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Acharanga Bhasyam: Sūtras 1-11 : The True Doctrine : Aphorism Of Non-Violence

Published: 14.01.2011
Updated: 02.07.2015

4.1 se bemi - je aῑyā, je ya paḍuppannā, je ya āgamessā arahaṃtā bhagavaṃto te savve eyemāikkhaṃti, evaṃ bhāsaṃti, evaṃ paṇṇaveṃti, evaṃ parūveṃti - savve pāṇā savve bhūtā sawe jīvā savve sattā ṇa haṃtawā, ṇa ajjāveyavvā, ṇa parighetavvā, ṇa paritāveyavvā, ṇa uddaveyavvā.

Thus do I say: All the adorable Lords who flourished in the past, are flourishing in the present and will flourish in the future unanimously declare, speak, propound and explain: animates, living beings, souls and living entities should not be injured, commanded, enslaved, tortured or killed.

Bhāṣyaṃ Sūtra 1

Now, to the query about promulgator of the aphorism of non-violence; no living being should be injured, the Sutra says that this was promulgated by the Adorable One. This is an eternal truth and therefore the Adorable Ones of the past also did so; the present Ones are doing the same and the future Ones also will do so. This indicates the oneness and the eternality of the truth.[1] The Adorable Ones are the Tīrthaṅkaras (ford-makers or Jinas). They are the Lords too because of their being worthy of Adoration or endowed  with the treasure of knowledge.

The prāṇas (animates) are so called because they breathe in, breathe out, inhale or exhale.

The bhūtas (living beings) are so called because they existed in the past, do exist in the present and will continue to exist in the future.

The jivas (souls) are so called because they live and subsist according to their life-span karma.

The sattvas (living entities) are so called because they are possessed of good and bad deeds.[2]

There are five directive members in the aforesaid ahiṃsa aphorism:

  1. they should not be injured by sticks and whips,
  2. they should not be commanded by coercive order,
  3. they should not be subjugated as servant or slave (male and female) with the sense of mineness,[3]
  4. They should not be tortured by inflicting physical and mental pain,
  5. They should not be killed by depriving them of life.[4]

    4.2 esa dhamme suddheṇiie sāsae samicca loyaṃ kheyaṇṇehiṃ paveie.

    This is the pure, perennial and eternal doctrine which was propounded by the self-realized Arhats who comprehended the world of living beings.

    Bhāṣyaṃ Sūtra 2

    This five-membered discipline of non-violence has four characteristics:

    1. it is pure on account of its being free from attachment and aversion,
    2. it is perennial because there is no scope of any change in it,
    3. it is eternally valid because it does not lose its validity in any of the three periods of the time,
    4. it is propounded by the self-realized[5] Jinas who comprehended[6] the world of living beings.

    The religion propounded by the people, ignorant of the self, is impure, because it is pollutted by attachment and aversion. Such religion is possessed of plurality of views with vitiated self-nature, on account of being devised by wayward intelligence. From this follows the universal rule that there is essential identity in the religion which is revealed by the self- realized persons. Contrarily, there is no such identity in the religion that is preached by persons who have not realized the self.

    The discipline of non-violence has been propounded by the self-realized Jinas. The implication is that self-realization is the fountainhead of the discipline, not the intellect. One who has realized the self is omniscient. It is only the self-realized person who is capable of knowing the root cause of suffering.

      4.3 taṃ jahā - uṭṭhiesu vā, aṇuṭṭhiesu vā, uvaṭṭhiesu vā, aṇuvaṭṭhiesu vā. uvarayadaṃḍesu vā, aṇuvarayadaṃḍesu vā, sovahiesu vā, aṇovahiesu vā, saṃjogaraesu vā, asaṃjogaraesu vā.

      The discipline of non-violence is propounded for all (irrespective of their spiritual) condition such as whether they are spiritually awakened or not awakened for the practice of discipline; whether they are alert to the practice or not; whether they are eschewing or not eschewing the weapon of injury to life; whether they are possessed or not possessed of worldly things; whether they are attached or not attached to their relations.

      Bhāṣyaṃ Sūtra 3

      There is an universal purpose for the formulation of a religious discipline. Ten conditions of such formulation are given here:

      1. awakened: exerting for the discipline.
      2. not awakened.
      3. alert: desirous of hearing or accepting the discipline.
      4. not alert.
      5. eschewing the weapon: self-restrained.
      6. not eschewing the weapon.
      7. possessed of material property: possessed of gold etc.
      8. not possessed of material property.
      9. attached to relations: with attachment to progeny, wife etc.
      10. not attached to relations.

      The self-realized ones have propounded the discipline for all these categories of people.

      4.4 taccaṃ ceyaṃ tahā ceyaṃ, assiṃ ceyaṃ pavuccai.

      The doctrine of ahimsā is the truth; it is truly axiomatic; it is rightly enunciated in the teachings of the Jinas. The doctrine "no living being should be injured" is the ultimate truth. It is exactly as it has been propounded. In this chapter on truth, this right view has been explained.

      Bhāṣyaṃ Sūtra 4

      According to the Cūrṇi, the dictum: "no living being should be injured" represents the faith aspect of the discipline, which is the right view as predilection for the truth. The practice in accordance with that faith is the practical application of the truth in the life of an ascetic. In the doctrine of the Jina, the right view in this twofold character, viz., predilection and application has been propounded.[7]

      4.5 taṃ āiittu ṇa ṇihe ṇa ṇikkhive, jāṇittu dhammaṃ jahā tahā.

      Having adopted the vow of non-violence, one should neither hide it nor forsake it. One should know it as it is (and practise it throughout his life).

      Bhāṣyaṃ Sūtra 5

      Having accepted the vow of non-violence, that is, the right view as predilection and also as practice, one should not conceal it or abandon it. For instance, some monks, after having accepted the vow of monkhood, run away from the discipline. A monk should observe the discipline for the whole life. The reason is, the discipline should be comprehended just as it is, and, therefore, even the idea of abandoning it is repugnant. Should any self-possessed person, after having appreciated the wisdom, like to abandon it? Only the person of unsettled mind would like to do so. One should not abandon it, but rather he should end his life instead, following the discipline. As it is said in the Daśavaikālika Sūtra: 'one should rather give up his body than the commandment of the discipline'.[8]

      Alternate explanation: The Sanskrit word 'niha' meaning oncealment can be explained as 'the killer'. After accepting the vow of on-violence, one should not 'kill' the vow, on account of trouble and bulations that may occur while practising the life of discipline.

      4.6 diṭṭhehiṃ ṇivveyaṃ gacchejjā.

      One should imbibe disgust towards sensual objects.

      Bhāṣyaṃ Sūtra 6

      Until and unless the obstructions that lie on the way of pursuing the discipline of non-violence are avoided, it is not possible to follow the discipline. The first obstruction is sensibles. 'Sensible' means sense-object such as sound, colour, smell, taste and touch. The person attached to the sensibles is unable to keep the vow of non-violence. This is embodied in the statement that a follower of non-violence should imbibe disgust for the sensibles; he should not relish them.

      4.7 ṇo logassesaṇaṃ care.

      One should not hanker after worldly things.

      Bhāṣyaṃ Sūtra 7

      The second obstruction to the practice of non-violence is the hankering after worldly things. 'World' stands for the sensual objects. One should not run after such objects. Alternatively, the entire world hankers after the sensual objects; should not then I too engage in the search of them? Such thought is but hankering after the world. A follower of non-violence should not indulge in such hankering. Such hankering leads to indulgence in violence. This is shown in the following passage of the Uttaradhyayana,, 5.7-8:[9]

      "I shall live as the people live, such is the thought of the inadept. He incurs affliction on account of his lust for sensual enjoyment. As a result, he commits injury to mobile and immobile beings and tortures the creatures with or without any purpose.

      4.8 jassa ṇathie imā ṇāi, aṇṇā tassa kao siyā?

      How could one who has no knowledge of the doctrine of ahimsā know about other doctrines?

      Bhāṣyaṃ Sūtra 8

      One should cultivate disgust for the sensual objects; nor should one indulge in the hankering for worldly things. This is the basic truth of non-violence and spiritualism. A person who has not the knowledge[10] of this doctrine cannot have the knowledge of any other doctrine.

      The person who cannot subdue the senses, cannot enter the realm of non-violence.

      4.9 diṭṭhaṃ suyaṃ mayaṃ viṇṇāyaṃ, jameyaṃ parikahijjai.

      Whatever has been said about the doctrine of non-violence has been realized, heard of, thought of and discriminated about.

      Bhāṣyaṃ Sūtra 9

      The aphorism of non-violence that is explained here has been realized, heard of, thought of and discriminated about.[11] 'Realisation' means directly intuited by pure intuition. 'Heard of means learnt from the omniscient.

      'Thought of means well pondered over. 'Discriminated' means subjected to shifting knowledge.[12]

        He did not insist that the Doctrine of Non-violence should be practised because it has been enunciated by him. He averred: "Whatever I say about the doctrine has been directly perceived by the Seers, heard from the preceptors, thrashed out by profound reasoning and thoroughly comprehended through contemplation."

        The process of the development of the knowledge consists not in accepting what is propounded by the Seers through direct perception by faith alone, but in hearing, profound reasoning and thorough comprehension.

        4.10 samemāṇā palemāṇā, puṇo-puṇo jāti pakappeṃti.

        People involved and engaged in violence lead themselves to birth again and again.

        Bhāṣyaṃ Sūtra 10

        Like the birds dwelling on the trees in the night and dispersing in different directions in the morning, everyday people migrating from different species of life live together for sometime and at the end migrate to different forms of life. In other words, they are involved in the cycle of birth and death in different species of life such as one-sensed beings and the like.[13]

        4.11 aho ya rāo ya jayamāṇe, vīre sayā āgayapaṇṇāṇe. pamatte bahiyā pāsa, appamatte sayā parakkamejjāsi.—tti bemi.

        The heroic ascetic who is forever full of wisdom exerts day and night in the spiritual discipline and visualizes the non-vigilant people standing outside the discipline. Consequently he should ever exert himself being vigilant (self-aware). - Thus do I say.

        Bhaṣyaṃ Sūtra 11

        Similarly, an aspirant, finding the faults of non-vigilance, becomes enlightened and like a valiant person strives day and night without rest. Finding people recklessly indulging in sensual objects and passions and divorced from the discipline of non-violence, one should forever exert himself without any sort of non-vigilance.[14] Where there is non-vigilance, there must be violence and where there is absence of non-vigilance, there is non-violence without fail. This is the traditionaly accepted sequence.


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        Jain Vishwa Bharati

        Ladnun- 341 306 (Raj.) India © Jain Vishva Bharti

        ISBNS 1-7195-74-4

        First Edition:2001

        Courtesy :
        Shree Chhotulal Sethia Charitable Trust Sethia House, 23/24,
        Radha Bazar Street, Kolkata-700 001 (INDIA)

        Printed by:
        Shree Vardhaman Press
        Delhi (INDIA)

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        Page glossary
        Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
        1. Ahimsā
        2. Arhats
        3. Body
        4. Contemplation
        5. Cūrṇi
        6. Daśavaikālika
        7. Daśavaikālika Sūtra
        8. Discipline
        9. Gaccha
        10. Jina
        11. Karma
        12. Non-violence
        13. Omniscient
        14. Sanskrit
        15. Sattā
        16. Soul
        17. Sutra
        18. Syāt
        19. Sūtra
        20. Tīrthaṅkaras
        21. Uttaradhyayana
        22. Violence
        23. Vṛtti
        24. Ācārāṅga
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