Mahavira's Philosophy Of Absolute Love

Published: 01.04.2007
Updated: 02.07.2015

Non-violence, sociability, compassion and peaceful coexistence are forms of love par excellence, according to Mahavira.

In the context of worldly affairs, the meaning of the word 'love' is the feeling of attachment to and affection for the body or material objects.

A person gets united with another only with the thread of love. Without physical love, the institution of family cannot come into existence: the mother cannot care for her child, nor can the organisation become strong.

There is no doubt that love imposes its sense of unity on what is otherwise perceived as duality. Yet bodily love often becomes a cause of conflict and malice.

This kind of love does not belong to the 'pure' category, but because it is inevitable for sustenance of life, it falls under the category of "mine-ness" - mamatva or possessiveness.

Mahavira classified possession into three types: love for body, love for material objects, possession of karmic sanskars or imprints of past actions on consciousness. The first two kinds of love are 'mamatva'.

There is a link between mamatva and fear. The apprehension that 'something wrong may happen to the body' or 'that whatever i have may be lost' generates tension. In mamatva, love is a mixture of both happiness and suffering.

Spiritual love necessarily implies submission and total absorption of the self into the ideal. The Kalyan Mandir says: "O Lord! When you are in my heart, all my bondages get shattered, all my problems get solved just as the snakes at once run away from the sandalwood tree with the arrival of the peacocks".

In Jain tradition, highesteem or implicit love is given more importance than even humility which is an explicit form of love. An individual with devotion surrenders himself to the ideal by dissolving his ego.

The wider the horizon of affection, the more the development of consciousness and this ultimately leads one to the path of supreme welfare and truth. "Anuragat viragah" - detachment - is born out of affection.

The path of affection born out of worldly attachments leads towards materialism, while pure consciousness is the destination of love that arises from the dissolution of delusion. The affection born out of delusion creates illusion.

Although materialistic attachment is inevitable for sustenance of life, all-embracing love is imperative for fulfilment.

Genuine love becomes deeply cultivated and gets transformed into sanskar for it gets deeply imprinted on the mind.

One may ask: If love is dominated with worldly attachment, then how can worldly attachment and renunciation be made compatible?

We can trace out the source of compatibility between worldly attachment and renunciation by keeping in view the philosophy of Anekant. When there is attachment towards materialism, detachment towards consciousness is created.

When attachment towards consciousness exists, detachment towards materialism becomes natural. Love that is defined by bodily attachment generates problems.

On the other hand, spiritual love solves our problems and uplifts our consciousness. Renunciation of worldly attachment and sublimation are Jain practices that help solve problems caused by attachment to physical pleasure.

Sublimation has the potential to bring down the graph of social crimes and open new dimensions for spiritual development.


As told to Lalit Garg. Times Of India, 31.03.2007, Mahavir Jayanti

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  1. Anekant
  2. Body
  3. Consciousness
  4. Fear
  5. Jayanti
  6. Lalit Garg
  7. Mahavir
  8. Mahavir Jayanti
  9. Mandir
  10. Non-violence
  11. Sanskar
  12. Times Of India
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