Honorary Director, Shahu Research Institute,

Shivaji University, Kolhapur



Bhagawan Mahavir Research Center

Shravika Sanstha Nagar

Solapur ‑ 2



Jainology Monograph Series: No. 1


by Dr. Vilas Adinath Sangave


First Edition

3rd February 1991.


Published by

The President,

Bhagawan Mahavir Research Center,

Padmashri Sumatibai Vidyapith Trust,

Shravika Sanstha Nagar,

SOLAPUR ‑413 002 (Maharashtra)





Typesetting and Printing by

Shri. Suresh Shipurkar,

Bharati Mudranalaya,

832, E, Shahupuri,

Kolhapur ‑ 416 001


Price: Rs. 20/‑



Dedicated To



for her remarkable contributions to

Jaina Religion, Literature, Culture and Studies


Female Education and Welfare



Publisher's Foreword


Bhagawan Mahavir Research Center was established in 1984 in the renowned Educational Complex known as `Shravika Sanstha Nagar' in Solapur city mainly


(i) to conduct research in Jaina Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, Literature, History, Society and other aspects of Jaina Culture,


(ii) to bring out the contributions of Jaina Religion and Society to Indian culture and


(iii) to encourage advanced studies in different branches of Jainology.


This Research Center was extremely fortunate as it was inaugurated in a special function by Siddhanta Chakravarti, Acharya Munishri Vidyanand Maharaj, the reputed Scholar‑Saint of India, in the angust presence of many learned scholars assembled from different parts of India for participation in the "National Seminar on Research in Jainology" organized by the Research Center to synchronize with its inauguration ceremony.


It is heartening to note that the Research Center has got a very well‑equipped library of old manuscripts, sacred texts, canonical works, research journals and rare books in different branches of Jainology.  The Research Center has also started various programs like publication of books and journals, organization of seminars and workshops, distribution of research and travel grants, provision of library and study facilities etc. Again as a part of nation‑ wide celebration of 2000th Anniversary of Acharya Kunda Kunda's during 1988‑89 the Research Center arranged to publish in England and to distribute free the new critical edition in English of Acharya Kunda‑Kunda's standard work Niyamasara.  Further, the Research Center has now made available to the scholars the modern study‑room facilities in the newly built spacious and impressive building of "Dhyana Swadhyaya Mandir" in the Educational Complex area.


Recently the Research Center launched an important project of publishing a new and useful Series of Monographs dealing with different significant aspects of research studies in various branches of Jainology. It is really a matter of great satisfaction that in this series the first Monograph written by eminent Sociologist and Jainologist Dr. Vilas Sangave on the concept and practice of Ahimsa in Jainism is being published under the title "The Jaina Path of Ahimsa". It is pertinent to note here that Dr. Vilas Sangave has to his credit a number of standard research publications of Books and Papers on Jaina Society and Religion and that his several books have not only secured international recognition but have also got the distinction of being quoted as authority by reputed scholars all over the world. It is, therefore, hoped that his new Monograph entitled "The Jaina Path of Ahimsa" would be found useful both by the academicians and the general readers as well.


It is our ardent desire to see that this Series of Monographs on Jainology is continued in right earnest and that the Monographs on different important aspects of Jaina Studies specially written by reputed scholars in the field are published as soon as possible for the benefit of persons interested in the study of various branches of Jainology.


Sumatibai Shah


Bhagawan Mahavir Research Center



Author's Preface


Among the religions of the world we find that Jainism is the only religion which has accorded utmost importance to the Doctrine of Ahimsa both from the theoretical and practical points of view. The principle of Ahimsa  not only forms the basis of Jaina Philosophy but also serves as foundation on which the entire ethical code has been built. This code of conduct, prescribed by Jainism for its lay followers and ascetics, has been designed so as to translate the tenet of Ahimsa into actual behavior to a maximum extent possible.  In view of this unique position assigned to the observance of Ahimsa in daily life, the Jaina Religion has become synonymous with Ahimsa Religion and the Jaina Culture is termed as Ahimsa Culture. That is why for comprehending the nature and significance of Jainism, it is necessary to have a proper understanding of Ahimsa as envisaged by Jainism.  With a view to satisfying this important need, the present Monograph "The Jaina Path of Ahimsa'' has been written.  This Monograph discusses in detail the various aspects of Ahimsa like the vow of Ahimsa, the observance of Ahimsa the comprehensiveness of Ahimsa, the carefulness in Ahimsa, the practicability of Ahimsa, the positivity of Ahimsa, and the social significance of Ahimsa It is therefore hoped that this Monograph will help in having correct understanding of the unique position of the doctrine of Ahimsa in Jainism and will also encourage further studies in the subject.


I am really very happy to see that Padmasri, Mahila‑ratna, Balbrahmcharini, Pandita Sumatibai Shah, the Founder Architect of the Educational Complex of "Shravika‑Sanstha Nagar" and the Founder‑President of Bhagawan Mahavir Research Center decided to start a significant project of a new Series of Monographs on Jainology and to publish the present Monograph, viz., "The Jaina Path of Ahimsa" in this series as its first Monograph under the auspices of Bhagawan Mahavir Research Center with which I have been very intimately associated from its very inception in 1984 in the Shravika Sanstha Nagar, Solapur. I am, therefore, extremely grateful to respected Pandita Sumatibai Shah for this fine gesture on her part. I am also thankful to Pandita Vidyulata Shah and other members of the Board of Trustees of Shravika Sanstha Nagar Trust for giving encouragement to me in this publication and also in my other academic and research activities.


My thanks are also due to my friend and active social worker Shri. Suresh Shipurkar, the Proprietor of Bharati Mudranalaya, Kolhapur for completing the work of typesetting and printing this Monograph in record time and that too in such a nice manner.


I must also mention my sincere thanks to the Librarians of Rajaram College Library, Kolhapur and Anekant Shodhpitha Library, Bahubali for their valuable and timely help of books.


Vilas Adinath Sangave



6, Rajarampuri

Kolhapur ‑ 416 008

Republic Day

26th Jan. 1991





Publisher's Foreword

Author's Preface

Diacritical Marks Adopted


Meaning of Jainism

Principles of Jainism

Philosophy of Jainism

Moksha‑marga According to Jainism

The Twelve `Vratas' or vows

The Concept of `Himsa'

Ahimsa‑vrata, i. e., the vow of `Ahimsa'

Supplements to Ahimsa‑‑Vrata

Implementation of Ahimsa

Comprehensiveness of Ahimsa

Carefulness in Ahimsa

Practicability of Ahimsa

Basic Positivity of Ahimsa

Social Significance of Ahimsa

Bibliography of Selected Jaina Sacred Texts



Of all religions of the world, Jainism is the only religion which has the principle of Ahimsa as its central doctrine.  The other religions also speak of Ahimsa whenever convenient but they never offer such loyalty to the principle of Ahimsa as is found in Jainism.  In the history of world religions, Jainism alone has given a unique position to the doctrine of Ahimsa and has based its ethical code entirely on the complete observance of the tenet of Ahimsa in all its aspects.  Jainism is the only religion in the world which has given maximum attention to the important practical aspects of the theory of Ahimsa so that Ahimsa, in it's minutest details, can be actually observed both by the lay followers and ascetics in their day to day life.  At the same time Jaina religion has got the unique distinction, among the religions of the world, of ably presenting in a scholastic and scientific manner the theoretical and philosophical side of the doctrine of Ahimsa by discussing it thoroughly not only from internal and absolute points of view but also from external and real points of view.  In addition, the Jaina religion has earned special prestige in the world by giving equal emphasis on the negative and positive aspects of Ahimsa.  On this basis Jainism has shown to the world in a perfect and convincing way the worth of the doctrine of Ahimsa by stating the basic principle, viz., "Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah" i. e. Ahimsa is the greatest religion.  That is why Jaina Religion is considered as Ahimsa Religion and Jaina Culture as Ahimsa Culture.  For understanding this utmost significance attached to the principle of Ahimsa in Jainism, it is quite necessary to see, in brief, the outstanding features of Jaina religion and the prominent aspects of the concept of Ahimsa as formulated in Jaina religion.



Jainism is a religion propounded by a `Jina'.  Principles enunciated by a `Jina' constitute Jainism and the follower of Jainism is known as a `Jaina'.  Further, a `Jina' is neither a supernatural being nor an incarnation of an all‑powerful God.  The word `Jina' means the conqueror or the victorious, i. e., one who has conquered the worldly passions by one's own strenuous efforts.  Human beings are entitled to become `Jinas' and as such `Jinas' are persons of this world who have attained supreme knowledge, subjugated their passions and are free from any sort of attachment.  Jainism is nothing but a set of principles preached by such persons known as `Jinas'.  Hence Jainism is not an Apaurusheya religion, i.e., a religion propounded by a non‑human being or based on a sacred book of non‑human origin. On the contrary, Jainism is a religion of purely human origin and it has emanated from the mouth of a dignitary who has secured the omniscience and self‑control by his own personal efforts.  In short, Jainism is the substance of preachings of dignitaries who have attained the state of `Jinas'.


Further, after attaining self‑realization by conquering the five senses and by destroying all the (ghati) `Karmas', i. e. bondages of life and after acquiring `Kevala Jnana', i. e., the omniscient knowledge, the `Jina' spends the rest of his time in `Dhanmaprabhavana', i. e., preaching the principles of religion to the mass of human beings.  Not satisfied with his own self‑realization, the `Jina' engages himself in the noble task of helping his fellow-beings with his message of Dharma, i. e., religion, which would enable the ordinary mortals to reach the summum bonum of life and attain the same spiritual status of perfection which he himself has acquired by his own personal efforts.  Because of this noble task of showing the `Mokshamarga', i. e., the path of spiritual realization, Jina is also called Tirthankara. This term `Tirthankara' or Prophet means one who helps human beings to cross the ocean of Samsara, i. e., this life by providing them with a vessel to sail with in the form of Dharma. Hence, Jainadharma is the boat which is provided for the human beings for the purpose of crossing the ocean of Samsara and because of this noble task of helping the mankind, Jina is also called Tirthankara.


Thus, the people who worship the Jina or the Tirthankara and who follow the religious tenets proclaimed by the Jina are called the Jainas and their religion is Jainism.




The fundamental principles of Jainism can be briefly stated as follows.

1.      The first fundamental principle of Jainism is that, man's personality is dual, that is, material and spiritual. Jaina philosophy regards that every mundane soul is bound by subtle particles of matter known as Karma from the very beginning.  It considers that just as gold is found in an alloy form in the mines, in the same way mundane souls are found along with the Karma bondage from time eternal.  The impurity of the mundane soul is thus treated as an existing condition.

2.      The second principle that man is not perfect is based on the first principle.  The imperfectness in man is attributed to the existence of Karma in his soul.  The human soul is in a position to attain perfection and in that true and eternal state it is endowed with four characteristics, viz., Ananta-darsana, Ananta‑Jnana, Ananta‑virya and Ananta‑sukha, i. e., infinite perception or faith, infinite knowledge, infinite power and infinite bliss.

3.      Even though man is not perfect, the third principle states that by his spiritual nature man can and must control his material nature.  It is only after the entire subjugation of matter that the soul attains perfection, freedom and happiness. It is emphatically maintained that man will be able to sail across the ocean of births and achieve perfection through the control of senses and thought.

4.      The last basic principle stresses that it is only each individual that can separate his own soul and the matter combined with it.  The separation cannot be effected by any other person.  This means that man himself, and he alone, is responsible for all that is good or bad in his life.  He cannot absolve himself from the responsibility of experiencing the fruits of his actions.  This principle distinguishes Jainism from other religions, e. g., Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.


No God, nor His prophet or deputy or beloved can interfere with human life.  The soul, and that alone, is directly and necessarily responsible for all that it does. God is regarded as completely unconcerned with creation of the universe or with any happening in the universe.  The universe goes on of its own accord.  Because of this definite attitude towards God, Jainism is accused of being atheistic. It is true in the sense that Jainism does not attribute the creation of universe to God.  But at the same time Jainism cannot be labeled as atheistic because it believes in Godhood, in innumerable gods, in Punya and Papa, i. e., merit and demerit, in religious practices, etc.  According to Jainism the emancipated soul is considered as God and it is absolutely not concerned with the task of creation of this world.




Jainism emphatically asserts that every soul is capable of attaining perfection if it willfully exerts in that direction.  But the real situation is that from time eternal the soul is bound with matter and it is the aim of every person to get the soul rid of matter so that soul can assume its true state.  This spiritual emancipation requires the knowledge of the beatific condition and of the causes which stand in the way of its attainment.  To find out these causes it is necessary to understand what are the existing elements or substances of nature and mode of their interaction. Jainism believes that the whole universe can be divided into two categories, viz., Jiva, i.e., soul and Ajiva, i. e. non‑soul.  These two ‑ Jiva and Ajiva ‑ exhaust between them all that exists in the universe and Jaina philosophy is based on the nature and interaction of these two elements.  It can be said in short that the living and the non‑living, by coming into contact with each other, forge certain energies which bring about birth, death and various experiences of life; this process could be stopped, and the energies already forged destroyed, by a course of discipline leading to salvation.


A close analysis of this brief statement shows that it involves following seven propositions.

1.      Firstly, that there is something called the living.

2.      Secondly, that there is something called the nonliving.

3.      Thirdly, that the two (i. e. the living and nonliving) come into contact with each other.

4.      Fourthly, that the contact leads to the production of some energies.

5.      Fifthly, that the process of this contact could be stopped.

6.      Sixthly, that the existing energies could also be exhausted; and

7.      Lastly, that salvation could be achieved.


These seven propositions are called the seven tattvas or realities in Jainism.

These seven tattvas are termed as follows:

1.      Jiva (i. e. Living substance)

2.      Ajiva (i. e. matter or non‑living substance)

3.      Asrava (i. e., the influx of Karmic matter in the soul

4.      Bandha (i. e., bondage of soul by Karmic matter)

5.      Samvara (i. e., the stopping of Asrava)

6.      Nirjara (i. e., the gradual removal of Karmic matter).

7.      Moksha (i. e., the attainment of perfect freedom or salvation).


It is clear that the first two of the tattvas deal with the nature and enumeration of the external substances of nature and the remaining five tattvas deal with the interaction between these two substances, viz., Jiva, i. e., spirit and Ajiva, i. e., matter.


Further, much importance has been given to these seven tattvas as every would be aspirant for Moksha has to understand the nature of these tattvas.  Again, out of these seven tattvas the substances are really two viz., soul and non‑soul, and among these two, the non‑soul is all that is not soul, i. e., devoid of sentiency.  Therefore, among these two substances, the really sentient object is the Jiva, i.e., the soul.  Naturally, the living substance, viz. Jiva, assumes highest importance in the context of Ahimsa.




As regards the characteristics of Jiva, i.e., the soul, it is stated that there is an infinite number of souls; in fact, the whole world is literally filled with them.  The souls are substances and as such they are eternal.  Again, their characteristic mark is intelligence, which can never be destroyed.  Further, the soul is ever all perfect, all powerful; but by ignorance it identifies itself with the matter and hence its degradation and troubles start.


Furthermore, souls are of two kinds, viz.,

1.      Samsari, i. e., mundane souls and

2.      Siddha or Mukta, i. e. liberated souls.


Out of these, the samsari jivas, i. e. the mundane souls, are the embodied souls of living beings in the world and are still subject to the cycle of Births and Deaths and the Siddha or Mukta Jivas are the liberated souls and as such

1.      they will not be embodied in future,

2.      they have accomplished absolute purity,

3.      they dwell in the state of perfection at the top of the universe,

4.      they have no more to do with worldly affairs,

5.      they have reached Mukti or Nirvana or Nivrtti, i. e. liberation, and

in their condition they have four enjoyments, viz., Ananta‑darsana, i.e.,. unlimited perception,   Ananta‑jnana, i. e., perfect knowledge, Ananta‑Virya, i.e., infinite power, and Ananta‑ sukha, i.e., unbounded happiness. 


In addition, from the Metaphysical point of view the difference between the Samsari‑Jiva, i.e., the mundane soul, and the Mukta Jiva i.e. the liberated soul, consists in the fact that the former is permeated with subtle matter known as Karma, while the latter is absolutely pure and free from any material alloy.


Moreover, the mundane or embodied souls, i.e. the Samsari Jivas, are further classified in different ways and this classification is a subject not only of theoretical but also of great practical interest to the Jainas.  As their highest duty is not to injure any living beings, it becomes incumbent on them to know the various forms which life may assume.


1.      Samanska and Amanaska Jivas

The mundane souls are divided into two groups, viz., `Sthavara Jivas', i. e. those who have a mind (i.e., the faculty of distinguishing right or wrong) and `Amanaska Jivas' i. e., those who have no mind.


2.      Sthavara and Trasa Jivas

The mundane souls are also divided into two groups from another point of view, viz. `Sthavara Jivas' are the immobile or one‑sensed souls, that is, having only one sense, i.e. the sense of touch; and `Trasa Jivas' are the mobiles, many‑ sensed souls, that is, having a body with more than one sense.  Again, the mobile souls are those which being in fear have the capacity of moving away from the object of fear, and immobile souls do not have this capacity.


The Sthavara, i.e., the immobile or one‑sensed souls are further divided into following five kinds :

1.      Prthvikaya, i.e., earth‑bodied souls,

2.      Apkaya, i.e., water‑bodied souls,

3.      Tejahkaya, i.e., fire‑bodied souls,

4.      Vayukaya, i.e., air‑bodied souls; and

5.      Vanaspatikaya, i.e., vegetable‑bodied souls.


The Trasa, i.e., the mobile or many‑sensed souls are also further divided into four classes according to the possession of two or more of the five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing :

1.      Dvi‑indriya Jivas, i.e., those which have the first two senses of touch and taste, for example, worms, etc.,

2.      Tri‑indriya Jivas, i.e., those which have the first three senses of touch, taste and smell, for example, ants, etc.

3.      Chatur‑indriya Jivas, i.e., those which have first four senses of touch, taste, smell & sight, e. g. humble‑bee

4.      Pancha‑indriya Jivas, i.e., those which have five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing, for example, man, etc.


Thus, in this classification each class has one sense more than the preceding it.



Jaina philosophy starts with a perfect division of the universe into living and non‑living substances, Jiva and Ajiva.  The non‑soul substances are of five kinds, viz.,


1.      Pudgala, i.e., matter,

2.      Dharma, i.e., medium of motion,

3.      Adharma, i.e., medium of rest,

4.      Akasa, i.e., space, and

5.      Kala i.e., time


These six living and non‑living substances are called Dravyas in Jaina Philosophy.


A Dravya has got three characteristics.  First, Dravya has the quality of existence.  Secondly, it has the quality of permanence through origination and destruction.  Thirdly, it is the substratum of attributes and modes.


The Dravya is thus un-created and indestructible, its essential qualities remain the same and it is only its Paryaya or mode or condition, that can and does change.


Asrava :

The third principle Asrava signifies the influx of Karmic matter into the constitution of the soul.  Combination of Karmic matter with Jiva is due to Yoga.  Yoga is the activity of mind, speech and body.  Thus Yoga is the channel of Asrava.  The physical matter which is actually drawn to the soul cannot be perceived by the senses as it is very fine.


Bandha :

When the Karmic matter enters the soul, both get imperceptibly mixed with each other.  Bandha or bondage is the assimilation of matter which is fit to form Karmas by the soul as it is associated with passions.  The union of spirit and matter does not imply a complete annihilation of their natural properties, but only a suspension of their function, in varying degree, according to the quality and quantity of the material absorbed.


Thus, the effect of the fusion of the spirit and matter is manifested in the form of a compound personality which partakes of the nature of both, without actually destroying either.


Samvara :

Effective states of desire and aversion, and activity of thought, speech or body are the conditions that attract Karmas, good and bad, towards the soul.  When those conditions are removed, there will be no Karmas approaching the Jiva, that is complete Samvara ‑‑ a sort of protective wall shutting out all the Karmas is established round the self.


Thus Samvara is the stoppage of inflow of Karmic matter into the soul.  There are several ways through which the stoppage could be effected.


Nirjara :

Nirjara means the falling away of Karmic matter from the soul.  The soul will be rendered free by the automatic falling out of the Karmas when they become ripe.  But this is a lengthy process.  The falling away may be deliberately brought through the practice of austerities.


Thus, Nirjara is of two kinds.  The natural maturing of a Karma and its separation from the soul is called Savipaka Nirjara and inducing a Karma to leave the soul, before it gets ripened by means of ascetic practices is called Avipaka Nirjara.


Moksha :

Moksha or liberation is the freedom from all Karmic matter, owing to the non‑existence of the cause of bondage and the shedding of all the Karmas.  Thus complete freedom of the soul from Karmic matter is called Moksha. 


Moksha is attained when the soul and matter are separated from each other.  The separation is effected when all the Karmas have left the soul, and no more Karmic matter can be attracted towards it.





From the basic principles of Jainism it is evident that the inherent powers of the soul are crippled by its association with Karmic matter and that is why we find every person in an imperfect state.  The real and everlasting happiness will be obtained by a person only when the Karmas are completely removed from the soul and Jainism firmly believes that even though man is imperfect at present, it is quite possible for him to rid himself of the Karmas by his own personal efforts without any help from an outside agency. The highest happiness is to escape from the Cycle of Births and Deaths and be a liberated soul, that is, to obtain Moksha.  This world is full of sorrow and trouble and it is quite necessary to achieve the aim of transcendental bliss by a sure method.


When the goal has been fixed the next question arises regarding the way how to achieve that objective.  To this question Jainism has a definite answer.  It emphatically states that Samyag-darsana, i.e., right belief, Samyag-jnana, i.e., right knowledge, and Samyak-charitra, i.e., right conduct together constitute the path to salvation.  Right belief, right knowledge and right conduct are called Ratnatraya or the three jewels in Jaina works.


According to Jainism these three things must be present together to constitute the path to salvation.  Since all the three are emphasized equally and since the Mokshamarga is impossible without the comprehension of all the three, it is obvious that Jainism is not prepared to admit anyone of these three in isolation as means of salvation.  This position in Jainism is quite distinct from many religious faiths in India.  For example, there are religious schools in Hinduism which lay all the emphasis on Bhakti, i.e., devotion, or on jnana, i.e., knowledge, or on Karma, i.e., moral conduct. The sect of Bhagavatas mostly emphasizes the Bhakti aspect, the sect of Advita Vedantins the Jnana aspect and the sect of Purva Mimamasaksa the Karma aspect.  But according to Jainism no such one-sided emphasis can be accepted as the correct path.


In this respect Jainism has clearly laid down that with a view to attaining liberation all the three must be simultaneously pursued.  It is strongly contended that to effect a cure of a malady, faith in the efficacy of a medicine, knowledge of its use, and actual taking of it; these three together are essential, so also to get emancipation, faith in the efficacy of Jainism, its knowledge and actual practicing of it: these three are quite indispensable.  This Jaina path to liberation is compared to a ladder with its two side poles and the central rungs forming the steps.  The side poles are right belief and right knowledge and the rungs or steps are the gradual stages of right conduct.  It is possible to ascend the ladder only when all the three are sound.  The absence of one makes the ascent impossible.


Thus, a simultaneous pursuit of right belief, right knowledge and right conduct is emphatically enjoined by Jainism upon the people.  Obviously on this path, Jainism has based its distinctive ethical code for its followers - both householders and monks.

Right Belief:


Of the three jewels, right belief comes first and forms

the basis upon which the other two rest.  One must, by all possible means, first attain right belief or the basic conviction on the fundamentals, because only on its acquisition, knowledge and conduct become right.

Right belief means true and firm conviction in the seven principles or tattvas of Jainism as they are and without any perverse notions.  The belief that the Jaina Tirthankaras are the true Gods, the Jaina Sastras the true scriptures, and the Jaina saints the true Preceptors, is called right belief.  It is laid down that such right faith should have eight Angas, i.e., requirements or pillars to strengthen or to support the belief, that it must be free from three types of Mudhas i.e., superstitious ignorance and eight kinds of Madas, i.e., pride or arrogance.

The Jaina works describe at length the glory of right faith and enumerate the benefits which can be accrued by a person possessing right faith.  They go to the extent of describing that asceticism without faith is definitely inferior to faith without asceticism and that even a low­caste man possessing right faith can be considered as a divine being. In short, right faith is given precedence over right knowledge and conduct, because it acts as a pilot in guiding the soul towards Moksha.

Right Knowledge :


On attaining right belief it is considered desirable to strive after right knowledge.  Although right belief and right knowledge are contemporaneous there is yet a clear relation of cause and effect between them, just as there is between a lamp and its light.  Right knowledge is that which reveals the nature of things neither insufficiently, nor with exaggeration nor falsely, but exactly as it is and that too with certainty.  Such knowledge must be free from doubt, perversity and vagueness.  Jainism also insists that right knowledge cannot be attained, unless belief of any kind in its opposite, that is, in wrong knowledge is banished. Further, like right belief, right knowledge also has got eight Angas, i.e. pillars or requirements which support the right knowledge.


Right Conduct :


Right conduct includes the rules of discipline which restrain all censurable movements of speech, body and mind, weaken and destroy all passionate activity and lead to non-attachment and purity.  Right conduct presupposes the presence of right knowledge which presupposes the existence of right belief.  Therefore, it is enjoined upon the persons who have secured right belief and right knowledge to observe the rules of right conduct as the destruction of Karmic matter can be accomplished only through the right conduct.


Further, Samyak Charitra, i.e., right conduct is divided into two kinds, viz., Sakala Charitra, i.e., perfect or unqualified conduct, and Vikala Charitra, i.e., imperfect or qualified conduct, and of these two kinds the unqualified is observed by ascetics who have renounced worldly ties and the qualified by laymen still entangled in the world.

Obviously Jainism attaches great importance to actual observance of the ethical code or the rules of conduct prescribed both for the ascetics and the householders with a view to attaining their ultimate objective in life, i.e., Moksha.




Among the detailed rules of conduct prescribed for Jainas for their actual observance, the prominent place has been given to the observance of twelve Vratas or vows. The Vrata or vow is a specific rule of behavior which has to be put into practice for a particular intention. That is why in "Sagara- Dharmamrta", the standard Jaina book dealing with the ethical code of householders, the term 'Vrata' has been defined as verse



that is, Vrata or vow is a (religious) rule (of behavior) observed with determination (for a particular or indefinite period) and it always indicates aversion or abstinence from doing foul or shameful acts or deeds and it reveals inclination or disposition towards doing good or virtuous acts or deeds.  Jainism has laid down a number of such vows for actual observance and among them the twelve Vratas or vows are considered very significant both from religious and social point of view.  Even among these twelve Vratas or vows, the first five vows are regarded as 'main vows' and the remaining seven vows are treated as 'supplementary vows'.


The five main vratas or vows of Jainas are

1.      Ahimsa, i.e., to be free from injury,

2.      Satya, i.e., to be free from falsehood,

3.      Asteya, i.e., to be free from theft,

4.      Brahmacharya, i.e., to be free from unchastity, and

5.      Aparigraha, i.e., to be free from worldly attachment.


If these vratas or vows are very strictly observed they are known as 'Mahavratas', i.e., great or full vows and naturally these are meant for the ascetics.  Laymen, however, cannot observe the vows so strictly and therefore, they are allowed to practice them so far as their conditions permit. The same vratas or vows when partially observed are termed as 'Anuvratas', i.e., small or partial vows.


Again, for the fixing of these five vows in the mind, there, are five kinds of Bhavanas or attendant meditations for each of the vows and every Jaina is expected to think over them again and again.

Further, every Jaina must meditate that the five faults meant to be avoided in these vows are pain personified and are of dangerous and censurable character in this as well as in the next world.

Moreover, every Jaina must meditate upon the following four virtues which are based upon the observance of these five vows :

1.      Maitri, i.e., Friendship with all living beings,

2.      Pramoda, i.e., Delight at the sight of beings, better qualified or more advanced than ourselves on the path of liberation,

3.      Karuna, i.e., compassion for the afflicted beings, and

4.      Madhyastha, i.e., Tolerance or indifference to those who are uncivil or ill-behaved.


Along with these five main vows or vratas, there are seven Silavratas or supplementary vows.  It has been asserted that just as the encircling walls guard towns, so do supplementary vows protect Anuvratas or small vows.  Hence it has been specifically laid down that in order to practice the main vratas or vows, the Silavratas, supplementary vows, also must be practiced by the laity among the Jainas.

The seven Silavratas or supplementary vows are:

1.      Digvrata, i.e., Taking a lifelong vow to limit his worldly activity to fixed points in all directions,

2.      Desavrata, i.e., Taking a vow to limit the above also for a limited area,

3.      Anarthadanda-vrata, i.e., taking a vow not to   commit purposeless sins,

4.      Samayika, i.e., Taking a vow to devote particular time everyday to contemplation of the self for spiritual advancement,

5.      Poshadhopavasa, i.e., Taking a vow to fast on four days of the month, namely, the two 8th and the two 14th days of the lunar fortnight,

6.      Upabhoga-paribhoga-parimana, i.e., Taking a vow every day limiting one's enjoyment of consumable and non-consumable things, and

7.      Atithi-samvibhaga, i.e., Taking a vow to take one's food only after feeding the ascetics, or, in their absence, the pious householders.


Out of these seven Silavratas or supplementary vows, the first three are called Gunavratas, i.e., multiplicative vows, because they do raise the value of the five main vows; and the remaining four vows are called Sikshavratas, i.e., disciplinary vows, because they are preparatory for the discipline of an ascetic life. Thus

1.      the five Anuvratas,

2.      the three Gunavratas, and

3.      the four Sikshavratas,

constitute the twelve vows of a layman. Further, it has been specially laid down that there are five aticharas, i.e., defects or partial transgressions for each of these twelve vratas or vows and that these aticharas have also to be avoided by the observers of these vows.


In addition to the above twelve vratas or vows, a Jaina layman is expected to practice in the last moment of his life the process of Sallekhana, or peaceful death.  Sallekhana is described as the giving up of the body on the arrival of unavoidable calamity, distress, old age and disease, with a view to increase spiritual merit.  This Sallekhana is added to act as an extra vow to the existing twelve vows of a householder.  Like other vows, Sallekhana has also got five aticharas, i.e., partial transgressions which are to be avoided by a householder.

Further Jainism has laid down certain gunas or virtues which have to be assiduously (carefully) cultivated by the householders. The observance of the five anuvratas, i.e., small vows, and refraining from the use of three 'makaras', i.e., 'm's viz., 'madya', i.e., wine, 'Mansa', i.e., flesh and 'madhu', i.e., honey, are regarded as 'ashta-mulagunas', i.e., the eight basic or primary virtues of a householder.  For minimizing injury to living beings, complete abstinence of wine, flesh and honey is advocated and every householder must necessarily possess these eight fundamental virtues.




Among the-twelve vratas or vows prescribed for continuous observance in daily life by Jaina religion, the first five vratas or vows are regarded as the main vratas or vows and even among these main vratas or vows the first and the prominent position has been assigned to the vrata or vow of Ahimsa.  Since this Ahimsa-vrata is based on the fundamental principle of avoidance of or abstention from Himsa, i.e., injury to sentient beings, it is quite necessary to understand the concept of Himsa as delineated by Jainism.


Himsa : `Sthula' and `Sukshma'

In Jaina scriptures a distinction has been made between `Sthula Himsa' and `Sukshma Himsa'.  The `Sthula Himsa' entails the destruction of the higher forms of life from dvindriyas, i.e., two-sensed beings upwards and it is forbidden to all Jainas.  On the other hand, the `Sukshma Himsa' means taking of life in any form including even the killing of ekendriyas, i.e., one sensed beings and it is obligatory for the Jaina ascetics to abstain from this kind of Himsa.  The lay Jaina is also enjoined to avoid as far as possible the killing of ekendriyas, i.e., one-sensed beings and the useless destruction of Sthavara-Jivas, i.e., immobile souls.


Himsa : `Dravya' and `Bhava'

It has been stated that Himsa does not depend on acts alone: the vrata or vow will be broken merely by the absence of compassion shown when a man allows himself to be carried away by anger.  Hence a distinction has been made between Dravya Himsa, i.e., the actual hurt or injury and Bhava Himsa, i.e., the intention to hurt or injury to the Prana meaning vitality.


Himsa : `Bahya' and `Antargata'

In Jaina scriptures Himsa is also classified on the basis of `Bahya' i.e. external aspects and `Antargata', i.e., internal aspects.  Obviously the `Bahya Himsa' relates to the external or actual acts of killing or injury and 'Antargata Himsa' relates to the internal or intentional side of committing of injury.


Himsa : `Vyavahara' Point of view

The concept of Himsa has been discussed in detail in the Jaina scriptures both from the `Vyavahara Naya', i.e., the practical point of view and from the `Nischaya Naya', i.e., the real point of view.


From the practical point of view the `Tattvartha-sutra' the classic Jaina text, has defined Himsa as follows, that is, Himsa or injury is the hurting of the vitalities by passional vibrations.  It means that Himsa or injury is to hurt the Pranas, i.e., the vitalities, through Pramattayoga, i.e., vibration due to the passions which agitate mind, body or speech.


On the same lines, another classic Jaina Text, viz., `Purushartha siddhi-upaya' asserts that passion is the moving cause which leads to Himsa and gives the meaning of Himsa in following terms : that is, any injury whatsoever to the material or conscious vitalities caused through passionate activity of mind, body or speech is assuredly (definitely) Himsa.


Himsa : `Nischaya' Point of view

From the Nischaya, i. e., real point of view the act of injury, i.e., Himsa, is related to the internal aspects or to the intentional side of injury and it is stated that Himsa is caused even when passions to hurt others arise in the mind. That is why, the essence of Himsa and Ahimsa, according to the Jaina scriptures, has been clearly put forward in the authoritative text of `Purushartha-siddhi-upaya' in the following terms, that is, "Assuredly, the non-appearance of attachment and other passions is Ahimsa, and their appearance is Himsa.  This is the summary of the Jaina scripture".


Classification of Himsa :

Himsa has been classified into 2 categories as,

1.      Arambhaja or Arambhi Himsa, i. e., Occupational Injury and

2.      Anarambhaja or Anarambhi or Samkalpi Himsa, i.e., Non-occupational or Intentional Injury.


In this connection Acharya Amitagati, the famous Jaina saint and author, in this authoritative treatise entitled "Sravakachara" has given the two major kinds of Himsa and their application in actual practice by the people in following terms, that is, "Himsa has, by the learned, been said to be of two kinds, Arambhaja, arising from occupations, and Anarambhaja, not due to any occupation.  He who has renounced the life of householder, certainly avoids both kinds of Himsa. One with mild passion, while living the life of a householder, cannot of course avoid Arambhaja Himsa when performing various occupations."


It means that the Himsa or injury involved in the actual execution or conduct of occupations is known as the  Arambhi Himsa and that the Himsa not inherent or unrelated to occupations but committed with the objective of fulfilling certain desires is termed as Anarambhi or Samkalpi Himsa, i.e., intentional injury. Hunting, offering animal sacrifices, killing for food, amusement or decoration are illustrations of Anaramlbhi or Samkalpi Himsa and it can be avoided by every thinking person without any difficulty or harm to himself.


Again, the Arambhi Himsa is further sub-divided into the three types, viz.

1.      Udyami Himsa, i.e., industrial injury,

2.      Grharambhi Himsa, i.e., domestic injury, and

3.      Virodhi Himsa, i.e., defensive injury.


Udyami Himsa

Udyami Himsa is injury which is unavoidably committed in the exercise of one's profession.  According to Jaina writers permissible professions, in general, are-

1.      Asi, i.e., the profession of a soldier,

2.      Masi, i.e., the profession of a writer,

3.      Krshi, i.e., the profession of an agriculturist,

4.      Vanijya, i.e., the profession of a trader,

5.      Silpa, i.e., the profession of an artisan, and

6.      Vidya, i.e., the profession of an intellectual.

Grharambhi Himsa

Grharambhi Himsa is the kind of injury which is invariably committed in the performance of necessary domestic acts, such as preparation of food, keeping the house, body, clothes and other things clean, construction of buildings, wells, gardens, and other structures, keeping cattle, etc.


Virodhi Himsa

Virodhi Himsa is the kind of injury which is necessarily committed in defense of person and property, against thieves, robbers, dacoits, assailants and enemies, in meeting their aggression, and in causing the least possible injury, necessary in the circumstances, in which one may find oneself.

Thus, in general, Himsa is divided into four kinds, viz.,

1.      Udyami Himsa, i.e., industrial injury,

2.      Grharambhi Himsa, i.e., domestic injury,

3.      Virodhi Himsa, i.e., defensive injury, and

4.      Samkalpi Himsa, i.e.  intentional injury.  

In this regard it has been ordained by Jaina religion that one, who has renounced all household connection and has adopted the discipline of a saint, should avoid all the four kinds of Himsa.  


At the same time it has also been laid down that one, who is still in the householder's stage, should abstain from Samkalpi Himsa, i.e., intentional injury, and should try one's best to avoid three kinds of Arambhi Himsa, i.e., occupational injury, as far as it is possible, since it is quite unable for a householder to abstain completely from Arambhi Himsa.


Denunciation of Himsa.

Taking into account the bad and reprehensible nature of Himsa, the Jaina sacred texts have condemned the observance of Himsa in strongest possible terms. 

In the `Acharanga Sutra' it has been specifically mentioned that as Himsa is a great impediment in spiritual awakening, a person who indulges in doing injury to living beings will not get enlightenment and it has been asserted that which means "that (i.e., injury to living beings) is always harmful and injurious to himself (i.e. the wrong­doer), it is the main cause of his non-enlightenment. Similarly, in the "Sutrakrtanga Sutra" all injurious activities have been categorically denounced as follows that is, "knowing that all the evils and sorrows arise from injury to living beings, and (knowing further) that it leads to unending enmity and hatred, and is the (root) cause of great fear, a wise man, who has become awakened, should refrain from all sinful activities". 

On the same lines, in the "Uttaradhyayana Sutra" any kind of injury to living beings is censured in the following terms that is "seeing that everything that happens to somebody concerns (i.e. affects) him personally, one should be friendly towards (all) beings; being completely free from fear and hatred, one should never injure any living beings". In a similar strain, in the "Dasavaikalika Sutra" practice of Himsa is prohibited on the following ground that  --   that is, "All living creatures (that are in this world) desire to live.  Nobody wishes to die.  And hence it is that the Jaina monks avoid the terrible (sin of) injury to living beings". 


Similarly, the most reprehensible nature of Himsa has been emphatically brought out in the `Jnanamava' in the following words that is, "Himsa alone is a gateway to the miserable state, it is also the ocean of sin, it is itself terrible hell and it is surely the most dense darkness."   In the same sacred text "Jnanamava" the futility of Himsa has been very vividly brought out as follows  that is, "If a person is accustomed to commit injury, then his (all virtues like) selflessness, greatness, difficult penance, bodily suffering and liberality or munificence are worthless."




Since the very idea of Himsa, i.e., injury to sentient beings, in any form has been considered quite abominable and has been condemned in strongest possible terms in Jaina philosophy, the ethical code laid down for the Jainas has given maximum importance to the observance of the Ahimsa-Vrata, i.e., the vow of Ahimsa, which puts into practice the principle of avoidance of Himsa in actual life.  Naturally, Jainism has assigned the first position to the vow of Ahimsa among the five main vows prescribed for continuous observance by its followers.  It is, therefore, necessary to see and understand the various aspects and implications of the Jaina vow of Ahimsa.

Ahimsa Maharvrata :

Ahimsa, i.e., avoidance of Himsa, has been treated as the first of the five Mahavratas, i.e., great vows, prescribed by Jaina religion and this Ahimsa Mahavrata has been defined in `Ratnakaranda-sravakachara' in following terms :-

that is, "abstaining from the commission of five sins, himsa and the rest in their three forms, krita, karita and anumodana, with the mind, speech and the body constitutes the Maha-vrata of great ascetics. "

It means that the Ahimsa Mahavrata involves the avoidance of Himsa-, i.e., injury to sentient beings in every possible manner.  The Himsa can be committed by three kinds of Yoga, i.e., modes or means viz., of mind, speech and body.  In other words, injurious activity can be committed.

1.      mentally, i.e., by mind, in thought,

2.      orally, i.e., by speech, and

3.      physically, i.e., by body, by action.


In addition to these three Yogas, Himsa can be committed by three kinds of Karana, or, action, viz.,

1.      Krita, i.e., by doing it oneself,

2.      Karita, i.e., by getting it done through others, and

3.      Anumata or anumodana, i.e., by giving consent to others   doing it.

Further, by the combination of these Yogas and Karanas it is clear that Himsa can be committed in 9 ways, i.e., by the application of 3 Karanas to each of the 3 Yogas.  Thus, the Ahimsa can be observed in full in the following 9 ways :

1.      Mentally not to do injury oneself,

2.      Mentally not to get injury done by others,

3.      Mentally not to approve injury done by others,

4.      Orally not to do injury oneself,

5.      Orally not to get injury done by others,

6.      Orally not to approve injury done by others,

7.      Physically not to do injury oneself,

8.      Physically not to get injury done by others, and

9.      Physically not to approve injury done by others.


Obviously, in the Ahimsa Mahavrata, the Ahimsa is observed in a complete or full manner, i.e., in the above nine ways. Since this Ahimsa Mahavrata is extremely difficult to practice, it is prescribed for the observance by the persons in the ascetic order.


Ahimsa-Anuvrata :

Taking into account the extreme severity involved in the observance of Ahimsa Mahavrata, the Jaina scriptures have prescribed the vow of Ahimsa with less degree of intensity for the observance by the householders and called it as Ahimsa Anuvrata.  The authoritative sacred book `Ratnakarandas-stravakachara' has defined Ahimsa Anuvrata in following terms :

that is, "Refraining from injuring living beings, having two or more senses, with a deliberate act of the mind, speech or body, in any of the three ways, krita, karita and mananat, is called Ahimsa Anu-vrata by the wise."

Thus, in Ahimsa Anuvrata, a layman does not intentionally injure any form of life above the class of one-sensed beings (vegetables and the like), by an act of the mind, speech or body by krita, i.e., by himself, by karita, i.e. by inciting others to commit such an act, nor by mananat or anumodana i.e., by approving of it subsequent to its commission by others.


Meditations for Ahimsa-vrata

With a view to strengthening the feelings of a person in relation to the observance of the Ahimsa-vrata, it has been laid down in "Tattvartha-sutra" that a person should try to practice the following five Bhavanas, i.e., Meditations:

1.      Vag-gupti, i.e., preservation of speech,

2.      Mano- gupti, i.e., preservation of mind,

3.      Irya, i.e., care in walking,

4.      Adana-nikshepana-samiti, i.e., care in lifting and laying down things and

5.      Alokitapana-bhojana, i.e., care in taking meals by   thoroughly seeing to one's food and drink.


Obviously these Bhavanas or meditations encourage cautiousness in the actual observance of Ahimsa-vrata.


Transgressions of Ahimsa--vrata:

In addition to inculcating the above Bhavanas or meditations, a person is also advised to avoid the following five aticharas, i.e., defects or partial transgressions of Ahimsa-vrata:

1.      Bandha, i.e., keeping in captivity (angrily or   carelessly animals or human beings),

2.      Vadha, i.e., beating (angrily or carelessly animals or human beings),

3.      Chheda, i.e., mutilating (angrily or carelessly animals or human beings),

4.      Ati-bharairopana, i.e., overloading (angrily or   carelessly animals or human beings), and

5.      Annapana-nirodha, i.e., withholding food or drink   (from animals and human beings angrily and carelessly).


Naturally the avoidance of these Five aticharas, i.e., transgressions, would enable a person to practice ahimsa­varata without committing many faults.


Renunciation of Drinking Liquor:

  For the observance of Ahimsa-Vrata it has been specifically laid down that a person should renounce drinking vine because, according to the sacred text of Purushartha siddhi­upaya,:

that is, "wine stupefies the mind, one whose mind is stupefied forgets piety; and the person- who forgets piety commits Himsa without hesitation." Again, it is impressed that drinking liquor leads to the commitment of Himsa because wine is the repository of many lives which are generated in it. Similarly, it is brought home that many base passions like pride, fear, disgust, ridicule, grief, ennui, sex-passion, and anger arise due to drinking liquor and that these passions are nothing but the different aspects of Himsa.


Rejection of Eating Animal Food:

The observance of Ahimsa-vrata invariably means the total rejection of the practice of meat-eating on various grounds. In the first place, flesh cannot be procured without causing destruction of life, which is nothing but clear Himsa. Secondly, even if the flesh is procured from an animal which has met with a natural death, still Himsa is caused by due to the crushing of tiny creatures spontaneously born in that flesh. Thirdly, the pieces of flesh which are raw, or cooked, or are in the process of being cooked, are found constantly generating spontaneously-born creatures of the same genus. Hence, for these valid reasons a person must completely renounce meat-eating which definitely involves Himsa


Abandonment of use of Honey:

Along with the renunciation of wine-drinking and meat-eating, the giving up of use of honey is also included in the observance of Ahimsa-vrata because the use of honey invariably entails the destruction of life as even the smallest drop of honey in the world represents the death of bees. It is also made clear that even if a person uses honey which has been obtained by some trick from honey comb, or which has itself dropped down from it, there is Himsa in that case also, because there is destruction to the lives spontaneously born therein.


Giving up eating of certain fruits:

As a part of the observance of Ahimsa-vrata it is enjoined that a person should give up the use for diet and other purposes of five kinds of fruits known as Umara, Kathumara, Pakara, Bada and Pipala as they are the breeding grounds of various living organisms. Again, if These five fruits be dry and free from mobile beings on account of passage of time, their use will cause Himsa because of the existence of an excessive desire for them.


Avoidance of killing Animals:

It is also specifically stressed that in the observance of the Ahimsa-vrata, killing of animals under various pretexts should be strictly avoided as it does involve destruction of living beings in one way or another. In the first place, a person should not sacrifice animals or birds or embodied beings with a view to please Gods by such offerings and to seek in return his desired objectives. It is emphatically stated that it is a perverse notion to think of himsa as having religious sanction and to consider that the Gods are pleased at sacrifices of living beings offered in their name. In fact it is asserted that religion is peace giving and can never encourage or sanction what gives pain to living beings.

Secondly, a person should not kill animals for pleasing the guests in the belief that there is no harm in killing goats, etc., for the sake of persons deserving respect. Such a desire is obviously not good as it involves the abominable Himsa in the form of wanton destruction of living beings.

Thirdly, a person should not kill animals like snakes, scorpions, lions, tigers etc., on the ground that by so doing a large number of lives will be saved. Such a type of killing has to be avoided because it engenders the feelings of enemy, hostility and revenge which go against the principle of Ahimsa. Again, it is stated that as these animals always strike man in self-defense, they will not do harm to man if they are not attacked by man.

Fourthly, a person should not kill animals which are leading a severely painful life due to onslaught of certain incurable sufferings or disease on the ground that by the act of killing the animal would soon be relieved from its unbearable anguish and agony. But this kind of killing is considered not as an act of mercy but definitely as an act of Himsa.


Renouncement of Night-eating:

With a view to making the observance of Ahimsa-vrata more complete a strict injection to restrict the eating activity during the day-time only is levied. It has been laid down in the sacred Jaina text of ''Purusharthasiddhi-upaya'; that


that is, "Those who take their meals at night cannot avoid Himsa-.  Hence, abstainers from Himsa should give up night eating also".

It is argued that day-time is the natural time for work and for taking food. Again, food is prepared more easily, with greater care and with less probability of injury to living beings during day than at night.  Further, the light of the sun makes it easy to pick out, to separate unwholesome stuff, and to remove the worms and small insects which find place in the material for food. There are many insects which are not even visible in the strongest artificial light at night and there are also many small insects, which have a strong affinity for food stuffs, appear only during night-time. That is why it is concluded in the same sacred text as follows that is, "why discuss further? It is established that he who has renounced night-eating, through mind, speech or body, always observes Ahimsa". As utmost importance is attached to the practice of eating during day-time from the point of view of observance of Ahimsa, certain sacred texts like "Charitra­sara" consider "Ratri-bhukti-tyaga", i. e., giving up eating at night, as the sixth "Anuvrata", i.e., small vow, added to the prevalent set of five Anuvratas.




Along with various restrictions laid down as necessary elements in the observance of the vow of Ahimsa, certain specific virtues, reflections and controls or sufferings are also prescribed by sacred Jaina texts as supplements to the practice of Ahimsa-vrata.  These supplements are

1.      Ten Kinds of Dharma,

2.      Twelve kinds of Anupreksha and

3.      Twenty-two kinds of Parishaha jaya,

and these are considered specifically useful in achieving Samvara, i.e., stoppage of influx of Karmic matter into the soul, which is a necessary condition to the attainment of Moksha or salvation.  These supplements constitute a part of the rules of conduct prescribed for the saints.  But it has been particularly mentioned that these should be followed by householders also to the best of their capacity.


Dasalakshana Dharma:


The ten noble virtues, known as 'Dasalakshana Dharma', are expected to be assiduously cultivated and put into actual practice during their normal life by the followers of Jainism.  Since the emphasis has been laid on the translation of the virtues into practice, these ten virtues are known as ten observances also.  The ten noble virtues are:

1.      Uttama-Kshama, i.e., Supreme Forgiveness or Forbearance,

2.      Uttama-Mardava, i.e., Supreme humility or   tenderness,

3.      Uttama-Arjava i.e., supreme honesty or straight forwardness,

4.      Uttama-Saucha, i.e., Supreme contentment or purity of thought and freedom from greed,

5.      Uttama-Satya, i.e. Supreme truth,

6.      Uttama-Samyama, i.e., Supreme self-control or self-restraint,

7.      Uttama-Tapa, i.e., Supreme austerities,

8.      Uttama-tyaga, i.e., Supreme renunciation,

9.      Uttama-Akinchana, i.e., Supreme non-attachment or not taking the non-self for one's  own self, and

10.  Uttama-Brahmacharya, i.e., Supreme chastity.



In addition to ten noble virtues, every pious person is expected to contemplate on the following twelve 'Anuprekshas' i.e., the ideas which must be kept at the focus of thoughts constantly.

1.      Anitya anupreksha, i.e., impermanence or in other words everything is subject to change or is transitory,

2.      Asarana anupreksha, meaning without refuge, unprotectiveness or helplessness.  The feeling that soul is unprotected from fruition of Karmas, for example, death, etc.,

3.      Samsara anupreksha, i.e., mundaneness or cycle of births and deaths. Soul moves in the cycle of existences and cannot attain true happiness till it is cut off.

4.      Ekatva anupreksha, i.e., loneliness.  I am alone, the doer of my actions and the enjoyer of the fruits of them.

5.      Anyatva anupreksha, i.e., separateness or difference in nature.  The world, my relations and friends, my body and mind, they are all distinct and separate from my real self.

6.      Asuchi anupreksha, i.e., impurity.  The body is impure and dirty.

7.      Asrava anupreksha, i.e., inflow.  The inflow of Karmas is the cause of my mundane existence and is the product of passions.

8.      Samvara anupreksha, i.e., stoppage.  The inflow of Karma must be stopped.

9.      Nirjara anupreksha, i.e., shedding.  The old Karmic matter must be shed from or shaken out of the soul.

10.  Loka anupreksha, i.e., the world or the universe.  The nature of the universe and its constituent elements in all their vast variety proving the insignificance and miserable nothingness of man in time and space.

11.  Bodhi-durlabha anupreksha, i.e., variety of religious knowledge.  It is difficult to attain right belief, right knowledge and right conduct.

12.  Dharma anupreksha, i.e., reflection on the nature of religious path as preached by the conquerors, namely the true nature of the three fold path of liberation.


These twelve Anuprekshas are meditations or reflections and have to be meditated upon again and again. Sometimes these Anuprekshas are termed as Bhavanas also.



Along with the inculcation of the noble virtues and meditation of twelve reflections, every pious person must attempt at Parishaha-Jaya, i.e.,. the conquering of various types of Parishahas i.e., sufferings or inconveniences and pains. The Parishahas are the hardships or sufferings which have to be undergone by a conscientious person for the sake of non-falling off from the path of Moksha, i.e., liberation, and for the shedding of Karmic matter from the soul.  Hence Parishaha-Jaya means victory over the consciousness of pain or suffering. Such sufferings are of following 22 kinds:

1.      Kshut, i.e., Hunger,

2.      Pipasa, i.e., Thirst,

3.      Sita, i.e., Cold.

4.      Ushna, i.e., Heat,

5.      Damsamasaka, i.e. Insect-bite,

6.      Nagnya, i.e., Nakedness,

7.      Arati, i.e., Ennui or disagreeable surroundings,

8.      Stri, i.e., Sex-passion,

9.      Charya, i.e., Walking too much,

10.  Nishadya, i.e., Continuous sitting in one posture,

11.  Sayya, i.e., Resting on hard earth,

12.  Akrosa, i.e., Abuse or unpleasant and insulting   language,

13.  Vadha, i.e., Beating or violence inflicted by cruel persons,

14.  Yachana, i.e., Begging or desire to beg for food, medicine, etc.,

15.  Alabha, i.e., Disappointment from not getting what one wants, e.g. food,

16.  Roga, i.e., Diseases and infirmities in the body,

17.  Trnasparsa, i.e., Thorn-pricks or pricks from the sharp grass,

18.  Mala, i.e., Dirt and impurity all over the body,

19.  Satkara-puraskara, i.e. Remaining uninfluenced by praise or reward,

20.  Prajna, i.e., Pride of knowledge,

21.  Ajnana, i.e., feeling of ignorance or non-possession of knowledge, and

22.  Adarsana, i.e., slack-belief or temporary lack of   faith.


For example, on failure to attain supernatural powers even after great piety and austerities, to begin to doubt the faith of Jainism and its teachings.

It is laid down that these 22 sufferings should be ever endured without any feeling of vexation, by one who desires to get rid of all causes for pain.

Apart from these three types of supplements to Ahimsa­vrata which are considered useful

in achieving Samvara, i.e., stoppage of influx of Karmic matter into the soul, there is one more important supplement to Ahimsa-vrata known as the "Practice of Tapa", i.e., observance of austerities. These austerities are regarded as essential things for achieving Nirjara, i.e., the shedding of Karmic matter from the soul, which is a necessary condition to the attainment of Moksha, i. e., salvation.  The Jaina scriptures distinguish twelve kinds of austerities, as the expedients of Nirjara, grouped together under the two headings of Bahya Tapa, i.e., external austerities, and Abhyantara Tapa, i.e., internal austerities.


Bahya Tapa: 


The six external austerities are:

1.      Anasana, i.e., periodical fasting,

2.      Avamodarya, i.e., eating less than the capacity of the stomach,

3.      Vrtti-parisankhyana, i.e., putting restrictions in regard to food, for example, to accept food only if a certain condition is fulfilled.

4.      Rasa-parityaga, i.e., daily renunciation of one or more of six kinds of delicacies, viz., ghee, milk, curds, sugar, salt and oil,

5.      Vivikta-sayyasana, i. e., sitting or sleeping in a lonely or isolated place, devoid of animate beings, and

6.      Kayaklesa, i.e., mortification of the body so long as the mind is not disturbed.


Abhyantara Tapa:


The six internal austerities are

1.      Prayaschitta, i.e., expiation,

2.      Vinaya, i.e., reverence,

3.      Vaiyavrtya, i.e., service of the saints or worthy people,

4.      Svadhyaya, i.e., study.

5.      Vyutsarga, i.e., giving up attachment to the body, etc., and

6.      Dhyana, i.e., concentration of mind.


All these external and internal kinds of austerities are practiced with the object of burning or shedding out all karmic impurities from the soul.  These austerities are meant mainly for the ascetics, but it has also been enjoined upon the householders to practice them to the best of their abilities.



The Ahimsa-vrata, i.e., the vow of Ahimsa, has not only been elaborated in theory in Jaina scriptures, as outlined above, but it has also been implemented in practice to a very large extent by the followers of Jainism - both ascetics and householders.  It has been enjoined upon the ascetics to observe the Ahimsa-vrata as a Mahavrata, i.e., a great vow, and this religious injunction has been very meticulously observed from ancient times to the present day by the Jaina Sadhus and Sadhvis, i.e., monks and nuns.  However, the Jaina scriptures, from the practical point of view, allowed the Sravakas and the Sravikas, i.e., the male and female sections of the laity, viz., the householders, to observe the Ahimsa­vrata as an Anuvrata, i.e., a small vow.  As such, the householders were required to observe the Ahimsa-vrata with comparatively less severity but at the same time without transgressing the basic tenets of Ahimsa.  Naturally this fundamental requirement made it necessary for the householders to put a number of restrictions on their economic, social, cultural and other activities connected with their livelihood and maintenance.  This kind of specific implementation of Ahimsa-vrata can be very clearly noticed from the practical restrictions and conventions actually followed by the Jaina householders in their activities like occupations and professions, food and drink, and dress and decoration.


Occupations and Professions .

From the present state of Jainas it appears that a predominantly large majority of them is engaged in some kind of business. They are known as Baniyas or Vaniyas and are included under the Vaisyas.  The predominance of Vaisyas is, historically speaking, a comparatively recent development because in ancient times Jainas were found in all classes and especially among the Kshatriyas.  But due to various reasons the number of Jainas in other classes gradually dwindled and in consequence we now notice that the followers of Jainism are mainly Vaisyas.

The rules of conduct for laymen lay down that a person should follow some kind of business or profession in a just and honest way for the maintenance of his family The only restriction he has to observe in the choice of his avocation is that it must not be of an ignoble or degrading nature in the sense that it should not involve wholesale destruction of life.  The prohibited businesses are those of butchers, fishermen, brewers, wine-merchants, gun-makers and the like. The Jaina Scriptures mention fifteen varieties of business enterprises which involve great injury to living beings and hence the Jaina laymen are required to avoid them.  They are such as those involving great use of fire, cutting of trees or plants, castrating bullocks, clearing of jungles by employment of fire, drying up lakes, rivers, etc.

It is generally believed that the main principle of Jainism, namely, Ahimsa or not hurting any living being, bars the Jainas from becoming the agriculturists or soldiers.  But this is not the case.  The first Tirthankara, Lord Rshbhadeva asked the people to follow six kinds of professions for their maintenance and both the professions of an agriculturist and of a soldier were included in them.  Apart from this, we come across numerous references pertaining to agriculture in Jaina literature from which it could be seen that in general agriculture was not forbidden to Jainas.  At present the main occupation of the Jainas in Karnataka is that of agriculture. In regard to them it is stated that except some of the larger landholders who keep farm-servants the Jaina land holders, with the help of their women, do all parts of field work with their own hands.  They are considered as the hardest working husbandmen who make use of every advantage of soil and situation.  Even in Gujaratha where the Jainas are mainly traders and industrialists, there are some Jainas whose occupation is only agriculture.  From the fact that even in the days of Lord Rshabha, the first Tirthankara, rules were made, among other things, regarding politics, warfare and archery show that the Jainas were not averse to fighting as such.  In the past many Jainas were in the fighting forces of the state as can be seen from a large number of Jaina generals and warriors, and even now some are employed in the defense forces of India, and are occupying responsible positions.


The Jainas follow practically all sorts of avocations but they are mainly money-lenders, bankers, jewelers, cloth­merchants, grocers and recently industrialists. As they hold the key positions in all these occupations, it is no wonder that a large proportion of mercantile wealth of India passes through their hands.  Apart from occupations, Jainas have taken to professions also.  They are found mainly in legal, medical, engineering and teaching professions and nowadays many Jainas are holding important responsible positions in various departments of the Central and State Governments.


Food and Drink

The Jainas are very particular regarding their food and drink.  Since the ethical code of the Jainas is based on the main principle of Ahimsa, we find its thorough application in the matters of food and drink also.  It has already been noticed that even householder is required to possess Ashta Mulagunas or eight fundamental virtues which are the observance of the five anuvratas and abstinence from the use of flesh, wine and honey. The injunction against eating flesh of any living being is quite obvious.  The Jainas do not take food which involves the slaughter of animals, fishes, birds, or anything that has five or less sense-organs.  That is why they have to abstain from eating Kandamulas, that is, underground stems and roots like potatoes, onions, garlic, reddish, turnip, carrot, beet-roots etc. which are supposed to contain a multitude of small insects.  Similarly, they must not eat fruits of Gular, Anjeer, Pipal, Pakar and Banyan which are the birth places of mobile beings.  Further, it is necessary, for a Jaina to take his meals during daytime because Himsa is inevitable when food is prepared or taken in the absence of sunlight.  Therefore the Jainas have to renounce night-eating throughout the year and those who cannot do so all the time, at least do it during the Chaturmas or the four months of rainy season when there is a large growth of insects.  Again, the Jainas are required to wipe most carefully anything that is to be used for food, with a view to exclude as tenderly as possible any of the tiny living creatures which might be found in or on it. In the same way as a precautionary measure in avoiding injury to very, small living beings, the Jainas have been enjoined to strain or filter water, milk, juice, or any liquid drink before use.  It must be said to the credit of the Jainas that they do observe very scrupulously all these rules regarding food.  It is the outstanding feature of Jainas throughout India that they are strictly vegetarians, never eat at night, and always use strained water.  It is said that when a Jaina traveler wishes to quench his thirst at a tank or stream, he covers his mouth with cloth, stoops down, and thus drinks by suction. This cleanly custom is highly recommended for use everywhere.


Along with flesh, wine and all kinds of intoxicants, or even stimulants, are prohibited. They are not considered necessary for the life and well-being of the body.  Wine is the birth place of many beings which are generated in liquor and hence those who are addicted to wine, necessarily commit Himsa.  Further, it is stated that wine stupefies the mind, one whose mind is stupefied forgets piety; and the person who forgets piety commits Himsa without hesitation.  Similarly, pride, fear, disgust, ridicule, ennui, grief, sex-passion, anger etc. are all forms of Himsa and all these are concomitants of wine.  Like wine, honey is also prohibited because it is considered that even the smallest drop of honey very often represents the death of bees.  If one uses honey which has been obtained by some trick from honey-comb, or which has itself dropped down from it, one necessarily commits Himsa in this case also, because of the destruction of creatures of spontaneous birth born there.  In the same strain the Jainas have been advised not to use stale butter as after a lapse of some time the butter becomes a birth­place of small beings due to extreme fermentation.

As regards the question of food and drink one thing must be remembered.  Jainism admits that only liberated souls are in a position to observe complete non-injury and that mundane souls have to commit Himsa for their maintenance as life thrives only on life.  Though Himsa is unavoidable in the sustenance of life, Jainism, by rules of conduct, tries to limit it for essential purposes only.  The rules of conduct never sanction injury, but they try to restrict it to the lowest possible minimum, by taking into account the gradations of injured living beings.  The higher the stage of development of the injured being is, (i.e., the closer it has approached the state of perfection), the heavier the sin of the injury committed is considered to be.  Thus, from the practical point of view, the sin of hurting a plant is smaller than that of hurting an animal, the sin of hurting an animal is smaller than that on hurting a human being, etc. From this standpoint, it can be understood why Jainism forbids flesh-eating, and, on the other hand, objects little to the eating of vegetables.  Therefore, what is enjoined on Jainas is simply this : "Do not destroy life, unless it is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of a higher kind of life".


Dress and Decoration:

The Jainas are required to pursue the path of Ahmisa in the matter of dress also.  They have not to wear the furs and the plumes that are obtained by torturing their owners­- animals and birds.  For the same reason the use of silken and woolen garments is prohibited for all Jainas.  Here we can mark the difference between the Hindus and the Jainas.  The Hindus do not consider silk as impure and they use silken garments at the time of worshipping or taking their meals.


It is necessary for Jainas to restrict the use of leather goods to the minimum.  They have to avoid all leather articles meant for decoration, for example, tiger-skin, deer­skin, etc., and are required to use substitutes for leather goods wherever it is possible, for example, belts, purses, straps for watches, etc., where the use of leather goods is unavoidable they have to see that leather is procured from naturally dead animals and not from slaughtered animals.

One of the rules of conduct meant for laymen lays down that a Jaina should dress according to his means, and if he has the means to dress extravagantly, still he should not do so.  This means that Jainas should not care much for their dress with a view to look more beautiful.  According to them the clothes should be sober, though not somber, and they should not aim at displaying bodily contour, to excite the passions of the beholder.




The Ahimsa-vrata, i.e., the vow of Ahimsa, has to be implemented into actual practice, both by the ascetics and the householders, in accordance with the detailed rules laid down for these two major sections of the society because the Jaina scriptures have given maximum importance to the day to day observance of right conduct consisting of five main vows, three Guna-vratas, i.e., multiplicative vows, and four Siksha-vratas, i.e., disciplinary vows, with a view to achieving salvation, the aim of life of every individual, and have assigned the first position to the vow of Ahimsa.  The five vows form the basis on which the superstructure of Jaina ethics has been raised.  They give a definite outlook on life and create a particular type of mental attitude. The very essence of Jaina philosophy is transferred into action in the shape of observance of the five main vows.  It is clear that five main vows are in the form of abstentions from or avoidance of certain bad things or faults in the following manner:

1.      Ahimsa is the abstention from injury,

2.      Satya is the abstention from falsehood,

3.      Achaurya is the abstention from theft,

4.      Brahmacharya is the abstention from unchastity, and

5.      Aparigraha is the abstention from worldly attachments.


Further, three things are enjoined in the matter of avoidance of these five faults. In the first place, a person should not commit any fault personally, secondly, a person should not incite others to commit such an act, and thirdly, a person should not even approve of it subsequent to its commission by others.  Moreover, even though these five faults are mentioned separately, still it can be noticed that the utmost significance has been attached to the avoidance of the first fault of Himsa, i.e., injury and that the remaining four faults of falsehood, theft unchastity and worldly attachments are considered as mere different forms of varieties of Himsa, i.e., injury.  Obviously, the concept of Ahimsa, i.e., avoidance of injury becomes very wide, inclusive and comprehensive.

Ahimsa and Satya

Speaking Satya, i.e., truth, is the observance of Ahmisa because Asatya, i.e., falsehood is considered as Himsa., i.e., injury according to sacred Jaina texts. In the standard Jaina work "Purusharthasiddhi upaya" the definition and nature of falsehood are given in the following manner;


that is, wherever any wrong statement is made through Pramada Yoga, i.e., careless activity of mind, speech or body, it is certainly known as falsehood.  Further, falsehood is divided into four kinds:


1.      The first kind of falsehood is making a statement by which the existence of a thing with reference to its position, time, and nature is denied, e.g., to say "a particular person is not here" (when he is present).

2.      The second kind of falsehood is making a statement to the effect that a particular thing exists, where that thing does not exist with reference to the position, time, and nature of other objects, e.g., to say "a pitcher is here" (when it is not actually there).

3.      The third kind of falsehood is that where an existing thing is represented as something different from what it really is, e.g., when a horse is said to be a cow.

4.      The fourth kind of falsehood consists of three types of speaking viz.

I.        Garhita, i.e., condemnable,

II.     Savadya, i.e., sinful, and

III.   Apriya i.e., disagreeable.


The Garhita (i.e. condemnable) speech is said to be all that which is back-biting, unbecoming, ridiculous speech with the use of harsh language and violent words.  Besides, useless gossiping and using language which incites unfounded beliefs and superstitions comes under this category of condemnable speech. 


The Savadya (i.e., sinful) speech comprises all speech that leads to destruction of life by piercing, beating, cutting, stealing, etc.


The Apriya (i.e., disagreeable) speech is that which in the minds of other persons, creates feelings of uneasiness, fear, pain, hostility, grief, etc.


Thus, the Pramatta-yoga, i.e., the vibrations due to the passions which agitate mind, speech or body, is invariably present in all these four kinds of falsehood.  Hence, Himsa is certainly involved in falsehood because Pramatta-yoga is the cause of Himsa.


Ahimsa and Achaurya:

Like Satya, Achaurya, i.e., not committing theft, is also Ahimsa, i.e., non-injury, because every theft includes Himsa just as every kind of falsehood includes Himsa.  According to the Jaina scriptures, "the taking, by Pramatta-yoga, of things without they being given by the owner, is to be deemed as theft and that is invariably Himsa because it is the cause of injury".  It is obvious that the person who thinks of stealing, injures the purity of his own soul, suffers pain of punishment if detected and causes pain to the others whom he deprives them of their things.  Again, in this world all transient things (or forms of property) constitute the external Pranas, i.e., vitalities of a man.  Hence, depriving a person of his property is tantamount to depriving that person of his Pranas and this is nothing but Himsa.


Thus all theft includes Himsa.  In fact there is no exclusivity between Himsa and theft and it can very well be maintained that Himsa is certainly included in theft, because in taking what belongs to others, there is the presence of Pramatta yoga, which is the cause of Himsa.


Ahimsa and Brahmacharya:

In the same strain as Satya and Achaurya, the Brahmacharya is also considered as Ahimsa, because Abramha is a kind of Himsa. The term Abramha refers to the copulation arising from sexual passion and this act is Himsa in two ways.  In the first place, many living beings are deprived of their vitalities in the vagina in the sexual act, just as a hot rod of iron, when it is introduced in a tube filled with sesamum seeds, burns them up.  Secondly, psychical life is affected because of the emergence of a sexual passion, and so also the material Pranas, i.e., vitalities, are affected owing to the lethargic condition consequent upon copulation.


Obviously, unchastity is a form of Himsa and as such persons are advised to give up their sex-desire altogether. But it is possible only for the ascetics to do so. Therefore, it is enjoined upon a householder to observe the vow of Brahmacharya to a limited extent by total abstinence from all sexual desire with reference to female other than his own wife.

Ahimsa and Aparigraha :

Aparigraha, i.e., abstention from worldly attachments, is regarded as Ahimsa, because Parigraha is of two kinds, viz.,

I.        Abhyantara Parigraha, i.e., internal attachment, and

II.     Bahya Parigraha, i.e., external attachment.


The internal attachments of possessions are recognized to be of fourteen kinds, namely, perverted belief, laughter, indulgence, ennui, sorrow, fear, disgust, anger, pride, deceit, greed and desire for sexual enjoyment with man, with woman and with both.  The external attachments or possessions are of two kinds with reference to the living and the non­living objects.


Both the internal and external types of Parigraha can never preclude Himsa.  Internal attachment, the desire for many things, prejudicially affects the purity of the soul, and this injury to the pure nature of the soul constitutes Himsa.  Similarly, external attachment or the actual possession of living and non-living objects creates attraction and love for them, which defiles purity of the soul and therefore the amounts to Ahimsa.  As a consequence, in the interest of the practice of the principle of Ahimsa, persons are advised to give up both the internal and external kinds of attachments.  But it is not possible for the householders to renounce all Parigraha completely.  Hence it is enjoined upon the householders to limit the extent of their parigraha to a predetermined amount of wealth, cattle, servants, buildings, etc. That is why the Anu-vrata, i.e., the small vow of Aparigraha, i.e., non-attachment, is also termed as Parigraha-parimana Anu-vrata, i.e., the small vow of limited attachments.

Ahimsa and Sila-Vratas:


Along with the observance of five main vows, known as Anu-vratas, a householder is expected, according to Jaina scriptures, to follow seven Sila-vratas, i.e., Supplementary vows, consisting of three Guna-vratas, i.e. multiplicative vows and four Siksha-vratas, i.e. disciplinary vows.  In the Jaina scriptures sufficient emphasis has also been laid even on the practice of these Sila-vratas, i.e., the supplementary vows, since these vows performs the important work of giving protection to the first five Anu-vratas just as the encircling walls guard towns.  Further, as the Anu-vratas are centered round the basic doctrine of Ahimsa, similarly Sila-vratas, also are purposefully devised with a view to giving necessary support to the observance of Ahimsa to the maximum extent possible.  Obviously, on the lines of Anu­vratas, the Sila-vratas also help to make Ahimsa more comprehensive.


Ahimsa and Guna-vratas :

The Guna-vratas are multiplicative vows since they raise the value of five main vows or Anu-vratas.  The Guna-vratas include the following three Vratas :

1.      the Dig-vrata

2.      the Desa-vrata, and

3.      the Anarthadanda-vrata.


The Dig-vrata

The Dig-vrata involves taking a life-long vow to limit one's worldly activities to fixed points in all ten directions, viz., Up, Down, North, South, East, West, North-East, North-West, South-East, and South-West.  A householder has to fix the limits in these directions on the basis of certain well known objects and then to carry out all his activities within these determined limits. Obviously, as the householder's activities are confined within limited direction, his observance of Ahimsa beyond these limits becomes complete since he does not indulge in carrying out any activity there.


The Desa-vrata

The Desa-vrata involves taking a life-long vow to confine one's worldly activities to the prescribed smaller areas within the limits of directions already fixed in accordance with the observance of the vow of Dig-vrata. Thus, the Desa-vrata means that a householder shall, during a certain period of time, carry out his activities within a very limited area consisting of a certain village, market, street, or house and shall have nothing to do with the objects beyond this inner limit.  As a consequence, the pure-minded householder, who thus confines the inner extent of his activities, does achieve the observance of absolute Ahimsa for that time by renouncing all Himsa possible in the vast space which has been given up according to this Vrata.


The Anarthadanda-Vrata

The Anarthadanda-Vrata involves taking a vow not to commit purposeless sins.  As a part of this vow it has been laid down in the scriptures that a householder should avoid following things.

1.      Apadhyana, i.e., evil thinking,

2.      Papopadesa, i.e., evil instruction,

3.      Pramadacharya, i.e., careless dealings,

4.      Himsadana, i.e., gifts of instruments of offense,

5.      Duh-sruti, hearing evil and

6.      Dyuta, i.e., gambling.


In elaboration of these sinful things, the following restrictions have been placed on the behavior of householders:

1.      One should never think of hunting, victory, defeat, battle, adultery, theft, etc., because these things only lead to sin.

2.      Sinful advice should never be given to persons living upon art, trade, writing, agriculture, arts, and crafts, service and industry.

3.      One should not without reason dig ground, uproot trees, trample lawns, sprinkle water, and pluck leaves, fruits and flowers.

4.      One should be careful not to give instruments of Himsa, such as knife, poison, fire, plough, sword, bow, etc.

5.      One should not listen to, accept or teach such bad stories as increase attachments, etc., and are full of absurdities.

6.      One should renounce gambling even from a distance because it is the first of all evils, the destroyer of contentment, the home of deceit, and the abode of theft and falsehood.


Obviously, it has been emphasized that he who deliberately renounces all these and other unnecessary sins, leads his Ahimsa vow ceaselessly up to admirable victory.


Ahimsa and Siksha-vratas:

The Siksha-vratas are disciplinary vows since they are aimed to prepare the householder for the discipline of an ascetic life and are meant to strengthen the five main vows or Anu-vratas.  The Siksha-vratas include four Vratas, viz.,

1.      Samayika,

2.      Proshadhopavasa,

3.      Upabhoga-paribhoga-parimana and

4.      Atithi-samvibhaga.



Samayika means taking a vow to devote particular time every day to contemplation of the self for spiritual advancement.  It teaches a person to be equanimous, that is, to be indifferent to love or hate, pain or pleasure, loss or gain, etc.  This attitude of equanimity makes the observance of Ahimsa more complete as Samayika involves the absence of all sinful activities.


Proshadhopavasa means taking a vow to fast on four days of the month, namely, the two 8th and the two 14th days of the lunar fortnight. Such regular fasting helps the practice of Samayika, i.e., equanimity, Dhyana, i.e., spiritual meditation, and Svadhaya, i.e., self-study. Obviously, such observance of fasting secures the merit of Ahimsa in completeness for that period.



Upabhoga-paribhoga-parimana means taking a vow to limit one's enjoyment of consumable and non-consumable things.  It involves putting restrictions on or giving up the use of vegetables, fruits, food etc., containing infinite number of lives and limiting use of things like clothes, furniture, etc.  It also entails giving up the sins of falsehood, sexual impurity, etc.  It is also laid down that the enjoyment of things should be limited to fixed days and nights, and within these limits further limits of enjoyment for fixed hours should be made.  In this way a graduated course of renunciation, progressing with rising capacity and clearer knowledge is prescribed. Hence it is specifically stated in 'Purusharthasiddhi-upaya' that



that is, "he who being thus contented with a few limited enjoyments, renounces the vast majority of them, observes Ahimsa par-excellence because of abstention from considerable Himsa".  Thus, by the practice of this Siksha-vrata, the observance of Ahimsa becomes more and more extensive.


Atithi-samvibhaga means taking a vow to take one's food only after feeding proper persons like ascetics, pious householders, etc., The food offered should be such as is helpful to studies and to the due observance of austerities. Again, food is to be offered to the true believers and that too without any expectation of worldly benefits.  Such a gift of food is, in fact, an act of Ahimsa, as it is an antithesis of greed which is Himsa Thus, giving a gift amounts to Ahimsa because it is a concomitant of self-purification of the giver and helps in the spiritual advancement of the donee.




The sacred Jaina texts have not only propounded the comprehensive and all inclusive character of the doctrine of Ahimsa and revealed how the basic principle of Ahimsa is present in all the five main and seven supplementary vows prescribed for the observance of Jaina householders, but have also stressed emphatically the dire necessity of exercising utmost care by the Jaina householders in the actual observance of Ahimsa in their daily life.  It has been specifically laid down that the prescribed twelve vows should be observed both in proper spirit and action.  In this connection it has been recommended to avoid the mental and behavioral faults or defects in the observance of the Vratas. i.e., vows.  These defects are mentioned as follows:



that is, "In the observance of vows, when there is loss of purity of mind, it is called 'atikrama', i.e., contravention; when there is craving for sensual pleasure, it is said to be 'vyatikrama', i.e., violation; when there is laxity or idleness, it is known as 'atichara', i.e., transgression; and when there is, in fact, a breach or break, it is termed as 'anachara', i.e., immorality or improper conduct "

In these categories of faults or defects, special prominence has been given to the avoidance of 'aticharas' so as to make the observance of Ahimsa more complete and at the same time more meaningful.  The main purpose of this injunction is to maintain the purity of the Ahimsa in all its aspects and phases involved in the observance of the twelve vows.  It is emphasized that for the maintenance of sanctity of Ahimsa every vow should be observed with great care and zeal, since only such vows can bear desired fruits, and serve as a means to the moral and the spiritual upliftment.  That is why extreme carefulness in the practice of Ahimsa has been strongly advocated and with this end in view the Jaina scriptures have particularly laid down the five kinds of 'aticharas', i.e., transgressions, of each of the twelve vows and have specifically enjoined upon the householders to avoid these 'aticharas'.  The most authoritative Jaina sacred text "Tattvarthadhigama-sutra" has given a list of five aticharas, i.e., transgressions, of each of the five main vows, i.e., Anutvratas and seven supplementary vows, i.e., Sila-vratas.


Vow of 'Ahimsa':


The partial transgressions of the first vow of Ahimsa Anuvrata are

1.      Bandha, i.e., keeping in captivity (angrily or carelessly animals or human beings),

2.      Vadha, i.e., beating (angrily or carelessly animals or human beings),

3.      Chheda, i.e., mutilating (angrily or carelessly animals or human beings),

4.      Ati-bhararopana, i.e., overloading (angrily or   carelessly animals or human beings), and

5.      Annapana-nirodha, i.e., with-holding food or drink   (from animals and human beings angrily or    carelessly).


Vow of 'Satya':


The partial transgressions of the second vow of Satya Anuvrata are:

1.      Mithyopadesa, i.e., preaching false doctrines,

2.      Rahobhyakhyana i.e., divulging the secret (actions    of man and woman),

3.      Kutalekhakriya, i.e., forgery (and perjury),

4.      Nyasapahara, i.e., unconscientious dealing by means of speech (for example, when A deposits Rs. 1000/­with B; and later on thinking that he has deposited only Rs. 900/- demands Rs. 900/-, back and on this demand when B returns Rs. 900/-only, then the transgression of Nyasapahara takes place).

5.      Sakara-mantrabheda, i.e., divulging what one guesses by seeing the behavior or gestures of others, who are consulting in private.


Vow of 'Achaurya':


The partial transgressions of the third vow Achaurya Anuvrata are:

1.      Stenaprayoga, i.e., abetment of theft,

2.      Tadahrtadana, i.e., receiving stolen property,

3.      Viruddha-rajyatikrama, i.e., illegal traffic (e.g., selling things to alien enemies or at inordinate prices in time of war),

4.      Hinadhika-manonmana, i.e., false weights and measures, and

5.      Pratirupaka-vyavahara, i.e., adulteration.


Vow of 'Brahmacharya':

The partial transgressions of the fourth vow Brahmacharya Anuvrata are :

1.      Paravivaha-Karana, i.e., bringing about the marriages of people who are not of one's family

2.      Itvarika-Parigrahitagamana, i.e., intercourse with a married immoral   woman,

3.      Itvarika-aparigrahitagamana, i.e., intercourse with an unmarried   immoral woman,

4.      Ananga-Krida, i.e., unnatural sexual intercourse, and

5.      Kamativrabhinivesa, i.e., intense sexual desire.



Vow of 'Aparigraha':

The partial transgressions of the fifth vow Aparigraha Anuvrata are in the nature of violation of the limits imposed on the possession between five pairs of things, namely,

1.      Kshetra-Vastu, i.e., Land and Houses,

2.      Hiranya-Suvarna, i.e., Silver and Gold,

3.      Dhana-Dhanya, i.e., Cattle and Corn,

4.      Dasi-Dasa, i.e., Female and Male servants, and

5.      Kupya-Bhanda, i.e., Clothes and Utensils.


Vow of `Digvrata':

The partial transgressions of the first Silavrata, viz., Digvrata are

1.      Urdhvav-vyatikarma, i.e., to go up higher than the limit in the     vow,

2.      Adh-vyatikrama, i.e., to go lower than the limit in the vow,

3.      Tiryag-vyatikrama, i.e., to go in other 8 directions beyond the limit in the vow,

4.      Kshetra-vrddhi, i.e., to increase the boundaries of the distance than the limit in the vow, and

5.      Smrti-antaradhana, i.e., forgetting the limit in the vow.


Vow of `'Desavrata' :

The partial transgressions of the second Silavrata, viz., Desavrata


1.      Anayana, i.e., ordering for things from beyond the limits,

2.      Preshyaprayoga, i.e., sending an agent beyond the limit,

3.      Sabdanupata, i.e., drawing attention by making sound,

4.      Rupanupata, i.e., drawing attention by making gestures and    signs, and

5.      Pudgalakshepa, i.e., throwing articles beyond the limit.


Vow of 'Anartha-dandavrata':

The partial transgressions of the third Silavrata, viz., Anartha-dandavrata are:

1.      Kandarpa, i.e., uttering obscure words,

2.      Kautkuchya, i.e., gesticulating with obscure words,

3.      Maukharya, i.e., gossip,

4.      Asamikshyadhikarana, i.e., acting unthinkingly, and

5.      Upabhoga-paribhoganarthakya, i.e., accumulating too many     consumable and non-consumable objects.


Vow of 'Samayika':

The partial transgressions of the fourth Silavrata, viz., Samayika are :

1.      Mano-dushpranidhanam, i.e., misdirection of mind during meditation,

2.      Kaya-dushpranidhanam, i.e., misdirection of body during meditation,

3.      Vak-dushpranidhanam, i.e., misdirection of speech during      meditation,

4.      Anadara, i.e., lack of interest, and

5.      Smrutyanupasthana, i.e., forgetting of due formalities.


Vow of `Proshadhopavasa':

The partial transgressions of the fifth Silavrata, viz. Proshadhopavasa, are:

1.      Apratyavekshita-apramarjita-utsarga, i.e., passing   excretion on the ground without examining and    sweeping it,

2.      Apratyavekshita-apramarjita-adana, i.e., laying down   things in a place without examining and sweeping   it,

3.      Apratyavekshita-apramarjita-samstaropakramana, i.e.,   making bed or seat in a place without examining and   sweeping it,

4.      Anadara, i.e., showing lack of interest or     enthusiasm (in the obligatory duties on account of   feeling hunger), and

5.      Smrtyanupasthana, i.e., forgetting of due    formalities (or lack of concentration).


Vow of "Upabhoga-paribhoga-parimana":

The partial transgressions of the sixth Silavrata, viz., Upabhoga-paribhoga-parimana, are:

1.      Sachitta-ahara, i.e., eating articles having life    (e.g., green vegetables),

2.      Sachitta-sambandha-ahara, i.e., eating articles in contact with those having life (e.g. using a green leaf as a plate),

3.      Sachitta-sammisra-ahara. i.e., eating articles    mixed with those having life,

4.      Abhishava-ahara, i.e., eating aphrodisiacal articles (e.g., fermented and exciting food), and

5.      Duhpakva-ahara, i.e., eating articles not well-   cooked.


Vow of "Atithi-samvibhaga"

The partial transgressions of the seventh Silavrata, viz., Atithi-samvibhaga, are:

1.      Sachitta-nikshepa, i.e., placing food on things having life (e. g.  on a green plantain leaf),

2.      Sachitta-apidhana, i.e., covering food with things   having life,

3.      Para-vyapadesa, i.e., delegation of host's duties to another,

4.      Matsarya, i.e., lack of respect in giving or jealousy   towards another donor, and

5.      Kalatikrama, i.e., not serving meal at the proper   time.

From the description of the five 'aticharas', i.e., transgressions, of the five main and seven supplementary vows it is quite obvious that householders have been enjoined to observe their twelve vratas or vows in such a way that they would avoid the five 'aticharas', i.e., the transgressions of each of these vows. Since these twelve vows are designed so as to strengthen and fortify the doctrine of Ahimsa, the avoidance of 'aticharas', i.e., transgressions, of these vows makes the observance of Ahimsa as faultless as possible. Thus, the necessity of giving importance to carefulness in the observance of Ahimsa has always been impressed on the minds of the householders with a view to making the actual practice of these vows as correct as possible.





Since Jainism has prescribed the doctrine of Ahimsa as its cardinal principle, the entire Jaina ethical code has been laid down with a view to transforming this principle into actual practice. As a result maximum importance has been attached to the observance of Ahimsa as a basis of right conduct leading to the attainment of salvation. Further, taking into account the comprehensive nature of the doctrine of Ahimsa and the necessity of carefulness required in putting the doctrine into practice, the Jaina scriptures have specifically prescribed the rules of conduct to the minutes details in connection with the observance of the vow of Ahimsa in all its aspects and in making it as faultless as possible. But realizing extremely wide theoretical dimensions of these rules of conduct and the minute implications involved in the actual observance of these rules of conduct continuously and without any possible fault, a question is sometimes raised about the Practicability of the vow of Ahimsa. It is feared that it would be difficult to put the vow of Ahimsa into practice. But from a close examination of the injuctions laid down by Jaina scriptures for the actual observance of the vow of Ahimsa it can be seen that the fear is quite unfounded.


Categorization of Vow of Ahimsa:


It is true that the rules of conduct laid down by Jainism for the attainment of salvation the highest goal in life, are the same for all people. But at the same time it is a fact that these rules have been divided into two categories, viz., 'Sakala Charitra', i.e., full conduct, and 'Vikala Charitra', i. e., partial conduct, and that while the first category is meant for the observance by the ascetics, the second category is allowed for the observance by the householders or the common people. That is why in the most celebrated sacred Jaina text "Purusharthasiddhi-upaya", the householders have been advised to follow in a partial manner the rules of conduct throughout their life-time in the following terms: that is, "the path of Ratna-Traya, the three Jewels, (i.e., of Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct) should be followed, even partially, every moment of time and without cessation by a householder desirous of everlasting liberation."


It is thus clear that the 'Sakala Charitra', i.e., the full conduct, is meant for the ascetics and the 'Vikala Charitra', i.e., the partial conduct, for the householders. This kind of division or categorization has been done because the 'Sakala Charitra', is possible only for those who have entered the ascetic order and the 'Vikala Charitra' can be practiced by the householders until they join the ascetic order at a later time. It means that 'Vikala Charitra' is a prelude to 'Sakala Charitra'. In other words, 'Vikala Charitra' involves 'Ekadesa-virati', i.e., partial renunciation, and 'Sakala Charitra', involves 'Samasta-virati', i.e., total or absolute renunciation.  Hence in the same sacred text 'Purusharthasiddhi-upaya' it is recommended that those who are not prepared to adopt the order of ascetics, should follow for the time being the stage of 'Ekadesa-virati', i.e., partial renunciation.  It states that



that is, "He who, in spite of repeated dissertations, is unable to accept the path of absolute renunciation, should, in that event, be lectured upon (and advised to follow) partial renunciation".

It is, therefore, quite evident that even though the rulesof the conduct are the same for all people, they are to be followed stage by stage. Accordingly all vows, including the vow of Ahimsa, have been divide into two categories, viz., 'Anuvratas', i.e. small vows, and 'Mahavratas', great vows. The householder have to practice the former and ascetics the later. Similar is the case with other observances. Moderation is the key-note of householder's life and severity of saintly discipline. The important holemark of Jaina ethics is the fact that a graduated curse is prescribed with a view to make it posible for every person to observe all rules of conduct by tolerably  easy gradations. Hence it follows that the vow of Ahimsa has to be practiced by the householders as an Anuvrata, i.e. a small vow, to limited extent.


Observance of Ahimsa according to capacity


Further, it is not enjoined upon a person to observe thoroughly all rules of conduct pertaining to a particular stage in life. It j\has been specifically mentioned in the sacred text of 'Purusharthasiddhi-upaya' that


that is, "the three-fold path of liberation, consisting of right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct, is to be constantly followed by a person according to his capacity." It is clear that the emphasis has been laid on the term "Yathasakti", i.e., according to one's own capacity.


In a similar strain it has been advocated in the same sacred text that



that is, "having due regard to one's own status and capacity, a householder should practice the conduct of saint, as described in the scriptures".  Here the householders have been advised to follow the rules of right conduct after properly taking into account their respective statuses in life and their individual potentialities and capacities to sustain the rigorous discipline inherent in the practice of the right conduct.


Hence it is clear that the Anuvrata, i.e., the small vow of Ahimsa has to be put into actual practice by the householders in keeping with their status and capacity.


Observance of Ahimsa by Householders:

When Ahimsa is to be observed by householders in accordance with their status and capacity while performing their normal functions as members of different occupational or other groups of society, naturally certain limitations arise. As an active member of society it is not possible for a householder to avoid Himsa in all possible ways and to the fullest extent. According to Jainism the renunciation of Himsa can be either complete or partial. In this connection it has been specifically stated in the authoritative Jaina sacred text "Purusharthasiddhi-upaya" as follows:



that is, "Renunciation of nine-fold commission of Himsa,

by self, through agent, and approval, by speech, body and mind, is known as Autsargiki Nivrtti, i.e., Perfect or Complete Renunciation, and the other renunciation is termed as Apavadiki Nivrtti, i.e., Imperfect or Partial Renunciation, which is of various kinds."


It means that Ahimsa in either Autsargiki Nivrtti, or Apavadiki Nivrtti. The Autsargiki Nivrtti has been defined as complete Ahimsa in nine ways, that is, by self, through another person, or by means of approbation, and in each case through mind, body or speech. That which is not complete is Apavadiki Nivrtti, and its degrees and forms are innumerable, varying from the slightest to that which just falls short of being complete.


For a householder it is not possible to practice complete renunciation of Himsa, and therefore he is recommended to discharge his worldly responsibilities with taking the necessary precaution of causing minimum Himsa or injury to others. For giving more practical guidance in this matter Himsa has been classified, according to the mental attitude of the individual, into four kinds, viz.,

1.      Udyami Himsa, i.e., industrial injury,

2.      Graharambhi Himsa, i.e., domestic injury,

3.      Virodhi Himsa, i.e., defensive or protective injury, and

4.      Samkalpi Himsa, i.e., intentional injury.

Udyami Himsa

Udyami Himsa is the Himsa performed in the exercise of one's profession or occupation whether of a solider, or an agriculturist, or a trader, or an industrialist.


Graharambhi Himsa

Graharambhi Himsa is that which is unavoidably committed in the performance of necessary domestic duties, such as preparation of food, keeping the things clean, grinding floor, building a house, constructing a well, walking, bathing and similar other performances of daily life. 


Virodhi Himsa

Virodhi Himsa is that Himsa which is unavoidably committed in the defense of person and property against assailants and enemies. 


Samkalpi Himsa

Samkalpi Himsa is that Himsa which is committed intentionally or knowingly, for example, killing men, animals or other lower creatures for food, amusement, decoration, etc.

It is quite significant to note that it is enjoined upon a house holder to abstain from the Samkalpi Himsa, i.e., intentional injury and not from the occupational, domestic and protective Himsa as it is not possible for him to do so, while living in the householder's stage.  However, a householder has been advised to try his best to avoid as far as possible the first three kinds of Himsa as well and a householder has to make a steady progress in such an endeavor.

Thus, a householder's vow of Ahimsa means abstention from intentional hurting or injury, i. e, Samkalpi Himsa and it can easily be put into practice.


Observance of Ahimsa by Ascetics:

The position of the Ascetics is different from that of the House holders. While the householders have to observe Ahimsa of Apavadiki Nivrtti type, i.e., of partial renunciation, the ascetics are required to observe Autsargiki Nivrtti, i.e., complete renunciation. The ascetics do avoid all the four kinds of Himsa, viz., Udyami Himsa.  Graharambhi Himsa, Virodhi-Himsa and Samkalpi Himsa, since they arc not at all concerned with the activities which are carried out by the householders. At the same time the ascetics try to observe Ahimsa in a nine-fold way as laid down by Jaina scriptures, i.e., they avoid committing Himsa-by self, through agent and approval, and by speech, mind and body.

This complete renunciation of Himsa in as many as nine ways is quite difficult to put into practice and that too without any fault whatsoever. That is why a doubt is sometimes raised as to how is it possible for an ascetic to carry out his daily activities without causing Himsa in an atmosphere surcharged with different kinds of sentient beings? But this doubt can be cleared by the use of utmost caution and care by the ascetics in their various kinds of behavior appropriate to their ascetic way of life. In this connection, in a standard Jaina authoritative work, Bhagavati Aradhana, pertaining to the rules of behavior for the ascetics, a question is put in the following manner:


that is, "In this world full of sentient beings, how an ascetic should walk, should stand, should sit, should sleep, should take meals, should speak and should be free from sin ?" Even though the question posed a problem, it has been convincingly answered in the same work in the following way


that is, "The ascetic should walk with care and vigilance, should stand with care and caution, should sit after slowly cleansing the seat, should sleep after carefully cleansing the bed, should take meals cautiously, and should speak carefully by regulating the use of language and by this way there will be no bondage of sin."

In this way, according to the Jaina scriptures, an ascetic can practice Ahimsa to the maximum extent possible.


Thus, it is quite obvious that the vow of Ahimsa can be conveniently put into actual practice both by the householders and the ascetics and that too in full conformity with the various injunctions laid down by the Jaina scriptures.  The fear of impracticability of Ahimsa way of behavior is, in fact, really unfounded because this way has been very meticulously and successfully followed not only by those who are in the ascetic stage of life but also by a large number of persons in the householder's stage of life. Both the ascetic and the lay followers of Jaina religion have proved beyond doubt that the vow of Ahimsa is quite compatible with their respective fields of activities and that the Ahimsa can very well be a definite mode of life which does not come in the way of even achieving excellence in the different walks of life. This can be easily seen from the examples of Jaina householders from ancient times to the present day. The Jaina householders have been very famous for so many centuries as successful traders, businessmen, indigenous bankers, jewelers, and industrialists. Again, in the field of agriculture also, they have earned the name as clever and industrious cultivators and the covetable honor of being the first 'Krishipandita' in Independent India has gone to a Jaina farmer from Kolhapur Region in Maharashtra State. Even in the political and military history of India we find many eminent Jaina personalities who showed by their example that they could attain highest ranks in these fields while leading lives of pious householders. There had been remarkable Jaina monarchs like Emperor Chandra Gupta Maurya of Magadha, King Kharvel of Kalinga, Maharaja Kumarpal of Gujarat and Raja Amogha Varsha of Karnatak and illustrious Chief Ministers like Bhamasha of Mewar Vastupala and Tejapala in Gujarath, etc., during the ancient and medieval history of India.


In this regard the best example could be given of three great Military Generals and Ministers of Karnatak, viz.,

1.      Chamunda-Raya of Ganga King Rajamalla 4th (974-984   A.D.),

2.      Ganga-Raja of Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana (1108-1142 A.D.), and

3.      Hulla-Raja of Hoysala monarch Narsimha I (1142-1173 A.D.).

As these three Generals and Ministers were mainly responsible for the promotion of Jaina religion, they have been described as the triumvirate of pre-eminent promoters of Jaina faith.  Among these three benefactors of Jaina religion, however, the contributions of pious Jaina General Chamunda-Raya are by far of the most outstanding, inspiring and lasting nature.  Chamunda-Raya won many battles and received many titles, such as, "Samara-Dhurandhara", i.e., the leader in battle; "Vira-Martanda", i.e., the Sun among the brave; "Ranaraja-Simha", i.e., a Great Lion in Battles; and "Vairikula-kaladanda", i.e., Scepter of death for the host of enemies. Chamunda-Raya has been known as a devout Jaina, a faithful Minister, a brilliant General, a profound Scholar in Jainism and a great patron of Jainism. That is why the famous historian of Karnataka, Dr. B. A. Saletore refers to the prominent position of Chamunda-Raya in following terms: "The first name in constellation of brilliant Jaina Generals we meet with is that of Chamunda-Raya, popularly known as Raya.  A braver soldier, a more devout Jaina, and a more honest man than Chamunda-Raya Karnataka had never seen".




Even though the doctrine of Ahimsa, i.e., non-injury, has been given utmost importance by Jainism in the ethical code laid down for constant observance by all sections of the society and its practicability has stood the test of time since so many centuries, still sometimes a charge is made against the doctrine of Ahimsa to the effect that it is essentially negative in character in the sense that it always prohibits persons from doing certain activities. It is argued that in Jainism Ahimsa is treated as mere abstention from Himsa i.e., injury, and that by applying this principle of abstinence or avoidance to activities in different fields, people are advised in the negative manner such as not to speak lies, not to steal things, not to commit unchastity, not to have worldly attachments, etc., But from the close scrutiny of the vow of Ahimsa and its implications in the actual life of persons, it will be well evident that the charge is quite unfounded. It is true that Jainism does put some restrictions of a sever type on the conduct of persons in their worldly life. These restrictions have been levied with a view to provide guidelines to the person so that they while discharging their duties and carrying out their normal avocations, can commit as little injury as possible to other living beings. But it must be noted that the meaning of Ahimsa has not been confined to this negative aspect only but it has definitely been extended so as to include the positive aspect also in it.  That is why it has been strongly advocated in Jainism that the householders should always strive to extend charity to others who are in need of help along with the observance of restrictions levied on their conduct. It means that the positive aspect has been made an inherent part of the doctrine of Ahimsa. Hence it has been enjoined upon the householders (i) to follow the practice of giving Dana, i.e., religious gifts or charity, (ii) to organize the welfare activities with the help of charities for the benefit not only of the weaker sections of society but also of different kinds of living beings like animals, birds, etc., and (iii) to inculcate the spirit of toleration towards the followers of other faiths or religions.


Encouragement to Grant of Charities:


As a fundamental part of the observance of the vow of Ahimsa, it has been specifically laid down that the householders should make it a point to give regularly from their income Dana, i.e., charities. Obviously the principle of Dana has been given great importance in Jaina religion.


In connection with the meaning of the term Dana, it has been stated in the  authoritative Jaina work "Tattvartha Sutra" as follows:



that is, "Charity is the giving of one's belongings for the good (of one's self and of others". Such a charity or gift is always recommended because in giving one's belongings to others one exercises control over his greed which is nothing but a form of Himsa. That is why in the interest of the cultivation of Ahimsa, the practice of giving Dana is recommended in the celebrated standard sacred Jaina text of "Purusharthasiddhi-upaya" as follows:



that is, "In making a gift one gets over greed, which is a form of Himsa, and hence gifts made to worthy recipients amount to a renunciation of Himsa (i.e., amount to observance of Ahimsa".) In the same text in continuation it has been stated that a person automatically becomes greedy if he does not give charity to worthy guests in following terms:


that is, "why should a person be not called greedy if he does not give gift to a guest who visits his home, who is well-qualified and who, acting like a honey-bee, accepts gifts without causing any injury to others". It means that the practice of giving gifts tantamounts to the practice of Ahimsa.


Further, with a view to raising the purity involved in giving gifts and in the practice of Ahimsa, it is laid down that the donor, i.e., who gives gifts, must have following seven qualities:

1.      Aihikaphalanapeksha, i.e., the donor must not expect any gain or reward in this world in exchange of gifts given by him.

2.      Kshanti, i.e., the donor should have forbearance and should give calmly and without anger (which means the donor should not get excited if an unexpected or untoward thing happens while he was engaged in the pious act of giving gifts).

3.      Muditva, i.e., the donor must possess feelings of happiness and have joyous appearance at the time of giving gifts.

4.      Nishkapatata, i.e., the donor must act in all sincerity and should give without deceit.

5.      Anasuyatva, i.e., the donor should have no feelings of jealousy or envy.

6.      Avishaditva, i.e., the donor should not have any feelings of sorrow or repentance.

7.      Nirahankaritva, i.e., the donor should not have any sense of pride in giving gifts as pride is certainly a bad condition of mind.


Moreover, for the sake of maintaining the sanctity of Dana it has been enjoined upon the donors to see that the Dana is always given only to proper persons. The donee, that is, the person to whom Dana is given, is termed as Patra and for the purposes of gift the donees are classified into three categories, viz.,

1.      Supatras i.e., good donees (those who are having right belief and engrossed in practicing vows),

2.      Kupatras, i.e., deficient donees (those who are with proper external conduct but without real right belief), and

3.      Apatras, i.e., unworthy donees (those who are neither having proper external conduct nor real right belief).


Obviously, giving Dana to the Supatras is highly recommended, to the Kupatras is not encouraged and to the Apatras is definitely forbidden as there is said to be no merit in giving them any thing.


On the basis of various conditions laid down for giving Dana pertaining to the qualifications of the donors and the donees, Dana is classified into three types as follows:

1.      Sattvika Dana, i.e., virtuous or righteous gift, is the gift offered to a worthy donee by a donor possessing the seven Datr-gunas, i.e., qualifications of a good donor. 

2.      Rajasa Dana, i.e., passionate or emotional gift, is the gift offered in self-advertisement for monetary display and in deference to the opinion of others.

3.      Tamasa Dana, i.e., vicious gift, is the gift offered through the agency of slaves or servants without considering whether the recipient is good or worthy or unworthy and without showing marks of respect.

Of these three types of Danas, the Sattivika Dana is regarded as the Uttama Dana, i.e., the best gift, the Rajasa Dana as the Madhyama Dana, i.e., the moderate or the secondary gift and the Tamsa Dana as the Jaghanya Dana, i.e., the worst or the detestable gift.

Again, for the sake of giving Dana it is not required that the Dana should necessarily be of a large quantity. On the contrary, the householders are advised to extend even small gifts but they should take care that these small gifts are given to the deserving persons. Such a kind of small gift is praised in the standard sacred Jain work "Ratnakaranda Sravakachara" in the following words:



that is, "Even a small Dana (gift) given to a patra (proper or suitable donee), bears much desirable fruit for souls in the fullness of time, just as the (tiny) seed of the (Indian) fig tree, sown in (good) soil, produces (a tree, casting) magnificent shade".

Thus, the Jain scriptures not only encourage the householders to give gifts to persons but also invariably stress that the conditions laid down and considered proper for the Donor (i.e., giver-), the Dana (i.e., gift) and the Donee (i.e., recipient) should always be followed because these three things by means of mutual influencing definitely increase the sanctity of the entire process. In this connection the celebrated Jaina author Acharya Jinasena in his well-known work "Adi-purana" has shown that in nine ways a gift becomes an ideal one in the following terms:


that is, "The purity of the Donor gives sanctity to both the Gift and the Donee, similarly the purity of the Gift makes both the Donor and the Donee sacred; and on the same lines, the purity of the Donee sanctifies both the Donor and the Gift. Hence such a Dana, containing purity in nine ways, contributes to securing abundant fruits."


Support to Welfare Activities

It is pertinent to note that the Jaina scriptures have not only laid down well-thought-out conditions to be observed in the process of giving Dana but have also considerably widened the scope and extent of Dana both from the point of the recipients of the Dana and from the contents of the Dana. The Dana, with reference to its recipients, has also been divided into two classes, viz., Patra-Dana and Karuna-Dana. The Patra-Dana means gifts or offerings made with respect and devotion to worthy recipients and in accordance with the necessary conditions laid down for observance by the people. Such worthy recipients are generally the Jaina persons (including the householders and the ascetics) who have right belief and are continuously engrossed in practicing vows prescribed for their stage in life. But the Karuna-Dana means gifts or offerings made out of compassion to any one who deserves it, being hungry, thirsty, diseased, distressed, disabled, helpless, or the like.  Further, the Karuna-Dana, or the gift of compassion, is extremely wide in its scope. In fact, it is not restricted to Jainas alone but it is extended to human and even to sub-human beings who are in need of it. Such a Karuna-Dana is popularly considered of four kinds, viz.,

1.      Ahara-Dana, i.e., gift of food,

2.      Aushadhil-Dana, i.e., gift of medicines,

3.      Abhaya-Dana, i.e., gift of shelter, protection from danger, attack, intimidation, or threat, and

4.      Sastra-Dana or Vidya-Dana, i.e., gift of books, imparting of knowledge, useful and beneficial.

These four gifts together are formed as "Chaturvidha-Dana", i.e., four-fold charity and it has been enjoined on the householders that they should make special efforts to give these charities to the needy beings belonging to the human and subhuman categories. The first kind of charity, i.e., Ahara-Dana, has been extremely valued along with the practice of Ahimsa in following terms by the important 'Kurala-Kavya'

that is, "The two precepts of scriptures which contain the very essence of religion are: to share meals with persons afflicted with hunger and to protect all living beings." In the same strain Acharya Amitagati, the renowned author, in his book "Sravakachara" has praised the utmost importance of Ahara-Dana as follows:


that is, "there is no knowledge better than 'Kevala-Jnana', i.e., omniscient knowledge, no happiness better than happiness secured from Nirvana', i.e., liberation of soul, and no gift better than 'Ahara-Dana', i.e., gift of food." On the same lines, the Jaina scriptures have greatly valued the other three gifts of medicines, shelter and knowledge to all living beings with a view to take practical steps to ameliorate the miserable conditions of afflicted living beings including insects, birds, animals and men.

Further, this positive humanitarian approach to lessen the miseries of living beings was also included in another significant manifestation of Ahimsa in the fifth main vow of the householders, viz., the vow of Aparigraha, i.e., abstention from greed of worldly possessions. It is obvious that this greed is a form of Himsa, i.e., injury and as such it has to be consistently avoided by all persons as a part of the observance of Ahimsa in the different fields of activities in actual life. Aparigraha-vrata also involves avoiding the fault of Parigraha which consists in desiring more than what is needed by an individual.  Accumulating even necessary articles in large numbers, expressing wonder at the prosperity of others, excessive greed and changing the proportions of existing possessions are all forms of Parigraha, i.e., worldly attachments. This vow aims at putting a limit on the worldly possessions by individuals according to their needs and desires. That is why this vow of Aparigraha is many times termed as Parigraha-Parimana-Vrata , i.e., the vow to limit one's worldly possessions. In accordance with this vow a householder is required to fix, beforehand, the limit of his maximum belongings, and he has, in no case, to exceed it. If he ever happens to earn more than the pre-determined limit, he is required to spend it away in ''Chaturvidha-Dana'', i.e., four-fold charities popularly known as 'Ahara-abhaya-bhaishajya-Sastra-Dana', i.e., giving food to the hungry and the poor, saving the lives of creatures in danger, distribution of medicines and spread of knowledge.

In this connection it is pertinent to note that as a part of the implementation of the vow of Ahimsa including the vow of Aparigraha, the Jaina householders for several centuries have made it one of their cardinal principles to give these four gifts to all persons who are in need of such help. In fact, this help has been extended to the protection and well-being of insects, birds and animals also. For this the Jainas have established alm-houses, rest-houses, dispensaries and educational institutions wherever they have been concentrated in good numbers. The Anna-Chhatralayas, i.e., alm-houses, are being conducted in pilgrim and other centers for the benefit of poor people.  In the Dharma-salas, i.e., resthouses, lodging arrangements are being provided without any charges or at nominal charges at important towns, cities and pilgrim places. The Aushadhalayas, i.e.., dispensaries, have been providing free medicines to the afflicted persons. Along with the dispensaries for men, the Jainas have been conducting special institutions known as Pinjarapols for the protection and care of helpless and decrepit animals and birds. In unusual times of flood and famine these Pinjarapols have been carrying out various activities for animal protection. There is hardly any town or village of Gujarath or Rajasthan, where Pinjarapols is not present in some form or other.

In the spread of education also the Jainas have been taking for many centuries a leading part in the education of the masses. Various relics show that formerly Jaina ascetics took a great share in teaching children in southern countries viz., Tamilanadu, Andhra, Karnatak and Maharashtra. In this connection Dr. A. S. Altekar has rightly observed (in his treatise "Rashtrakutas and their Times") that "Before the beginning of the alphabet proper the children should be required to pay homage to the deity Ganesha, by reciting the formula, 'Shri Ganeshaya namah' is natural in Hindu society, but that in the Deccan even to-day it should be followed by the Jaina formula "Om Namah Siddham" shows that the Jaina teachers of medieval age had so completely controlled the mass education that the Hindus continued to teach their children this originally Jaina formula even after the decline of Jainism."

Even now the Jainas have been vigorously maintaining the tradition of organizing welfare activities for the benefit of all concerned by giving freely these Chaturvidha-Dana, i.e., four types of gifts, in all parts of India.


Insistence on the Spirit of Toleration

The positive aspect of Ahimsa, as enunciated by Jaina scriptures, is extended to the insistence on the spirit of toleration in addition to the encouragement to the grant of charities and the support to the organization of welfare activities. The Jaina scriptures have made the doctrine of Ahimsa extremely comprehensive and have advocated the observance of Ahimsa systematical and to the minutest details. For this purpose, violence or injury is to be avoided in three ways, that is, it should not be committed, commissioned or consented to; and this avoidance has to be applied to three kinds of violence, viz., (a) physical violence, which covers killing, wounding and causing any physical pain; (b) violence in words caused by using harsh words; and (c) mental violence, which implies bearing ill-feelings towards other persons, religions, systems, etc. It means that in accordance with the doctrine of Ahimsa, injury through the activities of speech and mind has to be avoided along with the usual injury of physical type. In other words, for the observance of Ahimsa, the attitude of tolerance in the intellectual, religious and other fields assumes great importance. This attitude of tolerance has been propounded by Jaina scriptures through the doctrine of Anekantavada, i.e., manysidedness, which states that a thing can be considered from many points of view. That is why the tenet of Anekantavada always advises the people to find out the truth in anything after taking into account several sides or aspects of that thing.  This obviously broadens the outlook of the persons as they are made to look at a thing from different angles. At the same time the principle of Anekantavada does not engender the feelings of enmity or hatred towards the other religionists because it believes that other religions also would be having some truths from their points of view. Hence by enunciating the principle of Anekantavada, the Jaina scriptures have strongly advocated the principle of tolerance and forcefully asserted that it could be applied to intellectual, religious, social and other fields of activities.

As a result we find that Anekantavada has definitely a bearing on man's psychological and spiritual life and that it is not confined to solve a mere ontological problem. It has supplied the philosopher with catholicity of thought, convincing him that Truth is not anybody's monopoly with tariff walls of denominational religion. It has also furnished the religious aspirant with the virtue of intellectual and religious toleration which is a part of Ahimsa

In this connection it can be maintained that toleration is the characteristic of Jaina ideology because Jainism has always held that it is wrong, if not dangerous, to presume that one's own creed alone represents the Truth. As a consequence the Jaina scriptures have always advised the Jainas of all ranks not to harbor any feelings of enmity and hatred towards the followers of other religions but on the contrary to have a spirit of toleration and cooperation with reference to the members of other religions and even denominations. Accordingly the Jainas have been consistently observing the principle of intellectual and religious toleration. Even the Jaina Monarchs and Generals of the Armed Forces have a clean and commendable record to their credit in this regard. The political history of India knows no cases of persecution by Jaina Kings, even when Jaina monks and laymen have greatly suffered at the hands of other religionists of fanatical temper. In this respect, Dr. B. A. Saletore, the famous historian of Karnatak, has rightly observed as follows:

"The principle of Ahimsa was partly responsible for the greatest contribution of the Jainas to Hindu culture-that relating to toleration.  Whatever may be said concerning the rigidity with which they maintained their religious tenets and the tenacity and skill with which they met and defeated their opponents in religious disputations, yet it cannot be denied that the Jainas fostered the principle of toleration more sincerely and at the same time more successfully than any other community in India".




As a practical religion Jainism has laid great stress on the observance of five main and seven supplementary vows by its followers in all stages of life.  Among these twelve vows, the most fundamental position has been given to the Ahimsa-Vrata, i.e., the vow of Ahimsa and it has been convincingly shown that the remaining four main vows, viz., Satya, i.e., the abstention from falsehood, Asteya, i.e., the abstention from stealing, Brahmacharya, i.e., the abstention from unchastity; and Aparigraha, i.e., the abstention from worldly attachments! are nothing but the details of the vow of Ahimsa and that the seven Sila-vratas, i.e., supplementary vows consisting of three Guna-vratas, i.e., multiplicative vows, and four Siksha-vratas. i.e., disciplinary vows, are mere manifestations of the vows of Ahimsa in one form or another.  Further, with a view to giving strength to the practice of the vow of Ahimsa, the followers are recommended (i) to cultivate the ten kinds of Dharma, i.e., noble virtues, (ii) to contemplate on the twelve kinds of Anupreksha, i.e., meditations, (iii) to attempt at conquering twenty two kinds of Parishahas, i.e., sufferings, and (iv) to observe the six kinds of Bahya Tapa, i.e., external austerities and the six kinds of Abhyantara Tapa, i.e., internal austerities.  Further-more, along with making the vow of Ahimsa very comprehensive and all inclusive in character and scope, extreme carefulness in the actual practice of Ahimsa has also been strongly advocated and with this end in view the Jaina scriptures have particularly laid down the five kinds of aticharas, i.e., transgressions, of each of the twelve vows and have specifically enjoined upon the householders to avoid these aticharas so as to make the practice of Ahimsa as faultless as possible.  Moreover, even though the theoretical dimensions of the vow of Ahimsa in all the aspects were made very wide and the extreme carefulness was insisted on the actual observance of the vow of Ahimsa, still every precaution was taken to see that the vow of Ahimsa can be definitely put into practice in the daily life by the followers of Jainism belonging to both the householders and the ascetic stages in life and for ensuring the practicability of vow of Ahimsa many prescriptions were laid down in regard to the actual observance of Ahimsa in accordance with the respective capacities of householders and ascetics.  In addition, the doctrine of Ahimsa was not confined to its negative aspect i.e., avoidance of injury, only but at the same time great stress was laid to emphasize the positive aspect, i.e., increasing the welfare of others, which is inherent in the doctrine of Ahimsa and accordingly the Jaina scriptures gave encouragement to the grant of charities, extended support to the organization of welfare activities for the benefit of all living beings and strongly advocated the spirit of tolerance with reference to the other religionists. As a result in Jainism the doctrine of Ahimsa was given the form of `universal love'.


In this way the most distinctive contribution of Jainism consists in its great emphasis on the observance of Ahimsa, i.e., non-injury to living beings, by all persons to the maximum extent possible. In fact, the philosophy and rules of conduct laid down in Jaina religion have been based on the solid foundation of Ahimsa, which has, throughout and consistently, been followed to its logical conclusion. That is why Jainism has become synonymous with Ahimsa and Jaina religion is considered as the religion of Ahimsa. The social significance of this principle of Ahimsa could be evident from the important facts and changes which took place in the cultural history of India from the time of Lord Mahavira to the present day.


Effective Reduction in Violence

During the Vedic period utmost importance was attached to the performance of sacrifices with a view to secure the favors of God and to avert His anger. The sacrifices were elaborate, complicated and hedged with various restrictions. The sacrifices became a regular feature of the religious life of the people. The peculiar characteristic of these sacrifices was that they were usually accompanied by the slaughter of animals. As the sacrifices were mainly animal sacrifices, they involved the practice of Himsa, i.e., violence, to a considerable extent.

Along with this practice, the flesh-eating or non-vegetarian diet was extremely popular among the different sections of the people. The Rig-vedic people, in general, were fond of meat-eating and practically all the important ceremonies were attended with the slaughter of animals. Offerings of flesh were frequently made to the Gods, and worshippers, as a practice, ate the offerings. The meat of animals does not seem to have been excluded. It was a custom to entertain a distinguished guest with the meat of certain animals. At the wedding ceremonies animals were slain, evidently for the feeding of the invited guests. In fact, the sacrifice of animals was not only optional as in the case of the arrival of a guest and marriage but even compulsory on certain occasions and ceremonies. At Sraddhas, i.e., periodical oblation to the manes, the sacrifice of animals was recommended, as substances like rice, barley, sesamum, fruits, etc., keep the manes satisfied for a month, while flesh satisfied them for a year. Again, meat was almost allowed at Annaprasana, i.e., the first feeding with solid food, ceremony of a child and from them till death and cremation, sacrificing of animals was necessary on most of the ceremonial occasions of life.

Against this wide-spread and established practice of meat eating and the performance of rites consisting of animal sacrifices Lord Mahavira and his learned disciples launched a vigorous attack by propagating the principle of Ahimsa, i.e., non-injury to living beings. In fact in all their preachings, Lord Mahavira and later his leading Acharyas invariably laid great stress on the observance of Ahimsa because the principle of Ahimsa is the logical outcome of the basic Jaina metaphysical theory that all souls are potentially equal. It was, therefore, asserted that as no one likes pain, one should not do unto others what one does not want others to do unto one. Since all living beings possessed soul, the principle of Ahimsa i.e., non-injury, was obviously extended to cover all living beings.

All these preachings of Jaina scriptures and Acharyas regarding the strict observance of the principle of Ahimsa to the maximum extent possible by every individual in society produced far-reaching effects in social field. The practice of performing sacrificial rites and especially the slaughter of animals at the time of sacrifices considerably fell into disuse. Similarly, killing of animals for hunting, sports and decoration purposes was greatly reduced. Further, the slaughter of animals and birds with a view to use their flesh as a form of diet slowly became unpopular.


In this way injury to living beings was greatly reduced and the practice of vegetarian diet was adopted by large sections of population in different regions of the country. In this connection Dr. N. K. Dutta (in his book "Origin and Growth of Caste in India") observed that "Animal sacrifice had been of so long standing among the Aryans and such was the respect for the authority of the Vedas which made it obligatory to sacrifice with flesh offerings, that the abolition of sacrifices, became a very slow process, effecting only a very small minority, intellectual section of the people, and might not have succeeded at all if Jainism and Buddhism had not overwhelmed the country and the mass of people with the teachings of Ahimsa and inefficacy of sacrificial rites."


Acceptance of Dignity of Living Beings

Through the preachings of Ahimsa the Jaina scriptures and Acharyas emphasized the basic fact that every living being has a sanctity and a dignity of its own and therefore one must respect it as one expects one's own dignity to be respected by others. The Jaina sacred works also firmly emphasized that life is sacred irrespective of species, caste, color, creed or nationality. On this basis they advocated the principle of "Live and let live" and it was slowly accepted by the people. In this way the Jaina teachings convinced the people that the practice of Ahimsa is both an individual and a collective virtue and showed that Ahimsa has a positive force and a collective appeal.


Improvement in Moral Behavior

Jainism has laid great stress on the observance by the householders of Right Conduct consisting of twelve vows, viz., five main vows known as Anuvratas, and seven supplementary vows known as Silavratas. Among these twelve vows primacy has been assigned to the first vow of Ahimsa and the remaining vows are also manifestations of Ahimsa in one form or another. It is enjoined upon the householders to practice these vows in their daily life with utmost care so that even the aticharas, i.e., the transgressions of these vows can be avoided to a great extent. It means that the observance of these vows has to be made as faultless as possible.

Obviously these vows are of a great social value as they accord a religious sanction to some of the most important public and private interests and rights which are, in modern times, safeguarded by the laws of the State. It could be seen that these vows merely reproduce the unwritten moral code of the best societies of men, though they make transgressions, a little more difficult. They also cover the entire range of modern societies penal restrictions, so that one has merely to adopt them to avoid transgressing all criminal laws of all countries whatsoever. For example, all offenses against persons are banned under the vow of Ahimsa, even injuring an animal is covered by the inhibition. Similarly, offenses against property are covered by the vow of Asteya, i.e., non-stealing, when understood in its true spirit, that is, in its fullest scope. Again, perjury, forgery, counterfeiting coins and all other allied offenses fall within the purview of the vow of Satya, i.e., truthfulness; and social misbehaviors are avoided under the fourth vow of Brahmacharya, i.e., chastity. Finally, the last vow of Aparigraha, i.e., abstention from worldly attachments, engenders a contented spirit, which is the real guarantor of peacefulness and a thing which acts as a powerful check on crime, by crushing out the tendency towards law-breaking at its very inception.

So far as conditions in India are concerned it is stressed that a due observance of these five main vows would save a man from the application to him of almost any of the sections of the Indian Penal Code. In this connection Shri. A. B. Latthe, a well-known author and social leader, has, in his book entitled "An Introduction to Jainism" (published in 1905 A. D.), shown in a tabular form, as given below, that the observance of the five main vows without committing any of the faults or transgressions pertaining to them, is practically tantamount to complete conformity with the principles of morality enforced by the Indian Penal Code.

The vows and the panel law




Substance of the Sections

The equivalent vows








Command to take the Sastra as an authority




The definitions of sins and the vows








There is no sin unless an action is actuated




by passion




The five vows and their faults.



Offences against

the State

Fault of the third vow,viz., Viruddha-rajyati-krama.



Offences against

the Army and Navy

Fault of the third vow,viz., Viruddha-rajyati-krama.



Offences against

The vow of Ahimsa and its faults.



public tranquility  




Offences committed by public servants 

The vows of Satyaand Asteya with their faults.



Contempt of Court, etc.

Fault of `Viruddha-rajya tikrama'; of the third vow.



False statements etc.

Faults of `Mithyopadesa' and `Vruddha-rajyatikrama' of the second and third vow respectively.



False coinage etc.

Pratirupaka-vyavahara and `Vruddha-rajyatikrama, faults of the third vow



Offences regarding

Hinadhika-manomana' fault of third vow.



weights, etc.




Offences against

Faults of the first two vows.



health, safety,  etc.




Offences against  

Faults of the first two vows.



religion, etc.    




Offences against

The vow of `Ahimsa' and its faults.







Offences against

The complete vow of `Asteya'







Regarding false documents etc.,

Faults of `Kutalekhakriya'and `Pratirupaka-vyavahara' of the 2nd & 3rd vow respectively.



Regarding failure

The vow of Satya.



to perform services.




Offences against

Vow of `Brahmacharya'








Vow of `Satya'




Vow of `Satya'



Attempt to commit    

The five vows.








Thus it is asserted that if a man but observes the five main vows with the avoidance of their respective faults, he has no fear from the Indian Penal Code.

It is, therefore, contended that the moral behavior of persons would definitely improve by the regular observance of these twelve vows with the avoidance of faults attached to them. In this regard it is pointed out by Shri. A. B. Latthe that the proportion of Jail-going population is a good index to the moral condition of a community and has given the following table from the Jail Administration Report for the year 1891 A. D. for the Bombay Presidency:




Total prisoners 

Proportion of


in 1891 

in 1891

persons to prisoners


























From these figures Shri. A. B. Latthe (in his book, "An Introduction to Jainism" published in 1905 A. D.) has given his conclusion that, "The last column shows that the Jains stand highest in morality. The figures from a later Report, i.e., for the year 1901 show an improvement even over this. That is, out of 7,355 Jains, only one man was in prison in that year." Such figures based on subsequent decenial Census Reports are not available. But in general it can be said that the rate of criminality among the Jainas is much less and that this comparatively low frequency of incidence of crime among Jainas can be attributed to the rules of Right Conduct based on the principle of Ahimsa as laid down by Jaina religion.

Thus it is a quite evident from the cultural history of India that the fundamental doctrine of Ahimsa and the actual observance of Ahimsa in all its aspects have been extremely useful, from social and other points of view, in bringing about many desirable changes like reduction of violence practiced in different fields of activities, acceptance of the sanctity and dignity of all living beings, and improvement in moral behavior of the people. That is why maximum value has been attached to the doctrine of Ahimsa by Acharya Subhachandra in his famous work Jnanamava in following terms:

that is, "in all kinds of scriptures Ahimsa is considered as the distinctive mark of religion and its contrary as sin and Ahimsa is regarded as the mother of all good things like austerities, learning, religious duty, knowledge, meditation, charity, and vows of truth, good conduct etc."


In this way the highest position has been accorded to the doctrine of Ahimsa in Jaina religion and it is pertinent to note that this principle of Ahimsa has been actually put into practice by the Jainas during the last so many centuries. As the principle of Ahimsa permeates the life of the Jainas, the Jaina culture is referred to as the Ahimsa culture. If the Jainas are known for anything it is for the evolution of Ahimsa culture since they practiced and propagated that culture from ancient times in India. The antiquity and continuity of Ahimsa culture is mainly due to the incessant efforts of the Jaina Acharyas, i.e., saints. Naturally wherever the Jainas were in great numbers and wielded some influence they tried to spread Ahimsa culture among the masses. That is why we find that the States of Gujarat and Karnatak, which were the strongholds of Jainas from the beginning, are largely vegetarian. In fact it is admitted that as a result of the activities of the Jainas for the last so many centuries Ahimsa still forms the substratum of Indian character as a whole.