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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

Law of Karma – 1

During the monsoon session, it was a logjam and parliament failed to legislate new GST law. Without this new law, the economy will fail to speed up & blah blah blah… We have plenty of laws which govern our lives. We have a parliament to legislate and have lawyers to guide us about these new laws we are governed by. Important is we are expected to know all these laws and our courts do not accept ignorance as an excuse if we fail to abide by these laws.

Point to ponder is, we human beings are governed by a plethora of men made laws, but all other living beings are not governed at all by these laws legislated by the Parliament. But there is one law which equally applies to us, the human beings and animals. However, we are oblivious of these laws because we are oblivious about who we are. We all are souls living with a body. If you don’t agree, just find out the difference between a dead body and a living body.

The only difference is the presence of the soul in a living body, which a dead body doesn’t have. Every Body is different and every Soul is similar – be it human or animal. The living thing is a soul. Though invisible, but a reality, living body and the dead body example proves this. All laws legislated by the parliament is governing human BODY and not the SOUL. All laws legislated by the parliament are ONLY governing human BODY that too of respective countries and not any other BODIES.

But SOULs are governed by natural laws – be it in human being or animal being, whether in India or in the US or in Ethiopia. With the BODY, SOUL becomes so much engrossed in bodily responsibilities, pain and pleasure that it forgets to realise the true nature of the self and laws governing the true nature  i.e. SOULs.

The law of Karma governs every soul in the universe. It is a science. It has nothing to do with religion. Souls are nature’s creation and so is the law governing the souls. Like the laws of maths or physics or biology are same for every human being irrespective of following any religion and living in any parts of the world, laws of Karma is uniformly applicable to every soul.

The question, therefore is: What are these laws and who knows this right? As per the Jain philosophy, Soul attains Moksha or Salvation or Nirvana after it sheds all the layers of karma. The existence of Karma with the soul is the reason for life and death and soul getting a new body after every death. The existence of different Karmas with the soul is the reason for different body and different lives of every body. The existence of different Karmas with the soul is the reason for bodily pain, pleasure, happiness, sorrow and everything the soul suffers and enjoys.

There are numerous types of Karma which a soul attracts by its body, thoughts and spoken words. Out of these numerous types of Karma, there are eight types of main Karmas. These are:

  1. Gyan-avarniya – which layers knowledge potential of the soul
  2. Darshan-avarniya – which layers capacity of the soul to know the truth, reality
  3. Mohniya – which layers capacity of the soul to know what is right and what is wrong
  4. Antrai – which stops the soul to get its wishes fulfilled
  5. Naam – which decides the type of different body, soul gets
  6. Gotra – which decides the quality of family the soul will get a body
  7. Aayushya – which decides the time the soul spent in a particular body
  8. Vedniya – which makes the soul feel pain and pleasure in different situations

When a soul sheds the first four types of Karma, it attains the omniscient potential of the soul. They are known as Kevalgyani. In this condition, Soul can know everything that is there to know in the universe. Jain Tirthankars had attained this status before their Nirvana i.e. shedding all eight types of Karma. According to Jain philosophy, these are the Gods. They don’t manage the universe or do anything but by shedding the Karmas from the soul, these souls have become liberated from the cycles of life and death.

After shedding first four types of Karma, they deliver sermons, many a times before finally attaining Moksha. When Jain Tirthankaras deliver their sermon after becoming Omniscient (Kevalgyan), they do it in a specially designed place called ‘Samavsharan’. Their speeches are captured by scholars known as ‘Ganadharas’ i.e chief disciples. They are renowned scholars so as to understand the speech of an Omniscient soul. These Ganadharas have to remember the speech and then pass it on to the future generations. After hearing the speech, whatever they could comprehend and remember they write it down. These written documents by Ganadharas are known as ‘Agams’.

Enlightened souls are omniscient, so what they know and experience cannot be fully understood by non-enlightened souls. These Ganadharas though highly scholars also could not comprehend 100% of the sermons of the Tirhankaras. Like Physics students howsoever knowledgeable can’t fully understand what professor, who is PhD in physics, speaks. Therefore, knowledge available in Agams, though mammoth, is not the complete knowledge expressed during sermons by the enlightened Souls.

In these Agamas, the theory of Karma applicable to every soul is given quite in-depth. Every doubt or question of an inquisitive soul is answered. There are various books that are written about the laws of karma after the sermons of Mahavira which he had delivered before attaining Moksha some 2550 years back.

I am referring to the book called ‘Karma Vipak’, a commentary by Mr. Dhirajlal Mehta on ‘Karma Granth – 1’ written during 12th or 13th century by Acharyashri Devendrasuswarji.

What is Karma, its characteristics, types of Karma, how the soul attracts new Karma, how it can be stopped, how it can be discarded – everything is there in the Jain scriptures.

Rather than seeing it narrowly as Jain or some religious things, the ideal way to look at it is as a science. Science and rules of science governing our souls, every soul. We cannot afford to remain ignorant about it, as only the human being has the potential to know this and must know it before the soul gets a new body and human body is lost. Not knowing the self as a soul is the biggest reason for our misplaced priorities. Aren’t we living in the state of The Highest Ignorance? More on the laws of Karma in the post, next weekend.

Sunil Gandhi