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Why Animals Matter: A religious/Philosophical Perspective Jainism

Harmlessness is the only religion.
Jain maxim

Below are quotations from Jain sacred text and leading Jains both past and present concerning animal rights; the humane treatment of animals and adopting a vegetarian/vegan diet. This page is part of a section about animal rights and religious and philosophical belief and an adjunct to the article linked above or is useful if you prefer just basic information.  Also links to Jain Vegetarian societies and websites of interest.

For ease of reading all quotations appear in a Purple Font
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The heart of Jainism is non-violence to all beings, it is a religion of compassion, universal love, it considers the welfare of all living beings, and not of man alone. One of the basic virtues of Jainism is ahimsa, non-violence. A Jain world would be free from violence or exploitation of any creature and the environment. Jainism teaches us to look upon all beings as we would upon upon our own self, thus Inflicting injury to them is inflicting injury to one's self.

Unless we live with non-violence and reverence for all living beings in our hearts, all our humaneness and acts of goodness, all our vows, virtues, and knowledge, all our practices to give up greed and acquisitiveness are meaningless and useless." “He who harms animals has not understood or renounced deeds of sin... Those whose minds are at peace and who are free from passions do not desire to live at the expense of others.

All beings are fond of themselves, they like pleasure, they hate pain, they shun destruction, they like life and want to live long. To all, life is dear; hence their life should be protected.

If you kill someone, it is yourself you kill. If you overpower someone, it is yourself you overpower. If you torment some one, it is yourself you torment. If you harm someone, it is yourself you harm.

Lord Mahavira 24th Tirthankaraor saint

More Quotations From Jain Sacred Text

Acaranga  Sutra
The Acaranga (or Acharanga) Sutra is a canonical sacred text of Jainism  based on Lord Mahavira’s teachings - Lord Mahavira , 599-527 BCE, was the twenty-fourth Tirthankaraor saint, an enlightened being. The Acaranga Sutra discusses the conduct of a Jain monk. In particular it describes actions which monks must take to avoid harming other living beings, including the microscopic life forms which the ancient Jains believed pervaded the universe. In antiquity, Acaranga was the first text that was studied by the Jain monks. This Sutra states that the teachings of all the Tirthankars belonging to the three divisions of time; past, present, and future are basically uniform.  They all teach, "Do not kill any living beings, or overpower them, or enslave them, or harass them, or drive them away." 


The Arhats and Bhagavats of the past, present, and future, all say thus, speak thus, declare thus, explain thus: all breathing, existing, living, sentient creatures should not be slain, nor treated with violence, nor abused, nor tormented, nor driven away.
Acaranga sutra


Propagate the religion which is a blessing to all creatures in the world.
Acaranga sutra

One who harms animals, directly or indirectly, has not understood deeds of sin...those whose minds are at peace and who are free from passions do not desire to live at the expense of others.
Acaranga Sutra

Don't kill any living beings. Don't try to rule them.
Acaranga  Sutra

Above, below and in front, people indulge in violent activities
against living beings individually and collectively in many ways;
discerning this, a wise man neither himself inflicts violence on these bodies, nor induces others to do so, nor approved of their doing so. 

Acaranga sutra

He who harms animals has not understood or renounced deeds of sin...Those whose minds are at peace and who are free from passions do not desire to live at the expense of others.
Acaranga Sutra

Sutrakritanga Sutra

Sutrakritanga Sutra is a sacred canonical text of Jainism and its teachings include Jain doctrine and the conduct of Monks. The Sutrakritanga Sutra is the second agama of the 12 main angās of the Jain canons. Agamas are canonical texts of Jainism based on Mahavira’s teachings.

All breathing, existing, living, sentient creatures should not be slain nor treated with violence, nor abused, nor tormented, nor driven away. This is the pure unchangeable law.
Sutrakritanga Sutra

All beings hate pains; therefore one should not kill them. This is the quintessence of wisdom: not to kill anything.
Sutrakritanga Sutra

Anuyogadvar

One who cultivates an attitude of equality towards all living beings, mobile and stationary, can attain equanimity. Thus do the kevalis say.
Anuyogadvar

Purusartha-Siddhyupaya

Purusartha-Siddhyupaya an  is an important text in the Jain canonical literature. This text, written by Amrtacandra, who was a mystic scholar, is themed around ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence), the fundamental principle in Jainism. Amrtacandra is said to have lived about ten century AD. Purusarthasiddhyupaya deals with nonviolence in all its aspects.
 

Flesh can not be procured without causing destruction of life; one who uses flesh, therefore, commits hisma (injury) unavoidably

Purusartha-Siddhyupaya

Mulachara

Mulachara is a Jain text composed by Acharya Vattakera of the Digambara tradition, who lived around 1st-2nd century CE. It incorporates the concepts derived from the Acharanga text.

Mulachara discusses the conduct of a Jain monk

One should reflect thus:) Let me treat all living beings with eqanimity and none with enmity. Let me attain samadhi (tranquility) by becoming free from expectations.
Mulachara

Kartikeyanupreksa

The sadhaka (one who practices spiritual discipline)
speaks words that are measured and beneficial to all living beings.

Kartikeyanupreksa

Bhagavati Aradhana

To kill any living being amounts to killing one self.
Compassion to others is compassion to one's own self.
Therefore one should avoid violence like poison and thorn (that cause pain).

Bhagavati Aradhana

Sila-prabhrita

Mercy to living beings, self restraint, truth, honesty, chastity and contentment, right faith and knowledge, and austerity are but the entourage of morality.
Sila-prabhrita


 

Tattvartha Sutra (also known as Tattvarth-adhigama-sutra or Moksh-Shastra) is a Jaina text written by Acharya Umaswati or Umasvami.The Tattvartha Sutra is regarded as the most authoritative book on Jainism

The purpose of living beings is to assist each other.

Tattvarth-Sutra

Mercy to living beings, self restraint, truth, honesty, chastity and contentment, right faith and knowledge, and austerity are but the entourage of morality.
Sila-prabhrita

Non-injury to all living beings is the only religion.” (first truth of Jainism) “In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self, and should therefore refrain from inflicting upon others such injury as would appear undesirable to us if inflicted upon ourselves.” “This is the quintessence of wisdom; not to kill anything. All breathing, existing, living sentient creatures should not be slain, nor treated with violence, nor abused, nor tormented, nor driven away. This is the pure unchangeable Law. Therefore, cease to injure living things.” “All living things love their life, desire pleasure and do not like pain; they dislike any injury to themselves; everybody is desirous of life and to every being, his life is very dear.
Yogashastra

Non-injury to all sentient beings is the only religion. -
Yogashastra (first truth of Jainism)


In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self, and should therefore refrain from inflicting upon others such injury as would appear undesirable to us if inflicted upon ourselves.
Mahavira, Yogashastra

Contemporary Commentary

Vegetarianism is another important correlate of Ahimsa.  It is “an attitude of life which refuses to enjoy any pleasure at the cost of another’s pain.  It is the policy of living at peace with all beings as far as possible.  It is a more radical innovation than any of the modern sciences to raise the cultural level of man.  The rational conclusion of vegetarianism is that one should refuse any thing for any purpose in which animals are slaughtered, even medicine and leather goods.

Extract from the article: The Idea of Ahimsa and Vegetarianism
To read the complete article
Jain World:The Idea of Ahimsa and Vegetarianism

Symbol: Shri Vatsa an auspicious symbol on the upper chest of all 24 Tirthankaras showing compassionate universal eternal love for all living beings however minute they may be.

Links

General information about Jainism

For an absolute wealth of information in 24 different languages about Jainism visit Jain world:

Welcome to Jainworld - Jainism Global Resource Center - Jain community, jainis

Articles in this website include a wide range of material from an explanation of ahimsa, Ahimsa-vrata, i. e., the vow of `Ahimsa', to a delightful account of Abraham Lincoln's compassion towards a pig . Also includes scholarly articles, clipart, radio lectures and much more. If you visit no other website than this you will find all you need to know about Jainism

Jainism: Jain Principles, Tradition and Practices

A selection of links to various matters relating to Jainism including a section on vegetarianism and ahimsa

Jainism: Jain Principles, History, Resources, History

Jain Compassion

It aims at the welfare of all living beings, and not of man alone. It maintains that living beings are infinite, all so called empty spaces in the universe are filled with minute living beings. According to it, there are countless single-sense organisms that take the subtlest possible units of material elements -earth, water, fire and air - as their bodies. Fresh earth is alive but when it is baked it becomes dead. Fresh water from a well, etc. is alive but when it is boiled or influenced by mixing some other substance it becomes dead. Vegetables, trees, plants, fruits, etc. do have life but when they are dried, cut or cooked they die. To avoid injury to them as far as possible, man is advised to use them discreetly. He should resist from polluting water, air, etc. and thereby perpetrating violence to them. Worms, insects, animals, etc. help in keeping ecological balance thus they help man. And domestic animals have for ages been a constant and faithful aid to man in civilizing himself. From the ultimate standpoint of their original pure pristine state, all living beings are uniform in their nature. Jainism teaches to look upon them as upon one's ownself. Inflicting injury to them is inflicting injury to one's ownself.

Jain Compassion

Why Animals Matter: A religious/Philosophical Perspective Jainism

Important please note:

I am not an animal expert of any kind just your average person who loves animals, all animals, and feels deeply about the plight of many of our fellow creatures. Neither am I a writer, or any other expert. Therefore please keep in mind that the information included in this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but of course possible.

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