Economics Of Mahavira ► 02 ► [02.04] The Economic Concept of Development - Non-Violence and Purity of Means

Posted: 24.12.2005

Everybody wants that there should be economic development in society. The real question is, how? What should be its process, its mechanics? Apparently, there is no alternative to economic development if contained in limits.

Mahavira says that while thinking about economic development, the following points should be definitely considered:

  • Ahimsa (non-violence) and purity of means
  • Non-erosion of moral values
  • Limits to self-interest

First, it should be examined if economic development is leading to more violence. If we want to achieve development, it should be through ethical means, not by any other means.

There was an ordinary person with poor means. He kidnapped a rich man and demanded ransom of one crore rupees. He succeeded in extracting the ransom. From being a poor person, he became a millionaire. His financial development did take place. But can the means or method adopted for achieving this be considered desirable? The obvious answer is in the negative.

In the ancient times there prevailed a belief that fame makes man successful. A person developed a desire to become famous. He started thinking how he could become famous. Somebody advised him to go to the market that stocked earthen pots and break them with a stick and suggested that would make him famous. If he did not want to do that, then he should throw all clothes and become naked, and he would become famous at once. If even this did not make him famous, then he should ride a donkey, which would make him instantly famous. These are the cheap, not the wise, ways of becoming famous:

Ghatam bhindyata chhindhyat kritwa rasbharo hanam
Yen ken prakaren prasidhiha purusho bhavateh.

This also implies that there are two routes that one could adopt: one of using any means and the other of using ethical means. Bhagwan Mahavira said nobody can object to economic development in society, but this should not be done by just any means. It should be achieved with ahimsa (non-violence) and with good and ethical means.

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