Ahimsa is a principle that Jain teach and practice not only towards human beings but towards all nature. It is an unequivocal teaching that is at once ancient and contemporary. The scripts tell us : At the Arhats (Venerable Ones) of the past, present and future discourse, counsel, proclaim, propound and prescribe thus in unison :
Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture or kill any creature or living being. In this strife – torn world of hatred and hostilities, aggression and aggrandizement, and of unscrupulous and unbridled exploitation and consumerism, the jain perspective finds the evil of violence writ large.
The teaching of ahimnsa refers not only to wars and visible physical acts of violence but to violence in the heart sand minds of human beings, their lack of concern and compassion for their fellow humans and for natural world. Ancient Jain texts explain that :
violence (Ahimnsa) is not defined by actual harm, for this may be unintentional. It is the intention to harm, the absence of compassion, that make action violent. When violence enters our thoughts, we remember Tirthankara Mahavira’s words:
“You are that which you intend to hit, inlure, insult, torment, presecute, torture, enslave or kill.”
(The hand with a wheel on the palm symbolizes the Jain Vow of Ahimsa, meaning non- violence. The word in the middle is “Ahimsa.” The wheel represents the dharmacakra, to halt the cycle of reincarnation through relentless pursuit of truth.)
The Supreme Court on Friday deprecated the growth intolerance of exhibition of certain films or paintings and said such dangerous tendencies must be put down with an iron hand. The court made these observations while upholding the action of the Ahmedabad corporation in closing down slaughter houses in the city for nine days during the period of the jain festival paryushan.
The Bench, consisting of Justice H.K. Sema and Markandey Katju, said the closure was reasonal restriction and would not violate Article 19(1) (g) of the constitution. The banch said :Since India is a country of great diversity, it is absolutely essential , if we wish to keep our country united, to have tolerance and respect for all communities and sects. It was due to the wisdom of our founding fathers that we have a constitution which is secular in character and which caters to the tremendous diversity in our country.
“In the instant case, the Bench said:” One should not be touchy about a short restriction when it is being done out of respect for the sentiments of a particular section of society. The great Emperor Akbar himself used to remain a vegetarian for a few days every week out of respect for the vegetarian section of Indian society and out of respect for his Hindu wife. We too should have a similar respect for the sentiments for others. even if they are a minority sect. The Bench allowed the appeals against a judgment of the Gujarat High Court, which quashed the order of closure of slaughter houses.
The ancient Jain scriptural aphorism Parasparopagraho jivanam (All life is bound together by mutual support and interdependence) is refreshingly contemporary in its premise and perspective. It means that all aspect of nature belong together and are bound in a physical as well as a metaphysical relationship. Life is viewed as a gift of togetherness, accommodation and assistance in a universe teeming with interdependent constituents.
The concept of universal interdependence underpins the Jain theory of knowledge, known as anekantawad or the doctrine of manifold aspects. Anekantavada describes the world as a multifaceted, ever- changing reality with an infinity of viewpoints depending on the time, place, nature and state of the one who is the viewer and that which is viewed.
This leads to the doctrine of syadvada or relativity, which states that truth is relative to different viewpoints (nayas). What is true from one point of view is open to question from another. Absolute truth cannot be grasped from any particular viewpoint alone because absolute truth is the sum total of all the different viewpoints that make up the universe.
Because it is rooted in the doctrines of anekantawad and syadvada , Jainism does not look upon the universe from an anthropocentric, ethnocentric or egocentric viewpoint. It takes into account the viewpoints of other species, pther communities and nations and other human beings.