Jain Religious view:
Nonviolence is the highest principle
of Jain religion. However for our survival the religion permits certain
violence by lay people. Jain scriptures clearly indicate that:
our survival, the survival of our ascetics, and the survival of our
scriptures, temples, libraries, and upasrayas; limited violence to one
sensed (Ekendriya) souls such as vegetables, water, fire, earth, and air
are allowed only by Jain lay people (sravaks and sravikas).
no circumstances violence to two to five sensed (Tras) living beings such
as animals, birds, insects, and humans are allowed even by the lay people.
should be totally nonviolent to all souls including the souls of
vegetables, water, fire, air, and earth.
A cow is a five-sensed (Panchendriya)
animal that also possesses mind. Cruelty to five-sensed animals is
considered the highest sin in the Jain scriptures.
In today's high tech environment,
cows are killed instantly in the production of meat. However,
during milk production the cows are not killed instantly but they are
tortured badly during the prime of their life, their babies (all but one
female calf) are tortured for six months and then slaughtered. Ultimately
they are slaughtered within 5 years well before the end of their natural
life of 15 years. The dairy cows and their babies have no chance to escape
from this cruelty and death.
In conclusion the cruelty in the milk
production is worst than the meat production. By consuming dairy products
we are supporting and promoting such cruelty.
Usage of Dairy Products in the Jain
Both Swetambar and Digambar sects use
milk and its products in temple rituals. This is an ancient tradition. In
the past (before the birth of a high tech dairy farm, which tortures the
cows and ultimately slaughters them) in India, the cows were treated like
a part of the family, and after feeding the baby calf, leftover milk was
consumed by humans. This may be the reason why milk and its products are
not considered violent in the Jain scriptures.
We should reevaluate the usage of
milk and its product (ghee for arti, milk and sweets for puja etc.) in the
temple rituals under the new technological environment. The tradition
should not be followed blindly. The highest Jain principle of nonviolence
should not be compromised under any circumstances.
With regards to Swetambar tradition I
can definitely say that no scriptures support the usage of milk in the
With regards to Digambar tradition,
Mr. Atul Khara, the past president of Jain Center of Dallas TX, indicates
that most of the Digambars do not use milk in the rituals. Also no
scriptures supports the use of milk and its products in rituals. Some
Digambars in South India use the milk in their rituals, which is direct
influence of Hindu rituals.
Also when we consume dairy products
for our personal use we are personally responsible for our actions and the
resulting karma or sins. However when we use dairy products in the
temples, it is considered that the entire community commits the highest
Milk and other products represent
certain religious symbols in the Jain rituals. However, the product we use
in the rituals must be of nonviolent source. The intention of our rituals
is to inspire us to grow spiritually. The net outcome of the rituals
should result in the reduction of our ego, greed, anger, lust, and
attachments. Milk and other dairy products derived using such a violent
method can not help us to grow spiritually.
In our rituals, we should substitute
the regular milk with simple water or Soya milk, ghee (used in deevo) for
vegetable oil, sweets for various types of dry nuts, and serve only vegan
meal during any religious function. Our youths will appreciate such
changes in our rituals.
This article was first published on
Internet (Jain-list) in August 1997. Since then we have received many feed
backs from the readers across the world. We have published some of these
responses in an article called What Our Readers Say About � at the
end of this book. We strongly recommend you to read the feedbacks.