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Are we really religious?

“Religion is the realisation of spirit as spirit.” Swami Vivekananda.

We all consider ourselves as religious by visiting temples, doing all kinds of rituals under the pretext of religion, worshipping the non-Gods considering them as Gods, making pilgrimages all around the world, going on so-called religious tours on select days, visiting temples and worshipping with worldly expectations, worshipping false gurus, and many many such things. All our religious practices are thoughtless and most of the time loaded with worldly expectations.  

But alas, nothing of these qualifies as true religious acts if these acts and pilgrimages do not help us achieve what is stated by Swami Vivekananda.

Narsinh Mehta a renowned Gujarati poet (who had written the famous Bhajan – Vaishnav Jan tofavourite one of Gandhiji) had in one of his Bhajans stated,” Without knowing the spirit (Soul) all religious activities and rituals are worthless.”  

Jainism defines knowing the spirit (Soul) as spirit (Soul) as Samyak Darshan. According to Jain scripture, all religious activities towards the liberation of a soul starts when one realises spirit as spirit. Without the self-realisation, all so-called religious activities can be anything but won’t help in the liberation of the soul.

Believing the self as Soul and not the body is the basic truth, but unfortunately, we do not realise that till our human life ends. What can be more disgusting than not knowing the real self as Spirit/Soul/Atma?  

To quote Swamiji again, “Have you realised that you are spirit? When you say, ‘I do,’ what is meant by that— this lump of flesh, called the body or the spirit, the infinite, ever blessed, effulgent, immortal? You may be the greatest philosopher, but as long as you have the idea that you are the body, you are no better than the little worm crawling under your foot! No excuse for you! So much the worse for you that you know all the philosophies and at the same time think you are the body.”

According to Jain scriptures, believing the self as a body and not the Spirit i.e. the soul is the Mithyatva of the highest level. Mithyatva is the cause of the continuation of cycles of life and death of a soul. Mithyatva is defined as false beliefs. The Jain scholar Hemchandracharya defined Mithyatva as “belief in false divinities, false gurus, and false scriptures.”

This is not about Jainism and the concept of Jainism. Religion is the realisation of spirit as spirit and the other quote of Swamiji above are quotes of Swamiji taken from his article on Bhagavad Gita.

However, how many of us whether Jains or Hindu believer of Bhagavad Gita knows this fundamental about the religion?

We all are obsessed with rituals and pilgrimage ignorant of what is expected out of it to make it worth. What is the end result we have to achieve to make our so-called religious efforts actually religious? No clue.  

As rightly stated by Swamiji, there are no difference between us human being and the little worm crawling under our feet if we think the self as a body because at the level of Mithyatva we both share the same belief about ourselves.

This is the reality of so-called religious people as I am ignoring people who don’t think about religion or about the true self. They just waste their human lives running after sensual pleasures, and without giving a thought about the self.   

We are action oriented people so we indulge in all kinds of actions even as our religious practices but we don’t realise for pursuing the real religion, the right realisation must precede right actions. We never realise the basic truth and therefore even our actions are not right. 

We humans have become highly knowledgeable with the advancement of science. We know about the atom theory, we know about byte and we now also know about a gene but isn’t not knowing the self is the highest ignorance we suffer from?  

Sunil Gandhi

How to liberate yourself from the slavery?

“He was not bone and feather but a perfect idea of freedom and flight, limited by nothing at all.”
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

You are now many years into the present life and fairly experienced about the nuances of life. None of your other experience is more than your experience about the life.

You now know about the words like fate, destiny, luck etc. What I mean by knowing these words is not the literal meaning, but relevance and applicability of these words in our different walks of our life.

How many of your wishes got fulfilled and how many are not?

If you apply the ratio I am sure unfulfilled wishes far outwit the fulfilled wishes. I am also sure you have made an equal effort or sometimes, even more efforts on fulfilling your unfulfilled wishes & yet you couldn’t succeed.

Here we use the words like fate, destiny or luck (bad luck).

But the reality is everything is about fate, destiny, and luck. Your fulfilled wishes and your unfulfilled wishes, both.

“Destiny waits alike for the free man as well as for him enslaved by another’s might.” Aeschylus – Greek Philosopher – 525 BC.

The above quote is not only interesting one, but also revealing very important life lesson.

If everything is destined, why not live our dreams and why remain enslaved of your employer or your insecurity?

Do what you want to do without fear or worry. The result is anyway is not in your hand in either case, if you worry and remained enslaved of your unwanted circumstances and self-imposed slavery or do not worry and live your passion.

Whether you do your 9 to 9 job or live your passion, destiny will reward or punish you equally. Knowing the rules of the life early on can make your life more liberated and less fearful.

Therefore live compelling life rather than a compelled life, live your life rather than for others be it boss, money or any other illusionary goals.

Many rich people reason and camouflage their en-slavery to money with lofty social goals like ‘we are giving employment to many’, they are but is giving jobs their personal goal in life?  No. It is only making money.

We, employer and employees, all have enslaved us with one or other things. Some are not aware about this and some believe they can’t do anything about it. But the reality is all of us can free ourselves from this unwanted slavery, we pursue the whole life.

Believe in destiny, it will work irrespective of what you do, so why not do what you like, love and passionate about without worrying?

“Life either a daring adventure of nothing.” Helen Keller.

We all have to believe in her because;

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Steve Jobs.

Believing in destiny is very empowering as it liberates us from our fear and allows us to pursue our dreams.

Are you happy with what you are doing with your life? If the answer is NO, what are you doing about it TODAY?

Sunil Gandhi

Rules of the game WE all are playing

There is an ocean at the bottom of which there are countless dangerous creatures suffering miserably, beyond the ocean, there is an island, a place where there is no pain, but only permanent bliss/ happiness and there is a ship sailing in the ocean.

There are many people with different abilities, knowledge, and resources traveling on the ship. These differences are as per the standard rules applicable to everyone.

These people on the ship indulge in various activities while on the ship. People with abilities and knowledge are busy with using their skills to earn money and acquire resources; people who already have more resources are still busy in splurging in excesses, earning more money and acquiring more resources. Some of these resourceful people are also helping others who have fewer resources. This way they feel good having done good for the deprived people. Some are busy in improving the ship and some are busy in improving the living condition of the travelers of the ship. Some are busy enhancing their knowledge about the ship and people of the ship. Some are busy in ruling people on the ship.

Rules

Rules of the game:

Everyone on the ship will be thrown out of the ship anytime without any prior notice or intimation.

They will sink if they don’t know how to swim and will join those many suffering creatures living at the bottom.

They do not have knowledge about these rules when they enter the ship, but they have to know it by their own during their ship stay.

The moot question for all the travelers of the ship:

What should be the first priority of everyone traveling on the ship?

  1. To earn more money
  2. To splurge on excesses
  3. To acquire more resources
  4. To help other deprived people with money and resources
  5. To waste time on irrelevant activities and acquiring irrelevant information
  6. To meet and know more people on the ship – socialising
  7. To improve everything in and about the ship

    Or

  8. To know everything about and prepare for swimming?

Pondering over the moot question is important for all of us because we all are the travelers on the ship.

Sunil Gandhi

Limited time offer. Do you know this?

MORE money, MORE sales, MORE business, MORE profit, MORE growth, MORE success, MORE fame, MORE followers, MORE attention, MORE social visibility and everything MORE we all are after 24 X 7 days after days.

Business first is the motto of most of us, whether we are on a vacation or spending time with the family.  Ringing a mobile phone for a business purpose during our free/family time is a sign of our Busy-ness and gives us a sense of pride.

Most seminars and conferences are about MORE. The bestselling books like ‘Secret’ talks about attracting MORE.

The hunger of our five senses and insatiable desire for everything MORE keep us extremely busy that we have no time to pause & think about the self.  How many of us have ever given a thought to the following question?

  • Who am I?
  • What is the purpose of my human life?
  • Am I born to earn money the whole life and die leaving everything here?
  • What is the difference between my life and life of an animal who also makes effort to earn food, roam and die?
  • All the unethical practices I indulge in my business/job to earn MORE worth doing? (Irrespective of your own justification.) Am I not myopic in doing so?
  • Does the social service/work I do for self-pride/name/fame or is it really selfless?
  • Does the so-called religious practices I indulge in truly religious or its just practices I do religiously, but there is nothing religious about it?
  • After all this accumulation of wealth /material things and yearn for sensual pleasures, am I feeling happy?

Our demand on time (which is very limited) from business, family, our own agenda of name and fame, parties, social engagements, entertainment and what not keep us away from asking some critical questions stated above.

Every New Year is a time to pause and think, but we waste the opportunity in MORE partying and MORE dancing and MORE sleeping. Our passion for sensual pleasure, material success and ‘so called’ social compulsions are not allowing us to look and think inward.

In Yogic terminology looking inward is known as Pratyahara (Withdrawal of senses). We don’t dare to look inwards as we are afraid to ask these questions to ourselves.

We live like an animal and die like one.

Mahavira and Buddha were born rich but left their palaces and left everything in higher pursuit and the person who was after MORE his whole life,  the king Alexander said, “A tomb now suffices him for whom the whole world was not sufficient.”

Whether they were born rich or had become rich by spending their whole life, both had realised MORE accumulation of material things and MORE wealth is useless as the purpose of human birth is not for the accumulation of wealth and satisfying our senses.

We all are busy people and value our time enormously. We don’t waste a second for useless things. Our smartness tells us time is money. But the irony is we waste our whole life for things which ultimately are useless

Bhaj Govindam 2nd stanza says

Oh fool! Give up your thirst to amass wealth, devote your

mind to thoughts to the Real. Be content with what comes

through actions already performed in the past.

We are not smart, but fool as rightly addressed by the author of Bhaj Govindam. We waste our precious human time in our pursuit of MORE wealth and MORE sensual pleasure. The wealth will remain here and the body with all its senses will go to the funeral pyre after we leave this body.

limited-time

These wasteful and useless activities for MORE we are doing are in exchange of limited years left in this human birth. & we call ourselves smart. It’s time to pause and think. This human body is a limited time offer.

Sunil Gandhi

10 benefits of Aparigraha & Resolution 2017

Aparigraha is one of the 5 Yamas described in Patanjali Yoga Sutras. The other 4 Yamas are Non-violence, Truthfulness, Non-stealing, and Continence. Most of us know and try to practice the last four Yamas but Aparigraha has mostly escaped our attention. According to Patanjali Yogasutras, ” With constancy of aparigraha, a spiritual illumination of the how and why of motives and birth emerges.”

Aparigraha is one of the virtues in Jainism. It is also one of the five vows that both householders (Sravaka) and ascetics must observe.

aparigraha

What is the meaning of Aparigraha?

To know this we have to understand what Parigraha is.

Parigraha means possessiveness, grasping or greediness.

Aparigraha is the opposite of Parigraha.

If you think deeply, this Parigraha is the cause of all the problems of the world. The problems we face at our individual level and at the global level at large. Our desire for more and more and our greed for more than what we need is the result of our Parigraha mindset.

Non-Violence, Non-Stealing, and Truthfulness we all believe are necessary virtues, but when it comes to Aparigraha we are neither aware nor believe the same is very important virtues in higher pursuit of life.

I had read the book Stuffocation a couple of years back. Very interesting read. Recently I laid my hands on the book The More of Less by Joshua Becker. Today in the western world, minimalism is in vogue.  They are seeing the benefit of minimalist life.

This all minimalist lifestyle concept is about living by the principles of Aparigraha which is deeply rooted in the Indian way of living. The more stuff we see around us is making us running after possessing the more. But in the process, we give up the precious time of human life.

More stuff needs more money and more money needs more of our time which unfortunately is limited. Aren’t we spending our precious human life after our insatiable desire to own and possess more? Many of our possessions are mostly unwanted.

We all believe material possessions, give us happiness, but in reality, material possessions give us a headache. (Pause and think)

The benefit of Minimalism as described by the author of the book The more of less are:

  • More time and energy (Managing lesser things)
  • More money (Buying lesser things)
  • More generosity (Extra money can help someone else who is in need)
  • More freedom (No worry to work for unwanted possessions)
  • Less stress (Obvious)
  • Less distraction (Lesser things to manage)
  • Less environmental impact (Lower production by producers)
  • A better example for our kids (This is a great benefit)
  • Less comparison (No social pressure to show off)
  • More contentment (Lesser possessions means peaceful life)

Low possessions and more time will make us awake to the spiritual side of the self. The whole or major part of our active human life is lost in earning money and possessing possessions.  By the time we realise the purpose of human life was not to earn money, till we die or become incompetent and aged, we have lived most of our lives.

This Aparigraha or Minimalist way of life is the only way to live in this otherwise noisy race we all are participating by chance or by choice.

Before the New Year 2017 begins, make a plan to throw away /give up all the unwanted material possessions we have hoarded for years. & make a New Year resolution to live a life of a Minimalist (Practice Aparigraha) to the extent possible. This is going to be a life-changing resolution.

“A tomb now suffices him for whom the whole world was not sufficient.” Alexander, the Great

Sunil Gandhi

DeMonetisation – 16 side, upper and lower effects

The narrative in India has changed since 8th Nov 2016. Money and cash are the only topic people are interested and they are talking. Going to the banks is everyone’s daily schedule. Queues, frustration, waiting, life on hold, poor affected, business are at a halt,  rich are worried, marathon working by bankers, many example selfless volunteering, instigating political leaders and media and what not. Media, opposition all are crying as per their allegiance/alliance/bias/prejudice with the Govt. and the PM.

In a country which is largely illiterate about economics, dynamic economic decision faces many hurdles especially from the opposition parties with selfish motive or opposing for the sake of opposing ignoring the national interest. Increasing railway fare for a loss-making railway is also a challenge in our country.

Some pointers on Demonetisation:

  1. Most bank accounts in the country will be deposited on an average Rs. 1.0 Lac and mostly Rs.2.0 Lacs.
  2. In India, ignoring multiple accounts, there are 200 million SB accounts.
  3. Total money, if we consider 60% utilisation, that will be deposited in the bank accounts will be 200 million x 60% x 1 Lac = 1.20 crore, crore i.e. Rs. 12000 billion, i.e. US $ 179 billion.  Most of us can’t even calculate it.
  4. These cash deposits may not be all black money, but assuming 50% of which is, about Rs. 6000 billion of money not in the system will be introduced in the banking channel by the people.
  5. This is kind of Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) for small tax payers’ upto Rs.2.50 lacs deposit. They will be happy as all earlier VDS schemes had benefited rich only.
  6. For small account holders, who will allow their account to be surrogated to launder black money of others, they will get a 30 to 40% cut. This is an income for small account holders. In a way this is direct tax payment by black money hoarders to the poor. All Jan Dhan account holders will be benefited. More accounts will be opened. They all will be happy.
  7. All the money that is deposited in the bank, most will remain in the bank as now it has become white upto Rs.2.5 lacs.
  8. Banks will have a huge increase in deposits. This will make them lend more, that too at a lower rate as they are flush with funds. Oversupply.
  9. Govt companies and agencies will also borrow to speed up infrastructure projects.
  10. Many may not be able to justify their cash deposits above Rs.2.50 lacs, they will pay tax. Govt’s tax collection will increase.
  11. Many will be afraid to deal in cash in the future and will adopt plastic/e money or cheque & therefore increase in taxpayer’s base and tax collection.
  12. More tax collection triggers lower tax rates.
  13. Counterfeit notes and hoarded large black money will be evaporated.
  14. A currency not deposited in banks will become extinct. The RBI’s balance sheet will improve as currency issued is shown as their liability.
  15. Our annual GDP is Rs. 4480 billion. Our external debt is Rs.32535 billion i.e. US $ 485.60 billion , and as per the budget 2016, Rs. 4,92,670 crs has been provided for debt and interest servicing. This is the highest component of non-plan expenditure. Double of our defense budget and double of our subsidy bill. Education and healthcare get budgeted share of about only Rs. 20,000 crs. This shows how our lower tax revenue and corruption is impacting our economy. If with demonetisation we can improve the tax base and tax collection this will have far reaching impact on our country’s finances and economy. Common sense suggests when Govt has money, more share will go towards the poor and needy, whether it’s for vote bank politics or otherwise.
  16. Those who have made the country poor by evading tax and corruption will be punished by making their earning remained in cash zero.

There will be some other peripheral effects also which will be known as and when it happens.

This may not be the only step we all know, but this is a very important first step.

Inconvenience, Yes, that RBI , Govt and even PM know. We were proud of our RBI and banking system during the 1997 Asian crisis and 2008 Lehman brothers crisis but now questioning the competency of RBI.

Bankers are doing and executing a mammoth task and some issues are bound to happen. We all must support the system and make it easier for the Govt and RBI to get over the short-term problem, rather than creating and spreading messages of panic.

People (3/4/5) are dying in queues and we are sorry about this. But people are also dying on borders and in terrorist attacks and for poverty and hunger. All the three categories can be saved with this measure.

Rs.2000 notes will enable more corruption. Well, apart from our mindset, stricter laws and its implementation will eradicate corruption, not currency denomination. Present exercise is to bring out the fake/black money and make a new beginning. (Corruption will not go as long as we pay the constable at a signal when we break the law.)

Everything for the nation is inconvenient; be it fighting on the borders or fighting for the freedom or fighting black money. Do people who think and talking about the inconvenience thinks soldiers on the borders and freedom fighters were fools or less inconvenienced?

We want to end corruption when it hurts us, but we indulge in it when it helps us.

Some media journalists are showing inconvenience and hardship of the poor as a focus of the demonetisation. But in a corrupt country, poor remaining poor is a greater hardship than hardship for a few days for the larger good. These journalists, hope so not biased, do not understand whom they are supporting and what harm they are doing to the economy, by their myopic views.

Some people fought against corruption and after coming to power stand with people supporting corrupts and creating panic in the guise of poor people.

One selfless leader is doing some good for the nation, support him at all cost and inconvenience. One can check the RESUME of the opposition leaders who are opposing the move. You may look around the alternative leadership available in the country and make up your mind with all the inconvenience who should we support?

“Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.” Simon Sinek

Sunil Gandhi

Two life changing questions

What is your goal and mission in life?

We all are after MORE. More business, more customers, more money, more power, more fame assuming that this MORE will give us more happiness.

We spend our lives after achieving this MORE. But we never know when the end will come.

Award winning Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Randy Pausch, in his book The Last Lecture wrote, “time is all you have,…and you may find one day that you have less time than you think.”

He died of Pancreatic Cancer in his 40s and left behind him his wife and three children.

The book is written for his small kids’ to read when they grow up. He writes in his book ,” I would just urge my kids to find their way with enthusiasm and passion.”

“It is not about how you achieve your dreams, it’s about how you lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.”

In the book writing about the death and dreams, the author writes about an author woman whose husband died of cancer wrote. They planned to take a family vacation, but postponed it. Her husband died before they could reschedule. She recommends, “Go on those trips you’ve always wanted to take.“

Steve Jobs writes from his hospital bed, “At this time living on a hospital bed and remembering all my life, I realised that all accolades and riches of which I was once so proud have become insignificant with my imminent death. Only now do I understand that once you accumulate enough money for the rest of your life, you have to pursue objectives that are not related to wealth. It should be something more important, for example stories of love, art, dreams of my childhood. … & not illusion built by fame of money like I made in my life I cannot take them with me. … Material things lost can be found. You can never find once you have lost it, is life.

“Whatever stage of life here we are right now, at the end, we will have to face the day when the curtain falls, please treasure your family love, love for your spouse, love for your friends.”

What is your goal and mission in life if you know you have only one year to live?

A few hints:

Death can come at any age. Money for which we spend our whole active life will remain here after the death. Words ‘Enough money’ stated by Steve Jobs must be evaluated reasonably.

Is there any change now in answer to question number 1?

Sunil Gandhi

How everyone can become Vivekananda?

The title of this post seems to be an attention drawing gimmick. Well, judge it at the end of the post.

Here I only want to show a simple way to become the likes of Vivekananda (Or whosoever enlightened Guru /God you believe in).

We all are so much obsessed with our bodily condition since birth that we forget our true self. Our external world is so demanding that till death, we hardly know the self as a soul and internal world of the soul.

Our social life and the importance we attach to it, our insatiable desires of our five senses, our attachment/hatred towards family members, our job/business, friends, parenting responsibilities, politics, TV, everything consumes and kills time (limited) available to us as a human life.

The casualty is our Soul, which after the death as a human body will get any one of the bodies of animals we look around with pity and sometimes hatred.

Unless, of course a few rare souls like Mahavira / Buddha or Vivekananda who would awaken during their life time and know the real self as a Soul. They are not merely bogged down in the present body conditions, which the soul has got in its ongoing journey. This awakening will make them realise the importance of human life and the mission to be achieved in this life.

Be it Mukesh Ambani or Bill Gates, all their wealth for which they are spending their extremely precious human life will remain here when the death arrives. Awakening to the realities of the self i.e. the soul is the purpose of every human life. Without knowing the self as a soul this human life loses its purpose.

This is possible when we look inward, away from the worldly things around us. Swami Vivekananda sat on a rock memorial detached from the world and absorbed in the nature and the self i.e. the soul. When you are alone and in the lap of the vastness of the nature, when all other body related thoughts are at the bottom, the soul speaks and can be experienced.

Pratyahar is the one of the eight limbs of Yoga, which means moving inward from the world of body senses. We are so obsessed with body and exterior world that we stop at Asana and Pranayama stage only. Unfortunately, our attention to our physical needs and present social priorities do not give this chance to our soul and mostly till the death.

You can try and experiment this. Go to a sea beach or on top of the mountain and be alone. Ignore the physical world, ignore all the thoughts about our present life/circumstances seek our attention. Just be with the nature and experience the nature. At this stage someone who is talking with you is your Soul. Know it, experience it.

Detachment is the word. Mahavira did it, Buddha did it and in the recent past Vivekananda did it. It is easy, but only after once we know that this is the agenda of a human life. Knowing agenda of a human life can take millions of years and many, many births but that is a different thing.

“Man should possess dignity and alertness. Only he whose spiritual consciousness is awakened possesses this dignity and alertness, and can be called a man. Futile is the human birth without the awakening of spiritual consciousness.

Ramkrishna Paramhans

(The thought of this post occurred when I was at Worli seaface, Mumbai last evening)
Sunil Gandhi

The Science behind the Jain way of life

The foundation of Jain philosophy is Nonviolence or rather TOTAL Non Violence towards any living being howsoever small it might be. This philosophy guides the conduct of the followers of Jain philosophy. I have no hesitation to say that this need not be a Jain philosophy only, but this should be a philosophy of every human being. In order to live this philosophy the conduct of true followers of Jainism differs from the other Non Jains.

  • Not eating of Non Veg Food
  • Not eating of root vegetables
  • Other Non Eatables
  • Eating before the sun set known as Chauvihar
  • Fasting (with water only or in some cases without water & other penance )

“The basic foundation of Jain food is non-violence. First of all, we should only take such food, which involves least possible injury. The question of killing five-sensed beings doesn’t arise at all; we should avoid injury to mobile beings also. It is necessary to avoid destruction of even one sensed beings as far as possible. Jain-food-conduct has been determined keeping all these things in view.”

Jain Scholar Dr. Hukam Chand Bharill.

Jain Way of Life

  • Non eating of Non Veg Food:

This is obvious as it entails killing of animals/ other living beings.

Eggs are also non eatables. Eggs are the progeny of five-sensed beings. Food produced out of eggs is clearly flesh food. Some people argue that a vegetarian egg cannot give birth to a child; it is lifeless. This statement is untrue because it is a product of the sexual organ of the hen. So not only is it impure, but it also increases in size after birth and does not become rotten. Therefore, it is alive, though it may not possess the capacity to evolve from, but in no way can it be treated as lifeless.

Some people say that the milk of a cow or goat is also part of the body. However, there is a vast difference between milk and eggs. This understanding is incorrect because an egg is the progeny of a hen, similarly milk is not the progeny of the cow. By taking milk out of the body of a cow or goat, no harm is done to their lives; whereas by use of the egg the creature inside the egg is killed. If the milk producing cow or goat is not milked at the proper time, agony is caused to it.

The fundamental principle is whether killing/harm is caused to the living being.

  • Non eating of root vegetables:

There are is millions of small lives in root vegetables. Those who have attended school laboratory should be aware that while viewing Onion or Potato slices in the microscope, one can easily see the micro living beings. Root vegetables (tuber-roots) are totally forbidden as uneatable for 2 reasons. The first being that vegetables grown underground are the depository of countless of small creatures. The second reason being the uproot of such vegetables has definitely results in the destruction of plants and trees.

  • Other Non Eatables:

According to Jain texts, a śrāvaka (householder) shouldn’t consume the four maha-vigai – wine, flesh, butter and honey; and the five udumbara fruits (the five udumbara trees are Gular, Anjeera, Banyan, Peepal, and Pakar, all belonging to the fig class). Honey is forbidden, as its collection would amount to violence against the bees.

Mushrooms, fungus and yeasts are forbidden because they are parasites, grow in non-hygienic environments and may harbour other life forms.

Even chocolates and many other ready-made food items do contain the above stated non eatables. Those who are conscious about following this pure way of life must check the contents of these ready-made foods.

Many a times the food contains gelatine powder and the manufactures put up the Green Mark assuming that no living beings are used during manufacturing however the gelatine powder itself is made up of;

“Gelatine is a mixture of peptides and proteins produced by partial hydrolysis of collagen extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals such as domesticated cattle, chicken, pigs and fish.” Wikipedia.

  • Eating before the sun set known as Chauvihar

There are microbes which hide during the sunshine. They reappear once the sun sets. They enter our food chain and preparations after the sunset. We all can see micro and small living being appears after the sunset if we are out in the open. Similar living beings are all there in the atmosphere after the sunset, some are seen and some cannot be seen by naked eyes.  The principle of Non Violence is at play when Jains do Chauvihar and do not eat after the sunset.

You can see the video to know more. You Tube Video by Dr Raksha Shah on Chauvihar

  • Fasting and Other Practices:

Fasting is one of the 12 types of penance according to Jainism. The soul sheds its KARMAs known as Nirjara, in two ways:

Akam Nirjara: By getting its fruits (good or bad) as the Karma comes into play. This is the natural course of Nirjara. We have no choice.

Sakam Nirjara: By pre-poning the fruits by doing penance.  This is by our choice.

Akam Nirjara can be compared with repayment of debt as per repayment schedule, while Sakam Nirjara can be compared with prepayment of debt by choice.

All penance practices performed by Jains, if done with the proper frame of mind and understanding, are the forms of Sakam Nirjara.

These are some of the usual practices performed the by Jains around us. So when the next time you see any Jains doing any of the above practices you are now aware about the logic/science and purpose behind the same.

(Note: Some of the content of this post is taken from “Vegetarian Food and Jain Conduct” by Dr. Hukam Chand Bharill )

Sunil Gandhi

A (Very) Short Course on Jainism

Jains will celebrate Paryushan, their most prominent festival from today till the 15th of Sep 2016. When the world is facing severe degradation of Morale and widespread violence, Jainism, one of the most ancient or perhaps the oldest philosophy of extreme Non-Violence is worth knowing and practicing by everybody.

The word “Jain” is derived from the Sanskrit word jina (conqueror). A human being who has conquered all inner passions like attachment, desire, anger, pride, greed, etc. is called Jina. Followers of the path practiced and preached by the jinas are known as Jains

Jains believe that Jainism is eternal.

Ancient history of India reveals that there were three major religions in India. They were Brahaminism, Buddhism and Jainism (Nirgranthas). Latest research and excavation at Mohenjodaro and Harappa has shown that Jainism existed before five thousand years ago.

“There is nothing wonderful in my saying that Jainism was in existence long before the Vedas were composed.”

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan – Ex-President, India

There is a belief that Lord Mahavira founded the Jain religion. This is a wrong belief. The lord Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara of the present set of Tirthankaras. There are an infinite number of sets of these Tirthankaras as per the Jain philosophy. As the world is eternal so is the Jain philosophy/science/principles.

Jain Knowledge:

Agamas are the original texts of Jainism based on the discourse of the tirthankara. The discourse delivered in a samavasarana (divine preaching hall) is called Śhrut Jnāna and comprises eleven Angas and fourteen purvas. The discourse is recorded by Ganadharas (chief disciples), and is composed of twelve angas (departments). It is generally represented by a tree with twelve branches. This forms the basis of the Jaina Agamas or canons. These are believed to have originated from Rishabhdev, the first Jain Tirthankara of the present set.

The earliest versions of Jain Agamas known were written in the Ardhamagadhi Prakrit language. Agama is a Sanskrit word which signifies the ‘coming’ of a body of doctrine, by means of transmission through a lineage of authoritative teachers.

Time-Kaal:

The Jainas divide the whole span of time into two equally spanned cycles, namely, Utsarpini and Avasarpini. During Utsarpini, there is a gradual ascendancy in moral and physical state of the universe, while during Avasarpini, the case is just reversed, i.e. the gradual descent of moral and physical state of universe. Each of these two is subdivided into six aras, each extending from over crores of years to twenty-two thousands of years. This time-cycle goes on endlessly and humans like us rise to be Tirthankaras (Jina) at regular intervals. They, themselves, practice the eternal principles of Jainism and attain omniscience (Kevaljnan) and preach and expound us the same.

Jain_Cosmic_Time_Cycle

(Source: Jainpedia.org)

The present time is Avsarpani – 5th ara. This ara will last for 21000 years and in 2016 2540 years have already been elapsed.

Karma & GOD as per Jain science:

God as per the Jain philosophy is pure form of the SOUL. Every soul can become God i.e. liberated from the cycles of the body. Jains do not believe God as creator or manager of the universe. Every soul is governed by its own Karma. Every soul is surrounded with invisible Karman Varganas. These are matter scattered around us i.e  SOUL.  Karmas are the derivatives of Karman particles.  Karman particles are non-living matter scattered all around us and all over the universe. They are very fine particles that cannot be seen even with a microscope.  A cluster of innumerable Karman particles is called Karman Vargana.   When you act with passions like attachment, anger, greed, ego, or deceitfulness (4 Kashays), Karman Varganas are attracted towards your soul.  Karman Varganas that are attached to your soul are called karmas.

At the time of bondage of karmas to the soul, four characteristics of karmas are decided. They are: 1) Prakriti (nature).2) Pradesh (quantity).3) Sthiti (duration).4) Anubhag (intensity). The nature and quantity of karmas depend on the vigor of the activities, while the duration and intensity of karmas depend upon the intensity of the desires behind the activities. When a soul sheds all its Karma, it becomes Karma-less and this status of the soul is known as Moksha.   Know how a soul attracts Karma and How to a soul get rid of our Karmas  & How a soul can avoid attracting Karma. 

The following three doctrines of Jainism constitute the path to liberation i.e. Moksha:

  1. Right View (samyak darśana)–Belief in substances like soul (Ātman) and non-soul without delusions.
  2. Right Knowledge (samyak jnana)–Knowledge of the substances (tattvas) without any doubt or misapprehension.
  3. Right Conduct (samyak charitra)–Being free from attachment, a right believer does not commithi (injury).

Jain principles are about the science of the Souls; whether one calls it a religion or a way of life or anything else.

Jainism believes that every living being is a combination of a body and a soul. The body is nothing but the culmination of the Karmas soul had attracted.

The only purpose of the soul is to get liberated (attain Moksha) from the bondage of the Karmas to get rid from the cycles of life and death. Compassion towards every soul is the central theme of the Jain philosophy in order to achieve the Moksha.

All Jain practices are guided by compassion towards other tiniest living beings.

Jainism & Buddhism:

Though there are many similarities but there is confusion about the differences in Jainism and Buddhism. The major differences as per the Jainworld.com are:

Nature of Religion

Buddhism belongs to the category of ‘Founded Religion’ as it was founded by a specific person viz.. Lord Gautama Buddha, at a particular period of time i.e.. in the sixth century B.C. But this cannot be said about Jainism which is a traditional religion continuously existing in India from remote Past.

Concept of Soul

Jainism is an atmavadi religion in the sense that it is based on the existence of soul and that it deals, in detail, with various aspects, conditions and progress of the soul till it reaches its highest position after getting liberated from the bondage of karmas. But Buddhism holds completely contrary views. Buddhism is, therefore, termed as anatmavadi; religion i.e., a religion which does not give any importance to the soul. According to Buddhism, soul is not a permanent thing and that it will wither away in due course.

Principles of Ahimsa

Even though Buddhism and Jainism are regarded as religions based on the fundamental principle of Ahimsa still there is a significant difference in the treatment and application of the principle of Ahimsa in actual practice by both religions. Buddhism deals with the principle of Ahimsa in a limited way in the sense that it enjoins upon its followers not to commit Ahimsa themselves only. That is why a Buddhist can eat fish caught by others. But Jainism not only considers the principle of Ahimsa in all its aspects, but also makes it obligatory on its followers to abstain from committing Ahimsa in nine possible ways. In other words, it is expected of a devout Jaina that he should not commit Ahimsa through manas (i.e., mind), vachana (i.e., speech) and kaya (i.e., body) and each through the manner of krta (i.e., personally committed), karita (i.e., commissioned through others) and anumodita (i.e., giving consent for commitment by others).

Practice of Penance

It is true that both Jainism and Buddhism are considered as ascetic religions as they attach prominence to the ascetic way of life and to the practice of penance. But there is a great difference in the extent of practice of penance in both religions. Jainism always lays utmost stress on the strict observance of the practice of asceticism in all possible ways. In fact, Jaina asceticism is considered as most difficult in the world and for its proper observance in practice, elaborate rules and regulations have been laid down giving rise to what is known as monastic jurisprudence. But Buddhism has shown a complete aversion to extreme asceticism and in its place, it has laid down madhyam-marga i.e.. the ‘Middle Path’ lying between complete laxity and extreme asceticity.

I think the detailing of the science of the soul mentioned in the Jain texts is unparalleled.

Prominent People’s Views on Jain Philosophy:

“In conclusion let me assert my conviction that Jainism is an original system, quite distinct and independent from all others; and that therefore it is of great importance for the study of philosophical thoughts and religious life in ancient India.”

– Dr. Herman Jacobi, Imminent German Ideologist. Jainism Scholar

“Jainism is of a very high order. Its important teachings are based upon science. The more the scientific knowledge advances the more that Jain teaching will be proven.”

– L. P. Tessetori, Italy

“I adore so greatly the principles of the Jain religion, that I would like to be reborn in a Jain community.”

– George Bernard Shaw

“The Jains have written great masterpieces only for the benefit of the world.”

– Dr. Hertel, Germany

“I say with conviction that the doctrine for which the name of Lord Mahavir is glorified nowadays is the doctrine of Ahimsa. If anyone has practiced to the fullest extent and has propagated most the doctrine of Ahimsa, it was Lord Mahavira.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

“I am not Rama. I have no desire for material things. Like Jina I want to establish peace within myself.”

– Yoga Vasishta, Chapter 15, Sloka 8 the saying of Rama

“Mahavira proclaimed in India that religion is a reality and not a mere social convention. It is really true that salvation cannot be had by merely observing external ceremonies. Religion cannot make any difference between man and man.”

– Dr. Rabindranath Tagore

“We learn from scriptures (Sashtras) and commentaries that Jainism is existing from beginning-less time. This fact is indisputable and free from difference of opinion. There is much historical evidence on this point.”

– Lokamanya Bala Gangadhar Tilak

“Jainism has contributed to the world the sublime doctrine of Ahimsa. No other religion has emphasized the importance of Ahimsa and carried its practice to the extent that Jainism has done. Jainism deserves to become the universal religion because of its Ahimsa doctrine.”

– Justice Ranglekar, Bombay High Court

“Truly speaking, Jainism is an independent and original religion, for it is neither Hinduism nor Vedic religion, but of course it is an aspect of Indian life, culture, and philosophy.”

– Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister, India

Ideologist and biographer of Moghul Emperor Akbar, Vincent Smith notes: “Akbar’s action in abstaining almost wholly from meat and in issuing stringent prohibitions, resembling those of Asoka, restricting to the narrowest limit the destruction of animal life, certainly was taken in obedience to the doctrine of his Jaina teachers.”

If one wants to know about the principles of the science of the Jain philosophy, one book that covers it all is:  Tattvarth Sutra. The place to get it free is Jain Library, where more than 8500 books on Jainism available for free.

Next Post:

The Science behind te Jain way of life

Sunil Gandhi