Non-violence is not mere non-injury in the negative
sense. It has also a positive content. It implies the presence of
cultivated and noble sentiments, like kindness and compassion for all
living creatures. It also implies self-sacrifice. The Buddha renounced the
pleasures of the world out of compassion for all living creatures. Jesus
was filled with compassion when he said "whoever shall smite thee in the
right cheek, turn to him the other also". He demanded self sacrifice.
In the Yasastilaka, Somadeva enumerates qualities that should be
cultivated to realise the ideal of ahimsa. The qualities are 1) maitri., a
disposition not to cause any suffering to any living being in mind, body
and speech, 2) pramoda affection coupled with respect for men eminent for
their virtues and religious austerities, 3) karunya. will to help the poor
and ) madhyasthya, an equitable attitude. Ahimsa is, thus, a positive
virtue and it resolves itself into jiva daya, compassion for living
It may be noted that the practice of ahimsa is
primarily meant to save our souls. Himsa and Ahimsa relate only to one's
soul and not to those of others. Ahimsa is kindness to others, but it is
kindness to the extent that we save others from the sin of violence. If we
give pain to anyone we lower ourselves. Self-culture is the main problem
in the practice of Ahimsa. In the Sutrakrtanga it is said that if a person
causes violence out of greed or if he supports such violence of others, he
increases the enemies of his own soul.
In the Acardnga Sutra we are asked to consider
ourselves to be in the position of the persons or animals to whom we want
to cause injury. Gandhiji said, "I believe in loving my enemies, I
believe in nonviolence as the only remedy open to Hindus and Muslims. I
believe in the power of suffering to melt the stoniest heart".
This is the content of the Jaina theory of ahimsa. It
is possible to say that the doctrine of Ahimsa is not abstract nor
inconsistent with the laws of nature. The practice of Ahimsa is not also
impossible. It is true that there have been some excesses in the practice
of ahimsa both in the injunctions of the sastras and in the practice by
enthusiastic devotees. However, these excesses can be properly understood
if they are looked at in the historical perspective. Jainas developed
polemic against animal sacrifice and violence caused to animals at the
time of worship: their protests were vigorous.'The excesses of practice
were meant to overcome the difficulties and to impress on the necessity of
saving the animals from the pitiless injuries caused to them. The
influence of the Jaina concept of ahimsa has been tremendous on the
history of the religious practices in lndia. Animal sacrifices had to be
given up to satisfy the demands of the Buddhists and primarily the Jainas.
That living beings live is no kindness, because they
live according to their age of ayus-karma. That they die is no himsa
because when the ayus-karma is complete beings die without any exterior
cause. Natural death without any cause is not himsa. It is only those who
kill or injure that are guilty of himsa, although it may be argued that
the animal that is killed dies because its ayus-karma is complete. We
should not be the cause of its death. Not to kill or injure any living
being is kindness. Ahimsa is beneficial to all beings, to the persons who
practice ahimsa and those who are saved by ahimsa. In ahimsa there is a
force of the soul. It destroys all anxiety, disorder and cowardice.
Ahimsa can over come and defeat the most cruel brute force. (Gandhiji has
shown this by the Satyagraha movement against the mighty British Empire.
Zimmer said that Gandhiji's Satyagraha confronted, great Britain's
untruth with lndian truth. This is the battle waged on the collosal modern
scale, and according to the principles from the text books not of the
Royal Military College but of Brahman. The Prasna Vyakaruna Sutra
gives sixty names ascribed to ahimsa and states that ahimsa does good to
all. Gandhiji said uhen Motilal Nehru and others were arrested that
victory is complete if non violence reigns superior in spite of the
arrest; we are out to be killed without killing; by nonviolence,
non-co-operation we seek to conquer the English administrators and their
It is the sacred duty of every Indian to fight for the
nation in this hour of difficulty. On this depends our honour and
integrity. This is a war, if it may be called so, not for the sake of war
but for the sake of vindicating our right of existence as a free nation.
Violence in self defence is not to be considered as unjustified as long as
we live and take interest in the activities of this life. And live we
must; we must also take due share of the responsibility in social and
political life in our country, although the consummation of the ideal
would be renunciation. But universal renunciation is equally unjustified
from the point of view of social good, unless one is a 'heaven-born
prophet' or an ascetic.
However, even in performing the duties of a citizen in
defending our country we should see that we use the minimum of violence
and sparingly. This is in keeping with the tradition of our country.
Still, this does not mean we have given up the
significance of non-violence as a supreme principle of life and
spirituality. We are now only to be aware of our imperfection and to
adjust our-selves as best as we can in this imperfect life. We pursue the
ends of this life, and moving on the wheel of life we have to see that our
duty to others is also important in its own way. Considered from the
perspective of history and the present conditions of our society, it would
appear strange that, we, in India, steeped in spirituality, should be
disillusioned and now affirm the primacy of material progress; stranger
still, that with our firm faith in non-violence, we should prepare
ourselves for the inevitable war. But analysis of non-violence so far
given shows that non-violence as preached by the Jainas would dispel our
illusions about the impossibility of the practice of non-violence. We have
tried to justify the ways of man to man in our preparedness for national
defence, specially when we are threatened by the enemies at our frotiers.
Thus, the principle of non-violence is important in the
context of the present political situation of the world. That will save
the world from the fear of distress and war. Nonviolence as Gandhiji said,
is not meant only for saints. It is meant for the common people as well.
Romain Rolland said that the Rsis who discovered the
law of non-violence in the midst of violence were greater geniuses than
Newton, greater warriors than Wellington. He said with Gandhiji, that
non-violence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the
brute.  Non-violence would be a panacea for the ills of life.It would
bring lasting peace on earth.
1. RADHAKRISHNAN(S) Indian Philosophy. Vol. I. (1941)
2. Ratnakaradaka-Sravakacara: pp. 47-49. Samantabha
3. WILLIAMS(R); JainaYoga (London Oriental Series
Vol.14 1936 p. 34.
4. Based on the analysis in the Jaina Yoga with slight
5. SCHUBRING (W.): Die Lehre der Jainas, Berlin 1935:
pp. 180-186. Translation
Wolfgang BEURLEN (Banarasidas) 1962, PP-298-300.
6. Ibid, p. 290.
7. Ibid, p. 302.
8. Uttaradhyana Sutra. XXIII. S.B. E. Vol. XLV.
9. Ibid, Introduction JACOBI (H). Footnote XXIII.(22).
10. Mulacara. 1-36.
11. Dasavaikalika-sutra. 10. 1-15.
12. Uttaradhyayana sutra 15.I ( S.B.E. Vol. XLV).
13. Uttaradhyayana-sutra 30,19 and 26 .
14 Acaranga sutra I,44; II.59, 25, 52
15. Uttaradhyayana sutra XI.17 20.
16. Uttaradhyayana sutra, III.1-4
17. Uttaradhyayana sutra VII.ll.
18. Sutrakrtanga: Bk. I.l4. 16. S. B E. XLV).
19. BUEHLER: On thc Indian Sect. of the Jainas: ( 1903)
20. JACOB1 (H): SBE Vol. XXII Intr. p. xxxii.
21. UPADHYE (A.N.): Brhatkathkosa . Intr. Pravacanasara
. 1943 Preface pp. 12-13.
22. Yogasastra: Hemacandra, iii. 90.
23. Ibid. III.90.
24. Sravakacara . Vasunandin. Edt. HIRALAL JAIN: 209.
25. Avasyakasutra; with commentary, Haribhadra 821,
26. Tattvarthasutra: with commentary. Siddhasena, vii.
27. Sravakadharma Pancasaka (Devachanda Lalbhai No.
102) 1952 14.
29. Avasyaka-sutra with Comm. by Hsribhadra (Agamodya
Samgraha 823 b.
30. Tattvartha-sutra: Comm. by Siddhasena. vil. 22.