by Acharya Mahapragya
THE CONCEPT OF `HIMSA'
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 Jainism.
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.,
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
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 or speech.
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
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 categories as,
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 occupations."
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.,
Grharambhi Himsa, i.e.,
domestic injury, and
Virodhi Himsa, i.e.,
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
Masi, i.e., the profession of
Krshi, i.e., the profession
of an agriculturist,
Vanijya, i.e., the profession
of a trader,
Silpa, i.e., the profession
of an artisan, and
Vidya, i.e., the profession
of an intellectual.
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.,
Grharambhi Himsa, i.e.,
Virodhi Himsa, i.e.,
defensive injury, and
Samkalpi Himsa, i.e.
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 Himsa.
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 activities".
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
by DR. VILAS SANGAVE