Dilatato Corde 2:1
January - June, 2012
Jain monks wear face masks to prevent swallowing insects and killing them
Jain monks wear face masks to prevent swallowing insects and killing them


Précis This article is a revision of a paper presented at a Jain-Christian dialogue seminar in New Delhi on 13 November 2011, organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, and the Archdiocese of Delhi. It identifies certain areas that would be especially suitable for initiating dialogue between Jains and Christians and proposes specific topics for reflection and programmes for joint action.

Précis Cet article est une révision d'un document présenté au cours d’un séminaire de dialogue entre Jaïns et chrétiens à New Delhi le 13 Novembre 2011, organisé par le Conseil Pontifical pour le Dialogue Interreligieux, la Conférence des Evêques Catholiques de l'Inde, et l'Archidiocèse de Delhi. Il identifie certains domaines qui seraient particulièrement adaptés pour initier le dialogue entre chrétiens et jaïns, et propose à la réflexion des thèmes spécifiques, ainsi que des programmes d'action commune.


Jaina religious consciousness and the way of life prescribed by its scriptures and traditions offer an opening for dialogue that leads to mutual understanding and edification. In the Christian perspective, dialogue that seeks what is true and holy in other religious traditions[1] is a way of exploring God’s ongoing dialogue with humanity.[2] With this higher motive, I intend to indicate certain prime areas of dialogue between Jain and Christian communities. My attempt does not in any way underscore the differences—irreconcilable sometimes—that exist in these two traditions because of their different  ways of perceiving the realities of God, the Universe, the Bio-sphere, the purpose and the goal of life, the means of salvation/liberation, etc. The following pages highlight certain important common aspects of Jain-Christian life and belief, which might provide an opening for meaningful exchanges between these two religious communities.


(I) Primacy and Sacredness of Jiva (Life) – Sin and Salvation/Liberation

One of the major substances[3] philosophically acknowledged by Jainism is the eternal presence and sacredness of Jiva, loosely translated as soul. In its pure nature or essence, Jiva (I prefer to translate it as life or Life-force.) is the potential for perfect knowledge, vision, strength, and bliss (ananta chatushtaya).[4] The Jains believe that the soul’s original nature is the same in all living beings, including plants and animals. A modern-day Jain teacher, Gurudev Chitrabhanu, writes, “The universe is not for humanity alone; it is a field of evolution for all living beings. Life is sacred, irrespective of not only caste, color, creed, or nationality, but also species at all levels right down to the tiny ant or the humble worm.”[5] They recognize four categories of living beings: Human, Animal, Vegetal, and Spiritual (Heavenly/Hellish beings). Moreover, they perceive that each living being, large or small, intelligent or non-intelligent, possesses in essence the above-mentioned four qualities.

Because of karma[6] (the residual of actions, whether good or bad), a living being, although perfect in essence, is what it is and what it deserved to be at the moment of conception—and thereafter according to its choices in life. Karma affects one’s physical and psychological characteristics, memory and intelligence, analytical and discerning abilities, levels of emotional exuberance, etc. The effects of karma have no beginning (anadi), that is to say, one cannot trace their origin. Birth itself is the result of karma. As one is born, one possesses it, each person in different quantities and with varied intensities. Jain scriptures mention eight types of karma[7] that delimit a living being by time, space, body structure, age, family, etc. The perceptual limits of a human person in his or her present birth, for instance, are the result of the earlier accumulations of karmic traces.

Jain religion and philosophy are emphatic in saying that each living being has to account for its own accumulation of karma, and to rectify and purify itself. We can compare this idea with the Christian doctrine of Original Sin, which holds that human beings were deprived of their original holiness and justice, were wounded in their natural powers, were subject to ignorance, suffering, dominion of death, and inclined to sin and evil.[8] Christianity traces the sad condition of the human race to the disobedience of the first parents, Adam and Eve. But Jainism simply says that one cannot trace it to any external source(s); it exists in the living being itself and is the result of its very own actions.

Neither the Jaina concept of karma nor the Christian doctrine of original sin deny that free will is involved in the process of being purified and saved. One must strive to climb the ladder of the spiritual life[9] and look for solutions to one’s predicament. For Christians, salvation is ultimately not a matter of free choice and effort, but of the grace of God offered in Jesus the Saviour. Jains, however, believe that no such human or divine intervention is strictly necessary. And hence, Jainism is said to be a religion of self-help.[10]

The Jaina path stresses self-reliance in the quest for salvation. Humans need to improve themselves by patiently training the will and purifying feelings. This leads to an inward illumination, the source for which is within; that is to say, it is innate in the soul or in the mind. But in practice, Jainism does not disregard external helps and other circumstances as means of liberation. If it did so, there would be no need for the twenty-four Tirthankaras, god-like persons in the Jain religion whom the Jains worship with utmost devotion, performing temple rituals and undertaking pilgrimages to their holy sites, etc. All these are necessary to become perfect, in a practical (vyavaharika) sense but not in a real (paramarthika) sense.[11] Hence, it would appear that God, God’s grace, or the help that one may receive from others are only a support on the journey toward perfection; they do not bring it about. A comparison might be made to an illness; it is the one who is ill who must suffer. Or, perhaps, success in an exam: one has to depend totally on the study one has done; you cannot depend on someone else to do it for you.

Christianity traces the sinfulness of human beings and the resultant sufferings to the disobedience of the first parents, Adam and Eve, who were banished from the Garden of Eden and who were cursed to lead a life of pain and suffering (Genesis 3:14-19). It was not just human beings who incurred this condition of sinfulness through the voluntary act of disobedience of their first parents; the world of animals and nature also were affected, because they too were involved in the original sinful act (the role of the serpent, the fruit-yielding tree, etc.). Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, human beings were condemned to a life of labour and pain, disease and danger, struggle and suffering, and ultimately death. Human nature itself has been made imperfect, and every human person has to struggle to make up for what has been lost as they the journey toward realizing their original nature.

While liberation in Jainism is the total annihilation of every karmic trace in a Jiva (the living organism) through one’s own personal, constant efforts, salvation in Christianity depends primarily on God’s salvific will and act. It is finally the grace of God that saves a person.

(II) Primacy of the Code of Conduct and of Non-violent Love: Religions prescribe a code of conduct that is in harmony with their religious scriptures and community traditions. The Jains adhere to the Five Vows (Pancha Vrata)[12] and the Christians to the Ten Commandments and the Gospel Beatitudes (Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 5:1-11). But Christians hasten to say that the Law alone does not suffice for salvation/liberation. What is essential is faith in Jesus Christ. As Paul writes, “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are now justified by his grace as a gift, though the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). This is the fundamental belief of all Christians. This belief does not downgrade free-will and the importance of human activities (moral, especially) in the world. The vision, direction and implementation of any meaningful project in the world are part of the creative power of God manifested in humanity and in history. These human activities are creative as well as redemptive in some sense. All religions at some point stress the importance of ethics in life as a means of salvation.

Jaina religious ethics lays stress on the practice of the great vows (Mahavrata), focussed on Ahimsa or non-violence. The last four of the Five Vows, namely, lying, stealing, unchaste behaviour, and taking what is not one’s own are primarily acts of violence or that which eventually lead to violence. Hence, Jainism is known as the religion of non-violence, and non-violence has been the hallmark of Jain religion and the Jain community.[13] Historically, Jainism and Buddhism as non-Vedic traditions were protest movements against animal sacrifice. They were so opposed to the Vedic sacrifices, advanced by the Brahmanic religion that the Vedic texts were termed as himsa shastra, the Law of Violence,by some Jain scholars.[14] The Jaina Concept of non-violence is not confined to men or animals but extends to all elemental bodied beings. Jains hold that all souls are equal in their transcendental form.

For monks, the vow of non-violence is so absolute that they have to avoid the slightest expression from their activities.[15] Since lay people are totally immersed in the world because of their social and family responsibilities, it is impossible for them to practice non-violence to that extent. And hence lay adherents of Jainism observe the vow with less intensity (anuvrata),[16] though there are movements—the Anuvrata movement of Acharya Tulasi, for example[17]—that  promote a renewed and more intense spiritual life within the lay community (sravakas and sravikas). Jaina ascetics (muni) or monks and nuns, however, are called to live the challenges of the non-violent way of life to the utmost, thereby serving as a model for lay emulation. Hence, for a lay Jain, becoming a monk (sadhu) or a nun (sadhvi) is a highly desired but costly ideal.[18]

The popular Jain prayer Pancha namaskara mantra in praise of the five types of deities (known as the Pancha Parameshti)[19] includes obeisance to the sadhus (Namo Savva Sahunam), suggesting that sadhus and sadhvis are as important as the Tirthankaras in the spiritual renewal of the lay community. They are the ones who preserve and promote the moral and spiritual ideals and values of the community. They travel from place to place on foot (but stay in one place during rainy seasons), rest in chaityas or Jaina temples in the vicinity, engage in spiritual discourses, take part in the temple and religious rituals and festivals, accept the food offered by the lay people, and offer blessings to the community. Like Christians, the Jains consider it a blessing if there is a vocation to the religious way of life in their own family or village. They also considered it a blessing to be able to host monks and nuns in their temples or villages. The lay community takes care of the day-to-day needs of the monks and nuns in their travel, dress, food, shelter, etc.

The ascetic and lay communities together preserve and promote the ideals and values of the temples, images, holy objects, and scriptures. In order to do this, huge donations are required. Thus, Dana or gift-offering[20] is a significant practice among the Jain householders, helping them to minimize their attachment to the material universe. Without this practice, no ascetic would be able to survive, and consequently there could be no transmission of sacred doctrine. Dana is defined as a “renunciation of a thing belonging to oneself for the sake of rendering benefit (to others).”[21] The giver represents in an imperfect manner the perfect, self-emptying character of the Jina while offering something.[22]

Whatever be the engagement, the Jains (both the ascetics and the lay adherents) categorically believe in the proactive non-violent way of life, which alone can lead one to emancipation or total annihilation of karma, or at least bring about a better existence in the following birth. Ahimsa paramo dharma [23] (non-injury is the prime practice or religion) is the Jaina dictum and vegetarianism [24] (or veganism) is the external sign of non-violent way of life. The final human destiny, called Moksha, is closely linked to the practice of Ahimsa.

The non-violence of Jains and the sacrificial love (in the form of service to humanity) of Christians have much in common. When Jesus was asked to indicate the greatest of God’s commandments, he pointed out to the age-old practice, familiar to any Jew, of loving God and loving neighbour: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40).[25] Hence you cannot say that you love God if you do not love your neighbour; to do so would be to make yourself a liar (1 John 2:4). The love Jesus showed us by his suffering and death on the cross,[26] the forgiveness he offered to his torturers—“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)—and the promise he made to the thief—“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”(Luke 23:43)—are God’s way of reconciling the world to himself (see 2 Corinthians 5:19).

Jains and Christians have love and non-violence in common, a love that extends to the whole of biosphere. We see this in the life of the Tirthankaras,[27] who show love and consideration even to ants by not harming them. Positive love and reconciliation are needed by society and the world at large in the wake of globalization, economic exploitation, continued war and violence, human rights violations, conflicts of all types based on ethnicity, caste and creed, and amidst the cry of the impoverished and oppressed.[28] Love and reconciliation are also religious imperatives for Jain and Christian communities, calling them to work for personal transformation as well as global social justice. Acts of love, charity, and reconciliation are the focal point and a space-provider for a meaningful Jain-Christian conversation.

A search on the Internet quickly shows how widespread Jain organizations are, not only India, but throughout the world, especially in Europe and North America. [29]  Most of these organizations are engaged in sharing news and views on Jain society and religion, in preserving and propagating their faith, in announcing academic conferences, talks, spiritual and religious discourses, in helping its community (and others) in all kinds of business, matrimonial, and other transactions, and in humanitarian works. There are any number of Jaina health-related agencies and hospitals for both humans and animals. The general impression given is that the Jains are a rich business community, partly because their career choices are restricted to those that involve the least violence to anyone. Though rich, their personal life-style in food and dress is simple, and their savings are put back into their business[30] or donated for religious, educational, and charitable purposes. One witness of their philanthropic attitude and engagement is their establishment of several eye hospitals and cancer institutes, bird sanctuaries and animal hospitals, almost in all big cities.[31] The legendary Bird Hospital at the entrance of Chandni Chawk in front of the Red Fort in Delhi is one example.

In a similar vein, the Christian churches in India, following the example and command of their leader and saviour Jesus Christ, are engaged in the service of humanity, especially of the downtrodden and the marginalized. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the (Catholic) Church,[32] prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, provides a panorama of the many areas of life that we need to pay attention to. It is a well-known fact that Christian educational institutions are highly regarded in our nation. Several institutions have taken up the challenge of giving quality education to the children of families who have never had access to education and to drop-outs, particularly street children, women, tribals and dalits.

The positive and proactive love shown to the poor by Church leaders and the Christian community is a way of giving expression to God’s love for this world. In dialogue with other religious believers, especially the Jains, whose religious and social principles, sentiments, and engagement vibrate with those of the Christians, we can be encouraged and challenged in our efforts to make these expressions of love ever more pure and selfless. After all, the purpose any religion worthy of its name is to offer salvation to humankind. If it did not, it would not be true to its identity.[33] If both these religious communities were to enter into dialogue about how they might together be signs of Ahimsa and Agape, the whole world would witness the power of God’s love to gather all people together into one human family.

Hence, the two communities should work out possible ways of witnessing to their faith in collaborative efforts (dialogue of action[34]) by undertaking joint projects to uplift the poor and the needy and to work for justice and human rights protection. Such collaboration might, in the course of witnessing to love, lead to a deep dialogue of sharing and celebrating together the joy of being God’s children on earth.

(III) Primacy to Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Forgiveness and reconciliation are constitutive elements of Jain and Christian spiritual renewal. To confess one’s sins and be forgiven is a common practice among Christians. In the Catholic Church, this practice is called the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and it is a ritual expression of salvation. There are a number of Old and New Testament passages to support this belief and practice.[35]  

During the Paryushana Parva, an annual festival of spiritual renewal for the Jains, the members of the community ask each other for forgiveness for all the offences committed that year. The Jaina practice includes repentance (pratikramana), renunciation (pratyakhyana), confession (alochana), and expiation (prayaschitta) of sins.[36] At the time of pratikramana the Jains say “Tassa michchami dukkadam” (May I be forgiven of the many transgressions I have committed against the vows) and “khamemi savva Jiva” (Let me forgive all living beings).[37] In order to strengthen self-knowledge and achieve equanimity, Jains leave aside impure thoughts and activities and reflect upon the state of their soul in order to be brought to repentance (Pratikramana). Those who avoid the wrong path and firmly walk in the right path of the Conquerors (Jinas ), who renounce attachment and grow in non-attachment, and who regard the soul as their only support are said to be the embodiment of repentance, renunciation, and confession of sins.

In both these traditions, the practice of confession and forgiveness of sins generally starts and ends with individuals: I acknowledge my sins and ask that I be forgiven. Rarely does one encounter a social practice in which groups acknowledge, repent of, are forgiven for the social sins committed by their communities, and are reconciled with those they have offended. Social groups do not normally own responsibility for the discrimination, injustice, corruption, violence, etc. rampant in society. And there is no social commitment to do so either.

When Pope John Paul’s acknowledged the sins of the Church and asked for forgiveness,[38] he offered the whole world an astounding gesture of good will and humility. The Holy Father was determined not to let the second millennium come to an end without encouraging her children to purify themselves through repentance of past errors and instances of infidelity, inconsistency and slowness to act.[39] This confession of sin, though addressed to God, was made before the whole world as a sign of sorrow for the evil done by the Church in history, for the purification of its memory and for favouring dialogue, peace and reconciliation with humanity.

On October 27, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI invited Christian brothers and sisters from the different confessions and the representatives of the different religious traditions to join him in Assisi to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the “World Day of Prayer and Peace” convoked by Pope John Paul II in 1986. The meeting was described as a day of “reflection, dialogue, and prayer for peace and justice in the world.” In his address the Pope condemned violence in the name of religion: “As a Christian I want to say at this point,” confessed the Pope, “yes it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith. We acknowledge it with great shame.” The Pope called for reconciliation between countries toward charitable path: “It’s a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of taking a decisive stand for human dignity and a case of common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force.” The Pope concluded by saying, “I would like to assure you that the Catholic Church will not let up in her fight against violence, in her commitment for peace in the world. We are animated by the common desire to be “pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace.”[40]

While such events of public acknowledgement of sin and reconciliation are rare, Jain-Christian gatherings could become occasions for self-examination and renewal. Our common belief in and practice of confession and forgiveness of sins calls for a greater social consciousness of the wrongs our communities have committed or the good they have failed to do, and for moving forward with renewed strength. As reconcilers and reconciled, these livingreligious traditions could be model pathfinders [41] (Tirthankaras) of peace and reconciliation between groups and nations, often torn apart by prejudice, ill-will, and wrong doing.[42]

The primacy and sacredness of life, non-violence and love, and forgiveness, and reconciliation are beliefs and practices shared by the Jain and Christian religious and spiritual traditions, and obviously provide broad space for dialogue. I would now like briefly to indicate certain specific areas where Jains and Christians could pool their religious and other assets to work for the common good:

(I) Life-protection and Life-saving: Jains acclaim human birth to be the noblest and also the most difficult to obtain. Human birth, according to Jain philosophy, is rare and precious and hence human beings should realize their status and engage in this world accordingly.[43] The final destiny of a soul, namely Moksa or liberation, cannot be attained by any form of life other than human. Even heavenly beings have to re-incarnate as humans and practice the triple jewels of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct in order to achieve the final goal. Christian identity is centred on sacrificial love and service. Hence, human life needs to be protected, preserved, and promoted. Christians believe that human life is sacred and cannot be tampered with. Life is God’s gift and must be cherished, nourished, and protected with dignity. This attitude of the Church permeates every aspect human life, particularly the preservation of life when it is at its weakest. No one is permitted to end life at any stage. Christians respect life in the womb as fashioned by God.[44]

It is also important to eliminate whatever constitutes a threat to life, whether in global interactions, in business transactions and relationships, in repeated human rights violations, or in issues related to birth and death. Both the communities have a great role to play in alleviating the suffering of humanity. There must be an awakening to the need to establish a more humane world order, characterized by gentleness, compassion, and benevolence.[45] At the same time, we recognize that there are those who sincerely believe that there may be times when love may have to accept the use of violence as a last resort to prevent even greater evil.[46]

(II) In India, fundamentalism and communal violence have taken a heavy toll, especially after India’s Independence. Intolerance and hate speech have abounded in a land of long-standing peace. Jains and Christians have an opportunity to establish communitarian agendas for peace and harmony that could be jointly planned and locally implemented. This would be a meaningful philanthropic engagement on the part of both these peace-loving communities and would be a welcome sign to governmental organizations charged with maintaining law and order and in promoting harmony and peace-building. Had this kind of com-union been seriously contemplated, many of the events that perpetrated violence and bloodshed in our country could have been averted.[47]

Peace education and training should start with the youth. Jain and Christian educational institutions could be great places of peace education and experimentation. Their educational institutions could jointly plan to introduce a peace education programme as a necessary component of their students’ curriculum. Through these programmes, students would be instructed and trained in ways of peace and be engaged in the works of harmony.[48] Every institution could evolve a students’ peace-keeping force. To this righteous cause, the faculty need to be motivated and trained. It is, once again, a great and rewarding task.

(III) Concern for Ecology and Environment continues to gain momentum. More than ever, our environment is affected by our greed (lobha) and lack of self-restraint (samyama).[49] The Jains believe in the sacredness of life in nature, and hence in the need to protect it. Jains and Christians believe that the eco-environment needs greater attention and care than ever in the wake of modernization and industrialization, the Green House effect, global warming, nuclear threats, and pollution of all kinds. As a result, life is lost, or in danger.

Christians believe that God has entrusted the whole of nature to the care of humankind as God’s vicegerents and stewards.[50]  Since this area of healthy dialogue with the environment is something new, timely, and significant, both communities are invited to chalk out a few major programmes in collaboration with environmentalists. The programme could also include Environmental Awareness and Study in the educational institutions run by these communities.

(IV) Study and Research help us to be objective and often save us from prejudice. The Comparative Study of Religions—comparing the life of religious founders, theologians, philosophers, sages and saints, sacred scriptures, doctrines and dogmas, rituals and worship, codes of ethics and conduct, ideals and values, customs, manners, and practice—is a world in itself, a vast treasury of knowledge and information. The object of comparative study is objective awareness, sympathetic understanding, and generous accommodation, while it also enables one to reflect on the richness of one’s own beliefs and practices.

There are several areas of Jain-Christian study that might be of help for better understanding between these communities. I can envisage a few important areas that could be instrumental in increasing mutual trust and understanding:

Preparing comparative religious texts on major themes (and sub-themes) like family, social life, environment, diversity, equality, justice, harmony, New Society, etc. Such texts would help Jain and Christian communities, especially student communities, understand and appreciate the spiritual depth of each other’s traditions. If well done, such work would be helpful for community and nation building.

Comparative study of religious formation. Both the communities give great importance to religious life and treat with utmost respect their monks and nuns (sadhus and sadhvis), men and women clergy and religious.[51] Their life and words are an inspiration to their respective lay communities. But in the past there has been hardly any effort to know or to learn from the spiritual richness of each other, especially in those initial and on-going formation programmes where training is given in religious values like forbearance amidst toil, contentment amidst want, how one grows in religious life, its follow-up, etc.

The God concept. Jainism is traditionally considered a heterodox system, a system that does not believe in a Creator or Redeemer-God or in Vedic authority.[52]  Jains accept karma in daily life: as one sows, so one reaps.[53] For them, the concept of karma is sufficient to explain the differences and vagaries of life. One cannot escape the fruits of one’s own action. If one does not clear away one’s karma in the present life, it will remain in oneself as accumulated energy until its traces are cleared off in subsequent births. Hence, being born as a human being is necessary (though rare) if one is to burn the karmic traces completely (nirjara) and achieve liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. It is finally left to the individual to suffer (and no one can suffer for another) or to be rewarded (and no one can be rewarded on the basis of what someone else has done). In this type of thinking, there is no role for God. Although Jaina Tirthankaras have qualities that are similar to those we attribute to God, they are not gods, but only pathfinders. On the other hand, Christians believe in a God who creates, redeems, and sanctifies. A rich area of study would be to investigate more deeply how belief in God relates to the nature, role, and effects of karma.

Study on Perception. Jains believe in anekanta, a pluralistic view and understanding of reality. Anekantavada orthe theory of manifoldness [54] is said to be the Jaina contribution to the philosophical world. In brief, reality, its expressions and experiences, is varied and even contradictory. It is from such a phenomenological foundation that the Jains describe the types of living beings (jiva), the types of knowledge (jnana), the types of karma that shape any living organism, and the types and means of liberation, etc. Diversity is inherent in reality, whether earthly or heavenly. Absolutism is both impractical and a defect in perception, according to the Jains.

All, including Christians, would accept this realistic point of view. But once this principle is applied to religions and their salvific power, they would hesitate or even refuse to accept this point of view. Anekanta, if applied to religions as varied paths to salvation, becomes a major theological and pastoral problem. Questions arise such as “Who possesses the Truth, the whole Truth?” “Is Truth one or many?” “Is God immanent or transcendent, single or multiple, personal or impersonal, male or female?” “Is there only one heaven or many heavens?” “How do I know my religious neighbour is saved or damned, and through what means?”

In answering these and similar questions, religions reflect different theological positions: For some, other religions are false paths; to others, they are implicit forms of one’s own religion. To yet others, they are equally valid ways. Or they are, of course, different but valid ways to the same Truth; or they express important parts of the Truth.[55] Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) generally claim absolutism with regard to Truth and Salvific power.[56] They are also at times inclusive in their approach.[57]  It would make for a good comparative, perceptual, and theological study to look at how Jains and Christians regard each other, and how they each regard religions other than their own.

I conclude withthe peace-prayer from both the traditions:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
(St. Francis of Assisi)

Khamemi savvajive, savve jivā khamantu me
Mitti me savva bhuyeshu, veram majjham na kenayi
I grant forgiveness to all living beings;
May all living beings grant me forgiveness.
My friendship is with all living beings;
I have no animosity towards any living being.
(Jain prayer of Forgiveness and Friendship)

[1] See Nostra Aetate. On the Church’s relationship with Non-Christian religions, no. 2.

[2] “Our Mission and Interreligious Dialogue,” 34th General Congregation of the Jesuits (1995), Decree 5, #133.

[3] In Jaina metaphysics, there are six substances known as dravyas. They are the self (jiva), matter (pudgala), movement and rest (dharma and adharma),  space (akasa) and time (kala). “Substances are characterised by permanence and change.” Utpada vyaya dravyayuktam sat. (Tattvartha Sutra of Acharya Umaswamin, 5.29) The essence of a substance (dravya) is never annihilated when it is said that the object is permanent. “Permanence is that which does not deviate from its essence.” Tat bhava avyayam nityam. (Ibid. 5.30)

[4] “The Supreme Soul (Paramatman) is free from birth, old age, and death; he is supreme, pure, and devoid of the eight karmas; he possesses infinite knowledge, intuition, bliss and potency; he is indivisible, indestructible, and inexhaustible. Besides, he is supersensuous and unparalleled, is free from obstructions, merit, demerit, and rebirth, and is eternal, steady, and independent.” (Acharya Kundakunda, Niyamasara 176-177; Sogani, K.C.: Ethical Doctrines in Jainsim, Jain Sam. Samrakshaka Sangh, Solapur, 1967). See also Sravarthasiddhi of Acharya Pujyapada, 10.4. The fullest self-consciousness or fullest realization of one’s spiritual nature is the highest good of a human person. The end of ethics is the realization of spiritual capacities, and this is also the highest aim of Jaina moral life.

[6] The concept of and belief in karma is common to all Indian religions. In Jainism, it is explicit and detailed. The working of human minds is due to the direct, though at times unseen, influence of karma. Because of the activities of a Jiva, there is karmic inflow that  causes bondage. Kaya vangmana karma yoga; Sa asrava. (Tattvartha Sutra, 6.1-2) Karma can be meritorious or harmful. The former leads to happiness and the latter to misery. From a practical point of view human beings prefer good actions because they lead to happiness; but from the real point of view all activities, whether good or bad, bind the soul with karmic matter and prevent liberation. One needs to rise above good as well as bad karma.

[7] Sa bandha. Adyo jnana darsana avarana vedaniya mohaniya ayushka nama gotra antaraya. (Tattvartha Sutra 8.5) See also the Tattvartha Sutra 33.1-25 for a detailed description. The eight types of karma are Knowledge obscuring, Perception obscuring, Right conduct-deluding, Hindering, Feeling-breeding, Family-determining, Age-determining, and Body-determining. There are a number of moral lapses (aticara) that cause these eight types of karma. They are elaborately dealt with in Tattvartha Sutra, Chapter 6-8.

[8] This is the common understanding of the doctrine of original sin given in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 405. Theological reflection on this doctrine has to address the many questions it raises, especially with regard to the transmission of original sin.

[9] There are fourteen stages of spiritual development called Gunasthanas, which literally means “quality status.” Right conduct is that which helps a Jiva climb this ladder. The Gunasthanas refer not to the chronological order but to the qualitative state of a soul in its spiritual development. The soul is gradually but intensively purified as it ascends the spiritual hierarchy and sheds karma. Moral discipline is closely linked with the shedding of karma.

[10] Jainism upholds the dignity of the human person and human effort: ‘Man, thou are thy own friend, why wishest thou for a friend beyond thyself?” (Acharanga Sutra, I.8.3.4) Each one has to exert him or herself in the rule of truth in order to overcome the evil one. “Misery is produced by one’s own works, not by those of someone else (viz., fate, the creator etc.)” (Sutrakrtanga, I.12.11) “Mother, father, daughter-in-law, brother, wife and sons will not be able to help me, when I suffer from my own deeds.” (Ibid. I.9.5; Uttaradhyayana Sutra, 6.3) No one can escape the effects of his or her own actions. (Ibid. 4.3)

[11] Jaina epistemology speaks of niscaya (real and absolute) and vyavaharika (practical) naya or points of view. For example, a person reaps the consequences of his or her own action. This is the real point of view. But someone else can reduce his or her burden. It is something meritorious, but it is only from a practical point of view.

[12] Sarvarthasiddhi, 7.2; T.G. Kalghatgi, Jainism, The Dr. S. Radhakrishnan Institute for Advanced Study in Philosophy University of Madras, 1978, pp.81-84

[13] Often people have been sceptical about the practice of non-violence: “Non-violence has mostly been a matter of individual practice but not of groups, communities and nations. It is natural for individuals and society to be non-violent toward their family members and relatives, same caste/race and not towards non-relatives and strangers. Usually people are non-violent only temporarily, and even that is one of controlled-violence. Violence has become a way of life and of achievement. Even the public thinks that violence brings about change in society more easily than by any other means. Media too draws people's attention mostly to violent incidents and events. Even socialist, democratic governments resort to violent, repressive means to ensure law and order. The same can be said of groups, communities, states and even countries.  People take to any means in order to achieve their selfish interests.” (Vincent Sekhar: Dharma in Early Brahmanic, Buddhist and Jain Traditions, Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi, 2003), P. 183

[14] Jaina Acharya Hemachandra (1089-1172), a genius and a scholar, criticizes the Law of Manu as himsa shastra or the Law of Violence. (Yogasastra of Hemachandra, Sanskrit text with Hindi, Trans. by Shobhachandra Bharilla, Delhi, 1963, 2.37; see also slokas 33.36)

[15] Tattvartha Sutra, 9.5. Violence to any living being amounts to deviation from the path of self-realization. (Amrtachandra on Pravachana Sara 3.16)

[16] Jaina ideology restricts the Jain community in their choice of career or profession. Because of their strict adherence to non-violence, the lay Jain chooses a profession that involves the least amount of violence. As a doctor or a soldier in the army, s/he is compelled to cause injury, which cannot be avoided. Under such circumstances, unavoidable violence is tolerated (Udyogami himsa). During household duties such as cooking, etc. a person cannot be free from violence. Such unintentional violence (arambha himsa) is permitted. (Amitagati Sravakachara 6.6‑7) Soldiers need to defend themselves and their country during war. (Virodhi himsa) Such necessary evils are tolerated. But intentional violence for the sake of entertainment and the like is not permitted. (Ratnakarandaka Sravakachara, 53) For example, in farming communities, tying up living beings, beating them, mutilating them, overloading them and withholding their food and drink are condonable if done under the pressure of passions. (Siddhasena on Tattvartha Sutra 7.20) Generally, as the aspirant ascends the steps of spiritual progress, all types of violence in one’s conduct are minimized.  One suffers a constant feeling of guilt and self-condemnation (nindana garhana) for the violence one has been committing all along. (Amitagati Sravakachara, 6.8)

[17] Acharya Tulasi (1914-1997) was an influential and popular Jain spiritual master and teacher, an author of over one hundred books. He started the Anuvrat movement to “inspire people to observe self-restraint irrespective of their caste, colour, creed, country orlanguage, to establish the values of friendship, unity, peace and morality, and to build a non-violent society.” The Anuvrat movement follows certain principles such as “Sensitivity to the existence of others, Unity of mankind, Co-existence, Communal harmony, Non-violent resistance, Limited individual acquisition and consumption, Integrity in behaviour, Belief in the purity of means, Fearlessness, objectivity and truthfulness.” (Refer to the websites on the Anuvrat Foundation and the Anuvrat A Code of Conduct for Building a Healthy Society)

[18] The rationale for choosing the religious life is this: The course of the world is observed carefully and a truth is born out of experience, namely, that “misery brings forth evil consequences” (Acharanga Sutra, I.3.2.1) and therefore one has to cease from violent acts. But knowing that it is almost impossible to shun birth and the subsequent pain and the misery, renunciation and religious life is offered as an alternative: “Perceive the truth: from a desire of a pious end (they) chose a religious life.” (Ibid I.5.5.1) “Knowing pain and pleasure in all their variety and seeing his life not yet declined, a wise man should know that to be the proper moment (for entering a religious life).” (Ibid I.2.1.5) Hence, it is a great event in the life of the Jain community to desire, to welcome, and to celebrate any initiation into religious life.

[19] Five types of deities are praised in this popular Jain mantra: “Namo Arihantanam, Namo Siddhanam, Namo Ayariyanam, Namo Uvajjhayanam, Namo Loye Savvasahunam; Eso panchanamakkaro Savva pavappanasano mangalanam ca savvesim, Havayi padamam mangalam.” (Translation: “Praise be to the Arhats, Siddhas, Acharyas, Upadhyayas, and the Sadhus of the world. This Panchanamskara mantra destroys all sins. And in all mantras, this is the prime one.”) Obeisance to the Five-fold deities is described in Pannavanasuttam.

[20] Understood in a wider sense, Dana includes the giving of one’s daughter and the transmission of property to one’s heirs, the exercise of charity, the construction of temples and community institutions such as a common kitchen or posadhasala, or even the performance of puja by offering flowers, incense, flag staff, and the like. Acarya Vasunandin says that in any act of gift-offering five factors have to be considered: the recipient (patra), the giver (datr), the thing given (datavya, dravya), the manner of giving, (dana vidhi) and the result of giving (dana phala). (Sravakacara of Vasunandin: Hiralal Jain, ed. Jnanapitha Murtidevi Jaina Granthamala, Prakrit Series, no.3, p 200)

[21] Tattvartha Sutra, 7.34

[22] Lawrence A. Babb: Ascetics and Kings in a Jain Ritual Culture, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Delhi, 1998, pp. 190-193

[23] Ahimsa or non-injuryto self and others has become the quintessence of all dharma (Ahimsa paramo dhamma) in Jain tradition. It does not mean that they lay absolute claim to this important virtue, but their vision of life and reality has naturally led them to understand this virtue as the prime value of life. Ahimsa is both an intellectual attitude and an ethical conduct. Ahimsa at the rational level has contributed to non-absolutist theories like Anekantavada and human and natural inter-relatedness though Syadvada in Jainism.  At their best, these ideals have enhanced the pluralistic culture of India.

[24] While there is a widespread Christian and global consciousness of the value of the vegetarian way of life, the Christian covenant with non-human life, though admirable, does not strictly exclude meat-eating. But there are many Christian vegetarian associations around the world. (Vincent Sekhar: “Christianity and Non-violence,” Vidyajyoti, Vol. 73, No. 8, August 2009, pp. 58-65)

[25] Jesus is referring here to two passages in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament): Deuteronomy 6.4-5; Leviticus 19.18 “You must love your neighbour as yourself.”

[26] The Jains do not accept the idea of vicarious suffering or substitutionary atonement, such the suffering of Jesus for the sins of the people and their salvation (regarded by Christians as a fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53.4-5: “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed”). The Jains believe that one cannot substitute one’s suffering for that of anyone. One has to exhaust one’s own karma. Any act of self-denial or suffering undertaken for the sake of others can be acclaimed only in a practical sense.

[27] The Kalpa Sutra: Life of the Jinas (Life of Lord Rishabha, Lord Neminatha, Lord Parsvanatha, Lord Mahavira), Jaina Sutras - Part I, translated by Hermann Jacobi (Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 22)

[28] “The grim reality is that the global economy does not benefit poor countries or poor people; rather rich countries and people are becoming richer and the poor poorer. There is much debate about the extent to which economic growth leads to the realisation of economic rights (such as an adequate standard of living), but what is undeniable is that in the pursuit of economic growth, people who defend their land, livelihood and resources face violent repression by the state. Economic growth often comes at the expense of other rights, with governments justifying, tacitly supporting, or even engaging in human rights violations in the name of development and economic competitiveness.” (“In Search Of A Realistic Approach Towards The Human Rights Movement In India” by Dipankar Chakrabarti, www.countercurrents.org, 11 September 2011)

[29] Websites on Jainism: http://www.jaindharmonline.com/more/jweb.htm  (especially on Jain world, Jain net, Jain samaj, Jinvani, Jain spirit, Jain dharm, Jain heritage, Religious India, Jaina.org, Jain mandir, Jain granth, Jain magazines, Jain community, Digambara Jain, Jain Oswals, Jain news, Jainology, Jain sadhvi, Young Jains, Jain acharya, Jain story, Jain people)

[30] There is a general impression that the principal objective of the Jains, who are a business community, is accumulating wealth by any means. There are several ideas and values in Jaina ethics to show that they are consistent with the spirit of capitalism. (Arvind K. Agarwal’s “Jaina Ethics and Spirit of Capitalism—A Critical Reappraisal of Weber” in N. K. Singhi, ed.,  Ideal, Ideology and Practice (Studies in Jainism), Printwell Publishers, Jaipur, 1987, p. 199-202; also see another article in the same book “Jainism and its perversion in actual practice” by Tarachand Gangwal, p. 124-136) Joharimal Parekh says that Jainism does not believe in materialism and consequently “human behaviour towards wealth” has been heavily discounted. He has subscribed to this view in his article “Jain Economic Thought.” See Jain Journal, Jain Bhavan Publication, Calcutta, Vol. XXIX, No. 3, January 1995

[31] The Bird Hospital was founded in 1956 and it has a capacity to lodge over 10,000 birds, with separate wards for different kinds of birds that are diseased, injured by accidents, or malnourished. It is entirely funded by donations. (See http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/world/bird-hospital.html#cr)

[32] The document speaks about the God’s plan of salvation, the dignity of human person and the significance of human rights, the fundamental values of family and social life, the dignity of work and work culture, political and democratic systems, safeguarding the environment, promotion of peace and justice, and commitment to a civilization of love. The long analytical index of references is a handy help in locating the foregoing areas of concern. (Pauline Publications, Mumbai, 2004)

[33] Vincent Sekhar: Practice of Interreligious Dialogue, Claretian Publications, Bangalore, 2006, p. 35

[34] The Catholic Church document “Dialogue and Mission” (1984) identifies the four forms of dialogue: The Dialogue of Life, The Dialogue of Works or Action, The Dialogue of Experts or Religious Exchange, and The Dialogue of Religious experience. (Vincent Sekhar: Practice of Interreligious Dialogue, Claretian Publications, Bangalore, 2006, pp. 71-72)

[35] Abraham intercedes with God (Genesis 18.16-33); The great Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16.1-34); rules for conjugal relationships, worship, and family (Leviticus 18.1-27; Psalms 25.6-8, 32.1-5, 65.3-4, 79.8-9, 85.2-7, 103.2-5, 130.1-5);, the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15.1-32); the need for repeated forgiveness (Luke 17.1-5; Matthew 18.15-17, 21-22);  the woman caught in the act of adultery. (John 8.2-11);  the parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18.12-14).

[36] Kundakunda Pushpanjali: Ch.V-VIII

[37] One Jain reports: “This powerful philosophy, somehow, got diluted in our practice. In my opinion, it is more important to forgive than to ask for forgiveness. We need to forgive others, not because they need our forgiveness. It is because we need to release ourselves from the rage, hostility and resentment we carry within us when we don’t forgive.” (http://www.anekant.org/pdf/tott_let_us_learn_to_forgive_truly.pdf)

[38] On 12 March 2000, the First Sunday of Lent, at a celebration of the Eucharist with the College of Cardinals, Pope John Paul II asked “forgiveness from the Lord for the sins, past and present, of the sons and daughters of the Church.” He said, “Christians are invited to acknowledge, before God and before those offended by their actions, the faults which they have committed. Let them do so without seeking anything in return, but strengthened only by the ‘love of God which has been poured into our hearts’ (Rom 5:5)” (Incarnationis Mysterium, 11). Such confession includes confession of sins in general; confession of sins committed in the service of truth (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Pro Memoria for the Consistory of 13 June 1994, 7; “Tertio Millennio Adveniente”, 35); confession of sins which have harmed the unity of the body of Christ (cf. JOHN PAUL II, “Tertio Millennio Adveniente”, 34; “Ut Unum Sint”, 34 and 82; Paderborn, 22 June 1996); confession of sins against the people of Israel (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Mainz, 17 November 1980; Vatican Basilica, 7 December 1991; Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, “We Remember’’, 16 March 1998, No. 4); confession of sins committed in actions against love, peace, the rights of peoples, and respect for cultures and religions (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Assisi, 27 October 1986; Santo Domingo, 13 October 1992; General Audience, 21 October 1992); confession of sins against the dignity of women and the unity of the human race (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Angelus Message, 10 June 1995; Letter to Women, 29 June 1995); confession of sins in relation to the fundamental rights of the person (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Yaoundé, 13 August 1985; General Audience, 3 June 1992). (Vincent Sekhar: Building Strong Neighbourhoods, op. cit., pp. 116-117)

[39] Apostolic Letter "Tertio Millennio Adveniente" of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, November 10, 1994, No. 33. 

[40] The full text and a video is available on the Vatican’s website at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2011/october/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20111027_assisi_en.html.      

[41] The term refers to the Tirthankaras, the spiritual ones in Jaina tradition, who found the Path and show others the same Way. I use this term consciously and metaphorically for the Jain and Christian communities. They should become pathfinders.

[42] Swami Vivekananda spoke about this in the context of religious violence when he was at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893: “Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.” (Selections from the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, Thirteenth Impression, 1995, p. 2)

[44] “Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God” (Psalm 22:9-10) and “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16).  Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical on Human Life or Humanae Vitae (on the Regulation of Birth)reflects this basic attitude towards life in its treatment of Marriage, Sexuality, Contraception, Abortion, etc. Similar reflections could extend to life-sentence and the death sentence.

[45] “Have benevolence towards all living beings, joy at the sight of the virtuous, compassion and sympathy for the afflicted, and tolerance towards the indolent and ill-behaved.” (Tattvartha Sutra 7.11)

[46] See the discussion on Just War in Vincent Sekhar: “Christianity and Nonviolence” in Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection, Volume 73, No. 8, August 2009, Delhi, pp. 52-54

[47] L. C. Jain, a noted journalist, describes the activities of some panchayats in Andhra Pradesh, which had formed joint peace committees comprising of representatives of all communities. Such peoples’ peace committees activated themselves in an instant manner, unlike the State officials and police who wait for directions from their political bosses. Pointing out the activities of such peace-models, Jain said regretfully, “Imagine, how many lives could have been saved, if within minutes of communal violence surfacing in Gujarat local elected representatives in panchayats and nagarpalikas had been summoned to mind peace and harmony in their respective locality. It could have helped the law-abiding officials and the police to accomplish more and it would have put the brakes on the black sheep in the administration. . . . It is our mindset which needs a change. A mindset which appears incapable of grasping the truth that a population of one billion-plus cannot be governed by a handful of Ministers, officials or police howsoever proficient.” (“Change the mindset” by L.C. Jain, The Hindu, April 18, 2002) The panchayats and nagarpalikas, the symbols of self-governance, suggest another idea of a community where people in their Neighbourhood  desire to live in close association with one another, respect and protect each other, tackle the problems together, and grow in maturity together. (Vincent Sekhar: Building Strong Neighbourhoods – Religion and Politics in Secular India, Claretian Publications, Bangalore, 2008, pp. 196-197)

[48] There are a number of ways by which students could be initiated into a Culture of Dialogue and Peace Education. (Vincent Sekhar: Religions in Public Life – A Practical Guide to Religious Harmony, Claretian Publications, Bangalore, 2004 Module VI Training in Dialogue pp. 62-67, Innovative ideas for Interreligious Dialogue and Praxis pp. 212-218)

[49] “Jain scholars from India see actual solutions in Jain philosophy for correcting ecological imbalances through a reconsideration of lifestyle and active application of ahimsa.” (Chapple Christopher Key (ed.): Jainism and Ecology: Non-violence in the Web of Life,  Harvard University Press for the Center for the Study of World Religions, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2002 p xxxvi). See also Vincent Sekhar: “Implications of Ahimsa on Ecology - A Jaina Perspective” in Jain Journal, October 1993, Vol. XXVIII, No.2, pp. 93-100, Jain Bhavan Publications, Calcutta.

[50] In Abrahamic traditions, human beings were created as God’s “vicegerents” mainly to protect the environment and the animals, even though God created human beings to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1.28) “I will create a vicegerent on earth.” (Islam: Qur’an 2.30)

[51] Conversely, any bad monk or nun or disciple gives a bad name to the Jain religion and community. Bad disciples are often compared to bad bullocks before the cart. (Uttaradhyayana Sutra 27)

[52] Jaina arguments against the theory of a creator-God are seen in Syadvada-manjari of Mallisena Suri (a commentary on Anyayoga-Vyavaccheda-Dvatrimsika of Hemacandra, the great Jaina scholar, preacher and author) and Tarka-rahasya-dipika of Gunaratna, to mention a few. Similar Buddhist arguments are presented in Buddhacharita of Ashvaghosha. And yet, the Jains worship the Tīrthankaras (24 in number), the Arhatas and the Siddhas (the embodied and the non-embodied), demi gods and goddesses (devas and devis), and other heavenly beings like the śāsanadevatās and śāsanadevīs, the attendant gods and goddesses of Tirthankaras. Prof. T.G. Kalghatgi has included a chapter titled “Men or Gods” in his book Jaina View of Life, Jaina Samskrti Samraksaka Sangha, Sholapur, 1984 (second edition) to describe in detail Jaina belief in God. Conversely, Christian philosophy and theology put  forth the following and other arguments in defence of a personal Creator: The Etiological argument (God as the necessary, non-contingent First Cause), The Cosmological argument (God as the source of the World Order), The Teleological argument (God as the Supreme Mind and an Evidence of purpose in nature), Argument from Design (God as the Intelligent Designer), Argument from Adaptation (God as the Intelligent Guide of movement, progress, adaptation, etc.), The Ontological argument (God as the Universal concept and reality), The Axiological argument (God as the reason for Values), The Moral argument (God as the source of Morality and Moral conscience), The Religio-Empirical argument (God as the origin of any valid Religious experience), The Anthropological and Epistemological arguments (God as the Supreme source of Intelligence & Logic), etc. (for a brief account of these arguments, see William S. Sahakian & Mabel Lewis Sahakian: Ideas of the Great Philosophers, Barnes & Noble Books, New York, 1993, pp. 86-100)

[53] The Law of karma is a cosmic principle, not specific to any one religion although the idea of past actions influencing present life is inherent in all Indian philosophical and religious thought. One could see this divine law in Christianity as well: “All who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26.52) “For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of His Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.” (Matthew 16.27) “I the Lord search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17.10)

[54] Anekantavada of Jainism comes to the aid of its belief and practice whenever internal contradictions need to be solved.  For instance, the niscaya (the absolute way) and vyavahara (the practical way) points of view make a distinction between the two level of understanding and experiencing. Jaina ethics for instance suggests one way for the ascetics, an absolute way. But it also accepts the moral conduct of the lay persons as the practical way because of family and social constraints and responsibility. Right action is viewed from two angles.

[55] John Lyden: Enduring Issues in Religion, Greenhaven Press, Inc., San Diego, CA, 1995, pp. 63-90

[56] For instance, the (Christian) Catholic Church documents, based on the theological affirmations about Jesus Christ and His saving power, remark that while non-Christian religions are “incomplete” in their search for God, they are all “impregnated with innumerable seeds of the word and can constitute a true preparation for the Gospel.” The Church further says that “our religion effectively establishes with God an authentic and living relationship which the other religions do not succeed in doing, even though they have, as it were, their arms stretched out towards heaven” and that the “the religion of Jesus, which she proclaims through evangelization, objectively places man in relation with the plan of God, with His living presence and with His action” (Evangelii Nuntiandi or Evangelization in the Modern World by Paul VI, 1975 No. 53). Dominus Iesus, a Declaration in 2000 published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, emphasizes the uniqueness and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church. While it acknowledges the spiritual riches of non-Christian religious traditions, the document points out that they contain “gaps, insufficiencies and errors,” and they “receive from the mystery of Christ the elements of goodness and grace which they contain” (Dominus Iesus 8) and “they acquire meaning and value only from Christ’s own mediation, and they cannot be understood as parallel or complementary to his.” (Dominus Iesus 12, 14)  

[57] Christian inclusivism posits that even though the work of Christ is the only means of salvation, it does not follow that explicit knowledge of Christ is necessary in order for one to be saved. St Paul’s letter to the Romans (Ch.2.12) mentions that those who really follow the Law are the holy ones in the sight of God and not just the listeners. And God judges the secrets of mankind (ibid. 16). To be a Jew is not enough to look like a Jew but to be inwardly a Jew and circumcision is not just an external physical act. The real circumcision is in the heart (ibid. 28, 29). Again, God wants all to be saved (1Timothy 2.4) and God does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3.9). This only implies that God illumines those whom and when he will, in ways unknown to human beings.

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