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The Doctrine of Ahimsa

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[edit]
The Doctrine of Ahimsa

presented by - Pt. Sumer Chand Jain Diwakar

It is remarkable that the Jain tenets although very ancient and rational are also most modern and uptodate. The doctrine of Ahimsa and its rational, scientific and practical exposition in Jainism is unique and unparalleled in the history of human thought. This doctrine has attracted the attention of the entire globe due to its successful application in liberating India from the foreign domination by the struggle for emancipation based upon the principle of Ahimsanon-violence. Mahatma Gandhi, while presiding over a Jain function celebrating the birth-day of Lord Mahavira at Ahmedabad in 1920, had paid glowing tributes to this Jain doctrine and had added that because of this ennobling and golden gospel of compassion, Jainism can become the religion of the whole world. These remarks of Gandhiji are very illuminating, ``If anybody has developed the doctrine of nonviolence it was Lord Mahavira but the modern society does not follow the Lord properly. I request you to understand the Teachings of Lord Mahavira, think over them and translate them into action". It is matter fo profound gratification that almost all religions of the world accept the superiority and majesty of this noble doctrine. jainism has worked out this principle in a most scientific, rational and pratical manner. Therefore, all agree that the cult of non-violence is the unique and most sublime contribution of jainism to humanity.

[edit] According to Romain Rolland

According to Romain Rolland " The Rishis, who discovered the law of of non-violence in the midst of violence were greater geniuses than Newton, greater warriors than wellington. Non-violence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the brute."This basic principle of jainism had much infiuenced Gandhiji from his boyhood. In his book ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ Romain Rolland says, “ His parents were the followers of the jain School. Before leaving India his mother made him take ‘the three vows’ of a jain which prescribe abstentio from wine, meat and sexual intercourse(PP.g and 11). George Catlin’s book “In the path of Mahatma Gandhi” points out, “M.K. Gandhi’s mother was under Jain influence.”(P.101). It is remarkable that through the medium of Mahatma Gandhi, the superiority of the weapon of Ahimsa over the armaments of destruction has been acknowledged. Gandhiji said, “Non-violence is the greatest froce at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” (Religion and society- By Dr-S. Radhakrishan P.237). In fact, Ahimsha is the royal road to place and prosperity. It unforturate that all nations are busy in manufacturing the most ferociouse weapon of destruction which will destroy the whole stock of human civilization and bring about utter extinction of the entire human race. Late John F. Kennedy, the ex-president of America on june 10, 1963 speaking on peace for all men and for all time had said, “A single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all of the allied air forces in the Second World War” He had observed, ``No nation in the history of battle ever suffired more than the Russians suggered in the course of the second world war. At least 20 millions lost their lives. Countless homes and farms were burnt or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, including nearly two-thirds of its industrial base was turned into a wasteland.” The pacifist thinker late Bertrand Russel had observed "A bomb can now be manufactured which will be 25000 times as powerful as that which destroyed Hiroshima."

It is very unfortunate that the massive massacre- might has made astounding advancement and now the entire humanity can be destroyed in a very short time. " it is reported that in 1983 there are 6000 nuclear weapons. A fraction of these will destroy 750 million people with another 340 million seriously injured. This is revealed by the researches of Royal Swedish Academy of Science" (Nagpur times 4th july 1983)

[edit] At this critical juncture

At this critical juncture the warning of historian Toynbee conveyed in New Delhi is valuable, " In the hurricane of annihilating material power provided by atomic energy, the practice of non-violence is necessary for mankind to save it from self-destruction." (Hindustan Times 25-2-60)

The need of the hour is that people should sincerely try to imbibe the spirit of ahimsa as enunciated in the sacred jain literature. When Gandhiji's path was darkened by insurmountable difficulties, C.F. Andrews says, " He very often turned the pages of jain works for a Kindly Light in that encircling gloom " When I met Gandhiji in wardha Ashram in 1934. he said " It is remarkable that unlike vedic religion) Jainism stands for pure Ahimsa without any reservation." In view of the prevailing hatred, vanity, discord, animosity and other evil tendencies, it appears that we have unwisely constructed our houses over a silent-looking volcano and no one knows what will happen, the moment it becomes active to emit fire out of it. The ambrosia of Ahimsa is the only effectiv and powerful remedy to undo the pernicious effects of uabated materialism and self centred outlook. Mere name of Ahimsa or sweet orations in its praise would not serve our purpose It must be honestly translated into life. The term Ahimsa is negative implying abstinence from killing any living being but it is also a positive virtue based upon universal and fraternal outlook and compassion towards all creatures. Non-violence comprises of purity of thought, word and deed motivated by unbounded compassion and genuine love. Affection in action is essential for Ahimsa. The cultured man ought to be viceless and he should listen to the voiceless and innocent creatures' Iamentations and wailings.

Jain thinkers have enjoined upon a votary of Ahimsa to get rid of such violent, callous and cruel practices as meat-eating, hunting for sport and drinking which make the heart merciless callous and, in fact, kill the conscience. The noble ideal of sanctlty of life should be honoured without any reservation.

If one takes a broader outlook and adopts a benevolent attitude, he will immediately understand the sublimity of the above ordinance. One who relishes the flesh of an animal at the dining table without any compunction cannot really understand and fully appreciate the sublimity and majesty of Ahimsa doctrine.

[edit] God Is Love

If the heart is not hardened and the conscience is not brutalised, one will agree with these sober remarks of Dr.Annie Besant, "Humanity rises, becomes nobler and diviner as the virtues of unselfishness, selfsacrifice and compassion for the weak develop. We all love things that live. God is love." If a person fattens his body by the flesh of other animals' his adoration of Ahimsa is, in fact, hypocritical. The point for serious consideration of a rational person is, if a thorn which pricks into your foot, makes you uneasy and uncomfortable, would not your bullet-shot or storke of knife cause indescribable agony to the innocent , helpless, miserable and spechless victim ? It is extermely surorising to near tall talk about morality, amity, hadmony, fraternity and universal brotherhood from the cultured leaders of modern society, who forget the miseries of the mute animals, whose flesh they enjoy with great taste and satisfaction. Handhiji in his essay on vegetari-anism says, " Vegetarian moralists also argue that since meat-eating is not only unnecessary, but harmful to the system, indulgence in it is immoral and sinful , because it involves the infliction of unnecessary pain and cruclty towards harmless animals." He further observes," I submit the following for he consideration of those who believe in the Bible. Before the Fall we were vegetarians. And God said : behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is fruit of a tree yielding seed, to you it shall be for meat and to every beast of the earth and to every fowl of the air, to everything that creepeth upon the earth, where in there is life, I have given every green herb for meat and it was so."

Gandhiji referring to the glorious Christian period of restitution quotes thus, " The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a litter child shall lead them ------ And the lion shall eat straw like the ox------- They shall not hurt nor destroy in my holy mountains; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."

[edit] Jain Tirthankars have Strictly Ordained

jain thinkers have strictly ordained that a disciple should at the outset learn the lesson of sanctity of life. He should trea all life as sacred and become a strict Vegetarian. Meat-eating distroys the root of mercy and universal fraternity. The heart in fact becomes like the heart of a callous Carnivora. Is not his stomach the graveyard of the butchured innocent animals ? It is noteworthy that modern scientists are in favour of Vegetarian diat. " The Times of India" provides us with these valuable observations in this contest. "Scientists have found that non-vegetarian food increases the tendency towards chronic complaints. Its highly saturated fat content is also prone to raise blood cholesterol levels dangerously leading to heart attack & strokes. In the habitual meateaters the cholesterol deposits itself on the inside walls of blood vessels in a condition known as arteriosclerosis thus restricting or stopping blood supply to the heart."

[edit] In U. S. A.

" In U.S.A. today there is a marked swing to wards vegetarianism. In recent times seven millon Americans have turned away from flesh foods. George Bernard shaw is often upheld by Western vegetarians and they emulate him believing that it will yield life of mental and physical vigour & longevity - Flesh consumption can be hazardous in a tropical climate like India where decomposition is fast on account of heat and where no proper refrigeration facilities exist to keep it safer" (24 jan. 1982) Riskin's observations are thought-provoking, "Unless you are deliberately kind to every creature you will often be cruel to many."

Those who kill others froget that a time will come when they will have to reap the fruits of their cruel practices. If we sow the seed of a banyan tree how can we get an orange tree ? Like wise, if we nures violence, cruelty or hatred in our hearts we will not only spread the baneful aura of evil thought, but it will also give rise to more heinous evil tendencies. If, on the other hand , we sow the seed pf goodwill, sincerity and friendship towards all beings, we are sure to reap a rich harvest of inreased goodwill and friendship. The Bible says , " Whatsover a man soweth that shall he also reap. He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it. They have sown the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind." Purity of life is essential and indispensable for real joy.

[edit] Serious Thought

Serious thought and sober reflection show that animal butchery is against human nature. These remarks of Francis Bacon are illuminating, " Nature has endow-d man with a noble and excellent principle of compassion which extends also to the dumb animals. Hence , this compassion has some resemblance to that of a prince towards his subjects." He furher observes." And it is certain that the noblest souls are the most extensively compassionate, for narrow and degenerate minds think that compassion belongs not to them, but a great soul; the noblest part of creation is ever compassionate."

selfish and shortsighted people say, "Animals have no souls, therefore, there is nothing wrong in relishing their meat" This is a wrong and irrational approach to the real state of affairs. A compassionate cardinal has observed, " The ancients treated man of the rightless classes much as we treat animals. Gladiators could be killed for sport and Galen and Celsus speak of the established practice of human vivisection on the persons of criminals, doubtless on the weighty ground of high benevolence." It the moderner feels and arguse that the approch of the ancients was wrong, brutal and vulgar, why not the same logic be applied to the case of voiceless and innocent animals who also think and feel like us ? Man must behave like a sensible , rational and cultured creature.

Man should not be mean and brutal. He has to answer the point, whether kine, like men have any right to live and survive or not ? A cultured gentleman should not encroach upon the natural right of others on the ground of his superior intelligence. If he is really cultured he must respect the legitimate rights of others. 'MAN' is meaningful. It signifils that 'M' stands for mercy , "A" suggests affection and "N" denotes Noble life. Mercy , Affection add Noble conduct are essential for a real man, if he does not belong to the category of a beast.

[edit] Some Men of extremely refined taste angrily remark

Some men of extremely refined taste angrily remark that it is indecent and unjust to criticise one's personal life and conduct , which depend upon personal tastes and temperaments. These fellows are warned of the evil consequences of their heartless and callous conduct. They must remember that the path of ctuelty leads to destruction and grily and the life of love and mercy leads to divinity and bliss. Dr. George Arundale in his book " The Night Bell" writes, " One way leads to destruction. It is theway of folerance of cruelty, if not active engagement in it. It is the way of hunting for sport, the way of vicvise the way of killing animals for food, the way of making slaves of animals without thought for their happiness and well- being. This is the way the world has been treading." "The other way leads to salvation. It is the way of harmlessness, the way of recognition of brother hood with all creatures, the way of endurance and compassion, the way of service and not of selfishness. The sensible and soberminded embrace the sublime path of love all, serve all. If this Divine ideal is implanted in every heart and faithfully followed. the climate of this troubled and turbulent globe will be healthy and glorious in no time. From the aesthetic poin also, the call of compassion is valuable and worthy of approbation. Jawaharlal Nehru's words are interesting. "Life would become very dull and odourless, if we do not have these magnificent animals and brids to look at and play with. Jain thinkers fully understand the difficulties which come in the way of the practice of complete non-violence, since life is impossible without destruction of innumerable small insects. The life of a tyrant and a sefish short-sighted person has been condemned.

[edit] There are various grades

There are various grades for the practice of this noble principle. The novice should abandon Intentional Injury to the vitaliries of other creatures.If there is no 'Mens rea' - guilty intention, one is not adjudicated guilty of violence, e.g., a surgeon care fully perfroms an operation with all attention and yet the patient may die. In that case the doctor will not be guilty of the murder of the man, on the other hand the burglar who robs a citizen of his valuables will be puni shed as a felon because of his evil motive. Motive is the important factor whether an act comes under the purview of violence or otherwise. With a view to achieve mental purity and equanimity one must try his level best to be as much merciful as the circumstances permit him to practice. The house holder's non-voleuce is partial and he can not attain perfection in its practice due to his various responsibilities and liabilities.As he advances in spiritual plane and controls his passions he can make rapid strides on the path of progress and gradually become perfect in his achievement. The complete and flawless practice of Ahimsa raises the man to Godhood.This Ahimsa gives Light, provides Delight and bestows Might to its faithful and honest aspirant. The life of mercy has a touch of divinity therein. These words are thought-provoking, " All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth (psalm 25:10). Be ye ! therefore, merciful for your Father also is merciful" (Luke VI, 36). Shakespeare also honours this view when he says, " It is an attribute to God him self." (Merchant fo venice). The merciful man can hope for Divine mercy but it looks awkward when the cruel and tyrant felon expects mercy of God inspite of his henious and cruel way of Life.

[edit] Gandhiji who is known as the greatest disciple of Ahimsa was

Gandhiji who is known as the greatest disciple of Ahimsa was, in fact, on the lowest rung of the ladder. He aspired the highest type of Ahimsa by becoming a nude jain monk. When Churchill had rebuked Gandhiji by calling him " A naked Fakir" , he had informed Churchill " I would love to be a naked Fakir but I am not one yet.' (The life of Mahatma Gandhiji by L. fisher P.473). It is to be noted that nudity of the non-violent saints is not an end in itself, but it is a means to attain the bliss of Nirvana. Jain scriptures have strongly condemned that nudity which is not adorned with the highest type of noble and virtuous life. A monkey is naked, innumerable living souls remain naked; their purity of life will do no good to their struggling souls. That nudity is commendable which is resorted to for self-purification. Dr. Sir M.B. Niyogi, Ex-Chief Justice of the Nagpur High Court, was much impressed by the noble and lofty character of a * Digamber Jain Saint, Sir Sumatisagarji Maharaj. He, observed : "Nudity is the climax of the self- sacrifice and self-purification. It is the triumphant conquest over the vices of greed, prvudice and other carnal desires. When a man renounces all his belongings and becomes fearless, then only he can discard the last symbol of this worldly attachment by enbracing the cult of nudism. This is the highest stage, which every real sadhu aspires to attain in this life." (Leader, Allahabad 15-1-45).

[edit] History Records

History records that these highli cultured, non-violent nude and elevated souls were respected and highly venerated by monarchs and the common men alike. The great grand-father of king Ashoka called Chandra Gupta Maurya had become a nude jain monk. The act of subjugating inner passions and nmanal cravings is not an easy affair. Poet Tagore's remarks made in his lectures in America are very significant , " In this natural world with the help of science man is turning the forces of nature in to obedince. But in this moral world he has a harder task to accomplish. He has to turn his own passions and desirs from tyranny in to obedience." (Personality p.90) Such non-violent saints enjoy the beauties and sublimities of the inner world. These remarks of Milton are illuminating." He who reigns within himself and rules his passions and fears is more than a king." He sports in the self delights in the Self; for he has to obtain the kingdom of heaven hidden within. Those souls who are spiritually and mentally weak lead the life of house-holders and discharge their duties with a compassionate outlook. Jainism has not taken an extreme and one-sided view of Ahimsa for a layman. It has classified it in to various stages according to the mental make up and environments of the adherent. Even the use of weapons has not always been wholly condemned or discarded on the occasion of safe-guarding and maintaining the dignity of Law and Justice, against the aggressive and vindictive measures of the culprits in the absence of some other better way and make it impossible for the miscreants to disturb the smooth and peaceful working of the society. To punish the wicked is a sacred duty. Thomas Jafferson's words are significat, " Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God " As a matter of fact the avoidance of voluntary or intentional injury has been enjoined upon all the vataries of non-violence. It is thereforl consistent with the doctrine of non-violence to rule over vast territories. It is a historical fact that jain monarchs such as Bimbasar, Chandragupta Maurya, Samprati, Kharvela, Amoghvarsha, Kumarpala etc. had ruled over the contry with remarkable success. King's sacred duty is to protect the innocent, noble and pious subjects and punish the wicked. If the ruler forgets his responsibility, there will be the rule of anarchy and the people will come to distress. In this Context Guru Nanak's observations are significant, " When the strong fall upon the strong, there is little cause for regret, but when a blood-thirsty tiger pounces on defenceless cows, the cowherd must come to their rescue." Every sensible person will agree that the arrogant aggressor must be punished severely so that his criminal tendency may be curbed for ever. I he remarks of Sardar Patel are in consonance with the philosophy of ahimsa, ``In this kaliyuha ull shall return Ahimsa for Ahimsa but if some one resorts to force against us we shall meet it with force." (The indomitable Sardar P.243).

[edit] Samant Bhadra Acharya Writes

The celebrated Jain monk Swami Samanta Bhadra writes, " Lord Shanti Nath (the 16th jain Prophet), when a house-holder, had conquered over the multitu of monarchs of the whole world." Chamundaraya, the renowned minister of Ganga, the king of South and a great Jain devotee, hadwaged several wars himself. It is interesting to note that he had composed a book on Jain Ethics in the battle-field. R. B. Dr. G. H.Ojha's remarks are significant "Valour is not the monopoly of any particular community. India has produced chivalrous person in every community. Rajputana has always been the land of the brave. The Jains have neve lagged behind in this respect, insppite of the prominent place alloted to compassion in Jainism. Since many centuries he Jains have been occupying the exalted offices of the ministers and the like. In hour of national references whereof occur in history.

[edit] The Fundamental Point Is

The fundamental point is that one should not resort to violence as far as possible. He should not take pleasure in case he happens to destroy life under compulsion. In his heart the genial current of compassion should never stop its inner flow. Although a warrior or a monarch, he will hever touch wine or meat , Since they disturb the purity of mind and equanimity, which are the guiding factors to take the right decision under the circumstances. Tolstoy has said, " I flatly declare that a man fed on whisky and dead bodies cannot do the finest work of which he is capable. " (Leaders of Modern Thought P.35)." The vision of the non-violent house holder is not blcrred by the pomp or power of the world. He knows his place in this huge world . he feels seriously that our life is uncertain. We are like sands upon the shore, A little wave and we are no more. In this context the words of Ernest Hemingsway are significant—``Every single man's death reduces me for, I am one of mankind. Hence, I never ask, ``for whom the bell tolls ? It tolls for me. A person blessed with this wisdom tries his best to adopt pure, and virtuous code of conduct. ``Jain ethich are meant for men of all positions; for kings, warriors, traders, artisans, agriculturists and indeed for man and women in every walk of life. Do your duty and do it as humanely as you can. This, in brief, is the primary precept of Jainism. (Smith—History of India P. 53).

[edit] Lord Mahavir has warned

Lord Mahavira has warned the world against the consequences of the callous life of a cruel and merciless person. Lord has said, ``All the miseries spring up from violence—Ahimsa. The life of Ahimsa helps a person to attain Godhood and enjoy the everlasting happiness, It is said that, ``God does not ask money of you but a merciful heart and a pious mind (Clement A. N. C. L. Vol. III, P. 453-455) Emerson's words are worthy of note, ``he kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace. The ethical code for a noble man should be, ``to live, let live and help others to live. Those who aspire for internal peace, worldly progress and plenty should concentrate their attention upon these words of Jain saint Kundkunda expressed in his Tirukkural, ``A person who has personally experienced what is injurious to his own life, why should he inflict injury on other living beings ? Killing brings all other evils. ``Share your meal with the needy. Protect every living being. This is the chief of all the moral precepts formulated by those well-versed in scriptureds. ``Not to kill is one good deed par excellence. Next to this comes the virture or speaking truth. ``Even though the happiness of heaven obtained by sacrifice be great, wisemen despise it as worthless, because it is won by slaughter. What comes from virtue is real happiness. All else is other than real happiness and also devoid of glory. Know ye, that what ought be done by each is virtue and that what ought to be shunned by each is vice. Be pure in mind. That is just the nature of virtue. All else is empty sound and quite worthless. (Tirruk-kural) These sublime thoughts of saint Amitgati should illumine every thinking soul, ``O my Lord, make my-self 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. (Pure Thoughts). May the radiant sun of mercy bestow kindly light to those, who are wandering on the pernicious path of Vanity, Cruelty and Barbarity.