(Last Updated on : 30/04/2012)
Moral Values in Jainism
are directed towards the deliverance of the person. Thus its orientation is religious. All beings seek bliss and try to avoid pain and loss. The practice of Dharma enables them to attain this end. The distinct feature of Jainism is the interconnection between religion and morality. According to H. S. Bhattacharya uniqueness of Jainism "Lies not only in emphasizing this all prominent condition of all religious and ethical activities but in justifying their position by looking upon morality, not as an adjunct to human nature, but as part and parcel of it." One needs to first learn to live a good life in this world and then yearn to go higher to divine perfection. Jainism has formulated two levels of religious existence: one which sets ethical standards for laymen, and one for monks.
Virtues of Jainism
Jainism presents the practice of ten great virtues for the one who sets out on the path toward perfection. These are Supreme Forbearance, Humility, Straightforwardness, Ideal Truthfulness, Purity, ideal Self-restraint, Austerity, Total Renunciation, Nonattachment, and Celibacy. These virtues are to regulate thought, speech, and action. They are a necessary part of Jain ethics, and are like "ten inextinguishable lamps" which illuminate the path of the beginner.
Jainism does not separate between religion (Dharma) and morality because both are related to the well-being of the person in the world in keeping with his own nature. The word Dharma signifies the nature of things (vatthu sahavo dhammo).
Path of Divine Practice in Jainism
Jain religion encompasses a threefold path of divine practice. It includes right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. The three components are interrelated and interdependent and are known as "The Three Jewels", because of their value for redemption.
: It is primary and first divine practise. It signifies belief in the nirvana of the divine teachers. It assumes a life based on principles and morality on the part of the householder. The Holy Scriptures of Jainism describes the eight organs of right faith. Yasastilakacampu states that right faith is the "prime cause of redemption."
: this is the second divine practise that follows from faith. It is obtained by studying the teachings of the twenty four Jain Tirthankaras
as it is the basis of right conduct. It ranges all the way from sense knowledge to reasoning, clairvoyance, direct awareness of the thought forms of others and infinite knowledge (Kewal-Gyan). These represent progressive stages.
Right knowledge encompasses the nature of things in this world. While discussing the qualities of materialistic particles, Jainism finds they are of infinite number. The qualities of a thing do not get exhausted by the comprehension of it, and there is always more than what meets the eye. Philosophically, this is known as the theory of non absolutism (Anekantavada) and calls for an attitude of openness. The limitations of knowledge state a style of relativity. The linguistic manner of expressing different qualities of matter is called Syadvada (the philosophy of qualified assertion). The style of Syadvada allows no room for assertions. This Jain theory of knowledge, that includes the two tenets of non-absolutism and relativity made an esteemed contribution towards liberalizing the mind of man.
: it is the third divine practise. The Jain Holy Scriptures approaches this in progressive succession; conduct for householders and for monks. For the householders, the goal sought is the growth of the person and society. For the latter, it is self-realization. All aspirants dedicate themselves to proper conduct through vows (Vratas) and sub-vows. Vows are an important part of Jain morality. These are taken with complete knowledge of their nature and a determination to carry them throughout life.