IN THIS OUR LIFE
I. We have so far seen the pathway to perfection through the practice of Yoga and the stages of self- realization. But the transcendental perfection is to be rooted in the empirical life; as we cannot ignore the empirical for the transcendental. We have first to learn to live a good life in this world and then we can go higher to spiritual perfection, or else it would be like one aiming at climbing the Mount Everest without setting a foot on the base camp or without training oneself for mountaineering. Moral excellence is, therefore, as much important as spiritual perfection.
It has been alleged that the Jaina outlook, as of other ancient Indian though, is negative. In their zeal for the otherworldly ends they have ignored the things of the world; lie negation and not life affirmation is the dominant spirit of their outlook; and it is throughout pessimistic. For Jains ultimate spiritual excellence could be attained by the gradual process of getting moral excellence. The good man can reach the destiny of perfection of the soul. There is no short cut to moksa. As we have seen in the last chapter, Schweitzer maintains that the problem of deliverance in the Jaina and the Buddhist though is not raised beyond ethics. In fact it was the supreme ethic, and it was an event full of significance for the thought of India. And in Indian though category of Dharma is important. “So far as the actual ethical content is concerned, Buddhism Jainism and Himduism are not inferior to others.” Suffering in the world is a fact: sarvam duhkham was one of the cardinal principles of the Buddha. Misery leads to think of an escape from the bonds of this life. In this sense all philosophy is pessimistic. But, the ultimate ideal of a Jaina is perfection and life- negation is a means to an end. It is the negation of empirical values of life and not of the supreme values; and ethics leads to realization of the supreme values. In the west the Helenic ideal was to be a good citizen, to attain excellence in this life. The Vedic Aryans aimed at happiness and good life in the world and heaven hereafter. The Indian seers realized that we have to transcend the empirical to reach pure perfection, or else we have no lasting peace. Yet the empirical is a stepping stone for the transcendental perfection. Moral life, therefore, is important as the pathway to perfection. The ways of flesh and mind are to be channelised to the pathway to perfection giving Caesar what is due to him. Ethics for the Jainas is working in righteousness all the days of one’s life. Of the triple ways to perfection enunciated by the Jainas, Samyak- caritra is equally important. It is a way leading to moksa: without hunger and thirst for righteousness we shall not enter the kingdom of perfection. Caritra is predominately activistic. It refers to moral and spiritual excellence. It implies willed activity, and samyak- caritra (right activity) is an important step one has to adopt in the pathway to self- realisation. To attain samyaktva is not an easy task. One has to be ripe for it. Samyaktva is possible for one who has attained Samyag – drsti (right faith) and Samyga- jnana (right knowledge). One who has cleared the darkness of the deluding karma and who possesses knowledge adopts Samyak- caritra. It consists in avoiding the influx of karma (asrava) coming as it does from the practice of himsa (injury to life), anrta (untruth), steya (stealing) and other forms of sense pleasures. Samyaktva has been assimilated to the status of a vrata and presented with five aticaras (infraction). They were enumerated as early as the Tattvarthasutra, though not found in the canon. Without entering into the minor discrepancies of the Digambara and Svetambara version of the essential qualities of samyaktva, we may mention the characters of Samyaktva. Samyaktva (rightness) is characterised by I) samvega (spiritual craving), ii) Sama (stilling of the passion), iii) nirveleda ( disgust for sense pleasures), iv) bhakti ( devotion), v) anukampa (compassion), vi) ninda (remorse for the evil acts of relatives and others), vii) garner (repentance expressed in the from of alocana made in the presence of Guru) and viii) vatsalya (loving kindness to the living). Samyaktva expresses itself in nihsanka (freedom from doubt), nihkanksa (desirelessness), nirguhana (absence of repugnance), amudha- drsti (absence of perversity of attitude.
The description of the nature of Samyaktva as shown above has a great psychological significance. It presents the mental setting required for developing character and personality as needed for spiritual progress. The instructive tendencies and emotions have to be channelized and directed by transformation and sublimation with a view to attaining mental equipoise. Ethically considered the characteristics of Samyak- caritra present a back- ground and a canvas for the illumination of one’s self towards the goal of attaining perfect equanimity and spiritual strength.
I.Samyakcaritra has been distinguished into two types:
i) Sakala (complete) and ii) vikala (partial). Sakala – caritra is the rigorous practice of Dharma and is to be adopted by those who are initiated as monks and who have renounced this world: It is Munidharma (the way of an ascetic). But for those who have not renounced the world it is still possible to seek the truth and pursue the path of righteousness though in a convenient and lesser degree. That would be Vikala- caritra, the way of the householder. There are, thus, we levels of moral life. The polarity of house – holder and ascetic is indeed one of the most characteristic features of the Jaina structure. The layman has the obligation to cherish his family, the monk must sever all ties with them. The monk is excessive since his life is a negation of compromise; while moderation must be the key- note o existence for the house- holder whose life is rooted on compromise.
II.Muni- dharma at seeking salvation through the practice of strict moral and spiritual injunctions. Of these, the five vratas (vows) are important. They are 1) ahimsa (nonviolence); 2) satya (truth); 3) asteya (non-stealing); 4) Brahmacarya (celibacy); and 5) aparigrha (non- possession). It is difficult to translate these words in proper from. The Vratas have to be practised rigorously and without exception. In this sense the vratas to be practised by the ascetics are called Mahavratas (great vows). “The reverence towards life (Albert Schweitzer has put it) by which the realm of life was so immeasurably extended, permeates the discipline of Mahavira’s order in a way no other ethical prescription does. We can observe it entering into the fields of other vows like truthful speech as arising out of passion. The vow of non- possession is equally important. A monk is not allowed to possess anything, in some cases including a piece of cloth. The vow of chastity has a large effective range. “ The prescriptions cohering with it do not refer to normal sexuality only, but they frequently also indicate events of sexual pathology”. According to one tradition, the fifth was added by vardhamana Mahavira, the twenty third Trithankara did not mention celibacy as a vow. In a discussion between kesi, a disciple of parsva and Gautama, a disciple of Mahavira, it was made clear that the addition of the fifth did not imply any major deviation from the teachings of the Jinas, but was an outcome of circumstance. It indicated a fall in the standards of monastic moral life as there was sufficient interval of time between the last two Trithankaras. Later it is sometimes suggested that the sixth vow raj- bhoyanao veramanam (abstaining from taking food at night) was added with the main intention of avoiding injury to life in the dark. This was primarily meant as injunction for the householder as the ascetic takes only one meal a day at midday. It is a special case of ahimsa. In fact the entire ethical structure of the ahimsa. We find this expressed in the other injunctions to be followed by the ascetics. The ascetics have to practise: 1) the five Mahavratas, 2) five samiti, 3) the control in five senses. 4) six avasyakas, other practices like I) loca (plucking the hair on the head with hands), ii) acelakatva (abstaining from the use of covering of any sort,
iii) asnana (abstaining from bath), iv) prthicisayana, v) adantadhavana (abstaining from cleaning teeth), vi) sthitibhojana ( taking food offered by the lay disciple, by using the palm only and by standing), viii) ekabhukta ( taking one meal a day). The five samitis are I) irya- samiti (restriction on movement), ii) bhasa- samiti (restriction on speech). iii) esana- samiti (taking pure and permissible food), iv) adana- niksepa ( careful use movement of the necessary objects like kamandalu, a pot for use of water etc..) and v) pratisthapana- samiti ( answering the nature calls in solitary places). The practice of vows and other injuctions has to be carefully done by the ascetic without exception. The life of a monk is hard and rigorous in this sense. His object is to attain Moksa, and for this purpose rigorous mortification of the body has to be practised. The practice of vows is threefold: in body, mind and speech.
The infraction of the practice of vows and other injunctions has also to be threefold: i) by oneself, ii) by getting others to commit violation, and iii) by acquiescing in the act of violation.
A muni is not to cover himself with any type of clothes or decoration made of cotton, wool, bark of a tree or even grass. He is forbidden to take bath (asnana). He should sleep with care on one side where there is little possibility of injury to living being including the tiniest insects. He should not clean his teeth, nails and other parts of the body nor should he decorate himself in any way ( adanta- dhavana). He should eat taking the food on the palm standing on a clean and purified place, and he should eat only once a day midday. These are included in the twenty- eight basic mulagunas of a Muni. Rigorous restrictions are imposed on an ascetic; which if imposed on the layman it would not be possible for him to practise in conformity with his responsibility of household life.
The Dasavaikalika- sutra gives description of the essential qualities required of an ascetic. One who is self- controlled, who is free passion and is non- attached is a real Muni. He saves his soul and hose of others. Such self- controlled persons go to heaven (deva- loka), or are freed from the bonds of life according to the degree of destruction of Karma. One who gets to heaven is reborn and has to continue his struggle for the destruction of the remaining karma ultimately to attain Moksa.
A true monk should have no desires, non attachments and should wander about as the known beggar. He should live as a model of righteousness. He is not to live by any profession or occupation; possessed of full self- control and free from any ties, he should live the life of a homeless mendicant.
The daily routine of a monk is well regulated and regimented. He has to be severely solemn and is obliged to behave in a strictly reserved and inobtrusive manner. He cannot indulge in singing, dancing, laughing or any other from of merry- making. He has to devote much of his time to meditation, study, and in the third part of the day he has to go only for food and drink.
The Acaragasutra and Dasavaikalika present a detailed picture of the strict rules for taking a midday meal. He has to be modest in behaviour and give precedence to other receivers and even to animals. And such a monk practising the rigours of an ascentic for the sake of a fuller and more perfect life here and here-after is superior to all others, like a trained ‘Kamboja steed’ whom no noise frightens, like a strong irresistible elephant, like a strong bull and a lion.
Four things of supreme value are difficult to obtain in this world : 1) human birth, 2) instruction in the Law (dharma), 3) belief in the Dharma, and 4) energy in self-control. We must, therefore, make the most of what we have not because tomorrow we die but because we become immortal and perfect. The attainment of perfection is in the hands of mans; and knowing this, we should avoid sense-pleasures which are short-lived and apparently sweet yet fraught with the danger of losing all that we have, as a man lost his kingdom by eating a mango fruit which was strictly forbidden by his physician and as ‘forbidden fruit whose mortal taste brought death into this world and all our woe.’ Asceticism is the primary step for the monks on their way to self-realization. External asceticism consists in dropping one’s meals, in restricting oneself to a few objects and in begging for food. These are meant for preparing one’s mind for self-purification. The internal asceticism is mainly mental and it aims at purification in the final form. It includes the control of the senses, subjection to confession and atonement, readiness to spiritual service, study and the practice of dhyana in gradual stages. And one who has given up all worldly ties, is well-versed in the Dharma, who practices all codes of ascetic life, is the sramana, a bhikkhu. A monk complies with the rules of yati as regards posteriors, lying down sitting down, and is thoroughly acquainted with the Semites and, guptis.
There have been conflicting opinions as to how the ascetic practice and the monastic vows originated. Buehler held that most of the special directions for the discipline of the Jaina ascetic are copies, and often exaggerated copies, of the Brahminical rules for penitents. The outward marks of the order closely resemble those of a Sanyasin. Jacobi seems to support this view when he said ‘Monastic order of Jainas and the Buddhists though copied from Brahmana were chiefly and originally intended for Kshatriyas. This view was presented in the early stages of Indological research but it is difficult to be accepted. What we call Indian Philosophy is a synthesis of the Sramana and the Brahmana currents of thought. The Sramana cult which was primarily ascentic in nature was pre-Aryan. And “we should no more assess the Samkhya, Jaina, Buddhist and Ajivaka tenets as mere perverted continuation of stray thoughts selected at random from the Upanisadic bed of Aryan thought currents”. Dr. Upadhye calls this Pre-Aryan current of thought as ‘Magadhan religion’.
All cannot renounce the world, nor is it desirable. Most men have to live in this world and work for their spiritual salvation, while engaged in daily routine of empirical life. They are the householders (sravakas) . They cannot practise rigorous discipline of an ascetic. They have to practise the vows with less rigour, as far as possible, still without sacrificing the fundamental spirit of the Vratas. The ethical code for the layman is twelve-fold consisting of 1) five Vratas which are common for the ascetic and the householder, except for the fact they have to be practised with less rigour without sacrificing the spirit of righteousness and the main goal of self- realization. Great physical and moral advantages accrue from the observation of vows. It keeps the body and mind healthy and leads one in the direction of maintaining moral strength, ultimately to lead to moksa. The vows practised by the layman are the anuvratas (lesser vows). In addition to 1) five anuvratas, he has to practise 2) three gunavratas and 3) four siksavratas.
We may mention some of the aticaras (infractions) of the anuvratas. Some of the aticaras of vrata are :
1. Ahimsa : i ) bandha tying up, keeping in captivity men and beasts.
However, the restraining of cattle by means of ropes and restriction on our
children for corrections may be permitted. So may a thief be bound. ii ) vadha (beating) : It refers to wanton
and merciless whipping of animals out of anger and aroused by other passions,
although some exceptions like mild beating, pulling the ears or slapping for
correction are permissible. iii) chaviccheda : this
applies to acts of injury to the body with sword or sharp instrument. Operations by a physician would be exceptions. iv) atibhararopana : It refers to heavy and merciless loading of beasts by a burden greater than they can bear. Certain types of occupations have been tabooed for a Jaina layman. v) bhakta-pana-vyavaccheda : It refers to making the animal suffer from hunger and thirst for no reason to out of anger or negligence. The context and the implications of ahimsa vrata are much wider than the aticaras indicate. We have, therefore, added in the end a critique of ahimsa in the light of its philosophical justification.
2. Satya-vrata (truth-speaking) has also a wide connotation . It has been interpreted as abstention from untruth spoken out of passion, and even from truth if it leads to the destruction of the living being. We may mention some of the infraction of this Vrata. i) Sahasabhyakhyana : It consists in casually or intentionally imputing false charges against a person as : ‘he is a thief, or an adulterer’. Friends of Other committed this grievous crime and sin against Desdemona even if it were in jest. ii) Svadaramantra Bheda : it consists in divulging to others what has been said by one’s wife in confidence under special circumstances. iii) Mrsopadesa. It refers to perverse teaching and advice leading to evil consequences. iv) Kutalekhakarana is preparing a false document like forgery etc.
3. Asteya-vrata forbids us to commit theft or even to take others’ articles not specifically meant for us. It forbids us from i) accepting stolen articles at cheaper rates, ii) instigating others to seal, iii) acquiring property in a country which is hostile to our own. Even grass or wood obtained under such circumstances must be regarded as stolen. Even Transgressing the frontiers forbidden by the State is an infraction of this vow. Black market is covered under this aticara. iv) kuta-tula-kuta-mana : using false weights and measures and taking exorbitant interest on loans is an infraction of this vow.
These Aticaras are mainly concerned as a warning to the community in which individuals and groups are likely to violate the five vows here and there. Similar infractions of this Vrata have been mentioned with reference to officials as well in the State. Corrupt officials are also to be considered as thieves.
4. Brahma-vrata is important in Jaina ethics. It has been considered from the points of view of personal efforts for salvation and of social health. Detailed classification of the vows and their infractions have been worked out. In their analysis we find psychological acumen. The Vrata has negative and positive aspects. In the negative aspect a householder has to abstain from sexual contact with other’s wife ( aparadaragamana), and positively he has to be satisfied with his own wife. He cannot even arrange marriages of other women, except in the case of his own children. He should avoid sex literature and sex brooding. The aticaras of this Vrata cover most aspects of sexual deviation including that with the lower animals and even with inanimate objects like the figures of women. From the earliest days of Jainism, the horror of incest has been constantly felt, as described by Haribhadra while mentioning the disastrous consequences of the violation of this.
5. Apsrigraha-vrata (the vow of non-possession) is perhaps the most important of the Vratas in the present context of society. As Mahavrata it is required of a Muni to give up every thing that leads to attachment, except perhaps, in some cases, a piece of cloth, a kamandalu and bunch of features. He must avoid both external (bahya) and internal (antara) possessions ( parigraha ). As an Anuvrata, emphasises non-attachment. One who accumulates property more than required for him, transgresses this Vrata. Parigraha (possession) is something explained as a sort of the fascination for material possession. It is the expression of acquisitive instinct which needs to be curbed or else it feeds in what it gets. A son’s greed for material possessions will lead to ignore his father; and countless evil consequences will follow. If only we know the importance of this Vrata, in the Socratic sense of the word ‘know’, we would solve most of the problems of social evil. The Gunavratas and the Siksavratas have been mentioned with variations. The Gunavratas are : i ) digvrata, ii) bhogopabhpgoparimana and iii) anarthadandavrata. Digvrata restricts the movements in different directions. The purpose is to reduce the possibility of committing violence, and this is to be achieved by circumscribing the area in which injury t the living can be committed. For example, one is forbidden to climb a mountain or a top of a tree, descend into a well or underground storage of a village, to travel beyond a stipulated limit prescribed by the Acarayas and to move at random. There would be infractions of the vow. In the Ratnakarandaka, Digvrata is defined as the Resolve to desist from injury by circumscribing one’s range of movement. As to the limits of time, it is to be practised until death. The Bhogopabhoga-parimana-vrata forbids or limits one in the use of ‘consumable’ goods like food and durable goods like furniture in the house. The Anarthdana-vrata restricts an individual from certain activities, from harmful professions and trades because they would lead to harmful activities which serve no purpose. Four types of Anarthdana-vrata are mentioned in the Svetambara texts, while Digambaras have five. We have tried to avoid the discrepancies in the presentation of the Svetambara and Digambara writers on the different problems as they are largely concerned with minor details. The five types of Anarthadanda are : i) apadhyana (evil concentration like artadhyana and raudra-dhyana; ii) pramadacaritra (negligent mischief or addition to vices like alcoholism and gambling ). It also includes witnessing dancing, sex displays, cock-fighting and other combats of animals. It may includes many others bringing about incitement of excessive instinctive activity; iii) himsapradana (encouraging injury to life in any form). It forbids us form supplying poison, weapons, fire, rope, swords and other articles for destruction of life. iv) papopadesa (sinful advice) like instruction in evil trade. It is also mentioned that sometimes such advice, like giving instructions to the farmer to plough when the rains are no, cannot be avoided when a question of being helpful is involved, but it should never be given out of mere garrulity. V) duh-sruti (bad reading); it consists in reading kama-sastra, sex and spicy literature including yellow journalism and listening to the faults of others. It is the study of work that disturb and spoil the minds with harmful thoughts, worldly attachments, perverse attitude and excitement of passions.
Coming to the Siksavratas, the Sravaka has to practise four
of them : i) samayika, ii) desavakasika iii) prosadhopavasa, and iv)
atithi-samvibhaga. Samayika is one of the important practices for the layman;
and it is one of the six avasyakas (necessities) for the layman and also for
the ascetic for whom it has to be practised lifelong. It consists in the
attainment of equanimity and tranquility of mind. It is a process of becoming
one (ekatvagamma), of fusion of body and mind and speech with the Atman.
Samayika may be presence of Guru or in a specially built hall, according to the
needs of the time and individual. Sometimes a distinction is made between the
ordinary laymen, affluent men, and men of official status. Special procedure
for Samayika is laid down with the intention of increasing the prestige of the
Jaina community by emphasising the fact that he has adhered to the sacred
doctrine. In performing the Samayika one should observe the five Samitis and
three Guptis and avoid all harmful speech. He should recite pratyakyana
avoiding harmful actions and pratikramana expressing remorse for past deeds and
pray (alocana) that whatever acts in speech, mind and body made by him in the
past may be atoned for. It is to seek forgiveness for what has been done so
During the period of Samanyika the layman becomes like an ascetic. Samantabhadra shows that a layman performing samayika is like an ascetic draped in clothes, although this likeness is only apparent like the description of a women as candramukhi. Samayika has to be performed at regular intervals of the day. The object of this practice is to gain mental equanimity surcharged with righteousness. Desavakasikavrata is a modified version of Digvrata. It restricts vakasikavrata is a modified version of Digvrata. It restricts the movement of an individual to a house or village or a part therefor for a period varying from a muhurta ( about 45 minutes) to a few days or even a couple of months. The basic idea in such restriction of movement seems to be that it would create mental preparedness for the practice of Vratas more rigorously almost leading to the Mahavrata temporarily in the state of an ascetic. Prosadhopavasa-vrata enjoins one to fast at regular intervals in the month, say on the eighth (astami) and fourteenth day (caturdasi). One should avoid adornment of the body including use of garlands, perfumes etc. One should abstain from engaging oneself in worldly duties. This is an important step in the direction of mental purification.
Danavrata covers the most important single element in the practice of religion, for without alms-giving by the laity, there could be no ascetics; and Dharma could not easily be preserved and continued. It is also termed as atithi-samvibhaga-vrata or paying due respects to the guest. Specific injuctions have been given regarding the qualifications of an atithi and the mode of giving alms. Varied interpretations have been possible, the Sadhu or monk being accepted as the best atithi as he is charged with imparting religious instruction. In giving alms one should consider the following five factors : i) patra (the recepient) ii) datr (giver), iii) datavya ( the object given ), iv) dana-vidhi ( the manner of giving), and v) dana-phala (the result of giving alms). We should consider the place and time while giving alms. Due respect should be given to the recipient and the giver should be free from any taints of passions. He should give with full faith in the act of giving. Act of charity has no ethical value, if it is to be done with questionable motives. If it is to be done out of anger or filled with maudlin sentiments of pity, it would not be considered to be of usual significance. Nor is it possible to justify the act of charity if it were not to produce any tangible welcome result. Thus the ends and means must justify each other. The Jainas present a synthetic picture of the problem of motive and intention in the act of righteousness. The spirit of Anekanta forbids us to take a partial view emphassising either the motive of action or merely the consequences. However. In early days, dana to ascetics formed an important duty of laymen. Food and shelter and books are to be supplied to the monks, so that they can devote themselves to study and meditation. Concentration _dhyana) is not possible without the minimum necessary physical comfort. In addition to dana to the ascetics it is good to do charity to the distressed, strangers from other lands, to the lowliest and the lost. This is Karuna-dana. Above all dana nullfies greed and acquisitiveness is a manifestation of himsa. And dana gives its unfailing fruits. Paradoxically enough the layman charges himself with restrictions exceeding in numder than those accepted by the monk. This is due to the large diversity of the evil life in which the layman still stands.
So far, we have briefly mentioned the twelve conditions of a layman if he is to be a pious sravaka and a good citizen. To these twelve may be added Samlekhana as Vrata which is sometimes included as one of the siksavrtas. It is not restricted to the ascetics only. The lay followers of religion may take Samlekhana in the higher stages of their spiritual development. In fact it is regarded as the normal conclusion of one’s life except where death makes it impossible to take this vow. With a view to giving a philosophical justification of Samlekana we add in the end a note on Samlekhana.
A layman who is desirous of attaining the higher stage in the upward path to Moksa will have to go through the eleven stages of moral and spiritual practice resulting from the careful observations of the twelve vows mentioned so far. They are the Pratimas, stages of spiritual progress; and Schubring says “Horizontally expanded as it were, these obligations are projected in the vertical by the ladder of the 11 uvasaga-padima”. The eleven Pratimas are the injections or the ways of conduct progressively leading towards the development of ideal personality. They present a ladder ( sopana- marga) for the layman.
The eleven Pratimas are :- 1) samyagdrsti (right attitude), 2) vrata ( practice of vows), 3) samayika ( equanimity which helps in the practice of vows), 4) prosadha (fasting on certain days of the month), 5) sacitta-tyaga ( giving up certain types of food like roots etc.), 6) ratribhojana-tyaga (giving up eating at night), 7) brahmacarya (celibacy), 8) arambha-tyaga (giving up certain types of occupations like agriculture involving injury to living being.), 9) parigraha-tyagas ( giving up all possessions except clothes), 10) anumati-tyaga. ( non-participation in the househlod responsibilities), and 11) uddista-tyaga. In tjis stage the Sravaka accepts only the minimum of cloth like the loin cloth (kaupina). There are minor variations in the list of practices presented by the Svetambara and Digambara sects, and they are not relevant for our discussion. Suffice it to say that in the progressive realization of these Pratimas a pious layman is led step by step towards the attainment of samnyasa, i.e. a life of renunciation. There is, in this, a psychological presentation of the principal of varnasrama prevailing in the Hindu way of life, because a householder steadily and surely proceeds towards renunciation. This transformation is much truer to human nature as there is no sudden transformation which needs acute psychological orientation. When one moves from Grhasthassrama to Vanaprasthasrama and then to samnyasa, one cannot just walk into samnyasa unless one is a prophet, but one has to prepare oneself for the gradual transformation. Sudden change from one life into the other may create psychological problems as the reparations would accumulate into the dung-heap of the Unconscious. The conception of Pratimas is, therefore, psychologically sound. This can be easily shown from the fact that the first two Pratimas are mental preparations for the practice of rigorous moral life. Moral control, like continence is always linked with fasting and the control of nourishment. Rich food and clothing have to be avoided as they lead to an easy universe of desires. In the ninth and tenth stages one has to break away from the household attachments still living with family and friend. He is detached and spends most of the time I contemplation in the temple. He does not take part in the affairs even if his advice is sought. In the eleventh stages he is on the verge of being an ascetic. He has to wear a minimum dress like the lion cloth (kaupina). In the eleventh Pratima two divisions have sometimes been mentioned : i) ksullaka and ii) ailaka. In the former there is only provisional ordination which does not bind the ordinate to the monastic life if he has not the vocation. The second is the quasi-ascetic, the ascetic on probation. Still, in this Pratima certain features of monk's life are forbidden for the layman. He is not allowed to study the mysteries of the scared texts. He may not go round for alms as a monk does, nor practise trikalayoga, the form of asceticism which emphsises meditation on a hilltop in the hot season, under a tree during rains and by a river bank in winter. They are to wish others as a layman would. The pratimas are, thus, a means to achieve spiritual development which will, in the end, lead the devotee to take a Samlekhana. As a result of the conquest by Moslems who disapproved of nudity and for other reasons layman in the 11th Pratima came, to a larger extent, to take the place of monks. Today social conditions have considerably changed, and we are becoming more secular-minded. It would be necessary to reorientate our values so as to emphasis the spiritual levels of householder’s life in the practice of Vrata and the eleven stages of spiritual development.
The Jaina has a conception of an ideal layman and an ideal monk. A layman develops twenty-one qualities which distinguish him as a perfect gentlemen. He will be serious in demeanour, good tempered, merciful, straight-forward, wise and modest. He is sociable, yet careful, in speech, reverent both to old age and old customs. A true ascetic should possess twenty-eight qualities, for he must keep the five vows, control his five senses renounce greed, practise forgiveness and possess high ideals. He must be self-denying and endure hardships, always aiming at the highest ideal of perfection .
In the present survey of the ethics of Jainas we can see the spirit of Anekanta pervading the two levels of mortal life- the ascetics and the householder. They are not opposed to each other, nor do they present any degree of comparison. The distinction between the sravaka-dharma and muni-dharma is only to show that there is a continuity in the spiritual efforts of man. Hunger and thirst for righteousness flowers into perfection only gradually if watered with slow and steady flow of moral and spiritual practice. The lay estate was initially admitted in deference to human frailty and was regarded in theory as a stage of preparation for the ascetic life. Later it gained importance as the foundation for spiritual ends. Layman’s ethic was always considered with reference to the prevailing social and religious conditions. Local usage or customary law- the desacara, though accorded no mandatory force, has always been admitted as a guide, wherever there is no conflict with the Jaina doctrine and more particularly in the modern period it has been increasingly incorporated in the Sravakacara.
The pervasion of the spirit of Anekanta can be demonstrated by the theory and practice of Ahimsa as the cardinal ethical principle of Jainas. It is considered as the fundamental principle of this religion, ashima paramo dharmah. We may, therefore, aptly add a critique of Ahimsa.
The five Vratas have been important for the Jaina way of life. They have undergone modifications as to their application in the practice by householders as and when necessary according to the need of the social structure. And ‘changelessness of Jainism is no more than a myth’. Had Jainism become a majority religion in southern India ‘something akin to Digambara Mahayana might have emerged’. Whilst the dogma remains strikingly firm the ritual changes and assumes an astonishing complexity and riches of symbolism. For instance, Danavrata has widened its field from feeding the ascetics to religious endowments, and Yatra ceases to be a mere promenading of the idols through city on a festival day and comes to denote an organized convoy going on a pilgrimage to distant sacred places. And all the time more and more stress is being laid on the individual’s duty to the community.
Jainism is a tirtha a way of progress through life, and whilst the yatyacara teaches the individual how to organise his own salvation, the aim of sravakacara is ensure that an environment is created in which the ascetic may be able to travel the road of Moksa. The emphasis has also to be on the community as well as the individual. This is clear from modifications of the practices and assimilation of the prevailing ritual and practices in Hindu society , as for instance, in the adoption of the right of Upanayana and marriage rites.
The importance of sravakacara has been enhanced by the fact that it has wide-spread application to the community, and moral ideas of the lay followers have been suited to the needs of the society for good and perfect social order. They are still useful in the perfect social order. They are still useful in the daily life of man, whether he be a Jaina or non-Jaina. A perfect social order would be possible if we follow the Vratas carefully. The Anuvrata movement started by Muni Tulsiji is a welcome crusade against the evils in society, and the most useful effort towards establishing a coherent, healthy and moral social order. The supreme importance of the laythics as given by the Jainas has been clear by the aticaras (infraction) elaborately mentioned by the Acaryas.
The ethical ideal of a Jaina is not mere pleasure of the senses nor gratification of the body. Pleasures of the senses are insatiable. More we get them the more we want and the more pained we are. There is glue as it were in pleasure : those who are not given to pleasure are not soiled by it ; those who love pleasure must wander about in Samsara, those who do not will be liberated. Like the two clods of clay, one wet and the other dry, flung at the wall, those who love pleasure get clung to the influx of Karma, but the passionless are free. Not the pleasures of the moment nor even the greatest happiness of the greatest number are attractions to the truly pious, for, their ultimate end is to attain perfection and to lead other men to the path of righteousness. Yet the Jaina does not say that pleasure of the senses are to be completely avoided, specially for the lay disciple. And mortification of the body is equally one-sided. Rigorous asceticism for a monk is a means to an end and not an end in itself. For a lay follower, he may continue his occupation, earn money, live a family life and enjoy normal acceptable pleasures of life in good spirit according to the needs and status of an individual in society.
Jainism aims at self- realization, and the self to be realised is the transcendental and pure self. The empirical self is to be channelised in the direction of the attainment of the highest ideal of Moksa.
SAMLEKHANA :In the present political life of our country, fasting unto death for specific ends has been very common. The Manu Smrti mentions some traditional methods of fasting unto death in order to get back the loan that was once given. The Rajatarangini refers to the Brahmins restoring to fast in order to obtain justice or protest against the abuses. Religious suicide is occasionally commended by the Hindus. With a vow to some deity they starve themselves to death, enter fire and throw themselves down a precipice .
The Jainas were opposed to such forms of death. They called such death as unwise (bala-marana). It has no moral justification. The Uttaradhyayana Sutra condemns such practices and states that those who use weapons, throw themselves into the fire and water, and use things not prescribed by the rules of conduct, are liable to be caught in the wheel of samsara. Such persons are caught in the maha-dharma. Fasting unto death for specific purposes has an element of coercion which is against the spirit of non-violence.
However, the Jainas have commended fasting as an important means to self-realization. Among the austerities, fasting is the most conspicuous; the jainas have developed it into a kind of art. They have reached a remarkable proficiency in it. The Jaina monks and the laymen have to fast at regular intervals for their spiritual progress. More important is fasting unto death. It is called Ssamlikhana. The Jainas have worked out a scientific analysis of Samlekhana.
Fasting unto death for
specific purpose has raised moral problems. The question whether it would be a
suicide and as such unjustifiable has been persistently asked with no relevant
answer. The Jaina theory of Samlekhana has raised similar problems. It is a much misunderstood doctrine, both
in its theory and practice.
Radhakrishnan makes mention of it as a form of suicide. The Rev. Dr. A.C. Bouquet, Trinity College,
Cambride, states that the attitude of the Stoic towards his own death seems to
be curious. He claims that one is
instilled to do whatever one likes with ones own life. Perhaps the Jaina, ‘ if interrogated, might
say the same thing.’ He gives an
instance of Zeno who is said to have suffocated himself to death in his old age
because he had damaged one of his hands.
It can only be said that a better understanding of his hands. It can only be said that a better
understanding of he Jaina theory of Samlekhana would dispel the misgivings
about it as a form of suicide and as an act of disregard of life. It is, therfore, necessary to analyses the
theory and practice of
Samlekhana as the Jainas presented.
According to Jainas, the individual souls are pure and perfect in their real nature. They are substances distinct from matter. Through the incessant activity, the souls get infected with matter. The Karma, which is of eight ty[es and which is material in nature accumulates and vitiates the soul from its purity. The souls get entangled in the wheel of Samsara. This is beginningless, though it has an end. The end to be achieved is the freedom from the bonds of this empirical life. it is to be achieved through the three ‘jewels’—right intuition, right knowledge and right action. The way to Moksa which is the final end, is long arduous. The moral codes of religious practices, which are regourous, gradually lead to self-realization. In the final phase of self-realisation, as also in emergencies, the Jaina devotee, a monk or a householder (sravaka) is enjoined to abstain from food and drink gradually and fast unto death. Death is not the final end and destruction of self. It is only casting off the body, freedom from the bonds of life. we are asked to accept a quiet death, as far as possible, within the limits of our capacity. This is samlekhana.
Samlekhana is a step towards self-realization. It is meant to free oneself from the bonds of the body, which is no longer useful. It is described as the process of self-control by which senses, pleasures and passions are purged off and destroyed. It is called samadhi-marana or samnyasa-marana. For a Jaina, the final emancipation by Samlekhana is the ideal end to be devoutly ot be wished for. If a pious man, self-controlled throughout his life were to die a common death, all his efforts as a spiritual progress would be wasted. He will no be free from the wheel of Samsara, because Samlekhana is the highest from of tapas.
But Samlekhana is not to be taken lightly. It is not to be universally practised without distinguishing individual capacity and motivation. Certain specific conditions are laid down, which are to be strictly followed if one is to practise such fast unto death. Samlekhana is to be adopted in two cases: a) in cases of emergencies and b) as the end of a regular religious career. The two forms of Samlekhana are equally applicable o the monks and laymen.
(a) As an emergency measure, we are to fast unto death only when we are faced with terrible famine, when overpowered by foreign domination, at the time of spiritual calamities when it would be impossible for us to live a pious life and to do the duties as a good citizen. The same should be practised when we are in the grip of an incurable disease and when we are too old as not to be able to live normal righteous life. in these cases we have to depend on others. We become a burden to society without any possibility of reciprocating the good either for one-self of for others. Under such circumstances only should we decide to end this life by fasting unto death. If a monk falls ill and it is not possible for him to continue the practice of his vows and to lead they ascetic life, he should decide to take Samlekhana. In all these cases, however, one has perforce to take the permission of the teacher who will give permission to practise Samlekhana only after examining the capacity of the individual. One who has not the strength of will is forbidden to take Samlekhana.
(b) Samlekhana forms a regular religious career both for ascetics and householders. A householder (sravaka) has to go through a regular religious career through the gradual practice of eleven pratimas (stages of conduct). In the last stage, he becomes practically a monk. At the end of the period, he abstains from food and drink and devotes himself to self-morti-fictions. He continues his fast, patiently waiting for death. In the case of the monk, the practice of Samlekhana may last twelve years. For the householder who has practically become a monk it would take twelve months. Firm faith in Jainism, observance of Vratas (vows) and Samlekhana according to rules at the time of death, constitute the duties of the householder. A Jaina monk must prepare himself by a course of graduated fasting lasting as long as twelve years. If however, he is sick and is unable to maintain the course of rigid self-discipline to which he is vowed he may fast unto death without any preliminary preparation . The Jaina tradition looks at Samlekhana as the highest end to be achieved in the course of spiritual struggle, and finds there no cause for tears. But it has to be noted that, even at this stage, such a course of death has to be adopted only with the permission of the teacher. The Acarange Sutra exhorts the monks to practise this great penance as the final end of the religious course to reach the triumphant end of spiritual struggle. In the Manu Smrti we get a similar instruction to the ascetics. They are asked to walk straight, fully determined in the north- rasterly direction, subsisting on water and air, until the body sinks to rest. This is the great journey (mahaprasthana) which ends in death. When the ascetic is incurably diseased or meets with a great misfortune he should accept voluntary death. It is taught in the Sastras; it is not opposed to the Vedic rules which forbid suicide. Buhler remarks that voluntary death by starvation was considered at that time to be a befitting conclusion of a hermit life. The antiquity and the general prevalence of the practice may be inferred from the fact that the Jaina ascetics too consider it particularly meritorious. Among the Maharastra mystics we mention the name of Jnanesvara who gave up his life voluntarily, though it cannot be compared to the Jaina vow of Samlekhana. It is necessary to note that, according to the Jainas, Samlekhana is to be practised only when ordinarily death is felt imminent.
At the proper time, having taken the permission of Guru, one must prepare oneself for the practise of this type of end. It needs physical and mental preparation. Gradual development of self-control is to be effected; the passions have to be conquered, emotions subdued and the urges to be controlled and channelised ti the fulfillment of the desired end. One as the highest end to be achieved in the course of spiritual struggle, and finds there no cause for tears. But it has to be noted that, even at this stage, such a course of death has to be adopted only with the permission of the teacher . The Acaranga Sutra exhorts the monks to practise this great penance as the final end of the religious course to reach the triumphant end of spiritual struggle. In the Manu Smrti we get a similar instruction to the ascetis. They are asked to walk straight, fully determined in the north-easterly direction, subsisting on water and air, until the body sinks to rest. This is the great journey (mahaprasthana) which ends in death. When the ascetic is incurably diseased or meets with a great misfortune ho should accept voluntary death. It is Taught in the Sastras; it is not opposed to the Vedic rules which forbid siucide. Buthler remarks that voluntary death by starvation was considered at that time to be a befitting conclusion of a hermit life. The antiquity and the general prevalence of the practice may be inferred from the fact that the Jaina ascetics too consider it particularly meritorious. Among the Maharastra mystics we mentioned the name of Jnanesvara who gave up his life voluntarily, though it cannot be compared to the Jaina vow of Samlekhana. It is necessary to note that, accordingly to the jainas, Samlekhana is to be practised only when ordinarily death is felt imminent.
At the proper time, having taken the permission of Guru, one must prepare oneself for the practice of this type of end. It needs physical and mental preparation. Gradual development of self-control is to be effected; the passions have to be conquered, emotions subdued and the urges to be controlled and channelised to the fulfillment of the desired end. One should contemplate on the importance of virtues. Having called relative and friends, one should seek their forgiveness foe any transgressions in conduct – ‘should forgiveness give and take.’ With malice towards none and charity for all one should start the practice of Samlekhana. In the Ratnakarandaka Sravakacara, we get the description of mental preparation for the fast, we should conquer all emotional excitement, like fear, anger and grief. We should overcome love, attachment and hatred, with a peace of mind which is not possible by craving for anything empirical, we should reach the mental dignity and calm which is rarely possible in the turmoil of this world.
The gradual process of self-mortification is psychologically significant. It is not to be a slow death, nor is it meant to intensify the rigour of mortification. The primary motive is to make the person physically and mentally prepared to accept the inevitable end to lighten the burden of pain. It is very important to note that we are told not to desire for death nor for life during the practice of Samlekhana. We are not to be ruffled or agitated with hopes for life of fear of death. We have to be free from the memories of the friendly attachment and the anxiety for the heavenly bliss. Quickly reducing the flesh by increasing the pace of fasting may give rise to emotional excitement and morbid thoughts, which are harmful to the undisturbed spiritual end.
Fasting has, therefore, to be gradual without in any way disturbing the physical and the moral poise. We should first give up solid food and take liquid food like milk and butter milk. Then we should start taking only warm water. In the last stages, even the water has to be given up. We should wait for the end, reciting hymns ( pancanamaskara-mantra). All this has to be done gradually and keeping in mind the capacity of the individual.
The analysis of the process of Samlekhana shows that it has two primary stages, which are sometimes referred to as of two types. The first requisite is the mental discipline and then comes the mortification of the body by fasting. Accordingly, a distinction has been made in the practice of Samlekhana as a) the mental discipline (kasaya – samlekhana) which consists in the control of the passions and the attainment of the perfect equanimity if mind; b) practice of fasting gradually which leads to the gradual mortification of the body (kaya-samlekhana). The two are complementaries o each other, although the mental discipline is a necessary condition of the fast unto death.
A fundamental question whether Samlekhana is not to be described as a form of suicide and as such unjustifiable, has been raised by some. We referred to this doubt earlier. But, from the analysis of the theory and practice of Samlekhana cannot be described as suicide. It does not contain the elements to make it suicide. It cannot be called suicide because :
a) Destruction of life may be described as of three types :
i) self-destruction (atmavadha), ii) destruction of others paravadha) ; and iii) destruction of both (urbhaya-vadha).
But Samlekhana is neither f these . It is not motivated by any desire for killing. It is not filled with attachment or aversion. No passions envelop the person. It is free from any form of craving. Such is not the case in suicide or homicide. Pujyapada mentions that Samlekhana cannot be called suicide because there is no raga (excitement of passions) in it. He compares the layman taking Samlekhana to a householder who has stored goods in a ware-house. If there is danger he will try to save the whole building, but if that becomes impossible he does his best to preserve at least the goods. The ware-house is the body and the goods are the Vratas.
(b) One who practises Samlekhana must not be agitated by the desire for life nor for death. He should not, for a moment, feel that he would live for some more time; nor should he feel overpowered by the agony of the fast; he should get speedy death to free himself from the pain. Desire for life, fear of death, memories of the days that we spent, attachment to the relatives and friends and craving for the glories of the future happiness as a consequence of the practice of Samlekhana are transgressions of the vow of Samlekhana. They are to be avoided at any cost.
(c) It may also be noted that, according to the Jainas, the body is not to be considered as merely a prison-house to be discarded at the earliest possible moment. It is a means, a vehicle of attaining the highest end of perfection. We are reminded that it is rare to get a human life; it is rarer still that we get an opportunity of the possibility of spiritual progress. We should not wantonly cast away the human body that we have got, without making use of it for the struggle to reach the stages of self-realisation. This is possible by the control of mid and body for spiritual culture.
(d) Above all, the Jainas are the greatest champions of non-violence. Ahimsa is the creed of the Jaina religion. It is the first Mahavrata (the great vow). It would be inconsistent to believe that those who considered life as sacred and those who condemned himsa ( injury of any type) should have no regard for life and preach self-destruction.
(e) It is for this reason that the Jaina considered wanton self-destruction by other methods like taking poison and falling down a precipice as a suicide bala-marana and as such unjustifiable.
The word suicide as employed includes all cases of self-destruction, irrespective of the mental conditions of the person committing the act. In its technical and legal sense, it means self-destruction by a sane person or voluntary and intentional destruction of his own life by a person of sound mind, the further qualification being added by some definition that he must have attained years of discretion. In this sense Samlekhana would not be suicide, as it is not self destruction at all. There is gradual mortification of the flesh without causing any appreciable physical and mental disturbance. The self is to be freed from the bonds of the body. From the ultimate point of view (niscaya-naya), the self is pure and indestructible. The practice of Samlekhana is compared to cutting or operating a boil on the body , which cannot be called destruction of the body . In this sense Samlekhana is described as the final freedom of the soul from the bonds of life.
Whatever else may be the legal implications of suicide, we have to remember that Samlekhana is to be looked at from the spiritual point of view.
We are in a world where spiritual values have declined. The flesh is too much with us. We cannot look beyond and pine for what is not . Samlekhana if to be looked at as physical mortification, self-culture and spiritual salvation.
II. A Critique of Ahimsa : Ahimsa. Non-violence, has been an important principle in the history of human civilization. As a moral injunction it was universally applicable in the religious sphere. It has been accepted as a moral principle in Indian thought and religion . Ghandhiji has extended the principle of nonviolence to the social and political fields. For him non-violence was a creed. He developed a method and a technique of nonviolence for attaining social and political justice . Zimmer says that Ahimsa, non-violence or non-killing is the first principle in the Dharma of saints or sages by which they lift themselves out of the range of the normal human action.
In the history of Indian thought Ahimsa arose out of the needs of resisting the excesses of violence performed in the name of religion and for the sake of salvation at the time of sacrifices. Animal sacrifice was prevalent in the Vedic and o some extent in Upanisadic periods . However, a gradual awareness of undesirability of animal sacrifice was being felt at the time of Upanisada. In the Upanisada we get passages where the virtues of non violence have been upheld. In the Chandogya Upanisad life is described as a great festival in which qualities like tapas, self- renunciation and Ahimsa (non-violence) are expressed.
In the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad we are asked to meditate on horse sacrifice. Self-discipline, generosity, straight-forwardness and ashimsa are the qualities that one should develop. Radhakrishnan writes that the authors of the Upanishads had a sufficient sense of the historic to know that their protest would become ineffective if it should demand a revolution in things. In the bhagavadgita we get a description of the qualities that we should posses in order to be perfect. Absolute non-injury is prescribed by the Yoga system. Himsa is the root of all evil. It should be avoided by all means. Non- injury is the root of all negative and positive virtues. The Samkhya, the Yoga, Buddhism and Jainism agree on this point.
The protests against animal sacrifice were more pronounced and vehement from the Buddhists and the Jainas. The buddha was against animal sacrifice and the rituals. He described the priests as ‘tricksters’ and using holy words for pay. In the Maharaja we get description of the instruction the Buddha gave to the disciples regarding the acceptance of food. He asked his disciples not to injure any animal on a purpose or for sport. In Asoka’s edicts we get regulations for the protection of animals and birds; forests were not to be burnt, not even chaff containing living things. However, the protests from the Jainas were more vehement and explicit. In fact non-violence is the cardinal principle of Jainism: Ahimsa paramo dharmah. It has now been clear that non-violence has been preached by the Jainas much earlier than Mahavira. Uttaradhyayana Sutra gives the description of the meeting of kesi, a disciple of Parsva, and Gautama, a disciple of Vardhamana, for a discussion regarding the agreement in the doctrines of the two Prophets. Parsva was the twenty-third Tirthankara who lived about two hundred and fifty years before Vardhamana. He preached four moral injections or Vratas. Ahimsa was one of them. Vardhamana carried the traditions of Parsva and added one more Vrata. It appears that ahimsa as a moral injection must have been a pre-Aryan principle which was later assimilated in the Aryan was of life. the Jainas made non-violence the most fundamental principle of their religious life. They made a systematic analysis of the principle, almost to the point of making it a science. All other moral injunctions were subordinated to ahimsa.
The Jaina theory of ahimsa has influenced the way of Indian thought for centuries. Gandhi’s satyagraha has been built up on the analysis of non-violence by the Jainas. Gandhiji was influenced by the Jaina saints. Zimmer writes that Gandhi’s program of Satyagraha as an expression of Ahimsa is a serious, very brave and potentially vastly powerful modern experiment in the ancient Hindu science. Polka said that the first five of Gandhi’s vows were the code of Jaina monks during two thousand years. Gandhiji has himself started athe he derived much benefit from the Jaina religious works as from the scriptures of ther great faiths of the world.
But the Jaina theory and practive of ahimsa has often been misunderstood. Even eminent scholars have not been able to look at the practice of ahimsa in the right context. Some of the excesses of the practice of ahimsa have been mentioned with a view to showing that the principle is not self-consistent. Monier Williams, in his article on Jainism, mentioned that the Jainas outdo every other Indian sect in carrying he prohibition to the most preposterous extremes. The institution of Panjrapol, the hospital for diseased animals in Bombay, has been cited as an example. The Jainas and Vaisnavas help this institution liberally. Mrs. Stevenson said that the principle of ahimsa is scientifically impossible for a life motto, since it is contrary to the code of nature. Zimmer also mentions some of the curious excesses of the practice of non-violence by the Jainas in Bombay.
It is, therefore, necessary to see the Jaina view of ahimsa in its full perceptive and to see if it is really ‘scientifically impossible’ to take Ahimsa as a creed of one’s life, as Gandhiji did.
The Jaina theory of Ahimsa is based on the animistic conception of the universe. Jainism is dualistic. All things are divided into the living and the non- living. The Jainas believe in the plurality of the Jivas, living individuals. The Jivas in the phenomenal world, samsari jivas, are classified on the basis of various principle like the status and number of sense organs. There are the sthavara jivas, the immovable souls. This is a vegetable kingdom. There are one- sensed organisms, like earth- bodied, water – bodied and the plants. They possess the sense of touch. The animals with movements are called trasa jivas. They have more than one sense and up to five senses according to the degree of development.
The Jivas are possessed of pranas, the life forces. In the Jaina scriptures ten kinds of life forces are mentioned, like the five senses, mind, speech and body, respiration and the age force. The jivas possess different forces according to the degree of their perfection.
On the basic of this analysis of the living organisms and the life forces possessed by them, Ahimsa is non injury or non- violence to any living individual or a life force of the individual by the three Yogas, activities, and three karanas. We are not to injure any living organism, however small it may be, or a life force of the organism directly with our own hands, by causing someone to do so our behalf, or even giving consent to the act of injury casued by others. These are the three Yogas. For instance, we should not kill an animal. We should not mutilate a sense organ of the animal. We should not ourselves do this, we should not cause others to do this nor should we consent to injury caused by others. Practice of Himsa is further qualified by three Guptis they refer to three karanas. We are asked not to injury any Jiva or prana physically or in speech or in mind. We should not speak about injury nor should we harbour any thought of injuring an animal.
The consequences of violating the principal of non- violence are misery in this world and in the next. He who commits violence is always agitated and afflicted. He is actuated by animosity. He suffers physical and mental torture in this world. After death he is reborn taking a despicable life.
This gives a rigorous principal of Ahimsa to be practised by all. We are enjoined to abstain from Himsa very strictly, directly or indirectly, in body, mind and speech. In this sense the principal of Ahimsa would appear to be abstract and the practice impossible. Every moment we have to tread on lie, however minute it may be. In the struggle for existence, complete abstinence from injury would make life itself impossible, Movement of any sort in this world would be impossible.
The Jainas were of this difficulty. They were aware that it would be difficult to accept unqualified practice of non- violence in the sense presented so far. In fact, the Jaina scriptures did not preach the practice of such unqualified and abstract principal of Ahimsa. The principal of Ahimsa had to be fitted with the possible practice in this world. The right understanding of Ahimsa would be possible if we analyse the concept of Himsa or violence.
In the Tattvartha Sutra we read that himsa is injury or violence caused to the living organism due to carelessness and neligence, and actuated by passing like pride and prejudice, attachment and hatred. In Yasastilaka Somadeva defines himsa as injury to living beings through error of judgement. He says “ yat syat pramadayogena pranisu pranhapanam” This definition of himsa has two elements; I) injury to life and ii) the motivation of causing injury. To injury another life is to cause pain to it, but mere injury may not be characterised as himsa. It has to be considered with reference to motive. It would be called himsa if it is impelled by passions and feelings like attachment, heat and prejudice, if it is due to negligence or carelessness. Such injury is contaminated with feelings. Similarly violence caused or induced with a specific and conscious purpose would be himsa. For instance, negligence brings sin; and the soul is defiled even though there may not be any actual injury to life. On the contrary a careful and a pious man who is not disturbed by passions and who is kind towards animals will not suffer the sin of violence even if by accident, injury is caused to life. We may call this motivation for violence “the mental set” for himsa. This analysis of himsa gives the emphasis on the motive theory of conduct in morality although consequences are not altogether ignored. The utilitarians emphasised that rightness of an action depends on the consequence of the action and not to be determined by the motive. The Jainas have, in a sense, combined the two views, from their Anekanta attitude one of the conditions of himsa is physical injury to life. But more important than the physical injury is the inner motive. Speaking harsh words is himsa; harbouring evil thoughts is also himsa. However, the inner motive for injury to life does bring its own consequence in the from of accumulation of karma and the defilement of the soul.
We are, thus, saved from the avoidable fear of defiling our souls due to violence for which we may not be really responsible nor even aware of.
The fear and the suffering due to fear of causing injury to Jiving beings, are further reduced by the specific injunctions of the scriptures. According to the Jaina sastras the practice of the vow of Ahimsa is to be graded in two levels. On the higher level are the ascetice, men who have renounced the world. On the lower level are the persons who still pursue the things of this word.
The Acaranga Sutra gives a detailed description of the rules to be followed by the homeless ascetics in the practice of the vow of non- violence. The ascetics have to practise five great vows, Mahavratas, in all their severity. Ahimsa is the first among the five great vows. The ascetic must try to avoid injuring any form of life including one- sensed organisms to the best of his ability and as far as it is humanly possible. For instance, he must walk carefully along the trodden path so as to detect the presence of insects; he must use gentle form of expression; and he should be careful as to the food given to himby others. The injunctions for the practice of non- violence by the Munis are very strict and severe. But, in the case of the householder, a more liberal view is taken in giving instructions for the practice of non- violence and other Vratas. Non- violence is one of the anu- vratas. The householder is to see that he does not injury any living being as far as possible and intentionally. In the Ratnakarandaka srvakacara, the house- holder is enjoined not to cause injury himself or be an agent for such injury knowingly, samkalpat. He should be free from sthula- himsa. In his case the prohibition of himsa begins with two sensed organisms, because it would be impossible for him to practise non- injury to one – sensed organisms, intentionally or unintentionally in the conduct of his daily life. He is, therefore, exempted from this restriction.
Even in this practice of non- violence, certain forms of injury are permitted as exceptional cases. For instance, it is recoginsed as a duty of Ksatriya, the warrior class, to defend the week even with arms. In the Adipurena there is a description that Rsabha, the first Trithankara, gave training to his subjects in agriculture, in trede and in the use of arms. However, the householders are strictly forbidden to cause injury even in the lowest animals wantonly and on purpose. Himsa caused to animals while doing his duty, accidentally and unintentionally and while in the pursuit of just cause is not considered to be a sin. In the Yasastilaka, Somadeva forbids the Ksatriya to indulge in indiscrete killing even in battle.
We are ere reminded of Gandhiji’s words when he said that violence is preferred to cowardice. He exhorted the Indian women to resist the attacks of the gundas even with violeance, if necessary. He said’ I do believe that where there is a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence. Hence it was that I took part in the Boer war, so-called Zulu Rebellion and the late war. But Gandhiji said that non- violence is infinitely superior to violence. Forgiveness adorns the solders. For the Jainas also, non- violence is not the policy of the weak. It needs self- control. A self- controlled man is free from fear, fear of doing injury or injustice. The bases of Ahimsa must be self- confidences and peace of mind. A coward has no moral strength to observe non- violence. One who stands courageous and undisturbed in the face of violence is a true follower of ahimsa. He looks at the enemy as a friend. Gandhiji said that a mouse hardly forgives a cat when it allows itself to be torn to pieces by her. He said non- violence is the law of our species, while violence is the law of the brute.
Non- violence is not mere non- injury in the negative sense. It has also a positive content. It implies the presence of cultivated and noble sentiments, like kindness and compassion for all living creatures. It also implies self- sacrifice. The Buddha renounced the pleasures of the world out of compassion for all living creatures. Jesus was filled with compassion when he said “ whoever shall smite thee in the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” He demanded self- sacrifice. In the Yasastilaka, somadeva enumerates qualities that should be cultivated to realise the ideal of ahimsa. The qualities are 1) maitri, a disposition not to cause any suffering to any living being in mind, body and speech, 2) pramoda, affection coupled with respect for men eminent for their virtues and religious austerities, 3) karunya, will to help the poor and 4) madhyasthya , an equitable attitude. Ahimsa is, thus, a positive virtue and it resolves itself into jiva- daya, compassion for living creatures.
It may be noted that the practice of ahimsa is primarily meant to save our souls. Himsa and Ahimsa relate only to one’s soul and not to those of others. Ahimsa is kindness to others, but it is kindness to the extent that we save others from the sin of violence. If we give pain to anyone we lower ourselves. Self- culture is the main problem in the practice of Ahimsa, In the Sutrakrtanga it is said that a person cause violence out of greed or if he supports such violence of others, he increases the enemies of his own soul.
In the Acaranga Sutra we are asked to consider ourselves to be in the position of the persons or animals to whom we want to cause injury. Gandhiji said, “I believe in loving my enemies, I believe in non- violence as the only remedy open to Hindus and Muslims. I believe in the power of suffering to melt the stoniest heart.”
This is the content of the Jaina theory of ahimsa. It is possible to say that the doctrine of Ahimsa is not abstract nor inconsistent with the laws of nature. The practice of Ahimsa is not also impossible. It is true that there have been some excesses in the practice of ahimsa both in the injunctions of the sastras and in the practice by enthusiastic devotees. However, these excesses can be properly understood if they are looked at in the historical perspective perspective. Jainas developed polemic against animal sacrifice and violence caused to animals at the time of worship: their protests were vigorous. The excesses of practice necessity of saving the animals from the pitiless injuries caused to them. Them influence of the Jaina concept of ahimsa has been tremendous on the history of the religious practices in India. Animal sacrifices had to be given up to satisfy the demands of the Buddhists and primarily the Jainas.
That living beings live is no kindness, because they live according to their age of ayus – karma. That they die is no himsa because when the ayus- karma is complete beings die without any exterior cause. Natural death without any cause is not himsa. It is only those who kill or injure that are guilty of himsa, although it may be argued that the animal that is killed dies because its ayus- karma is complete. We should not be the cause of its death. Not to kill or injure any living beings is kindness. Ahimsa is beneficial to all beings, to the persons who practise ahimsa and those who are saved by ahimsa. In ahimsa there is a force of the soul. It destroys all anxiety, disorder and cowardice. Ahimsa can overcome and defeat the most cruel brute force. Gandhiji has shown this by the Satyagraha movement against the mighty British Empire. Zimmer said that Gandhiji Satyagraha confronted great Britain’s untruth with Indian truth. This is the battle waged on the collosal modern scale, and according to the principles from the text books not of the Royal Military College but of Brahman. The prasna Vyakarana Sutra gives sixty names ascribed to ahimsa and states that ahimsa does good to all. Gandhiji said when Motilal Nehru and others were arrested that victory is complete if non- violence reigns supreme in spite of the arrest; we are out to be killed without killing; by non- violence, non- co-operation we seek to conquer the English administrators and their supporters.
It is the sacred duty of every Indian to fight for the nation in this hour of difficulty. On this depends our honour and integrity. This is war, if it may be called so, not for the sake of war but for the sake of vindicating our right of existences as a free nation. Violence in self- defence is not to be considered as unjustified as long as we live and take interest in the activities of this life. And live we must; we must also take due share of the responsibility in social and political life in our country, although the consummation of the ideal would be renunciation. But universal renunciation is equally unjustified from the point of view of social good, unless one is a ‘heaven born prophet’ or an ascetic.
However, even in performing the duties of a citizen in defending our country we should see that we use the minimum of violence and sparingly. This is in keeping with the tradition of our country.
Still, this does not mean we have given up the significance of non- violence as a supreme principle of life and spirituality. We are now only to be aware of our imperfection and to adjust ourselves as best as we can in this imperfect life. We pursue the ends of this life, and moving on the wheel of life we have to see that our duty to others is also important in its own way. Considered rom the perspective of history and the present conditions of our society, it would appear strange that, we, in India, steeped in spirituality, should be disillusioned and now affirm the primacy of material progress; stranger still, that with our firm faith in non- violence, we should prepare ourselves for the inevitable war. But analysis of non- violence so far given shows that non- violence as preached by the Jainas would dispel our illusion about the impossibility of the practice of non- violence. We have tried to justify the ways of man to man in our preparedness for national defence, specially when we are threatened by the enemies at our frontiers.
Thus, the principle of non- violence is important in the context of the present political situation of the world. That will save the world from the feat of distress and war. Nonviolence as Gandhiji said is not meant only for saints. It is meat for the common people as well.
Romain Rolland said that the Rsis who discovered the law of non-violence I the midst of violence were greater greniouses than Newton, greater warriors than Wellington. He said, with Gandhiji, that non-violence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the brute.118 Non-violence would be a panacea for the ills of life. It would bring lasting peace on earth.