Jainism-A way of Living lighter on the Earth

 

By Mr. Chandraprakash Shah, UK

 

All benevolent, infinite knowledgeable and infinite Viryavant Shree Tirthankaras establish a Dharma tirth to elevate all living beings from this beginning less and unbelievable horrible and materialistic world to unending and permanent bliss and happiness of salvation. I bow down to them and seek their blessings to finish this article.

All living beings love their life. Everyone likes happiness and no one desires unhappiness. No one wishes to be killed.

"Jainism is a magnificent treasure temple of Philosophy, Mathematics, Astronomy, Geography, History and Science it self. There cannot be a need to equate it with Science. Science is making steppingstone in the fields of several mysteries the world is keeping secret. However Jainism has probably all the answers to them."

Immediate past centuries have witnessed revolutionaries and drastic changes in various fields of human life. Life expectancies, social, life-style, communication and politically as well as science and technology undergone fast changes. Only one thing has not changed since beginning less of this world, the "Canons proclaimed by Shree Tirthankaras. It remained unchanged."

It may worth be noted that other thing, which did not change is the faith in each Dharma (religion). Whenever there is a natural calamity or humanly created wars, fights, communal problems etc the faith in Dharma is increased unexpectedly. Consider example of 9/11. Many people now started going to worship places. This shows human beings is basically unintentional to fighting, conflicts, and believe in communal harmony. 

Just have a look at the word "The Enlightenment." In spiritual atmosphere it reflects enlightenment of soul. While in materialistic world it is termed as advancement in technical and scientific fields. It is also called "Progress" of mankind or human beings. However the latter reflection resulted in chaos in world on social, political and economical fronts. This revolution betrayed own people and society. At the same time it destroyed peace, joy and happiness. Communication advancement might have been benefited to some extent, but on large scale it has become weapon for terrorists and bad elements. After effects of these are nothing but exploitation of people, wasteful wars, poverty, wasteful killings of animals, greatest sufferings and environmental problems. Today's formula is "Meet, Eat and Cheat." The slogan of younger generation is "Learn, Earn and Enjoy." The slogan of past ages was "Help everyone and live and help to live." It is a matter of regret that except few societies, organizations take pains to resolve these errand beliefs. 

Neither a single system such as capitalism, communism, nor technical and scientific advancement could stop exploitation, unhappiness and anxiety. Instead, it seems it has increased. Consequently more strain, more greed, more incurable diseases, always in hurry and simple word expression "No time." B.B.C. reported that today's mothers get lesser sleep, say 3 hours, compared to mothers of 30-35 years before. UK Govt.'s chief scientist warned that unsustainable patterns of consumption and production exacerbate climatic changes is the most severe problem the world is facing. 

Environment :
Environment means disturbances in Nature. It may be of different kinds.
1. Air
2. Water
3. Solid
4. Nuclear
5. Noise
6. Ecological

Since we cannot produce weapons for peace, happiness and bliss we developed and produced weapons for mass destruction, chemical, biochemical or nuclear These are capable of destroying all life from the earth. Even biological plants, trees are not spared, creating water and air pollution, solid waste which is difficult to be removed. 

Five hundred years of exploitation have severely damaged the environment in Latin America and Caribbean. Today it is the poor people who continue to suffer most from the consequences of such environmental degradation and damage. It is because of deforestation, water contamination and soil erosion. It argues that neoliberal structures of aid, trade, debt and investment are the underlying root causes of environmental vulnerability-whereby poor people are most vulnerable to the adverse consequences of the stresses that the modern world is placing on the environment. 

Jainism teaches us not to kill any living beings unless otherwise it is extremely required. Use water like one uses Ghee. Keep our requirements to minimum. Jainism believes that all living beings experience pains and pleasures. Now science has invented that botanical plants are our best saviors. They are liberating Oxygen gas which is vital element for our life. When we are at sleep these plants liberate Carbon Dioxide, which is harmful to our life. Our learned preceptors and monks had preached us long before and advised not to destroy botanical plants. This is the scientific reason but most important reason they opined for was they contained innumerable souls in single body. If one destroys plants it is violence. Further dense forests bring more rains and more production of farm products. But we are so foolish that to gain benefits from machineries, started setting up of more industries, destroying everything that comes into its path. It has resulted in lesser rains, lesser food products and ultimately starvation. No peace of mind at all and more environmental problems. Not only human life depends upon the other living beings but other living beings too live on others. Say animals and birds live on plants and biological materials. If we destroy plants we are depriving them from their natural foods. It creates imbalances in nature. As a result, wild animals started to approach civilized areas.

The balanced nature of the atmosphere is disturbed through :
1. Additional amount of CO2 gas
2. Throwing away of gases like Sulphur dioxide, chlorine, Hydrogen sulphide, Phosgene and CO etc.
3. Reduction of natural components
4. Nitrogen oxides, Ammonia gas
5. MIC gas at Bhopal is a fresh example of air pollution.

Similarly water is polluted by various means :
1. Industrial wastes, fibers, detergents, acid slurry, sewage systems etc
2. Solid wastes, papers, fertilizers, insecticides etc
3. Toxic materials
4. Water insoluble materials

Noise pollution is another type of hazarradous element. The vehicles, machineries, Supersonic planes, turbo jet engines, loud speakers etc. are the major sources of high decibel noise pollution. This creates hearing and mental disturbances, obstructions to movement of blood circulation. If this is unrestricted it may crop up auditory difficulties. 

Nuclear waste is most horrible as the radio active released directly affect all living beings. It has a legacy to continue for future generations too. Explosion of nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the glaring examples of nuclear pollution. Recently release of radioactive particles from Chernobyl atomic power station created unforgettable tragedy. 

Non-Violence :
Jainism has given important message to the world by preaching non-violence in total. It does not talk about only five sensed human beings. It goes to the root of violence. It says "All living beings either they are one sensed or five sensed must be spared from killings." Minutely it expresses to have a thought of violence is violence. Jains have advocated compassion for all the living beings and animal welfare is the significant part of this principle. Violence can be to
1. Human Beings
2. Animals
3. Birds
4. Plants
5. Creatures of Water etc.

For the sake of forcing our ideas and thoughts on others, we try to kill human beings when they do not pursue our thoughts. Wars, Guerilla war fares, terrorism etc are nothing but the means of Violence. 
Animals are killed for the pleasures of human beings. They are not allowed to live their normal natural life and kept in cages. They are killed to satisfy our taste of tongue. When many other vegan eatables are available to survive why should we kill animals and birds?
Similarly one should avoid eating mammals, water species, mushrooms
Maltreatments to animals and birds encourage to cruelty and passions and the same is against all norms of civilized society. This may be categorized in following manners: use for Medical research, farming, food, clothes, use in cosmetics, and pleasure for riding, watching fighting between them, taming them for personal use, use in sports, shooting and hunting.
When water is polluted with oils, many species such as fish, plants and other minute living beings of water are destroyed.

Population Growth :
Current social life in society is more open to sexual matters than in the past. Poverty has explored the business of prostitution. More greed for luxuries also helped to promote "call girl" rackets in higher echelons of the modern societies. There was of course designated areas in the past for such business. However it was very much limited. Recent communication advancement, medical researches, various means of stalling pregnancy are very much available today. It may control birth rates and population growth but it has not helped to the modern societies. On the contrary in poor and under developed countries the birth rate has approached tremendously at higher level. It is a cause of concern for every one in the world.

It has created enormous problems in the society,
1. Lone parenthoods
2. Termination of early pregnancy
3. Social
4. Economical
5. Wish to live luxurious life style
6. Errand sexual behavior in public.
7. Health.
8. Increase in divorcee.
9. More family conflicts

Jainism teaches us sexual restraints. One should live celibacy life to avoid population growth and other problem that follow afterwards It considers marriage as a pious bond between two souls and not mere a play mate. Frequently widow women in the past were devoting their time to dharmic rites and rituals. There was no cause of concern when they live joint family. Present day slogan describes, "We are two and two are ours" This will create honour for women. Jainism considers women as unchallengeable figure in society. All the Tirthankaras were born to women embryos. Tirthankars' mothers are given prominent places in all rituals. It gives them the designation of
Daughter
Wife
Mother and 
Teacher.

One poet has written beautiful poem about Mother

Janani ni jod sakhi nahi male re lol

And another one describes her as
Women gave birth to men
Men gave them market.

Diet-Food :
Diet and food crops up all types of problems. It may be health, economical social and religious. All living beings need food, clothes and shelter to live. We are not ascetics. We therefore require food, clothes and shelter. Animals do not need clothes to wear.

There are three types of foods:
Tamsi (Create angriness)
Rajsi (Passionate) and 
Satvik (Pure, spiritual, honest)

Tamsi food creates angriness. Rajsi food creates passions for all. Satvik food creates spiritualism. Tamsi food includes meat, fish, flashy foods, chickens, in short it is non-vegetarian goods coupled with root vegetables. Rajsi food contains all tasty materials which generates and liking for various tastes. One generates passions for all subjects after eating this kind of food. This may include non-veg. goods. Satvik food produces honest thinking, support balanced spiritual activities. This food does not incorporate even root vegetables forget about meat, fish, chicken lamb etc. It is hundred percent pure vegetarian foods which are designed for human's stomach. It contains green vegetables, cereals, grains, fruits and consumable dairy products. Once a philosopher named George Bernard Shaw expressed "He will not allow his stomach to be the grave yard of dead animals." 
Jainism's ethics teach us to attain salvation our ultimate goal. Salvation is non obtainable with violent means. All non-vegetarian foods contain infinite numbers of soul in a single body. Root vegetables also contain similar quantity of souls in single body. When eating such foods there exists violence. Besides it creates health hazards. This results in obstacles in performing spiritual activities. Jainism preaches to take Satvik foods only.
One need to maintain physical and mental balances, according to science, requires Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Proteins and other Nutrients. When this is available from vegetarian diets why one should opt for non-vegetarian diets?

A vegetarian diet provides longer longevities and decreases morbidity according to research carried out in UK and report published in BMA 1995.

Jainism declares four types of food :
Asan: Solid, soft or liquid foods through which one can satisfy hunger or appetite.
Paan: Drinks and liquids. Drinks means which are allowed by learned preceptors.
Khadim: Partial hunger can be satisfied with such foods. It may contain popcorn, nuts, grams etc.
Swadim: The goods that can enhance the tastes of foods.

One can decide the food according to physical and mental requirement from the above classification.
Jain diet is therefore pure, nutritious and available without colossal violence. It sustains good physical and mental health. Jain rites, Ayambil forbids to take even oily materials and dairy products. These oily and dairy products are the causes of high cholesterols and other present age diseases. Even the non-vegetarian goods are highly cholesterol generating items. Therefore Jainism right from the beginning advocate for non-cholesterol, suitable foods for our physical and mental balance so that living beings can perform Perfect Dharma without any obstacles and hindrances and achieve salvation. Jainism has also specified timings for the food materials and suggested not to intake after its expiry dates. Such food may contain mobile and immobile bacteria and other invisible viruses. Bacteria in alcohol and honey are multiplying at enormous speed and hence they are prohibited from the dharmic points of views. 

Now let us examine how Jainism can come to our rescue to avoid the climate narrated hereinabove. Jainism offers guidance almost on all questions of present day. Its teachings are rooted in morality, ethics and spiritual progress. With unconditional surrender to Jainism, it can yield unexpected results, such as peace, happiness and inner contentment. It teaches reverence for all life. Jainism targets that environmental concerns requires a nonviolent life style. It suggests that an ideal society is that promotes the welfare of all living beings at every moment. It is very simple if we try to adopt certain Jain principles in our daily routine life. Cultivation of following makes our life very happy and blissful.

Helping attitude, universal brotherhood
Self restraints, minimum requirements
Carefulness in all activities
Awareness in any actions
Prayer for all the living beings and wish for well beings
Non-violent life style
Creation of amity and no enmity
Quality of tolerance and satisfaction.
Keep silence or speak whenever it is necessary
Try to preserve nature, do not destroy it
Avoid deforestation and soil erosion.
The existence of a wide variety of plant and animal species is essential for healthy and sustainable environment
Prevention of dying reef will play a crucial role in protecting coastal landscape, act as breeding ground for marine life and sustainable source for income to local people.
Preserve the techniques of natural pesticides and fertilizers, soil conservation measures and crop rotation.
Do not use fertilizers based on chemicals as they generates unfertile land and crop loss on long term.
Sustainable agriculture promotes the use of natural pesticides with none of the negative effects. 
Organic agriculture has positive environmental and health benefits for both the consumers and producers. 

Besides they help poor farmers.
For future generations we shall have to left the legacy of healthy environmental atmosphere in all walks of life.

In nutshell we can summarize that Jainism offers valuable solutions and guidance to our present day miseries, conflicts, quarrels, wars, physical and mental health problems if change our life style to spiritual ecology and environmental concern. It should have aesthetic dimensions and spiritual concord. Environment and non-violence are twin sisters. If one is disturbed other is disturbed too.

MIchhami Dukkadam. Truth is Kevlin and rest is mine.


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Author : Mr. Chandraprakash Shah
Address : Minister of Religion, 90, The Drive, London NW11 9UL, Tele : 02084587167, E-Mail : jainsangha@tiscali.co.uk

Address : 49, Highfield Avenue, Golders Green, London NW11 9EU, Tele : 02086320544, E-Mail : chandraprakashshah@rediffmail.com

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Mail to : Ahimsa Foundation
www.jainsamaj.org
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