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Economics Of Mahavira: [04.12] Limitation of Individual Ownership and Personal Consumption - Two Principles of Control

Published: 14.02.2006
Updated: 06.08.2008

Mahavira maintained that no rules could be prescribed for the limitation of earning or accumulation of wealth. It is possible that one may fix a higher limit. Mahavira circumscribed the maximum on two sides:

  1. control:
    The right means in the process of earning wealth.
  2. control
    The limitation of personal consumption.

Mahavira had prescribed a schedule of articles of consumption. It was a kind of enumeration that has never been prepared by any economist. Upasak Dasha Sutra embodied ten principles in which there is a mention of ten prominent persons of that time. If the consumption prescribed in that schedule were followed today, the problem of poverty would get automatically resolved. Some of the rules governing that list are:

  • number of clothes
  • number of twigs for brushing teeth
  • quantum of wealth
  • quantity of water
  • number of vehicles
  • and so on.

A committed and dedicated person takes a vow: "I will not keep more than so many clothes. I shall not use anything more than one dhoti and one shirt at a time. For cleaning the body, I will not use more than one towel." These were the limits followed by a person who possessed millions of gold coins of that time.

A committed person limits also the quantity of water. He decides that he shall not use more than a given quantity of water. The problem of pollution was not there at that time, nor was there any programme for that, but there was an awareness that the problem of pollution can arise any time later. Today, this problem has acquired dangerous proportions and the danger of this getting formidable in futureis beingexpressed. Noneof the ways to deal with this seems tobe adequately effective. The misuse of water today is much more than ever before. It cannot be easily irnagined how rnuch terrifying the water crisis is going to be in future. A person committed to religious faith limits the use of water by pledging "I shall not use more than a given number of pitchers of water for bathing."

Making Hmited use of fibrous twigs for teeth brushing has been mentioned. Today the positionis like this. When only a srnall twig for teeth brushing is needed, the entire branch of Ine neem tree will be cut. Gandhiji asked a foreign lady staying in the ashram to bring a twig for brushing teeth. The lady went and she brought out the whole branch. Gandhiji reprimandedherstronglyasifthousandsofrupeeshadbeen lost. The people present there said, "Bapu, for such a trivial matter, you reprimanded that lady so much. There are so many neem trees here. Are all twigs needed for brushing teeth exhausted?" Gandhiji responded, "It is not only Gandhi living alone, the entire world is there for brushing teeth with twigs. Ifeverybody Starts doing like this, the neem tree will be extinct."

One of the pledges in Mahavira's schedule of consumption is the quantity of twigs for brushing of teeth:

dantavana vihipariwanam pukhvihiparimanam

Another pledge pertains to the limitation of the UM of flowers, andyetanother pertainstofruits

phal vihiparimanam

Still another pledge is on the limitation of articles of food

dravya parimanam

There is a limitation for all these things in Mahavira's prescribed schedule of limited consumption.

  • Economics Of Mahavira by © Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Edited by Muni Dhananjay Kumar
  • Translated by Dr. S.R. Mohnot
  • Published by Jain Vishwa Bharti, University, Ladnun, India, 1st Edition 2000, 2nd Edition 2001

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Body
  2. Dantavana
  3. Dravya
  4. Gandhi
  5. Gandhiji
  6. Mahavira
  7. Neem
  8. Sutra
  9. Upasak
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