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I And Mine: [03.09.01] - 8 Brief Rules of Group Spiritual Practice - 1. Right Behaviour (1)

Published: 17.12.2005
Updated: 02.07.2015
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Sat has two meanings. The first is 'true' or 'existent' and the second is 'right' or 'good'. Both meanings are in vogue. Here both of them are acceptable. Right behaviour is that which one would practise towards oneself or towards one's kith and kin or good and courteous behaviour. The first is undoubtedly primary, but the second has also been given a lot of importance. Acharya Somprabh has written:

Goodness and courtesy are desirable, even though one may gain nothing else. If the gains come as a result of being bad and discourteous, they are like plumpness caused by oedema or inflammation. Being lean is far better than acquiring such plumpness. In such cases plumpness denotes disease and leanness health.

What is the criterion of false or bad behaviour So that we may judge which behaviour is true and good and which is false and bad. There are three criteria of false or bad behaviour: cruelty, hypocrisy and indifference. Likewise, true or good behaviour also has three criteria: gentleness, friendliness and sympathy.


No behaviour can be true and good if it is motivated by cruelty. Many religious people say why they should bother about behaviour. But according to me it is not possible to be non-violent and spiritual internally while the behaviour is cruel. A religious person can never behave cruelly. Therefore, for the behaviour to be true and good it is essential that it be gentle.


Is it ever possible for intolerance to be a part of right and good behaviour?

Muni Shree:

Yes, it can.


Intolerance is bound to breed hard-heartedness.

Muni Shree:

The potter beats the pitcher but below the pot he supports the clay with his hand. Gentle behaviour has room for it.


Close affinity or the feeling of oneness can be a criterion of true and good behaviour. But how can gentleness be one of its criteria?

Muni Shree:

I set forth gentleness to counter cruelty, not to counter hard-heartedness. Hard-heartedness is different from cruelty. A mother towards her son and a teacher towards his disciple may have to be hard-hearted, but neither can be cruel.

Lord Mahavira laid down many vows forbidding cruel behaviour. Forbidding Vrittichchheda or stopping financial support, Bundh or keeping in bondage. Angachchheda or mutilating parts of the body and Atibhar or overloading. etc., can be called either non-violence or prohibition of cruel behaviour.

How can religion survive in the face of cruelty? Food can protect as well as kill life. But both functions cannot be performed at the same time. Likewise, religion and cruelty cannot coexist. One should not expect religion where there is cruelty. One of the formulas of gentleness of behaviour is Ichchhakar . lt is a common observance of Jain monks. It means, 'Do it if you want.' The gurus also practise Ichchhakar generally. The natural question is: ‘How can an organization function following the above practice?' Under special circumstances giving orders and enforcing them is permitted. Normally it is to be thought that the existence of another person is as important as mine. Both arc relative to each other. My expectations are there, so are those or the other. Society is based on the principle that I contribute to meeting his expectations and so does the other to meeting mine.

In ancient times slaves were bought. After being bought, they were the property of the buyer. They could even be punished with death by the latter. It was for this reason that slavery has been regarded as a contemptible institution and it has been abolished.

  • I And Mine by Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Edited by Muni Dulahraj ji
  • Translated by R.P. Bhatnagar, formerly Prof. Dept. of English at Jaipur University
  • Published by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute, Ladnun, India, 1st Edition, 1995

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