Why is vegetarianism preferred in India

Basics of Jainism

Jainism, like Buddhism, has its roots in Brahmanism, the predecessor religion of Hinduism, which was founded around the 6th / 5th centuries. Century BC Was created. In contrast to Hinduism, with its numerous gods, Jainism has no external god. Jainism had around 4.4 million believers in 2001/2002, around 4.2 million of them in India.
In Jainism this is expressed through AHIMSA (non-violence), the highest ethical rule. To put it more correctly, there would be no Jainism without Ahimsa, whereby Ahimsa means not only the absence of violence, but also care and love and is consequently interpreted and lived like in no other religion.

Jainism and Vegetarianism

For Jain, ahimsa encompasses non-violence in thoughts, words and deeds and is not only limited to one's own activities, but also does not allow any active or passive encouragement of others to use violence. Constant attention in dealing with every living being leads to a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of Ahimsa. A very simple example is the purchase of meat, in which we ourselves do not take direct action, but encourage others to use violence. Verbal aggression or thoughts, e.g. in the form of bad wishes towards other people, is violence that has an effect and also repercussions on ourselves.

The diet of the Jains is mainly based on vegetarian products. Indian cuisine encompasses Ayurvedic knowledge to determine the effects of foods and spices on the body and psyche (digestive, mentally brightening, etc.). For monks and nuns, but also for some laypeople, the commandment applies not to eat food that grows underground, since living things are too easily injured or killed during harvest.

Practical use

Jains try to exercise as little Himsa (violence) as possible, which leads to a high ethical attitude in daily life. Vows are differently strict for monks, nuns and laypeople. The basic lay vows are: no brute force, no lying, no stealing, sexual purity and non-greed. This attitude has an impact in everyday life. Vegetarianism is only one of them, others are e.g. that Jains do not cheat or that the choice of profession is influenced by it. Butchers, all leatherworking professions, etc. are not practiced. Professions such as traders, doctors, teachers, etc. are preferred. In order not to swallow insects while breathing and thus practice Himsa, monks and nuns of one order always wear a face mask, all other Jains limit this to the practice of their pujas (religious rituals).

I understand the ANEKANTAVADA, the doctrine of relativity, the second important ethical doctrine of the Jains as a further support for Ahimsa. This states that it is necessary to look at a thing from all sides in order to fully grasp it. A single point of view or opinion is never complete. Great tolerance is required, since reality is too complex to be fully comprehensible for an individual. Everyone knows the endless discussions that often end in arguments, in which each participant tries to present his point of view as the only right one and wants to impose it on the other. Just as we see only one side of a coin that is on the table, but the other side still exists, we should remember that a reality can be seen from many sides. So we can step back from persistence and rather allow different opinions and do not practice Himsa verbally in asserting our own opinion.

Traudel Pandya