The third distinctive fact
about Jaina ethics is the utmost prominence given to ahimsa or avoidance
of himsa, that is injury. It is really remarkable about Jainism that even
though the noble principle of ahimsa has been recognized by practically
all religions, Jainism alone has preached the full significance and
application of ahimsa to such an extent that Jainism and ahimsa have
become synonymous terms. The Jainas always uphold that ahimsa paramo
dharmah, that is, Ahimsa is the highest religion. The philosophy of
Jainism and its rules of conduct are based on the foundation of ahimsa
which have been consistently followed to its logical conclusion.
That is why among the five
main vows the first place has been given to the observance of ahimsa. In
fact in the Jaina scriptures ahimsa is regarded as the principal vow and
the other four vows are considered to be merely its details or extensions.
This is made evident in the following ways:
Himsa: The term himsa has
been defined as injury to the vitalities through passionate activity of
mind, speech and body. The Jaina scriptures, in this connection, always
maintain that the appearance of attachment and other passions is himsa and
their non-appearance is ahimsa, because under the influence of passion,
the person first injures the self, through the self, whether or not there
is subsequently an injury caused to another being. Thus whatever is done
under the influence of passion, that is, through pramada-yoga meaning
careless activity of mind, speech and body, and without any caution is
included under himsa.
Asatya is himsa: Wherever
any wrong statement is made through pramada-yoga, it is certainly known as
asatya, i.e., falsehood. It is, therefore, clear that as pramada-yoga, the
chief cause of himsa, is present in all such statements, himsa occurs in
asatya, i.e. falsehood, also.
Chaurya is himsa: The
taking, by pramada-yoga of objects which have not been given, is deemed as
theft and that is himsa, because it is the cause of injury to the self in
the form of a moral fall to the person deprived of it. There is no
difference between himsa and theft. Himsa is inherent in theft, for in
taking what belongs to another, there is pramada-yoga. Thus all theft,
like all falsehood, is included in himsa.
Abrahma is himsa:
Indulgence in sex passion always brings about himsa because it originates
out of desire. Hence abrahma or sexual impurity is a form of himsa.
Parigraha is himsa:
Parigraha or possession of worldly goods is of two kinds, internal and
external. The renunciation of parigraha of both the kinds is ahimsa and
their appropriation is himsa. Internal parigraha, that is. the desire for
worldly objects, prejudicially affects the purity of the soul, and this
injury to the pure nature of the soul constitutes himsa. External
parigraha, that is, the actual possession of worldly objects, creates
attraction and love for them, and defiles purity of the soul and therefore
amounts to himsa.
Thus it is evident that a
himsa is implied in falsehood. theft, sexual impurity and possession of
goods, all the main five vows of Jainism are based on the principle of
ahimsa. That is why supreme importance is given to the principle of ahimsa
and it is enjoined upon every Jaina to avoid himsa under all conditions.