Emphasis of non-voilence in thought and practice

The Jain code of conduct is made up of the following five vows, and all of their logical conclusions:

1) Ahimsa,
2) Satya (truthfulness),
3) Asteya (non-stealing),
4) Aparigraha (non-possessiveness) and
5) Brahmacharya (chastity).

Jains hold the above five major vows at the center of their lives. These vows cannot be fully implemented without the acceptance of a philosophy of non-absolutism. Anekantavada (multiple points of view), is a foundation of Jain philosophy. This philosophy allows the Jains to accept the truth in other philosophies from their perspective and thus inculcating a tolerance for other viewpoints. Jain scholars have devised methods to view both physical objects and abstract ideas from different perspectives systematically. This is the application of non-violence in the sphere of thought. It is a Jain philosophical standpoint just as there is the Advaitic standpoint of Sankara and the standpoint of the Middle Path of the Buddhists. This search to view things from different angles, leads to understanding and toleration of different and even conflicting views. When this happens prejudices subside and a tendency to accommodate increases. The theory of Anekantavada is therefore a unique experiment of non-violence at the root.

A derivation of this principle is the doctrine of Syadvada that highlights every model relative to its view point. It is a matter of our daily experience that the same object which gives pleasure to us under certain circumstances becomes boring under different situations. Nonetheless relative truth is undoubtedly useful as it is a stepping stone to the ultimate realization and understanding of reality. The theory of Syadvada is based on the premise that every proposition is only relatively true. It all depends on the particular aspect from which we approach that proposition. Jains therefore developed logic that encompasses sevenfold predication so as to assist in the construction of proper judgment about any proposition.

Syadvada provides Jains with a systematic methodology to explore the real nature of reality and consider the problem in a non-violent way from different perspectives. This process ensures that each statement is expressed from seven different conditional and relative viewpoints or propositions, and thus it is known as theory of conditioned predication. These seven propositions are described as follows:

1. Syād-asti — "in some ways it is"
2. Syād-nāsti — "in some ways it is not"
3. Syād-asti-nāsti — "in some ways it is and it is not"
4. Syād-asti-avaktavya — "in some ways it is and it is indescribable"
5. Syād-nāsti-avaktavya — "in some ways it is not and it is indescribable"
6. Syād-asti-nāsti-avaktavya — "in some ways it is, it is not and it is indescribable"
7. Syād-avaktavya — "in some ways it is indescribable"

For example, a tree could be stationary with respect to an observer on earth; however it will be viewed as moving along with planet Earth for an observer in space.

Jains are usually very welcoming and friendly toward other faiths and often help with interfaith functions. Several non-Jain temples in India are administered by Jains. A palpable presence in Indian culture, Jains have contributed to Indian philosophy, art, architecture, science, and to Mohandas Gandhi's politics, which led to the mainly non-violent movement for Indian independence. Though Mohandas Gandhi stated clearly in his Autobiography that his mother was a Vaishnava, Jain monks visited his home regularly. He spent considerable time under the tutelage of Jain monks, learning the philosophies of non-violence and doing well always.