_AHIMSā_ (_Ahiṃsā_) in
_Ahimsa_ does not merely indicate absence of physical violence, but also indicates absence of desire to indulge in any sort of violence. Jains have strongly advocated vegetarianism and nonviolence throughout the ages. _Ahimsa_ being central to the Jain philosophy , Jain Ācāryas have produced, through ages, quite elaborate and detailed doctrinal materials concerning its various aspects.
* 1 Overview
* 2 Vow of Ahiṃsā
* 2.1 Ascetic practices for adherence to Ahimsa * 2.2 Householders adherence to the vow * 2.3 Transgressions
* 3 Philosophical overview
* 3.1 Important constituents
* 3.1.1 Carefulness * 3.1.2 Mental states and intention * 3.1.3 Knowledge
* 4 The rationale of nonviolence * 5 Ahimsa and vegetarianism
* 6 Misconceptions
* 6.1 Animal sacrifices * 6.2 Other wrong beliefs
* 7 Fruits of nonviolence * 8 Appreciation
* 9 References
* 9.1 Citations * 9.2 Sources
* The one-sensed lives possess four vitalities – sense organ of touch, strength of body or energy, respiration, and life-duration. * The two-sensed beings have six, namely the sense of taste and the organ of speech in addition to the former four. * The three-sensed beings have seven with the addition of the sense of smell. * The four-sensed beings have eight with the addition of the sense of sight. * The five- sensed beings without mind have nine life-principles with the addition of the sense of hearing. Those endowed with mind are said to have ten vitalities with the addition of the mind.
According to _
Tattvarthasutra _, a major
VOW OF AHIṃSā
See also: Ethics of
1. _Ahimsa_ is formalised into
2. _Satya_ (Truth)- The underlying cause of falsehood is passion and
therefore, it is said to cause _hiṃsā_ (injury). According to Jain
3. _Asteya_ (Non-thieving)- According to _Puruşārthasiddhyupāya_:
Driven by passions, taking anything that has not been given be termed as theft and since theft causes injury, it is hiṃsā — _Puruşārthasiddhyupāya_ (42)
4. _Brahmacharya_- It means chastity for householders and celibacy in
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Ahimsa is the first and foremost
of all vows.
The ascetic practices of total renunciation of worldly affairs and
possessions, refusal to stay in a single place for a long time,
continuous practice of austerities like fasting etc. are geared
towards observance of Ahimsa. The
* walking, so as not to injure any living being; * speech, so as not to cause pain to any one by offensive, disagreeable language, or by a careless use of words having a tendency to incite others to violent deeds; * eating, so as not to cause injury to any living being; * handling things — the water gourd, books and the feather whisk, with which there is a great danger of injury to small insects; and * evacuation and disposal of faeces, urine, and the like.
Entire day of a
HOUSEHOLDERS ADHERENCE TO THE VOW
* Tying up animals too tightly, * Beating them mercilessly, * Cutting their limbs, * Overloading them, * Neglecting to feed them properly.
A king who fights in defending his empire, however, does not violate the vow of _ahimsa_, for his motive is to protect his subjects. The same is the case with the judge who punishes to maintain law and order.
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According to Jainism, a monk who is careless in his activities is
guilty of violence irrespective of whether a living being remains
alive or dies; on the other hand, the person who is ever vigilant and
careful in observing the _samitis_ experiences no karmic bondage
simply because some violence may have taken place in connection with
his activities. Carefulness came to be seen as a defence for the
monks against violence in Jainism. _
Tattvārthasūtra _ defines
_hiṃsā_ or violence simply as _removal of life by careless activity
of mind, body and speech._ Thus action in
Mental States And Intention
_Ahimsa_ does not merely indicate absence of physical violence, but also indicates absence of desire to indulge in any sort of violence. Jains have strongly advocated vegetarianism and nonviolence throughout the ages. _Ahimsa_ being central to the Jain philosophy , Jain Ācāryas have produced, through ages, quite elaborate and detailed doctrinal materials concerning its various aspects. Paul Dundas quotes _Ācārya Jinabhadra_ (7th century), who shows that the omnipresence of life-forms in the universe need not totally inhibit normal behaviour of the ascetics:
It is the intention that ultimately matters. From the real point of view, a man does not become a killer only because he has killed or because the world is crowded with souls, or remain innocent only because he has not killed physically. Even if a person does not actually kill, he becomes a killer if he has the intention to kill; while a doctor has to cause pain but is still non-violent and innocent because his intention is pure, for it is the intention which is the deciding factor, not the external act which is inconclusive.
Thus pure intention along with carefulness was considered necessary to practice Ahimsa as Jains admitted that even if intention may be pure, careless activities often resulted in violence unknowingly.
The Jains also considered right knowledge as a prerequisite for practising Ahimsa. It is necessary to know what is living and what is non-living to practice Ahimsa faultlessly. A person who is confused between Living and non-living can never observe non-violence. _Daśavaikālika Sūtra_ declared:
First knowledge, then compassion. Thus does one remain in full control. How can an ignorant person be compassionate, when he cannot distinguish between the good and the evil?
It further declares:
Knowledge of living and non-living alone will enable one to become compassionate towards all living creatures. Knowing this all aspirants, proceed from knowledge to eternal virtues. What can an ignorant do ? How does he know what is noble and what is evil?
The knowledge is also considered necessary to destroy _Karmas _. Samaṇ Suttaṁ declared:
The ignorant cannot destroy their _Karmas_ by their actions while the wise can do it by their inaction i.e. by controlling their activities because they are free from greed and lustful passions and do not commit any sin as they remain contented — 165
Main article: Anekantavada
_Anekantavada_ is the principle of relativity of truth or the
doctrine of multiple aspects. Jains hold that truth is multifaceted
and has multiple sides that cannot be completely comprehended by
Anekantavada describes the world as a multifaceted,
ever-changing reality with an infinity of viewpoints relative to the
time, place, nature and state of one who is the viewer and that which
is viewed. What is true from one point of view is open to question
from another. Absolute truth cannot be grasped from any particular
viewpoint alone, because absolute truth is the sum total of all
different viewpoints that make up the universe. Because it is rooted
in these doctrines,
The concept of _syadvada_ allows the Jains to accept the truth in
other philosophies from their perspectives, thus inculcating a
tolerance for other viewpoints. Anekantvada is non-absolutist and
stands firmly against all dogmatisms, even including any assertion
VARIOUS ASPECTS AND CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENCE
Ācārya Amṛtacandra has described as to how the consequences of violence (karmas attracted) differ from person to persons for similar and different types of acts. A small violence may bring serious consequences to one person, while to another person grievous violence may bring about lesser consequences. For instance, a person hunting and killing only one small animal suffers severe consequences while a person who is building a temple or hospital suffers milder karmic consequences even though its construction kills many animals. Even when violence is jointly committed by two persons, the same act may result in severe consequence for one person and mild consequence for another person. This may happen in the case where the leader and planner of violence binds severe _karmas_, while a follower binds much lesser _karmas_. One who actually does not commit violence may be responsible for _hiṃsā_ while one who actually commits violence is not responsible for hiṃsā. For instance, a burglar who fails in his robbery is still a felon but a diligent surgeon who is trying to save a patient is not responsible for violence even if a patient dies during the surgery. Persons who have not committed violence may become responsible for violence committed by others. This may happen when a violence which is carried out by someone is approved and instigated by someone else. Ahimsa often gives result of _himsa_ to one and _himsa_ may sometimes give result of _ahimsa_ to another. For instance, one person saves another from oppression by use of violence and hence enjoys consequences of _ahimsa_ although resorting to violence, while another does not act to save someone wishing that the other person is not saved and thus suffers the consequences of violence although he may have not actually done anything.
DRAVYA HIṃSā AND BHāVA HIṃSā
TYPES OF VIOLENCE
* SANKALPINī HIṃSā OR INTENTIONAL VIOLENCE – Intentional violence knowingly done is the worst form of violence and is a transgression of the layperson's vow of nonviolence. Examples of sankalpinī hiṃsā are killing for hunting, amusement or decoration, or butchering for food or sacrifice or killing or hurting out of enmity, malice or mischief. sankalpinī hiṃsā has to be totally renounced by a householder. * VIRODHINī HIṃSā OR SELF-DEFENCE – One is allowed to practice self-defense against a robber, murderer, or any other criminal. This self-defense is necessary when evil attacks. * ĀṛAMBHINī (GRAHARAMBHI) HIṃSā OR DOMESTIC OR HOUSEHOLD VIOLENCE – This violence is unavoidably committed in the course of preparing food, household cleanliness, washing, construction of houses, wells, etc. * UDYOGINī HIṃSā OR OCCUPATIONAL VIOLENCE – This violence is connected to occupational undertakings like agriculture, building and operating industries, etc.
While sankalpinī hiṃsā has to be avoided at all costs, the other three types of hiṃsā, although unavoidable in some cases, should not exceed the strict requirements of fulfilling the duties of a householder. Furthermore, they should not be influenced by passions such as anger, greed, pride and deceit or they take the character of sanpalkinī hiṃsā.
WAYS OF COMMITTING VIOLENCE
Violence (Himsa) gouache on paper, 17th century, Gujarat depicts animals of prey with their victims. The princely couple symbolises love, which is another occasion of violence.
It would be wrong, however, to conclude that
Ahimsa only prohibits
physical violence. An early
1. The instrumentality of our actions. We can commit violence through a. body i.e. physical action, b. speech i.e. verbal action, or c. mind i.e. mental actions
2. The process of committing violence. This includes whether a. we only decide or plan to act, b. we make preparations for the act e.g. like collecting necessary materials or weapons, or c. we actually begin the action
3. The modality of our action, whether a. we ourselves commit violence, b. we instigate others to carry out the violence, or c. we give our silent approval for the violence
4. The motivation for action. This includes which of the following negative emotions motivate the violence. a. Anger b. Greed c. Pride d. Manipulation or deceit
In Jainism, "non-manifestation of passions like attachment is non-injury (_Ahimsa_), and manifestation of such passions is injury (_himsa_)." This is termed as the essence of the Jaina Scriptures.
THE RATIONALE OF NONVIOLENCE
_ Sculpture depicting the statement "ahimsā paramo dharma_" (Photo: Ahinsa Sthal , Delhi)
According to Jainism, the purpose of nonviolence is not because it is a commandment of a God or any other supreme being. Its purpose is also not simply because its observance is conducive to general welfare of the state or the community. While it is true that in Jainism, the moral and religious injunctions were laid down as law by Arhats who have achieved perfection through their supreme moral efforts, their adherence is just not to please a God, but the life of the Arhats has demonstrated that such commandments were conductive to Arhat's own welfare, helping him to reach spiritual victory. Just as Arhats achieved spiritual victory by observing non-violence, so can anyone who follows this path.
Another aspect that provides a rationale to the avoidance of
_hiṃsā_ is that, any acts of _himsā_ results in _himsā_ to self.
Any act of violence though outwardly is seen to harm others, harms the
soul of the person indulging in the act. Thus by an act of violence, a
soul may or may not injure the material vitalities known as dravya
praṇa of someone else, but always causes injury to its own _bhāva
praṇa_ or the psychic vitalities by binding the soul with _karmas_.
It would be entirely wrong to see _Ahimsa_ in
Furthermore, according to the
In conclusion, the insistence of _ahimsa_ is not so much about non-injury to others as it is about non-injury and spiritual welfare of the self. The ultimate rationale of _ahimsa_ is fundamentally about karmic results of the _hiṃsā_ on self rather than the concern about the well being of other beings for its own sake.
AHIMSA AND VEGETARIANISM
Main article: Jain vegetarianism
JAIN VEGETARIAN DIET is practised by the followers of
According to Amṛtacandra Sūri:
"Those who wish to renounce hiṃsā must, first of all, make effort to give up the consumption of wine, flesh, honey, and the five _udumbara_ fruits (the five udumbara trees are Gular, Anjeera, Banyan, Peepal, and Pakar, all belonging to the fig class). — _Puruṣārthasiddhyupāya_ (61)
The strictest forms of
The belief that animals were created for yajna (sacrifice) and hence it was not considered a slaughter, as it elevated not only the person making the sacrifice, but also the animals was also denounced by the Jains. Ācārya Amṛtacandra of Puruṣārthasiddhyupāya condemned this practice by stating that it is a misconception to hold that Gods are pleased at sacrifices of living beings and there is no wrong in committing hiṃsā for the sake of religion.
Ācārya Amṛtacandra says that animals should not be killed for guests or persons deserving respect as often advocated in certain scriptures. It is also a wrong belief that wild animals that kill many other animals should be killed. This is often justified in the name of hunting of ferocious animals like tigers for sport. Another wrong belief forwarded to justify killing of ferocious animals is that, these kill many lives and accumulate grave sins and hence killing them is an act of mercy. According to Jainism, killing can never be an act of mercy. It is also a misconception to believe that it is advisable to kill those who are suffering so that they may get relief from agony. These sorts of arguments are forwarded to justify killing of those animals that may have become old or injured and hence have become commercially useless.
OTHER WRONG BELIEFS
Other wrong beliefs are killing those who are in state of happiness or those who are in meditation under wrong belief that the mental state at the time of death will be perpetuated in future lives. It is also a wrong belief that killing of self and others is justified as the soul that is imprisoned in the body will be permanently released and achieve salvation.
FRUITS OF NONVIOLENCE
Main article: Karma in
According to Jains, the consequences of karma are inevitable. The consequences may take some time to take effect but the _karma_ is never fruitless. The latent karma becomes active and bears fruit when the supportive conditions arise. A great part of attracted karma bears its consequences with minor fleeting effects, as generally most of our activities are influenced by mild negative emotions. However, those actions that are influenced by intense negative emotions cause an equally strong karmic attachment which usually does not bear fruit immediately. It takes on an inactive state and waits for the supportive conditions—like proper time, place, and environment—to arise for it to manifest and produce effects. If the supportive conditions do not arise, the respective karmas will manifest at the end of maximum period for which it can remain bound to the soul. These supportive conditions for activation of latent karmas are determined by the nature of karmas, intensity of emotional engagement at the time of binding karmas and our actual relation to time, place, surroundings. There are certain laws of precedence among the karmas, according to which the fruition of some of the karmas may be deferred but not absolutely barred.
Ahimsa, an important tenet of all the religions originating in India, is now considered as an article of faith by the adherents of the Indian religions .
Mahatma Gandhi was of the view:
No religion in the World has explained the principle of _Ahimsa_ so
deeply and systematically as is discussed with its applicability in
every human life in Jainism. As and when the benevolent principle of
_Ahimsa_ or non-violence will be ascribed for practice by the people
of the world to achieve their end of life in this world and beyond.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak has credited
Prime Minister of India
* ^ _A_ _B_ Jaini 1998 , p. 167
* ^ Varni 1993 , p. 335 "Giving protection always to living beings
who are in fear of death is known as abhayadana"
* ^ _A_ _B_ Varni 1993 , p. 154 "Even an intention of killing is
the cause of the bondage of Karma, whether you actually kill or not;
from the real point of view, this is the nature of the bondage of
* ^ _A_ _B_ Dundas 2002
* Jain, Vijay K. (2012), _Acharya Amritchandra\'s Purushartha
Siddhyupaya_, Vikalp Printers, ISBN 81-903639-4-8 , _ This article
incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain ._
* Jain, Vijay K. (2011), _Acharya Umasvami\'s Tattvārthsūtra_,
Vikalp Printers, ISBN 978-81-903639-2-1 , _ This article incorporates
text from this source, which is in the public domain ._
* Clarke, Peter ; Beyer, Peter (2009), _The World\'s Religions:
Continuities and Transformations_,
Routledge , ISBN 0-203-87212-6
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