Learning Area

Animal Advocacy and Biodiversity
Do you have compassion for animals and a passion for animal ethics? Are you concerned about the annual slaughter of billions of animals and the unacceptable conditions of animal agriculture worldwide? Does biodiversity loss and the future threat of more zoonotic pandemics such as Covid-19 trouble you? Arihanta Academy’s courses in Animal Advocacy and Biodiversity put Jain principles into dialogue with fields including animal studies, animal ethics, and food studies to provide students with the tools to confront these immense challenges as well as to transform students into well-educated animal advocates. Ahiṃsā, or non-violence toward all living beings, and karuṇa, or compassion, have long been the cornerstones of Jain doctrine. Spiritual leaders in the tradition have expounded ahiṃsā generation after generation, from Neminātha who released thousands of animals to save them from slaughter for his own wedding feast, to Mahāvīra who, while meditating with his eyes open in the forest before enlightenment, saw that everything in nature around him was full of life and did not want to be injured. From these insights, which presuppose that all living beings belong to an interdependent web of life and are therefore mutually interdependent (parasparopagraho jīvānām), Jains have long maintained a commitment to vegetarianism. Further, in light of the violence in all animal agriculture today, many are now transitioning to veganism – a diet and way of life embraced even by top athletes all around the world – and inspiring others to do so as well. In light of these and other Jain principles and practices concerned with animal welfare, the violence unleashed on animals’ bodies today is almost unimaginable. Various forms of denial, cognitive dissonance, and ignorance perpetuate ongoing human consumption of animals (and their byproducts) even though these animals are routinely tortured, killed, and dismembered against their will and without consent. Alongside and in conjunction with animal agriculture, humans are witnessing and dramatically contributing to biodiversity loss in what scientists have referred to as the “sixth mass extinction”. Ecological systems and the precious forms of life that have evolved on earth for millions of years are now disappearing due to human greed. Studying the Jain way of life inspires not only a commitment to non-violence and compassion, but also invites us to explore destructive passions like the greed and pride that cause us to routinely inflict pain on other living beings. If animal advocacy and biodiversity loss are important issues for you, you will find expert instruction in Jain studies and allied fields of inquiry at Arihanta Academy that will inspire you to become actively engaged in the pursuit of justice and preservation for all forms of sentient life.