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Volume IX - The Unity of Religious Ideals

Part IV


Jainism is a religion still widely spread in India, which in many ways resembles Buddhism. This religion is most admirable, especially in its teaching, 'Harmlessness is the only religion.' The Jains are not only vegetarians, but they do not harm even the smallest form of life. Many among them carefully avoid causing harm even to beetles, mosquitoes, ants, bees, scorpions, and snakes, which are so often to be found in a tropical country.

Their whole moral is based upon the principle of harmlessness, and their priests cause even less harm than the other followers of Jainism do. In order to do the least harm they do not wear shoes, thereby avoiding two ways of causing harm as the leather which is used to make shoes depends on the death of so many creatures, and by walking with shoes one crushes and kills more lives than by walking barefoot. Some among them are even seen with a little piece of cloth tied over their lips, for by walking with open mouth, as so many do, innumerable small lives are drawn into the mouth. This custom has also another aim, which is to keep one as much as possible from talking. Inharmony and a great many other faults are caused largely by talkativeness, which is often unnecessary.

checked 18-Oct-2005