Ethical Discipline ( acrara-dharma) is an important aspect of Jainism. it has a two-fold objective. first, it brings about spiritual purification, and secondly, makes an individual a worth social being who can live as a responsible and well-behaved neighbor. The first objective arises out of the Jaina theory of Karman which is an automatically functioning law under the dispensation of which every one must get the fruit, good or bad, of his or her thought, words and deeds. in this law of Karman, there is no place for divine intervention. the god as a creator is not admitted there, nor can he bestow fervors and mete out punishments top the worldly beings. This is, indeed, a bold approach, basically advocated in Jainism, where an individual is really an architect of his own fortune or misfortune. Karman is conceived as subtle matter, or a form of energy, which affects the soul as a result of one's own thoughts, words and acts. As a matter of fact, every soul is already under the influence of Karman from beginning's time. One experiences the fruits of one's past Karmas and contracts fresh Karmas. So the cycle of action and its fruit goes on. It is only though a disciplined life that one can get rid of it either b experiencing its fruits or b exhausting it through penance's etc. And when the soul is completely free from Karman, that is spiritual emancipation. The second objective helps one to develop an attitude of equality towards all the beings and cultivate a sanctity for the individual and his possessions.
This ethical discipline is well graded in Jainism to suit the ability and environments of an individual. It is prescribed to him according to hi will to carry it out sincerely, without any negligence either in its understanding or in its practice.
The foundation of this ethical discipline is the doctrine of Ahimsa. If we correctly comprehend it, it will be seen that it is the recognition of the inherent right of an individual to live so universally expressed that ever one wants to live and nobody likes to die. Thus, therefore, no one has any right to destroy or harm an other living being. Viewed as such Ahimsa is the fundamental law of civilised life and rational living ; and thus forms the basis of all moral instructions in Jainism. "The laying down f the commandment not to kill and not to damage is one of the greatest events", as rightly observed by ALBERT SCHWEITZER (Indian Thought and its Development, London 1951, pp. 82-3), "in the spiritual history of mankind. Starting form its principle, founded on world and life denial, of abstention form action, ancient Indian thought and this in a period when in other respects ethics have not progressed very far-reaches the tremendous discovery that ethics know no bounds ! So far as we know, this is for the first time clearly expressed in Jainism".
The Jaina moralists are quite aware of he practical difficulties a true and rigorous Animist has to face. They have been far ahead of the times when they arranged the sentient beings in a progressive series according to the biological development of the form of life in them. This is intended to enable one to abstain from killing or harming living beings of higher and higher forms of life, and ultimately, as one spiritually advances, to abstain from the lower forms, to, steadily and gradually. It is not enough that we have reverence for the life of the individual only, but we must also respect the sanctity of has her personality as well as possessions. This approach is a sum-total of the Jaina vows which are enumerated thus: Ahimsa, stay, Asteya, Brahmacarya and Aparigraha. These are called Anu-vratas when prescribed for a house-holder, but Maha-vratas when rigorously practiced by a monk. A study of these shows that "they are", as so well put by BENI PRASAD in his through provoking essay ( World Problems and Jaina Ethics, Lahore 1945, pp. 17-18), "interdependent and supplementary. The application of one to human relationships leads logically to that of others and in fact would suit if itself without the others,. Only there is primacy belonging to the first of them, i. E., non-violence. It is the foundation of all higher life. In the Jaina as well as Buddhist code, it is wider than humanitarianism, for it embraces the whole of sentient creation. Its comprehensiveness, logically complete, is further illustration of the ethical being a function of mental attitude and outlook. Like non-violence honesty ( Asteya ) and stoicism ( aparigraha ) are negative only in appearance and really positive in their application. Together the five anuvratas constitute a single conception of life, ethical and spiritual, a consistent loyalty to the great principle of self-transcendence, a translation of values".
This life of discipline in Jainism is Jainism is prescribed in two forms: one, more rigorous for a monk who has severed his ties with the world, and the other, for a house-holder who has a number of social responsibilities. A large amount of literature has grown in Jainism to exp0und the duties of monks and those of house-holders. The details are varied and multiplied under the stress and strains suffered in the organization of monastic life and the social circumstances. The basic prescriptions and punitive restrictions have helped the monk and the householder to tread the path of right conduct. The Dhramamurta of Asadhara ( 1240 A.D. ) is perhaps a fine attempt, though late in age, to propound he twofold discipline in one unit. The Jaina literature abounds in treatises dealing with the life of a monk, and for a hand survey of which one can consult the history of Jaina Monarchism by S. B. DEO (Deccan College, Poona 1956). A critical and historical stud of the discipline prescribed for a householder is found in that excellent monograph, the Jaina Yoga by R. WILLIAMS (Oxford University Press, Oxford 1963). One ma also consult other sources such as the Introductions to the Vasunandi-Savakacaai 9 ed. KAILASHCHANDRA SHASTRI, Banners 1964), Jaina Acara b M. MEHTA (Varanasi 1966).
In the present volume Dr. K. c. SOGANI has attempted an adorable sure of the entire range of the ethical doctrines in Jainism. After offering a few observations on the historical back-ground of Jaina ethics (I), he sets forth in details the metaphysical basis on which the edifice of Jaina ethics is elaborately built (II-III). Then follow the Acara of the house-holder an that of the Muni in great details (IV-V). The Jaina ethics form a path of spiritual progress; and, as such, they carry a mystical significance with them (VI). Though Jainism has its own specialties, a comparative stud of Jaina and non-Jaina ethical doctrines Yields quite fruitful results (VIII). The Jaina ethical doctrines have far reaching social implications; and the deserve to be studied in the light of the present-day problems. Three doctrines of Jainism, namely, Ahimsa, Aparigraha and Anekanta, if rightly understood and put into practice, make an individual a worthy citizen who is humane in his outlook, detached in his acquisitive instincts and highly rational and tolerant in his mental attitudes. This resume shows that DR. SOGANI has given us an exhaustive stud of the ethical doctrines in Jainism, presenting his details in an authentic manner.
The present work of Dr. SOGANI is substantially the same as his thesis approved by the University of Rajasthan for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. It was extremely kind of him to have placed it at our disposal for publication in the Jivaraja Jaina Granthamala.
As General Editors we record our sincere thanks to the Members of the Trust committee and Prabandha Samiti of their zeal for Jain logical researches and their generosity in financing such publications which have limited sale. It is earnestly hoped that an exhaustive exposition of the Jaina ethical doctrines like this will enable earnest students of Indian religious thought to understand Jainism in its proper perspective.
We are extremely sorry to record here the sad demise of Shri GLUABCHAND HIRACHANDAJI ( on 22-1-67) who was the president of the Trust Committee and showed keen interest in the progress of the Granthamala. The General Editors have lost in him a fund of pious benevolence and enlightened liberalism which went a long we in shaping the policy of our publications. It is a matter of some relief that he is being succeeded as our President by his brother Shri. LALCHAND HIRACHAND. Sheth LALCHANDAJI is well-known for his dynamic drive which, we hope, will infuse fresh vigour in the activities of the Sangha.
We offer our sincere thanks to Shri. WALCHAND DEOCHANDAJI and to Shri MANIKCHAND VIRACHANDAJI who are taking active interest in these publications. But for their co-operation and help it wold have been difficult for the General Editors to pilot the various publications from a distance.
H. L. JAIN