Proper conducts entails the following
Abstention from sensuality (brahmacharya)
Ahimsa is based on love and kindness for
all living beings. It has been repeatedly pointed out in Jain scriptures
that even the thought of evil is as bad as action resulting in injury.
Nonviolence of Jainism is not a negative
virtue. It is based upon the positive quality of universal love which is
the result of a recognition of kinship among all living beings. One who is
actuated by this ideal cannot be indifferent to the suffering of others.
Satya implies being not only truthful
but also pleasant and wholesome.
Achaurya consists in not taking others'
property without his consent, or by unjust or immoral methods.
Brahmacharya means abstaining from
Aparigraha means nonpossessiveness of
property and giving up greed.
The five vows are observed with
voluntary limitations by the householders (anuvratis) and absolutely by
the homeless ascetics (mahavratis).
Jain ethical code does not prescribe
duties according to caste or other social inequalities. All men and women
are equal in birth and everyone is entitled to be either a householder or
an ascetic according to his or her choice. The observance of the ethical
code by an individual does not only develop his
spirituality, but also helps in
contributing to social justice, economic equality, humanization of culture
and civilization, human happiness, class harmony as against class
conflict, and growth of an egalitarian society.
Jain religion lays special emphasis on
nonviolence and truth. In fact, these two are the principal religious
ideas. The spiritual value of Jain code of conduct has been upheld
throughout Jain literature. Victory over
attitude towards cruelty and
persecution, patience towards opponents are some of the main
characteristics of Jain ascetics, The Jain code of conduct presupposes an
extraordinary courage and peace of mind which originates only from
spiritual integrity and strength.
"It is this strength of the spiritual
power of the self that was recognized by Gandhiji in his political
struggle against odds. Both in South Africa and in India he successfully
made use of this spiritual weapon against the political opponents who were
equipped with ordinary weapons of destruction and suppression. Thus
Gandhiji raised ahimsa and satya to universal importance. His
socio-political experiments proved beyond doubt the value of this
spiritual power. Equipped with this weapon of ahimsa and satyagraha (7)
one can overcome any amount of opposition
depending upon brutal force. While he
was alive Gandhi dreamed of offering this spiritual weapon to the world at
large--a world disturbed by mutual suspicion, always ready for warfare. He
thought that this spiritual ideal would be able to serve as a cure for the
various ills that afflicted the world at large. Let us hope that this
spirit will ultimately prevail and convert the world of warring classes
and nations into a world of peace and harmony where all can live in
happiness, without destruction of race, religion and nationality," (8)
4. History of Philosophy: Eastern and
Western, Vol. I; pp 26-27; Edited by S. Radhakrishnan, George Allen &
5. In this context, the Sanskrit words,
dharma and adharma do not have their usual meanings.
6. The knowledge related to
psychological facts is practically the relation between the thought
process and physical events which are identical in nature with the process
of knowing. Even here the facts in consciousness revealed by knowledge are
considered independent of the process of knowing,
otherwise the knowledge so obtained will
become illusory and unreal. Knowledge is self-luminous inasmuch as it
reveals itself just as it illuminates the external objects.
7. Satyagraha means peaceful
8. A. Chakravarti, Jain Philosophy;
History of Philosophy, op. cit. p. 151.