SIGNIFICANCE OF JAIN PHILOSOPHY FOR PRESERVING LIFE AND ENVIRONMENT
DR. VINCENT SEKHAR, S.J.
A few years ago, a question was put to a few Jain scholars across the country: what sort of society does Jainism want to project? The answer was more or less unanimous: a Non-violent society! They went on to add that their religion preached Ahimsa more than any other thing and Non-violence was the need of the hour to protect life and environment.
Ultimately, all our academic reflections boil down to the question of ethics, which demands a radical change in our conduct and way of life. It presumes that we have a rich resource of beliefs and values corresponding to the way we want to conduct ourselves. Jain way of life suggests that we have a rich tradition of a life of renunciation and Non-violent culture. Based on the animistic belief, the Jain system develops a way of seeing the reality and a way of knowing its nature and function. The system lays much emphasis on the sanctity of life, especially of human birth . The humans have a capacity for sva-prakasa and para-prakasa, glowing in oneself and glowing at the same time the external world. And hence the humans can change themselves together with the environment whenever needed. Such power and divinity rests in a human person as to realize one’s full capacity, a realization of God within and outside, to put it theistic terms.
Jainism, in other words, is known as the ‘religion of self-help’. One has to re-incarnate into that sort of a being in order to effect a change in and around oneself. The supreme power of being human and, at the same time, divine can be realized in oneself, provided one is able to see the perfect vision of oneself as the divine and conduct oneself correspondingly. This vision of faith in oneself leads one to a similar understanding of the surrounding which, in turn, evoke an attitude of equanimity and sentiments of compassion, etc.
The vision and knowledge of reality, including...