Save Plants Through Eco-Jainism



By Mr. Suresh Jain, IAS


Despite the international meet at Stockholm in 1972 and at Rio in 1992 environment of our mother earth further deteriorated and the ecological imbalance intensified. To achieve all round success in third field, it is necessary that environmental commitments must acquire cultural and spiritual base. Religious, spiritual and cultural tradition can contribute to a great extent for the protection of environmental improvement.

Jainism attaches greatest importance to environmental concern. Lord Risabhnath, first Tirthankar of Jains. Laid down sound principles in ancient India for the preservation of environment and the maintenance of ecological equilibrium. The concept of sustainable development is well built in daily cultural routine of Jains. Jainism provides positive response for sustainable environmental development and we must propagate such basic environmental values of Jain traditions without any further delay. Jainism lays down its unique concept for the protection of our environment and for the maintenance of ecological equilibrium of the Universe. It ordains to respect smallest animal, plant and even the microbes.

Lord Mahavir declared 2500 years before that biologically there is no difference between man and tree. Both have life, both take birth, both take food to live, both die without food. The world scientists have established that water filter system of Jains contributed to a great extent for their good health. This system is a symbol of health and modern civilization.

We must make constant effective efforts to blend spiritual principles of Jainism with those of modern science. We must place before the world in a scientific manner the Jain principles of vegetarianism and right form of livelihood with limited needs. We must place before the world forcefully the message of Bhagwan Mahavir: harmonious interdependence of all the creatures in the world. Jain traditions are based on the theories of modern science. Such traditions are fully dedicated to clean environment, enviro-development and enviro- protection. We must display before the world how we gain inspiration, insight and wisdom from Jain religious and social books to sustain our ecological and environment concerns. We must talk loudly about Jain traditions of environmental protection. 

Every member of Jain society compulsorily offers good-wishes daily in the morning for the welfare of plants, animals and all human beings. He prays God that it may rain timely and sufficiently. There should not be drought or excess reins. There should not be spread of any epidemic disease. All the constitutional and statutory authorities must perform their duties and exercise their powers with honesty and compassion.

Every responsible Jain family observes the following prohibitions strictly and regularly : 

(1)    Nobody should clean dirty clothes in the rivers to save micro- organisms of the river from annihilation.

(2)    Nobody should use unfiltered/impure water.

(3)    After drawing water from any source, everybody should endeavour to leave residual unfiltered water at the original source of water so that micro-organisms may live smoothly in their own habitat and maintain ecological balance.

(4)    Nobody should waste even a drop of water. 

(5)    Nobody should pluck the leaf and flower of plants and trees.

(6)    Nobody should waste any unit of heat and light energy.

Jainism lays down social and religious for misuse, excess use and destruction of basic constituents of environment; earth, water, air, fire, vegetation and ordains for their most minimum use, because every such element has life which must be respected. Every eco-Jain after close of the day, the most pious reverence to the nature. Thus Jainism promotes intellectual, spiritual and moral support for the environmental protection.

Jain Monks are living statues of environment and ecology. They embody and personify principles of eco-Jainism. They maintain balance of natural elements for the welfare of whole universe, what to say of only humanity. They keep only 'kamandal' water-pot made of wood and 'Pichchi' made of peacock featheres with them.

The 'Kamandal' and 'Pichchhi' are most befitting symbols of environmental conservation and development. They are made of such material which is fully bio-degradable. The saints use water of 'Kamandal' most economically for their daily needs. The 'Pichchhi' is an instrument to save the insects carefully which otherwise may be killed during their routine movements. They themselves prepare the 'Pichchhi' and teach us to do our work with our own hands.

The most revered Jain saints untangle the knoted muscles of our mind, unravel the ridden tensions of our body, unlock our true potential through their powerful healing talks and actions. They established wonderful conceptual framework of attitude and change. They laid down interventions at individual group and society levels to build, promote and refine the attitudes and skills for all round achievement and success. They laid down most modern techniques for effective and dynamic leadership in every walk of life. Even you can see clean and clear picture of your personality in their towering transparent personalities.

They are global cooling plants.  They are apostles of peace, status of nature and embodiments of clean environment.  They also preach to live in clean environment, to drink filtered,  pure and healthy water, to breathe unpolluted and clean air and to eat natural, fresh basic and vital food.  They advocate use of local cheap fruits and vegetables. They advise not to use such fruits and vegetables which are harvested before they ripen and which are chemically ripened and preserved after transportation from long distances. Snacks, processed foods and ready to eat or convenient foods like biscuits, or tinned and preserved foods, pavbhaji and pizza should be avoided. Everybody must prefer natural and fresh food containing high nutrition and avoid such food which has only taste or presentation value.

They advise to take a balanced, nutritious, fresh and clean vegetarian food and to inclucate and imbibe healthy food habits. If we follow such advice strictly, we can reduce drug and doctor dependence to bare minimum. Modern research fortifying his preachings, established that ministrations of doctors account for less than ten percent of an individual's well being. More than 90percent is determined by factors like eating habits, smoking, exercise, stress etc. over which doctors hardly have any control.

The Jain society is primarily a business society. Therefore, it is our pious duty to open and run efficiently ecofriendly food shops in a most modern and scientific manner. If possible, we must subsidies food items and encourage their sales to consumers and foster their marketability.

We must know the admission made by the American college of surgeons that about 30 percent of the surgical operations (about 45 lakh operations) are completely unnecessary and an additional 50 percent are beneficial but not essential to save or extend life. Such operations are intended mainly to sharpen the surgeon's skill treating the patients as guinea pigs. No figures are availaber for India, but situation can't be better here. A paper published in 1977 by John and Sonia Mckinley makes the astonishing claim that wherever there was a doctor's strike as in U.S., Canada, England and Isreal the death rates in the affected areas actually fell. Some medical researchers have found that one of ten patients in Indian hospitals suffer from adverse drug reaction.

Jain culture can play a key role in economic development that enables people to live happily, without any tension and in harmony with others in the community and with nature. We must design such economic development which take care of cultural patters and cultural sensibilities. We must follow and practice our cultural ethos in the process of economic development. We must establish centralities of our ethos and cultural forms in the main streams of economic development. We must adopt such model of development which is environmentally and culturally sustainable.

It is most essential to promise the nature conservation and environment protection for sustainable and equitable development of our society and our nation. Not only the survival of our culture and our nation but the survival of our planet is under greater threat than ever before. Mankind is destroying the environment at such a rate that nature can no longer fight back alone and replenish it. Before it is too late, we must awake to the biggest challenge, the survival of the earth itself.



Source : Article From 'Sixth World Jain Conference' ( 1995) Souvenir


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