Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, has issued a message on the practice of non-violence in families to mark the occasion of Mahavir Jayanti – the most important Jain festival.
It falls on falls on 9 April this year and celebrates the birth and life of Lord Mahavir, the 24th tirthankara, or spiritual teacher, of the Jain faith.
Cardinal Tauran urges both Jains and Christians to “foster non-violence in families to nurture peace in society”, which “entails that we respect and treat the other, including the ‘different other’ as a person endowed with inherent human dignity and inalienable rights.”
Peace among peoples, and particularly fostering a culture of non-violence, is at the forefront of our minds in modern times. Jainism and Christianity speak a common language on this and, as Cardinal Tauran says, both religions “give primacy to a life of love and non-violence.”
Ahimsa, for Jains, is the sheet-anchor of the religion – ‘Ahimsa paramo dharmah’ (non-violence is the supreme virtue or religion).
Cardinal Tauran’s message places formation in the protective embrace of the family at the heart of the quest for a more peaceful world:
“Not so infrequently, violence stems from unhealthy upbringings and dangerous indoctrinations. Today, in the face of growing violence in society, it is necessary that families become effective schools of civilisation and make every effort to nurture the value of non-violence.
He also quotes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who advises “countering [an atmosphere of intolerance and violence] with more love, with more goodness”.
On 9 April, we can pray for the Jain community all those who are working and yearning for peace.
Cardinal Tauran visits Jain temple
Cardinal Tauran visited the UK in 2013 and discussed non-violence at the Jain Derasar at the Oshwal Centre, Hertfordshire.