Jain vegetarianism is practiced by the followers of Jain culture and philosophy. It is one of the most rigorous forms of spiritually motivated diet on the Indian subcontinent and beyond. The Jain cuisine is completely vegetarian and also excludes underground vegetables such as potato, garlic, onion etc, to prevent injuring small insects and microorganisms; and also to prevent the entire plant getting uprooted and killed. It is practised by Jain ascetics and lay Jains.
Jain objections to the eating of meat, fish and eggs are based on the principle of non-violence (ahimsa, figuratively "non-injuring"). Every act by which a person directly or indirectly supports killing or injury is seen as act of violence (himsa), which creates harmful reaction karma. The aim of ahimsa is to prevent the accumulation of such karma. The extent to which this intention is put into effect varies greatly among Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Jains believe nonviolence is the most essential religious duty for everyone (ahinsā paramo dharmaḥ, a statement often inscribed on Jain temples). It is an indispensable condition for liberation from the cycle of reincarnation, which is the ultimate goal of all Jain activities. Jains share this goal with Hindus and Buddhists, but their approach is particularly rigorous and comprehensive. Their scrupulous and thorough way of applying nonviolence to everyday activities, and especially to food, shapes their entire lives and is the most significant hallmark of Jain identity. A side effect of this strict discipline is the exercise of asceticism, which is strongly encouraged in Jainism for lay people as well as for monks and nuns. Out of the five types of living beings, a householder is forbidden to kill, or destroy, intentionally, all except the lowest (the one sensed, such as vegetables, herbs, cereals, etc., which are endowed with only the sense of touch).
- For Jains, lacto-vegetarianism is mandatory. Food is restricted to that originating from plants, since plants have only one sense ('ekindriya') and are the least developed form of life, and dairy products. Food that contains even the smallest particles of the bodies of dead animals or eggs is unacceptable. Some Jain scholars and activists support veganism, as the modern commercialised production of dairy products involves violence against farm animals. In ancient times, dairy animals were well cared for and not killed. According to Jain texts, a śrāvaka (householder) shouldn't consume the four maha-vigai (the four perversions) - wine, flesh, butter and honey; and the five udumbara fruits (the five udumbara trees are Gular, Anjeera, Banyan, Peepal, and Pakar, all belonging to the fig class).
- Jains go out of their way so as not to hurt even small insects and other tiny animals, because they believe that harm caused by carelessness is as reprehensible as harm caused by deliberate action. Hence they take great pains to make sure that no minuscule animals are injured by the preparation of their meals and in the process of eating and drinking.
- Traditionally Jains have been prohibited from drinking unfiltered water. In the past, when stepwells were used for the water source, the cloth used for filtering was reversed, and some filtered water poured over it to return the organisms to the original body of water. This practice of jivani or bilchavani is no longer possible because of the use of pipes for water supply. Modern Jains may also filter tap water in the traditional fashion and a few continue to follow the filtering process even with commercial mineral or bottled drinking water.
- Jains make considerable efforts not to injure plants in everyday life as far as possible. Jains only accept such violence in as much as it is indispensable for human survival, and there are special instructions for preventing unnecessary violence against plants. Strict Jains don’t eat root vegetables such as potatoes, onions, roots and tubers, because such root vegetables are considered ananthkay. Ananthkay means one body, but containing infinite lives. A root vegetable such as potato, though from the looks of it is one article, is said to contain infinite lives in it. Also, tiny life forms are injured when the plant is pulled up and because the bulb is seen as a living being, as it is able to sprout. Also, consumption of most root vegetables involves uprooting and killing the entire plant, whereas consumption of most terrestrial vegetables doesn't kill the plant (it lives on after plucking the vegetables or it was seasonally supposed to wither away anyway). Green vegetables and fruits contain uncountable, but not infinite, lives. Dry beans, lentils, cereals, nuts and seeds contain a countable number of lives and their consumption results in the least destruction of life.
- Mushrooms, fungus and yeasts are forbidden because they grow in non-hygienic environments and may harbour other life forms.
- Honey is forbidden, as its collection would amount to violence against the bees.
- Jain texts declare that a śrāvaka (householder) shouldn't cook or eat at night. According to Acharya Amritchandra's Purushartha Siddhyupaya:
And, how can one who eats food without the light of the sun, albeit a lamp may have been lighted, avoid hiṃsā of minute beings which get into food?— Puruşārthasiddhyupāya (133)
- Strict Jains do not consume food that has been stored overnight, as it possesses a higher concentration of micro-organisms (for example, bacteria, yeast etc.) as compared to food prepared and consumed the same day. Hence, they do not consume yoghurt or dhokla and idli batter unless they have been freshly set on the same day.
- During certain days of the month and on important religious days such as Paryushana and 'Ayambil', strict Jains avoid eating green leafy vegetables along with the usual restrictions on root vegetables. Even with these restrictions, Jains have developed a wide-ranging cuisine. Apart from the regular vegetables, plain yeastless fresh bread, lentils and rice (dal chawal - roti), Jains prepare various delicacies.
- Jains do not consume fermented foods (beer, wine and other alcohols) to avoid killing of a large number of microorganisms associated with the fermenting process. According to Puruṣārthasiddhyupāya:
Wine deludes the mind and a deluded person tends to forget piety; the person who forgets piety commits hiṃsā without hesitation.
Influence on vegetarian cuisines in IndiaEdit
The vegetarian cuisines of some regions of the Indian subcontinent have been strongly influenced by Jainism. These include
- Gujarati Jain cuisine
- Marwari Jain cuisine of Rajasthan
- Bundelkhandi Jain cuisine of central India
- Agrawal Jain cuisine of Delhi/UP
- Marathi Jain cuisine of South Maharashtra
- Jain Bunt cuisine of Karnataka
- Kannada Jains cuisine of Karnataka
- Tamil Jains cuisine of Northern Districts of Tamil Nadu.
In India, vegetarian food is considered appropriate for everyone for all occasions. This makes vegetarian restaurants quite popular. Many vegetarian restaurants and Mishtanna sweet-shops – for example, the legendary Ghantewala sweets of Delhi and Jamna Mithya in Sagar – are run by Jains.
Some restaurants in India serve Jain versions of vegetarian dishes that leave out carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic. A few airlines serve Jain vegetarian dishes upon prior request. Strict Jain cuisine excludes other root vegetables like carrots, beetroot, potatoes.
When Mahavira revived and reorganized the Jain community in the 6th century BCE, ahimsa was already an established, strictly observed rule. Parshvanatha, a tirthankara whom modern Western historians consider a historical figure, lived in about the 8th century BCE and founded a community to which Mahavira’s parents belonged. Parshvanatha’s followers vowed to observe ahimsa; this obligation was part of their caujjama dhamma (Fourfold Restraint).
In the times of Mahavira and in the following centuries, Jains criticized Buddhists and followers of the Vedic religion or Hindus for negligence and inconsistency in the implementation of ahimsa. In particular, they strongly objected to the Vedic tradition of animal sacrifice with subsequent meat-eating, and to hunting.
If the world did not purchase and consume meat, no one would slaughter and offer meat for sale. (Kural 256)
Some Brahmins—Kashmiri Pandits, Bengali Brahmins and Saraswat Brahmins—have traditionally eaten meat (primarily seafood). However, in regions with strong Jain influence such as Rajasthan and Gujarat, or strong Jain influence in the past such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Brahmins are strict vegetarians. Bal Gangadhar Tilak has described Jainism as the originator of ahimsa. He wrote in a letter:
In ancient times, innumerable animals were butchered in sacrifices. Evidence in support of this is found in various poetic compositions such as the Meghaduta. But the credit for the disappearance of this terrible massacre from the Brahminical religion goes to Jainism.
- "An eggplant (aubergine) dish that's fit for a king!".
- Natubhai Shah 2004, p. 249.
- Laidlaw 1995, pp. 26-30.
- Laidlaw 1995, pp. 191-195.
- Dundas 2002, p. 160.
- Wiley 2006, p. 438.
- Laidlaw 1995, pp. 153-154.
- Hemacandra, Yogashastra 2.31.
- Laidlaw 1995, pp. 154-160.
- Jindal 1988, p. 74-90.
- Tähtinen 1976, p. 110.
- Dundas 2002, pp. 176-177.
- Dundas 2002, pp. 187-192.
- Dundas 2002, pp. 199-200.
- Laidlaw 1995, pp. 153-159.
- Champat Rai Jain 1917, p. 79.
- Laidlaw 1995, pp. 166-169.
- Tähtinen 1976, p. 37.
- The Routledge handbook of religion and animal ethics. Linzey, Andrew,. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon. ISBN 978-0-429-48984-6. OCLC 1056109566.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
- Evans, Brett (2012). "Jainism's Intersection with Contemporary Ethical Movements: An Ethnographic Examination of a Diaspora Jain Community". Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography. 2 (2): 21–32. doi:10.15273/jue.v2i2.8146. ISSN 2369-8721.
- The Routledge handbook of religion and animal ethics. Linzey, Andrew. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon. ISBN 9780429489846. OCLC 1056109566.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Vijay K. Jain 2012, p. 44.
- "Mahavir Jayanti 2017: A beginner's a guide to Jain food", NDTV, 9 April 2017
- Jindal 1988, p. 89.
- Laidlaw 1995, p. 54.
- Laidlaw 1995, pp. 154-155.
- Laidlaw 1995, p. 180.
- Sutrakrtangasutram 1.8.3
- Uttaradhyayanasutra 10
- Tattvarthasutra 7.8
- Dundas 2002, pp. 161-162.
- Granoff 1992, pp. 32-35.
- Sangave 1980, pp. 260-261.
- Tähtinen 1976, p. 109.
- Lodha 1990, pp. 137-141.
- Tähtinen 1976, p. 105.
- Dundas 2002, p. 106.
- Laidlaw 1995, pp. 156-157.
- Laidlaw 1995, pp. 167-170.
- Sangave 1980, p. 260.
- Hemacandra: Yogashastra 3.37
- Laidlaw 1995, pp. 166-167.
- Vijay K. Jain 2012, p. 86.
- "The Ultimate Guide to Jain Recipes for Paryushan - Your Veg Recipe". yourvegrecipe.com. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
- "Mahavir Jayanti 2015: The importance of a Satvik meal", NDTV, 2 April 2015, archived from the original on 4 April 2016
- Vijay K. Jain 2012, p. 45.
- "Catering to Jain palate". The Hindu. 30 June 2004. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
- "A royal treat in Chandni Chowk", Hinduonnet.com, 7 November 2002
- "Air Travel Vegetarian Style". Happycow.net. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
- "Jain recipes". Tarladalal.com.
- Goyal 1987, pp. 83-85.
- Chatterjee 2000, p. 14.
- Dundas 2002, pp. 19, 30.
- Tähtinen 1976, p. 132.
- Dundas 2002, p. 30.
- Chatterjee 2000, p. 15.
- Acaranga Sutra 2.15
- Chatterjee 2000, pp. 20-21.
- Sthananga Sutra 266
- Goyal 1987, pp. 83-84.
- Goyal 1987, p. 103.
- Dundas 2002, p. 234.
- Dundas 2002, p. 241.
- Wiley 2006, p. 448.
- Granoff 1992, pp. 1-43.
- Tähtinen 1976, pp. 8-9.
- Tiruvaḷḷuvar 2000.
- Bombay Samachar, Mumbai:10 Dec, 1904
- Alsdorf, Ludwig (1962), Beiträge zur Geschichte von Vegetarismus und Rinderverehrung in Indien, Wiesbaden
- Chatterjee, Asim Kumar (2000), A comprehensive history of Jainism, 1 (2nd rev. ed.), New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, ISBN 81-215-0931-9
- Dundas, Paul (2002) , The Jains (Second ed.), London and New York City: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-26605-X
- Granoff, Phyllis (1992), "The Violence of Non-Violence: A Study of Some Jain Responses to Non-Jain Religious Practices", Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 15
- Goyal, Śrīrāma (1987), A history of Indian Buddhism, Meerut: Kusumanjali Prakashan
- Jain, Champat Rai (1917), The Practical Path, The Central Jaina Publishing House This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Jain, Jagdishchandra (1984), Life in Ancient India as Depicted in the Jain Canon and Commentaries (2nd ed.), New Delhi
- Jain, Vijay K. (2012), Acharya Amritchandra's Purushartha Siddhyupaya: Realization of the Pure Self, With Hindi and English Translation, Vikalp Printers, ISBN 978-81-903639-4-5 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Jindal, K.B. (1988), An epitome of Jainism, New Delhi
- Laidlaw, James (1995), Riches and Renunciation. Religion, economy, and society among the Jains, Oxford
- Lodha, R.M. (1990), Conservation of Vegetation and Jain Philosophy, in: Medieval Jainism: Culture and Environment, New Delhi
- Sangave, Vilas Adinath (1980), Jaina Community (2nd ed.), Bombay: Popular Prakashan, ISBN 978-0-317-12346-3
- Shah, Natubhai (2004) [First published in 1998], Jainism: The World of Conquerors, I, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-1938-1
- Tähtinen, Unto (1976), Ahimsa. Non-Violence in Indian Tradition, London
- Tiruvaḷḷuvar (2000), Tirukkuṟaḷ (Tirukural : ethical masterpiece of the Tamil people), trans. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, ISBN 81-7017-390-6
- Wiley, Kristi L. (2006), Flügel, Peter (ed.), Ahimsa and Compassion in Jainism, in Studies in Jaina History and Culture, London