Category Archives: Jain Philosophy

Jain declaration on Climate Change

Our Jain religion emphasizes ahimsa and we care for all living beings. Given today’s challenges, it is time for us to take a position on climate change. We invite comments to this position! (The picture below is not ours, we like it but it is just for illustration. Our position is in the text .)

Earth pledge

 

A Call to Action for Jains on Climate Change

 Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee of JAINA

Climate change threatens to harm all living beings on an unprecedented scale. Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims and others have all published their statements on climate change and make specific commitments to mitigate further damage. Our principles of ahimsa and aparigraha make Jainism a religion of environmental protection. The Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee of JAINA has drafted a position on climate change to translate our principles into actions.

We will hold a session on Sunday afternoon, July 5 from 4-5 pm at the JAINA convention  and invite you to participate in this session to discuss the right approach to present this position to the world.

Jain Declaration on Climate Change

In 1990, L. M. Singhvi wrote the Jain Declaration on Nature which described a Jain commitment to preserving nature. Almost 30 years later, there is an urgent need for action on climate change.

Jainism is one of the world’s oldest religions, having originated in Northern India well before 500 BCE and, as underscored by The Jain Declaration on Nature, is an ecological religion whose philosophies and codes of conduct inherently provide solutions to address our current crisis of climate change.  The principal tenet of conduct followed by Jains is that of Ahimsa or non-violence to any living being. As a result, practicing Jains are vegetarians.  We also have a long history of building sanctuaries for wounded animals. Jains refrain from the use of pesticides and herbicides, and the teachings prohibit Jains from engaging in professions that harm plants, animals and the earth. Another key tenet followed by Jains is Aparigraha (non-possessiveness). Ahimsa and Aparigraha as taught and traditionally practiced have great relevance to the climate crisis.  We also encourage our community and the world community to embrace new practices based on our fundamental Jain philosophy.

While there is no central authority that speaks on behalf of all Jains, the Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA) is a well-established organization with an evolving agenda proposed by a number of committees. JAINA organizes conferences, activities and an education curriculum for Jains in North America. The Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee of JAINA affirms the consensus position of scientists that human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and animal agriculture,  are the main cause of global warming. JAINA recognizes the extreme threat that climate change poses to all life on Earth.  We ask Jain individuals and communities to sign on to this Position on Climate change in order to make a public commitment to action.

Climate change in 2019

Burning massive quantities of fossil fuels to build and run modern society has increased the concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from pre-industrial levels of 280 parts per million (PPM) to over 410 PPM. The CO2 molecules in the atmosphere trap heat from the sun. To date the average temperature of the Earth’s surface has increased by 1 degree Celsius due to warming by greenhouse gases released through human activities. Most of the extra CO2 and heat has been absorbed by the oceans, creating stress and dangerous living conditions for marine animals.

Higher temperatures have made life very difficult for many animal and plant species. In fact, tens of thousands of plant and animal species are going extinct every year due to habitat loss and changing climate. Hundreds of humans also die every year due to hotter conditions and from extreme heat events cause by climate change. Disease patterns are changing, with the most vulnerable animals and humans getting even sicker. Changes in the climate have already changed the geographic distribution of pathogen carrying mosquitoes and increased the risk of diseases such as Zika virus.

We see that sea levels are rising due to melting glaciers and hotter ocean temperatures. Low lying areas are flooding, causing people and animals to be displaced. Warmer ocean temperatures are also adding extra energy to hurricanes making them ever more destructive, again causing much loss of life and suffering.

We also see that forests are getting drier and wildfires are becoming increasingly more prevalent and destructive. All of this causes incredible suffering and loss of life – plant, animal and human. This is an unacceptable situation for Jains who hold that all life is sacred.

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Happy Earth Day and Special Call out to Southern California!

Big news in our community: The Jain Center of Southern California (JSSC) has decided to serve all vegan meals starting next year, with a transition period this year.  Pravin uncle of the JAINA Education Committee  gives us the inside story here .

As nicely described by Sagar of Young Jains here, the JSSC is the third Jain organization, after the Sri Digambar Jain Association in 2016 and Young Jains UK in 2017 to go vegan.

This is the first one in North America to go vegan. Fellow Jains have called on Northern California, Houston, Chicago and others to follow. Let’s hope they do. And with the JSSC hosting the next JAINA convention, we can hope that the biennial convention of North American Jains just might make a bold step that’s been a long time coming.

We Jains have a deep caring for all living beings and it’s an easy argument to eliminate dairy because we are saving the lives of dairy cows and their calves, egg laying hens and their chicks.

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If we reflect on Earth Day, and the myriad ways that farming animals contributes to climate change, pollutes the water and air, uses inordinate amounts of water and land, we can see the less direct but still important benefits of going vegan. Books like  Drawdown list plant rich diets as #4 in the list of most impactful steps to save the planet and all the living beings on it.

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Svetambar Muni encourages veganism

In the past, we posted a Youtube Video of a Digambar muni who recognized the violence in dairy production and consumption. Now the Svetamabar tradition is represented! This maharaj saheb gives a very inspiring talk about how our Tirthankars and disciples did drink milk in small quantities as medicine and even broke fasts with kheer, but how our current consumption of milk by the glassful is cruel and unhealthy. He encourages the audience to go vegan for 3 months, no excuses, no substitues, and to include non dietary aspects too. He has been vegan for 6 years and has noticed a difference in his way of thinking.
Please click the continue reading button to read the full English translation, thanks to Pranav Mehta. Labdhi Sagar Maharaj Saheb has quite a charismatic speaking style, and those of you that understand Gujarati can enjoy it!

 

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Why should a Jain renounce milk for Paryushan and Das Laxan?

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This photo depicts the story of Lord Mahavira meeting the angry serpent Chandakaushik whom he met while meditating in the forest. He is so filled with compassion that he does not harm the snake. When the snake bites him, milk issues forth from his foot. He is as filled with love for the snake as a mother is for her child.

 

One should not injure, subjugate, enslave, torture, or kill any living being including animals, plants, or insects — Respect for all living beings is Non-Violence. – Ächäränga SutraBhagawän Mahãvira

There are five acts or deeds, which should be known and avoided. They are:
• Tying animals where it could hurt them, or putting them in cages where there is no freedom
• Beating them with sticks or any other means
• Piercing their nose, ear, or amputating limbs or any part of the body
• Making them carry a heavy load
• Depriving them of food and shelter
Pratikraman Sutra, Lesson 7 on Non-violence

As Jains we have abstained from meat and eggs for thousands of years. Our practice of ahimsa has lacto-vegetarianism as a moral baseline.
So now, why vegan? Here we’ll cover the hinsa involved in milk products. We’ll do a separate post on eggs. On a Jain site, we hope we don’t have to explain what’s wrong with meat!

We can read the words as they’ve been passed down through Lord Mahavir’s  disciples and consider in modern times, would Lord Mahavir have told us it is OK to consume milk? Consider this question as you read the facts.

 

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Dairy Cowsconfined dairy cow

A cow raised for her milk is forcefully impregnated yearly, and her babies are taken away within few days. She is either pregnant or lactating 9 or 10 months out of every year only to have the cycle repeat once she gives birth.
Certain amounts of pus and blood are legally permissible in milk. We use this milk in pujä and other ritual.
Dairy cows are no longer vegetarian. Along with grains, they are fed unnatural, high-protein diets – which include dead chickens, pigs, and other animals.
Using powerful hormones, the cows are forced to produce 6 to 8 times as much milk as they naturally would. Also in spite of heavy use of antibiotics, these animals develop mastitis, open wounds and other infections.
A cow’s natural lifespan is about 20 years, but cows used by the dairy industry are slaughtered after only 4 or 5 years, and their meat turned into pet food or hamburgers. Or in India, their meat is exported.

Veal CalvesVeal

All calves are taken from their mothers within few days. Female calves become dairy cows and Male calves become veal. They are kept confined, many in dark, tiny crates, where they are kept almost completely immobilized so their flesh stays tender. They are slaughtered in about six months.

Transport and Slaughter

Nearly every adult cow around 5 years of age and almost every male baby cow will be shipped to a slaughterhouse and killed. When transported in hot weather, many cows collapse in the heat; in the cold, cows can freeze to the sides of the truck until workers pry them off with crowbars. Cows are shot in the head with a steel bolt gun meant to stun them, but often this fails to render them insensible to pain. Dairy cows may be conscious when they are shackled, hoisted, and cut. Continue reading

Please consider giving up dairy products this Paryushan

Paryushan

 

The Jain Vegans Working Group issue a compelling plea based on the suffering and death involved in dairy product consumption. Please give up dairy products during this time that Jains traditionally fast, introspect, repent for past misdeeds, and make vows for spiritual purification. 

Paryushan, the Jain festival of penance and forgiveness will begin very soon. During the festival, followers of the Jain faith traditionally fastrepent, and forgive. For lay members, fasting often entails avoiding activities that are traditionally thought to cause more himsa than others, such as eating root vegetables or eating after sunset.

As someone who has come across the activities of the Jain Vegans Working Group, you will be aware of how our consumption of dairy (organic or conventional) leads to the immense suffering and murder of innocent cows.

  • Dairy cows are forcefully impregnated by means of artificial insemination to stimulate milk production.
  • Calves are immediately separated from their mothers at birth.
  • Male calves are slaughtered soon after birth or sold on to be reared for veal or beef (they are of no other value to a dairy farmer)
  • Dairy cows will normally get slaughtered before the age of 7, even though they could live up to 20 years if given the chance.  This is because at around that age her milk yield drops, and it does not make financial sense for a farmer to keep her alive when he is able to obtain milk from her younger (and more productive) daughters.

In light of all this, it seems reasonable that during Paryushan we as Jains should acknowledge and reflect on the suffering we have imposed on cows as a result of our consumption of dairy products.

Paryushan offers a perfect time to reflect on the actions we undertake in our daily lives and to make changes to our dietary habits.  So, in addition to the other activities you undertake, why not consider giving up dairy products this Paryushan

Jain Digambar Muni urges Jains to renounce milk

Jain Muni Ji Shri Vihar Sagarji Maharaj explains that jivdaya is not consistent with consuming milk. He shows photos of the situation of dairy cows in India and explains that by participating in this violence, we invite negative karmic consequences and suffering to ourselves. He urges us to quit taking milk and milk products. The video is in Hindi but English subtitles are displayed.
This is revolutionary! This muni has taken a courageous stand, in contrast to others that simply defer to tradition and refuse to see and speak truth.

 

The back story of this video is also interesting. Fauna Police is a rescue organization in New Delhi and Abhinav took the video below. It seems that Jain friend Gaurav had introduced Abhinav to the muni. Now that I follow Abhinav’s facebook page, I see that an increasing number of munis have been exposed to the truth behind dairy and some have agreed to abstain from dairy products.  Fauna police’s blog and YouTube Channel are impressive.  It is tremendously hopeful that change is occurring in India!

Jeevdaya Day in Toronto

by Professor Kirti Shah

Jain Society of Toronto celebrated Jeevdaya day on June 29. The event was organized by the Jeevdaya group an informal group set up to educate and involve Jain Community in compassion activities. There are several words to describe “compassion” in our tradition(Jeevdaya,Karuna,Pranatipat virman). This is fundamental to Jainism.

It was a whole day event. Dr. Tushar Mehta was the Master of Ceremonies for the event.It started with a presentation by Dr. Tushar Mehta on the health benefits of a plant based(vegan) diet.20140629_121004

Next, Sanjay Jain made an excellent presentation on Jeevdaya describing how his convictions grew over the years as he was confronted with choices. These choices led him to abstain from pearls, silk, leather, wool and eventually dairy. At every stage he was enthusiastically supported by his wife Prachi.Sanjay also arranged a display with ten posters and several models which described how current practices in food industry involve extreme cruelty. This was very well received.20140629_164045

 

 

 

 

 

 

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