Philosophical Foundations Of Jainism (An Introduction): [23] Principles Of National Integration Embeded In Jain Philosophy

Published: 31.08.2008
Updated: 02.07.2015

Before we come to the main topic, let us try to understand firstly the role of dharma in our life, and in this context, secondly, which aspect of Jain philosophy is relevent with national integration.

Every person is imperfect. What we mean by imperfectness here is the imperfect development of one's consciousness. Potentially a man may be able to develop his self perfectly, but if that potentiality remains undeveloped, he remains imperfect. Dharma is the medium or means to march forward from imperfectness to perfectness. In the Jain philosophy, only such dharma is considered as the most auspicious one.

The Jain philosophy regards that only that religion is suspicious (maṅgala), which enlightens you to shed impurity and helps developing full potential of the devotees. 'Ahiṃsā' (non-violence), 'saṃyama' (restraint) and 'tapa' (penance) are the three basic foundations of a free and perfect religion. The opposite of that is—pleasure-seeking or convenience-seeking attitude, which creates problems for the society.

Lack of self-restraint and hedonistic tendencies tend to produce divisive and disintegrating forces in society. In order to prevent them, what is needed is the development of anekānta view which is also, in fact, the right world-view. This comprises the first principle of national integration. Its application would be in the form of relativistic and harmonious behaviour. 'Anekānta' helps to build a synergie between the two paradoxes and to bring about the unanimity in different views. It is a process by which you reach conclusions based on harmony through a relative analysis and not based on any absolute dogmas. The philosophy of 'anekānta', when it settles deep into man's heart and his thinking processes, ultimately helps to subside feelings such as selfishness and divisiveness in society, nation and even in the international field.

Relativistic Approach as the Principle of Unity

The first and foremost element of anekānta is the relativistic approach (sāpekṣatā). If someone considers his view as right, it is so only if he adopts a relativistic approach and considers that his view is right only relatively; at the same time, he has to create harmony with the views of others, which may be even quite opposite.

For example, if we take the question of basic necessities of life, it can be said that water is the first basic need of life; without it, life is impossible. Now, this view is true relative to the nourishments or aliments taken in. But when we consider the in-take of air, it can be said that the prime necesity of life is air, while water is second to it. Thus we have to bring in relativity everywhere. In the same way, for walking the right and the left legs are brought in front alternately. When the right is brought in front, the left, of course, has to stay behind, and vice-versa. The same relativitic approach, in which one becomes relatively prominent, others are made secondary and so on, is to be adopted in context of the social system as well as the national integration.

Adamancy is a Hinderance

Adamancy is a hinderance in both progress and development. Insistance on a particular language, province etc. give rise to adamancy. 'Anekānta' philosophy has no room for adamancy about any particular view-point, which causes friction in the society on silly matters such as those based on sectarian interests of certain grous of people. We can accept relative importance of a particular language or a particular caste in context of a particular situation, but by giving absolutistic importance to it, we cannot maintain the national integration or humankind's unity. When 'anekānta' sets itself into the thought process of men, then there is no scope for divisive tendencies.

Relativity in Inter-national Relations

Jainism believes that the entire humankind is one race. Of course, there could be some divisions or classifications in society based on certain norms such as individual capabilities, profession, etc., but that should not lead to the stratification of society. Utilitarian outlook may be allowed only to that extent that it does not violate the fundamental principle, but if it transgresses its limit, it would become irrelevent. There is utility of the separate entities of nations, but peace in the world could only be there, if they all are held together in a relationship of inter-dependence and internal unity. This inter-dependence is so inevitable that no nation can remain completely aloof or independent. The embassies are the symbols of this inter-relatedness.

The First Step in the Direction of Non-violence

Once we accept the virtue of relativity (sāpekṣtā), all relationships would reflect the intra-dependence among people and the commonality of their interests. Consequently, one would then adopt the attitude of 'samanvaya' (harmony). That is the first milestone towards journey to 'ahiṃsā'. It is true that violence appears to be a short-cut solution to conflicts in practical life. But it cannot be the lasting solution. In fact, if we make an evaluation in broader perspective, we would find that it (violence) has created more problems and it is the most pernicious element for the humankind. Lord Mahāvīra, Lord Buddha and other great souls like Mahatma Gandhi, therefore, focussed on the need to cultivate 'ahiṃsā' as an important ingredient of social conduct. But we do not seem to have taken this advice seriously. As a result, there is chaos all over the country due to unwanted violence in all spheres of social and political life. The national disintegration is also one of the burning sparks from the fire of violence.

The Problem of Violence

"The whole humankind is but a single race" - this is a theoretical principle, but in practice, what we see is a wide-spread diversity among the human race. It is due to varying perceptions based on—beliefs, faiths, thought processes, views, tastes, the age-old practices of their social behaviour and so on. These can surely be synthesized through unbiased dialogue and mutual understanding, without resorting to violence. In fact, it is not the differences such as those mentioned above, which cause divisions in the human race. The real problem is one's ego and the agitation in mind, which turns itself into violence. There is no exception, in so far as this tendency is concerned, between illiterates and the intellectuals.

In fact, intellectuals are more responsible for making the ethnic, racial or religious differences the cause of violence, because of their strong impulses of anger etc. and certain rigidity in their beliefs such as fundamentalism.

The natural diversity in human beings is a problem for non-violence; this, in fact, is taken advantage of by violence. Our misfortune is that we can mechanically uniformize the lifeless physical objects and make them exactly equal if we want, but we cannot do so in case of the living human beings who are possessed of consciousness. Still, there is one means of uniformization of human beings, and that is the "practical training".

In order to arrest the above malady, we shall have to correct the psychic imbalances in our behaviour. This can be achieved through inculcating certain desirable value systems in our mental make-up through proper training and regular practice. Men, who are oriented into ahiṃsā and the spirit of anekānta will help to build a society, which is comparable to 'Yaugalic Samāja' i.e., a society, which came into being in pre-historic age, and its members by nature, had little passions such as anger, ego, deceit and greed.

The human psychology then was not obsessed by impulses of all these passions. Consequently, it was a non-violent and non-acquisitive human society. In the present society, the intensity of fourfold passions has, in fact, complicated the problems of violence and acquisitiveness.

The Basic Principle of National Integration

Now, let us not fight shy in accepting the fact that on one hand we desire that the development of non-violent and non-acquisitive society should take place, while on the other hand the passions are allowed to be intensified. Then, it is impossible that the desired development could take place in intensified passions. So also the application of anekānta would not be possible in intensified passions. The basic principle for development of anekānta, sāpekṣatā, samanvaya (harmony), ahiṃsā and non-acquisitiveness—all these virtues—what is needed first is to develop control over the intensification of passions.

This is also the basic principle of emotional or national integration.

There is a very famous aphorism in Jain philosophy—'Kaṣāya-mukti kila mukiireva'—'Mukti (liberation) consists essentially in freedom from passions'. If you get rid of kaṣāyas i.e., passions etc., you can achieve mukti (i.e., liberation) both in realising the ultimate truth by attainment of liberation from karma as well as by getting freedom from the problems while living your worldly life. You develop an effective mechanism inside your system, which helps you to control the bouts of emotional crisis. This is possible if we start this process by training our children and help them to develop these inner strengths built by nature into their psyche itself.

Even while deliberating over the issue of emotional integration, we have to pay attention to the training in restraint over passions, to be introduced in the education.

Jainism has always paid attention to the fact that instead of sprinkling water into the main roots, if it is sprinkled on the flowers and leaves, no ultimate aim could be achieved. So, while deliberating over "national integration", it is imperative to tackle the very base by planning the root-policy of training in "restraint over passions".

Sources

This is an edited version of the author's work:
Jain I Darshan ke Mool Sutra
Translated by Prof. M. P. Lele under the guidance of Muni Mahendra Kumar ji and Muni Dulahraj ji, Senior disciples of Acharya Mahprajna.

© Adarsh Sahitya Sangh. New Delhi

Published by:
Kamlesh Chaturvedi
Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Ahiṃsā
  2. Anekānta
  3. Anger
  4. Buddha
  5. Consciousness
  6. Deceit
  7. Dharma
  8. Greed
  9. Jain Philosophy
  10. Jainism
  11. Karma
  12. Mahatma
  13. Mahatma Gandhi
  14. Mahāvīra
  15. Mukti
  16. Non-violence
  17. Violence
  18. kaṣāyas
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