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Jain Concept and Practice of Ahimsa

Updated: Dec 1, 2019

Narendra Bhandari

The universal law of mutual dependence, a fundamental principle of Jainism, forms the scientific basis of nonviolence to all forms of life. Its practice, in action and in thought, at several levels of personal, family, social and global interactions leads to a harmonious and peaceful life and is illustrated by some examples.

The principle of nonviolence (ahimsa) emanates from a fundamental law of nature, the law of mutual dependence, as propounded in Jain philosophy. It is not just an abstract philosophy but has a scientific foundation. Various scientific principles which naturally lead to the concept of nonviolence are discussed in this article. In practice, nonviolence is not merely the absence of violence but requires serious and sustained efforts on the part of the practitioner. It also reflects several positive aspects of humanity: concern, compassion and love for others and more importantly toward one’s own “self,” and appreciation for the whole of creation. The practice of ahimsa has to start at a personal level with tolerance, forgiveness and mutual respect – not only for one’s human companions but also for all living inhabitants and even non-living constituents of the earth – and then spread out to larger spheres of interaction that may include family, society and nations. Ahimsa is the one principle that can make the world more humane and create an ambience worthy of human existence. These positive aspects of ahimsa and methods of its practice are described. Nonviolence, so defined, is a sure prescription for the mental and physical well-being of a person, as well as for the safety and security of humanity, the biosphere and environment, and indeed the whole earth. It has the potential to eradicate most conflicts between different societies, communities, peoples, faiths and nations

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