Can Anuvrat be considered a blueprint for sustainable living?

By Dr.Sohan Lal Gandhi 

A Dismal Scenario

The world today is passing through the worst crisis of its own existence. It is true that the last two centuries witnessed unprecedented progress on account of developments in the field of science. Man has conquered the land, the seas and the sky to a great extent. He now has the most modern means of transport – cars, buses, trains including the bullet trains, airplanes and what not. Up to the invention of the steam engine in the 18th century the fastest means of travelling were horse-drawn carriages or horses which were used by royals and the rich of the earlier society. Ordinary people used bullock carts or trudged along wearily. Their lifestyle was simple and most of the activities of their sustenance were performed manually. People didn’t mind if days or even months and years were spent in travelling or completing a task. Their time was measured by the movements of the sun and the moon. They enjoyed the grandeur of the cosmic time and remained carefree and cheerful all the time. 

The Advent of Anuvrat Movement – a Mode of Sustainable Living

Acharya Tulsi Ji, a Jain visionary of the twentieth century and head of a Jain sect called Terapanth, realized the potential threat to our survival into the third millennium. He concluded that it is human’s unrestrained desire that lies at the root of this crisis of unsustainability. He launched the Anuvrat Movement in 1949 as an antidote to the cloud of unsustainability closing in on humankind. We humans have a propensity to indulge in undesirable activities for worldly gains though we know that it is wrong. Spiritual leaders belonging to various faiths encourage their followers to restrict their sinful activities by accepting certain vows. A vow is a formal and serious promise. For a sustainable and peaceful living, he enjoins people to undertake eleven small vows called anuvrat

The first small vow ‘anuvrat‘ is – ‘I shall not kill an innocent creature deliberately.’ It enjoins a person to refrain from deliberate and intentional killing of innocent creatures. Though abstinence from all forms of violence is ideal, (though in worldly life violence is inevitable) and if all individuals take this vow the world would be a better place to live and it would be free from heinous forms of violences, free from all kinds of wars. It is a small beginning with a small vow, but it may usher in an era of peace in the world. In addition, a person who pledges to refrain from killing an innocent creature will not hunt animals for sport or for fun. The Jains even cover their mouths with white strips of cloth lest their hot breath kill living forms in the air. An individual can pledge that he would not kill a human being at least. Thousands are killed for money or sex every year. This vow also goes a long way in preventing unnecessary violence. The vow of a person to not to kill an innocent creature also saves a person from many undesirable things. The second small vow is also an extension of the first one in that it enjoins an anuvrati not to commit aggression, nor support it. It further expects him to endeavor for disarmament and world peace. It may prevent wars and stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction. It was framed in the wake of the second world war which caused unprecedented destruction. (To be continued in the next issue)

Dr. Sohan Lal Gandhi is the International President of Anuvrat Global Organization (ANUVIBHA), associated with the UN. He has been at the forefront of national and international campaigns for disarmament, interfaith harmony, nonviolent conflict resolution, vegetarianism, ecological and environmental ethics, and regeneration of moral and spiritual values for the last five decades. Dr. Gandhi has travelled worldwide making presentations at prestigious venues including the UN and has organized large conferences on peace and nonviolent actions. Dr. Gandhi is an ambassador of ahimsa (nonviolence) and believes that ahimsa alone can ensure our survival into the third millennium.


 How do Jains believe the world was created?

Nothing in the universe is ever destroyed or created, everything simply changes from one form to another. Jains believe that the universe has always existed and will always exist. It is regulated by cosmic laws and kept going by its own energy processes. Jains do not believe that the universe was created by any sort of God.

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