Pragamatic Relevance of Jainism in The 21st Century
By Mr. Motilal Jain, Sagar
A Jain is always deemed and distinguished as one who would identify his/her own real self with his/her Soul, as all other components are quite transient. Too, he/she regards all living creatures, however big or small, at par in terms of the inherent and instinctive right to survival and comfort.
Aware of the Attributes of the Soul, a Jain regards it indestructible which enjoys eternal and contineous existence. It is however bound and destined to live in physical bodies that are born and grow to culmination and gradually mallow by age and die when the Soul quite the body worn of age and/or disease. It transmigrates to another body, of whatever life form, to be born soon; and the cycle of bodily or earthly life & death continues inceasantly, fuelled and propelled by the continual incurrence of 'Karmas' consequent upon the nature of thoughts and actions of the creature wearing that Soul. Each creature in its instinctive struggle to secure survival and comfort in a competitive world of finite and limited (and now fast depleting) physical bases of survival and comfort is prone to violation or infringement of the equal inherent and valid right of other creature to survival and comfort. Violence which incurs ill or negative 'Karmas' to the creature's Soul, while the maticulous care to refrain from such thought and action, even at the cost of some of one's own comforts, and instrad striving to save other creatures from pain discomfort and sorrow or death is Nonviolence and Kindness, which incurs positive or virtuous 'Karmas'.
An abiding and unflinching faith in the equal right of all creatures including all life forms of the living world constitutes the most fundamental tenet of Jainism; and a sincere compliance or otherwise therewith decides the viceous or the virtuous 'Karmas' consequent upon them. Each creature has to inevitably suffer or enjoy the 'Karmas; so incurred by it in the course of securing its survival and comfort. Therefore, a pious Jain way of life is rather very stringent and maticulous in refraining from causing the slighest pain or suffering to any creature, however small, in one's thought and action.
In the struggle for existence and comfort it is the stronger or otherwise more capable who are more likely to commit violence on the weaker ones. Among all creatures Man has come to be the most dominant by far-in fact a category apart-and rest of the world has been relegated to his life support; and diversifies his needs and expectations. Buoyant and arogant with their superior technology and organisation, the more advanced countries of the recent past have enthralled the world and devoured its resources, and have taken to a life style of consumptionism epitomised as "Eat, drink, and be merry". They have not only prepetrated incalculable torture to the entire biotic world, but have recklessly devastated and emaciated the natural resources base of mist parts of the world. Innumerable animals are now butchered, sometimes with abominable cruelity, not only for dire needs of food and clothing but more for sheer entertainment and amusement. Now hunting the poor helpless animals for sheer pleasure and vanity is called 'Game'. Ah, what a civilized and human 'Game' indeed! Many problems today and the impending environmental doom tomorrow are the direct consequences of this rede and reckless exploitation of nature and of the lavish consumptionism, leaving but a devastated and emaciated resources base and alarmingly polluted environment.
Many a religion and very particularly Jainism have emphasised frugality of consumption and containment of needs and desires, and have prescribed a prudent way of life accordingly. This Jainism has a very important role to play in the next century by way of refrainment from consuptionism and hoarding of material wealth. Thus 'Live and Let Live' and harmonious living in 'Peaceful coexixtence' are essential tenets of Jainistic thought and culture, which were always relevant and significant in human history and are even more so today.
Again, through its most ardent insistence on refrainment of non- vegetable food or other consumption, Jain way of life has contributed significantly towards thwarting the depletion of world food resources and resources base. It is estimated that the lavish life style of so called developed countries of the West - of feeding the grain to animals and then using them for human consumption-requires over five times the food resources needed to feed the same human population through direct consumption of food grains as staple food. The Jain way of life is thus distinctly more eco-friendly by far. Therefore, the institutions preaching 'Shakahar' are rendering ylomen service to the mankind and his natural resource base by effecting the change over from non-vegetable to the vegetable food habit. And it is heartening to note that this movement has gained good momentum and has broken new ground in many parts of the world.
I believe, hope, and wish this international convention under the aegis of 'Ahimsa International' will certainly contribute substantially towards propagating the Jain thought and culture which is going to be ever more relevant to the burning problems of 21st. century.
Translated by : Dr. Jawahar Lal Jain, 178,Keshavganj, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh-470002
Source :- 'Sixth World Jain Conference' ( 1995) Souvenir