Jainism: The Eternal and Universal Path for Enlightenment ► 11 Jainism and Peace

Posted: 09.10.2011

Peace to all living beings is the credo of Jainism and therefore this book would remain incomplete if we do not mention the Jain concept of peace. According to Jainism, peace is a fundamental quality of the soul, essential for attaining infinite Ānanda, as discussed in chapter 2. Eternal peace is the primary state as well as the ultimate goal of soul. Peace is an internal aspect of mind as well as external aspect of the individual, family, society, nation, the world and indeed the whole universe; the internal peace of mind and external peace in the world are two different things; in the absolute sense, they are independent of each other but in practice they are inter-related as well. One can attain internal peace even when the external conditions are adverse and persons may appear externally peaceful even though internal peace eludes them. The Jain concept of peace is different from most other philosophies.

The basic Jain approach to Peace is the welfare (mangal) of all living beings, from smallest insects to the most evolved mammals. There are many aspects of peace in Jainism:

  1. Peace (Shanti) is an eternal quality of the soul. One can attain eternal peace by conquering one self, making one free of all the vices (anger, jealousy, competition, attachment, hatred etc.) which are then automatically eliminated. When one is peaceful with himself then the family becomes peaceful, then the society, then the nation, then the world and then the whole universe.
  2. Welfare of self depends on the welfare of others; hence the principle of non­violence. Welfare of all living creatures constitute the main thrust of Jain prayers.
  3. Peace entails respecting views of others even if they are contradictory; hence the principle of Anekāntvād, discussed in Chapter 3.
  4. Peace cannot be attained without sacrifice on part of the self. Hence the principles of Tapa, living frugally, aparigrah and āsteya.

Peace in some other thoughts, particularly in the western approach, implies safe conditions for one self without much concern about the safety of others. In contrast, Jainism believes that safe conditions for one self are only ensured when it is safe for everyone else in the world; hence there is more emphasis on the safety of others rather than oneself.

When one conquers one's own self, one attains internal peace but for external peace conquering the world is not essential. The Buddhism and Jainism have the same approach to peace: one need not be a super power with powerful weapons at its disposal to rule the earth. The real super power status is attained, not at the point of gun, but when others willingly share and follow your thought and philosophy. A case in point is Buddhism which started in India but at one stage more than half the world, including China and Tibet to the north, Japan, Malaysia, and Indonesia to the east, Afghanistan to the west and Srilanka to the south, besides India followed Buddhism in thought as well as in action without coercion. In oriental thought this is the real mark of a superpower.

Non-violence and forgiveness are the prime requirements for peace. Nonviolence should be practiced to the extent that you do not hurt any creatures in thought, words and deed and you seek forgiveness in case someone is hurt, knowingly or unknowingly. Most people in the world do not like violence and in this respect they follow Jainism to some extent. Jainism does not permit any form of violence in thought, action or consent and even support of violence for any reason whatsoever even at the cost of the physical safety of oneself or in self-defence. Nonviolence must start at the lowest level of living species and should not be confined only to humans. Vegetarianism is thus basic to Jainism. There is detailed procedure for seeking forgiveness. First one should purify the body by fasting and observing other Tapas, then purify the mind by doing pratikraman and then ask for universal forgiveness as discussed in chapter 6. It can be done on daily or yearly basis. The Jains have earmarked a day every year, called the universal day of forgiveness, for seeking forgiveness. This certainly brings peace and harmony in the family and society. It is hoped that the Jain practices will lead to a peaceful world and bring welfare to one and all.

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Jainism - The Eternal and Universal Path for Enlightenment - Narendra Bhandari- jainismbook_final_28-5-2011.pdf

Edited by:
Acharya Vijay Nandi Ghosh Sūri

Published by:
Research Institute of Scientific Secrets from Indian Oriental Scriptures (RISSIOS), Ahmedabad

Online Edition 2011: HN4U

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