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According to the Jain view, soul is that element which knows, thinks and feels. It is in fact the divine element in the living being. The Jain thinks that the phenomena of knowledge, feeling, thinking and willing are conditioned on something, and that that something must be as real as anything can be.
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I have heard your orators speak on many questions. One among them the so-called vital question of money which is above all things the most coveted commodity but I, as a Jainist, in the name of my countrymen and of my country, would offer you as the medium of the most perfect exchange between us, henceforth and forever, the indestructible, the unchangeable, the universal currency of good will and peace, and this, my brothers and sisters, is a currency that is not interchangeable with silver and gold, it is a currency of the heart, of the good life, of the highest estate on the earth.
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In Western lands there is a distinct division between the religious and the secular life. There is one rule of conduct for laymen and another for clergymen. This distinction has never found its place in the life of the people of India. There, all of life is included in the word 'religion.'
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My brothers and sisters of America, there is not the least shadow of hope that India can ever be Christianised. After two hundred years of vain efforts and of spending millions of dollars with the prestige of the conqueror and backed by British bayonets, Christianity is not supported by the converts themselves. Every bit of Protestant Christianity in India is maintained partly by the money flowing from England and America, and partly by taxes imposed upon the Hindus against their will, which must be paid although the people starve. The people of India as a whole are saturated with religious and philosophical thought. They think and ponder on spiritual matters from childhood to death. Even the street-sweeper is frequently more profoundly versed in subtle metaphysics and divine wisdom than the missionary sent to convert him.
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The American people spend thousands of dollars to propagate the doctrines of the fall of man, the creation of the world out of nothing in six days by a personal God, vicarious atonement, absolution from sin by the shedding of innocent blood. This is the Christianity offered to the poor and illiterate of India... Christianity has percolated through the layers of dogmatism and bigotry, of intolerance and superstition, of damnation and hell fire. It takes on itself the quality of these layers and imparts them to those that are received within its folds.
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What benefit have the Hindus derived from their contact with Christian nations? The idea generally prevalent in this country about the morality and truthfulness of the Hindus evidently has been very low. Such seeds of enmity and hatred have been sown by the missionaries that it would be an almost Herculean task to establish better relations between India and America... If we examine Greek, Chinese, Persian, or Arabian writings on the Hindus, before foreigners invaded India, we find an impartial description of their national character. Megasthenes, the famous Greek ambassador, praises them for their love of truth and justice, for the absence of slavery, and for the chastity of their women. Arrian, in the second century, Hiouen-thsang, the famous Buddhist pilgrim in the seventh century, Marco Polo in the thirteenth century, have written in highest terms of praise of Hindu morality. The literature and philosophy of Ancient India have excited the admiration of all scholars, except Christian missionaries.
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Christian missions to India imply that India is a land of heathens, and, therefore, stands on the same level with the Andaman or the Fiji Islands. That a country which has been recognised in all ages the world over as the mother of all religions and the cradle of civilisation should be considered as pagan, shows how much ignorance prevails in Christendom. Since the Parliament of Religions, I have been studying Christian institutions, and I have also studied the way in which the Christian ministers and the missionaries are manufactured in this country, and have learned to pity them. We must not blame them too severely, because their education is too narrow to make them broad-minded. I grant that they are good-hearted, that they are good husbands and often fathers of large families, but generally they are very ignorant, especially of the history of civilisation and of the philosophy of religion of India. Most of them do not even know the history of ancient India. We know that in this age of competition, centralisation, and monopoly, very many people are forced out of business. The English say, 'The fool of the family goes into the Church'; so that when a youth is unable to make a living, he takes to missionary work, goes to India, and helps to introduce among the Hindus the doctrines of his church, which have long since been exploded by science.
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All religions worthy of the name are now making great efforts to purify their doctrines and return to their original standpoint, - all except Christianity! You surely know that the nineteenth century Christianity is not the religion taught by Christ. Christ's religion has been changed and corrupted. But Christian clergymen are well aware that if they were to attempt to purify Christianity and bring it back to the religion of Christ, the result would be to reform it out of existence. Christianity stands to-day completely explained. Every step in its development is laid bare and shown to be due to purely natural causes, and it is easy to see how much Christianity adopted from other and older religions.
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The central ideas of Christianity - an angry God and vicarious atonement - are contrary to every fact in nature, as also to the better aspirations of the human heart; they are, in our present stage of enlightenment, absurd, preposterous, and blasphemous propositions. Christians well know that the much-decorated statue of the Church, as it now stands, is not of pure chiseled marble, but of clay, cemented together by blood and tears and hardened in the fires of hatred and persecution. And still we hear the cry, 'The whole world for Christ'.
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In the history of a soul's evolution there is a critical point of the human incarnation that decides for us whether we stay there, go down or progress upwards. There is a knot of worldly desires impeding us; cut the knot by mastering desires and go forward. This done, progress is assured.
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We preach and practice brotherhood - not only of man but of all living beings - not on Sundays only but on all the days of the week. We believe in the law of universal justice - that our present condition is the result of our past actions and that we are not subjected to the freaks of an irresponsible governor, who is prosecutor and judge at the same time; we depend for our salvation on our own acts and deeds and not on the sacrificial death of an attorney.
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In more ancient times the life was simpler, but now the discovery of all these different medicines for curing dyspepsia shows that people are suffering from this disease. In this country we know that there are so many kinds of pills and medicines used. We even have those in India now. These things show that not only in America but in all the countries of the world we have to recourse to artificial means for necessary nutrients because people are not aware of right rules of diet. It is better to follow the right rules of diet in the beginning in order to avoid any kind of artificial medicines later on.
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