Indian ethics is the indispensable part of religions of Indian origin. Indian ethical ideals and principles are very much found in the Indian literatures and in teachings of the Indian religions.
Jainism rejects Vedic ceremonialism and sacrificialism and also it takes ahimsa to be the most important ethical virtue and consequently denounces the Vedic sacrifices. In the observance of ahimsa, Jainism rather surpasses even Buddhism.
In the observance of ascetic rituals also, Jainism goes
further than Buddhism especially in the case of monks. The pancamahavrtas and triratnas form the ethics of Jaina tradition. Right knowledge, right faith and right conduct are known as Triratnas – or the three gems of Jainism.
Right knowledge is the detailed cognition of the real nature of ego and non-ego, which is free from doubt, error, uncertainty etc. It can be obtained only by studying carefully the teachings of the omniscient Tirthankaras or teachers who have already obtained liberation and therefore are fit to lead others out of bondage.
Then that preliminary faith should be supported by right knowledge again for having right faith based on general acquaintance (samyag- darsana) in support
of right knowledge. Right faith does not imply that one must blindly follow the Tirthankaras. But one must have the right attitude of respect towards truth.
Further by studying the teachings of the Tirthankaras one can strengthen his belief. But these two are rendered useless unless they are followed by rigorous practice. Right conduct is the third indispensable condition of liberation. It is this that enables one to stop the influx of new karmas and also to eradicate
old ones. It consists in the control of passions, senses, thought, speech etc.
Right conduct is therefore described as refraining from what is harmful and doing what is good. Right conduct enables man to liberate himself from bondage. The Jaina prescription for right conduct: One must follow the five great vows namely the panca-maha-vrata for the perfection of right conduct. They are Ahimsa, Sathyam, Asteyam, Brahamacaryam and Aparigraha.
Ahimsa denotes abstinence from all injuries to life – either trasa or sthavara. Satyam is abstinence from
falsehood. It is speaking what is true, good and pleasant. Asteyam refers to abstinence from stealing. Brahmacaryam pertains to abstinence from sensual
and casual pleasures. One must refrain himself from karma of any form altogether either in speech talk or action. Aparigraha: By this what is meant here is that
abstinence from all kinds of attachments. It lies in giving up attachment for the objects of five senses.