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An extract on #meme

The Mahabharata, one of the epics of Hinduism, has multiple mentions of the phrase Ahimsa Paramo Dharma ( ), which literally means: non-violence is the highest moral virtue. For example, Mahaprasthanika Parva has the verse: The above passage from Mahabharata emphasises the cardinal importance of Ahimsa in Hinduism, and literally means: Ahimsa is the highest virtue, Ahimsa is the highest self-control, Ahimsa is the greatest gift, Ahimsa is the best suffering, Ahimsa is the highest sacrifice, Ahimsa is the finest strength, Ahimsa is the greatest friend, Ahimsa is the greatest happiness, Ahimsa is the highest truth, and Ahimsa is the greatest teaching. Some other examples where the phrase Ahimsa Paramo Dharma are discussed include Adi Parva, Vana Parva and Anushasana Parva. The Bhagavad Gita, among other things, discusses the doubts and questions about appropriate response when one faces systematic violence or war. These verses develop the concepts of lawful violence in self-defence and the theories of just war. However, there is no consensus on this interpretation. Gandhi, for example, considers this debate about non-violence and lawful violence as a mere metaphor for the internal war within each human being, when he or she faces moral questions.

In Jainism, the understanding and implementation of Ahims is more radical, scrupulous, and comprehensive than in any other religion. Killing any living being out of passions is considered his (to injure) and abstaining from such an act is ahims (noninjury). The vow of ahims is considered the foremost among the 'five vows of Jainism'. Other vows like truth (satya) are meant for safeguarding the vow of ahims. In the practice of Ahimsa, the requirements are less strict for the lay persons (sravakas) who have undertaken anuvrata (Smaller Vows) than for the Jain monastics who are bound by the Mahavrata "Great Vows". The statement ahims paramo dharma is often found inscribed on the walls of the Jain temples. Like in Hinduism, the aim is to prevent the accumulation of harmful karma. When Mahavira revived and reorganised the Jain faith in the 6th or 5th century BCE, Ahimsa was already an established, strictly observed rule. Rishabhanatha (dintha), the first Jain Tirthankara, whom modern Western historians consider to be a historical figure, followed by Parshvanatha (Prvantha) the twenty-third Tirthankara lived in about the 8th century BCE. He founded the community to which Mahavira's parents belonged. Ahimsa was already part of the "Fourfold Restraint" (Caujjama), the vows taken by Parshva's followers. In the times of Mahavira and in the following centuries, Jains were at odds with both Buddhists and followers of the Vedic religion or Hindus, whom they accused of negligence and inconsistency in the implementation of Ahimsa. According to the Jain tradition either lacto vegetarianism or veganism is mandatory. The Jain concept of Ahimsa is characterised by several aspects. It does not make any exception for ritual sacrificers and professional warrior-hunters. Killing of animals for food is absolutely ruled out. Jains also make considerable efforts not to injure plants in everyday life as far as possible. Though they admit that plants must be destroyed for the sake of food, they accept such violence only inasmuch as it is indispensable for human survival, and there are special instructions for preventing unnecessary violence against plants. Jains go out of their way so as not to hurt even small insects and other minuscule animals. For example, Jains often do not go out at night, when they are more likely to step upon an insect. In their view, injury caused by carelessness is like injury caused by deliberate action. Eating honey is strictly outlawed, as it would amount to violence against the bees. Some Jains abstain from farming because it inevitably entails unintentional killing or injuring of many small animals, such as worms and insects, but agriculture is not forbidden in general and there are Jain farmers. Theoretically, all life forms are said to deserve full protection from all kinds of injury, but Jains recognise a hierarchy of life. Mobile beings are given higher protection than immobile ones. For the mobile beings, they distinguish between one-sensed, two-sensed, three-sensed, four-sensed and five-sensed ones; a one-sensed animal has touch as its only sensory modality. The more senses a being has, the more they care about non-injuring it. Among the five-sensed beings, the precept of non-injury and non-violence to the rational ones (humans) is strongest in Jain Ahimsa. Jains agree with Hindus that violence in self-defence can be justified, and they agree that a soldier who kills enemies in combat is performing a legitimate duty. Jain communities accepted the use of military power for their defence, there were Jain monarchs, military commanders, and soldiers.

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