Simplified Jainism (Path for Spiritual Upliftment)

Posted: 05.03.2012
Updated on: 02.07.2015

Jainism is one of ancient Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings through mind, thoughts, actions or speech and praying for wellbeing of all.

The Jain religion, according to the Jain scriptures is eternal, revealed in every cyclic period of the universe. The time is divided into 2equal half cycles namely Utsarpini (ascending) Kal & Avasarpini (descending) Kal. Each cycle is again divided into six divisions known as aras. The aras of Avasarpini are in reverse than in Utsarpini. There are 24 Tirthankaras in each half cycle. There has been infinite number of half cycles in past and there will be infinite number of half cycles in future. Jainism is based on laws of nature and truths of the universe. Therefore, Jainism has been in existence since the laws of nature have been in existence. Therefore, Jains believe that the Jain religion has been in existence since the time without beginning and will have no end.

In current Cycle Jainism was founded by Lord Rishabhdev (Lord Adinath- First Tirthankar) and revived by Lord Mahavira (24th Tirthankar). It has its roots from Indus Valley Civilization.

Jain philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Jainism teaches basic layman path to salvation. And any person from any caste, creed, and sex can follow same whose final objective is spiritual enlightenment. To start same one has to start to practice minimization of Himsa (practicing non-violence) towards all living beings and environment. Jainism acknowledges that in one’s daily life it is impossible to discharge one's duties without some degree of himsa though its unintentional, but encourages to minimize as much as possible within one’s capacity as while breathing unintentionally one kills many airborne life forms in inhaling process. And hence things which are necessary for survival and causes unintentional himsa can’t be avoided but minimized within one’s reach. But vegetarian diet is compulsory. As every soul is born as a heavenly being, human, sub-human (Animals, plants, etc.) or hellish being according to its own karma and takes birth as various forms in each life resulting lost in cycle of birth and death. Jainism views every soul as worthy of respect because it has the potential to become siddha (Liberated) / paramatma. Jainism aims at taking the soul to status of complete freedom from bondages. 

Right Faith (SAMYAK DARSHAN), Right Knowledge (SAMYAK JNAAN) and Right conduct (SAMYAK CHAARITRA) are three jewels of Jainism which together constitute the path to salvation.

One is supposed to practice below 5 principles in life which accelerates one's spiritual growth, providing help in clearing karmic bondage.

1. Ahimsa (Non-Violence), 2. Satya (truth), 3. Non-stealing,  4. Brahmacharya (Chastity), 5 Aparigraha (Non-Attachment)"

Jainism’s important doctrines are Syadvada, Nayavada, and Anekantvada. Anekandvada refers to the principles of pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints, the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth. Today a basic layman is only capable of partial knowledge and same is illustrated by the parable of the "blind men and an elephant".

This ecumenical attitude, engendered by anekantavada, allowed modern Jain monks such as P.P. Acharya shree Vijayadharmasuriji to declare:"I am neither a Jain nor a Buddhist, a Vaisnava nor a Saivite, a Hindu nor a Muslim nor a Christian but a traveler on the path of peace shown by the supreme soul, the God who is free from passion."

Sutrakrtanga, the second oldest canon of Jainism, provides a solution by stating "Those who praise their own doctrines and ideology and disparage the doctrine of others distort the truth and will be confined to the cycle of birth and death.

For spiritualization one needs to practice external austerity additional to strict jain vegetarian diet to keep the demands of the body under check and assists in the focus on the upliftment of the soul and at same time one should make sure that their lifestyle does not harm to anyone i.e. All living beings, environment, ecology. From Ecology point of view consuming any genetic engineered is also prohibited as it damages ecology eg. Soy Crops, corn, sugar beet, etc. Jainism conveys one is supposed not to indulge in obnoxious habits (Vyasanas), which make life & ecology disastrous. Jainism lays down social and religious obligations for excess use and damage of basic elements of environment like earth, water, air, fire, nature.

 For Spiritual Upliftment as per Jainism one should practice Preksha Meditation - Jain Meditation, Pranayam and try to avoid following things:

  1. Potatoes
  2. Onions
  3. Garlic
  4. Any root vegetables
  5. Minimize any Vigai example Cow’s Milk, Buffalo's Milk, Fortified Organic soy Milk, fortified Almonds Milk, fortified Coconut Milk, Sheep’s milk, Goats Milk or avoid any taste triggering food example: Oil, honey, ghee, butter, cheese ice creams, or any dairy products etc.

Garlic, Potato, onion, Indian Cow’s Milk has many medicinal benefits but those practicing meditation are guided to avoid root vegetables or minimize milk avoiding other dairy products. And those consuming same from medicine point of view can consume same. As among all Cows’ Milk is only natural source of B12 for Vegetarians. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause symptoms of mania and psychosis, fatigue, memory impairment, irritability, depression, mental disorders, personality changes, permanent damage to nervous tissue as a long term effect. As per Jain scriptures Lord Rishabdev first Tirthankar was first to teach asi, masi, krishi or agriculture farming to then existing civilization. As per Ancient Indian history since Cows give milk and the Bull gives grains through tilling the land, they were considered the MOTHER and the FATHER of human society and hence were revered with great respect and treated as family members. Both the Cow and Bull are symbols of the most offence less living beings because even their dung and urine are of immense value (medicinal, fuel, best fertilizer, etc.) to human society. Hence they were revered as family members and given most love and affection. In many Jain stories and Indian Stories we trace that cow’s milk was shown very pious and at times were offered to saints as alms eg. Kheer (Milk +Rice). A cow gives sufficient milk first for its calf and then naturally remained milk in limited quantity for mankind also.

As current saddening issue today commercialization of Cow’s Milk for dairy products has leaded to cow’s cruelty in milking process depriving calf from mother’s milk, regular artificial insemination and hormone injections to forcefully produce about 10 times as much milk as they would naturally. This is mainly observed in many western countries and has recently affected possibly 25% of Indian market also especially metropolitan cities. Otherwise in India still at 75% places cows are revered as family members and handled with care. If one is genuinely sympathetic for cow worldwide than one should use milk for basic necessity only for vitamins as part of medicine expressing their gratitude for cow’s and should try to avoid same to satisfy one’s taste buds i.e. Cheese, butter, Milk sweets, paneer products, pasta etc. which can limit commercialization of milk and hence may result in reduction of cruelty with cow’s due to declining demand of dairy products.

Total eradication of cow’s milk is not advised by many humanitarians as one need to understand that a cow become useless when her milk is no longer sold; this leads to transfer cows from dairy to beef industry. One’s motive should be to save them and discourage commercialization. And as part of compassion world wise Jains build as many shelter houses for animals as compassion for these living beings. And we should promote more such shelter houses worldwide and take steps to eradicate cruelty against cows and other animals on grounds of humanity.

It’s said one becomes a true Jain by karma and not by mere taking birth in a jain community, where one has to try to practice true compassion for all living beings within one's personal capacity. Hence sincere Vegans who meet their Jivdaya objective peacefully without provoking others can be called as Jains. Majority of Jains run many Charitable Animal shelter houses, Charitable Hospitals, Charitable Education Institutes, Charity Trust’s throughout India for their compassion for all living beings.

Now let’s see from Spiritual Point of View why above few products are advised to avoid.

When we eat Orange, we do not destroy whole tree, but for root vegetable (potato, Carrot, Onion, Garlic, Ginger etc.), whole plant is uprooted killing plant & multi-organic (Plants which have infinite souls) creatures living in soil / on that plant. Garlic and onions are avoided as they promote anger, hatred, and jealousy, arouses sex, unstable mind which results in difficulty to Meditate and hence finally blocks one's spiritual growth. Hence Jainism teaches to skip root vegetables those who are thriving for spiritual growth, positive attitude & who want to increase their Concentration power

Potato depletes ones energy & for same reason it’s advised to avoid in Jainism.

 Any vigai has to be minimized  or avoided to achieve victory over taste and can be taken only as part of medicine.

As once said by Great Historian from Italy, Shri L.P. Tessetori “Jainism is of a very high order. It’s important teachings are based upon science. The more the scientific knowledge advances the more that Jain teachings will be proven."

Many enlightened Indian saints advise not to take any genetically engineered food cultivated through making artificial changes in the genes of the DNA of grown crop, which involves the insertion of genes from plants, bacteria which inherently could be unpredictable and dangerous for DNA of humans, ecology.

The global ecological crisis cannot be solved until spiritual relationship is established between humanity as the whole and its natural environment.

For list of various Jain Austerities visit: jainworld.com/philosophy/austerities.asp

Jainism is about minimizing hinsa. And in its various teachings it has various options for a basic lay man to follow austerity for same as per one's own capacity. eg. Chauvihar, Tivihar, Biasana, Eksana and Upwas. Chauvihar is normally recommended austerity for basic all jain laymen where they can’t consume any food after sunset, in which many modern jains have taken liberty due to busy urban lifestyle.

One who wants to reach different levels in spiritualization is advised to practice Jain fast called as Ayambil. In aymbil one does not take food containing or prepared with ghee, oil, milk, curds, jaggery, sweets, sugar, dairy product, any milk product, spices, vegetables, fruits etc. The food should not have any taste and spices and should be boiled or cooked. Food is taken only once in a day time and only boiled water has to be taken. After sunset, water should not be taken. In this penance an important principle is conveyed through this message, "Life is not for eating, but food is taken to maintain the life. This fast is observed to achieve victory over taste.” As per Jain Holy Scriptures, one ayambil may result in 10 billion years of karma nirjara. In the Jain Dharma, the austerity called Ayambil is considered very auspicious and efficacious.

If one practices Ayambil one can really minimize hinsa within one's reach and same can help one spiritually. It should be followed by Jain Meditation, Pratikraman (Self repentance - introspection) and samayaik (one of the most important ritual practice of Jainism during which we try to come closer to our soul).One's aura scanning can be done after ayambil is done as mentioned in Jain scriptures and person can see the difference in one's aura.

Many in India perform Ayambil Fast also to pray for animals who are sacrificed in Muslims bakri id day feast and one performs same as part of compassion for all living beings and at same time prays for wellbeing of everyone.

It’s interesting to note that regular Jain austerity, Jain Meditation, Pratikraman, Samayik as per Jain science can overcome many physical deficiencies if one follows same with faith.

Jainism advocates drinking only boiled & filtered water daily before sunset, and advises no water or food after sunset. The unboiled water called sachet (meaning, full of life) is turned achet (meaning devoid of life) on boiling. The boiled water remains achet for only five hours. In unboiled water every moment countless creatures are born and they die. So if once the water is boiled further violence is avoided as per principle of minimization of Himsa. Many Jains observe complete chauvihar upwas, one of the toughest austerities where one can’t eat & drink anything. In Chauvihar Upwas austerity one’s intention is not to harm any creatures in process of boiling water also and one drinks nothing in same as compassion for all living beings.

Scientifically boiled water tones your digestive system and cold water cools down the digestive fire.

Preksha Meditation is the lost meditation technique of Jainism which guides you on spirituality (Most recommended):

To Learn Jain Meditation as per Karuna Sagar Shri Chitrabhanuji Gurudevji visit

To learn Solar healing as Jain Saints and Tirthankars used to do, taught today by Shri Hira Ratan Manek then visit

Truth is of Kevali and Mistakes are mine.

Michamidukadam. We beg your forgiveness from inner of our hearts whatever misdeeds or misbehavior whether knowingly or unknowingly occurred by ourselves to you through mind, thoughts, actions or speech. By saying Michchhami Dukkadam i desire my any intentional / unintentional bad deeds be fruitless.

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Compiled by Pankaz Hingarh

India Committee Member: Jaina, VRG committee