The Distilled Essence of Non-Violence ~ Jaina Book on Ahimsa

Ahimsa is the need of the hour. Today, when we receive news of violence day in and day out, this book comes forth to offer us solace and solutions. It makes Ahimsa a true and practical way of life. “The distilled essence of non-violence” is the English translation of Gurudev Upadhyaya Amar Muni’s insightful book “Ahimsa Darshan”. A book for the laypersons as well as scholars
 

The Distilled Essence

Specifications

Author: Upadhyaya Amar Muni | Translation: Dr. Pratibha Jain | First Edition | Price: Rs. 200/-

 

Introduction

When we look at the world around us, we see an endless flurry of activities. Everyone is busy: be it human beings or other creatures. Flocks of birds flutter around in search of grains. Humans brave sunshine and rain, to work in mines, fields or industry.
 
What is the reason for all these activities?
What are we searching for?
Is it for comfort in life and peace of mind?
 
Every person wants to have more comforts than others and aspires to be richer than his neighbour. Remaining dissatisfied and self-centred, he continues to exploit others! In other words, he keeps on committing violence towards others – even if the violence is inflicted through speech or thought rather than action.
 
Can he then find peace and happiness?
No, the formula for peace and happiness can never be found through violence. The use of violence can only initiate opposition, lead to a chain-reaction of breeding hatred which in turn will lead to more violence. To attain peace and happiness we need to accept and embrace non-violence in mind, body and speech.
This is the distilled essence of ahimsa.
 
This is the reason why the greatest of thinkers searched for ahimsa and propounded it as the prime principle for leading a happy and peaceful life. The loftiest peak of human evolution and human thought is that of ahimsa. Whether it is bliss experienced in this world or beyond, the foundation of a blissful life is ahimsa. In the evolution from individual to family, family to society, society to nation, and nation to universal brotherhood, it is the purest feeling of ahimsa which is at play.
 
An evaluation of the lofty ideals of human civilization can be done by understanding ahimsa. In this world torn by violence and destruction, where the power-hungry and intolerant dominate through blind selfishness, ahimsa stands out like an oasis in a desert. It is the realm where humans can heave a sigh of relief and breathe free. The serene gaze of ahimsa is very important to view oneself and others on the same platform. Without ahimsa, man can neither recognize himself nor another.
 
Ahimsa is an intrinsic part of every world religion.

Translator

Translator

Once again, the joy was mine as I poured over pages and pages of profound thoughts on the power of non-violence. Gurudev Upadhyaya Amar Muni’s writing is informative, intuitive, religious and spiritual. Translating his literary masterpiece “Ahimsa Darshan” from Hindi to English was a pleasure-filled task that cannot be described in words.
 
I am indeed grateful to Shri Sugalchand Jain, Chairman Emeritus, Sugal & Damani, for giving me yet another opportunity of working with the literature of one of the greatest saints of the Jaina religion, Upadhyaya Amar Muniji. I have already had the pleasure of translating his ‘Aparigraha Darshan” and “Samayika Sutra.” Each book is a unique experience, unparalleled in itself. In “Ahimsa Darshan”, he takes us through the maze of concepts surrounding violence and non-violence. And by the time we reach the end of the book, the maze transforms into practical answers. Furthermore, the constant churning of thoughts which invariably accompanies the process of translation is a reward in itself.
 
My profound thanks to Radhika Mohan for her meticulous editing; my mentor and father, Shri Dulichand Jain for his inspiration; and my husband Mahendar Chordia for being a pillar of support.
 
I pray and hope that the great saint’s message of non-violence has been captured in its profound purity during the elusive process of translation.
 
Pratibha Jain

Main Chapters

Main content of the book

The book is divided into twenty seven following chapters:

1) The Essence of Ahimsa

The emergence of ahimsa • Ahimsa – the pillar of all values • Austerities without self-mortification • Truth enlivened with ahimsa • Ahimsa – the great river of compassion • Impossibility of ahimsa without restraint • The sacred stream of our inner life • Bathing in the inner sacred stream

2) The Spiritual Foundation of Ahimsa

The religion of the heart • Spread the stream of love • The vision of non-duality • Vegetarianism and non-violence • Shutting down slaughter houses • Nothing on this earth is a waste

3) Ahimsa in Attitude

The soul of ahimsa • Ahimsa’s relationship to the heart • Sustaining ahimsa with one’s attitude • Ahimsa without fear and greed • Ahimsa in intention • Ahimsa as faith and feeling

4) Foundation of Universal Peace

The foundation of Ahimsa • The evolution of non-violence • The process of non-violence • The vision of non-violence • The inner spirit of ahimsa • Ahimsa – the path of courage • Science and non-violence

5) Is Ahimsa Impractical?

The past, present and future of ahimsa • Choosing ahimsa in a violent atmosphere • Impossibility of life without ahimsa • Art of life in ahimsa • Choosing peace • Ahimsa as practical life • Why embrace ahimsa

6) Discipline with Compassion

Acharya – the compassionate cowherd • Mindfulness • The cross of restraint • Punishment with compassion • Balancing punishment and compassion • Four-fold violence • Was the war of Ramayana legitimate • Was Krishna a proponent of non-violence

7) War, Punishment and Ahimsa

Ahimsa – A question • Principles and ideals • Punishment and ahimsa • Ahimsa as a responsive path • War and ahimsa • Can ahimsa transform hearts • Ahimsa in principle and practice • Discrimination – a virtue of ahimsa •

8) The Acid Test of Ahimsa

Core of religion is ahimsa • Glimpse of Goddess Ahimsa • Ahimsa is the Supreme Being • First vision of ahimsa • Ahimsa as pervasive happiness • Experience of universal consciousness • Body or soul • Defining ahimsa • The test of ahimsa • Does religion save or kill • Selfishness obstructs ahimsa • Imprisoning the father • Employing vigilance in life

9) The Parameter of Ahimsa

Attackers versus attacked • Futher analysis of aggressors and victims • The view of the Hastitapas • Sharp and mild feelings • Neminath – Epitome of compassion

10) The Three Vehicles of Ahimsa

Body and soul • The vehicles of violence • Action and abstinence

11) Ahimsa – Action and Restraint

Positive and negative aspects • Indifference versus proactivity • Cleanliness and non-violence • A different view-point • Discrimination and non-violence

12) Ahimsa – The Core of Restraint

The underlying core of restraint • The boundaries of proactivity • Proactivity towards ahimsa • The essence of restraint and proactivity •

13) The Tripartite Stream of Ahimsa

The three forms of ahimsa • The foundation of conflict • Service and universal consciousness • Non-divisibility in service

14) Physical and Emotional Violence

Violence in thought • Violence in action • Four-fold classification • Emotional violence • Physical violence • Emotional and physical violence • Neither emotional nor physical violence

15) Ahimsa – Ideal of Religious War

True form of ahimsa • Is ahimsa an ethical ideal during war • Misnomers with regard to ahimsa • The religious war of King Chetak

16) Delusion – Backbone of Violence

Levels of violence • The meaning of non-violence • No hindrance to freedom • The context of ahimsa • Fasting and religion • Delusion – root cause of violence • Cleaning and other activities

17) Violence – The Bane of Humanity

Internal and external violence • Questions to ask oneself • Communal differences • Deep chasm in humanity • Can caste be changed • Transformation of a prostitute

18) What is Social Violence

Caste system • Abuse of caste system • Whose water is it • A new vision of ahimsa

19) Animosity – Root of Social Violence

Can sacrifice be steeped in animosity • Violence in the name of socialism • Violence in the name of religion • Violence in family life • Becoming angels of peace

20) Casteism – Culprit of Social Violence

Going beyond casteism

21) Purity – Credibility of Social Ahimsa

The path of purity • The message of oneness • Realizing the pure self

22) Exploitation – Method of Social Violence

The lesson of humanity • Who is worthy of liberation • The power of discrimination • What is wealth

23) Rightful and Wrongful Occupation

Misconceptions regarding sacrifice • Not renunciation but reformation • Rightful or wrongful occupation • The measure of intelligence

24) Minimal Violence in Occupation

Unavailability as basic reason of conflict • The path of ahimsa

25) Ahimsa and Cow Protection

26) The Vision of Ahimsa in Culture

Ahimsa and the festival of Holi • Ahimsa and the festival of Deepavali • The role of ahimsa in spiritual evolution • The role of ahimsa in family planning

27)Ahimsa in Thought and Anekanta

Anekanta – an analysis • The blind men and the elephant • The consensus of Acharyas

EPILOGUE

The Epilogue of the book

Ahimsa in Different Religions

Almost every religion in the world includes reference to ahimsa in one way or another. They are united in propounding ahimsa in their own way. They accept its principle and endorse its strength. Just as lying, committing theft and adultery are considered as wrong by all religions, so is violence shunned by all. There may be differences in boundaries and practice, but no religious scriptures state that violence is right and non-violence is wrong. All accept non-violence as the greatest value of life.

Ahimsa in Jainism:

Ahimsa is the life-breath and cornerstone of Jainism. The mention of Jainism is synonymous with ahimsa.

Ahimsa in Buddhism:

The traditional Buddhist understanding of ahimsa may not be as rigid as it is in Jainism, but Buddhism condemns harming or killing of any living beings. Ahimsa in Buddhism is described as a prerequisite for attaining ultimate salvation and eternal bliss. Like Mahavira, Buddha was also a great representative of the Shrmana civilization.

Ahimsa in Vedic religion:

Ahimsa forms the pivot of Vedic religion, around which all virtues revolve. Adopting ahimsa leads to fearlessness, truth, love and eventually it becomes a strong spiritual force. Where there is ahimsa, selfless love and service co-exist. Ahimsa is highlighted as the path to ultimate salvation, peace and bliss

Ahimsa in Islam:

The great mansion of Islam also rests on the foundation of ahimsa. The Quran is itself a message of peace revealed by Allah to Mohammed, his Messenger.

Ahimsa in Christianity:

Christianity firmly endorses that any form of violence is incompatible with the Christian faith. Jesus said, “Keep your sword in the scabbard because those who wield the sword will be destroyed by the same.” – Matti, 2.51.52

Ahimsa in Judaism:

Peace or non-violence is one of the most esteemed values of Judaism. It even takes precedence over truth. Judaism also saw violence as a social evil and controlling the causes of violence is deemed imperative.

Ahimsa in Zoroastrianism and Taoism:

Zarathustra, the great prophet and founder of Zoroastrianism, the religion of Parsis, stated, “Those who hamper and obstruct people from leading a good life and recommend the killing of animals, are considered as wrong by Ahuramazda (Ha., 34.3). Therefore, do not nurture the feeling of revenge against anyone. Revenge is an emotion that will constantly drain you. Hence do not avenge even your enemy. Do not commit any sin because you are caught in the throes of revenge. Always light the lamps of beautiful thoughts in your heart.”

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