22 September 2009

Ahimsa ~ as per Jain Scriptures.

We now consider the Jain texts to see how many ways the term Ahimsa or non-violence is interpreted.

What is the Jain understanding of Ahimsa or non-violence?
Ahimsa is a profound understanding of all living beings and the feeling of natural compassion towards them. Empathy is key.


Swami Kartikeya says:

"jo vavarei sadao appanasamam param pi mannanto,"

the translation of which is, he or she who behaves with compassion, knows others to be just like him or her self. We, who empathise with all living beings, behave compassionately. We are able to recognise that living beings have aspirations and feelings, and we are able to respect all living beings, including ourselves. We understand that all living beings are different, yet, deeply interconnected. Logic permits us to know that there is no other, and simultaneously, that we are all unique. There is no enemy. Our actions affect all living beings as much as the actions of all living beings affect us. Therefore, we need to ensure that our actions do not restrict the vitality and expression of all living beings and make sure that we do not kill nor injure a living being through tethering, beating, piercing the skin, overloading or withholding food and drink.


Acharya Samantabhadra describes Ahimsa:

"Ahimsa bhutanam jagati viditam brahma paramam,"

Ahimsa is the supreme truth for all human beings in this universe. Ahimsa is the foundation of a virtuous life. Neither the individual nor the society can live in peace and happiness without non-violence. Ahimsa is the key to asceticism. In conclusion, it is claimed that violence, falsehood, avarice, loathing, and so on, are the universal causes of suffering. The perpetrators of such acts cause great harm to themselves and to others.

The first victim of violence is the perpetrator or, our self. We feel the miseries brought about through the karmic influx as a direct result of our acts of violence. To recapitulate, violence only leads to unmitigated suffering.


Jainism is rooted in a reverence for all forms of life, characterized by a non-violence based on a true understanding of reality, and finds strength in forbearance and freedom from worldly desires through ascetic practices. By practicing Jainism in letter and spirit, one respects other people, does not harm them nor injure them, does not lie to them nor steal from them, does not lust after their possessions and wealth, and is impelled by Jainism's teaching of:

"Parasparopagraho Jivanam" ~ Tattvarthasutra 5:21

The purpose of souls is to assist each other. One makes the world a better, safer and more peaceful place in which to stay.

Special problems that the 21st century has brought in, are terrorism, increased religious fundamentalism, intolerance and an increasing focus on consumerism. The inclusivity approach of Anekantavada can help in these situations.

  • Non-Violence means we have to abstain from violence/abuse of living and non-living beings.
  • Refrain from violence of living beings.
  • Practicing kindness, truth, non-stealing, chastity, humility and poverty will help us become non-violent humans.
  • Practicing veganism shall help us control the blatant exploitation of animals that goes on in this world.

And the Jain approach of Aparigraha can help control this headlong race for using up all the material resources in the world. Aparigraha would also lead to a more ecological way of life.

Spirituality and meditation would help allay the increasing violence in our day to day lives that seems to have become a common feature of modern civilization.

Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti

20 September 2009

Causes of Prejudices and Bigotry

Causes of Prejudices and Bigotry

We believe they are caused by economic or political conflict, an expression of frustration, conformity to existing norms, xenophobia and illusions of purity and racial grandeur: the tendency to judge people by categorizing them. We now examine these causes closely.

Economic or Political Conflict
When resources are limited and the means of livelihood is hard to come by, we may experience in ourselves a sharp rise in bigotry and regional chauvinism. We feel that we must compete for any scare resources. We are trying to qualify for a job, gain admission to an educational institution, or qualify for a spot on some special team. Yet, we who cannot achieve our ambitions can become conflicted and instead, achieve negative attitudes towards others.

An Expression of Frustration and Insecurity
When we are thwarted, we may express our frustration by speaking poorly about specific groups of people, calling the group's or group’s members cheats or crooks, or badmouthing the members. When we are insecure, we see any setback as an end to our personal hopes and dreams. We feel that our lives are shattered and tend to take out our frustration on the people who seemingly have defeated us or that people’s ethnic group or their community. We, whose hopes apparently have been dashed, feel that we have been denied what we deserve, and instead of trying to critically review our own position, we turn to bigotry. In this confused haze of bigotry, we find it nearly impossible to see the truth, unless our inner strength is developed which can only come from a rational worldview.

Conformity to Existing Norms
One of the most common causes of prejudice and bigotry is conformity to existing norms. Since we have inherited bigotry from their families and the societies to which they belong, we think meanly or poorly of specific groups of people, of specific communities, without thinking of the ramifications of this, the bigotry.

Since Pakistan and India are so often in conflict with each other, many of us in India fall prey to thinking ill of Pakistanis. I use myself as an example.

The first time I met a Pakistani, I was willing to hate him on sight. However, since we were both working in a country, not native to either of us, we were forced to work together as a team. As time went by, we got to know each other and we became good friends. This person eventually became my closest friend.

I had previously considered myself a rational person. Yet, I had been undeniably willing to hate another person whom I did not know at all, simply because I condemn the policies of the nation of which that person was a citizen. I had transferred my hatred for another country into hatred towards its citizens.

Xenophobia and Illusions of Purity and Racial Grandeur: The Tendency to Judge People by Categorizing them
Our tendency, often, is to sort through the world by objectifying others and subsequently, categorising them into groups based on race, nationality, colour of skin, religion, caste, creed, native language, etcetera. Our tendency to judge others, based on the ethnic group, to which they belong, is not only misleading, but clearly, WRONG. Simply put, we are all different. We are all unique individuals. We think differently, act differently, and respond differently because we FEEL differently.

We are reminded of a few groups in recent years and centuries: The Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, many Europeans and Americans. They had illusions of racial purity and they felt morally justified to exterminate millions of Jews, Cambodians, and Indigenous peoples, respectively, in order to carry out `racial cleansing.'

As a group, what is our destiny?

19 September 2009

The Jain interpretation of non-violence

Many people, including Jains, mistake vegetarianism for non-violence. This perspective is both true and false. It is true, since vegetarianism may be viewed as the external manifestation of inner non-violence. However, it is false, since, vegetarianism by itself does not convey the essence of non-violence.

How does one define non-violence?
Non-violence is the external manifestation of confidence, inner purity and wholeness.

A person who is strong, complete and whole from the inside, and confident in his or her outlook is most likely to respect the rights of others. She or he will not knowingly trample upon another person's rights, nor will she or he injure her or his self-respect. He or she will behave at all times with dignity and consideration. She or he will consider other people's needs, with reason and empathy.

Someone who is insecure, biased, afraid, and not willing to think for him or herself, therefore lacking in self-respect, will never respect another person's rights, and will behave in a prejudiced and immoral way.

18 September 2009



Anekanta is a system of considering an object in all its modes. Anekanta holds that reality is multi-dimensional, dynamic, and operates at different levels. Thus, Anekanta is truly a dynamic tool for considering reality, which by itself is dynamic.

How does Anekanta work?
Equipped with Anekanta, the Jain appreciates reality in all its aspects. She or he is equipped to understand other people's viewpoints. This makes her or him a better listener, more sympathetic and more receptive to others and their viewpoints.

He or she is willing to consider any phenomena in its entirety. She or he is diligent enough to examine all precedents, willing to approach any issue with an open mind and unwilling to jump to an instantaneous conclusion.

Faced with a complex moral question, he or she is willing to consider the conundrum in all its aspects. She or he is willing to think for her or himself, consider the issue from its various viewpoints. He or she is willing to put himself or herself in other people's shoes and see the issue from their viewpoints.

Such a rational and ethical approach is bound to lead to less violence, less anger and consequently, less anguish.

In my humble opinion, there is a direct relationship between anger and anguish. The more anger you have the more anguish you will feel. The less anger you have, the less anguished you will experience.

A sane rational man or woman is not only logical, but also applaud able and will find a non-violent solution and hence a lasting peace.

Only the non-violent settling of problems creates a lasting peace. Aggression, belligerence and violence will only beget a temporary truce fraught with tension. Reasoned, fair, non-violent and mutually agreed-upon solutions always bring a lasting peace, and a peace among equals.

The relations of India and the United Kingdom have changed. India, the former colony, and UK, the former colonizer, have become at peace with one another, because the Indian National Movement had been largely an exercise in non-violence and self-restraint. If India had gone instead for a bloody revolution and indulged in senseless violence, millions of lives would have been lost and bad blood would have been created for generations.

The victors of the First World War imposed a dishonorable defeat and a peace among non-equals by mortgaging the human rights and economy of the Germans, and consequently, trampling on their self-respect. Two decades later, Germany was held responsible for another World War. Had the victors of the First World War imposed less rigorous and damaging terms on the German people, or created a peace among equals, perhaps there may not have been a Second World War!

Non-Violence In The 21st Century

Non-Violence In The 21st Century

By Manish Modi

"The Rishis who discovered the law of non-violence were greater geniuses than Newton, greater warriors than Wellington. Non-violence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the brute." (1)

Today, with the spread of education, people are willing to give up age-old prejudices and biases in the pursuit of spirituality and global peace. They want to find true peace. They are no longer willing to accept distortions and artifice in the name of religion. They are keen for peace and non-violence. If they are logically explained about violence in all its forms, they will master the concept of Ahimsa and its meaning, its importance and its value.

All religions of the world teach us that violence is a sin and non-violence is a virtue. Nevertheless, despite this common teaching, one cannot claim that all religions perceive violence in the same light.

Scholars of the world who have studied scriptures belonging to different religions, covering the past 2500 years, and have considered various codes of conduct, histories, and ethical teachings, are of the opinion that, the definition of violence and levels of acceptable violence are unique to each religion.

The concept of non-violence in the Vedic era is one in which thousands of animals are sacrificed during the yajñas. Vis-à-vis today, there is no animal sacrifice made in the yajñas.

It is difficult to briefly trace the evolution of Ahimsa. Clearly, the concept of non-violence occupies an important position in the world's theological hierarchy. The ethico-epistemological structure of each religion grants a tremendous importance to non-violence. No religion in the world teaches violence. Yet, the levels of violence that are acceptable to the followers of each religion are very different. This is because the etymology and understanding of the word non-violence varies between religions, cultures, regions and civilisations.

What is the Jain perspective on non-violence? What are its recurring motifs, and what has been its impact on other religions, mainly Hinduism? One response is that of the great scholar Lokmanya Tilak. Tilak states that:

"In ancient times, innumerable animals were butchered in sacrifices. Evidence in support of this is found in various poetic compositions such as the Meghaduta. But the credit for the disappearance of this terrible massacre from the brahminical religion goes to Jainism." (2)

First, we ascertain the real meaning of non-violence, differentiating between non-killing, non-injury, motiveless violence and premeditated violence. To illustrate the Jain position, we will apply the epistemological proposition of Anekanta that considers the relativity of Truth or Reality.

14 September 2009

Coming Together To Forgive And Heal

Coming Together To Forgive And Heal
Dhanpal Jain
Paryushan is the most important annual Jain observance. For both Shvetambars, who observe the festival over a period of eight days, and Digambars, for whom Paryushan Parva lasts 10 days, this is a time of intensive study, reflection and purification.
It takes place in the middle of the rainy season, a time when Jain monks and nuns cease travelling and stay with a community and are available to them for instruction and guidance.
Paryushan means "abiding" or "coming together". It is also a time when the laity takes on vows of study and fasting with a spiritual intensity similar to (temporary) monasticism. Paryushan concludes with confession and forgiveness for the transgressions of the previous year. The most important part of Paryushan is daily meditation and prayer, which provides an opportunity for looking within and towards the teachings of the Tirthankaras for guidance. Beginning on the fourth day of Paryushan, it is customary for Murtipujak Shvetambars to read from the Kalpa Sutra, a scripture which recounts the life of Mahavira the 14 dreams of his mother before his birth, followed by the story of his birth, life and liberation. It also recounts the lives of other Tirthankaras and the rules of Paryushan. Among Mahavira's teachings are those that advocate gender equity, of the importance of ensuring equal status to both women and men. The book of scripture would be carried ceremonially through the streets, water sprinkled in its path along the way, purifying the entire town.
Jains often take time off from work during this period and eat a much simpler diet than their usual vegetarian diet. Jains avoid eating root vegetables like potatoes, onions and garlic as harvesting them for food would entail destroying the entire plant. For Shvetambars, the final day of Paryushan is Samvastsari Pratikraman, the annual confession. The ritual of asking forgiveness from the teacher is widened in scope to include family and friends and, finally, all living beings. The culmination of confession is receiving forgiveness from all living beings and also granting forgiveness to all. This ritual of forgiveness is sometimes called the rite of "universal friendship".
The spirit of the day is contained in this verse: "I grant forgiveness to all living beings, May all living beings grant me forgiveness; My friendship is with all living beings, My enmity is totally non-existent. Let there be peace, harmony and prosperity for all." One cannot consume any fruits or even a grain during the fasting period or upvaas.
Wouldn't it be difficult to remain without eating any food? a lady, who has fasted for 31 days at a stretch, says: "We live in a sea of energy. Our bodies gain energy indirectly from the food we eat, while we gain direct energy from the cosmic energy that flows into us through the medulla oblongata at the bottom of the brain. But this kind of acceptance of energy depends upon our mental set-up. The greater the will, the greater would be the flow of energy." Penance is given high importance to purify one's soul. In the time cycle, Lord Rishabh started the penance for one year at a stretch. The same tradition is followed even today. During the process of penance, all the accumulated toxins in the cells of the body over a period of time start to melt away. Since the body's energies are concentrated in cleaning and detoxification during the fasting process, rest becomes a necessary adjunct. The body parts are recharged and relaxed. This minimises physical ailments, increases strength and keeps body, mind and the hormonal balance in tact.
The writer is a law student at the University of Mumbai.

Extract from Tuesday, 25-08-2009, The Times Of India

08 September 2009

Pratikraman in English !!

Hi Guys,
Since long i was thinking you to send you the Pratikraman in English, so that you can understand the logic and the reason behind the whole process done on an annual basis. Please have a look on this in due time.

Enjoy the life !!
Raj Salecha

04 September 2009

Rational Perception - Must read


Sent to you by Raj via Google Reader:


by Raj on 9/4/09

Rational Perception

Jain Study Circular 15 October-December 2009

Based on Studies In Jainism: Reader 2, Lesson 8

In the first aphorism of TATTVAARTH SUTRA, Acharya Umasvati delineates the path to salvation in the following words:


Rational perception, rational knowledge and rational conduct together constitute the path to liberation. This concept is a unique feature of Jainism. The path to salvation is the combination of rational perception, knowledge and conduct. Further, rational perception has to be adopted first. Once rational perception is achieved, then comes rational knowledge followed by rational conduct. Jainism emphasizes that conduct without proper knowledge is of not much avail and knowledge without rational perception is inadequate. Acharya Umasvati and other Jain acharyas did not say that prayer and worship of God or Siddhas (supreme souls) or chanting or meditation or any rituals constitute the path to salvation. Worship, penance, meditation, etc., do have their place but the first step is rationalism (SAMYAKTVA).

There is considerable misconception about the meaning of the Sanskrit words SAMYAKTVA and SAMYAK DARSHAN. Most of the time SAMYAK DARSHAN is equated with right faith or, at best, right belief which is then defined as the belief in whatever is written in the Jain scriptures and other Jain religious books, and whatever is preached by the scholars and monks. However, the literal meaning of the Sanskrit word SAMYAK is right, proper, reasonable, sensible, rational, and DARSHAN, in this context, means perception. Thus equating SAMYAK DARSHAN with right faith or belief is improper.

Acharya Umasvati defines rational perception (SAMYAK DARSHAN) as:


Belief in reality is rational perception. The literal meaning of the word TATTVAARTHA is things ascertained as they are. Therefore, belief in things as we perceive them without any preconceived notion is rational perception.

How can one achieve rational perception?
Acharya Umasvati states:


Rational perception is achieved through intuition or through acquisition of reasoned knowledge. It should be noted that reasoned knowledge entails logical thinking. In simple words, it means that when one gives up all preconceived ideas, studies the scriptures and other books, listens to discourses of learned people, involves in logical thinking and then accepts what seems to be reasonable according to one's own experience and observation, one attains rational perception. As soon as one adopts rational perception, one's knowledge becomes rational knowledge. The conduct based on rational perception and knowledge is rational conduct. Obviously, indulging in any spiritual activity without properly understanding its significance and meaning is irrational.

It should be noted that SAMYAK DARSHAN is an ancient concept in Indian culture and religion. In MANUSMRITI, it is written:


A person who has acquired rational perception does not acquire bondage of karma, while those who do not have a proper perception remain engrossed in this mundane world. Rational perception is a valuable and essential attribute of a living being.

In DARSHAN PRABHRIT, Acharya Kundkund states:


People whose perception is deluded are indeed pitiable. Such people do not attain salvation. People with poor conduct can reform themselves, but there is no hope for people with deluded perception. People with deluded perception blindly accept the written and spoken word on faith, without logical thinking. They accept ideas that do not conform to their observation and experience. They may indulge in superstition. They believe in the supernatural and in superhuman powers. They indulge in rituals without understanding their significance or meaning.

Jainism says that all religious activities are meant for spiritual progress but those who have blind faith perform worship and do prayers with a desire of material progress. They worship materials rather than the attributes of supreme human beings (ARAHANTAs) and supreme souls (SIDDHAs). They even worship demigods for favors. We should remember that according to Jainism, God does not dispense favors and He does not punish us for our undesirable actions. Thus according to Jainism worshiping God or Bhagvaan Mahaveer with a desire of favorable consequences is irrational. However, there are those who believe in the concept of God as Creator, Protector and Destroyer of the world. Some believe that God dispenses favors or punishment for our good or bad deeds. It is perfectly logical for them to pray to God for favors.

In an article entitled 'SAMYAK DARSHAN' published in the journal JNNAANODAYA of October 1950, Siddhaantaacharya Pandit Phool Chandra Jain writes:
We feel sorry to note that thoughtful reasoning has been replaced by blind acceptance of tradition. We have forgotten the fact that the person having rational perception is a supreme thinker. It is true that one who has rational perception is ready to accept authenticity of the teachings of omniscient JIN on the basis of the concept


meaning that omniscient JIN do not express what is contrary to truth. Nevertheless, he cannot blindly accept each and everything in the name of the omniscient. In the Jain tradition, logic, experience and scriptures, have been considered most important. As far as scriptures are concerned, the older scriptures are considered more authentic than the later scriptures. A person having rational perception applies his attribute of unflinching (steadfast) belief in the authenticity TEERTHANKARs' word.

However, this does not mean that he accepts the authenticity of all that has been written so far in the name of TEERTHANKARs.


Things you can do from here:


02 September 2009

The Pursuit Of Pleasure

The Pursuit Of Pleasure(1)

by Acharya Shri Mahaprajna

There is a coconut tree in front of me with a straight trunk, a few leaves and fruit. Is what I see only a tree or something else? I cannot see the seed that produced the tree. I cannot see the vital force keeping the tree alive, which enables it to produce sustenance and to breathe.

Our sense organs cannot go beyond the visible world. They cannot tell us anything about the invisible world because they cannot establish any kind of contact with it. They cannot even reject it because it has not been known.

Visibility and invisibility are relative terms. If there had been a wall between me and the tree, my eyes would have failed to see through it. Even without the obstruction of a wall, I would not be able to see the tree from a distance. Distance obliterates vision with the result that the otherwise visible world becomes invisible. What we can see with the help of the microscope, we cannot see with bare eyes. We can see only the gross material world. The eyes are also gross. Reality is subtle. So it can be grasped with only the intuitional vision that is developed after the karma particles eclipsing consciousness have been removed.

Consciousness is formless. We cannot see it as we see the tree. There may be an obstruction between us and the tree, or the tree may be at a distance from us, but consciousness is neither hidden nor at a distance from me. The ego is the manifestation of consciousness and a bridge between it and the world.

Neither consciousness nor the atoms feel hunger, but I do, because I exist between the two. Consciousness and the atoms do not speak, only I do. The world that we perceive with the help of the sense organs stands on the borderline between the world of consciousness and the atoms. Pleasure and pain are experienced only on this borderline. Pure consciousness feels neither. On the plane of pure consciousness we experience nothing but our existence. We may call this a state of bliss if we like.

In a state of pure consciousness there is neither bondage nor freedom. Here we feel nothing else except our existence. We may call it a state of liberation if we like.

Feelings of pleasure and pain, bondage and liberation are experienced by the ego, which stands between pure consciousness and the material world. It is from the relative point of view that we call the state of pure consciousness a state of bliss and freedom or liberation. This state exists in its own perfection in limitlessness or infinity and boundless bliss. It is a state higher than the state of sense experience, and therefore, one who has achieved the right vision raises himself from a lower state to a higher state.

The desire to renounce present pleasure in anticipation of pleasures we are likely to get in the future is just like climbing out of one ditch and falling into another.

Indra said to the royal sage Nami, "I wonder why you are prepared to relinquish present pleasures in the hope of enjoying better pleasures in the future. You seem to be running after a mirage." The royal sage replied, "Indra, you do not have the right vision. Sensual pleasures are like a canker. The wounds caused by them will never heal. One who runs after sensual pleasures becomes lost in the labyrinth of desire. I am relinquishing these pleasures in order to get out of the labyrinth."

Bhrigu said to his sons, "Why do you propose to renounce the pleasures that grandeur, high family, wife, and objects pleasing to the senses have given you to attain what people expect to obtain through penance?" The sons replied, "Father we want to renounce them in order to obtain that which these cannot give us."

Physical pleasures are so easy, natural and attractive to get; no one wants to relinquish them. Only he who has a strong longing for attaining a state of pure existence of his soul can resign himself from them.

Those who had attained bliss classified pleasures in an ascending order. Physical pleasures as compared with bliss occupy a lower position. There are three reasons for this:

1. Physical pleasures are relative.

2. They are fraught with obstructions.

3. They are finite.

Bliss on the other hand is absolute, free and infinite, and therefore, more reliable. As physical pleasures are related to material things, they appear to be easily attainable. Bliss, on the other hand, is connected with inner vision, and therefore, in spite of its being easily available, it appears to be difficult to attain. We can change our conception of pleasure only if we do not confuse what is real with what is not and vice versa.

Live life King Size
Raj Salecha

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome. - Isaac Asimov

01 September 2009

A householder with equanimity (Last in this seris)

A householder with equanimity:



A person, even a householder, who gradually
develops self-restraint in dealing with living beings,
who maintains a feeling of balance and composure,
attains a higher spiritual level, a heavenly state.

An individual who understands the teachings of the omniscient, gradually abstains from violence of the animal and plant life. He/she develops equanimity towards all living beings. Such an individual certainly advances on the spiritual path.

Wish you a Gud Day
Raj Salecha