Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Jivaraja Jaina Granthmala, No. 20

General Editorial
Preface to The First Edition
Preface to The Second Edition
Synoptic Philosophy
  Approach to Reality
  The Jaina Theory of the Soul
  Critique of Knowledge
  The Doctrine of Karma in Jaina Philosophy
  The Pathway to Perfection
  In this Our Life
  Men and Gods




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".[112] 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 creatures.[113]


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.[114]


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.[115] 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".[116]


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.[117] The Prasna Vyakaruna Sutra gives sixty names ascribed to ahimsa and states that ahimsa does good to all.[118] 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 supporters.[119]


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. [120] 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) p.52.


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 modifications


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) P. 15.


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. 22.


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.