The Jain faith is a strange one, especially to those who have never heard of it. Jains work to foster care and understanding of the world around us — and they place that core value on top of everything else. To them, abusing nature is perverse. They strive to care for and protect all living things from the microorganisms we cannot see to human beings and everything else. They wish only to live in peace. Which is why it makes sense to ask the question: Are Jains allowed to pursue lawsuits or take other legal actions?
First and foremost, Jain beliefs do not even allow for self-defense — in the physical sense. Depending on the circumstances Jains might be allowed to defend themselves legally should they be sued. If there is any question as to whether or not a legal defense might be needed or justified based on the Jain code of conduct, a Jain priest might be contacted for advice. Keep in mind that Jains do not provide their priests with the authoritative status that other religions do. They are only there to help.
Whether or not a Jain has the option to build a case against another human being is a bigger question — and again, we would recommend seeking help from the Jain community or a Jain priest, who may have answered similar questions already.
Firms like Nikolaus & Hohenadel are different. Instead of suing individuals, they fight to protect individuals from being taken advantage of by larger corporations by ensuring compensation for job-related injuries. It might be argued that employing these types of services provides an even greater service to the greater good, in part by holding those with power accountable for their actions and reducing the opportunity for them to do the same to anyone else.
There are other examples of the Jain community filing lawsuits to prevent governments from destroying or diminishing the influence of Jain religious sites. One such lawsuit filed “on behalf of Jain deity Tirthankar” noted that a temple inside Qutub Minar in Mehrauli might be religiously important. More than two dozen Jain temples were destroyed, but the materials were then reused to build the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. The lawsuit proposed only that the deities have “the right to be restored and worshipped.” The intended goal of the lawsuit is to protect — which is in line with typical Jain philosophy.
To truly understand the pacifist nature of the Jain lifestyle, one must first understand how far they are willing to go in order to protect the world around them. For example, one Jain explains why they will not consume even unfertilized eggs because it is a commercial by-product: “Over 90% of all egg factories have inhumane ways of treating these living and feeling animals. Female hens’ lives are terrible. Her entire life is restricted to a small cage with 4 or 5 other hens. They can hardly stand and stretch their wings. The hens are severely smashed against the cages.”
Read additional insight into ahimsa here.