This is a comparative written analysis which seeks to show the similarities between the Christian and Ahimsa religions. The essay makes a comparison of the Jain principle of Ahimsa and the Christian principle of non-violence. The main similarities of the two religions are brought to light and a conclusion is made by relating these issues to personal occurrences in everyday events of life. The essay purely makes use of literature review as a means of collecting information on the two principles for the purpose of making the conclusion.
According to Fox (2001), the word ahimsa, which means non-injury, is used, “for the doctrine of refraining from harming others” (Fox 175). He claims that this is central to the teaching of many religions in the world. He claims that as an ethical principle it is also found in the Christian concept where one ought to do to others what he/she wishes to be done to them. He even brings on board the medical fraternity through their medical maxim, “physicians should do no harm” (Fox 175). Fox (2001) claims that the history ahimsa is quite long and spans back before the Common Era (Fox 175). Singh (2001) gives a very comprehensive view of the general meaning of the word ahimsa, “harmless-abstaining from killing, or giving pain to others in thought or in deed, the policy or practice of refraining from the use of violence, as in reaction to oppressive authority” (Singh 1058). This sounds exactly like the Christian teaching: according to the Bible (2009), “but I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well” (Mathew 5: 39-40). It is very evident that the two principle advocate against the use of violence even in cases where some wrongs another one.
Sing (2001) further stretches the Jain concept of ahimsa to include thoughts. He says the principle is a doctrine of non-injury to all the living things and as such it would include the abstaining from, “animal food, relinquishing war, rejecting all thought of taking life, regarding all living beings akin” (Sing 1058). In essence what Sing (2001) is trying to put across is clarity of conscience as pertains to matters of violence. Clarity of conscience is much stressed by the bible. Christianity lays a lot of emphasis on the purity of conscience: if you lustfully look at somebody’s wife than according to the bible you are liable for punishment because already you have committed adultery with that woman (Mathew 5: 27-28).
Sing (2001) claims that the Jain principle has great vows which have to be followed lifelong and unconditionally. He also argues that Jainism advocates for the following of ahimsa directly and indirectly, “they should not do it mentally, physically as well as by speech” (Singh 1058-9). Similar sentiments are aired by Dr. King (n.d.) in his six principles of nonviolence as they apply in the Christian circumference. Dr. King (n.d.) claims in the first principle that, “nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people” (Dr. King par. 1). He claims that non violence is a resistance to evil which is active and aggressive emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Dr. King (n.d.) views it to be only passive in its non-aggression towards the enemy. Other values which pertain to nonviolence include the seeking of friendship and understanding; the desire to defeat injustice and not the doers; non violence aims at educating and transforming; and the advocating of love instead of hatred.