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Beyond Sustainable Economy: Non-Possession in Jaina Canonical Texts

Published: 08.07.2017

The teachings of Lord Mahavira are preserved in Jaina scriptures. All the Jain tenets are pragmatic and impressive. One has to understand the principle of non-violence to understand the concept of non-possession or Aparigraha.

Non-possession is to move from violence to non-violence. It is in fact non-attachment to possession. Our real enemies are our desires and they are to be conquered and detachment. There are some precepts on non-possessiveness in Jaina texts. These precepts on aparigraha need to be contemplated.

Owing to attachment, a person commits violence, tells lies, commits theft, indulges in sex and develops a wish for unlimited hoarding.[1]

A person who hoards even the slightest amount of an animate or inanimate thing or gives consent to someone for hoarding, will not escape from misery.[2] 1/2/6/19

Whoever frees himself from the instinct of possessiveness, can renounce his possession. A monk who has nothing of his own has really seen the path (of liberation).[3]

Attachment of possessiveness is of two kinds; internal and external. The internal possessiveness is of fourteen kinds –

(1) Wrong belief, (2) Sexual desire for women (3) Sexual desire for man (4) Sexual desire for both, (5) Laughter, (6) Liking, (7) Disliking, (8) Grief, (9) Fear, (10) Disgust, (11) Anger, (12) Pride, (13) Deceit and (14) Greed. The external possessions are ten: (1) Fields, (2) Houses, (3) Wealth and food-grains, (4) Stock of house-hold goods. (5) Utensils, (6) Male or female slaves (7) Animals, (8) Vehicles, (9) Beddings and (10) Seats.[4]

One who is completely free from all possessiveness, is calm and serene in his mind and attains bliss of emancipation which even an emperor cannot obtain.[5]

The renunciation of attachment is useful for controlling the sense-organs as the driver's hook is useful for controlling an elephant and the ditch for protecting a town. Certainly, the control of sense-organs is the same thing as freedom from all possession.[6]

Attachment is possessiveness (muccha pariggaho vutto).[7] Even if this whole world full of wealth is given to a man, he will not be contented, for it is very difficult to satisfy the desires of an avaricious man.[8]

Wealth, moveable and immovable possessions and other domestic articles cannot relieve a person from bondage caused by one's own karmas.[9].

A noble house-holder is one who does not buy valuable goods much below their cost price, does not take possession of lost properties and satisfied by earning reasonable profits.[10]

An imprudent person engrossed in violence does not understand that life is perishable and being attached with worldly objects dare to commit the sin. He toils day and night. That rash and foolish one takes for granted himself as imperishable and tries to earn more and more wealth.[11]

It is clear that Jaina ethics directs conduct to be so adapted as to ensure the full development of individual soul. The principle of Aparigraha is also necessary for social reconstruction and individual salvation.


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Title: Beyond Sustainable Economy
Author: Dr. Rudi Jansma, Dr. Sushma Singhvi
Publisher: Prakrit Bharati Academy

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acaranga
  2. Anger
  3. Aparigraha
  4. Aradhana
  5. Bhakta
  6. Bhakti
  7. Deceit
  8. Fear
  9. Greed
  10. JAINA
  11. Jaina
  12. Karmas
  13. Mahavira
  14. Non-violence
  15. Pride
  16. Soul
  17. Sutra
  18. Uttaradhyayana
  19. Uttaradhyayana Sutra
  20. Violence
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