THE SCIENCE OF ECOLOGY
The word ‘ecology’ is of recent Coinage, having been proposed by
the German biologist Earnsr Haeckelin in 1869. Before this many great men of the
biological renaissance had contributed to the subject even though label ‘ecology’
was not in use. Hippocrate published a paper entitled “On Air, Water and Places”.
Aristotle studied the habits of animals and environmental conditions. Theophratus
is regarded as the first ecologist in history because he wrote on communities in
which plants are associated, the relation of plants to each other and to their
Ecology is nothing but the art and science of seeing things as a whole. Our
body is a good example of entity, which can be seen as an organic whole. We
know that a nail driven into a finger affects every part of the body, for they are all
parts of an interconnected whole. Though we are most of the time totally unaware
of it, a deep interconnection exists between everything; every man is connected by
invisible bonds to every other fellow-being dead or alive, to every creature in the
non-human realms and even to the non-living aspects of the universe. This
invisible web of interconnections is the basis of all ecology.
Though Ecology is primarily empirical, it is impossible to make an
exhaustively empirical study of the infinitely complex working of the nature. Prof.
A.V.Javdekar remarks “whatever cannot be fulfilled empirically has to be
complemented speculatively as far as possible in consonance with and without
undermining our empirical knowledge of nature Thus ecology also requires
speculative thinking like philosophy1
MAN AND NATURE:
In the primitive societies, the tradition was thought to keep the harmonious
relation with nature. The Indian tradition considering the cow as the mother of the
family and utilizing the cow dung also for the purpose of fuel and fertilizer is also
an example of an ecological tradition. Nature is ordered, balanced and
harmonious. Human beings, like all living things, have a place and a purpose in
The conflict between man and nature i.e. the problem of ecology started
when man looked upon nature as a machine during the Newtonian period.
The conflict of economic development and ecological protection in
anthropocentric ethics arises out of our perception of nature and natural elements
as “Objects.” Objective points of view colours our personal relationship with
nature .Objectification treats even us as goods or material. For example ,in a
factory “Goods are polished and beautified but man(Workers)comes out
Anthropocentric culture is also nonholistic (therefore unholy) and can not
therefore be applied to a holistic system like natural environment. Science and
technology has come up as a powerful tool to support this neoculture. Application
of Science and Technology has solved many problems for survival of mankind,
produced a variety of comforts and expanded the frontiers of knowledge. But its
very solutions and success have adversely affected the life supporting systems and
threat to man’s continued existence. It has placed guided missile in misguided
hands. The only consolation is that if ozone hole is created by burning of fossil
fuels through an act of modern Science and Technology, man can also harness
alternative energy to stall the negative feed back pressure and still continue
developments. In other words “Man not only cuts trees for his use and comfort,
but also can plant seeds and cultivate a forest”.
For centuries, there was co-existence between nature and living creatures,
but with the advent of civilization, man’s mastery over science and technology,
consumerism and unprecedented and unbridled growth of population, there arose a
disturbance in the harmonious relationship between the living creature and nature.
The environment has been polluted. Environment affects all aspects of human life-
physical, biological, social, and cultural. Our survival depends on our interaction
with the environment. As the quality of environment improves, so does the quality
of human life.
ECO- SYSTEM OUT OF GEAR:
We have exploited nature like anything. In the blind race of progress we
have emptied so many resorts of nature. We have used up not only the natural
wealth of our share but of many generations. The results of ecological imbalance
will harm the generations to come! We have polluted air, water, food, land, and
even the milk of the mother! The depletion of ozone layer, acid rains and the
increasing heat of the earth have put the existence of man in danger. Man considers himself to be rational animal but no other animal has made his cave so
dirty and poisonous as man has made!
Today, the majority of the people in all parts of the world are breathing
polluted air. Incomplete combustion of fuels, emittance of large quantity of
smokes and gasses through different industrial activities and miscellaneous
operations such as burning of wastes etc., spreads hundred of tones of pollutants in
the air, every year. Irritation of throat and eyes and offensive odours has become a
continuous aspect of city living. Some of the pollutants pass deep into our
respiratory system affecting the delicate mechanism, which supplies us, oxygen
and carries away, carbon dioxide. Progressive destruction of this system leads to
many diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
“Our mad race for economic development through industrialization at the
cost of environment would ultimately lead to disaster. If the present rate of
pollution is not checked the man will see, eat, and breathe pollution so the solution
lies in harmonizing of economic development with environment.2
Indiscriminate use of pesticides upsets the very delicate ecological balance,
creating all kinds of unforeseen repercussion. The chemical controls on plants and
insect life often means that man ends up poisoning himself. Similarly the use of
chemical fertilizers has deprived the soil of the natural ability to fix nitrogen. Our
Karma as a whole paying us back in science of Ecology.
Since last two hundred years because of industrialization the balance of nature has been disturbed, because of materialized industrialization, population growth, ecological imbalance is created. There are other factors also for the imbalance and pollution, like over extraction and over use of natural resources, increase in destruction of plants and chemicals (deforestation) food habits and modern living, soil erosion (due to deforestation and fertilizers) and desertification and municipal waste disposal etc.
Everyday, one million litre water is thrown into Thames in London .In Germany billions of fishes died in Rhine River due to water pollution. At one time the water of the big lake of Geneva was pure and cool, now it is not worth drinking. Yamuna and Ganga have become gutters. In 1970,U.S.A had thrown 1.2 billion tons of mercury into water and air ,the result was that many fishes died in Pacific ocean. Mahavir has said:- Tanse ahiyl tanse amboliye –This violence is due to ignorance and ungratefulness.
Today, the depletion on one side and over production of industrial goods on the other side is creating environmental imbalance. The consequence is polluted air, water and surface area. Moreover the disposal of human, domestic and industrial wastes, have increased the problem. This in turn, affects the health and wealth of human and other living beings and is destroying many plants and animal species everyday. Pollution due to radioactive wastes is a recent phenomenon of the 20th century, which pollutes the air and health of living beings.
Industrialization implies economic slavery. As industries are centralized, there will be economic slavery and exploitation. Today, one nation exploits another and the possibility of war is multiplied.
Prevention of Environmental pollution:
- Scientists have tried to develop the recycling process to regain useful material from wastes.
- Scientists have also tried to reduce the harmful effects of waste by pre-treating it in such a way that the pollution with it becomes negligible.
- Atmospheric gases are being filtered before release.
- Scientists are also trying to improve the quality of polluted air and water.
- Pollution can be prevented by minimizing the use of chemical fertilizers insecticides and by application of organic manure.
THE KEY CONCEPTS IN JAINISM
Jainism has been described as ecological religion or religious ecology. The three principles of Jainism come to our rescue namely Ahimsa, Aparigraha and Anekantvada. If Jain teachings of non-violence, non attachment and non possession are followed with personal commitment and effort, much of the discord in society and nature would be reduced. The three basic Jaina concepts can play a key role in establishing ecological balance.
- Non-Attachment to possession or Aparigraha.
- Non –Absolutism or the doctrine of multiple vision
The basic teaching of Mahavir is Ahimsa. Ahimsa is the supreme religion. ‘Nothing is higher than Mount Meru or anything more expansive than the sky.
Likewise know that Dharma is equal to Ahimsa in the world’3
Jainism stands out from other religions in its application of non violence. It has been observed today by the great persons that the choice today is no longer between non violence and violence .It is between non-violence and non-existence. This is indicative of the gravity of situation today. In the wider sense non –violence implies ‘Right to life for all’ coming from ‘Respect for life’.Thus it is ethically oriented principle of conduct which can promote the spirit of universal brotherhood and peaceful coexistence. The product of weapons of mass destruction will stop if durable peace is to be achieved. In Achanranga Sutra it has been said, ‘Every human being wants to live, nobody likes suffering .Therefore do not inflict suffering on anybody. This is non-violence.’4 Non-violence is the crux of wisdom and is the basic virtue.
Nature is treated reverentially in Jainism. It asks us to shape our actions with a more care for their environmental consequences.
In Jainism, non-violence is not merely a ritual but discipline for all at all times. It provides us with environmental ethics. It would help humanity to live in harmony with nature. Jainism teaches not to exploit nature in our greed for wealth and power. If we practice non-violence and be a little cautious perhaps, we can prevent disturbing ecology. All our selfish pursuits amount to violence. Non-violence implies restricted consumption of natural resources. In social context it implies practices of restraint in all activities. Do not harm others, consume energy only to the extent that is minimally essential. No extravagance or waste should be there due to neglect and carelessness. Lord Mahavira rightly observed that non-violence is wholesome for all living beings. Positively, it implies the universal friendliness. It is abundantly clear that non-violent lifestyle is imperative to save mankind. A careful study of Jain scriptures reveals evidence for the concern of Jainism for environment
Non-violence has a very wide connotation. It means cessation of all violence, love, compassion, not to wish evil of anybody, not to kill.
Non Violence is “Observance of mindfulness and self control while behaving towards all living beings is non Violence.”5 There is the same Self everywhere, therefore it is said in Acaranga Sutra(1.3.3) “One who kills other living beings, kills oneself.” Moreover it is said, “One whom you intend to kill, is yourself only.”
There are sixty words for Ahimsa in Jaina Scripture6 which emphasize different connotations of Ahimsa self is eternal, hence what we kill is prana which consists of five sense organs, mind, speech, three powers of body, breathing and life-span. This is known as Dravya himsa. But Bhava-himsa is mental which is due to lethargy (Pramada). Acharya Amrutacharya has said ‘the non-existence of attachment etc is Ahimsa and their existence is himsa.”
The basis of Non violence is reverence for life. Non violence does good to all.7
Ahimsa is compounded of 4 elements
- Friendliness- (Maitri)
- Feeling glad at the sight of virtuous-(Pramod)
- Compassion for those who are in misery-(Karuna)
- Equanimity to those who are without virtue-(Madhyastha)4
Ahimsa is pure and eternal Dharma-Acaranga Sutra (1.4.1)
Non Violence is the principle of higher life. All miseries arise from violence. It is the chief of all Vratas. The remaining Vratas are for protection of non violence.
“That which includes kindness of all creatures is Religion”.Religion is that which sustains and preserves life.
Ahimsa implies purity of thought, word and deed. Mahavira proclaimed “There is no quality of soul more subtle than Non violence and no virtue of spirit greater than reverence for life.”.
Absolute non- injury to all forms of life is not possible. So Jainism distinguishes various kinds of injury according to the mental attitude of the person committing it; for, it is the intention that causes sin. It is conceded that a good deal of injury to life is involved even in the daily duties of an ordinary man, such as walking, cooking, washing, and similar pursuits. The various operations of agriculture and industry also cause the destruction of life. Again, life may have to be injured and even destroyed in the act of defending one’s own life and property. So, with the catholicity which characterizes all its rules, Jainism does not prohibit a householder from committing these three kinds of Himsa which may be called accidental, occupational and protective rather shirking from them would be considered a dereliction of duty.
Ecological sensitivity of Jain seers is reflected in the concept of non –violence as the supreme religion. It is more than a moral precept. It is equated with deity and is described as protector of the whole universe. Practically it is the observance of mindfulness and self control in our behavior to others.
Mahavira has spoken of two kinds of violence
- Artha Himsa and Anartha Himsa
A man cannot give up certain violence like breathing when we kill bacteria, while taking water the bacteria are killed and even in vegetarian food there is some violence. According to Jainism ,water in itself is animate. Moreover, there are many ApakayaJjivas. Many mobile and immobile bacteria are grown when water is used for plants.
A man can certainly give up unnecessary violence. Today, industrialization and consumerism motivate us to increase our wants, the result is unnecessary violence is increased. There is a couplet in Rajasthani.
Tanki Trishna tanik hai,tin pav ke sare|
Manki Trishan anant hai,gile meir ka meir||
The desire of the body is a little like ¾ of half kilogram but the desire of mind is infinite which swallows the big mountains.
Non- Violence and Environmental concern:
What does Jainism have to say about environmental concern?
Six travelers are lost in the central part of the forest, seeing a fruit laden tree. They think of eating the fruit.
The first person actuated by black thought- point (Krishna Leshya), wanted to uproot the whole tree.
The second person actuated by blue thought-point (Nil Leshya),wanted to preserve the roots but cut down the trunk.
The third person actuated by grey thought-point (Kapot Leshya),wanted to cut only larger branches.
The fourth person actuated by yellow thought-point (Tejo-leshya),wanted to cut only the minor branches with fruits to avoid unncecssary damage.
The fifth person actuated by pink thought point (Padma –Leshya),wanted to pluck only the fruits.
The sixth one actuated by white thought-point (Shukla Leshya), suggested to pick up the fallen fruits on the ground.
One must avoid the first three thoughts absolutely. The fourth and the fifth are respectful towards the tree but the best among them all is the sixth person’s thoughts.
This story indicates the care a Jain must take in his behavior. The non-violence towards all the creatures, the friendship towards all beings shows the concern and care Jains take towards each species of the universe and towards environment.
- There is no exaggeration to say that the Jain ecological philosophy is virtually synonymous with the principle of non -violence which runs through the Jain tradition like a golden thread. It is the concept which is at once ancient and refreshingly modern.
- Jainism offers an environmental ethics which can ensure sustainability. It refers enlightened spirituality that is, change in the attitudes of man through religion and spirituality. Jainism believes that, “Our spirituality should not permit us to exploit nature for our self chosen purposes.”9
- It is clear that the quintessence of Lord Mahavira’s teachings is that religion sustains the world and “Non violence, Self Restraint and penance constitute religion”10. Lord Mahavir not only pointed out but demonstrated that real philosophy is practical because it is a way of living in our daily life on earth. Jain world view has implications for the emergence of a non-violent culture necessary for environmental preservation.
- Non -violence can be broadly interpreted to mean ‘harmlessness’. The doctrine of non violence has been universally accepted by all the religions. It is the first and foremost tenet of Jainism.It is an essential precondition for environmental protection. Perhaps, “Jainism is the only tradition which has consistently allowed this tenet soak into the very essentials of its teaching and practices” Tirthanakaras have recognized non-violence as duty knowing the suffering of all beings”11
- Lord Mahavira taught the lesson of non-violence 2500 years ago. He said, “There is nothing in this world higher than Mount Meru or anything more expansive than the sky. Likewise know that no religion is greater than non-violence”12. It is implied that one has to consider all living things to be as precious as one’s own self. Non violence gives rise to other virtues truth etc.
MINDFULNESS, AN IMPORTANT VIRTUE:
An important virtue in Jainism is doctrine of mindfulness. In Jainism it is said one should remain fully aware while lifting thing or putting them, while sitting, walking etc. Only such person can observe the vow of non-violence. One should be aware of even thoughts.
Michael Tobias author of “Life Force” declares the Jain ethics of non violence to be ‘Spiritual Ecology’ and Biological Ethics’ Thus, it indicates that Jains have not only thought of human beings alone, but for all species of the universe. Jain ethics teaches ‘Give and Take’ balance for the benefit of not only humans but also of all living beings.
ECOLOGICAL LIFESTYLE OF JAINISM
Many scholars point out that these current problems of pollution were not existent during earlier ages. Jain Acharyas say that if we disregard the existence of earth, fire, water and vegetation, then our own existence will be destroyed. Jains point out that environmental concerns require a specific non violent lifestyle that has an aesthetic dimension and a practical concept of spiritual concord. Changing our lifestyle to spiritual ecology and environmental concern is not very difficult if we bear the following aims in mind:
- Cultivation of helping attitude, detachment and universal friendship
- Cultivation of an attitude of restraint and minimal use of natural resources and consumables.
- Cultivation of the habit of carefulness in all activities.
- Daily penitential retreat and prayer for the welfare of all living beings and for universal peace.
- Cultivation of satisfaction and tolerance.
- Cultivation of non-violent lifestyle.
Six life forms in the Universe
In its global perspective, Jain philosophy postulates six substances (Dravyas) in the universe. Jiva (Soul) is the animate substance (Jivastikaya). It includes apart from human beings and animals the entire range of living beings and life forms and entities ranging from plants, vegetables and trees to minutest insects and birds.
Jainism stands unique in expounding doctrine of six life forms .The doctrine of six life forms imparts important message. Jainism has made classifications of living beings from one sensed to five sensed creatures. It is said,” The earth, water, fire, air and plants are various kinds of immobile beings with one sense organ. The mobile beings like conches etc. are possessed of two, three, four and five sense organs”
The other five are inanimate (ajivastikaya) (non soul) viz. Pudgal (matter) Dharma (Motion),Adharma (rest) Akasha (space) and Kala (time).Jain concept of universe is that the elements of nature-the earth ,the sky, air, the water and the fire as well as forms of life are all bound to each other. Life cannot exist without mutual support and respect.
Those who know about six forms of life, know that every body wants to live, none has to be killed. Mahavir has said, “Violence is due to attachment it is death. If there is no self control, we shall add to violence.” Those who take care of mobile and immobile life, visible and invisible life, shall believe in ecology. Those who accept existence, creation, protection and sanctity of other beings, can bring about ecology in the world. Ecology, Science and non-violence are inseparable.
To be human being is a gift in the evolution of life as it enables him to bring out his humanity towards achievement of oneness with all life. It is human being alone endowed with all the six senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching and thinking, who can utilize his rationality and power of reasoning (Viveka) to be compassionate, loving, friendly, forgiving, tolerant and broad minded to the universe around him.
Far from being dogmatic, Jain religion has a well-defined and clearly articulated scientific base, which elucidates interrelated properties and qualities of animate and inanimate substances in terms of evolution and growth of atoms in time and space.
Mahavira declared that all beings of the natural world have equal potential for progress in the cycle of transmigration and all are dependant upon one another for their mutual survival. The Jain conviction of “Parsparopgrahojivanam” teaches that all forms of life are bound together in mutuality and interdependence.
All souls are bound together by mutual support. It is the principle of interdependence and interconnectedness which is also the principle of modern ecology. It is the hall mark of Jainism. There is inevitable bond of interraltionship. This principle says ‘Live and Let Live’ understanding the rules of entire ecological system. Reverence for all living organism on earth is the basic principle. Human life depends upon other living beings and other living beings too live on others. There is a network of interdependent relationship, the air, water, men, animals, plants are all invisibly linked in a life-sustaining system called the environment. The man must show reverence for all living organisms and thus achieve harmonious co-existence. Each organism depends on another and this is the way the survival of each can be ensured and existence of each be respected. The stress is upon the indisputable principle of mutual harmony i.e symbiosis-mutualism which emphasized the basic unity of nature.
“Underlying the Jaina code of conduct is emphatic assertion of Individual’s responsibility towards one and all. The code is profoundly ecological in its practical consequences.”13The directive principle of living is not ‘Living on others’ but living with others’. Jainism asks us to recognize biodiversity. Our existence is intrinsically bound up with existence of other living beings. Hence the killing of them is prohibited. Gandhiji has added one more dimension to this dictum ‘live in such a manner that others may live in better manner.’
By practice of Jain ethos, psycho-spiritual change can be affected which lead to eco-friendly behavior. Lord Mahavir proclaimed a preformed truth for all times to come where he said “ one who disregards existence of earth, water, fire, air and vegetarian life disregards his own existence which is entwined with them”14
Doctrine of Mutualism is important as it is equivalent to environmental basics that the environment matrix is an integrated composite whole in which all its constituents are interdependent and interact for mutual benefit. This implies that no harm to environment is done. All things are interlinked.
Plants and trees necessary for life
Lord Mahavir emphasized on the unicellular organisms that is the plants. There is life on earth because of plants. It is necessary to protect plants for biological Ecology. Oxygen is produced because of plants; hence plants and forests are to be protected. By reducing jungles, ecology is disturbed, rain fall is adversely affected, the earth can’t hold water if there are no plants.
Mahavir has said in Acarangasntra that if an aspirant kills the soul in plants or makes others to kill or permits others, that violence is harmful to him.
The crime branch of USA has said in a report that the people of Elster in Ireland are criminal minded because there are no jungles in that area. If there are no plants, there will be less of oxygen which leads to physical and mental diseases or ailments.
Forest is a storehouse of Oxygen. An individual requires 16K.G of Oxygen for which we require 5-6 trees each of 50 tones weight. To cut 5-6 trees, is to keep one person without oxygen. We get food, clothes and shelter because of plants and trees.
This concept of interdependence has been beautifully expressed by Francis Thompson in his book. “The Mistress of Vision”.He writes:
“All things by immortal power near or far hiddenly to each other linked are.
That than canst not stir a flower without troubling a star.”
Nonviolence and world peace:
Jainism believes that man has to understand his relation with other living beings and live in harmony with them. When each man behaves in a right manner, then automatically peace will be there. Right conduct is a must. All the problems can be solved by following non violence preferably. Right conduct is one of the three jewels in Jainism.
Jainism aims at peace between man and man, man and animal. A perfect brotherhood is the ideal of Jainism. Through principle of non violence, Jainism aims at world peace.
Acharya Tulsi has said;
“Not only must we condemn all research in atomic weaponary which is itself violence, but we must experiment with Ahimsa, training people who practice Ahimsa. We have established institutions where students are actively studying peace. While the west is busy experimenting with violence ,we are experimenting with non violence. This is our message for the west and for the whole world.”
With the help of Jain code of conduct, it is possible to achieve peace. The basic principle is an individual responsibility towards all the creatures and the entire universe.
All political conflicts, social injustice and inequalities can be solved with the help of non violence. Non-violence, which includes non-possession also, can avoid social inequality, communal riots, conflicting ideologies and quarrels at personal levels. It implies self-restraint.
“Since war begins in the minds of man, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” UNO. Jainism is religion of Ahimsa par excellence.
Mahatama Gandhi was influenced by Jain principles of non-violence and what he achieved in social and political spheres, is known to all. Today, this principle is followed by ‘Anuvrata Movement’. Which is meant for common man. This spiritual and social movement has a greater benefit for the society.
Lord Mahavira was not a great thinker but a political and social reformer. Thus ,non-violence can establish peace and prosperity and this principle has great relevance today. With the principle of non-violence, nearly all problems of the world can be solved. Five small Anuvratas can bring about big changes in the world.
In an interview, Dalai Lama made clear that Jains first convened to the Buddhists the true meaning of ‘Love of Life and respect for all sentient beings.
The choice between Non violence and non existence.
Jain philosophy is a complete life style, not abstract Philosophy. Gandhi thought of an integral philosophy. Jains have humanitarian perspective.
Perhaps 21st century belongs to true Jainism
Frame work for securing peace:
- There should be global disarmament agenda. It should be the age of dialogue, negotiation.
- Scientist should stop contributing towards a destructive science of development
- Restraint should be there .Take pledge to shun ego, negativity and impurity.
- In a comprehensive sense, peace and security are related to freedom from want, liberation from violence and conflicts.
- Real peace consists in freedom from fear.
The whole world is one family-Vasudhaiva Kutumbarkam is not merely a vision or a poem today but it is a stark reality proved by science, technology communications and transport. Man, world and nature are inter related that one has to accept the worldly vision.
In the words of Mr. Lester, “ We have to realize that we had not inherited
the earth from our forefathers.. We have borrowed it from our children”. The
future generations have equal rights over the natural resources. If we do not act
responsibly, we are sure to face dooms day! Margaret Thatcher quite often
remarked during the years of her Prime Ministership: “No generation has a free
hold on this earth. All we have is a life tenancy- with a full repairing lease”15.
Human population, like other population is ultimately limited by the
biosphere’s carrying capacity. Increase in population and consumption could
outstrip the capacity of the biosphere to support life.
The objects are limited but the exploiters are unlimited, hence one has to restrain oneself. Materialism and comforts of life have encouraged violence. It is like death dance. Ahimsa purifies self as well as environment. If we do not pay attention towards non-violence, we cannot solve the problem of pollution. One should practice non-violence, self control and fearlessness to remove environmental pollution.
APARIGRAHA: Non-attachment to possession
In Dasavaikalika Sutra it is said:
“As the bee that sucks honey in the blossoms of a tree without hurting the blossom
and strengthening itself, the monks take food from lay people such that they do not
Jainism teaches restraints in the consumption of material things, the regulation of desires and simplification of lifestyle, indulgent and profligate use of natural resources is seen as a form of theft and violence.
“Aparigraha is not an abstract philosophy but a vision of life. Man’s insatiable greed is the main factor in damaging the environment. Interestingly, the important ecology basics-environmental preservation and protection are inherent in basic Jain doctrine which is realistic, practical and rational. In Jainism we find coordination of science and spirituality.
The Jain principle is to enhance the quality of life and not merely increase the quantity of consumption. Attachment to possession reflects our greedy attitude. The Jaina emphasis on non attachment to possession is significant from social and human point view. It is not possessions that are real obstacles, the real obstacles are our attitudes. ‘The desire for power and possession have given birth to the race for atomic weapons’. The craving for possession of the thing which not needed is one of the cause for violence .This concept does not mean not to fulfill one’s needs .The message of this virtue is to eradicate the selfish desire for power. This virtue stresses change in attitude of mind. Self control rather than self indulgence leads to detachment to possession. It really denotes a non-violent attitude. The emphasis here is on certain amount of self-restraints and not on possessing necessary things for living. When there is thought of non-attachment to hoarding, naturally violence will have no place in man’s life. Also other vices like stealing, untruthfulness and absence of self control will die. This virtue has not merely religio-economic significance but also social significance. Jainism advocates universal ethics for social excellence and spiritual upliftment.
Possessiveness and violence are related. Therefore to practice non-violence one has to give up attachment to possession
It is a comprehensive precept or an ethical principle for a good social order.
It refers to limitation of accumulation of things and articles of consumption.
As Gandhi has prophetically said,
‘There is enough for everybody’s need but not anybody’s greed.’ If everybody takes as per his need, then there will be balance in society. This will lead to equanimity.
Non-Absolutism: Doctrine of multiple vision.
The doctrine of non-absolutism or liberalism is the doctrine of non-violence in intellectual field. ‘Respect to the view of others is important for attitudinal change. It will result in toleration. This principle develops catholic outlook necessary for peaceful co-existence. It is holistic principle. It is ideal for successfully managing conflicts. The kind of intellectual toleration it will develop, will further lead to an atmosphere of peaceful co-existence avoiding dogmatism and fanaticism. Much violence in the world today arises from fundamental ideological and religious disagreement. Jainism with its theory of multiple vision provides a framework through which qualities like tolerance, understanding etc can be developed.
Non violence from the doctrine of behavior to the domain of intellectual thing. ‘Respect for life’ gave rise to the principle of respect for the views of others.’
Truth is relative to our stand point. Each point of view is legitimate in its own way. It is the doctrine of open mindedness, intellectual toleration so it leads to peaceful co existence.
It is ideal for successfully managing conflicts at any level. It is such a comprehensive principle that it examines a thing from different standpoints. It is intellectual non-violence. From respect for life we have to pass to respect for the views of others, it implies in practice relativism. Truth is relative to our standpoints. Therefore, we must respect the view of others it is the theory of multiple visions. It stands for -1) Open mindedness 2) Reconciliation-It has got power of assimilation, the conflicting views are harmonized together. Conflicts can be managed at any level by harmonious reconciliation. It can pave the way for harmony and goodwill. Qualities like tolerance, self control, broadmindedness and understanding can be developed on the basis of it.
Search for Solutions:
Environment is a multi-dimensional and multi-faced problem. It is complex
and compound in nature. There are no single or simple solutions to the
environmental problems. It requires a lot of persuasion, hard-work and mutual
respect, and understanding. Partisan and parochial approach may hurt the cause
Think globally and act locally is very apt in case of Environment
protection. The threat of war anywhere is danger to peace everywhere. The same
is true of the Environment. The global warming, deforestation, depletion of fossil
fuels, pollution and other climatic changes, remind us of the stark reality that the
earth is one.
Can you help?
There are lots of things we can do to help. What can you do yourself?
First of all try not waste anything. Almost everything we think rubbish is useful in some way. Old newspapers can be used again, to make more paper. Tin cans and scrap metal can be melted down. Glass bottles can be used again. Not much plastic is being recycled yet, though it can be done its best not to use plastic container and wrappers at all if you can use glass or paper instead.
We have to release that wild animals, wild plants and wild places need to be saved. We need them not just to look at and enjoy, but we need them because they provide us with food and oxygen, If they don’t survive we cant’ either.
We know it’s possible to save endangered (animals in danger of extinction) animals. We must do our best.
Agenda or strategy for non-violent model of life style.
An individual can control the passions-the anger, pride, greed and deceit and develop non-violence in every situation. It implies vegetarianism. One has to go beyond diet in practice of non- violence. Development of ethical values can guide our life. Attitudinal changes as follows 1) an attitude of love, 2)Respect-cooperation etc.can be expressed in our behavior by following the principle of non-violence. 3) Preservation of bio-diversity which will maintain ecological balance.
- Toleration can be developed by broadmindedness realizing the relativity of truth and multiple facets of reality. It means liberalism in outlook.
- Attitudinal change-one can change one’s vision and there by developing the power of understanding .Not to kill is law of life, which means philosophy of interdependence.
- Change towards non-violent lifestyle by adopting good habits, cultivating virtues and holistic world view, practice of self restraint in consumption avoiding lust for power and possession. It means eco-friendly life style.
- Choosing fair and noble ways of earning and eating.Respect for life in any form can lead to environmental protection and sustainability.
- Conflicts can be avoided at all levels and objective attitude can be developed by respecting multidimensional aspects of truth .Non-possession can promote social equality. Respect for all religions can promote interfaith dialogue.
To conclude, Jainism has much to offer for eco-balance through practice of the following precepts.
- Non-violent model of life-style.
- Friendliness to all and enmity to none.
- Tolerance and content
- Auspicious meditation
- Principle of non-consumerism-Aparigraha
- Enlightened spirituality-an alternative model of life style which is environment friendly.
Mahavira was a great environmental scientist, a supreme visionary. He preached non-violence not merely for the salvation of some individuals but for survival and welfare of the whole universe. There is ‘way’ of the world which is manifested at once in the natural and moral law. It is the cosmic law; this spiritual dimension of ecological issues is emphasized in Jainism.
Jainism in the end tends towards Deep Ecology. There is need of environmental ethics. Nature is intrinsically valuable. It is abundantly clear from the above discussion that nature is treated reverentially in Jain tradition. Jainism deals with permanent values of life which are of enduring benefit to mankind. Ecological sensitivity of Jain seer is reflected in the concept of non-violence as the supreme religion. It is more than a moral precept. It is equated with deity and is described as protector of the whole universe. Practically it is the observance of mindfulness and self control in our behavior to others.
Let us conclude with one of the Jain prayers which expresses a wish of well being of the universe. “May the world attain the bliss
May all strive for other’s welfare,
May all evils be destroyed,
May all attain happiness” (Brahatsantistva)