Bhagwan Mahavir had said, “If you kill someone, it is yourself you kill. If you overpower someone, it is yourself you overpower. If you torment someone, it is you yourself you torment. If you harm someone, it is you yourself that you harm.”
The heart of Jainism is non-violence. Jainism is a religion of compassion, of universal love and of friendliness. It aims at the welfare of all living beings, and not of man alone. It aims at the welfare of all living creatures. It maintains that living beings are infinite. What people refer to as empty spaces in the universe are actually filled with minute living beings. According to Jainism, there are countless organisms with single sense organs. These single sense organisms take the subtlest possible units of material elements such as earth, water, fire and air, just enough for their tiny bodies.
Fresh earth is alive but when it is baked it becomes dead. Fresh water from a well, is alive but when it is boiled or influenced by mixing some other substance it becomes dead. Vegetables, trees, plants, fruits, etc., do have life but when they are dried, cut or cooked, they die. To avoid injury to them as far as possible, man is advised to use them discreetly. He should resist from polluting water, air, etc., and thereby perpetrating violence to them.
The Jain religion believes in the cycle of birth and rebirth. The soul is in one Yoni (existence) today; it may be in another Yoni tomorrow. It may be a fly today and a human tomorrow. This being so, man has no right to harm other living creations.
The universe is full of living creatures, big and small. Some are so small that they can only be seen under a microscope. Therefore, it is impossible to exist without killing or injuring some of the smallest of the living beings. Even in the process of breathing, or drinking or eating, we almost unconsciously kill many sentient beings. Therefore, according to Jainism the minimum of killing should be our ideal. Moreover, it is more serious where killing is done intentionally or through indifference. Therefore, great care should be taken in all our daily activities to see that the minimum of violence is committed by our deeds, speech and thought.