(Last Updated on : 23/04/2011)
The Jain morality and ethics are embedded in its metaphysics and its usefulness towards the soteriological objective of liberation. Jaina ethics germinated out of the rules for the ascetics which are capsuled in the mahavratas or the five great vows:
The ethics are administered not only through the instrumentality of physical actions, but also through oral action and thoughts. Hence, ahimsa has to be observed through mind, speech and body. The other rules of the ascetics and laity are deduced from these five key vows. Jainism does not call forth the fear of God as an explanation for moral behaviour. Observance of the moral code is not necessary merely because it is a commandment of a God or any other Supreme Being. Neither, is its observance necessary just because it is conducive to general welfare of the state or the community. While it is true that in Jainism moral and religious injunctions were established as law by Arhats, who have achieved perfection through their supreme moral efforts, their obedience is just not to please a God. It is because the life of the Arhats has presented that such commandments were conducive to Arhat's own welfare, helping him to attain spiritual victory. Just as Arhats achieved moksha or liberation by observing the moral code, so can anyone, who abides by this path.