Jai Mahavir ji

   Fundamental Features of Jainism.
By:-Upadhyaya Munishri kamakumar Nandi ji
Ref books Fundamental features of Jainism and Universal Message of Jainism (Extract form)


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“ 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.”

  The 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 live," that is to live a life of understanding, tolerance, sympathetic co-operation, and peaceful co-existence, nay, the still fuller and nobler co-realization.

  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 self-dedication.

  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 non-violence.

  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: -

  1.Intentional Violence- 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.

2. Vocational or Occupational Violence- 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.

3. Accidental Violence- i.e. Violence committed in digging, pounding, cooking and such other activities essential to daily living.

4. Protective Violence- i.e. Violence caused in the safety of personal or other’s life, property and religion etc. from a beast or brute.

  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.

                                                                             The End.

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