Jainism’s Tattvartha Sutra Verses on Creation

jainism illustration from book of sacred precepts wikicommons

All over the world, we are beginning to appreciate that interfaith environmental activism is a brilliant vehicle for building peace. Joining together in common interest for conservation of Earth’s natural resources provides a level field from which to form new relationships.

EdenKeeper’s Saturday series on creation and nature in Sacred Scriptures is based on the premise that our beliefs share common ground. Just as we share common ground, meaning the Earth we live on, so our beliefs share common ground, common respect, common love for creation, for nature, for the Earth that we all live on.

Sharing Turns Strangers Into Friends

Sharing our beliefs often has the happy effect of turning strangers into friends. Because the more we learn about each other, the less strange we seem. It’s not necessary for all of us to become the same, we simply need to treat each other with a same degree of respect.

A storehouse of interfaith resources, especially related to environmental activism, the Alliance of Religion and Conservation is a very inspiring organization. ARC’s recent appreciative statement regarding the new Chinese Buddhist edict banning the trade and killing of wildlife introduced me to their treasure trove of faith-based statements on the environment.

image (Image note and source: 2009 Jain Convention flyer screenshot from jaina.org)

Jainism’s Fundamental Relationship With Ecology

This week’s Saturday Sacred Scripture focus is on Jainism, and it is a pleasure to share some of the enlightening information on Jainism gleaned from ARC’s excellent website:

“Jainism is fundamentally a religion of ecology and has turned ecology into a religion. It has enabled Jains to create an environment-friendly value system and code of conduct. Because of the insistence on rationality in the Jain tradition, Jains are always ready and willing to look positively and with enthusiasm upon environmental causes. In India and abroad, they are in the forefront of bringing greater awareness and putting into practice their cardinal principles on ecology. Their programs have been modest and mostly self-funded through volunteers.”

Within this comprehensive statement on Jainism, Dr L. M. Singhvi, President of the Jain Institute, outlines the history and beliefs of the Jains. For the purposes of our Saturday series, the common ground related to the natural environment is profoundly expressed in Jainism’s belief in the universe:

“Loka (the universe): Space is infinite but only a finite portion is occupied by what is known as the universe. Everything within the universe, whether sentient (jiva) or insentient (ajiva), is eternal, although the forms that a thing may take are transient. Jains preach and practice the principle of the duty of every human being to promote universal well-being (sarva-mangalya).”

The Tattvartha Sutra

There are two sects within Jainism, the Svetambara, and the Digambara. The Sacred Scripture revered by both sects is called the Tattvartha Sutra, a compilation of Jain doctrine written by Umasvati, also known as UmaSwami. The Tattvartha Sutra, sometimes known as the Moksh Shastra, contains around 350 verses divided over ten chapters. 

The following verses from the Tattvartha Sutra, illustrated by inspirational images from the public domain (pixabay.com), are offered as highlights of the fascinating relationship Jainism shares with creation and the natural environment:
image “The function of space is to provide accommodation to all substances.”

image “The function of time is to assist substances in their continuity of being (through gradual changes), in their modifications, in their actions and in their proximity and non-proximity in time.”

image “The function of matter is to form the basis of the body and the organs of speech and mind and respiration.”

image “The forms of matter are characterized by touch, taste, smell and color.”

image “Sound, union, fineness, grossness, shape, division, darkness, image, warm light (sunshine) and cool light (moonlight) also characterize the forms of matter.”

image “The function of souls is to help one another.”

For more beautiful verses and images, see the previous articles in this series:

Water’s Beauty in Nature and Islam

Creation & Stewardship in the Hebrew & Christian Bible With Images

Creation in the Christian New Testament Bible

Sikh Hymns Illuminate Creation and Creator

Verses in Buddhism on Humankind and Creation

Hinduism Verses on God, Creation, and Mother Nature

more to come, God Willing…

Please feel free to download and share these images, and don’t forget to hit the social media share buttons, as well. Also, please leave a comment below with your favorite verses on Nature or Creation and be sure to include its source, so it can be considered in an upcoming article in this series. We are hoping to cover every faith possible, and your help is very welcome!
(Top image note and source: Tattvartha Sutra, wikicommons)

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About the Author

Aisha Abdelhamid (Birth-name Kathleen Vail) is a freelance lifestyle and environmental science writer currently living in Vancouver, BC. Her interests include environmental conservation, climate science, renewable energy, faith-based environmental activism, sustainable economics, corporate social responsibility, creative lifestyles, and healthy living.