by Acharya Mahapragya
COMPREHENSIVENESS OF AHIMSA
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:
Ahimsa is the abstention from
Satya is the abstention from
Achaurya is the abstention
Brahmacharya is the
abstention from unchastity, and
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:
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).
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
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.
The fourth kind of falsehood
consists of three types of speaking viz.
Garhita, i.e., condemnable,
Savadya, i.e., sinful, and
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
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
Abhyantara Parigraha, i.e.,
internal attachment, and
Bahya Parigraha, i.e.,
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 :
the Desa-vrata, and
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 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 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.
Apadhyana, i.e., evil
Papopadesa, i.e., evil
Pramadacharya, i.e., careless
Himsadana, i.e., gifts of
instruments of offense,
Duh-sruti, hearing evil and
Dyuta, i.e., gambling.
In elaboration of these sinful
things, the following restrictions have been placed on the behavior of
One should never think of
hunting, victory, defeat, battle, adultery, theft, etc., because these
things only lead to sin.
Sinful advice should never be
given to persons living upon art, trade, writing, agriculture, arts, and
crafts, service and industry.
One should not without reason
dig ground, uproot trees, trample lawns, sprinkle water, and pluck leaves,
fruits and flowers.
One should be careful not to
give instruments of Himsa, such as knife, poison, fire, plough, sword, bow,
One should not listen to,
accept or teach such bad stories as increase attachments, etc., and are full
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.,
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.
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 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 done.
by DR. VILAS SANGAVE