Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
Shraman Bhagavan Mahavira and Jainism
The Jaina Concept of Soul
The Law of Karma
The Path of Moksha
Anekantavada

The Path of Moksha

 

 

Right Knowledge, Right Faith, and Right Conduct are the three most essentials for attaining Moksha, liberation.

 

In order to acquire these, one must take the five great vows:

 

1. Ahima (Non‑injury)

 

2. Satya (Truth)

 

3. Asteya (Non‑stealing)

 

4. Brahmacharya (Celibacy)

 

5. Aparigraha (Non‑acquisition)

 

 

Among these five vows "Ahimsa" is the cardinal principle of Jainism and hence it is called the highest religious principle or the cornerstone of Jainism.

 

AHIMSA (NON‑INJURY)

 

Bhagavan Mahavira has said that all living beings desire life and not death.  Therefore no one has a right to take away life of any other being.  Therefore killing of life is the greatest sin.  There are people who believe in not killing human beings, but they do not mind animals being killed.  According to Jainism, killing of animals is also a great sin.  Jainism goes still further and says that there is life in trees and plants, and there is life in air, water, mold etc., and all living beings have an equal right to exist.  Therefore we should not kill life of even lower or lowest state.  Life is dearer to everyone and therefore we must have respect for life.  Not only "Live and let Live" but "Live and help others in living" should be our principle.  Just as a head of the family looks after the welfare of the family members, a human being, who enjoys the highest place in the evolution of life, should look after the welfare of the other lower living beings.

 

Jainism further says that sometimes you may not kill a living being, but may speak something which may hurt the feelings.  Sometimes you may not kill a living being, but you may think of killing it. Therefore you also commit sin when you speak hurting words or the moment you start thinking of killing some life.  Hence, according to Jainism, the sin is committed not only by action, but by speech and by thought also, which again is threefold.  i.e.,

 

(1) you may commit sin yourself or

 

(2) you may ask someone to commit sin on your behalf or

 

(3) you may support or praise the sin committed by someone.

 

Hence one should refrain from committing this nine‑fold sin.

The universe is full of living beings, big and small, and therefore it is impossible to exist without killing or injuring some of the smallest living beings.  Some lives are killed even when we breathe or drink water or eat food.  Therefore, Jainism says that minimum killing should be our ideal.  Moreover, it is more serious where killing is done intentionally or through indifference.  Therefore great care should be taken in all our daily activities so that minimum violence is committed by our deeds, speech and mind.

 

In the universe, there are different forms of life, such as human beings, animals, insects, trees and plants, bacteria, and even still smaller lives which cannot be seen even through the most powerful microscope.  Jainism has classified all the living beings according to their sense organs, i.e., having five senses, four senses, three senses, two senses and one sense.  It is more serious if life of the highest form is killed.  Therefore Jainism preaches strict vegetarianism and prohibits flesh‑eating.

 

Jainism firmly believes that life is sacred irrespective of caste, color, creed or nationality and therefore not only physical or mental injury to life should be avoided, but one should have all possible kindness towards all the living beings.  This should be the spirit of Ahimsa.

 

SATYA (TRUTH)

 

To speak truth requires moral courage.  Only those who have conquered greed, fear, anger, jealousy, ego, vulgarity, frivolity etc., can speak the truth when required.  Jainism insists that one should not only refrain from falsehood, but should always speak the truth which should be wholesome and pleasant.

 

ASTEYA (NON‑STEALING)

 

The vow of Non‑Stealing insists that one should be honest and should not steal anything or rob others of their wealth, belongings, etc. Further, one should not take anything which does not belong to him. It does not entitle one to take away a thing which may be lying unattended or unclaimed.  One should observe this vow very strictly and should not touch even a worthless thing which does not belong to him.

 

BRAHMACHARYA (CELIBACY)

 

Total abstinence from sex‑indulgence is called Brahmacharya or Celibacy.  Sex is an infatuating force which obscures the right path of Moksha and sets aside all virtues and reason at the time of indulgence.  This vow of controlling sex passion is very difficult to observe in its subtle form, because one may refrain from physical indulgence but may still think of the pleasures of sex.  There are several rules laid down for observing this vow, both for monks and for householders.

 

APARIGRAHA (NON‑ACQUISITION)

 

Jainism believes that the more a person possesses worldly wealth, the more he may be unhappy and the more he is likely to commit sin, physical and mental, because worldly wealth creates attachments which would continuously result in greed, jealousy, selfishness, ego, hatred, violence, etc.  Bhagavan Mahavira has said that wants and desires have no end and only the sky is the limit for them.

 

Attachment to worldly objects results in the bondage of the cycle of birth and death.  Therefore, one desirous of spiritual liberation should withdraw from all attachments to the pleasing objects of all the five senses.

 

This Jaina principle of limited possession helps in equitable distribution of wealth, comforts, etc., in the society.  Thus Jainism helps in establishing socialism, economic stability, and welfare in the world.

 

Jainism has laid down and described in much detail these five great vows for the path of Moksha.  These are to be observed strictly and entirely by the monks and nuns.  Partial observance is laid down for the householders with additional seven vows.  There are other thirty‑five rules of conduct laid down for the householders.

 

In addition to these five great vows, Jainism has laid great stress on the following four reflections (Bhavana), and ten‑fold code of conduct.

 

 

Four Reflections:

 

Amity (Maitri)

 

Appreciation (Pramoda)

 

Compassion (Karuna)

 

Equanimity (Madhyastha)

 

 

Ten‑fold Code of Conduct:

 

(1) Forgiveness

 

(2) Humility

 

(3) Straightforwardness

 

(4) Truthfulness

 

(5) Purity of mind

 

(6) Control of senses

 

(7) Penance

 

(8) Renunciation

 

(9) Greedlessness

 

(10) Chastity

 

Jainism has thoughts of the gradual evolution of the soul and has described fourteen stages (Gunasthana) for the liberation of the soul. With the help of the above‑mentioned vows and virtues a soul can gradually liberate itself and attain Nirvana,