a
thought, word or deed of Ahimsa. If an action, on the conduct of a person,
is Ahimsite, it is good and right; but if it involves himsa, especially
avoidable himsa, it is bad and wrong, the degree of badness depending on
the character and extent of the himsa involved.
In short, Ahimsa is equated with ‘dharma,’ the nature of the soul. It is
essential, intrinsic and inherent nature of pure soul. No wonder that the
ancient Jaina sages have described Ahimsa as ‘Param Brahma’, the very God.
Indeed, Ahimsa is a basic necessity for a good life for individual,
community, nation and world. Without it, there can be neither contentment
nor prosperity, nor peace.
Back to fundamentals