Among the-twelve vratas or vows prescribed for continuous observance in
daily life by Jaina religion, the first five vratas or vows are regarded
as the main vratas or vows and even among these main vratas or vows the
first and the prominent position has been assigned to the vrata or vow of
Ahimsa. Since this Ahimsa-vrata is based on the fundamental principle of
avoidance of or abstention from Himsa, i.e., injury to sentient beings, it
is quite necessary to understand the concept of Himsa as delineated by
Himsa : `Sthula' and `Sukshma'
In Jaina scriptures a distinction has
been made between `Sthula Himsa' and `Sukshma Himsa'. The `Sthula Himsa'
entails the destruction of the higher forms of life from dvindriyas, i.e.,
two-sensed beings upwards and it is forbidden to all Jainas. On the other
hand, the `Sukshma Himsa' means taking of life in any form including even
the killing of ekendriyas, i.e., one sensed beings and it is obligatory
for the Jaina ascetics to abstain from this kind of Himsa. The lay Jaina
is also enjoined to avoid as far as possible the killing of ekendriyas,
i.e., one-sensed beings and the useless destruction of Sthavara-Jivas,
i.e., immobile souls.
Himsa : `Dravya' and `Bhava'
It has been stated that Himsa does not
depend on acts alone: the vrata or vow will be broken merely by the
absence of compassion shown when a man allows himself to be carried away
by anger. Hence a distinction has been made between Dravya Himsa, i.e.,
the actual hurt or injury and Bhava Himsa, i.e., the intention to hurt or
injury to the Prana meaning vitality.
Himsa : `Bahya' and `Antargata'
In Jaina scriptures Himsa is also
classified on the basis of `Bahya' i.e. external aspects and `Antargata',
i.e., internal aspects. Obviously the `Bahya Himsa' relates to the
external or actual acts of killing or injury and 'Antargata Himsa' relates
to the internal or intentional side of committing of injury.
Himsa : `Vyavahara' Point of view
The concept of Himsa has been discussed
in detail in the Jaina scriptures both from the `Vyavahara Naya', i.e.,
the practical point of view and from the `Nischaya Naya', i.e., the real
point of view.
From the practical point of view the `Tattvartha-sutra'
the classic Jaina text, has defined Himsa as follows, that is, Himsa or
injury is the hurting of the vitalities by passional vibrations. It means
that Himsa or injury is to hurt the Pranas, i.e., the vitalities, through
Pramattayoga, i.e., vibration due to the passions which agitate mind, body
On the same lines, another classic Jaina
Text, viz., `Purushartha siddhi-upaya' asserts that passion is the moving
cause which leads to Himsa and gives the meaning of Himsa in following
terms : that is, any injury whatsoever to the material or conscious
vitalities caused through passionate activity of mind, body or speech is
assuredly (definitely) Himsa.
Himsa : `Nischaya' Point of view
From the Nischaya, i. e., real point of
view the act of injury, i.e., Himsa, is related to the internal aspects or
to the intentional side of injury and it is stated that Himsa is caused
even when passions to hurt others arise in the mind. That is why, the
essence of Himsa and Ahimsa, according to the Jaina scriptures, has been
clearly put forward in the authoritative text of `Purushartha-siddhi-upaya'
in the following terms, that is, "Assuredly, the non-appearance of
attachment and other passions is Ahimsa, and their appearance is Himsa.
This is the summary of the Jaina scripture".
Classification of Himsa :
Himsa has been classified into 2
Arambhaja or Arambhi Himsa, i. e.,
Occupational Injury and
Anarambhaja or Anarambhi or Samkalpi
Himsa, i.e., Non-occupational or Intentional Injury.
In this connection Acharya Amitagati,
the famous Jaina saint and author, in this authoritative treatise entitled
"Sravakachara" has given the two major kinds of Himsa and their
application in actual practice by the people in following terms, that is,
"Himsa has, by the learned, been said to be of two kinds, Arambhaja,
arising from occupations, and Anarambhaja, not due to any occupation. He
who has renounced the life of householder, certainly avoids both kinds of
Himsa. One with mild passion, while living the life of a householder,
cannot of course avoid Arambhaja Himsa when performing various
It means that the Himsa or injury
involved in the actual execution or conduct of occupations is known as the
Arambhi Himsa and that the Himsa not inherent or unrelated to occupations
but committed with the objective of fulfilling certain desires is termed
as Anarambhi or Samkalpi Himsa, i.e., intentional injury. Hunting,
offering animal sacrifices, killing for food, amusement or decoration are
illustrations of Anaramlbhi or Samkalpi Himsa and it can be avoided by
every thinking person without any difficulty or harm to himself.
Again, the Arambhi Himsa is further
sub-divided into the three types, viz.
Udyami Himsa, i.e., industrial injury,
Grharambhi Himsa, i.e., domestic
Virodhi Himsa, i.e., defensive injury.
Udyami Himsa is injury which is
unavoidably committed in the exercise of one's profession. According to
Jaina writers permissible professions, in general, are-
Asi, i.e., the profession of a
Masi, i.e., the profession of a
Krshi, i.e., the profession of an
Vanijya, i.e., the profession of a
Silpa, i.e., the profession of an
Vidya, i.e., the profession of an
Grharambhi Himsa is the kind of injury
which is invariably committed in the performance of necessary domestic
acts, such as preparation of food, keeping the house, body, clothes and
other things clean, construction of buildings, wells, gardens, and other
structures, keeping cattle, etc.
Virodhi Himsa is the kind of injury
which is necessarily committed in defense of person and property, against
thieves, robbers, dacoits, assailants and enemies, in meeting their
aggression, and in causing the least possible injury, necessary in the
circumstances, in which one may find oneself.
Thus, in general, Himsa is divided into
four kinds, viz.,
Udyami Himsa, i.e., industrial injury,
Grharambhi Himsa, i.e., domestic
Virodhi Himsa, i.e., defensive injury,
Samkalpi Himsa, i.e. intentional
In this regard it has been ordained by
Jaina religion that one, who has renounced all household connection and
has adopted the discipline of a saint, should avoid all the four kinds of
At the same time it has also been laid
down that one, who is still in the householder's stage, should abstain
from Samkalpi Himsa, i.e., intentional injury, and should try one's best
to avoid three kinds of Arambhi Himsa, i.e., occupational injury, as far
as it is possible, since it is quite unable for a householder to abstain
completely from Arambhi Himsa.
Denunciation of Himsa.
Taking into account the bad and
reprehensible nature of Himsa, the Jaina sacred texts have condemned the
observance of Himsa in strongest possible terms.
In the `Acharanga Sutra' it has been
specifically mentioned that as Himsa is a great impediment in spiritual
awakening, a person who indulges in doing injury to living beings will not
get enlightenment and it has been asserted that which means "that (i.e.,
injury to living beings) is always harmful and injurious to himself (i.e.
the wrongdoer), it is the main cause of his non-enlightenment. Similarly,
in the "Sutrakrtanga Sutra" all injurious activities have been
categorically denounced as follows that is, "knowing that all the evils
and sorrows arise from injury to living beings, and (knowing further) that
it leads to unending enmity and hatred, and is the (root) cause of great
fear, a wise man, who has become awakened, should refrain from all sinful
On the same lines, in the "Uttaradhyayana
Sutra" any kind of injury to living beings is censured in the following
terms that is "seeing that everything that happens to somebody concerns
(i.e. affects) him personally, one should be friendly towards (all)
beings; being completely free from fear and hatred, one should never
injure any living beings". In a similar strain, in the "Dasavaikalika
Sutra" practice of Himsa is prohibited on the following ground that --
that is, "All living creatures (that are in this world) desire to live.
Nobody wishes to die. And hence it is that the Jaina monks avoid the
terrible (sin of) injury to living beings".
Similarly, the most reprehensible nature
of Himsa has been emphatically brought out in the `Jnanamava' in the
following words that is, "Himsa alone is a gateway to the miserable state,
it is also the ocean of sin, it is itself terrible hell and it is surely
the most dense darkness." In the same sacred text "Jnanamava" the futility
of Himsa has been very vividly brought out as follows
that is, "If a person is accustomed to
commit injury, then his (all virtues like) selflessness, greatness,
difficult penance, bodily suffering and liberality or munificence are