Enriching Perspectives From The Sacred Texts On The Issue Of Justice, Peace And Integrity Of All Creations : Jainist Perspective

Posted: 27.01.2008

Mr.Pramod M. Jain presented his paper on 25.01.2008
at John Paul II Center for Catholic Thought, Assumption University, Bangkok, Thailand

Jai Jinendra! (Jain way of greeting each other)

Introduction to “JAIN” Dharma & its Philosophy (Jainism):

Indian sub-continent has been the birthplace of number of schools of thought like Jain Dharma-commonly known as Jainism, Buddhism, Vedantism, Sankhya, Nyaya, Memansa, etc., all broadly known as the Indian tradition. These can be divided into two distinct groups known as the Vedic tradition and Shramanic tradition. These traditions have run parallel over ages and naturally so influenced each other that the dividing line has become very indistinguishable. The Vedic tradition is still continuing as the religion of the majority of the people in India. In Shramanic tradition, we find Jainism, Buddhism, Ajivika, etc. Somehow, out of these, only Jainism survives in India as a living religion, Buddhism and other religions having been almost completely obliterated from India though Buddhism flourishes in the other parts of the world.

Jain philosophers defined Dharma as that which saves the being from worldly sorrows. The only means of escaping from the misery of Samsara, the cycle of birth and death, is the path of moral, mental and spiritual development based on practicing the three fold path of: Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct and by practicing non-violence, self control and penance.

Jain Dharma or Jainism, as the name indicates, is the religion preached by the Jinas. The word religion means a creed or a set of beliefs. Literally the word Jinameans a conqueror of his own self. Jinas were victors over their senses, and their passions and desires. Jinas achieved Godhood and became perfect beings blessed with perfect faith, perfect wisdom and eternal bliss and free from worldly miseries and bondage for all times to come.

Synopsis of Jain Dharma (Jainism) & its Doctrine:

  • Jainism is an ancient religion of India, at least 5000+ year old (in fact much older).
  • It is followed by more than 10 million people, majority live in all parts of India & several thousand live abroad, in USA, Canada, UK, Japan, Singapore, Kenya, Thailand & several other countries.
  • More precisely, Jainism is a ‘Way of Life’.
  • Jainism is a scientific religion, and it logically explains various aspects of life science.
  • As per Jain Dharma, for our survival and existence, we shall use natural resources such as air, water, earth, fire, and vegetation by providing minimum harm to nature.
  • As per Jainism, souls & other 5 substances of universe are beginning less & endless. They can neither be created nor be destroyed.
  • Ahimsa or non-violence is the hallmark of Jain doctrine.
  • There is no ‘God’ or ‘Creator of Universe’ as per Jainism.
  • Jainism emphasizes mainly on the purification of “soul” and seeks to release the soul from the cycle of re-birth by freeing the Soul (spirit) from (karmic) matter.
  • It advocates equality of all life forms i.e. human, animals, birds, micro organisms etc. In other words, as per Jainism “All souls are equal”.
  • Emphasis is laid on one’s action and not on the devotion for one’s liberation from the miseries of the world.
  • All living beings are capable of becoming ‘Siddha’ i.e. liberated souls, but as per Jainism, these Supreme beings do not intervene or respond to petitioner’s prayers.
  • Jain Sacred Texts or Scriptures are known as “Agams”.

In the present time cycle (consisting of several million years), there have been numerous Jinas, out of which 24 became Tirthankars or prophets/enlightened beings as they created institutions for propagating Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct, three Jewels for the salvation of humanity. The first Tirthankar was Lord Rishabh, also known as Adi Nath (the first Lord) who started the Jain tradition in the present time cycle. The 24th and last one of these prophets was Lord Mahavir, who lived about 2600 years ago (born in 599 BCE) and who is erroneously considered as the originator/founder of Jain Dharma/Jainism. Lord Mahavir was senior contemporary of Lord Buddha.

The name of India, Bharat (bha + rat) which means affinity for the light of knowledge that is infinite and immortal. This has been the goal of our saints (yogis, munis and rishis). “Simple living and high thinking” has been the motto. Today’s Hinduism is an amalgamation of ideas of many such thinkers in the land of India. History is witness to the contribution of Lord Mahavir, 24th and last Tirthankar (prophet) of this time cycle and His predecessors: Lord Parshwanath (23rd Tirthankar) and Lord Nemi (22nd Tirthankar). It is worth to remember here that Lord Nemi was the (elder) cousin of Lord Krishna. Jainism hails both these great royal men of Dwarka. It is a lesser known fact to many that Lord Nemi renounced the throne in favor of Lord Krishna who eventually attended the sermons of Lord Nemi at the Mount of Girnar, now known as Junagarh. Lord Buddha initially became a seer in the path of Lord Parshwanath and later founded a new religion, Buddhism.

Thus we can see fusion of thoughts in the ancient India. The spirit of many ideals as we shall be enumerating soon may be better appreciated through the lens of Jainism. Lord Mahavir’s personal life is an example of gender equality and eradication of inequalities based on birth, caste, creed and race. 

Jainism is perhaps one of the most scientific religions in the world and therefore it is still relevant to the society and the world. Jain metaphysics approves of the scientific axiom that nothing is destructible. That means nothing can be created out of nothing, or out of something, which does not at all exist in one form or the other. The Jain doctrine is pertinent when it advocates that the universe is uncreated, real, eternal, and infinite with no beginning and end. The modern science has confirmed that this universe has automatic working process and the matter is never destroyed; it only undergoes changes into different states or modes. This is the law of nature.

The Jains offer, a five-fold worship which is universally practiced by all sects of Jains and is given the name ‘Namokar Mantra’. This Mantra is as under:

  1. Namo Arihantanam- I bow to the Arihants - the omniscient personages.
  2. Namo Siddhanam- I bow to the Siddhas- the bodiless liberated souls.
  3. Namo Ayariyanam- I bow to the Acharyas- the Heads of the Muni (monk) Sangha.
  4. Namo Uvazzayanam- I bow to the Upadhyays-the head teacher Munis (saints)
  5. Namo loye Savva Sahunam- I bow to all Munis (saints) in the universe.

One can not fail to be struck by the catholicity or universality and the impersonal tone of the above incantation or Mantra. The worship is given to all souls worthy of veneration throughout the universe- the Loka, irrespective of any distinction of caste or creed or time or clime. Only the aggregate of the qualities is worshipped rather than any individual A or B. Whosoever satisfies the qualifications to be a saint (or any of the five worships) is worshipped.

The institutions set up by the Jain Tirthankars (prophets) consisted of four groups:

  1. Munis (monks),
  2. Aryika (nuns),
  3. Shravak (male laity),
  4. Shravika (female laity).

Jain Dharma believes that the universe consists of six Dravya or substances, classified in to 2 main groups: (1) Jiva (soul) or a living, conscious substance and (2) Ajiva or non-living substances such as: Pudgal (matter), Akash (space), Kaal (time), Dharmastikaya (medium of motion) and Adharmastikaya (medium of rest)].

In Jain evolutionary theory, all souls are equal but are bound by varying amounts of matter i.e. asravas (karmic particles), reflected in the type of body they inhabit. The attachment of matter with soul is beginning less, and it is under the influence of matter that the soul undergoes the cycle of life and death with related pain and pleasure, changing the bodies through transmigration of soul in which Jainism, like the most oriental schools, firmly believes.

Soul classification: The lowest form of physical bodies, like those of trees and vegetation, have only the sense of touch, yet are able to experience pleasure and pain, and have souls. Air, water, fire and earth also have consciousness. [There is a report by a Japanese scientist, Mr. MASARU EMOTO, about water consciousness, please visit website: http://www.adhikara.com/].

All these are single sensed living beings. Above these forms of life are microorganisms and small animals with two, three or four senses. The highest grade of animals, and human beings, with five senses (of touch, taste, smell, seeing and hearing) also possess rationality and intuition. As a highly evolved form of life, human beings have a great moral responsibility in their mutual dealings and in their relationship with the rest of the universe.

The Jain doctrine of Karma is fully substantiated by the obvious disparities among living creatures. This doctrine makes the transmigration of souls a proven fact, and establishes their continuity and immortality. The Karma doctrine of Jainism also does away with the necessity of any outside agency, an invisible all pervading, omnipotent and omniscient Supreme Being, creator, destroyer, preserver and dispenser of justice, for the purpose of punishing or rewarding living beings. Scientists also feel no need of any unknown hand to interfere with the automatic working of the universe.

Jain community is richly endowed educationally and economically. Literacy level of Jain community is close to 90%. They lead in the fields of industry, business, education and politics.

Das (Ten) Lakshana Parva (or Paryushan) is the single most important festival in the Jain Dharma.  During these ten (or eight days), the entire Jain community becomes engrossed in an atmosphere of enthusiasm and felicity and religion. This Jain festival is characterized by renunciation, austerities, study of the scriptures, repetition of holy hymns (sutras), living a total compassionate life, meditation, and expressing devotion for the Tirthankars.

Modesty, discipline, compassion, charity and other such good qualities are essence of Jainism and Jainism is to have a Right faith as its foundation. The purpose of life according to Jain teachings is to realize oneself, to experience wholeness, peace and reverence for all life.  Therefore, the real purpose of Das Lakshan Dharma or Paryushan is to purify our soul by observing and correcting our own faults, asking for forgiveness for the mistakes we have committed, and taking vows to minimize our faults.

Daily introspection in Jainism at fixed time, called samayik, makes every individual to reform and improve his or her attitude and behaviour. It involves moralistic analysis of individual’s action both at mental and physical frames, boosting self-confidence to stay firm on moral grounds etc. It may also involve confession to a reverend teacher and better counseling. It is said that the criminal records of Jains have been insignificant both at Moghul and British rule. It goes without saying that India was in its golden period during the rule of Chandra Gupta Maurya, a well-known Jain ruler. Even King Ashok reverted back to this style of rule after the Kalinga misadventure. A close scrutiny of a few Jains who got involved with crimes shows that they deviated from this noble path. This again goes to show the relevance of Jain principles for law and order as well as peace and harmony.

At the core of Jaina faith lie five vows that dictate the daily life of Jain (male and female) laypersons, monks, and nuns. These five vows, which also inspired and influenced Mahatma Gandhi, are:



to respect the lives and feelings of other living beings & not to hurt anyone, even in thought (mind), words (speech) and deeds (bodily actions).



not to tell lie or indulge in any type of falsehood.



Not to take away anything unless it is given by the owner.



Not to indulge in any kind of sensual pleasures (for monks); limiting relations to one's spouse only (for house holders).



Not to acquire/keep more than what is needed to live/maintain a simple and happy life (and give away/donate excesses as charity).

Above are five minor vows or anuvrat. Even famous yogi Patanjali had adopted these five principles as part of his eight limbs of yoga. These are possible models for ensuring international peace, justice and integrity. The Jaina vows can easily be reinterpreted in an ecological fashion.

The practice of Ahimsa/non-violence in the Jaina context fosters an attitude of respect for all life-forms. Ahimsa itself is defined as “apraturbhavah khalu raagadinam bhavati ahimseti” (Purushartha Siddhyopaya, 44) i.e. the state free of negative traits such as illusion, ignorance, myths, anger, ego, conceit and greed as expressed in thoughts, speech and deeds. All the violence we see at home, workplace and terrorism now possibly everywhere stem from these negative traits gaining ground.

Non-violence is the foundation stone of Jain religion. It teaches the principle of “live and let live” and believes that life is too sacred to be injured even in the minutest form. Thus the environment and ecology of which one hears so much now-a-days, is automatically preserved under the aegis of Jain practices.

Jainism warns that ahimsa can survive only through better management of policies, communication or dialogue and behaviour. One should ensure care in exchange of commodities and honour treaties keeping the spirit of harmony. Even manufacture or production, formulation, package, label, storage and transport (import and export) of commodities, articles etc. must follow harmonized rules and agreements.

Lord Mahavir taught that only the one who understood the grave demerit and detriment caused by the destruction of plants and trees could also understand the meaning and merit of reverence for nature.

The emphasis is also on the central role played by the nuns and monks who serve as the conscience of the Jain tradition, advocating protection for even those beings lacking awareness, such as plants, insects and the living bodies contained within earth, water, fire, and air.

The principle of Satya or truth is quite different from general perception. Satya according Jainism is to speak sweetly and with good effect. In other words, telling a harsh or bitter truth that would be detrimental to the recipient or society is not truth in real sense.

Asteya or non-theft is another great principle. According to Jainism, adatta danam asteyam i.e. claiming an idea or property not duly given by the rightful owner is a theft. Preservation of human races and heritages in their original form is also imperative. Ethics and honesty are the key words. The vow of not stealing can be used to reflect on the world’s limited resources and prompt one to think of the needs of future generations.

Brahmacharya (celibacy/chastity) or sexual restraint is another important vow that not only helps to control population growth but is also instrumental in stopping the spreading of deadly diseases such as HIV, Aids.

Parigrah (possession) is the false feeling of exclusive ownership. Aparigrah (non possessiveness) on the other hand is based on the principle that the resources are common property of all living beings. It calls for equitable distribution and judicious exploitation of natural resources. Hoarding of food grains and such other commodities is shunned. Luxurious lifestyle is forbidden. Defining the boundaries of business and rule is also prescribed for the dutiful citizens including rulers. Service to the society in terms of philanthropy is a must. The discipline of non-possession gives one pause to think twice before indulging in the acquisition of material goods, one of the root causes of current ecological concerns.

To sum up before proceeding further: by taking above five basic vows or Anuvrat, the Jain laity endeavours to live a life of moderation and restraint and to practice a measure of abstinence and austerity. Wants should be reduced, desires curbed and consumption levels kept within reasonable limits. Using any resource beyond one's needs or the misuse of any part of nature is considered a form of theft. Indeed, the Jain faith declares unequivocally that waste and creating pollution are acts of violence. Accumulation of possessions and enjoyment for personal ends should be minimized. Wealth creation must have a philanthropic goal. Giving charitable donations and time generously for community projects is an obligation. It is this sense of social obligation that has led the Jains to found and maintain innumerable schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics, lodging houses, hostels, orphanages and relief and rehabilitation camps for the handicapped, old, sick and disadvantaged, as well as hospitals for ailing birds and cow shelters for sick and saved animals. Wealthy individuals are advised to recognize that beyond a certain point their wealth is superfluous to their needs and that they should manage the surplus as trustees for social benefit.

Jainism and Environment

Lord Mahavir preached universal truth for all times to come when he said, “One who neglects or disregards the existence of earth, air, fire, water and vegetation, disregards his own existence which is entwined with them”. Not only did he preach on environmental and ecological issues, but his entire life was also an example of how to live in perfect harmony with the environment.

The Jain code of conduct is profoundly ecological. Transgressions against the vow of non-violence include all forms of cruelty to animals and human beings. Many centuries ago, Jains condemned as evil the common practice of animal sacrifices to the gods. Except for allowing themselves the judicious use of one-sensed life in the form of vegetables, Jains would not consciously take any life for food or sport. Jains are strict vegetarians, consuming neither meat, nor fish, nor eggs.

Jainism stressed more and more on vegetarian diet since inception. According to it, the object of man's food is not just to fill his stomach, to maintain health or to satisfy his taste but to properly develop his mind, character and spirituality too. Our intake of food is closely related with our thinking, character and deeds. There is high truth in ancient saying that the kind of food you eat determines the kind of man you are. In fact, it is an indicator of one's innermost self. Meat eating is totally against human nature. It is the result of perverted taste, which becomes a sort of addiction. As such it should be completely discarded.

Vegetarianism is based on the principle of compassion towards less evolved species on the planet. Animal products like silk, leather etc are not encouraged for use. There is a need to evolve and encourage vegan style of life. Mahatma Gandhi’s crusade with Ahimsa is well-known. Jain Saint, Rajchandra’s motivation of him is also mentioned in Gandhi’s autobiography.

Alcoholism and narcotic drugs drives men and women especially away from mutual care and share, most of the times. They are detrimental to growth and development. An intoxicated man loses control of him and harms the society.

Jainism ordains its followers to drink water after proper distillation with the view to avoid the killing of tiny germs (not visible to naked eye) of water. Jainism lays stress on taking meals before sunset in defense of the vow of non-violence. The modern science also tells that after sunset many tiny (not seen by naked eyes) living beings come into existence in the atmosphere. Also it is advised by Physicians to eat 3-4 hours before sleep to help with digestion. The physicians and Ayurvedic literature also supported Jain's viewpoint on day dining.
The Dairy industry treats the cow as a milk producing machine. The cost of mass-producing cattle, poultry, pigs, sheep and fish to feed our growing population… include hugely inefficient use of freshwater and land, heavy pollution from livestock feces… and spreading destruction of the forest on which much of our planet’s life depends. [Source: Time Magazine, 11/8/99]

To ensure steady milk production the dairy farms:

  • Keep cows pregnant all the time through artificial insemination or other means.
  • Sell baby calves to veal or beef industry, where they are slaughtered in six months to two years.
  • Sell the adult cows to the slaughterhouses around four years of age when the milk production yield drops

American slaughterhouse kills the following number of Animals daily:

  • Cattle 130,000 per day (more than 5000 per hour)
  • Calves 7,000 per day
  • Hogs 360,000 per day (15,000 Hogs per hour)
  • Chickens 24,000,000 per day (1 Million Chicken every hour)
  • Livestock (Cattle, Calves, Hogs, Pigs etc) production accounts for more than half of all the water consumed (for all purposes) in the USA. 
  • A third of the surface of North America is devoted to grazing.  Half of American croplands grow livestock feed (mostly for cattle) for meat and dairy products.
  • 220 million acres of land in the USA have been deforested for livestock production.
  • 25 million acres (an area the size of Austria) in Brazil, and half the forests in Central America, have been cleared for beef production.
  • The value of raw materials consumed to produce food from livestock is greater than the value of all oil, gas and coal consumed in America.
  • Growing grains, vegetables and fruits uses less than 5% as much raw materials as does meat and dairy production.
  • The production of meat and other animal products for food contributes significantly to the primary global warming gases carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, accounting for 9%, 37%, and 65% of world totals, respectively.
  • The world is currently raising over 50 billion farmed animals for slaughter each year and, in addition to its major impact on global warming, this is contributing significantly to the destruction of tropical rainforests and other valuable habitats, pollution of rivers, rapid species extinction, soil erosion and depletion and other environmental threats.

Spiritual relationships, from an ecological perspective, can be understood with the help of some of the basic tenets of Jainism;

  1. injure no creatures (Savve pana na hantavva),
  2. do not command any creature;
  3. do not own any creature; and
  4. do not employ one as the servant (save pana na pariggahetvva).

Jainism holds that we are to treat others, as we want to be treated, and this refers not only to other people but also to the entirety of our planet.

Lord Mahavir says, "Kill no creature.“ Lord Mahavir goes on to say that one who is afflicted with lust is bereft of knowledge and perception. Truth will always baffle such a person. These beings have consciousness (Santi pana pudho siya).

Peace today is in pieces. Jainism places great importance on rational perception (SAMYAK DARSHAN), rational knowledge (SAMYAK GYAAN) and rational conduct (SAMYAK CHARITRA). In plain words, rational perception entails accepting and believing only what is true based on one's study, observation and experience. The knowledge derived through such an approach is rational knowledge. It should be pointed out that the process of attaining rational knowledge begins by having an open mind and by giving up blind faith and notions prevalent in today’s society.

According to the basic tenets of Jainism, rational perception and rational knowledge impel an individual to adopt rational conduct. Rational conduct includes practicing the virtues of non-violence, truth, non-stealing, chastity and non-possessiveness. It also entails self-restraint and penance. Steadfastly following such rational conduct, in turn, brings about peace of mind and happiness in life.

Rational knowledge helps a worldly soul minimize attachment and other passions. It helps an individual become interested in spiritual uplift, and develop altruism. According to the basic principles of Jainism, the soul of a worldly being is distinct from the body and other entities of the universe. Every being is independent, responsible for the consequences of its own actions. Such an insight constitutes the essence of the Jain teachings.

Thus the three together, Right Knowledge, Right Vision and Right Conduct, known as Tri Ratna, form the Jain code of conduct. The relationship between the three jewels is one of complementariness. They are incomplete and ineffective individually as a means of salvation but form the three parts of one whole. The three are inseparable.

Jain doctrine is the treatise or manual for achieving success in any field through the process of harmony with the world-external. There has to be symphony between system and its surroundings. The enemy or the barrier within each individual is the real one as per Jainism.

The following ancient Jain aphorism is refreshingly contemporary in its promise and forms the basis of the modern day science of ecology. “Parasparopagraho Jivänäm.”-(Tattvarthasutra, 5.21.2)-All life is bound together by mutual support and interdependence. Environment is imbued (saturated) with living beings therefore if we harm “ONE” we harm “ALL” living beings.

The global ecological crisis cannot be solved until spiritual relationship is established between humanity as a whole and its natural environment. Jainism has been staunch protector of nature since inception of the Jain faith. The religion of nature, Jainism paves the way to understanding nature's utility and the essential nature of plants, worms, animals, and all sorts of creatures that have their own importance for maintaining ecological balance.

Every genera or species in the biotic world depend on another for survival. We know now the importance of this altruism from the principles of ecology and nutrient cycles. Man can no longer afford the selfish way of living through the destruction of environment and ecology. Climate change, depletion of ozone layer, soil erosion, deforestation etc. are some of the grave perils challenging the human kind and its welfare.

Jainism believes that nothing is permanent without change. In other words, every system is dynamic and due allowance should be given to the impact of changing environment and ethos.  The following aphorism from Tatvartha Sutra (TS), if suitably interpreted, would teach us blind faith, disharmonious behavior, passions, never care attitude, and ideologies as causes of underdevelopment and backwardness in microcosmic as well as macrocosmic levels.

Mithyadarsana avrati kashaya pramada yoga bandha hetavah | (TS ch 8: 1)

Blind faith has no place in Jainism. It is considered to be mother of all evils (Ratnakaranda Sravakachar 34). Next in line is kashay or passions. We must focus on anger management, ego management, transparency in life and tempering of greed.

The triple As that stand out and valid for us are: Ahimsa, Aparigrah and Anekantvad (and Syadvaad-meaning ‘point of view’). We have already advocated the role of the first two. Ekant is inflexibility or rigidity in notions, theories, strategies, approaches, concepts etc. Jainism is very emphatic that all-round knowledge is possible only through accommodation of opposing views in a harmonious manner and therefore advocates anekantvad or pluralistic view. The ideologies in isolation annihilate each other but in unison synergize’ is the golden principle enunciated by Tirthankar as can be understood from the following stanza:

Ya eva nityakshanikAdayO nayA mithOnapEshAh svaparaprANishinah|
Ta eva tatvam Vimalasya tE munEh parasparEkshah svaparOpakArinah ||

(Acharya Samantabhadra, 2nd Century A.D. in Swayambhustotra, 13:1)

‘Anekantvaad’ and ‘Syadvaad’ emphasize the concept of universal interdependence and specifically recommend that one should logically and impartially take into account and accommodate the viewpoints of other species, other communities and nations, and other human beings. This guards us from holding opinions that are based on views that are one-sided and extreme. Every person ventilates his views about the given object according to his attitude and capacity. His limited knowledge is inadequate to throw the flood of light on the entire object. Out of so many facts, he deals with only one or some. This partial knowledge and partial success is dangerous especially when he feels that his knowledge is complete and correct. This is the real humanitarian outlook. We must think objectively irrespective of our religion and ideology. Jainism believes that each citizen irrespective of his/her affiliation to race, language, nation, gender, age has equal right to lead a life with dignity, in a harmonious manner.

The above principle of Syadvaad and Anekantvaad can be easily explained by famous story of six blind men exploring an elephant, the giant animal they never came across in their life. This is taken from one Jain book called Purushartha Siddhyopaya in Sanskrit written by Acharya Amritchandra Ji in 10th century AD. The story goes like this:

  • 1st man touching elephant’s body & side says it is like a wall
  • 2nd man touching its foot says it is like pillar
  • 3rd man touching its trunk says it’s like branch of tree
  • 4th man touching its tail says it is like a thick rope
  • 5th man touching its ear says it is like a winnowing fan
  • 6th man touching its tusk says it is like a spear

As we know each one of them was correct within their rights but the animal was neither this nor that but sum total of all facts put together. In a pluralistic society, the solution must come from this consensus approach based on amicable consultations, based on mutual trust and respect.

Proper understanding of the co- existence of mutually opposing groups through these principles rescues one from conflicts. It is a humble attitude of tolerance and justice and to pay respect for other's views. Mutual co-operation is the law of nature and this is the best method to provide Justice in its true sense. This important principle, as explained above, also highlights the root cause of violence, terrorism when few fundamentalist individuals of different religion interpret religious teachings to their liking, contrary to its intended meaning. 

Unfortunately, the objective of Modern Economics is neither peace nor non-violence. Its goal is economic prosperity. In order to fulfil the objective of pervasive prosperity, it also expects that desires, needs and production are expanded, and as a consequence thereof, it is accepted that greed should be promoted.

The other element is consumption. Consumption is essential, but since consumerism surfaced, it has expanded to an extent that it has impacted health, mind and consciousness. In a way, new consumerism is the corollary of a new type of violence. Violence has already assumed a new dimension. Everybody has developed craving in his mind that a certain amount of consumption is essential. If that is not satisfied, then effort is made to satisfy it in one way or the other. Today's Economics does not recognize the need for moral and human values. Under these conditions, acquisition somehow or the other becomes the only objective.

As such, single sensed souls also feel pain when injured or destroyed and one commits violence when indulging in such acts e.g. cutting of trees, excavating the earth recklessly, water wastage etc. Incidentally, all ecologists, environmentalists and preservationists are coming to the same conclusion as a result of the latest advance of science. There is a movement for preservation of animals, realizing that every creature-tiniest or wildest-has its place in the scheme of nature. Tree cutting, pollution of water of rivers and oceans and needless unplanned excavation of earth is raising protests. The world is coming to the same path as preached by Jainism millenniums ago.

After the nuclear holocaust witnessed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thousands of peace organizations sprang up in all parts of the world raising their voices against nuclear weapons and demanding complete disarmament. These people say that their main aim is to save the world from the third world war but as a matter of fact many will agree that the third world war has already begun. It is war against nature. Environmental and ecological disaster that closes in on humanity now will result in the annihilation of all forms of life on this earth. We must spread the message of deep ecology that all life is bound together. We must limit our needs (Aparigrah vow).

The solution to the problem can be summed up in one word: self-restraint. It is essential that it should be practiced on an extensive scale. Self-restraint connotes reduction and limitation. It means exercising restraint in relation to conveniences, consumption and wealth.

Religion in Latin means 'to unite', but history reveals that many of the religions have more often been the cause of war and disunity and have disturbed the peace of mankind. Although all religions and philosophies stand by peace and nothing else, all saints and philosophers have lived and died for peace but have never killed any living form or creature in the name of religion. A greater need is felt today to understand the very nature of peace and to understand the role of religion in its light.

Peace and justice can survive and thrive only in the rule of universal compassion and fellowship based on equality and respect irrespective of outward diversity and natural adversity. There is a need to look at Jain Dharma/Jainism as a viable option for addressing the challenges and redressing the problems.

If there is only one religion, it will be for all humans whatever and wherever they are. Though there is no acceptable name for this human religion, it would be humanism in the best sense of the world. Hinduism, Christianity, Baha’ism, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Confusianism will all be then names of different sects and not of religions. If taken in the right spirit the above formulation will rule out the possibility of all feuds and wars in the name of religion, for by definition the latter can only be a unifying factor and an instrument for common weal. Further, life in this world is more important than that after death. Religious concerns should directly aim at improving the quality of life and righteousness of conduct should take precedence over formal and ritualistic practices associated with orthodox religion. The religion should not merely act as part of worship but as an instrument of purifying character.

The greatest concentration has to be on the present education system and life style which is responsible for the present-day hedonism, consumerism and acquisitiveness. We can hope for a new man, a new society and a new world if the seeds of self-restraint are sown in the young students' minds from the very beginning. Materialistic expansion and spread of armaments cannot bring about a new world order.

Finally the mantra for Peace is to REALISE YOURSELF, BE HAPPY, COMPASSIONATE AND DO GOOD and KEEP DOING GOOD. Be happy in all circumstances, and do well to all the people you can, by all the means you can, at all the times you can and in all the places you can.

Before I conclude, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to my learned Jain scholars and friends located in other countries who have provided me with written material, references which are used in the preparation of this paper.

If I have presented anything not according to Sacred Jain Scriptures then mistake is entirely mine and I seek forgiveness for my wrong interpretation/actions.
Jai Jinendra!


  1. Acarya Griddhapiccha(1st century A.D.). Tatvartha Sutra
  2. Acarya Samantabhadra (2nd century, A.D.) Ratnakaranda Sravakacara
  3. ibid Swayambhu Stotra
  4. Acarya Amrutchandra (10th century A. D.). Purushartha Siddhyopaya
  5.  Jaini, JML. (1915). Outlines of Jainism. JL Jain Trust Indore (India)
  6. Jain, Sagarmal (2007). The world of religion in unity and world peace: Jain perspective. Jain Journal XLI (4):185-200.
  7. Jain, Mahendra Kumar(1955). Jain Darshan and Vishwa Shanti ch 11: pp. 431-434. In Jain Darshan (Hindi) (Jain, Mahendra Kumar) Sri Ganesh Prasad Varni Jain Granthmala, Varanasi (INDIA)
  8. Shastri Nemichandra, Jyotishacharya (1964). Tirthankar Mahavir aur unki Acharya Parampara (Hindi) vol 1. ch 11. Samaj vyavastha pp 550-603. Sri Bharatvarshiya Digamber Jain Parishad, Mussafarnagar (INDIA)

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