Concept of Nonviolence in Jainism: A System for Inner Peace and Happiness

by Dr. Saroj Kotharijain hand

Jain symbol; word ahimsa
within wheel of life; hand symbolizes vow;


Violence and nonviolence
Today, all individuals, groups and nations are facing problems in one form or the other. Some of these problems are: psychological tension arising from economic inequity and the consumer culture; social problems and disintegration of society originating from conflicts of ideologies and faiths; political problems such as arms race, war and terrorism; and problems of human survival linked to production and ecological balance. The world is torn by tension, strife, crime and regional conflicts. Everybody is suffering from uncertainty about the future and lack of peace of mind. Many individuals, including social and political leaders, are trying to find solutions to their problems. They feel that scientific research and technological advances, nuclear weapons and improved war technology, consolidation of power and acquisition of material possessions, and concentrating on their own religious and ethnic groups will provide solutions to their problems. Religion emphasizes that peace of mind comes from tolerance and contentment. Morals and spiritual values including virtues such as nonviolence and truth can lead to genuine peace. However, to a large extent, these virtues are ignored on account of the glitter of materialism fueled by greed and the desire to get ahead of others. No doubt, scientific and technological advances have made human life, especially for those with material means, quite pleasant. Nevertheless, most people on earth have no peace of mind. In spiritual terms, one can say that we are living for the satisfaction of our animal instincts only. We do talk of higher moral, social and spiritual values but we fail to realize that material progress alone cannot lead to a resolution of conflicts arising from our selfish nature.

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“When planted in the garden, the mustard seed, smallest of all the seeds, became a large tree, and birds came and made their home there.” Luke 13:19

“For me whatever is in the atoms and molecules is in the universe. I believe in the saying that what is in the microcosm of one’s self is reflected in the macrocosm.” M. Gandhi