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INTRODUCTION

 

MAHAVIR - THE TWENTY-FOURTH TlRTHANKAR

 

JAIN PHILOSOPHY

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JAIN PHILOSOPHY

 

 

Proper conducts entails the following five vows:

Nonviolence (ahimsa)

Truth (satya)

Non-stealing (achaurya)

Abstention from sensuality (brahmacharya)

Nonpossessiveness (aparigraha)

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 sexual indulgence.

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 suffering, calm

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 & Unwin Ltd.,

London, 1952.

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 non-cooperation.

8. A. Chakravarti, Jain Philosophy; History of Philosophy, op. cit. p. 151.