Ocean Of Problems - The Boat to Non Violence: 03 ►Philosophy of Non-Violence in Jainism

Published: 03.06.2020

Jainism is a religion of non-violence. It is difficult or rather impossible to find a subtler interpretation of non-violence anywhere other than Jainism. At the same time people have some misconceptions about non-violence of Jainism. It is quite clear that non-violence of Jainism seems non-practical.’ If someone strictly adheres to the principals of this non-violence and abides by them then he would be unable to protect his property, society or nation for that matter. He would be unable to look after his family. He would not even be able to full the basic responsibilities of his society or nation.

Violence and Accumulation

The negative notion that lurks in our mind regarding non-violence is quite different from that of reality. The non-violence in Jainism never becomes an impediment in the way of affairs concerning family. It never creates any disturbance when it comes to fulfilling the responsibilities of nation or society. One needs to understand the subtle implications of it. A person who has not transcended material attachments and thrives on accumulation has to take care of it. A family man who is attached with his family has to do a lot of things to ensure smooth sailing of it. A person who enjoys the amenities offered by his nation or society has to fulfil certain responsibilities then he is looked down upon from practical point of view. If a warrior shrinks his responsibility of securing the border land of his nation at the excuse of non-violence, he is referred to be a traitor. So, whatever responsibility one has been entrusted with, it becomes his prime duty to fulfil it. The religion of Jainism never comes in the way of fulfilling one’s sole responsibility. In this context the scions of Jainism have always held dear the notion that whatever occupation a man is associated with has to have a clear perception. He must perceive violence as violence and non-violence as non-violence. A family man has to get involved in lot of activities where violence of some sort becomes unavoidable.

But just because some activities are important, the violence that becomes a by-product of it cannot be ignored. The law of violence and non-violence does not rest upon the importance or unimportance of an action; it is applicable for any action and any person for that matter.

Dual Role of Non-Violence

According to the law of Jainism only a person who has gone beyond material accumulation, is free from all ties of family, society and nation, can praisethe glory of absolute non-violence. This kind of person can only be a sage or a recluse. For such people Jaina Tirthankaras have made laws that they have to strictly adhere to. They have never asserted these laws for common family men. For them Tirthankaras have made certain laws like renunciation of unnecessary accumulations and acceptance of things that are absolutely necessary. They have introduced certain small vows to be taken by family men. Mahavrat (greater vows) and Anuvrat (small vows) had been introduced keeping the different situation faced by recluses and family men. To be an Anuvrati is not to be a recluse who has renounced the world. One doesn’t even need to renounce one’s family, trade and so on. Being an Anuvrati doesn’t mean one cannot secure the border of his nation? I always fail to understand where does Jainism become an impediment in the life of a citizen performing his duties?

To Escape from Responsibilities is Violence

In Jaina tradition there are numerous examples where the followers of Jainism had played a significant role as warriors to rescue their kingdom from enemies in the battlefield. To run away from responsibilities is a far cry rather not fulfilling one’s duty has been regarded as sheer cowardice. Cowardice cannot be praised as non- violence.

I have discussed a few important factors concerning non-violence. I feel there are more such factors that need to be discussed from time to time. From this point of view not only the concocted notions regarding Jainism would be cleared rather Jainism would be accepted as a religion for mankind.


Title: Ocean Of Problems
Author: Acharya Tulsi
Publisher: Jain Vishwa Bharati, Ladnun
Digital Publishing:
Amit Kumar Jain
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anuvrat
  2. Anuvrati
  3. JAINA
  4. Jaina
  5. Jainism
  6. Non-violence
  7. Tirthankaras
  8. Violence
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