Let’s Understand Jain Terminology

October, 2020 by Jainlexicon.com
Vegetarianism has been a principle of health and environmental ethics throughout India for thousands of years. It remains, to this day, a cardinal ethic of Jain thought and practices. Each form of life, even water and trees, possesses consciousness and energy. Nonviolence, (Ahimsā), the primary basis of vegetarianism, has long been central to several religious traditions of India, especially Jainism. More than twenty-five hundred years ago, Lord Mahāvīra made a simple yet profound statement: “All of life is just like me. I want to live and so do all souls. The instinct of self- preservation is universal. Every living being clings to life and fears death. Each one of us want to be free from pain. So, let me carry out all my activities with great care so that I am not harmful to any living being.” The philosophy of nonviolence should be firmly incorporated in our daily life. Non-violence is more than refraining from violence; it is a deep reverence for all life. Jainism defines internal violence as violent thoughts (Bhāva Himsā) and external violence as violence committed by speech or actions (Dravya Himsā). There is a causal relation between internal and external violence. In most instances, external violence is caused by anger, jealousy, or unfulfilled ambitions. in reality, however, the result of such an act of violence, we hurt ourselves the most. Before putting anyone down, judging others, or treating anyone as an inferior being, we must examine ourselves. Before buying or using any product, we must ask, “By my action, am I causing any living being to pay a price in pain? Directly or indirectly, am I destroying any life?” From the moment this awareness becomes a part of our daily lives, a vegetarian way of life becomes a natural outcome of inner understanding. By doing everything we can to minimize violence, we enjoy living with a pure consciousness and a clean conscience. As an added benefit, we are able to live a longer and healthier life. Jain philosophy emphasizes being vigilant in our thoughts, speech, and all activities to minimize the harm we cause to other living beings and to direct our actions and intentions to revere all forms of life.

This requires vigilance, awareness of motives, and fearlessness to live in tune with nature’s laws. The underlying feeling should be not to arouse fear in any living being, but to demonstrate love and compassion. It is true that just by breathing, using water, walking, and cutting trees, we are destroying living beings, but the underlying emphasis and awareness should always be to minimize the harm we cause to living beings. The more developed the senses of a living being are, the more that living being can feel pain. Since fish, birds, and animals have a well-developed sense of pain, we must refuse to be a cause to their agony and pain. We must not use or exploit animals and other living beings for our selfish pleasures and benefits. All animals cling to life, struggle to survive, and fear pain and death. We must feel for their helplessness in the face of man’s gluttony, greed, and callousness. We must do everything we can so that they live unmolested. We must realize that every fruit, leaf, or grain that ends up on our plate had to lose its life in order to give us life. But the sad fact is that without plants, we cannot survive. What Do Vegetarians Eat? The staples of a vegetarian diet are grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Protein can easily be obtained through a variety of grains and legumes. Fiber and essential vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates can be obtained from many raw vegetables, and green leafy vegetables are especially rich in iron. Do Vegetarians Eat Dairy and Eggs? Vegetarians who use dairy products are called lacto-vegetarians. Those who do not even use dairy products are called vegans. Nowadays, production and procurement of dairy foods milk, butter, ghee, ice-cream, cheese, etc. involve significant cruelty, which vegetarians and vegans should refuse to support. The dairy industry is inherently linked to the meat industry. When female cows stop giving milk or reduce their milk quantity at a certain age, they are sent to the meat industry for slaughtering. If they give birth to a male calf, the calf is raised on an iron-deficient diet to make tender meat known as veal. One should not consume any dairy products in order to avoid cruelty to animals. In poultry farms, chickens are considered no better than egg producing machines. They are housed in small congested cages known as chicken havens. Due to shortage of space, they naturally become violent, offensive, obsessed, and quarrelsome. They attack one another in a barbarous manner .To prevent them from fighting and wounding one another, they are de-beaked (to remove the upper beak of a bird to prevent egg eating or attacks on other bird). Due to de-beaking, they are unable to even drink water. A fertilized egg is the prenatal stage of a chicken. To eat fertilized eggs is like consuming a chicken before its birth. Unfertilized eggs are the result of the asexual cycle of chicken and are produced in very unnatural ways. Unfertilized eggs are also animate because they are born out of chicken’s body with its blood and cells. These eggs are also produced with cruel treatment of the chickens. No egg, fertilized or unfertilized, is produced without violence. Both are non-vegetarian foods.

Courtesy: www.jainlexicon.com
Academic Advisor: Dr.Jitendra B.Shah, Ahmedabad
General Editor: Dilip V. Shah, Philadelphia

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