Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions


The Antiquity of Jainism
Jain Heroes
Jaina Order and Literature
Fundamental Beliefs
  The Human Predicament
  The Doctrine of Karma
  The Doctrine of Man
  The Denial of God
  Jaina Ethics and Morality
  Three Spiritual Paths
  Response to Contemporary Issue
  Social Issues
  The Economic Order
  The Idea of Ahimsa and Vegetarianism

Jaina Ethics and Morality



Jaina ethics is directed toward the liberation of the individual.  Its orientation is therefore religious.  Its end is the spiritualization of all areas of life in order to fit the individual for his final goal, Its primary precept applicable to kind and commoner alike is, Do your duty and do it as humanly as you can.

Jainism permits no separation between religion (Dharma) and morality because both are concerned with the well-being of the individual in the world in keeping with his own nature.  The word Dharma signifies the nature of things (vatthu sahavo dhammo).  It is the law which �leads, binds, or takes back a being to its essential nature; enables it to realize the divinity inherent in itself; helps it to extricate itself from the misery of mundane existences and reach the state of supreme beatitude.�  All beings seek happiness and try to avoid pain and loss.  The practice of Dharma enables them to achieve this end.  In the words of the well-known Acarya Samanta Bhadra, �Religion is something which takes the living beings out of the worldly misery and establishes them in the highest bliss.�

This interconnection between religion and morality imparts to Jainism its distinctive feature.  H. S. Bhattacharya finds the insistence of Jainism on spiritual motivation �the foundation� of all true religion and ethics and thinks it may well serve as �the basis of a universal code of moral and religious acts.� The uniqueness of Jainism �Lies not only in emphasizing this all important condition of all religious and moral activities but in justifying their position by looking upon morality, not as an adjunct to human nature, but as part and parcel of it.�

The connection between religion and morality is often missed because Jainism delineates the pathway to spiritual perfection through the practice of yoga and demarcates stages of self-realization, but the roots of that perfection are in the soul of everyday life.  We have first to learn to live a good life in this world and then we can go higher to spiritual perfection.  In order to exclude none from the need for moral discipline, Jainism has formulated two levels of religious existence:  one which sets moral standards for laymen, and one for monks.

For one who sets out on the path toward perfection, Jainism presents the practice of ten great virtues.  They are:  Supreme Forbearance, Humility, Straightforwardness, Perfect Truthfulness, Purity, perfect Self-restraint, Austerity, Complete Renunciation, Nonattachment, and Celibacy.  These virtues are to regulate thought, speech, and action.  They are an essential part of Jaina ethics, and are like �ten inextinguishable lamps� which illuminate the path of the beginner.