Spiritual Guidance in Achieving and Sustaining Organizational Excellence ►Jain View

Published: 19.12.2015
Updated: 19.12.2015


Jainism is one of the oldest religious traditions of India. It preaches and practices the work ethics to achieve one's objectives, be they to attain liberation or to be happy in worldly affairs and simultaneously first and then assist others (Live and help live or parasprograha jivanama). The focus is on attaining excellence (knowledge and bliss) at individual level so that one can attain the state of Bliss forever. The paper reviews the Jain doctrine and ethics in its philosophical and history literature to show that the same principles which are aimed at achieving individual excellence hold true to attain organizational excellence and sustain the same over a long period. The guiding principles of Jainism, be they metaphysical concepts like definition of reality; or the karma doctrine or its life style principles namely Ahinsa (non violence), Anekant (multiplicity of viewpoints), Aparigraha (limiting possessions or greed) and the ethics for householders in the form of five minor vows if practiced can make an organization excel and sustain the same for long periods.

Jains are known to be highly educated, reasonably successful, non violent and peace loving people who are conscious of their social obligations as well and contribution to words the same with open heart. This to some extent supports the claims made and shown in the paper to some extent.


Rampant erosion of our environment and natural resources due to predominant greed of business owners and management for aggressive profiteering, consumerism based development, lack of concern for employees, society on the one hand and corruption, violence in the form of exploitation, terrorism, wars; religious fanaticism, political and economic ideologies all around are serious challenges facing the people of the world. Symptoms of these are the demonstrations all over the world against 'Wall street greed', rising unemployment, holding Copenhagen summit for reducing global warming and rising prices of commodities and raw materials etc. It seems the old model of development based on increasing demand taking availability of infinite natural resources has to give way to a new society and a new world where optimizing the welfare of all living beings including environment and natural resources; enhancing economic, spiritual, emotional and physical health and well being of all citizens of the world and not a political boundary (country) are emphasized. It is here that Mahāvīra's philosophy of ethico-spiritual development, claimed as Sarvodaya Tīrtha (philosophy for the enlightenment of all) by Samantbhadra[1] may offer a possible basis for developing a new society and world and sustain the wellness of all.

Jainism is one of the oldest religions of India and perhaps the world. Jains form the smallest (4.2 million out of a total population of 1.10 billion in India)[2], non violent, highly educated and successful community of India. Beyond India's borders, there are over 150000 Jains engaged in knowledge based professions and businesses (USA, Europe, Africa and elsewhere). A distinguishing feature of Jains is the importance they attribute to their social obligations. This is manifest in the extent to which they have contributed to social development through the construction of over 5000 schools and colleges, several thousand small hospitals, cowsheds, homes for destitute, pilgrimage places, objects of art and literature contributed by them to India. Mahāvīra is the latest tīrthankara[3] of Jains who is a senior contemporary of Buddha. His doctrines of Non violence (Ahiṅsā) in thought, speech and action, Multiplicity of viewpoints (Anekānta) in thoughts and limiting possessions (Aparigraha) as life style, the three pillars (AAA) of Jain way of life, as the principles to affect the change to bring a new order visualized globally.


Let us start with Jain definition of reality i.e. Persistence with change[4]. This is the key for the organizations to continuously innovate and revive themselves with new products, processes, people as employees and customers, inputs etc to stay alive i.e. be organic. If an organization does not do so continuously, it will sooner than later disappear from the business. This is more so in the last twenty five years when the technology is changing so fast and the product life cycle is reducing significantly.

Another significant feature of Jainism is the spiritual leader or tīrthankara who establishes and becomes the head of the creed. He does so only when he himself has attained omniscience i.e. perfection accepted by one and all; a particularly significant criterion for the leader of any organization.

We now look at other metaphysical concepts (existing since its first tīrthankara Ādināth and enunciated again by their latest tīrthankara Mahāvīra:

  • All living beings are equal and have the potential to attain their highest goal. Definition of living beings included not only human beings but animals, birds, plant /water/air/earth and fire bodied living beings as well; All living beings want happiness; Nobody wants pain; Living beings help each other.[5]
  • That which is non violence, self restraint and austerity is Dharma (spiritual values). It is by virtue of spiritual values that supreme spiritual beneficence results. To him whose mind is (absorbed) in spiritual values, even gods pay homage[6]
  • Trinity of right belief-knowledge-conduct is the path to attain liberation/bliss[7]
  • Exertion (Hard Work) is essential to earn and then consumption with caution is essential to sustain the success.[8]
  • Sharing surplus/charity for sustainable development (Aprarigraha).[9]
  • Self improvement first before helping others to improve.[10]

The above statements are the vision statements to be included in the Vision document of the organization. It includes welfare of all players (and not just share holders value), better utilization of resources, treating all human beings as equal while maintaining the quest to achieve excellence i.e. sustainable growth at individual and organizational levels.

Thus Jains will support a strategy for development based on an index like Gross National Happiness 'GNH' rather than GNP or GDP to measure the level of development of an organization/society/country. Based on the metaphysical concepts above, GNH will include happiness; physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social, community and cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; ecological vitality and REALIZATION of full potential of all resources involved. This description is clearly a departure from existing paradigm of exploiting natural resources and maximizing profits or share holder's value. A number of studies have already been conducted on this basis by The Centre for Bhutan Studies[11], Med Jones, President of International Institute of Management in 2006 and others. Eric Weiner in his book 'The geography of BLISS'[12] has evaluated nine countries and talked of the perception of happiness and how they measure it by different yardsticks. The findings are in line with Jain way of life that propagates happiness is the very nature of self as the ultimate objective of our life rather than just material wealth (which is considered as Bondage and pain)[13].

To implement the above strategy, we shall first review the three basic doctrines namely

Ahiṅsā, Anekānta and Aparigraha and then deal with Organization and Management to planand business ethics to sustain and enforce the above strategy with citations from philosophical and history literature of Jains.


In an unprecedented way Mahāvīra defined Ahiṅsā in Ācārāṅga[14] as:

'None of the living beings ought to be killed or deprived of life, ought to be ordered or ruled, ought to be enslaved or possessed, ought to be distressed or afflicted and ought to be put to unrest or disquiet.'

He further classified living beings in categories given below:

  • With mobile body i.e. 2 to 5 sensed like insects, animals, birds and human beings
  • With immobile body i.e. with one sense like plant/air/fire/earth and water bodied) they have. These form the foundation of environmentalism and ecology to sustain development.

Further Jain texts talk of life vitalities (prāṇas) like breathe, life span, sense organs/s, potency of mind body and speech. Hurting or killing of even any one type of these vitalities is hiṅsā. Hiṅsā can be performed knowingly or unknowingly by activities of mind, speech or body by a person himself or asking others to do so or admiring those who perform such violent activities. Some facts about hiṅsā are:

    1. Hiṅsā affects the doer i.e. hiṅsaka more than the hiṅsya (the victim)[15]
    2. Ecology: Killing the five types of immobile living beings is called environment pollution. Copenhagen summit of world environment in 2010 suggest 50% greenhouse gases are emitted by animal breeding for food industry alone[16].
    3. Social ills: Economic exploitation of weak by privileged, Girl child killing in the womb; class system dividing the society in low, middle or high castes etc on the basis of birth, race or colour; religious fanaticism and exploitation of the weak are different ways of committing violence. Growing intolerance, selfishness is some of the other social ills caused by enhanced hiṅsā.

Mahāvīra talked of Social Ahiṅsā[17] (practicing Ahiṅsā as a householder in day to day worldly life) as compassion, equanimity, forgiveness, tolerance, love, service, friendship, kindness, security, solitariness, fearlessness, non-killer and so on. Mahatma Gandhi practiced this social ahiṅsā all the time to achieve independence for India. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela used this for the upliftment of their people. Today Anna Hazare in India is using it to deal with ghastly corruption rampant in Indian political system.

We shall discuss some of the applications of Ahiṅsā in management and organization.

  • Compassion means concern and actions for enhancing the welfare of others. The Jain views are indicated by 'Live and let live, Living beings help each other'[18], nobody wants pain and all living beings are equal. Even though we are all interested in our wellness first, yet my own wellness is related to the wellness of others (family, community, nation and eco-system for existence in society and department/unit, corporation, stakeholders and eco system for our professional engagements in business and social organizations) around me. Suppose I become selfish and seek personal gains i.e. salary improvement, promotion etc only; then I will make others in my department/company etc my enemies who will do more harm to me. On the other hand, if I cooperate with the team/ environment around me and help them achieve the unit's objectives, then I will automatically gain recognition.
  • Equanimity means treating all living beings as equal or similar to you. This is translated as equal opportunities (training, work assignments. standard evaluation criterion, pay according to the job description etc) to all for growth/performance regardless of gender/race etc. We see laws enacted by the governments to this effect. Some of the examples of its application in Jain history literature are:
    • Classification of people according to their interests and accomplishments and not birth/gender etc. Work Culture 'Śrama' to earn food, shelter, happiness etc. [19]
    • Assigning responsibility to individuals for their being good/bad/sufferer or enjoyers rather than God inflicting misery or blessing. Jain doctrine of karma (Consequences of one's action) is very detailed and unique. Any event or occurrence can be described by a combination of five co-factors (samvāyas) namely nature (svabhāva), time, karma, pre-destination (niyati or universal laws) and puruşārtha or self-effort
    • Establish the fourfold congregation (sangh) consisting of monks (male and female); laity (males and females)
    • Useof common man's language for his sermons to avoid intermediaries and scholars20
    • Giving women the right for education, practice religion and eliminating women slavery
      Exercise caution/conservation of resources in all your dealings
  • Forgiveness implies asking for and seeking forgiveness for the unjust done to or by others. The war between emperor Bharat and his step brother Bāhubali reduced to dual between them to save armies from fighting and dying. Then the victor Bāhubali forgives his elder brother, hands over the entire empire to him, renounces and moves to attain higher objective of liberation (Supreme forgiveness)[20]. Similarly 5th characteristic of right belief (samyag darśana) is called Sthitīkaraṇa or rehabilitating the fallen to their old status/position[21]. In our own lifetime we can see the impact our world would have had if George Bush had forgiven Saddam Hussein or Pakistan forgotten their defeat in Bangladesh after considering these as self inflicted. It is important to know that forgiveness is a virtue of braves and have tremendous implications on the wellness of even individuals. Resolving conflicts through Ahiṅsā is to become the tool rather than confrontation or war.

Anekānta: Pluralism or multiplicity of viewpoints.

Mahāvīra realized that differences in opinions/viewpoints amongst different people emanate from their intellectual capabilities. These affect the social harmony more than economic or social inequalities. He thus said that differences in viewpoints emanate from the differences in the nature of things based on the definition of reality as with persistence and change simultaneously. Truth is infinite and no one, like us, can know it completely. Different aspects of things are to be understood as different aspects of the TRUTH giving rise to his doctrine of Nayavāda (doctrine of viewpoints) or Anekānta. The well known example of seven blind men and the elephant amply demonstrates the application of this principle.

We all experience and insist that our viewpoint represents the whole truth and hence results in intolerance towards others. This is explained by each person or religion, having its own beliefs, then claiming them to be the only right one. A new man or a new society cannot be visualized on the basis of these beliefs in isolation. A worldly belief based on selfishness and the concern for personal gain as a result of which one disregards the good or the gain of others is to be eliminated as one's gain are of no use unless the neighbours/city/country and the world are also benefitted by the same. Perhaps the key lies in the change in our view/way of thinking and attitude. The attitude YOU or ME has to change to YOU and ME to achieve the cherished goal for a change to better. Jain doctrine of anekānta (multiplicity of viewpoints) provides a basis to achieve this. Its three pillars are:

  • Tolerance and respect for other's viewpoints/customs rigidity by giving up rigidity or instance that I am right and others are wrong.
  • Co-existence - cooperation with others i.e. existence of opposites at the same time is reality; love and service are the need of the day.
  • Relativity i.e. we are all related meaning our actions affect not only us but others as well. Thus my independence is relative to the independence of others as well i.e. my independence does not encroach on the independence of others.

Citing the example of a necklace Siddha Sen said that only those precious stones attain the same value as the neck lace when they leave their independent existence and are threaded together as a necklace. Anekānta can thus be viewed as a Holistic approach to thought processes. It attempts to bring reconciliation, rather confrontation amongst them. We can have faith in the doctrine of our religion for seeking divine grace but for social harmony, peace and welfare we have to accept the existence of other religions and doctrines and seek common ways to achieve these social objectives as well.

Examples of Anekānta's applications in our life:

  • In a democracy, both the ruling and opposition parties co-exist and are essential. People living in one party system continuously try to change to multi party system of government.
  • Religious intolerance results in fanaticism. It is the largest cause for the conflicts and unrest today. Every one cries for secularism of one type or the other.
  • JRD Tata says “The Tata philosophy of management has always been, and is even today more than ever, that corporate enterprises must be managed not merely in the interests of their owners, but equally in those of their employees, of the customers, of their products and services, of the local community, and finally of the country and world at large'. This is the foundation of most of the business enterprises which survive and thrive. To this now a days the environment is also added.

Today we talk of Pluralism, Interfaith dialogue, UNO and multinational organizations, multi racial communities and gardens which become more beautiful when different varieties and colours of flowers are planted there. Einstein describes his theory of relativity similarly by talking of the observer and the observed.

In the corporate world, we can translate this doctrine as concern for employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, government, society and optimizing the total rather than just the maximize the profit only. It is well known as that opposites (competitors) coexist (if not the government ensures no monopoly exists through legal framework); at times corporations cooperate with their competitors as cartels /guilds to gain favours from governments/customers etc and tolerate the business practices of the competition. Another view in corporate world can be the

  1. Multi dimensional development i.e. spiritual physical and worldly well being;
  2. Compulsory retirement for even the key executives who are performing well;
  3. Merging own corporate identity into other corporation for the sake of employees/ shareholders/customers and very survival etc;
  4. Internationalization of operations and even shifting headquarters elsewhere etc.


Mahāvīra knew that the root cause of all ills associated with socio-economic inequalities is disproportionate possession of wealth by few individuals. Thus he gave religious cum social overtones to non possession and asked his householder disciples to limit their possessions and share the rest (surplus) with others and minimize possessiveness for spiritual upliftment. He never told his disciples not to work or earn as Jainism is also known as

Śramaṇa tradition and the monks are called śramaṇas. In Sutrakrtanga, Mahāvīra equates parigraha to bondage and declares it as the main cause for all pains. This includes the fullrange of feelings from liking to craving. Thus parigraha is not just possession of money and material but the thoughts and feelings that are associated with them resulting in possessiveness.

The primary goal of man is to lead a healthy and happy life. Many individuals relate happiness to material possessions and think that possessing things such as a big house, expensive cars and fancy clothes lead to happiness. Most rich individuals appear to have little time to enjoy what they possess as they are engrossed in first amassing wealth and then its preservation only feelings caused by their possessiveness. But this is just a mirage. In reality, contentment and non-possessiveness bring genuine happiness and peace of mind. A mad pursuit of money and materials results in worries and hence stress. Examples of infighting between Ambani brothers; increase in the alarming number of disputes and court cases involving money, property and ego to maintain certain lifestyles fill our world.

Since it is not possible for a layman to fully embrace the concept of aparigraha by renouncing all possessions; the Jain texts ask the lay persons to set limits to their worldly possessions and gradually make these limits tighter. The concepts of charity (dāna) and conservation are the derivatives of aparigraha.

Indian Philosophy talks of four puruşārths (dharma or moral conduct namely; artha or making righteous living, kāma or sensual gratification and mokşa or final liberation. Jain history literature always emphasizes Non possession /non passiveness Aparigraha as the way of life and renunciation the ultimate goal. Purānas (world history literature) of Jains show the above principles practiced by almost all Jain emperors, including Candragupta Maurya (3rd century BC) and sixty three illustrious people. Emperors not renouncing their wealth go to hell as indicated in the stories of 63 illustrious people in Jain story literature21 e.g. Emperor Bharat had immense wealth but not attached to it, renounced his wealth later and became a monk to attain Bliss i.e. renunciation after attaining the highest worldly objectives as essential. Similarly we find this literature emphasize going overseas to earn material wealth i.e. promoting international trade, return to deploy the same for social well being and then practice mokşamārga.

Limiting our desires and possessions serves the cause of ecological balance also. It is not sacrifice or an act of charity but an act for the very survival of mankind. Indiscreet consumerism by individuals and nations involves rampant exploitation of natural resources resulting in not only pollution of the environment all over the globe but extreme economic inequalities. This behavior has aggravated the suffering of the common people. Efforts to resolve these problems through political maneuvering and/or tenets of modern economics have not been effective. Mahatma Gandhi aptly said 'Our earth has enough resources to satisfy the needs all living beings but it does not have enough resources to satisfy the greed/desires of even one person'.

When desires and ambitions are consciously limited through our practice of non-possessiveness, contentment prevails; we have good thoughts and develop a sense of accomplishment; our competitors do not remain our adversaries; they become our beneficiaries. Instead of prosperity for the few, well being of all is attained. It is for the common good of the society. This process results in an atmosphere of goodwill, amity and peace in society. We see Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, the richest and the second richest men of the world, setting aside large parts of their wealth for social causes by saying in one word 'Giving back to the society'. Examples in Jain history literature shows contribution to art and literature: e.g. Khārvel (2nd century BC), builder of modern Orissa, Kings of south India between 4th to 1200 AD where Jainism flourished as mass religion illustrious, Cāmunda Rāi (10th century AD), prime minister Gang dynasty. Bhamashah, prime minister of Maharana Pratap gave his entire wealth to his king to fight the enemies. Some corporations, dominantly the investment banks are being criticised these days for excessive bonuses to their key management people and not doing enough for the society/customers/government under the pretext of innovative management practices. Another practice of this principle is the excessive damage to the environment for maximizing the profits (not installing pollution control equipment or excessive use of depleting natural resources) and implementation of Carbon Credit by the developed world to organizations using energy efficient or less polluting the environment.

Organization & Management

Jain literature is classified in four categories namely:[22]

  • Story literature: Prathamānuyoga
  • Mathematics or details about world, its constituents and interactions amongst them.
  • Code of conduct: Carṇānuyoga
  • Metaphysics: Dravyānuyoga

The entire Jain philosophy is centred on encouraging individuals to attain excellence (liberation or BLISS) while being an active part of the society they live in. This attainment depends on the individual himself /herself but the organization and management of the society they live encourage them to achieve their objective as well as to benefit the society in return with their achievement. The stages of spiritual purification (fourteen called guṇasthānas) are detailed while for laity they are classified in eleven stages (pratimās)which is a subset of 1st to 5th guṇasthānas. The board game of Snakes and ladder perhaps is based on this doctrine of guṇasthānas wherein one can move up fast but is brought down by snakes (even form the highest point of 98 in game) down to lowest number depending on how you progressed. This is similar to making excessive profit (greed) in one year at the expense of even killing the organization in subsequent years.

The above principles are of great importance in selection criterion of key management people. Mahāvīra after attaining omniscience and Bliss, selected his eleven gaṇadharas (like board of directors) who were all highly intellectual each with large following to start his sangh; organization structure (flat and clearly marked responsibilities, authority, selection criterion, path to progress and the key management like at corporate headquarters mainly involved in setting examples, finding new products/ business lines, providing technical guidance as and when needed etc). Further the chief (Lord Mahāvīra in this case) is like a mentor who is not at all involved in operational issues i.e. day to day affairs of the sangh but is there as a guide/ideal to be achieved and for resolving issues of universalimportance and communicate them in the language understood by one and all for transparency and universal law.

The word used for organization in Jain literature is called Sangh or congregation. The constitution, organizational hierarchy, qualifications and duties etc for different constituents of the sangh, code of conduct etc are very well described in the above literature. Given below are some examples:[23]

    1. Mahāvīra did not speak or deliver sermons or organize the sangh till he himself attained omniscience.
    2. The entire sangh was divided into four folds namely
      • Monks Male, Monks female
      • Laity male, laity female.

        This division was based on the inclinations of the individuals to practice spirituality whole time or part time. Each wing was headed by a chief namely: Indrabhuti, Candanā, Śreṇik and Celanā respectively for the four folds.

    3. After attaining omniscience, Mahāvīra first selected his principal disciples called gaṇadharas, (eleven of them) based on their extraordinary knowledge, list of followersand regardless of age, caste etc. Each was assigned administration of one or more of gaṇas or sub-sanghs.
    4. The hierarchy in the sangh was Ācārya (as head) responsible to maintain the sanctity of literature and the conduct of the monks; Upādhyāya (teacher) who is well versed in canons and teaches other monks; sādhus or monks who practice the path of spiritual purification; Gaṇi or a leader of a sub sangh or gaṇa. Similarly the laity was classified as Pākşika or beginner, Naisthika or intermediate and Sādhak or serious.
    5. Sthahvir or administrator to maintain record of the members and implement decisionsof ācārya and observe the progress of the member monks.
    6. Gaṇi: Generally these were highly intellectual persons who would also act as guides/references to the ācāryas on philosophical matters; etc.
    7. Selection to a post was as per the laid out code of conduct. Only ācārya was authorised to select and initiate an individual to different categories.
    8. Discipline: Dasvaikālika and Uttrādhyayana sutras start with the discipline for the disciples in clear terms. It includes the rules to be observed by individuals in the company of higher ups, amongst themselves etc. Humility was a virtue and often referred as discipline also. Mahāvīra preached self discipline best as against to be disciplined by others. The words most commonly found are sāraṇā to remind about carelessness i.e. to be cautious and vāraṇā or to give up undesirable conduct. Mahāvīra often used the word icchākāra or as you wish rather than give orders to anyone. Similarly we find examples for punishments like disobedience (Anujňā) in the form of observe silence, and social boycott i.e. ignore and encouragement through praise. Examples of all these and many more abound in Bhagvati (5th anga) where Mahāvīra used to answer queries from Gautam.
    9. An excellent way of self correction is the concept of pratikramaṇa or self criticism or review of day's working, repentance or prāyscita or taking corrective measures for the wrongs done.
    10. Later on, after Mahāvīra's liberation, we see the sangh getting fragmented into smaller sanghs and each competing with one and other. This is perhaps indicative of lack ofcharismatic leadership at the head of sangh. Also in any one sangh we find chief ācārya, scholarly ācārya, gaṇācāryas etc existing at the same time in a sub sangh. Perhaps this trend can be attributed to the weakening of the sangh itself over period of time.
    11. There was no clearly defined organization for laity and perhaps left to laity themselves (profession based or location based etc), yet the laity were segregated in three categories namely beginners, intermediate and serious practitioners and graded in eleven stages (pratimās) of spiritual improvement.

Ethics: (Day to day operations of the organization)

Ethics deals with right and wrong, good and bad in our day to day inter personal dealings and self improvement. Thus ethics provide a set of right, ought and duty to minimize the bad and maximize the good. Basis of ethics in Jainism is their doctrine of karma (As you sow, so shall you reap i.e. consequentialism to achieve the goal of human pursuance). In Jainism right, ought and duty cannot be separated from the good. The equivalent term for good in Jainism is Śubha or auspicious/meritorious. The criterion of what is right etc. is the greater balance of good over bad. The Jaina ethics holds the teleological theory of right i.e. maximize Ahiṅsā over hiṅsā as the right-making characteristic. How? What is morally right for a certain agent in a certain situation? Or what is the criterion of the rightness of action? The interrelated question is what we ought to do in a certain situation or how duty is to be determined?[24]

Based on the above, Jain holy texts give a set of rules to be observed in our daily life to maximize śubha and minimize aśubha. These form as a guideline and hence should be broken with extreme care and repentance taken later on to correct them. These are:[25]

  • Food: Non violent or Ahiṅsaka. It can be equated to non exploitation of raw materials and inputs.
  • Life style
    • Seven abstinences
    • Sixessential duties (worship, venerate the holy teacher, charity, self restraint, self study and austerities)
      Attitude of carefulness and restraint
    • Minor Vows (basis minimize hiṅsā and maximize Ahiṅsā) namely: Ahiṅsā (non violence), satya (speaking the truth), acaurya (non stealing), parigraha parimāṇa
      (limiting possessions), brhamacrya (restraint in sexual activities)
    • Stages of advancement of practice (pratimās)
      Sallekhanā (the art of achieving pious death)
      Regime of minimizing inputs (food), pratikramaṇa or self criticism (audit) and prāyścita (repentance or taking corrective measure like daily audit of performanceand take corrective action), self study, humility and meditation as the more intensive rules to annihilate the past wrongs.

To see their importance in management, we shall briefly review the five minor vows indicated above[26]

    1. Ahiṅsā:
      It entails avoiding intentional violence and minimize unintentional violence byobserving carefulness and restraint. The flaws of this vow to be avoided are: To pierce body parts, to tie down the living beings, to torture, to overload and to limit food intake. This can be seen in organization management as the key for transparency, equality in treatment of employees/suppliers/customers/shareholders.
    2. Satya or speaking the truth:
      It entails avoiding untruth pertaining to ownership;Forgery or adulteration of goods and documents; Misrepresentation as witness; divulging secrets of others and using harsh language and so on.
    3. Acaurya or non-stealing:
      It entails accepting things without the permission of theirowner. The practitioner should avoid picking up goods not given by their owner and employing others to obtain them; receiving stolen goods; using false weights and measures; adulterating goods and accepting goods without paying or underpaying taxes and price.
    4. Aparigraha of limiting possession:
      It entails limiting greed/possessiveness fromexisting possessions and acquiring more beyond limits set. The practitioner should avoid Over usage of existing possessions; hoarding for profiteering; sorrow for loss in transactions; greed (not selling for making more profit); overloading productive resources for making more profit.
    5. Brahmcarya or contentment with religiously married spouse:
      The practitioner shouldbe content with his/her married spouse for sexual gratification. The practitioner should avoid Listening to stories and music with sexual overtures; not looking/observing the beautiful body parts of women; not remembering the past sexual acts; not consuming aphrodisiac foods and not to decorate own body to attract attention of opposite sex.

Similarly the enhancing vows increase the potency of the practitioner of these minor vows and the training vows prepare the practitioner for higher attainments. Form the above brief discussion on the ethics, one would realize the importance of these being practiced to make the organization ethical, transparent and respected by its employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers and the society, including the government.

The practitioner is encouraged to make a beginning (Mahāvīra said Chalman chaliye) i.e. one who starts walking is in fact walking), no matter how small and as per his/her interest and capabilities and gradually make progress towards greater and greater adherence as indicated in the eleven stages of spiritual purification (called Pratimās) till he is ready to seriously commit for 100 percent practice of these as a monk. Essentially they are all based on non hurting oneself as well as the others.

History shows five common characteristics of dying cultures in Europe and elsewhere as[27]:

  • Extravagant display of wealth and outward show
  • Growing disparity between rich and poor
  • Unhealthy obsession with sex
  • Decline in military discipline
  • Universal desire to live on the bounty of the state

Thus practicing Ahiṅsā, Anekānta and Aparigraha is essential and will lead to enhanced peace harmony and sustained development as these principles aim for overall or holistic growth rather than one or few elements /measures of development.


Jain canonical literature consists of 12 limbs (classified as Anga Pravista; with Ācāranaga as first, SutraKratānga as second and Bhagavati as fifth); other literature (classified as Angabāhya) developed by holy monks and based on these twelve limbs. Tattvārthasutra by Acharya Umāsvāti/Umā Swāmi is the comprehensive text in Sanskrit written in aphoristic style and contains Jain doctrine completely. Reality by S. A. Jain and Jainism key to reality by Shugan C. Jain are the English versions of the same. Another text used repeatedly is Ratan Karand Srāvakācāra by Accharya Samanta Bhadra on ethics for householders.

For Further Readings:

  • Jainism, Key to Reality (English commentary on Tattvārthasutra by AC Umā Swāmi) Edited and translated by Shugan C. Jain
  • Jain Legend (Abridged Jain Dharma kā Maulik Itihās by Ac Hasti Mal) Edited by Shugan C. Jain
  • Das Vaikālika, Ācācāranga and Sutrakratāng: Jain canonical texts
  • Rattan Karand Srāvakācāra by Samant Bhadra. Edited and translated by Dr. Panna Lal Jain
  • Anekānt Views and issues Acharya Mahapragya
  • The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
  • From Principles to Profits by Paul Palmoroza and C. Reiss

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Jump to occurrence in text


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  1. Acaurya
  2. Acharya
  3. Acharya Mahapragya
  4. Acharya Tulsi
  5. Ahinsa
  6. Ahiṅsā
  7. Anekant
  8. Anekānta
  9. Anga
  10. Anger
  11. Anna Hazare
  12. Aparigraha
  13. Artha
  14. Bhadra
  15. Body
  16. Buddha
  17. Business Ethics
  18. Bāhubali
  19. Consumerism
  20. Cooperation
  21. Darśana
  22. Das
  23. Deceit
  24. Delhi
  25. Dharma
  26. Dhrauvya
  27. Discipline
  28. Dravyānuyoga
  29. Dāna
  30. Ecology
  31. Einstein
  32. Environment
  33. Equanimity
  34. Eric Weiner
  35. Fearlessness
  36. Gandhi
  37. Gaṇa
  38. Greed
  39. Guṇasthānas
  40. ISJS
  41. Indrabhuti
  42. JAINA
  43. Jain Dharma
  44. Jain Philosophy
  45. Jaina
  46. Jainism
  47. Jaipur
  48. Jina
  49. Jinendra
  50. Jinendra Varni
  51. Jnana
  52. Karma
  53. Kāma
  54. London
  55. Mahapragya
  56. Mahatma
  57. Mahatma Gandhi
  58. Mahavira
  59. Mahāvīra
  60. Mandal
  61. Meditation
  62. Nayavāda
  63. New Delhi
  64. Niyati
  65. Non violence
  66. Nāth
  67. Orissa
  68. Panna
  69. Parigraha
  70. Pratikramaṇa
  71. Pride
  72. S. A. Jain
  73. Sallekhanā
  74. Saman
  75. Saman Suttam
  76. Samyag Darśana
  77. Samyag darśana
  78. Sangh
  79. Sanskrit
  80. Sarvodaya
  81. Satya
  82. Shugan C. Jain
  83. Siddha
  84. Siddhi
  85. Sustainable Development
  86. Sutra
  87. Svabhāva
  88. Sādhus
  89. Sūtra
  90. Tolerance
  91. Tulsi
  92. Tīrtha
  93. Upādhyāya
  94. Violence
  95. Vitrag
  96. Vyaya
  97. Ācārya
  98. Ācāryas
  99. Ādināth
  100. ācāryas
  101. śramaṇa
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