Anda di halaman 1dari 2

Ahimsa is much more than not killing animals for food

V. P. Jain
An unsavoury controversy has been created by banning meat eating during the Jain festival of
Paryushan in many states. Unlike green plants, animals, human beings included, do not have
the capacity to build up organic substances out of inorganic matter by the direct utilisation of
sunlight. Ultimately animal life, including human life is completely dependent upon green
plants and other animals. Food chain represents the different animal consumers: plant eaters
(herbivores), flesh eaters (carnivores) and omnivores, i.e. the human beings, who consume
anything that is palatable. The classification of the population into these categories is a
function of the complex interaction of geographical, sociological, economic, historical and
religious factors. So long as we adhere to the underlying rationale of the food chain to
provide food to different species for sustaining the web of life, and therefore nature, It would
be nave to rank any category as more pious than others. Nature has, however, designed food
chain largely as a pray-predator model, which is apparently cruel. Of course, what the state
must ensure is to minimise the needless suffering of the prey: one needs to introspect on
encouraging factory farming of animals, obsessed as we are with GNP growth. Next, it may
be human beings, portrayed so vividly in Aldous Huxleys Brave New World by the abolition
of natural reproduction. Human embryos are raised artificially in 'hatcheries and conditioning
centres as a warning against the dehumanising aspects of scientific and material progress. The
tipping point of morality is to confine the predators to obtaining their food from their prey to
the extent it is necessary for survival and forbid them from enslaving their prey for pleasure
and supremacy.
Most of the species, including human beings, abhor cannibalism for food. But human beings
have invented the most gruesome form of cannibalism, the social cannibalism, which is the
worst form of cruelty inflicted on fellow beings. (Himsa). Atrocities like torture for
confession, custodial deaths, rape, murder, domestic violence, sweat shops and human
trafficking hog the media headlines as a matter of routine, every day. Countries have invaded
other countries, maiming and killing millions of people, worldwide. But we take great pride
in seeing ourselves as something more than animals, plus factor being some human attribute
added to the baseline of animality. But then animals dont run torture schools. Not
surprisingly, our sensibilities of Ahimsa get blunted at such cruelties perpetrated on fellow
human brazenly in our society, without even batting an eyelid. In fact most are even blissfully
oblivious of any contradiction in their stances.
Ahimsa is much more than not killing animals for food. It is all a question of perspective.
The Jain scriptures forbid us not to injure, abuse, enslave, insult, torment, torture and kill any
creature or any living being including plants. Jainism is a religion of love and compassion,
the principle of ahimsa (non-violence) - is central to its philosophy and codes of conduct.
Compassion and non-violence are the basis of the ancient Jain scriptural aphorism
Parasparopagraho Jivanam (all life is bound together by the mutual support of
interdependence). The Jain ethos declares that all aspects and phenomena of nature belong
together and are bound in a physical as well as metaphysical relationship, and views life as a
gift of togetherness and of mutual accommodation and assistance in a universe. Man has a
rightful place in the universe as part of an interconnected network with all beings, all of

whom are equal and have as much right to life as any human being. But when it comes to
policy, we are very happy to pursue exclusionist models of development. Hundreds and
thousands of people in our country enjoy affluent life styles, while one third of the people
struggle hard, for the better part of the day, to procure enough food for bare survival. Unable
to clear debts due to crop failures, lakhs of farmers have committed suicide, while the
politicians engage themselves in luxury of sharpening their wits in defining the poverty line,
in order to hide their shame. The Jain gurus as true disciples of Lord Mahavira, who was a
socialist reformer, must raise their voice against deprivation and poverty and the attendant
violence inflicted on human beings, as much as against animals.
P.S.- I am a strict vegetarian.