The Ahimsa-vrata, i.e., the vow of Ahimsa, has to be implemented into
actual practice, both by the ascetics and the householders, in accordance
with the detailed rules laid down for these two major sections of the
society because the Jaina scriptures have given maximum importance to the
day to day observance of right conduct consisting of five main vows, three
Guna-vratas, i.e., multiplicative vows, and four Siksha-vratas, i.e.,
disciplinary vows, with a view to achieving salvation, the aim of life of
every individual, and have assigned the first position to the vow of
Ahimsa. The five vows form the basis on which the superstructure of Jaina
ethics has been raised. They give a definite outlook on life and create a
particular type of mental attitude. The very essence of Jaina philosophy
is transferred into action in the shape of observance of the five main
vows. It is clear that five main vows are in the form of abstentions from
or avoidance of certain bad things or faults in the following manner:
Ahimsa is the abstention from injury,
Satya is the abstention from
Achaurya is the abstention from theft,
Brahmacharya is the abstention from
Aparigraha is the abstention from
Further, three things are enjoined in
the matter of avoidance of these five faults. In the first place, a person
should not commit any fault personally, secondly, a person should not
incite others to commit such an act, and thirdly, a person should not even
approve of it subsequent to its commission by others. Moreover, even
though these five faults are mentioned separately, still it can be noticed
that the utmost significance has been attached to the avoidance of the
first fault of Himsa, i.e., injury and that the remaining four faults of
falsehood, theft unchastity and worldly attachments are considered as mere
different forms of varieties of Himsa, i.e., injury. Obviously, the
concept of Ahimsa, i.e., avoidance of injury becomes very wide, inclusive
Ahimsa and Satya
Speaking Satya, i.e., truth, is the
observance of Ahmisa because Asatya, i.e., falsehood is considered as
Himsa., i.e., injury according to sacred Jaina texts. In the standard
Jaina work "Purusharthasiddhi upaya" the definition and nature of
falsehood are given in the following manner;
that is, wherever any wrong statement is
made through Pramada Yoga, i.e., careless activity of mind, speech or
body, it is certainly known as falsehood. Further, falsehood is divided
into four kinds:
The first kind of falsehood is making
a statement by which the existence of a thing with reference to its
position, time, and nature is denied, e.g., to say "a particular person
is not here" (when he is present).
The second kind of falsehood is making
a statement to the effect that a particular thing exists, where that
thing does not exist with reference to the position, time, and nature of
other objects, e.g., to say "a pitcher is here" (when it is not actually
The third kind of falsehood is that
where an existing thing is represented as something different from what
it really is, e.g., when a horse is said to be a cow.
The fourth kind of falsehood consists
of three types of speaking viz.
Garhita, i.e., condemnable,
Savadya, i.e., sinful, and
Apriya i.e., disagreeable.
The Garhita (i.e. condemnable) speech is
said to be all that which is back-biting, unbecoming, ridiculous speech
with the use of harsh language and violent words. Besides, useless
gossiping and using language which incites unfounded beliefs and
superstitions comes under this category of condemnable speech.
The Savadya (i.e., sinful) speech
comprises all speech that leads to destruction of life by piercing,
beating, cutting, stealing, etc.
The Apriya (i.e., disagreeable) speech
is that which in the minds of other persons, creates feelings of
uneasiness, fear, pain, hostility, grief, etc.
Thus, the Pramatta-yoga, i.e., the
vibrations due to the passions which agitate mind, speech or body, is
invariably present in all these four kinds of falsehood. Hence, Himsa is
certainly involved in falsehood because Pramatta-yoga is the cause of
Ahimsa and Achaurya:
Like Satya, Achaurya, i.e., not
committing theft, is also Ahimsa, i.e., non-injury, because every theft
includes Himsa just as every kind of falsehood includes Himsa. According
to the Jaina scriptures, "the taking, by Pramatta-yoga, of things without
they being given by the owner, is to be deemed as theft and that is
invariably Himsa because it is the cause of injury". It is obvious that
the person who thinks of stealing, injures the purity of his own soul,
suffers pain of punishment if detected and causes pain to the others whom
he deprives them of their things. Again, in this world all transient
things (or forms of property) constitute the external Pranas, i.e.,
vitalities of a man. Hence, depriving a person of his property is
tantamount to depriving that person of his Pranas and this is nothing but
Thus all theft includes Himsa. In fact
there is no exclusivity between Himsa and theft and it can very well be
maintained that Himsa is certainly included in theft, because in taking
what belongs to others, there is the presence of Pramatta yoga, which is
the cause of Himsa.
Ahimsa and Brahmacharya:
In the same strain as Satya and Achaurya,
the Brahmacharya is also considered as Ahimsa, because Abramha is a kind
of Himsa. The term Abramha refers to the copulation arising from sexual
passion and this act is Himsa in two ways. In the first place, many living
beings are deprived of their vitalities in the vagina in the sexual act,
just as a hot rod of iron, when it is introduced in a tube filled with
sesamum seeds, burns them up. Secondly, psychical life is affected because
of the emergence of a sexual passion, and so also the material Pranas,
i.e., vitalities, are affected owing to the lethargic condition consequent
Obviously, unchastity is a form of Himsa
and as such persons are advised to give up their sex-desire altogether.
But it is possible only for the ascetics to do so. Therefore, it is
enjoined upon a householder to observe the vow of Brahmacharya to a
limited extent by total abstinence from all sexual desire with reference
to female other than his own wife.
Ahimsa and Aparigraha :
Aparigraha, i.e., abstention from
worldly attachments, is regarded as Ahimsa, because Parigraha is of two
Abhyantara Parigraha, i.e., internal
Bahya Parigraha, i.e., external
The internal attachments of possessions
are recognized to be of fourteen kinds, namely, perverted belief,
laughter, indulgence, ennui, sorrow, fear, disgust, anger, pride, deceit,
greed and desire for sexual enjoyment with man, with woman and with both.
The external attachments or possessions are of two kinds with reference to
the living and the nonliving objects.
Both the internal and external types of
Parigraha can never preclude Himsa. Internal attachment, the desire for
many things, prejudicially affects the purity of the soul, and this injury
to the pure nature of the soul constitutes Himsa. Similarly, external
attachment or the actual possession of living and non-living objects
creates attraction and love for them, which defiles purity of the soul and
therefore the amounts to Ahimsa. As a consequence, in the interest of the
practice of the principle of Ahimsa, persons are advised to give up both
the internal and external kinds of attachments. But it is not possible for
the householders to renounce all Parigraha completely. Hence it is
enjoined upon the householders to limit the extent of their parigraha to a
predetermined amount of wealth, cattle, servants, buildings, etc. That is
why the Anu-vrata, i.e., the small vow of Aparigraha, i.e.,
non-attachment, is also termed as Parigraha-parimana Anu-vrata, i.e., the
small vow of limited attachments.
Ahimsa and Sila-Vratas:
Along with the observance of five main
vows, known as Anu-vratas, a householder is expected, according to Jaina
scriptures, to follow seven Sila-vratas, i.e., Supplementary vows,
consisting of three Guna-vratas, i.e. multiplicative vows and four
Siksha-vratas, i.e. disciplinary vows. In the Jaina scriptures sufficient
emphasis has also been laid even on the practice of these Sila-vratas,
i.e., the supplementary vows, since these vows performs the important work
of giving protection to the first five Anu-vratas just as the encircling
walls guard towns. Further, as the Anu-vratas are centered round the basic
doctrine of Ahimsa, similarly Sila-vratas, also are purposefully devised
with a view to giving necessary support to the observance of Ahimsa to the
maximum extent possible. Obviously, on the lines of Anuvratas, the
Sila-vratas also help to make Ahimsa more comprehensive.
Ahimsa and Guna-vratas :
The Guna-vratas are multiplicative vows
since they raise the value of five main vows or Anu-vratas. The
Guna-vratas include the following three Vratas :
the Desa-vrata, and
The Dig-vrata involves taking a
life-long vow to limit one's worldly activities to fixed points in all ten
directions, viz., Up, Down, North, South, East, West, North-East,
North-West, South-East, and South-West. A householder has to fix the
limits in these directions on the basis of certain well known objects and
then to carry out all his activities within these determined limits.
Obviously, as the householder's activities are confined within limited
direction, his observance of Ahimsa beyond these limits becomes complete
since he does not indulge in carrying out any activity there.
The Desa-vrata involves taking a
life-long vow to confine one's worldly activities to the prescribed
smaller areas within the limits of directions already fixed in accordance
with the observance of the vow of Dig-vrata. Thus, the Desa-vrata means
that a householder shall, during a certain period of time, carry out his
activities within a very limited area consisting of a certain village,
market, street, or house and shall have nothing to do with the objects
beyond this inner limit. As a consequence, the pure-minded householder,
who thus confines the inner extent of his activities, does achieve the
observance of absolute Ahimsa for that time by renouncing all Himsa
possible in the vast space which has been given up according to this Vrata.
The Anarthadanda-Vrata involves taking a
vow not to commit purposeless sins. As a part of this vow it has been laid
down in the scriptures that a householder should avoid following things.
Apadhyana, i.e., evil thinking,
Papopadesa, i.e., evil instruction,
Pramadacharya, i.e., careless
Himsadana, i.e., gifts of instruments
Duh-sruti, hearing evil and
Dyuta, i.e., gambling.
In elaboration of these sinful things,
the following restrictions have been placed on the behavior of
One should never think of hunting,
victory, defeat, battle, adultery, theft, etc., because these things
only lead to sin.
Sinful advice should never be given to
persons living upon art, trade, writing, agriculture, arts, and crafts,
service and industry.
One should not without reason dig
ground, uproot trees, trample lawns, sprinkle water, and pluck leaves,
fruits and flowers.
One should be careful not to give
instruments of Himsa, such as knife, poison, fire, plough, sword, bow,
One should not listen to, accept or
teach such bad stories as increase attachments, etc., and are full of
One should renounce gambling even from
a distance because it is the first of all evils, the destroyer of
contentment, the home of deceit, and the abode of theft and falsehood.
Obviously, it has been emphasized that
he who deliberately renounces all these and other unnecessary sins, leads
his Ahimsa vow ceaselessly up to admirable victory.
Ahimsa and Siksha-vratas:
The Siksha-vratas are disciplinary vows
since they are aimed to prepare the householder for the discipline of an
ascetic life and are meant to strengthen the five main vows or Anu-vratas.
The Siksha-vratas include four Vratas, viz.,
Samayika means taking a vow to devote
particular time every day to contemplation of the self for spiritual
advancement. It teaches a person to be equanimous, that is, to be
indifferent to love or hate, pain or pleasure, loss or gain, etc. This
attitude of equanimity makes the observance of Ahimsa more complete as
Samayika involves the absence of all sinful activities.
Proshadhopavasa means taking a vow to
fast on four days of the month, namely, the two 8th and the two 14th days
of the lunar fortnight. Such regular fasting helps the practice of
Samayika, i.e., equanimity, Dhyana, i.e., spiritual meditation, and
Svadhaya, i.e., self-study. Obviously, such observance of fasting secures
the merit of Ahimsa in completeness for that period.
Upabhoga-paribhoga-parimana means taking
a vow to limit one's enjoyment of consumable and non-consumable things. It
involves putting restrictions on or giving up the use of vegetables,
fruits, food etc., containing infinite number of lives and limiting use of
things like clothes, furniture, etc. It also entails giving up the sins of
falsehood, sexual impurity, etc. It is also laid down that the enjoyment
of things should be limited to fixed days and nights, and within these
limits further limits of enjoyment for fixed hours should be made. In this
way a graduated course of renunciation, progressing with rising capacity
and clearer knowledge is prescribed. Hence it is specifically stated in 'Purusharthasiddhi-upaya'
that is, "he who being thus contented
with a few limited enjoyments, renounces the vast majority of them,
observes Ahimsa par-excellence because of abstention from considerable
Himsa". Thus, by the practice of this Siksha-vrata, the observance of
Ahimsa becomes more and more extensive.
Atithi-samvibhaga means taking a vow to
take one's food only after feeding proper persons like ascetics, pious
householders, etc., The food offered should be such as is helpful to
studies and to the due observance of austerities. Again, food is to be
offered to the true believers and that too without any expectation of
worldly benefits. Such a gift of food is, in fact, an act of Ahimsa, as it
is an antithesis of greed which is Himsa Thus, giving a gift amounts to
Ahimsa because it is a concomitant of self-purification of the giver and
helps in the spiritual advancement of the donee.