Modern Societal Problems And Jainism as a Way Out

June, 2023 by Dr. I M Khicha
As a matter of fact, the world cannot be better than the individuals forming it. Mere changes in governmental setup or economic systems cannot help in raising the quality of human life. Man is not merely a biological entity or a social animal.

There is a hidden core of human personality that provides real meaning to one’s life. In every human, there is an essence of the Almighty which is a source of true awakening and enlightenment. Whatever is applicable in the worldwide context is equally applicable in the Indian context too.

Social Problems:

Late Acharya Mahapragyaji quoted “Pratt” “Religion that ignores society has no chance of survival” because man and society are interdependent. There is an intense interaction between an individual and his social surroundings. Every individual is expected to be socially mature and responsible.

Instead, the individuals face a number of problems in their social day-to-day affairs viz socio-economic inequalities, poor status of women in society on account of domestic violence and sexual abuses, ill-treatment of elderly and widows in families, child abuse, dowry, divorce, modern day stress, rape, suicide, non-vegetarianism, alcoholism, over-consumerism, materialistic ambitions, economic recession, inflation, scarcity of essentials, poverty, cultural and religious conflicts, casteism, population explosion, dirty politics, unrestrained individualism etc.

Jainism is a Distinct Way of Solving These Problems:

As Jainism is based on humanitarian values, it has the potential to be universally appealing. Lord Rishabh Deva, the First Tirthankar (Life Conqueror) can be found referred in the Holy Vedas. He was an outstanding and unique personality who revealed the ideal of “Ahimsa Dharma” based on superior values of life.

In Jain philosophy, there are 24 Tirthankars out of which Lord Mahavira was the last one i.e., 24th Tirthankar. He was born 527 years Before Christ which is about 2,660 years back. He was prince of Vaishali in Bihar State born to Maharaja Siddharta and Maharani Trishla and his birth name was “Vardhaman”.

As per Lord Mahavira – Jainism is open to people belonging to all walks of life irrespective of caste, colour, creed, gender, wealth etc. He propounded that ‘Man’ himself is the architect of his own life and he is guided by his own “Karma”. No power can save a man from the implications of his own good or bad deeds.

Jain philosophy believes in self-reliance, individual cum social equality, inter-faith tolerance, non-violence, non-absolutism, non-possession and adheres to limiting one’s needs and wants.

In short, Jain philosophy can pave the way towards resolution of all of life’s problems, but it requires true faith and dedication on our part. If MK Gandhi could succeed in achieving political freedom through Ahimsa, then why not we!

A Few Basics: Mentioned Below are a Few Important Basic Principles of Jainism for Solving Societal Problems

Ahimsa (Non-Violence)

It focuses on equal dignity for all living beings. “Live and Let Live” is the primary motto. Christopher Key Chapple said the Jain concept of nonviolence is an eco-friendly concept as violence never brings peace and happiness to man and the society at large. All Tirthankars had declared that no living entity should be injured, enslaved, tortured, or killed.

Non-Absolutism (Anekanta Dharma)

This second principle is based on the idea that there are multi-dimensional perspectives to any idea or thought, therefore there is no place for absolute, one-sided views.

Acharya Mahapragyaji said that ‘Anekanta’ is not just a philosophy but a manual for an ideal life. It imbibes a culture of tolerance at familial level and peaceful coexistence at societal level. It resolves communal differences at religious level and helps in achieving universal brotherhood at national and international level. In short, it enhances mutual understanding at every level.

Non-Possessiveness (Aparigraha)

As per Lord Mahavira, possessiveness is a basic reason behind individual and social violence. Unlimited and unchecked wealth and resources result in social imbalance and social conflicts. It divides the society in the “Haves” and  “NonHaves” which is totally against equitable and just social order and results in a financially exploitative society.

  • Most of the individual and social problems viz looting, murder, rape, terror, suicide, mental stress are the outcomes of lack of faith in values and ideals propounded in Jain philosophy.
  • Needs and desires of man are constantly growing like ever-expanding space. The hierarchy which begins with necessities moves on to comforts and lastly rests upon luxuries which ought to be checked and balanced wisely and timely.
  • People desirous of a peaceful and happy life must believe in living with minimum worldly requirements and with maximum mutual adjustments. Here the policy of forgiving and forgetting needs to be adhered to.
  • Our day-to-day behaviour should be malleable (adaptable). Adjustability and gentleness in our character are real virtues by which many of the social problems can be solved easily.
  • Man should learn to break away from the shackles of slavery to ever-growing desires. He should be like a trustee of his own wealth since everything is derived from and hence eventually belongs to the society. This view was propounded by Mahatma Gandhi as well.
  • The recurrent difficulties and challenges which we face in our daily lives help in bringing out our hidden potential, one should face them with undaunted spirit and zeal to achieve one’s ultimate purpose in life.

Written by Dr. I M Khicha, M. Com, Ph.D. Founder Member and Ex Director -Shree Vardhman Girls College, Beawar


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