Since Jainism has prescribed the doctrine of Ahimsa as its cardinal principle, the entire Jaina ethical code has been laid down with a view to transforming this principle into actual practice. As a result maximum importance has been attached to the observance of Ahimsa as a basis of right conduct leading to the attainment of salvation. Further, taking into account the comprehensive nature of the doctrine into practice, the Jaina scriptures have specifically prescribed the rules of conduct to the minutest details in connection with the observance of the vow of Ahimsa in all its aspects and in making it as faultless as possible. But realising extremely wide theoretical dimensions of these rules of conduct and the minute implications involved in the actual observance of these rules of conduct continuously and without any possible fault, a question is sometimes raised about the Practicability of the vow of Ahimsa into practice. But from a close examination of the injuctions laid down by Jaina scriptures for the actual observance of the vow of Ahimsa it can be seen that the fear is quite unfounded.


(1) Categorisation of Vow of Ahimsa :

It is true that the rules of conduct laid down by Jainism for the attainment of salvation, the highest goal in life, are the same for all people. But at the same time it is a fact that these rules have been divided into two categories, viz., Sakala Charitra, i.e., full conduct, and Vikala Charitra, i.e., partial conduct, and that while the first category is meant for the observance by the ascetics, the second category is allowed for the observance by the householders or the common people. That is why in the most celebrated sacred Jaina text Purusharthasiddhi-upaya, the householders have been advised to


Follow in a partial manner the rules of conduct throughout their life-time in the following terms;

ן ִֵ֡֟ ןִֵ ׾֍ִׯ ã |

׸֭ߵִ׭ֿ ׭ֵָ یִ׳ֻ֟ ||

that is, the path of Ratana-Traya, the three Jewels, (i.e., of Right Faith, Right knowledge and Right conduct) should be followed, even partially, every moment of time and without cessation by a householder desirous of every lasting liberation.

It is thus clear that the Sakala Charitra, i.e., the full conduct, is meant for the ascetics and the Vikala Charitra, i.e., the partial conduct, for the householders. This kind of division of categorization has been done because the Sakala Charitra, is possible only for those who have entered the ascetic order and the Vikala Charitva can be practiced by the householders until they join the ascetic order at a later time. It means that Vikala Charitva is a prelude to Sakala Charitra. In other words, Vikala Charitva involves Ekadesa-virati, i.e., partial renunciation, and Sakala Charitva, involves Samastra-virati, i.e., total of absolute renunciation. Hence in the same sacred text Purusharthasiddhi-upaya it is recommended that those who are not prepared to adopt the order of ascetics, should follow for the time being the stage of Ekadesa-Virti, i.e., partial renunciation. It states that


: ִß׾ָן Ϥٿ֟ ֟ ן |

õ׾ָן: ֭ߵs ߕ ||


That is, He who, in spite of repeated dissertations, is unable to accept the path of absolute renunciation, should in that event, be lectured upon (and advised to follow) partial renunciation.

It is, therefore, quite evident that even though the rules of conduct are the same for all people, they are to be followed stage by stage. Accordingly all vows, including the vow of Ahimsa have been divided into two categories, viz.,. Anuvratas, i.e., small vows, and Mahavratas, i.e., great vows. The householders have to practise the former and the ascetics the latter. Similar is the case with other observances. Moderation is the key-note of householders life and severity of saintly discipline. The important hallmark of Jaina ethics is the fact that a graduated course is prescribed with a view to make it possible for ever person to observe all rules of conduct by tolerably easy gradations. Hence it follows that the vow of Ahimsa has to be practiced by the householders as an Anuvrata, i.e., a small vow, to limited extent.


(2) Observance of ahimsa according to capacity.


Further, it is not enjoined upon a person to observe thoroughly all rules of conduct pertaining to a particular stage in life. It has been specifically mentioned in the sacred Jaina text of Purusharthasiddhiupaa that


ִ֐֤ԭֲ֓׸ֵ֡֟֍ ׭ִ֟ |

õׯ ִ֐ ӵן ׭꾵 ֿ֣ی: ||

That is, the three-fold path of liberation, consisting of right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct, is to be constantly followed by a person according to his capacity. It is clear that the emphasis has been laid on the term Yathasakti i.e., according to ones own capacity.

In a similar strain it has been advocated in the same sacred text that


ו֭֯־֯ϵ֭֓ ָ֝ ִִָ֤֓ |

׭ֹ ׭֕ ֤ ֌ ׭꾵ִ֤ׯ ||

That is, having due regard to ones own status and capacity, a householder should practice the conduct of saint, as described in the scriptures, here the householders have been advised to follow the rules of right conduct after properly taking into account their respective statues in life and their individual potentialities and capacities to sustain the rigorous discipline inherent in the practice of the right conduct.

Hence it is clear that the Anuvrata, i.e., the small vow of Ahimsa has to be put into actual practice by the householders in keeping with their status-canned capacity.


(3) Observance of Ahimsa by Householders:


When Ahimsa is to be observed by householders in accordance with their status and capacity while performing their normal functions as members of different occupational or other groups of society, nautually certain limitations arise. As an active member of society it is not possible for a householder to avoid Himsa in all possible of Himsa can be either complete or partial. In this connection it has been specifically stated in the authoritative Jaina sacred text Purusharthasiddhi-upaya as follows:


֍׸֭־Ԍִֵ֭׳׸µ֟ ־֬ |

ِ֍ ׭־עپדֹ֡֯־פ ||


that is, Renunciation of nine-fold commission of Himsa, by self, through agent, and approval, by speech, body and mind, is known as Ausargika Nivrtti, i.e., Perfect or complete Renunciation, and the other renunciation is termed as Apavadiki Nivrtti, i.e., Imperfect or Partial Renunciation, which is of various kinds.

It means that Ahimsa in either Autsargiki Nivrtti, or Apavadiki Nivrtti. The Autsargiki Nivrtti has been defined as complete Ahimsa in nine ways, that is, by self, through another person, or by means of approbation, and in each case through mind, body or speech. That which is not complete is Apavadiki Nivrtti, and its degrees and forms are innumerable, varying from the slightest to that which just falls short of being complete.

For a householder it is not possible to practice complete renunciation of Himsa, and therefore he is recommended to discharge his worldly responsibilities with taking the necessary precaution of causing minimum Himsa or injury to others. For giving more practical guidance in this matter Himsa has been classified, according to the mental attitude of the individual, into four kinds, viz.,

(a) Udyami Himsa, i.e., industrial injury,

(b) Graharambhi Himsa, i.e., domestic injury,

(c) Virodhi Himsa, i.e., defensive or protective injury, and

(d) Samkalpi Himsa, i.e., intentional injury.

Udyami Himsa is the Himsa performed in the exercise of ones profession or occupation whether of a solider, or an agriculturist, or a trander, or an industrialist. Graharambhi Himsa is that which is unavoidably committed in the performance of necessary domestic duties, such as preparation of food, keeping the things clean, grinding floor, building a house, constructing a well, walking, bathing and similar other performances of daily life. Virodhi Himsa is that Himsa which is unavoidably committed in the defense of person and property against assailants and enemies. Samkalpi Himsa is that Himsa which is committed intentionally or knowingly for example, killing men, animals or other lower creatures for food, amusement, decoration, etc.

It is quite significant to note that it is enjoined upon a house holder to abstain from the Samkalpi Himsa, i.e., intentional injury and not from the occupational domestic and protective Himsa as it is not possible for him to do so, while living in the householders stage. However, a householder has been advised to try his best to avoid as far as possible the first three kinds of Himsa as well and a householder has to make a steady progress in such as endeavor.

Thus a householders vow of Ahimsa means abstention from intentional hurting or injury, i.e., Samkalpi Himsa and it can easily be put into practice.


(4) Observance of Ahimsa by Ascetics:


The position of the Ascetics is different from that of the House hoolders. While the householders have to observe ahimsa of appvadiki Nivtti type, i.e., of partial renunciation, the ascetics are required to observe Autsargiki Nivrtti, i.e., complete renunciation. The ascetics do avoid all the four kinds of Himsa, viz, Udyami Himsa. Graharambhi Himsa, Virodhi-Himsa and Samkalpi Himsa, since they are not at all concerned with the activities which are carried out by the householders. At the same time they ascetics try to observe Ahimsa in a none-fold was as laid down by Jaina scripture, i.e.,. they avoid committing Himsa by self, through agent and approval, and by speech, mind and body.

This complete renunciation of Himsa in as many as nine ways is quite difficult to put into practice and that too without any fault whatsoever. That is why a doubt is sometimes raised as to how is it possible for an ascetic to carry out his daily activities without causing Himsa in an atmosphere surcharged with different kinds of sentient beings? But this doubt can be cleared by the use of utmost caution and care by the ascetics in their various kinds of behavior appropriate to their ascetic way of life. In this connection, in a standard Jaina authoritative work, Bhagavati Ardhana, pertaining to the rules of behavior for the ascetics, a questions is put in the following manner:


ָ ד֙ ִ ֵ |

ӕꕕ ꕕ ־ ֕פ ||


that is,In this world full of sentient beings, how an ascetic should walk, should stand, should sit, should sleep, should take meals should speak and should be free from sin? Even though the question posed problems, it has been convincingly answered in the same work in the following way


֤ ָ ֤ ד֙ ֤ ֤ ֵ |

֤ ꕕ ꕕ ־ ֕և ||


that is,The ascetic should walk with care and vigilance, should stand with care and caution, should sit after slowly cleansing the seat, should sleep after carefully cleansing the bed, should take meals cautiously, and should speak carefully by regulating the use of language and by this way there will be no bondage of sin.

In this way, according to the Jaina scriptures, an ascetic can practise Ahimsa to the maximum extent possible.

Thus, it is quite obvious that the vow of Ahimsa can be conveniently put into actual practice both by the householders and the ascetics and that too in full conformity with the various injections laid down by the Jaina scriptures. The fear of impracticability of Ahimsa was of behavior is, in fact, really unfounded because this wag has been vger meticulously and successfully followed not only by those who are in the ascetic stage of life but also by a large number of persons in the householders stage of life. Both the ascetic and the lay followers of Jaina religion have proved beyond doubt that the vow of Aghimsa is quite compatible with their respective fields of activities and that the Ahimsa can very well be a definite mode of life which does not come in the way of even achieving excellence in the different walks of life. This can be easy seen from the examples of Jhaina householders from ancient times to the present day. The Jaina householders have been very famous for so many centuries as successful traders, businessmen, indigenous, bankers, jewellers, and industrialists. Again, in the field of agriculture also, they have earned the name as clever and industrious cultivators and the covetable honor of being the first Krishipandita in Independent India has gone to a Jaina farmer from Kolhapur Region in Maharashtra State. Even in the political and military history of Indian we find many eminent Jaina personalities who showed by their example that they could attain highest ranks in these fields while leading libes of pious householders. There had been remarkable Jaina monarchs like Emperor Chandra Gupta Maurya of Magadha, King Kharvel of Kalinga, Maharaja Kumarpala of Gujarat and Raja Amogha Varsha of Karnatak and illustrious Chieg Ministers like Bhamasha of Mewar, Vastupla and Tejapla in Gujarath, etc., during the ancient and medieval history of India.

In this regard the best example could be given of three great military Generals and Ministers of Karnatak, viz.,

(i) Chamunda-Raya of Ganga King Rajamalla 4th (974-984 A.D.),

(ii) Ganga-Raja of Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana (1108-1142 A.D.) and

(iii) Hulla-Raja of Hoysala monarch Narsimha I (1142-1173A.D.)


As these three Generals and Ministers were mainly responsible for the promotion of Jaina religion, they have been described as the triumvirate of pre-eminent promoters of Jaina faith. Among these three benefactors of Jaina religion, however, the contributions of pious Jaina General Chamunda-raa are by far of the most outstanding, inspiring and lasting nature. Chamunda-Raya won many battles and received many titles, such as, Samara-Dhurandhara, i.e., the leader in battle; Vira-Martanda, i.e., the sun among the brave; Ranaraja-Simha, i.e., a Great Lion in Battles; and Vairikula-Kaladanda, i.e., Scripture of death for the host of enemies. Chamunda-Raya has been known as a devout Jaina, a faithful Minister, a brilliant General, a profound Scholar in Jainism and a great patron of Jainism. That is why the famous historian of Karnataka, Dr. B. A. Seletore refers to the prominent position of chamunda-Raya in following terms: The first name in constellation of brilliant Jaina Generals we meet with is that of Chamunda-Raya, popularly known as Raya. A braver soldier, a more devout Jaina, and a more honest man than Chamunda-Raya Karnataka had never seen.




Even though the doctrine of Ahimsa i.e., non-injury, has been given utmost importance by jainism in the ethical code laid down for constant observance by all sections of the society and its practicability has stood the test of time since so many centuries, still sometimes a charge is made against the doctrine of ahimsa to the effect that it is essentially negative in character in the sense that it always prohibits persons from doing certain activities. It is argued that in Jainism Ahimsa is treated as mere abstention from Himsa i.e., injury, and that by applying this principle of abstinence or avoidance to activities in different fields, people are advised in the negative, manner such as not to speak lies, not to steal things, not to commit unchastely, not to have worldly attachments, etc., But from the close scrutiny of the vow of ahimsa and its implications in the actual life of persons, it will be well evident that the charge is quite unfounded. It is true that Jainism does put some restrictions of a sever tpe on the conduct of persons in their worldly life. These restrictions have been levied with a view to provide guidelines to the persons so that they while discharging their duties and carrying g out their normal avocations, can commit as little injury as possible to other living beings. But it must be noted that the meaning of Ahimsa hawse not been confined to this negative aspect only but it has definitely been extended so as to include the positive aspect also in it. That is why it has been strongly advocated in Jainism that the householders should always strive to extend charity to others who are in need of help along with the observance of restrictions levied on their conduct. It means that the positive aspect has been made an inherent part of the doctrine of Ahimsa. Hence it has been enjoined upon the householders (I) to follow the practice of giving Dana, i.e., religious gifts or charity, (ii) to organize the welfare activities with the help of charities for the benefit not only of the weaker sections of society but also of different kinds of living beings liike animals birds, etc., and (iii) to inculcate the spirit of toleration towards the followers of other faiths or religions.


(1) Encouragement to Grant of Charities:


As a fundamental part of the observance of the vow of Ahimsa, it has been specifically laid down that the householders should make it a point to give regularly from their income Dana, i.e., charities. Obviously the principle of Dana has been given great importance in Jaina religion.

In connection with the meaning of the term Dana, it has been stated in the authoritative Jaina work Tattvartha Sutra as follows:


֣ þõן֐ ִ֭ ||


that is, Charity is the giving of ones belongings for the good (of ones self and of others). Such a charit or gift is always recommended because in giving ones belongings to others one exerecises control over his greed which is nothing but a form of Himsa. That is why in the interest of the cultivation of Ahimsa. The practice of giving Dana is recommended in the celebrated standard sacred Jaina text of Purusharthasiddhi-Upaya as follows :


ֵ: ֵԵ s ׭ָõ֟ ֟ ֭ |

ô֤ןף׾ָ֟ ־ִָ֝™ ||

That is ,In making a gift one gets over greed, which is a form of himsa, and hence gifts made to worthy recipients amount 10 a renunciation of Himsa (i.e., amount to observance of Ahimsa) In the same text in continuation it has been stated that a person automatically become greedy if he does not give charity to worthy guests in following terms:


֐ֵ֟ ː߭ ֬韵 ָ֮ ߛ֟ |

׾ָ֟ן ןףֵ ־֭ ־ן ||

that is, Why should a person be not called greedy if he does not give gift to a guest who visits his home, who is well-qualified and who, acting like a honey-bee, accepts gifts without causing any injury to others. It means that the practice of giving gifts tantamount to the practice of Ahimsa.

Further, with a view to raising the purity involved in giving gifts and in the practice of Ahimsa, it is laid down that the donor, i.e., who gives gifts, must have following seven qualities:

1.     Aihikaphalanapeksha, i.e., the donor must not expect any gain or reward in this world in exchange of gifts given by him.

2.     Kshanti, i.e., the donor should have forbearance and should give clamly and without anger (which means the donor should not get excited if an unexpected or untoward thing happens while he was engaged in the pious act of giving gifts).

3.     Muditva, i.e., the donor must possess feeling of happiness and have joyous appearance at the time of giving gifts.

4.     Nishkapatata, i.e., the donor must act in all sincerity and should give without deceit.

5.     Anasuyatva, i.e, the donor should have no feelings of jealousy of envy.

6.     Avishaditva, i.e., the donor should not have an feelings of sorrtow or repentance.

7.     Nirahankantva, i.e., the donor should not have any sense of pride in giving gifts, as pride is certainly a bad condition of mind.


Moreover, for the sake of maintaining the sanctity of Dana it has been enjoined upon the donors to see that the Dana is always given only to proper persons. The done, that is, the person to whom Dana is given is termed as Patva and for the purposes of gift the doness are classified into three categories, viz.,

1.     Supatras i.e., good doness (those who are having right belief and engrossed in practicing vows),

2.     Kupatras, i.e., deficient donees (those who are with proper external conduct but without real right belief), and

3.     Apatras, i.e., unworthy doness (those who are neither having proper external conduct nor real right belief.)


Obviously giving Dana to the Supavas is highly recommended, to the Kupatras is not encouraged and to the Apatras is definitely forbidden as there is said to be no merit in giving them any thing.

On the basis of various conditions ladi down for giving Dana pertaining to the qualifications of the donors and the donees, Dana is classified into three types as follows:

1.     Sattvika Dana, i.e., virtous or righteous gift, is the gift offered to a worthy donee by a donor possessing the seven Datr-gunas, i.e., qualifications of a good donor.

2.     Rajasa Dana, i.e., passionate or emotional gift is the gift offered in self-advertisement for momentary display and in deference to the opinion of others.

3.     Tamasa Dana, i.e. vicious gift, is the gift offered through the agency of slaves or servants without considering whether the recipient is good or worthy or unworthy and without showing marks of respect.

Of these three types of Danas, the Sattivika Dana is regarded as the Uttama Dana, i.e., the best gift, the Rajasa Dana as the Madhyama Dana, i.e. the moderate or the secondary gift and the Tamsa Dana as the Jaghanya Dana, i.e., the worst or the detestable gift.

Again, for the sake of giving Dana it is not required that the Dana should necessarily be of a large quantity. On the contrary, the householders are advised to extend even small gifts but the should take care that these small gifts are given to the deserving persons. Such a kind of small gift is praised in the standard sacred Jain work Ratnakaranda Sravakachara in the following words:


ׁן֐֟״ֵ ֙ߕ ֡֐ӟ ִִ֭֯ׯ ֻ |

ן ֵ׾ֳ־ ״™ ָ߸ִ ||

that is,Even a small Dana (gift) given to a patva (proper or suitable donee), hears much desirable fruit for souls in the fullness of time, just as the (tiny) seed of the (Indian) fig tree, sown in (good) soil, produces (a tree, casting) magnificent shade.

Thus, the Jain scriptures not only encourage the householders to give gifts to persons but also invariably stress that the conditions laid down and considered proper for the Donor (i.e., giver), the Dana (i.e., gift) and the Donee (i.e., recipient) should always be followed because these three things by means of mutual influencing definitely increase the sanctity of the entire process. In this connection the celebrated Jaina author Acharya Jinasena in his well-known work Adi-purana has shown that in nine ways a gift becomes an ideal one in the following terms:


֟پֿ ֡ ϯן |

׫õ ָ֟ ߟ ִ֤֡֯: ||

֡õ ׫ԟָ ֟֟: |

־֍י׾ֿ ֤֭ ׸ִ ||

that is, The purity of the Donor gives sanctity to both the Gift and the Donee, similarly the purity of the Gift makes both the Donor and the Donee sacred; and on the same lines, the purity of the Donee sanctifies both the Donor and the Gift. Hence such a Dana, containing purity in nine ways, contributes to securing abundant fruits.


(2) Support to Welfare Activities


It is pertinent to note that the Jaina scriptures have not only laid down well-thought-out conditions to be observed in the process of giving Dana but have also considerably widened the scope and extent of Dana both from the point of the recipients of the Dana and from the contents of the Dana.

The Dana, with reference to its recipients, has also been divided into two classes, viz., Patra-Dana and karuna-Dana. The Patra-Dana means gifts or offerings made with respect and devotion to worthy recipients and in accordance with the necessary conditions laid down for observance by the people. Such worth recipients are generally the Jaina persons (including the householders and the ascetics) who have right belief and are continuously engrossed in practicing vows prescribed for their stage in life. But the Karuna-Dana means gifts or offerings made out of compassion to any one who deserves it, being hungry, thirsty, diseased, distressed, disabled, helpless, or the like. Further, the Karuna-Dana or the gift of compassion is extremely wide in its scope. In fact, it is not restricted to Janis alone but it is extended to human and even to sub-human and even to sub-human beings who are in need of it.


Such a Karuna-Dana is popularly considered four kinds, viz,

1.     Ahara-Dana, i.e., gift of food.

2.     Aushadhi-Dana, i.e., gift of medicines,

3.     Abhaya-Dana, i.e., gift of shelter, protection from danger, attack, intimidation, or threat, and

4.     Sastra-Dana or Vida-Dana, i.e., gift of books, imparting of knowledge, useful and beneficial.


These four gifts together are formed as Chaturvidha-Dana, i.e., four-fold charit and it has been enjoined on the householders that the should make special efforts to give these charities to the need beings belonging to the human and subhuman categories. The first kind of charity, i.e., Ahara-Dana, has been extremely valued along with the practice of Ahimsa in following terms by the important Kurala-Kavya


ִ־þ á֝ ֭֓ ִ |

֟ ִ ی: ם֭ ִ֝ ||


that is,The two precepts of scriptures which contain the very essence of religion are: to share meals with persons afflicted with hunger and to protect all living beings. In the same strain Acharya Amitagati, the renowned author in his book Sravakachara has praised the utmost importance of Ahara-Dana as follows:


ֻ ֭֟ ֭ ׭־ԝ֟: ִ |

ָ֭֟ ֭ ִ ׾֪ ָ ||

that is,There is no knowledge better than Kevala-Jnana, i.e., omniscient knowledge, no happiness better than happiness secured from Nirvana, i.e., liberation soul, and no gift better than Ahara-Dana i.e., gift of food. On the same lines, the Jaina scriptures have greatly valued the other three gifts of medicines, schelter and knowledge to all living beings with a view to take practical steps sto ameliorate the miserable conditions of afflicted living beings including insects, birds, animals and men.

Further, this positive humanitarian approach to lessees the miseries of living beings was also includes in another significant manifestation of Ahimsa in the fifth main vow of the householders, viz., the vow of Aparigraha, i.e., abstention from greed of worldly possessions. It is obvious that this greed is a form of Himsa, i.e., injury and as such it has to be consistently avoided by all persons as a part of the observance of ahimsa in the different fields of activities in actual life. Aparigraha-vary also involves avoiding the fault of Parigraha which consists in desiring more than what is needed by an individual. Accumulating even necessary articles in large numbers, expressing wonder at the prosperity of others, excessive greed and changing the proportions of existing possessions are all forms of Parigraha, i.e., worldly attachments. This vow aims at putting a limit on the worldly possessions by individuals according to their needs and desires. That is why this vow of Aparigtaha is many times termed as Parigraha-Parimana-Vrata, i.e., the vow to limit ones worldly possessions. In accordance with this vow a householder is required to fix, before hand, the limit of his maximum belongings, and he has, in no case, to exceed it. If he ever happens to earn more than the pre-determined limit, he is required to speed it away in Chaturvidha-Dana i.e., four-fold charities popularly known as Ahara-abhaya-bhaishajya-Sastra-Dana, i.e.,. giving food to the hungry and the poor, saving the lives of creatures in danger, distribution of medicines and spread of knowledge.

In this connection it is pertinent to note that as a part of the implementation of the vow of Ahimsa including the vow of Aparigraha, the Jaina householders for several centuries have made it one of their cardinal principles to give these four gifts to all persons who are in need of such help. In fact, this help has been extended to the protection and wellbeing of insects, birds and animals also. For this the Jainas have established aim-houses, rest houses, dispensaries and educational institutions wherever the have been concentrated in good numbers. The Anna-Chhatralayas, i.e., aim-houses, are being conducted in pilgrim and other centers for the benefit arrangements are being provided without any charges or at nominal charges at important towns, cities and pilgrim places. The aushadhalyas, i.e., dispensaries, have been providing free medicines to the afflicted persons. Along with the dispensaries for men, the Jainas have been conducting special institutions known as Pinjarapols for the protection and care of helpless and decrepit animals and birds,. In usuasual times of flood and famine these Pinjarapals have been carrying out various activities for animal protection. There is hadly any town or village of Gujarath or Rajasthan, where Pinjarapols is not present in some form or other.

In the spread of education also the jainas have been taking for many centuries a leading part in the education of the masses. Various relics show that formerly Jaina ascetics took a great share in teaching children in southern countries viz., Tamilanadu, Andhra, Karnatak and Maharashtra. In this connection Dr. A.S. Altekar has rightly observed (in his treatise Rashtrakutas and their Times) that Before the beginning of the alphabet proper the children should be required to pat homage to the deity Ganesha, by reciting the formula, Sri Ganeshaya namah is natural in Hindu society, but that in the Deccan even to-day it should be followed by the Jaina formula Om Namaj Siddham shows that the Jaina teachers of medieval age has so completely controlled the mass education that the Hindus continued to teach their children this originally Japan formula even after the decline of jainism.

Even now the Jainas have been vigorously maintaining the tradition of organizing welfare activities for the benefit of all concerned by giving freely these Chaturvidha-Dana, i.e., four types of gifts, in all parts of India.


(3) Insistence on the Spirit of Toleration


The positive aspect of Ahimsa, as enunciated by Jaima scriptures, is extended to the instance on the spirit of toleration in addition to the encouragement to the grant of charities and the support to the organization of welfare activities. The Jaina scriptures have made the doctrine of Ahimsa extremely comprehensive and have advocated the observance of Ahimsa systematically and to the minutest details. For this purpose, violence or injury is to be avoided in three-ways, that is it should not be committed, commissioned or consented to; and this avoidance has to be applied to three kinds of violence, viz., (a) physical violence, which covers killing, wounding and causing and physical pain; (b) violence in words caused by using harsh words; and (c) mental violence, which implies bearing ill-feelings towards other persons; religions; systems, etc. It means that in accordance with the doctrine of ahimsa, injury through the activities of speech and mind has to be avoided along with the usual injury of physical type. In other words, for the observance of ahimsa, the attitude of tolerance in the intellectuals, religious and other fields assumes great importance. This attitude of tolerance has been propounded by Jaina scriptures through the doctrine of Anekantavada, i.e., many-sidedness, which states that a thing can be considered from many points of view. That is why the tenet of Anekantavada always advises the people to find out the truth in anything after taking into account several sides or aspects of that thing. This obviously broadens the outlook of the persons as they are made to look at a thing from different angles. At the same time the principle of Anekantavada does not engender the feelings of enmity or hatred towards the other religionists because it believes that other religions also would be having some truths from their points of view. Hence by enacting the principle of Anekantavadaq, the Jaina scriptures have strongly advocated the principle of tolerance and forcefully asserted that it could be applied to intellectual, religious, social and other fields of activities.

As a result we find that Anekantavada has definitely a bearing on mans psychological and spiritual life and that it is not confined to solve a mere ontological problems. It has supplied the philosopher with catholicity of thought, convincing him that Truth is not anybodys monopoly with tariff walls of denominational religion. It has also furnished the religious aspirant with the virtue of intellectual and religious toleration which is a part of Ahimsa.

In this connection it can it can be maintained that toleration is the characteristic of Jaina ideologue because Jainism has always held that it is wrong, if not dangerous, to presume that ones own creed alone represents the Truth. As a consequence the Jaina scriptures have always advised the Jainas of all ranks not to harbor any feelings of enmity and hatred towards the followers of other religions but on the contrary to have a spirit of toleration and co-operation with reference to the members of other religions and even denomination. Accordingly the Jainas have been consistently observing the principle of intellectual and religious toleration. Even the Jaina Monarchs and Generals of the Armed Forces have a clean and commendable record to their credit in this regard. The political history of India knows no cases of persecution by Jaina Kings, even when Jaina monks and lamina have greatly suffered at the hands of other religionists of fanatical temper. In this respect, Dr. B. A. Saletore, the famous historian of Karnatak, has rightly observed as follows:

The principle of Ahimsa was partly responsible for the greatest contribution of the jainas to Hindu culture-that relating to toleration. Whatever may be said concerning the rigidity with which the maintained their religious tenets and the tenacity and skill with which they met and defeated their opponents in religious disputations, yet it cannot be denied that the Jainas fostered the principle of toleration more sincerely and at the same time more successfully than any other community in India.









As a practical religion Jainism has laid great stress on the observance of five mains and seven supplementary vows by its followers in all stages of life. Among Therese twelve vows, the most fundamental position has been given to the Ahimsa-Vrata, i.e., the vow of Ahimsa and it has been convincingly shown that the remaining four main vows, viz., Satya, i.e., the abstention from falsehood, Asteya, i.e., the abstention from ste4aling, Brahmacharya, i.e., the abstention from unchastely; and aparigraha, i.e., the abstention from worldly attachments, are nothing but the details of the vow of ahimsa and that the seven Sila-vratas, i.e., supplementary vows consisting of three Guna-vratas, i.e., multiplicative vows, and four Siksha-vratas, i.e., disciplinary vows, are mere manifestations of the vows of Ahimsa in one form or another. Further, with a vow to giving strength to the practice of the vow of Ahimsa, the followers are recommended (I) to contemplate on the twelve kinds of Anupreksha, i.e., external austerities and the six kinds of Abhyantara Tapa, i.e., internal austerities. Further-more, along with making the vow of Ahimsa very comprehensive and all-inclusive in character and scope, extreme carefulness in the actual practice of Ahimsa has also been strongly advocated and with this end in view the Jaina scriptures have particularly lade down the five kinds of aticharas, i.e., transgressions, of each of the twelve vows and have specifically enjoined upon the householders to avoid these aticharas so as to make the practice of Ahimsa as faultless as possible. Moreover, eventhough the theoretical dimensions of the vow of Ahimsa in all the aspects were made very wide and the extreme carefulness was insisted on the actual observance of the vow of Ahimsa, still every precaution was taken to see that the vow of Ahimsa can be definitely put into practice in the daily life by the followers of Jainism belonging to both the householders and the ascetic stages in life and for ensuring the practicability of vow of Ahimsa many prescriptions were laid down in regard to the actual observance of ahimsa in accordance with the respective capacities of householders and ascetics. In addition, the doctrine of Ahimsa was not confined to its negative aspect, i.e., avoidance of injury, only but at the same time great stress was laid to emphasize the positive aspect, i.e., increasing the welfare of others, which in hearten of the doctrine of Ahimsa and accordingly the Jaina scriptures gave encouragement to the grant of charities,. Extended support to the organization of welfare activities for the benefit of all living beings and strongly advocated the spirit of tolerance with reference to the other religionists. As a result in Jainism the doctrine of Ahimsa was given the form of universal love.

In this way the most distinctive contribution of Jainism consists in its great emphasis on the observance of Ahimsa, i.e., non-inmnjur to living beings, by all persons to the maximum extent possible. In fact, the philosophy and rules of conduct laid down in Jaina religion have been based on the solid foundation of Ahimsa, which has, throughout and consistently, been followed to its logical conclusion. That is why Jainism has become synonymous with Ahimsa and Jaina religion is considered as the religion of ahimsa. The social significance of this principle of Ahimsa could be evident from the important facts and changes which took place in the cultural history of India from the time of Lord Mahavira to the present day.


(1) Effective Reduction in Violence


During the Vedas period utmost importance was attached to the performance of sacrifices with a view to secure the favors of God and to avert Hisw anger. The sacrifices were elaborate, complicated and hedged with various restrictions. The sacrifices became a regular feature of the religious life of the people. The peculiar characteristic of these sacrifices vaws that they were usually accompanied by the slaughter of animals. As the sacrifices were mainly animal sacrifices, they involved the practice of Himsa, i.e., and violence, to a considerable extent.

Along with this practice, the flesh-eating or non-vegetarian diet was extremely popular among the different sections of the people. The Rig-vedic people, in general, were fond of meat eating and practically all the important creaminess were attended with the slaughter of animals. Offerings of flesh were frequently made to the Gods, and worshippers, as a practice, ate the offerings. The meat of animals does not seem to have been excluded. It was a custom to entertain distinguished guest with the meat of certain animals. At the wedding ceremonies animals were slain, evidently for the feeding of the invited guests. In fact, the sacrifice of animals was not only optional as in the case of the arrival of a guest and marriage but even compulsory on certain occasions and ceremonies. At Sraddhas, i.e., periodical oblations to the manes, the sacrifice of animals was recommended as substances like rice, barley, sesame, fruits, etc., keep the manes satisfied for a month, while flesh satisfied them for a ear. Again mean was almost allowed at Annaprasana, i.e., the first feeding with solid food, ceremony of a child and from them till death and cremation, sacrificing of animals was necessary on most of the ceremonial occasions of life.

Against this wide-spread and established practice of meat-eating and the performance of resists consisting of animal sacrifices Lord Mahavira and his learned disciples launched a vigorous attack by propagating the principle of Ashimsa, i.e., non-injury to living beings. In fact in all their preaching, Lord Mahavira and later his leading Acharyas invariably laid great stress on the observance of Ahimsa because the principle of Ahimsa is the logical outcome of the basic Jaina metaphysical theory that all souls are potentially equal. It was, therefore, asserted that as no one likes pain, one should not do unto others what one does not want others to do unto one. Since all living beings possessed souls, the principle of Ahimsa i.e., non-injury, was obviously extended to cover all living beings.

All these preaching of Jaina scriptures and Achrayas regarding the strict observance of the principle of Ahimsa to the maximum extent possible by ever individual in society produced far-reaching effect in social field. The practice of performing sacrificial rites and especially the slaughter of animals at the time of sacrifices considerably fell into disuse. Similarly, killing of animals for huting, sports and decoration purpose was greatly reduced. Further the slaughter of animals and birds with a view to use their flesh, as a form of diet slowly became unpopular.

In this way injury to living beings was greatly reduced and the practice of vegetarian diet was adopted by large sections of population in different regions of the country. In this connection Dr. N. K. Dutta (in his BookOrigin and Growth of Caste in India) observed that Animal sacrifice had been of so long standing among the Aryans and such was the respect for the authority of the Vedas which made it obligatory to sacrifice with flesh offerings, that the abolition of sacrifices, became a very slow process, effecting only a ver small minority, intellectual section the people and might not have succeeded at all if Jainism and Buddhism had not over-whelmed the country any the mass of people with the teachings of Ahimsa and inefficacy of sacrificial rites.


(2) Acceptance of Dignity of Living Beings


Through the preaching of Ahimsa the Jaina scriptures and Acharyas emphasized the basic fact that every living being has a sanctify and a dignity of its own and therefore one must respect it as one expects ones own dignity to be respected by others. The Jaina sacred works also firmly exphsised that life is sacred irrespective of species, caste, colour, creed or nationality. On this basis the advocated the principle of Live and let live and it was slowly accepted by the people.

In this way the Jaina teachings convinced the people that the practice of ahimsa is both an individual and a collective virtue and showed that Ahimsa has a positive force and a collective appeal.


(3) Improvement in Moral Behavior

Jainism has laid great stress on the observance by the householders of Right conduct consisting of twelve vows, viz., five main vows known as Anuvratas, and seven supplementary vows known as Silavratas. Among these twelve vows primacy has been assigned to the first vow of Ahimsa and the remaining vows are also manifestations of Ahimsa in one form or another. It is enjoined upon the householders to practise these vows in their dial life with utmost care so that even the aticharas, i.e., transgressions of these vows can be avoided to a great extent. It means that the observance of these vows has to be made as faultless as possible.

Obviously these vows are of a great social value as they accord a religious sanction to some of the most important public and private interests and rights which are, in modern times, safeguarded by the laws of the State. It could be seen that these vows merely reproduce the unwritten moral code of the best societies of men, though they make transgressions, a little more difficult. They also over the entire range of modern societys penal restrictions, so that one has merely to adopt them to avoid transgressing all criminal laws of all countries whatsoever. For example, all offences against persons are banned under the vow of ahimsa, even injuring an animal is covered by the inhibition. Similarly, offences against property are covered by the vow of Asteya, i.e., non-stealing, when understood in its true spirit, that is, in its fullest scraps. Again, perjury, forgery, counterfeiting coins and all other allied offences fall within the purview of the vow of Satya, i.e., truthfulness; and social misbehaviors are avoided under the fourth vow of Brahmacharya, i.e., chastity. Finally, the last vow of Aparigraha, i.e., abstention from worldly attachments, engenders a contented spirit, which is the real guarantor of peacefulness and a thing which acts as a powerful check on crime, by crushing out the tendency towards law-breaking at its very inception.

So far as conditions in India are concerned it is stressed that a due observance of these five main vows would save a man from the application to him of almost any of the sections of the Indian Penal code. In this connection shri. A. B. Latthe, a well-known author and social leader, has, in his book entitled An Introduction to Jainism (published in1905 A.D.) shown in a tabular form, as given below, that the observance of the five main vows without committing any of the of the faults or transgressions pertaining to them, is practically tantamount to complete conformity with the principles of morality enforced by the Indian Penal Code.


The Vows and the Penal Laws


Chapter Section Substance of The equivalent vows, etc.,

The Sections


I 1 Preamble Command to take the Sastra as

An authority

II 6-52 Definitions The definitions of sins and

The vows.

III 53-75 Punishments Penances

IV 76-106 General There is no sin unless an action

Is actuated by passion.

V 107-120 Abetment The five vows and their faults.

VI 121-130 Offences against Fault of the third vow, viz.,

The State Viruddha-rajyati-krama.

VII 131-140 Offences against

The Army and Navy -do-

VIII 141-160 Offences against The vow of Ahimsa and

Public tranquility Its faults.

IX 161-171 Offences committed The rows of Satya and Asteya

By public servants with their faults.

X 172-190 Contempt of Couts Fault of Virddha-rajya tikrama

Etc., of the third vow.

XI 191-229 False statements etc. Faults of Mithyopadesa and

Viruddha-rajyatikrama of the

second and third vow


XII 230-263 False coinage etc., Pratirupaka-vyavahara and

Viruddha-rajyatikrama faults

Of the third vow.

XIII 264-267 Offences regarding Hinadhika-mamomana fault of

Weights, etc., third vow.

XIV 268-294 Offences against Faults of the first two vows.

Health, safety, etc.

XV 295-298 Offences against Faults of the first two vows.

Religion, etc.

XVI 299-377 Offences against The row of Ahimsa and its

Person faults.

XVII 378-462 Offences against The complete vow of Asteya


XVIII 463-489 Regarding false faults of Kutalekhakriya and

Documents etc., Pratirupaka-vavahara of the 2nd

& 3rd vow respectively.

XIX 490-492 Regarding failure The vow of Satya.

To perform services

XX 493-499 Offences against Vow of Brahmachara


XXI 499-502 Defamation Vow of Satya

XXII 503-510 Intimidation Vow of Satya

XXIII 511 Attempt to commit The five vows.




Thus it is asserted that if a man but observes the five main vows with the avoidance of their respective faults, he has no feeder from the Indian Penal Code.,

It is, therefore, contended that the moral behavior of persons would definitely improve by the regular observance of these twelve vows with the avoidance of faults attached to them. In this regard it is pointed out by Shri. A. B. Latte the that the proportion of Jail-going population is a good index so the moral condition of community and has given the following table from the Jail Administration Report for the year 1891 A.D. for the Bombay Presidency:


Religion Population in Total prisoners in Proportion of per-

1891 1891 sons to prisoners


Hindus 1,46,57,179 9,714 1,509

Mohamedans 35,01,910 5,794 604

Christians 1,58,765 333 477

Parsees 73,945 29 2,549

Jews 9,639 20 481

Jains 2,40,436 39 6,165



From these figures Shri. A. B. Latthe (in his book, An Introduction to Jainism published in 1905 A. D.) has given his conclusion that, The last column shows that the Jains stand highest in morality. The figures from a later Report, i.e., for the year 1901 show an improvement even over this. That is, out of 7,355 Jains, only one man was in prison in that year. Such figures based on subsequent decenial Census Reports are not available. But in general it can be said that the rate of criminality among the Jainas is much less and that this comparatively low frequency of incidence of crime among Jainas can be attribu8ted to the rules of Right conduct based on the principle of Ahimsa as laid down by Jaina religion.

Thus it is a quite evident from the cultural history of India that the fundamental doctrine of Ahimsa and the actual observance of ahimsa in all its aspects have been extremely useful, from social and other points, of view, in bringing about many desirable changes like reduction of violence practiced in different fields of activities, acceptance of the sanctity and dignity of all living beings, and improvement in moral behavior of the people. That is why maximum value has been attached to the doctrine of Ahimsa by Acharya Subhachandra in his famous work Jnanarnava in following terms:


֟ ־Կá ־ ִֵ |

ֻց֝ ִ: ׫ցֿ ֟֍ ||

֯: --ִ- ֭ -֭ ֭פԝ |

֟-߻-Οִ֤߭ ֭֭ ֟ ||


That is, in all kinds of scriptures Ahimsa is considered as the distinctive mark of religion and its contrary as sin and Ahimsa is regarde3d as the mother of all good things like austerities, learning, religious duty, knowledge, meditation, charity, and vows of truth, good conduct etc.

In this way the highest position has been accorded to the doctrine of Ahimsa in Jaina religion and it is pertinent to note that this principle of Ahimsa has been actually put into practice by the Jainas during the last so many centuries. As the principle of Ahimsa permeates the life of the Jainas, the Jains culture is referred to as the ahimsa culture. It the Jainas are known for any-thing it is for the evolution of ahimsa culture since they practiced and propagated that culture from enchant times in India. The antiquate and continuity of Ahimsa culture is mainly due to the incessant efforts of the Jaina Acharyas, i.e., saints. Naturally wherever the Jainas were in great numbers and wielded some influence the tried to spread ahimsa culture among the masses. That is why we find that the States of Gujarat and Karnatak, which were the strongholds of Jains from the beginning, are largely vegetarian.; In fact it is admitted that as a result of the activities of the Jainas for the last so many centuries Ahimsa still forms the substratum of Indian Character as a whole.