Diverse Ethics

Search the new
Diverse Ethics Portal:

Friday, 1st March 2024


Young Jains doing the morning puja at Kenton temple in Harrow, North London


Health is generally good, though as usual there is weakness in the morning. Today is a very auspicious day as we celebrate the birth of Lord Mahavir - the 24th Tirthankar and prophet. About eight months ago, I had agreed to give a lecture on Jainism at Liverpool Hope University, so I am making my way there today.

Yesterday, I had to give a talk on Science and Jainism, and I spoke about the modern concepts of sustainability, holistic thinking, living with a light footprint, vegetarian diet as a green diet for the planet, and global warming. In all these areas, the Jain philsophical and practical contribution is immense. The beauty is that this lifestyle is not just a theory but is lived in practice right now, this very era. And the Jain approach to eco-friendly living is thousands of years old - it was not developed when we were threatened by global warming - it was seen by our eminent scientist Mahavir as the 'right way to live - ahimsa'.

What I find shocking is that in spite of the huge access to information and knowledge that we have, the world is so blind and ignorant about Jain philosophy and culture. Intellectuals and the media are so ignorant of cultural differences and the theoretical variants within different wisdom traditions, that they dismiss them without even trying to understand them in their own context. Wisdom actually is science tested over hundreds of years by human experience. This is why it survives and flourishes. This is also why wisdom should be respected with great awe and reverence.

I hope to talk about some of these concepts tonight in my lecture. Mahavir was extremely brave and courageous as he sought not to fight others, but instead his own inner vices and weaknesses - his life oozed with compassion, even for all his enemies. Forgiveness was in his every breath, and humility his byword. How many leaders do we know today who live by these virtues? Should we be testing and evaluating our leaders on their values and lifestyle first before we hear their speeches? Do they walk their talk?

I pray that the remaining three days pass with ease, and look forward to completing the fast. Thank you for following my words and thoughts.

Dr. Atul K. Shah, Diverse Ethics

Article added on 8th September 2010 at 9:41am
Related Articles