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The Jain Book of Compassion

Published: 06.09.2007
Updated: 02.07.2015
The Jain Book of Compassion

Paryushan or Das Lakshana Parva is the single most important festival in the Jain religion. This year it is observed from September 8 to 25, 2007. The Shvetämbar sect observes it for the first 8 days while the Digambar sect observes it for the last 10 days where it is known as Das Lakshana Parva. During these eight or ten days, the entire Jain community becomes engrossed in an atmosphere of enthusiasm and felicity and religion.

The purpose of life according to Jain teachings is to realize oneself, to experience wholeness, peace and reverence for all life. Therefore, the real purpose of Paryushan is to purify our soul by observing and correcting our own faults, asking for forgiveness for the mistakes we have committed, and taking vows to minimize our faults. During Paryushan we should strive to minimize our worldly affairs so that we can concentrate on our true-selves.

Generally, festivals are celebrations and jubilation characterized by excitement, enthusiasm, and enjoyment; but the Jain festivals are characterized by renunciation, austerities, study of the scriptures, repetition of holy hymns (sutras/stavans), living a total compassionate life, meditation, and expressing devotion for the Tirthankars.

During these pious days we should not become a cause (Nimitta) of suffering for any living being. However recent technological advances have created a new environment for violence not visible to Jain leaders and common people. The use and abuse of animals raised for food and slaughter far exceeds our imagination. The cruelty to dairy (milk) cows and other animals has reached its peak behind the walls of dairy farms and slaughterhouses.

Even though most of the Jains are vegetarians but they consume dairy products and wear silk and wool clothes. Also the animal byproducts that are used in cookies, candy, clothing, footwear, household cleaning supplies, cosmetics, medicines, and in performing religious rituals are used by them on a daily basis.

The purpose of this book is to educate Jain readers and other concerned and compassionate people regarding the high tech cruelty to all types of animals that exist in the production of dairy, silk, wool, and other products. The book is co-authored with Pujya Shri Pramodaben Chitrabhanuji. The book contains 12 articles. By reading these articles, you will realize that in the dairy industry, the cruelty to animals occurs, in a similar way, in the USA, India, in big cities, villages, and the world at large.

The cost of the book in English and Gujarati is $1.00 + shipping. The Hindi version is in print. However the pdf file of the entire book in all three languages are available at the following link, which you can download it freely. Please order minimum 5 copies of the book.

Download the Book as.pdf

We have sold / distributed more than 18,000 copies of the book over the past 6 years. Many non-Jains have purchased this book. The book has been published in Italy and it is in the process of being translated in French, Germany, and Thai (Bangkok) languages. We will keep you informed of any new development that may take place in this area.

Cruelty in Dairy (Milk Production) Industry - Updated Information

Most of the Jains are vegetarian and every Jain understands that a very degree of cruelty that exists in the Meat industry. However the purpose of this e-mail article is to provide you with an overall summary and the latest information with regards to cruelty that exists in dairy (Milk) industry and the benefit associated with Vegan (strict vegetarian – no dairy product) diet. The Jain book of compassion contains several articles covering this subject.

Our objective is NOT to dictate what anyone should or should not eat but we do think you should know some facts about how our diet affects our spirituality, religious practices, environment, and health. We need to reflect that “Does our diet and religious practices truly meet the Jain spirit of nonviolence and compassionate living?”

Cruelty to Cows and Calves

To produce a large quantity of milk, dairy cows must be kept pregnant continuously; hence they are forced to produce a calf each year. After the birth, the calf is separated from the mother cow after two to three days. Almost all male calves and about 70% of female calves are slaughtered within 6 months to 2 years.

Cows in the year 1930 produced 14 pounds of Milk, pooped 43 pounds, and passed 20 liters of urine daily. While the Cows in 1999 produced 68 pounds of Milk, pooped 95 pounds and produced 21 liters of urine. The Dairy industry treats the cow as a milk producing machine and the 5 times increase in milk production is accomplished by over working the cows body which results in a high degree of stress, diseases, metabolic disorders, and birth defects..

A cow’s natural life span is 15-20 years. They are typically slaughtered in 3-4 years because their milk yield drops due to over worked cows body to produce large quantity of milk in early years. It is estimated that 60% of the ground beef produced in the world is a by-product of the dairy industry.

The increased production also doubled the waste produced by cows. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, livestock waste has polluted more than 27,000 miles of rivers and contaminated groundwater in dozens of states.

--Natural Resources Defense CouncilThe cost of mass-producing cattle, poultry, pigs, sheep and fish to feed our growing population….include hugely inefficient use of freshwater and land, heavy pollution from livestock feces… and spreading destruction of the forest on which much of our planet’s life depends. --Time Magazine, 11/8/99

Life of Calves
The calves born to dairy cows are separated from their mothers within two to three days after birth. About 30% female calves are raised to replace older dairy cows. All males and remaining female calves are raised solely for meat. Some calves are slaughtered for veal after a short and torturous life. In the modern factory environment and under intense competitive pressure, calves are denied their mother’s milk.

Cow’s milk is naturally meant for calves, not for human consumption. Humans are the only animals that drink the milk of another species, and drink the milk all life long.

Organic Dairy Farms
The Organic dairy farm is generally smaller than the huge factory-style farm. It does not use antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones to cows. There are no milk additives added into the milk.

However to ensure steady milk production the organic dairy farms:

  • Keep cows pregnant all the time through artificial insemination or other means
  • Sell baby calves to veal or beef industry, where they are slaughtered in six months to two years.
  • Sell the adult cows to the slaughterhouses around four years of age when the milk production yield drops
Hence the organic milk is nearly as cruel as regular milk.

Indian Dairies
There is a tendency to believe that milk produced in India is cruelty free because the Hindu culture assumes Cow is a pious animal and no one inflicts pain to the cows.

I have personally visited several dairies in India in various cities. Overall things are actually worse than in USA because there are few enforced regulations.

  • Cows are kept pregnant continuously
  • Calves and cows are slaughtered illegally after similar courses of life as in U.S. (Less than 1% cows get shelter in Panjarapols)
American Slaughterhouse Process:
Each cow is first stunned. Each cow then has her carotid artery sliced open with a knife. Each cow is hoisted upside down by a chain attached to her rear leg so that her blood sprays into a 55-gallon drum. The blood is then dried and fed back to cows as a protein supplement.

Some of these cows are awake and aware of the process, and some choke to death on their own blood. The cows are then gutted, skinned, quartered, and processed by butchers.

American slaughter house kills the following number of Animals daily:

  • Cattle 130,000 per day (more than 5000 per hour)
  • Calves 7,000 per day
  • Hogs 360,000 per day (15,000 Hogs per hour)
  • Chickens 24,000,000 per day (1 Million Chicken every hour)
Jainism and Environment
Lord Mahävir preached universal truth for all times to come when he said, “One who neglects or disregards the existence of earth, air, fire, water and vegetation, disregards his own existence which is entwined with them”. Not only did he preach on environmental and ecological issues, but his entire life was also an example of how to live in perfect harmony with the environment.

The following ancient Jain aphorism is refreshingly contemporary in its promise and forms the basis of the modern day science of ecology.

“Parasparopagraho Jivänäm.”

All life is bound together by mutual support and interdependence

Environment is imbued (saturated) with living beings therefore if we harm “ONE” we harm “ALL” living beings.

How our Diet affects the Environment
Believe it or not, cows contribute to the greenhouse effect. According to one estimate, the world's 1.3 billion cows annually produce nearly 100 million tons of methane - a powerful greenhouse gas that, molecule for molecule, traps 25 times as much solar heat as CO2.

Livestock (Cattle, Calves, Hogs, Pigs etc) production accounts for more than half of all the water consumed (for all purposes) in the USA.

A third of the surface of North America is devoted to grazing. Half of American croplands grow livestock feed (mostly for cattle) for meat and dairy products.

220 million acres of land in the USA have been deforested for livestock production.

25 million acres (an area the size of Austria) in Brazil, and half the forests in Central America, have been cleared for beef production.

The value of raw materials consumed to produce food from livestock is greater than the value of all oil, gas and coal consumed in America.

Growing grains, vegetables and fruits uses less than 5% as much raw materials as does meat and dairy production.

The production of meat and other animal products for food contributes significantly to the primary global warming gases carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, accounting for 9%, 37%, and 65% of world totals, respectively.

The world is currently raising over 50 billion farmed animals for slaughter each year and, in addition to its major impact on global warming, this is contributing significantly to the destruction of tropical rainforests and other valuable habitats, rapid species extinction, soil erosion and depletion and other environmental threats.

Health Risks from Milk (PCRM)
PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) indicates that there is no nutritional requirement for dairy products, and there are serious problems that can result from the proteins, sugar, fat, and contaminants in milk products.

The detail of the Health Risk is documented in the article, “My Visit to a Dairy Farm” in the Book of Compassion. Please read the entire article by downloading the book from the following link.

Download the Book as.pdf

My Health Data:
About 12 years ago, at the age of 55 years, first time I visited a dairy farm and instantaneously became Vegan. I had some concern that my health would suffer if I stopped using dairy products. However following is the summary of my health data before and after I became vegan:

Before Becoming Vegan After Becoming Vegan After Becoming Vegan
1995 1997 2001
Cholster 205 160 145
HDL 34 42 47
Trigliceride 350 175 160

In the beginning it took about two years before I notice the improvement in my health parameters. Since becoming a vegan I feel more energetic. Today at the age of 67, I am not on any medication (except the Thyroid tablet which I take for last 20 years). However I do take multiple vitamin and vegetable calcium tablet as a precautionary measure. I have never taken any Cholesterol lowering medication.

In summary the teaching of Jainism advocate the following practices in daily life:

  • Be compassionate, practice non-violence, and do not inflict any pain to movable (higher sensed) living beings. A cow is a five-sensed (Panchendriya) animal that also possesses mind. Cruelty to five-sensed animals is considered the highest sin in the Jain scriptures.
  • For our survival and existence use natural resources such as air, water, earth, fire, and vegetation by providing minimum harm to nature.
  • Be A strict vegetarian (Vegan) and avoid the use of animal based products in all walks of life. The New York Times (October 2006) reports that more than 6.0 Million Americans are Vegan. Also more than 10% of Jain youth (YJA and YJP) are Vegans. Most of the Jain Youth born in North America understand and accept the fact that very high degrees of cruelty exist in the dairy industries. Many of them are very active in educating the communities. However the majority of the adult population of North America is very reluctant to accept that the dairy industry is as cruel as meat industry.
  • Jainism is a religion of reflection and not of a material action in our rituals. We should reevaluate the usage of milk and its product (ghee for arti, milk and sweets for puja etc.) in the temple rituals under the new technological environment. The tradition should not be followed blindly. The highest Jain principle of nonviolence should not be compromised under any circumstances. We strongly recommend that no dairy products be used in any Jain rituals. Use substitute items such as dry fruits, nuts, Almond milk, and castor oil instead of Ghee (note - about 100 years ago Ghee was never used in any Jain rituals. All lamps used castor oil in the temple).
  • Practice self-restraint. Reduce needs and wants as far as possible. Use excess for the welfare of the society.
  • Respect the lives of others and the environment we live in.
  • Eliminate waste, reuse / recycle products, share resources, and do not waste the gifts of nature.
The true essence of Jainism in Action is an eco-friendly religion which preserves and protects the Earth and Environment, respects the lives of animals, birds, fish, and other beings, limits the use of our natural resources, and promotes the welfare of the society through the application of its primary tenets of Non-violence and Non-possessiveness.

We recommend that during Paryushan or Das Lakshana Parva days we should eliminate complete dairy products from our meal and temple rituals. In today’s environment, there is no difference in cruelty between the production of meat and milk. During meat production the cows are killed immediately while during milk product the cows are tortured for 4 years and then killed. There is no chance for the dairy cows to live a natural life expectancy of 15 to 20 years.

The dairy product is a very sensitive subject among Jain adults and Jain ascetics. Our intention is to provide you the realistic data of overall dairy process. We seek forgiveness for any mistake, oversight, understatement, or overstatement in the material presented here. We request you to use the material objectively and provide positive suggestions so that we can incorporate them easily in future revisions.

Michchhami Dukkadam

Pravin K. Shah, Chairperson
Jaina Education Committee

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