Five Vows and Six Avashyakas - The Fundamentals of Jaina Ethics [8]

Published: 04.07.2005
Updated: 20.08.2008


The reference to ACHARYA TULSI may be broadened through a discussion of the question as to whether or not the ahimsa is a Jaina message to the rest of the world.

An absolutely positive answer to this question is difficult under the circumstances. On the one hand, as we know, the Jaina ahimsa contains a great deal concerning "violence" and "non-violence" which is unfamiliar to the non-Jaina world. The ahimsa originated in ancient India and mirrors the mentality of a particular culture or subculture. On the other hand, one must ask if Jainism, as a violence-free society, if not a society alien to violence (Jainas are active in the fields of commerce, industry, justice, education and medicine) and as a society free of poverty and frustration can develop the powers to convincingly propagate its ideas. Can Jainism be an effective force even in its narrowest surroundings? One must also remember that Jainism accounts for the belief system of less than one half of one percent of the entire population of the Indian Union. The ACHARYA himself says, "I have a vision of the future, but I do not believe in over-optimism[1].

But even if Jainism is hardly a remedy for the troubled modern world, one has to recognize its merits.

On account of the relative moral discipline of its followers and on account of the prevailing atmosphere, the atmosphere of a merchant culture 16[2], Jainism could create for the members of the community an area of social and political security, although not necessarily an area of absolute harmony within the community. At all times Jainas were more or less secure against extremities, social and political, and could after all lead a normal life.

Moreover, Jainism is interesting in the present context because, unlike early Buddhism, the layman's ethics plays such a significant role in its thought. Laymen are tightly integrated in the religious system, partly through special rules like the Anuvratas, partly through efforts to bring the layman close to the monk. Amongst other things, Jainism especially vigorously proclaims an emphasis on material restrictions in worldly life (compare the Fifth Anuvrata). In the process, however, it still could not, nor strove to, hinder the various forms of wealth of its lay-followers, although it demanded a relatively puritanical lifestyle of its laymen. Faced with the increasing material expectations of ever-wider circles of society (in the East as well as in the West), Jainism thus becomes a possible object of study for the student of ethical thought. ACHARYA TULSI says.

"Now the Anuvrat Movement advocates the path of vows which leads to self-restraint" 17[3]. "Restraint" and Puritanism can easily be included into the increasing number of global topics of discourse. That the explosion of material expectations can overthrow established codes of conduct and produce new forms of crime, including Himsa, need hardly be mentioned.

The last case is simply an example. We do not intend to emphasize individual values. Rather, we understand ethics as a cosmos of values, which must be viewed in its entirety and in all its details, be it Jaina ethics or the ethics of any other tradition.

In the end altered options result. Along with the desire to strive for a better world and a higher life by directly learning from Indian religions like Jainism, academic studies, concentrating on the ethics of these religions, come to the fore. This may be called an alternative approach to Jainism, equally devoted, but more systematic than the first.


Jump to occurrence in text


Jump to occurrence in text


Jump to occurrence in text


Click on categories below to activate or deactivate navigation filter.

  • Culture
    • Ethics
      • Fundamentals of Jaina Ethics
        • Jainology
          • Ethics and Philosophy
            • Fundamentals of Jaina Ethics
              • Share this page on:
                Page statistics
                This page has been viewed 3152 times.
                © 1997-2021 HereNow4U, Version 4.5
                Contact us
                Social Networking

                HN4U Deutsche Version
                Today's Counter: