Non-violence Relative Economics And A New Social Order: Ahimsa as a Socio-Spiritual Value

Published: 30.05.2015
Updated: 21.07.2015

There is no denying the fact that the doctrine of Ahimsa is the be-all and end-all of the Jinist way of life and living. "Just as in the world there is nothing higher than the Meru mountain and nothing more extended than the sky, so also in the world, there is no value excellent and universal corresponding to Ahimsa[1]'." The oldest Jaina Agama Ayaro remarkably pronounces that none of the living beings ought to be killed or deprived of life, ought to be ordered or ruled, ought to be enslaved or pos-sessed, ought to be distressed or afflicted and ought to be put to unrest or disquiet. (सव्वे पाणा ण हंतव्वा, ण अज्जावेतव्वा, ण परिधेत्तव्वा, ण परितावेयव्वम, ण उद्दवेयव्वा)[2] The sociopolitical organisations and the capitalistic set up can easily derive inspiration from this ethico-social statement. Thus the Ayaro (Acharanga) conclusively pronounces that after understanding the importance of kindness to beings, the enlightened person should preach, disseminate and applaud it at all places in East-West and North-South directions, दयं लोगस्स जाणित्ता पाईणं, पड़ीपा, दाहिणं, उदीणं आइक्खे विभए किट्टे वेदवी [3] The Prasnavyakarana Sutra designates Social Ahimsa as kindness (दया), security (रक्षा), salutariness (कल्लाण), fearlessness (अभय), non-killer (अमाधाअ), and so on[4].

Owing to the momentousness of Ahimsa, the Acharanga gives us certain arguments to renounce Himsii.

(I) Socio-political argument against Himsa:

The Acharanga condemns Himsii by saying that its operation is with-out any stop, cessation and discontinuance and it goes on in-creasing to the extent possible with the political consequence that the race of armaments becomes unarrestable and continues to grow without any check. In contradistinction to this it eulogizes Ahimsa by saying that its observance is total and not piecemeal, with the result that, the armament race discontinues and comes with the result that the armament race discontinues and comes to a stop.(अस्थि सत्थं परेण परं, णत्थि असत्थं परेण परं)[5]

(II) Psychological Argument against Himsa:

After comprehending and beholding the significance of peacefulness of beings, one should renounce Himsa, inasmuch as Himsa causes suffering to beings and human suffering caused by theft, hoarding, false-hood, slavery, economic exploitation, social operation, curtailment of legitimate freedoms and the like is a great • mental disturbance is dreadful and is associated with unbearable pain and affliction. Since life is dear to all beings, pleasures are desirable, pain is undesirable for them, beings ought not to be killed, ruled, possessed, distressed and so on. (णिज्झाइत्ता पडिलेहित्ता पत्तेयं परिणीणव्वाणं सव्वसिं पाणाणं अस्सातअपरिणिव्वाणं महमयं दुक्खं । सव्वे पाणा सुहसाता दुक्यपरिकूला । सबव्वेसिं जीवितं पियं)[6]

It can not be gainsaid that human beings are engaged in ac-tions and these actions are directed to different ends and some pur-poses. The Acharanga expresses unpleasant surprise when it finds that there are human beings who are prone to realize ends and pur-poses through Himsa, such as killing, ruling, possessing, distressing and disquiting beings. They not only commit Himsa, but also they provoke others to commit Himsa and appreciate those who commit Himsa. The Acharanga further tells us that these types of perverted actions defile human personality and thwart its proper development (इम२क चेव जीवियरस परिवंदण-माणण-पूयणाए जाती-मरण-मोयणाए दुक्सपरिघातहेउं से सयमेव पुढविस्यत्थं-उदय२स्त्थं-अगणिस्यत्थं-वणरत्ततिस्थत्थं-वाउस्यब्ध- तस्कायसत्थं समारंभति, अपोहं वा पुढविसत्थं (आदि) समा२मावेति, अण्णे वा पुढविसत्थं (आदि) समारंभतेय समणुजाणति । तं से अहिताए)[7]We may thus conclude that the criterion of perverted action is Himsa, whereas the criterion of right action or ethico-social action is Ahimsa. It is of capital importance to note that when our energies are directed to Himsaka (destructive) ends social development is obstructed and when our energies are directed to Ahimsaka (constructive) ends social development sets in. (एस खलु गंथे, एस खलु मोहे, एस खलु मारे, एस खलु णिरए)[8]

It will not be idle to point out that the talk of Ahimsa is not possible without a world of living beings. Social Ahimsa begins with the awareness of the other'. Like one's own existence, it recognizes the existence of other beings. In fact, to negate the existence of other beings is tantamount to negating one's own existence. Since one's own existence can not be negated, the existence of other beings also can not be negated. Thus there exists the universe of beings in general and that of human beings in particular. (णेव सयं लोगं अमाइक्सेज्जा णेव अत्ताणं अमाइक्सेज्जा । जे लोगं अमाइक्खति से अताणं अब्याइक्खति, जे अत्ताणं अज्याइक्खति, से लोग अआइक्सति,)[9] The Acgaranga tells us that after properly comprehending the different types of beings one should adopt an attitude of Ahimsa towards them and make them fearless. (लोगं च आणाए अभिसमेच्चा अकुतोभयं)[10]

For a living being, self has been necessarily recognised in addition to the material body. Thus living beings mean conscious selves along with the body. These selves are endowed with cognitive, affective and conative tendencies, by virtue of which they see and know, they like pleasure and dislike pain, and they are engaged in actions. These beings are the doers of actions and the enjoyers of the results of those actions. These living beings (empirical selves) both human and non-human are reacting with one another through their actions. The Jaina Agama classifies living beings (Jivas) into five kinds, namely, one sensed to five-sensed beings.[11] This classification of jivas into five kinds is used for the measurement of the degree of Ahimsa. The more the senses the more the evolved consciousness. As for example, two-sensed Jivas are more evolved than the one sense beings, five sensed beings are more evolved than the one, two, three and four-sensed beings. Thus Ahimsa will be directly proportionate to the Ahimsa of the beings (Jivas) classified. Ahimsa as a ethico-social value gives importance to outward behaviour of human beings. It regards outward behaviour of individual human beings and sociopolitical organisations as socially valuable.

Now for the progress and development of these beings, Ahimsa ought to be the basic value guiding the behaviour of human beings. For a healthy living, it represents and includes all the values directed to the 'other' without over-emphasizing the values directed to one's own self. Thus it is the pervasive principle of all the values. Posit Ahimsa, all the values are posited. Negate Ahimsa, all the values are negated. Ahimsa purifies our action in relation to the self and other beings. This purification consists in our refraining from certain ac-tions, and also in our performing certain actions by keeping in view the: existence of human and sub-human beings.

It may be asked what is in us on account of which we con-sciously lead a life of values based on Ahimsa? The answer is: it is Karuna which makes one move in the direction of adopting Ahimsa-values. It may'be noted that the degree of Karuna in a person is di-rectly proportionate to the development of sensibility in him. The greatness of a person lies in the expression of sensibility beyond ordinary limits. This should be borne in mind that the emotional life of a person plays a decisive role in the development of healthy person-ality and Karuna is at the core of healthy personality and Karuna is at the core of healthy emotions. Attachment and aversion bind the human personality to mundane,-existence, but Karuna liberates the individual from Karmic enslavement. The Dhavala, the celebrated commentary on the Satkhandagama, remarkably pronounces that Karuna is the nature of soul.[12] To make it clear, just as infinite knowl-edge is the nature of soul, so also is Karuna. This implies that Karunai is potentially present in every being although its full manifestation takes place in the life of the Arhat, the perfect being. Infinite Karuna goes with infinite knowledge. Finite Karuna goes with finite knowl-edge.

Thus if Karuna which is operative on the perception of the sufferings of the human and sub-human beings' plunges into action in order to remove the sufferings of these beings, we 'regard that ac-tion as Seva. Truly speaking, all Ahimsa-values are meant for the removal of varied sufferings in which the human and sub-human beings are involved. Sufferings may be physical and mental, indi-vidual and social, moral and spiritual. To alleviate, nay, to uproot these diverse sufferings is Seva. In fact, the performance of Seva is the verification of our holding Ahimsa-values. It is understandable that physical, mental and economic sufferings block all types of progress of the individual and make his life miserable. There are individuals who are deeply moved by these sufferings and conse-quently they dedicate themselves to putting an end to these sufferings.

Thus their Karuna results in Seva. Thus Ahimsa, Karuna and Seva are interrelated and are conducive both to individual and social progress. It is significant to point out that Mahavira's social mind exhorted that Ahimsa consists in recognising the dignity of man irre-spective of caste, colour and creed. Man is man and should be recognised as such without any hesitation. The dignity of man is sacred and it is our duty to honour this dignity. Every individual, whether man or woman, should enjoy religious freedom without any distinc-tion. A non-violent society cannot subscribe to class exploitation and social oppression of man. Mahavira bestowed social prestige upon the downtrodden individuals. This led to the development of self-respect in them. Thus he showed that no man or woman should be deprived of availing himself of the opportunities of advancement. It is not idle to point out that in the present state of affairs the; signifi-cance of Ahimsa cannot be dispensed with. The easing of tensions and cessation of conflicts among states, the maintenance of univer-sal peace and the promotion of human welfare can only be effected by suffusing world's atmosphere with the spirit of Ahimsa. This Ahimsite spirit of Mahavira extended itself even to the lowest scale of life and he promulgated that life as such is basically identical. Hence no living being should be hurt, enslaved and excited.

Ahimsa as end and means: It is of capital importance to note that Ahimsa can be both an extrinsic and intrinsic value, i.e. both value as a means and value as an end. This means that both the means and the ends are to be tested by the criterion of Ahimsa. Thus the principle that "the end justifies the means" need not be rejected as immoral, if the means and ends are judged through the criterion of Ahimsa. In fact, there is no inconsistency in saying that Ahimsa is both an end as well as a means.

Ahimsa and Truth: Along with Ahimsa, the Acharanga speaks of Truth, and it tells us that one should be steadfast in Truth and says that he who fixes himself in Truth destroys all evil tenden-cies. Again it tells us to be decisive about truth and he who follows the behests of Truth overcomes death. Now the question arises how the two are related. In my opinion, the Acharanga regards Ahimsa as

the highest social Truth and likewise the highest Spiritual Truth and we shall discuss later on that Spiritual Truth and Ahimsa are also identical. (सच्चंसि धितिं कुव्वह । रप्त्थोवरए मेहावी सव्वं पावं कम्मं झोसेति । पुरिसा सच्चमेव समभिजाणाहि । सच्चर आणाए से उवट्टिए मेधावी मारं तरति)[13]

SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE OF AHIMSA

In the previous section we have dwelt upon Ahimsa as a social value. This view regards Ahimsa as other' oriented and is concerned with the progress and development of the 'other'. It is a concrete form of Ahimsa and em-bodies diverse patterns according to social needs. It has only out-ward reference and is deeply dedicated to social amelioration. When Acharya Samantabhadra announces that in this world Ahimsa of living beings is equivalent to Brahman, the metaphysical reality, he is propounding Ahimsa as the highest social value (अहिंसा भूतानां जगति विदितं ब्रदम परमं),[14]  on the contrary, the Purusharthasiddhiupaya moves in a different direction when it unambiguously expresses that non-emergence of attachment, aversion etc. on the surface of self is Ahimsa. (अप्रादुर्भाव: खलु रागादिनां भवत्यहिंसेति).This pronouncement has a deep inward refer-ence and regards Ahimsa as a spiritual value. This method of dealing with Ahimsa obliges us to peep into one's own inner life, so that attachment and aversion along with their ramifications like anger, pride, deceit and greed are completely got rid of. The Prasnavyakarana Sutra designates Ahimsa as Nirvana (निव्वाण), Samadhi (समाही), Supreme tranquility (संती), happiness (पमोअ), super satisfaction (तित्ती) and purity (पवित्ता) and so on.[15] Along with this the spiritual perspective of Ahimsa is manifested in recognising Paramatman as the Summum Bonum,[16] in describing Samayasara beyond Nischaya and Vyavahara as the spiritual goal to be achieved,[17] in enunciating Svasamaya as the sublime ideal to be aimed at[18] and in delineating knowledge-consciousness as the spiritual end of aspirant's endeavours.[19] The Arhat or Siddha state is the state of knowl-edge-consciousness, the state of omniscience and bliss. In all these manifestations of spiritual Ahimsa, there occurs non-emergence of attachment and aversion as pointed out by the Purusarthasiddhiupaya. In other words, we may say that even the slightest fall from complete self-realisation is to be regarded as Himsa. Thus Himsa commences with the appearance of passions on the ground of self.

Owing to the great significance of Ahimsa the Acharanga and the Samanasuttam give us spiritual argument to renounce Himsa.

Spiritual Argument against Himsa:

Since all the selves are transcendentally alike, killing the 'other' is killing one's own self, ruling the other is ruling one's own self, enslaving the other is enslaving one's own self, distressing, the other is distressing one's own self, and disquieting the other is disquieting one's own self. By reason of this Himsa all the living beings has been abandoned by those desirous of self-realisation.[20] (तुमं सि णाम तं चेव जं हंतम्मं ति मण्णसि, तुमं सि णाम तं चेव जं अज्जावेतब्बं ति मण्णीस्न, तुमं सि णाम तं चेव जं परितावेतब्दं ति सष्पारिन, तुमं सि णाम तं चेव जं परिघेतव्वं ति मण्णसि, एवं तं चेव जं उद्दवेतब्बं ति मण्णीस)

Judgment of the acts of Himsa and Ahimsa:

After under-standing the acme of spiritual Ahimsa, we are obliged to judge the acts of Himsa and Ahimsa through inward reference. Social Ahimsa is to be judged through outward reference. The Purusarthasiddhiupaya tells us that if the bodily movement etc. are performed with circumspection, nevertheless if any living being is oppressed, it can not be called Himsa,[21] for the infecting element of intense pas-sion is missing. On the contrary, even if, by careless bodily move-ments no animate body is oppressed, the actions are not free from Himsa.[22] Here though the soul has not injured others, yet it has in-jured itself by defiling its own natural constitution.[23] It will not be amiss to point out that the Purusarthasiddhiupaya is aware of the disparity between the exterior behaviour and the interior state of mind and consequently it judges the acts of Himsa and Ahimsa not on the pattern of Social Himsa and Ahimsa, but on the pattern of spiritual Himsa and Ahimsa. First, he preaches that he who does not explicitly commit Himsa may also reap the fruits of Himsa because of his continual mental inclination towards indulging in Himsa and he who apparently employs himself in the acts of Rimsa may not be liable to fruits of Rilhsa.[24] Secondly, owing to one's intense passion one may be subjected to grave consequences even by committing trifling Himsa, while, owing to mild passion, the other escapes the sad and serious consequences in spite of perpetrating gross acts of Himsii.[25] Thirdly, it is amazing that, in spite of the two persons following the same course of Himsa, divergence at the time of fruition may be exhibited on account of the differences in their states of mind and intensity of passions.[26] Fourthly, though Himsa may be committed by one, yet consequences may be suffered by many. Similarly, though it may be committed by many, the consequences may be suffered by oni:[27] From all these we may conclude that the point of reference in judging the acts of Himsa and Ahimsa is the internal state of mind.

Reconciliation between Social Ahimsa and Spiritual

Ahimsa: From the discussion of Social Ahimsa and Spiritual Ahimsa, it follows that the Social Ahimsa has outward reference and spiritual Ahimsa has inward reference and the disparity between the outward and the inward is overcome through emphasis on inward reference. The danger is that this may lead to antisocial activities by presenting the support of spiritual Ahimsa working through inward reference.

One may conceitedly argue that it is no use renouncing the perform-ance of certain actions, but that 'the internal mind alone ought to be uncontaminated. But it is to be borne in mind that in lower stages; which exceedingly fall short of self realisation, the external perform-ance of a man has no meaning without his being

internally disposed to do so. Hence the external and the internal influence each other; and in most cases the internal precedes the external. Thus, in no case, the outward commission of Himsa, without the presence of internal corruption can be vindicated. He who exclusively emphasizes the internal at the expense of the external forgets the significance of out-ward behaviour.[28] He loses sight of the fact that the impiousness of external actions necessarily leads to the pollution of the internal mind, thus disfiguring both the aspects, namely, the internal and the exter-nal. In consequence, both the internal and external aspects should occupy their due places.

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Sources

Title: Non-violence Relative Economics And A New Social Order
Publisher: Jain Vishwa Bharati University, Ladnun, India
Editors: Prof. B.R. Dugar, Dr. Samani Satya Prajna, Dr. Samani Ritu Prajna
Edition: First Edition, 2008

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. A.N. Upadhye
  2. Acharanga
  3. Acharya
  4. Agama
  5. Ahimsa
  6. Anger
  7. Arhat
  8. Ayaro
  9. Body
  10. Bombay
  11. Brahman
  12. Consciousness
  13. Deceit
  14. Digambara
  15. Fearlessness
  16. Greed
  17. Himsa
  18. JAINA
  19. Jaina
  20. Jaipur
  21. K.C. Sogani
  22. Karuna
  23. Ladnun
  24. Mahavira
  25. Meru
  26. Moksha
  27. Muni
  28. Muni Jambuvijayaji
  29. Muni Nathmal
  30. Nirvana
  31. Panchastikaya
  32. Prakrit
  33. Prakrit Bharti Academy
  34. Pride
  35. Samadhi
  36. Saman
  37. Saman Suttam
  38. Samayasara
  39. Sansthana
  40. Seva
  41. Siddha
  42. Sodha
  43. Soul
  44. Sutra
  45. Svasamaya
  46. Vidya
  47. Vidyalaya
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