--> Skip to main content

Five Great Vows of Jainism and Environmentalism

The five great vows of Jainism – non-violence, truthfulness, not stealing, sexual restraint and non-possession – have a direct connection with environmentalism, ecology and environment protection.

  1. Non – Violence – The first vow also known as ahimsa entails the perspective that all life forms need to be respected, upheld and sustained. Hence any activity that causes harm to life must be halted including such practices as mono-culture farming, use of pesticides, and destruction of habitat for urbanization.
  2. Truthfulness – The second vow also known as satya is recognition of the need to speak truthfully. Those concerned with environmental destruction need to make their views heard by others so that those in places of authority can create policies that foster protection of life.
  3. Not Stealing – The third vow also known as astaya can be seen as a challenge not to take more than the bare essentials from the earth. To take more than needed to sustain oneself robs the earth of precious resources, such as unpolluted earth, minerals, clean water and air, and space itself. As human housing becomes more lavish, more of the ground is covered, and the inhabitants of the houses lose touch with their true environs.
  4. Sexual restrain – the fourth vow also known as brahmacharya is the antidote to commercialized sexuality and increased population.
  5. Non-possession – the fifth vow also known as aparigraha provides a critique of the consumerist mentality that values things over interiority and acquisition over self cultivation and purification.