Aug 15, 2023

Jain Anuyog: Context for Content

Q30. What is Jain Anuyog? Why is it important to know about it? And how does it help us better understand and apply our Tirthankaras’ teachings?

Anuyog and its significance

Anuyog is one of the hidden gems of Jainism that helps us a great deal in understanding the context of Jain literature. As we read, interpret, and seek to apply the knowledge of scriptures, we must be careful to not overlook the Anuyog perspective, or we will miss an important aspect of our spiritual growth.

Anuyog has many definitions depending on the reference in which the word is used. For the purpose of this article, Anuyog refers to the exposition of Jain principles: in simpler words, think of Anuyog as a “style of narration” for Jain literature and each style has a specific intent/purpose.

The knowledge of Anuyog is very critical to correctly interpret and apply the information provided in Jain literature because the teachings in the scriptures are expressed in a rich variety to satisfy needs of a diverse set of seekers or followers. In Jainism there are four Anuyog and understanding the context and intent of each Anuyog enables us to expand our perspectives, be open-minded, prevent unnecessary debates, not become rigid in our thinking, and allows us to be mindful of our spiritual progress. It also helps us understand how to correctly interpret and apply the information provided. The simple rule is during any activities or actions, if our Mithyatva is eliminated and Kashaya (Anger, Ego, Greed, Deceit) is truly reduced, then we are on the right track of spiritual progress.

The four Anuyog are:

  • Prathamanuyoga or Kathanuyog (Jain spiritual principles are conveyed through specific stories)
  • Karananuyoga or Ganitanuyog (Jain spiritual principles are conveyed through simple Mathematics such as existing knowledge of universe at that time)
  • Charananuyoga or Charan-karananuyog (Vyavhaar Dharma or External Rituals/Conduct which are essential for our internal change)
  • Dravyanuyoga (Nischaya Dharma or True Religion where we live our life as per the true nature of our substance "Pure Soul").

First, let’s look at the history and evolution of our Jain literature to put the Anuyog concept in perspective. Then, we will elaborate on purpose and limitation of each Anuyog and finally talk about specific examples to illustrate the nuances and distinctions between them.

Introduction to Jain Literature

Lord Mahavir preached Jain philosophy, values/principles, practices, ethics, conduct, and rituals to live a simple spiritual life. After his Nirvana, his preaching is compiled into many texts known as Sutras by his immediate disciples (known as Ganadhar) and later on by other Acharyas. These sutras are collectively known as Agam literature, the sacred books for the Jain religion. Agam literature is fundamentally divided into two groups:

  • Anga Pravistha Agam / Anga-Agam – direct teaching and principles of Lord Mahavir. These are the oldest religious scriptures and backbone of Jain literature.
  • Anga-bahya Agam – outside of Anga-Agam. These are commentaries and explanations compiled on the various subjects of the Anga-Agam literature by learned acharyas.

Traditionally these sutras were orally passed on from teachers (acharyas or gurus) to the disciples for several centuries. In older times, the books were hand-written and rare. Also, religious books and scriptures were considered possessions and attachments for ascetics. Therefore, Agam sutras were rarely documented and not widely distributed for or by ascetics.

During the course of time, it became difficult to keep the entire Jain literature (Agam sutras and commentary literature) committed to memory. Also, around 350 BC, the occurrence of twelve years famine made it extremely challenging for Jain ascetics to survive. A number of Agam sutras were forgotten or lost during the famine. Later, when the Jain congregation relaxed the vow of non-possession with regards to religious scriptures for ascetics, there were differing perspectives amongst Jain sects on authenticity of the Agam literature but the core intent, values and principles were consistently agreed upon.

  • Digamber sect maintained that original Agam sutras were forgotten or lost due to lack of documentation. In absence of authentic scriptures, Digamber sect uses two main texts, three commentaries on main text, and more than 20 texts consisting of four Anuyog as the foundation for their religious philosophy and practices. These scriptures were written by Acharyas from 100 to 1000 A.D.
  • Svetamber sect believed that only twelfth Anga-Agam known as Drastivada, which included fourteen Purvas was forgotten during famine but a significant portion of the remaining eleven Anga-Agams was remembered by their ascetics. The Svetamber ascetics held three conferences for the preservation of Jain literature in Paltiputra (320 B.C.), Mathura (380 A.D.), and Valabhi (520 A.D.). They have documented the Agam literature during the second and third conferences around one thousand years after Lord Mahavir’s nirvana.

For further information on Jain Agam Literature and the difference in approaches among various sects, please review pages 234-274 in the book titled Jainism in a Global Perspective - Collection of Jain papers of 1993 Parliament of World Religions, Chicago. The Jain eLibrary book # 014010.

The original literature in both sects was not compiled as per Anuyog but consists of texts like religious stories, principles of observances, mathematics, geography, astronomy, philosophical doctrines, theories etc. that aligned to each Anuyog. These religious sutras were later classified or grouped by Jain Acharyas into the four categories based on the style of narration to ensure that the context is taken into consideration while learning these sutras.

At the highest level, the intent of each Anuyog is to move the seeker towards the ultimate spiritual goal of eliminating Mithyatva (ignorance and wrong belief) and reducing kashayas (afflictions like anger, ego, deceit, and greed).

Let’s talk about each Anuyog in a little more detail.

1.0 Prathamanuyoga or Kathanuyog (Stories)

This anuyog refers to using stories to teach Jain morals, values or provide answer to a question. This style is most prominent in scriptures because it makes the information understandable, relatable, and accessible for readers.

This anuyog consist of biographies of the Tirthankars and other well-known personalities (Shalaka Purush), stories, fables, art, history, sculpture, fiction, and mythology. The stories are mainly mythological, with some historical background. They are true to life, use realistic situations and make effective use of imagination.

Here the historical aspect of the story is not important but the message it provides is according to the Jain values.

Purpose / Value

The primary purpose of this anuyog is to explain and cultivate religious and moral values through stories. New stories are created, or existing stories are modified by the author to make them relevant to the time, place, and culture. They form the basis of right conduct for the layperson and are especially valuable in the beginning phase of our spiritual journey to understand and internalize core religious principles. 

Hence, this Anuyog helps establish the foundation for moral, ethical living and teaches the importance of doing the right thing.


This style of narration has one single purpose: to reinforce a particular theme or point.  The details are not meant to call attention to themselves. In most stories, assigning literal meanings to each of the details can lead to confusion and obscure the main point.

Here are a few examples to appreciate the context for this anuyog so that we don’t get caught into nuances but instead stay focused on internalizing the key learning:

  • To help understand the result of our actions, there are several stories that illustrate that good deeds are being rewarded and bad deeds are being punished in the future by the same person, animal, or similar environment. One such example relates to Mahavir Swami and one of his previous lives as Tripushta Vasudev. Tripushtha was very fond of music but had instructed his guards to stop the music that he was listening to, as soon as he fell asleep. One day, the guard forgot to stop the music. Upon waking up, furious Tripushta punished the guard by pouring hot lead into his ears. In turn, he had to suffer the same pain and agony in his last life as Mahavir, when the guard (who was reborn as a cowherd) pierced his ears with long nail-like thorns. This story is intended to emphasize the fruition of bad deeds as punishment but not intended to focus on who delivered the punishment and how it was delivered.
  • To help instill importance of vows in our life, there is a story that talks about a person who took a vow “not to eat or drink at night”.  However, once when he was sick, he could not keep the vow and drank a glass of water at night.  Upon his death, he went to hell because he broke the vow. In another story, a non-vegetarian person took a vow not to eat the meat of a bird.  He continued to eat all other types of meat and never broke his vow.  After his death, he went to heaven because he did not break his vow of not eating birds’ meat. From overall Jain principle and conduct point of view, the above story could lead to many debates: Even though the first person lived a self-controlled life and broke the vow only once, he went to hell; The second person ate meat all his life, except for birds’ meat, and yet he went to heaven- how is that possible? This is where it is important to remember the limitation of this anuyog and not get caught into literal meaning of the details. The story has a single purpose of conveying the importance of vows in our life.

Stories are meant to explain certain Jain principles, but one should not derive any Jain principles from stories, as they might involve some controversial cultural and moral aspects of the people of that time. Upon further contemplation, one would very likely have more questions, which in turn would instill a desire to go deeper into Jain literature.


Some of the literature in Prathamanuyoga:

Svetambar Agams and Literature: Jnatadharmakatha, Anuttaropapatikadasa, Vipaka, Nirvayavalika, Antakrddasa and Trisastishalakapurush of Hemacandra (12th century)

Digambar Literature: Padma puran, Harivansha puran, Trishashtilakshana, Mahapuran and Adipurana of Jinasena (8th century) and Uttara purana of Gunabhadra (9th century)

2.0 Karananuyoga or Ganitanuyog

The information in this anuyog includes Mathematics, Geography, Astronomy, Astrology, Time-Cycle related information, philosophy and classification of Karma, explanation of Gunasthanak with reference to Karma.

Purpose / Value

The primary purpose of this anuyog is to help us get rid of our ego, understand the consequences of our past karma and be mindful of our current choices/actions.

The religious literature in this anuyog helps us understand the consequences of our deeds in terms of karma. This awareness and understanding motivates us to be more mindful of our thoughts, words, and actions as they determine the good or bad karmas we acquire. The realization that rewards and punishment in our life are due to our own past Karma and not due to others, prevents us from blaming others for our situations.

The Gunasthanak provides us a path and means to measure our spiritual progress.

As we learn about the enormity of the Universe, it helps us understand that:- In such a vast universe, our existence is like a drop of water in the ocean.  This expansive universe functions on its own rules.  The time of our life span is just like a fraction of a second when compared to the infinite time cycles of the existence of the universe. Thus, by gathering more material wealth and possessions, one can invite arrogance and misery. So, limit your desires and get rid of your ego (karta bhav).


The literature in this anuyog forms the second stage of religious teaching using mathematics, structure of universe (Loka), geography, rivers, mountains, physical description of heaven and hell, and classification of karmas. Bhagwan Mahavir used the knowledge base of universe that existed at that time which common people could relate to easily. Mahavir Swami was a spiritual teacher and not a geography teacher. With such breadth and depth of information, if we get overly absorbed in the information and not keep the purpose (right conduct) in the forefront, then it might end up creating cognitive dissonance within us or make us rigid in our thinking.

The understanding of concept of karma teaches us that our happiness/unhappiness are results of past karma and one must not blame others. However, the limitation here is that we are still blaming not other people but our past actions. When we blame our past actions, we cannot improve spiritually.


Some of the literature in Karananuyoga:

Surya prajnapti, Chandra prajnapti, and Jayadhavala

Tniokaprajnapti (7th century), Trilokasara (11th century), Jambudveep prajnapti (13th century)

3.0 Charananuyoga or Charan-karananuyog

The literature in this anuyog deals with the explanation of the third stage of religious teachings which is Vyavhaar Dharma/Laukik Dharma or External Rituals/Conduct.

Purpose / Value

The primary purpose of this anuyog is to inspire us to live a disciplined and service-oriented life through our external conduct and rituals such as:

  • Austerities (Tapa)
  • Ritualized confessions (Samayika/Pratikraman)
  • Seva / Volunteering – anything that is helping and showing compassion towards others
  • Temple/Sthanak rituals (Tirthankara’s stuti, Puja, Poojan, Guru-bhakti)

It helps us understand the rules of conduct for shravakas/shravikas (lay people) and Monks/Nuns (Ascetics) and specific emphasis is given on future reward & punishment.


The reward and punishment described in the Charananuyog sutras are to motivate us to live a life with limited needs and desires. However, if the teaching is taken out of context, then it might lead us to practice religion out of greed or fear. In reality, any religious practice done in order to gain something (with greed) and to avoid suffering (out of fear) is wrong.


Some of the literature in Charananuyoga:

·       Acharanga

·       Nishitha

·       Yogashataka

·       Yogabindu

·       Yogadrstisamuccaya,

·       Dharma Samgraha

·       Shraddha-vidhi

·       Achar-Pradip

·       Vattakera's Mulachara

·       Trivarnachara

·       Samantabhadra's Ratnakaranda Shravakachara (5th Century)

·       Dharrnabindu of Haribhadra (8thcentury)

·       Sravakacara of Amitagati (11thcentury)

·       Yogasastra of Hemacandra (12thcentury)

·       Purushartha-siddhyupaya of Amrtacandra (12thcentury)

4.0 Dravyanuyoga

The literature in this anuyog explains about the Nischaya Dharma (True religion).

Dravya means "substance" or "existence”. The literature in this Anuyog includes six Dravya, Nine or Seven Tattva, and every essential aspect of Jain philosophy, conduct, and path of liberation.

The main goal of this human life is to eliminate (not just suppress) mithyatva, kashaya, and activities of body, speech, and mind. Total elimination of these impurities is a must to attain liberation. ‘Vastu swabhavo iti khalu dhammo’ which means the true nature (swabhaav) of a substance (the soul) is its religion (dharma). The true/pure qualities of the soul are:

  • Anant Darshan (Infinite Perception),

  • Anant Jnan (Infinite Knowledge), 

  • Anant Charitra (Perfect Conduct), and 

  • Anant Virya (Infinite Power and Energy)

These qualities can be achieved through meditation. It took Mahavir Swami twelve and a half years of meditation to attain this pure state.

Purpose / Value

In this anuyog, specific emphasis is given to understanding the stillness of mind, living in the current moment (not past or future), and realizing that meditation is the way to achieve that state. Our happiness or unhappiness depends on the present state of our mind (no kashaya) and not on our past Karma.

This Anuyog also explains that religion is not what we ‘do’ as expressed in the first three Anuyog but what is our ‘intention & reflection’ behind our ‘doing’. It focuses on our way of being. 

There are no limitations for the information in this Anuyog. On the contrary, we want to ensure that our ultimate goal is to reach this phase and not get lost in the first three Anuyog.


Some of the literature in Dravyanuyoga:

·       Sthanang Sutra

·       Lok Prakash

·       Prajnapana Sutra

·       Tatvartha Sutra

·       Mahashastra

·       Visheshavashyak Bhashya etc.

·       Philosophical works of Acharya Kunda kunda (Samaysar, Panchastikay, Pravachansar etc..)

·       Umasvami's 'Tattvartha Adhigama sutra

·       Samantabhadra's Apta Mimansa

·       Commentaries on literature

Understanding Jain principles/philosophy through the four Anuyog:

Just as a kid’s academic learning progresses gradually from elementary school to middle school to high school to college, a spiritual seeker’s learning progresses with the Anuyog from Kathanuyog to Karananuyog to Charananuyog to Dravyanuyog.

The following table illustrates that applying the knowledge from the four Anuyog in an order leads the seeker from a simplistic view to a more nuanced/spiritual view of any particular topic:


Narration Style

Karananuyog Narration Style

Charananuyog Narration Style

Dravyanuyog Narration Style

A boy steps on a thorn and injures his foot

Mother explains:

“It happened because you hit your sister” Boy stops hitting his sister; Mother’s goal is accomplished

Mother explains: 

Your past bad deeds have come to fruition

Mother explains:

Always look down and walk: You will prevent injury AND you will save the lives of creatures on the ground; Mother taught him good conduct

Mother explains:

The thorn is out now and you are healing: Deal with the situation by remaining equanimous and free of kashaya

Karma Philosophy

If you hurt someone, they will hurt you

Your bad past karma will hurt you

You are responsible for your own suffering - do not blame anyone else

You are suffering due to your Mithyatva and Kashaya

It is up to YOU to suffer or not

What is Samyakdarshan?

Faith and devotion towards Dev, Shashtra and Guru

Absence of Mithyatva (Ignorance and wrong belief) and loss or destruction of faith-deluding Karma

Being ethical, just, morally responsible and following the ten basic virtues (Supreme Forgiveness, Humility, Honesty, Purity, Truthfulness, Self-restraint, Penance, Renunciation, Non-attachment, and Celibacy)

Experiencing the soul, Knowing the difference between the body and the soul (Bhed Gnan), Adopting the virtues or true nature of the soul

In Summary

Each Anuyog has a distinct purpose and teaches us valuable lessons. By doing so, the four Anuyog collectively serve as a ladder for our happiness, peace, and spiritual growth. Knowing the context and limitations of each Anuyog also helps explain a lot of apparent inconsistencies and avoids misinterpretation of Tirthankaras' teachings.

To summarize the lessons from these four styles of narration: In Kathanuyog and Karananuyog, one may attribute their suffering to external factors such as other people or their own actions (karma), as one has not yet realized the true nature of suffering and its origins within oneself. 

As we move to Charananuyog, the emphasis is on living a life of vows, discipline, and moral conduct. It suggests that by adhering to certain ethical principles and practices, one can begin to transcend their suffering and attain a higher level of spiritual consciousness.

However, the ultimate goal is to internalize the learnings from Dravyanuygo where one comes to the realization that their suffering is rooted in their ignorance (mithyatva), kashaya, and their inability to live in the present moment. This anuyog emphasizes that mindfulness, self-awareness and meditation are essential tools for realizing our true nature. 

Our spiritual journey is about eliminating Mithyatva (ignorance and wrong belief) and reducing Kashaya (afflictions like anger, ego, greed, deceit to attain everlasting joy and peace. Using a different style of narration, each Anuyog helps the seeker achieve this goal by nurturing the essence of true religion. 

Dec 20, 2022

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender - What is the Jain thing to do?

Q29. What is Jain view on lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender? In general, much of Jain community do not accept them as normal or equal people,  what can we do to accept them as equal human beings? What is the Jain thing to do as a family and community? How does Jainism guide us to accept the normalcy of such orientations?


We are grateful that our community is asking these questions. These questions have been around for ages, but often they are not talked about openly. We have received this question from individuals with different orientation, from parents whose children are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and from youth in our community who wish to understand the Jain view on this topic. At the heart of each question we received, there was the concern that the actions, reactions, and behavior we often see towards people of different gender identities and sexual orientations do not feel aligned with Jain values. We set out to answer one question of compassion: How can we as Jains address discrimination and cultivate acceptance?

To address this topic, we researched Jain scriptures, scientific studies, and most importantly, held conversations with individuals who have experienced this situation.


Because heterosexuality has been the norm during the modern era, whenever we come across any lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, we often resort to one of three responses:

1.    Ostracize (exclude) them as abnormal or immoral

2.    Ask them hide their identities, lie about it, or change their orientation

3.    Accept them and enable them to live life true to themselves

We don't need an in-depth study of Jain scriptures to see that choices 1 and 2 are against Jain values. Not accepting an individual for who they are is not practicing anekantvad, ostracizing someone is a form of harsh violence, and asking someone to lie and live falsehood is not practicing satya. So, the Jain thing to do is to accept them, embrace them with no judgment or bias, and empower and enable them to live their authentic life being true to themselves in the same way we expect for ourselves.


Even though we can cognitively agree that choice #3 is most in line with Jain values, our social conditioning, cultural influence, and belief systems can make it difficult for us to put those values into practice. It can also be incredibly challenging for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people to understand and accept themselves, and often they are not able to open up about their identities because of the fear of how others will react, the fear of being judged, ostracized, ridiculed, or outcasted, fear of being discriminated against, or treated violently, and fear of how family will accept and handle the social discrimination faced as a fallout of such revelation. In addition, people born with different orientations may feel alone and ashamed as a result.


Centuries of programming and conditioning have led our society to adopt a very narrow window of what is considered normal, common, or morally acceptable. When something is not common, we think of it as abnormal, it becomes a taboo and a shameful thing, and because of that, such individuals across generations have chosen to keep their true orientation hidden.


We hear stories in our Jain community and in the news about the consequences of societal fears, offensive treatment, and non-acceptance. People have lost their lives, tried to commit suicide, or lived with anger, deceit, fear, and suppression day in and day out. And for us as Jains, becoming a “nimitt” (catalyst) for anyone’s such sorrow and misery is completely against true Jain values.


This article is specifically focused on what we can do as families, community, and society to create a more compassionate, tolerant, and accepting environment, and truly embrace anyone that falls outside norm in our traditional society. Each and every one of us have a responsibility and moral imperative in creating a more inclusive and accepting world.


When we hold on to unexamined and wrong beliefs, Jainism refers to it as Mithyatva or Ignorance. Our ignorance is a major cause of suffering within us and others. There are many ignorant beliefs that people have held over years about lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals. For many of us, we can go about our lives holding onto these beliefs and we may never encounter personal situations to look more deeply into such beliefs.


However, in conversation with families who have faced these situations where a family member is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, their biggest learning and growth came from shedding their misguided beliefs and recognizing that their love towards the child is no different after learning this aspect about them. Only when they learn of their own child or a close relative being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, they realize that consciously or subconsciously they have been holding onto misguided beliefs. For example, they may believe being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is a disease that can be cured, that it is caused by the influence of Western culture, that the person has chosen to be this way, that they can be converted to heterosexual orientation if they try, that it is a punishment or shame on themselves or a reflection on bad parenting somehow, that it is a mental sickness, it is infectious, or you can turn lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender by hanging out with them. This kind of mindset often results in much suffering for the person and his or her family members. Such beliefs go against the core Jain values.


When life presents us with challenging and unexpected situations, how we respond at that time is our true test of wisdom and spirituality. Especially, when it comes to children, our first response as parents plays the most important role in creating a positive versus negative outcome. When our children choose to confide in us, our response will either encourage them to lead an authentic life or add further to their fear and trauma. It is fundamentally the responsibility of the parents and immediate family to protect and nurture their children by accepting them as they are.

Jain Literature

We researched Jain literature to understand how orientations are recognized.  In Bhagwati Sutra and Tattvartha Sutra three sexes are mentioned. They refer to the categories of Male, Female and Hermaphrodite. The Hermaphrodite are indicated as neither male nor female.


Further, they classify sexual disposition as different from the physical, sexual attributes of the body. Sexual disposition is also categorized as Male, Female and the third category as neither completely Male nor Female, nor common to both Male and Female categories.  Thus, mental disposition is recognized to be different from physical anatomy. This classification would, therefore, refer to what we now know as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender sexual orientations.


Jain philosophy and scriptures are quite clear on how each soul lands into a specific body and mental disposition based on the Body making (NaamKarma and Mohaniya Karma.  This is also true for all animals with five senses. The scriptures clearly state that all souls, regardless of the mental and physical orientation, have the potential for liberation upon the exhaustion of Mohaniya Karma. Although Digamber scriptures say that a soul is capable of liberation only via male-body.


So, what this tells us is that lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender orientations are recognized in our scriptures and are not a weakness, defect, choice, fake, imaginary, or just mental formation. It is an attribute of the body, similar to the height or color of skin. Every soul has same potential, irrespective of their human body or orientation.


In the Hindu scriptures, Napunsak (hermaphrodite category) is one of the many names of ShivaShiva is sometimes portrayed as half male and Half female or Ardhanarishwara. In Brahmand PuranaNapunsaka is defined as neither male nor female sex type and further elaborates that the soul attains its sexual category in the womb itself. Hence, both Jain and Hindu scriptures accept such an event happening even before birth.


Almost 50 years back, in December 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the largest psychiatric organization in the world, made history by issuing a resolution stating that homosexuality was not a mental illness or sickness. This declaration helped shift public opinion, marking a major milestone for LGBTQ equality.


The Indian Psychiatric Society (IPA), the largest society of mental health professionals in India, categorically stated in 2018 that homosexuality is not a disease and must not be regarded as such.


According to the Kinsey Institute, in studies conducted in the 1940’s and 1950’s, 10% of American males and 3% of American females were found to be gay/lesbian.


Based on data collected through 11 surveys conducted in the U.S. and four other countries in 2012, the key findings estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender. Even though more than 10 million people self-identified themselves, the numbers were probably undermeasured and underreported.


As acceptance and public opinion are shifting, the percentage reported has steadily increased since Gallup first measured LGBTQ identification in 2012. In 2021, Gallup finds that LGBTQ identification in U.S ticks up to 7.1%, which is approximately 23 million people. So, think about how many people are impacted and how we treat them becomes very important. We cannot afford to remain ignorant or indifferent about it.

Changing Attitudes in India

While general social attitudes in India regarding LGBTQ+ lags behind most Western countries, it is important to note that there have been some significant developments.  

For instance, between 1990 and 2014, the share of Indian respondents in the World Values Survey who believed “homosexuality is never justifiable" fell from 89% to 24%—from an overwhelming majority to a clear minority. 


Supreme Count of India’s verdict on decriminalizing Section 377” in 2018 gave the country’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community the freedom to safely express their sexual orientation

Page 6 from the verdict:

"... The natural identity of an individual should be treated to be absolutely essential to his being. What nature gives is natural. That is called nature within. Thus, that part of the personality of a person has to be respected and not despised or looked down upon. The said inherent nature and the associated natural impulses in that regard are to be accepted. Non-acceptance of it by any societal norm or notion and punishment by law on some obsolete idea and idealism affects the kernel of the identity of an individual. Destruction of individual identity would tantamount to crushing of intrinsic dignity that cumulatively encapsulates the values of privacy, choice, freedom of speech and other expressions...."


At this time, there are many LGBTQ+ organizations in India that provide resources and support for the community.

The Jain Thing to Do – Jain Values in Action

When we accept and embrace someone the way they are, then there is no judgment, no bias, no prejudices, no label - we accept them as a whole human being.


True acceptance shows up in our conscious and purposeful behavior as well as in subtle and subconscious behavior - we believe and behave towards lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals as an equal person, use the same mindset and scale for gays and lesbians as we would for a heterosexual people or couples while making any choices, we don’t hide their identity or ask them to hide, we advocate for them and we never apologize for them being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.


Some people may feel that the issue of sexual orientation doesn’t concern them, so they do not wish to talk about it. They may take a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ type of attitude, as if ignoring it will make the issue disappear. Such denial and avoidance is a form of lying to oneself. Rather, it is more honorable and courageous to acknowledge that a diversity of sexual orientations exists, and to educate oneself about the truths of sexual orientation without judgment and condemnation.


These kinds of mindsets and behaviors can be a source of assurance and implicit societal acceptance. The more people change to a positive attitude towards LGBT individuals, the faster we can bring that change in our society.


To embody this level of acceptance in our thoughts and behavior, we must recognize the need for our own inner work and challenge ourselves to overcome the biases. This kind of inner transformation starts with knowledge and understanding. By not doing the inner work, we are increasing kashaya within us and it is a hinderance for our own spiritual growth.


Let’s look at a few core values and principles of Jainism and how they apply to this topic:


Ahimsa means not causing harm and having compassion for any living being through our thoughts, words, or behavior. So, when we discriminate, ostracize, outcast, gossip towards anyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender then we are creating himsa (violence). The principle of Ahimsa teaches us to hold compassion, love, and understanding towards them and treat them as equal.


The principle of Anekantvad teaches us that “I am not the only one who is right, and others are not wrong. Others are right too”. The ultimate truth is complex and has many aspects. Anekantvad teaches us to accept and respect everyone, no exception. It also states that no single, specific statement can describe the nature of existence and the absolute truth. This principle is at the heart of understanding, embodying, and promoting diversity inclusion towards all gender identities. This principle urges us to create a more just, compassionate, and inclusive society.


The principle of Aparigraha teaches us that the path to liberation can be achieved by giving up all emotional attachments, internal passions, sensual pleasures and material possession. All forms of parigraha (internal passions/kashaya) to the world are ultimately an obstacle to our journey to liberation. This principle reminds us to let go of our internal passions and attachments that make us shame or demean the individuals of LGBTQ orientation. It is a sign of our spiritual immaturity and therefore becoming an obstacle in our journey to liberation.


Satya means living one’s authentic life. Satya is about having the courage to know your truth, live it authentically, and never be apologetic about it. When we hide reality or ask others to hide their reality, then we are turning away from truth. This principle urges us to create an environment where lesbian, gay, bisexual and people of all gender identities feel empowered to be themselves and live authentically.


One of the core Jain beliefs in Jainism is that the universe constitutes of six fundamental substances and Soul (Jiva) is one of them. Soul (Jiva) is the only living substance, which has consciousness. Every living being is a soul. An infinite number of souls exist in the universe, and they are all unique. Every human regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identities, is a soul and deserves the same acceptance, respect, safety, and compassion.

Spiritual Growth

Our spiritual progress lies in reducing and removing our mithyatva (ignornace) and kashaya (anger, ego, deceit, greed, attachment, aversion, and other vices). It lies in overcoming our fears, such as what would people say or think.


“Padhamam nanam tao daya“ (Dasavaikalik Sutra 4.10)- First knowledge (gyan) / understanding and then achar or conduct / actionAt an individual level, we must first educate ourselves, understand, verify the information with our logic and internalize it. We must reflect on our own previously internalized bias and attempt to uproot our unconscious negative attitudes towards gays, lesbians, or any other gender identities.

Spirituality teaches that life is not what happens to us, but life is our response to what happens to us. It is about how we navigate (unexpected) situations in life without being consumed by despair, anger, or hatred. And recognizing that if we ask the right questions during a crisis then wisdom arises and it leads to spiritual growth.

External renunciation is meaningless if the Soul remains fettered by internal shackles (Kashaya or vices) - Bhava-Pahud (13)Our religious and spiritual practices are meaningless if our beliefs, ignorance, and behaviors end up causing suffering in other human beings.  


In summary, knowledge is power and once the knowledge becomes our own then we can make choices aligned with our values and we can educate those around us.

We believe this article will serve its purpose if:

·       Our community will help in creating a more inclusive and tolerant society, in which every human can live their authentic life and never feel apologetic about who they are or who they love.

·       LGBT individuals will find courage to accept themselves and live happy and fulfilling lives that are authentic to who they are.

·       Family and society show complete acceptance and compassion towards their children and others, regardless of their gender identities or any other external factors outside of the society’s definition of “normal.”

·       This awareness will enable a family to face the situation with understanding, patience, acceptance, love, and compassion, when a child opens up to them. The first response is critical.

·       The knowledge and awareness take away the fear of unknown.

·       It enables people in our community to hold meaningful conversations and use appropriate language when it comes to this topic.

·       It empowers and urges all of us to do the inner work to reduce and remove our mithyatva and kashaya.

Acknowledgments and References:

We would like to thank Jain Scientist Acharya Shree Vijay Nandighoshsuriji for sharing his knowledge on Jain literature as it relates to this topic. The information has been incorporated in this article based on the conversation with him.

We would also like to thank Dr. Vijay Mehta for sharing his journey, experiences, and insights with us. That helped us tremendously in drafting this article.

Dr. Mehta is retired Chief of Surgery from the city of Temple, Texas. He is an advocate for the LGBT community.  His son Parag came out to him on March 27, 1999, at the height of HIV epidemic and a wave of homophobia. In response to this news, Dr. Mehta wrote a letter to his family and friends sharing Parag’s truth and affirming his son’s decision to live as his true and authentic self. That letter has been shared by many in the Indian American community as a model for how to lead with love.

Dr. Mehta has been vocal about his journey from being a homophobic person to becoming an ally and counselor to others who may be traveling the same difficult path. His toast at his son's 2019 wedding – performed according to Jain rituals – went viral with more than 30 million views.  

Several resources shared by Dr. Mehta.

The speech

The Letter


Sep 27, 2022

Dealing with bugs or pest infestation in our homes

Q28. As Jains, how do we deal with bugs or pest infestation in our homes?

We are all faced with this kind of situation in our daily lives. When we encounter infestations like ants, cockroaches, flies, termites, mice, mosquitoes, etc. around us and roaming about in our houses, multiplying every day, infesting our food products, causing health issues, biting children and so on, then we find ourselves in a dilemma and it creates inner conflict within us.  

We do not wish to cause harm to any living being, yet we are faced with situations when our actions could cause harm to bugs and pests, and not taking any action is not an option. Additionally, inaction could end up resulting in bigger infestation and more violence.

Navigating such situations is not easy. But that's when understanding the essence of principle of Ahimsa, especially on how it applies to us as laypeople, and its practical application in real life scenarios becomes very critical. As laypeople, we know that our lives cannot survive without some form of violence, so our goal is to resort to minimum violence for healthy survival.

In this article, we will share some scriptural reference that provides perspectives on the importance Jainism places on non-violence towards all living beings, and we will also share some critical nuances that can help create awareness within us as we arrive at a decision to tackle the situation.

We have addressed many practical questions related on Ahimsa on our blog but for this question we are offering an approach for all of us to share our experience and learn from each other. We have a form towards the end of the article that invites you to share your approach so that others can learn from it and our hope is that this collective wisdom will be of service to our community.


Jain Scriptural Review

In Jainism, we find numerous scriptural references related for Ahimsa. The Acharanga Sutra talks about the conduct and behavior appropriate for ascetic life. The Yoga Sutra explains Ahimsa vow for laypeople, and we have talked about in many of previous Ahimsa articles. The Sutrakritanga Sutra deals with the question of non-violence and Jain metaphysics.

As we think deeply about these scriptures, it continuous to instils values in us to have utmost reverence for all living beings and live our life with that awareness. It is also important to understand that the information is not meant to paralyze us from carrying out our duties or not take appropriate action when faced with a situation that requires action.

Additionally, Tattvarth Sutra provides a very meaningful framework that can help us frame our mindset such that we can be better informed to take appropriate decisions. We will look at the some of the aspects from Tattvartha Sutra like our way of being (bhaav/reflections) and means employed to take an action in this article.

As we can see, there are no commandments or instructions, instead we must know the principles, understand it, and apply it in our current life situation using our wisdom.

Now, let’s talk about the nuances that we need to be mindful of as we try to figure out what to do


So, how do we deal with it?

When our home has been infested then we must act and take necessary steps to prevent such situation in future. When we carry out any action, we need to mindful of the means employed and our inner way of being (bhaav).

What we mean by our inner way of being is introspecting our intention and feeling (bhaav) associated with our action. When we carry out an action with negative energy, intense passion, or feeling of anger, frustration, or revenge then it leads to more Kashayas within us and results in more suffering.

When we are faced with a situation where we are required to take an action then we must do our due diligence and employ the means that causes minimum violence. This requires patience, understanding and willingness to do research.

As you navigate on what action to take, we would like to offer few thoughts for consideration:

Immediate Actions / Reactive

When confronted with a situation where we face presence of ants, mosquitoes, bugs, rats, etc. then consider following aspects as you decide:

-        Try to find alternate non-violent forms of treatment or natural options to remove the infestation

-        If that doesn’t work, then look for options that are least harmful. For example, when considering which chemical to spray do some research on which chemical has least negative implication.

-        Also, consider effect of the option on the ecosystem as a whole. The ecosystem is a fine balance between various life forms, interconnected with each other. Toxic chemicals disturb this balance, by either significantly reducing population of particular species in the chain, or more often causing harm to several species in the chain.


After the situation has been addressed, we want to take time and reflect on what caused this problem. Understand that it could be our ignorance or carelessness that led to this of kind of problem. It could be anything from not maintaining cleanliness, leakage, lose pipes, or leaving food outside.


Once the immediate need has been addressed and we have taken some retrospective time, we must focus on how to proactively prevent such situations in future.

-        We need to determine what actions we need to take to stop the infestation at the source, for example, we must seal the entry points. And as we do that it can help us prevent same or similar situations in future.

-        Additionally, we should also focus on creating awareness about non-violent methods in our community like teach such non-violent methods in our Pathshalas and donate toward collating and distributing research in this area. A part of jeevdaya funds collected in temples can be used for this activity.


Collective Emergence

We have collected some resources below with practical solutions that we feel are well aligned to Jain values that we have shared in the reference below. However, many of us have faced this kind of situations and employed various alternative non-violent solutions. We would like to invite you share your experiences in service to others using this form. You can share the situation you faced, actions that worked for you, proactive/preventive steps that you suggest, region you belong to, and any other recommendations. 

You can click here to view the collective wisdom from community.


The literature review points us to understand, that Bhagwan Mahavir said that all species feel pain, and causing unnecessary pain to any life-form should be avoided. While this may be an ideal state, as travellers on the journey bound by certain attachments, we have to accept that day-to-day life is impossible without some form of violence. Confronting ants, mosquitoes, bugs, insects, etc. in our households is one such situation. Instead of being casual about it and adopting violent means immediately, we should seek information and prefer non-violent alternatives, use violent means as a last resort and to the minimum extent possible, while continuing to educate ourselves on alternatives.

As early animal rights activist, Henry Salt, said: 'We would much rather be inconsistently humane than consistently cruel.'



Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring

John Waddel’s book “But You Kill Ants

Purvi Shah’s video with tips for “Detoxing Your Home in an Eco-Friendly Way