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The Times of India

Dynamics Of Ahimsa

Surendra Bothara

Life is dynamic and death is static, or so it seems. Though antithetical, the two states are inseparable. One without the other is untenable. Whatever our perspective, we find that equilibrium is the ultimate phenomenon in nature. Imbalance leads to chaos and destruction.

Once Jain guru Mahavira transcended from contemplation to direct perception, he realised that he lived within a dynamic system. He found his soul and body to be dynamic. Whatever object he set his eyes on he found it to be intrinsically dynamic. He paused at anything that he apparently found static but after closer inspection he found that it was indeed dynamic. Once he established that the only thing static in this universe was death or extinction of the form under consideration, he set about framing codes of how best to live in such a dynamic system and pursue the goal of ultimate balance, the state of eternal bliss.

When dealing with a dynamic system we have to be careful not to disturb it. Any proposed variations should be thought out carefully. This is applicable when we are outside the system. However, when we are within the system or part of the system we have not only to be careful about such changes but also about changes within us, and our behaviour within the system. To pursue what one desires in such a multidimensional dynamic system is a daunting task. However, Mahavira devised a simple and universal formula – he called it ahimsa. As transgression is himsa, nontransgression or limiting needs and desires within these systemic standards is ahimsa.

Mahavira’s definition of the living starts with visible forms of life, covers microscopic forms and extends to life-sustaining components of nature like earth, water, air, fire and plants. In Mahavira’s ahimsa way of life, nontransgression has been discussed in detail and given a wide definition. It is a fundamental principle and can be applied, with necessary variations, to every dimension and at every level within a specific dimension. At the micro level it covers all that is covered by particle physics. In biological field it covers all things and activities of the world of living, micro and macro. At gross levels it covers everything and every process existing in nature. At subtle level of human psyche it covers all disciplines of humanities.

Success of a complex system, like human society, lies in continued interaction and cooperation among its numerous components in terms of action and the driving thought process. Mahavira’s ahimsa way of life involves three vital factors – dynamism, discipline, and equilibrium or equanimity. These factors are linked with the ahimsa way of life forming a mutually dependent progressive cycle of development. When any one of these factors improves it automatically brings improvement in other factors and the whole system.

The edifice of Jainism is raised on the foundation of this dynamic ahimsa. Mahavira expanded it into a way of life that helps one transcend into the spiritual realm. But prior to that, it ensures meaningful survival in this highly dynamic and fragile ecosystem by providing a symbiotic methodology of living based on ahimsa.

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