First Steps To Jainism
SANCHETI ASOO LAL
BHANDARI MANAK MAL
Hallmarks (The Lakshan)
Dhammo Mangal Mukkitham
Ahimsa Sanjamo Tavo,
Deva Vi Tan Namasanti
Jass Dhamme Saya Mano.
Religion Beneficient Best (Is)
Non-Violence, Self-Control, Penance;
Even Gods Worship Him,
Whose Mind Always (Engages in)
This is the first couplet (gatha) of the
famous Dashvaikalik Sutra compiled by Shyambhavacharya, the fourth head of
Jain Sect after Lord Mahaveera, hardly after 100 years of the later�s
salvation. One cannot fail to notice the catholicity of the definition of
the best religion in this couplet. It only gives the three criteria viz.,
non-violence, self-control and penance and any religion which prescribes
this threefold way of life is considered as the best religion though it
may bear any name. The couplet does not even mention Jainism or Nigrantha
(Knotless) the name by which it was known at that time.
However, it does declare the three
hall-marks or distinctive features of Jainism and Jain way of life in
simple language and these have been so understood and accepted by all and
sundry. These hall-marks only summarize the principles of right conduct
under the three heads of non-violence, self control and penance and place
them in bold relief. Just as a tree is recognized by its trunk, branches
and leaves though the ground it stands on and the invisible roots are
equally important; similarly, the tree of Jainism is recognized by the
trunk and branches consisting of Right Conduct(in the form of
non-violence, self control and penance)while Right Vision forms the solid
ground in which it is imbedded and Right Knowledge forms its roots.
It needs to be clarified that in its
broader scope non-violence includes self-control as well as penance and,
therefore, all the vows, controls constituting Right Conduct as shall be
discussed presently. A question can legitimately arise as to when Right
Conduct has already been stated and dealt with as means of salvation, why
and what for the need for the three hallmarks? The answer is that a layman
may not be interested in the philosophical discussion of the seven
fundamentals or the three jewels, he may find it difficult to absorb such
fine details. If such a one wants to know what is Jainism, what
distinguished it from other faiths or religions, the three hallmarks
provide a ready answer that Jainism is the religion teaching non-violence,
self-control and penance or these three constitute Jain religion. The
statement may not be wrong from practical point of view since these three
constitute right conduct (Charitra)and it has been rightly said that
Charito Khalu Dhamo conduct is the supreme religion.
Further, if one were to look for one
single hallmark of Jainism, one outstanding feature, it is non-violence
and non-violence alone. It has been said rightly that Ahimsa Parmo
Dharma-non violence is the highest religion. From this point of view all
other aspects of religion including self-control and penance are but parts
of the broader spectrum of non-violence. Indeed, one cannot practice
non-violence properly if one did not control one�s thought, speech and
action. Thus even any unrestricted movement while walking may cause
violence to living beings. This necessitates control over one�s limbs
Similarly, if in-spite of all efforts
one is not able to exercise self-control specially control over one�s mind
and senses, penance is the means to achieve the same. By practicing
penance not only the body, but the speech and the mind can be effectively
controlled leading to a non-violent way of life. Thus self-control and
penance are but steps to non-violence.
However, the functions and application
of these hallmarks are distinct and marked. In non-violence the main aim
is to avoid injury to all living beings. In self-control the operative
part is control over body, mind and speech. penance devotes itself to
control the senses and the desires by practicing austerities. The first
two concern themselves mainly with stoppage of influx(Sanwar) of Karma
into the soul and the last i.e. penance with separation (Nirjara)of Karmas
from the soul primarily. As such though they are closely related to one
another each has got a distinct function and identity to deserve mention
as a separate hallmark. Now we can deal with each of these separately.
Non-violence Ahimsa-The first
hallmark-No doubt brief mention of non-violence has been made in earlier
chapters on Seven Fundamentals and Three Jewels which only underlines its
importance and inescapability from every discussion of (any aspect
of)Jainism. And why Jainism alone? Every religion or creed or spiritual
leader has preached non-violence in some form or other, or under some
other nomenclature. First commandment that Moses got on Sinai was "Thou
shall not kill". Christ preached Love and Mohammed taught Equality. The
Buddha spread the message of kindness (Karuna). The same
current of thought can be traced to the present day when all thoughtful
people(e.g. Mahatma Gandhi) have been thinking in terms of non-violence,
as the only real solution of world conflicts.
However, the importance given to
non-violence by Jain prophets is incomparable anywhere else. While other
systems made exceptions and permitted violence in the garb of religious
pursuits or considering man as a favored creature for whom other animals
have to be treated as food, Jainism made no such concessions. Actually,
one of the earlier Prophets-22nd Prophet Nemi renounced his wife and the
world on knowing that animals were going to be slaughtered for his
The principle of non-violence in Jainism
embraces not only humanity or the animal kingdom but also trees and
vegetables, earth, air and water, as all these are considered as living
beings with souls. As such they also feel pain when injured or destroyed
and one commits violence when indulging in such acts e.g. cutting of
trees, excavating the earth recklessly. Incidentally, all ecologists,
environmentalists and preservationists are coming to the same conclusion
as a result of the latest advance of science. There is a movement for
preservation of animals, realizing that every creature-tiniest or
wildest-has its place in the scheme of nature. Tree cutting, pollution of
water of rivers and oceans and needless unplanned excavation of earth is
raising protests. The world is coming to the same path as preached by
Jainism millenniums ago.
The rationale behind the principle of
non-violence, according to Jain thought, is equality of all living
beings-all souls with one sense or five senses being essentially alike. As
such none has the right or justification to treat another one in a manner
different from how it would like to be treated, which is the golden rule.
Again no one likes pain or bondage or death-every body wants to live and
live without pain or fear. If so, what right has one being to cause pain
or death to another when it does not want it for itself?
According to the theory of
causation(Karma) violence leads to bondage and defilement of the soul thus
delaying its liberation. The injurer soul suffers from the passions
accompanying the act of causing injury and the injured one forms a sense
of enmity and hatred towards the injurer. This perpetuates the cycle of
birth and death by defilement of both the souls.
In more simple and direct terms one
cannot visualize a world full of violence or without non-violence. Indeed
inspite of age long emphasis on non-violence, love and kindness by all
spiritual leaders the world is a difficult and miserable place to live.
One shudders at the prospects of a world where only violence prevails.
There are some who hold the view that life survives by destroying life.
But what is forgotten is that life survives more with the help of life. It
is the mutual help, love, kindness, charity shown by one living being for
another that makes the world a fit place to live. Non-violence is,
therefore, a practical necessity and an obvious essential needing no
penumbra of justification.
The general observations show the wide
sweep of non-violence in Jain thought about which we shall know more when
we come to the in-depth study of the subject from various angles where
also Jainism excels all other systems.
Non-violence is negation of
violence(though there is a positive and equally important aspect of it as
we shall see presently). To understand non-violence one must first grasp
the meaning of violence. Jain thinkers have delved deep into the subject
and the universally accepted definition of violence is injuring
vitalities(Prana)by reckless or passionate activity(Pramatt Yoga). This
simple yet profound definition of violence is full of meaning and it
contains the result of insight of the perfect beings and their successors-Acharyas
and will need some elucidation.
There are two constituents of violence
according to the above definition viz.
reckless or passionate activity
leading to it.
First let us elucidate the vitalities
and injury to them. There are in all ten vitalities (prana) with which
living beings are blessed, the number varying with the development from
class to class of living bodies depending upon the evolution of the souls
due to their karmas. These are (1 to 5) five senses (of touch, taste,
smell, sight and hearing) (6)respiration (7)life duration (8)energy or
body (9)organ of speech and (10)Mind. The number of the vitalities vary
from class to class e.g. one sensed beings have four vitalities while the
five sensed beings with mind have all the ten vitalities. This will be
more clear from the statement below:
One Sensed beings like trees
Two sensed beings like bacteria
Three sensed beings like lice
Four sensed beings like flies
Five sensed beings without mind like
Five sensed being with mind like man
1. Sense of touch
2. Sense of taste
3. Sense of smell
4. Sense of sight
5. Sense of hearing
7. Life duration
8. Body power
9. Power of speech
10. Mind power
Total No.of vitalities
It shall follow from the above
classification of living beings that with the increase in the number of
vitalities from class of living beings the consciousness also increases,
with increase in the capacity to feel pain and pleasure. In the same
manner the quantum of violence involved in causing pain or injury to
different classes of creatures varies with the so called more advanced
forms of creation with more vitalities. This becomes manifest in two ways.
Firstly, the amount of passion generated in the killer(or injurer)of say
animals like goats or cows is more than what is in the case when cutting a
tree-because more effort, more determination and preparation is required.
Secondly,(which is the cause of the first) an animal feels more pain or
makes more efforts to escape death or injury than a tree. Thus the
infringement of non-violence and defilement of the soul is much more in
killing an animal like goat than cutting a tree. (This however, does not
give a license for injuring beings with lesser vitalities).
Every living being whether a man, an
animal, a worm, or a tree wants to have free experience of all its
vitalities and any possible prevention from such enjoyment causes pain to
that living being. Such a prevention or deprivation by another can be in
the form of (i)physical injury in respect of a particular vitality e.g.
cutting of the nose (ii)by binding or confining the body (iii)by
over-loading or over-straining (iv)by deprivation of food (v)by causing
pain in any other manner. Such activity is one part of violence. However,
this alone will not constitute violence specially so when the motives
behind causing injury are good e.g. when a doctor gives an injection he
may seemingly cause pain but it will not be termed violence. This bring us
to the second constituent of violence i.e. recklessness or passionate
activity. Recklessness or Pramad results from the influence of fifteen
3-6. Four passions(anger, pride,
deceit and greed).
7-11. Five senses(of touch, taste,
smell, sight and hearing)-misuse of.
12-15. Gossip about food, sex,
politics and administration.
The activities (yoga) are also of three
types-(1) activity of mind i.e. thinking (ii) activity of speech i.e.,
words, and (iii) activity of the body i.e. physical action. Thus the
second constituent of violence is the activity of any of these types i.e.,
mind, speech and body, accompanied by recklessness and if such activity
results in injuring any of the ten vitalities of living beings it will be
Thus we return to the practical meaning
of violence which is causing injury to any vitality of any living being by
reckless activity-at some place it is called only passionate activity.
Abjuring such activity is observation of non-violence. This discussion
leads to the following four combinations of the two constituents:
Neither there is recklessness nor
injury to vitalities of a living being.
There is no recklessness but there is
injury to vitalities of a living being.
There is recklessness but no injury to
There is recklessness as well as
injury to vitalities.
The first combination is a perfect
example of non-violence as there is neither negligence nor passion nor
injury. In the second case though there is injury caused, but there is no
recklessness. It is, therefore, a case of apparent violence known as
Dravya Hinsa but it does not cause defilement of the person causing the
injury. In the third case there is no injury or damage to any vitality of
the victim the person engaged is full of recklessness. It will be a case
of violence called Bhav Hinsa and nonviolence will be infringed causing
defilement of the person engaged. The last or fourth category is the worst
example of violence.
As an offshoot of this discussion it may
be argued that strictly speaking reckless (Pramatt) conduct should
tantamount to violence and careful (Apramatt) conduct should constitute
non violence. From the intrinsic point of view this the correct position
as injury to vitalities can not be avoided by a living being because there
is no place in the world which is free from life and any movement of body,
mind or speech is bound to injure some life or other. Also suffering
injury or death by any living being is dependent upon a number of factors.
The essence, therefore, lies in avoiding reckless behaviour in day to day
conduct. This is, however, very subtle and invisible path and, therefore,
more difficult to practice. The gross or the visible part is avoidance of
injury to other beings or their vitalities. It is relevant to reproduce
here the reconciliation established between the two by pt. Sukhlaji in his
commentary on Tatvarth Sutra:
Certainly it is an act of negligence
that is cause of violence, but its renunciation on the part of people at
large is not possible suddenly and for the most part. On the contrary, a
mere deprivation of life even if it is a gross act its renunciation is
desirable for the sake of balanced maintenance of popular life. Besides,
such a renunciation is possible for the most part. Thus even if there has
been no renunciation of all acts of negligence but if the tendency towards
gross deprivation of life has been reduced then too there often arises
happiness and peace in popular life. Certainly, in virtue of the
stage-wise evolution of the tendency to non violence it becomes possible
that among the people at large there takes place first the renunciation of
gross deprivation of life and gradually the renunciation of all acts of
negligence. Hence even though the renunciation of violence of the form of
act of negligence is recommended to be adopted as an instrument of high
spiritual evolution, yet from the point of view of popular life the gross
deprivation of life too is treated as a case of violence and its
renunciation as a case of non-violence."
Having analyzed the nature of violence
(and its opposite non-violence) we take-up the various divisions and sub
divisions of violence. There are three stages of any activity i.e. (a)
planning (b) preparation, and (c) execution. Similarly, in respect of a
violent act there are three stages of any activity viz.,(a) planning known
as Sarambh, (b) preparation known as Samarambh and (c) execution known as
Arambh. Each of these three types may be performed due to any one of the
four passions viz., anger pride, deceit and greed, which gives us twelve
types of violence. Each of these twelve types may be done by any of the
three types of media i.e., mind, speech or body e.g. a man motivated by
greed may plan mentally to kill and so no. This gives 12 X 3 =36
categories of violence. Again, we know that an act can be committed by
oneself or it can be got done by another or one may approve of some one
else doing the same which are the three methods. Applying these three
methods to the 36 categories mentioned we get 108 varieties of violence.
Perfect practice of non -violence is to
shun each one of the 108 types of violence mentioned in the previous
paragraph which is the bounden duty of Jain saints or Shramanas. Thus a
Jain monk shall not or plan or prepare or execute with anger or pride or
deceit or greed by mind or body or word either himself or through another
or approve committing any act which injure any of the ten vitalities of
any living being. This is complete non-violence.
However, for the laity the injunction of
non-violence is not so rigid. He can undertake to abjure the commitment of
violence to the extent possible and may progress from stage to stage
according to his capacity, the ideal being complete renunciation of
violence as mentioned above.
From another angle violence has been
classified in following four categories:
Sankalpi - involving
deliberately and purposelessly injuring the living being like organizing
cock fights etc.
Arambhi-involving unintentional but
indirect injury to living beings from acts necessary for normal life
e.g. cooking or cleaning.
Udyogi - resulting from
industrial or agricultural activity of the individuals for earning
Virodhi-resulting from opposing attack
on one�s life, property or country.
The saints or monks abjure all the four
types but the layman can renounce only the first type, while, he has to
indulge in the other three categories, but after observing vigilance and
There are other divisions and sub
divisions of violence and non-violence from different angles -discussion
of which can be seen in the scriptures which are full of condemnation of
violence and praise of non-violence. Among sixty names by which
non-violence is described in Prashna Vyakarna Sutra there are names like
pity (daya), peace (shanti), joy (rati), contentment (tripti) etc. This
brings us to the positive side of non-violence.
The positive side of non-violence is as
important as the negative side. This side sometimes is not fully
appreciated and people are misguided by the negative mentioned in the name
non-violence, that it implies only not doing violence. However, Jainism
always emphasizes a positive course of conduct. While it prohibits sinful
thoughts, words or deeds it praises pious thoughts, words or deeds, for
the obvious reasons that it is death that is completely stand-still life
must mean some activity.
The positive aspect of non-violence
implies forgiveness, kindness, pity, charity, service etc. This requires
providing food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and shelter to the
roofless-in short providing service to the needy. It also implies saving
animals from torture or death.
Jainism provides complete guidance for
observation of non-violence in day to day life. The practicing of the
major and minor vows mentioned in previous chapter like truthfulness,
non-theft ,continence, non-accumulation etc.-make it easy to observe
non-violence. Again there are five observations which strengthens the
conduct of non-violence viz., (control of speech, (ii) control of
thoughts, (iii) regulation of movement, (iv) care in talking and planning
things and (v) examining food and drink.
The non-violence person should be full
of benevolence towards all living beings, show joy at the sight of the
virtuous, be comforting to the afflicted and show tolerance towards the
ill-behaved. For sustenance it is necessary to avoid food and clothing and
other requirements which involve the slaughter of living being like
animals, fish, birds etc. All kinds of intoxicating intake are to be
avoided. Similarly, for earning a living it is necessary to avoid trades
like brewing, fishing or butchering.
Above all the origin of non-violence is
in the attitude of the mind, as explained earlier. The mind should be
constantly vigilant, careful and considerate. This would help in eschewing
the four passions - anger, greed, deceit and pride. All acts performed by
such a man will be free from violence. This has been authoritatively
stated in the Dashvaikalik Sutra (with which we started this chapter).
Realizing that no space is free from life and any movement in the form of
thought, speech or physical action involves some injury to some form of
life (and living means some movement) the question was asked :
Kahan Chare? Kahan Chitte? Kahan Ase?
Kahan Bhujanto Bhasanto, Pavv Kamman
How should one walk, stand, sit, sleep,
eat and speak so the sinful karma bondage may not accrue (to the soul).
The answer given is :
Jayan Chare, Jayan Chithe, Jayan Ase,
Jayan Bhujanto Bhasanto, Pavv Kamma na
With vigilance should one walk, stand,
sit, sleep, eat and talk (thus) sinful karma bondage shall not accrue (to
Such a vigilant conduct avoids
defilement of the soul by karmas or sins leading ultimately to freedom
from bondage and salvation. Apart from the future life or the hereafter
practice of non-violence makes for a better existence in this life itself.
It can ensure peace between nature and man, between man and society or
state and between state and state. All the conflicts are solved in
non-violent conduct once its principles are put into practice at different
Need for non-violence in the conduct of
man and society or state is the greatest in the present times. Faced with
the danger of ecological disaster and nuclear holocaust on the one hand,
and unrestrained materialistic pursuit on the other, humanity is groping
in the dark for a ray of light which can save its very existence. Such
light is provided by shunning violence at all levels by practicing
non-violence. No wonder Lord Mahaveera called non-violence as Goddess -
Self control (Sanyam)second hallmark-
The Prakrit term in the shloka, with which this chapter opens, the
equivalent of which in English has been adopted as self control, is SANJAM
the Sanskrit equivalent being SANYAM. This term has very wide and varied
connotations. On the one hand, in day to day language, when any person
becomes a Jain monk he is declared to have taken sanyam. Sanyam would then
mean renouncement of the world and adoption of a life of monkshood with
austerities, vows and other restraints accompanying sainthood-described in
the previous chapters as right conduct for monks. It may be recalled that
Right conduct for monk is the highest type of discipline involving
obedience to the five major vows (non-violence, truthfulness, non-theft,
celibacy and non-accumulation), three controls (guptis), five vigilances (Samities)
Ten Commandments (Dharmas) etc. Accordingly from Sanyam or self-control in
this context is understood the highest type of Right Conduct which is also
the Jain scheme of an ideal ethical life.
In a narrower context sanyam is one of
ten commandments(dharmas) along with forgiveness (Kshama), humility (mardav)
purity (sauch) etc. which are means to prevention (sanvar) of bondage of
Karmas. Here sanyam has been defined as "suppression of passions (Kashyas)
and regulation of the yogas (three medias i. e. mind, speech and body)".
It should follow that any steps towards suppression of anger, greed, pride
or deceit as well as any action to regulate one�s thought, speech or
action in the right direction is a step towards sanyam. Thus even a
beginner described in the previous chapter, or one who follows one of the
forty-nine combinations towards abjuring any sinful activity is on the
path of self-control and henceforth towards prevention of bondage and
At the other end of scale is the form of
Sanyam involving complete suppression of passions and medias (or Yoga)
which is characterized by supreme purity and supreme steadiness which is
followed by attainment of salvation(nirvana).
Between these two ends of the scale
there are numberless types known as different disciplinary stages (sanyamsthan).
In the earlier or lower stages passions are the greater vitiating agents.
In the latter or higher stages passions tend to disappear but the yoga or
medias vitiate the soul. When yoga or medias are also suppressed, passions
having been controlled already, supreme, pure and steady stage is attained
followed by Nirvan. It needs emphasis that in these numberless
disciplinary stages the purity of an immediately later (following)
disciplinary stage is infinite times greater than that of an immediately
earlier (preceding) one.
Greater light on the Jain concept of
self-control is thrown by its numerous divisions and sub-divisions, which
is the standard Jain method of scrutiny. Before this it needs mention that
the analysis of word sanyam is SAM i.e. samyak which means judicious or
right-YAM which means regulation or control. Thus sanyam means right
regulation or judicious control (over one-self).
At first we find two divisions of Sanyam
or control viz.. control of senses (indriya sanyam) and control towards
living beings (pran sanyam).This means one should control the five senses
and also abjure violence towards all kinds of living beings.
Elsewhere we find four-fold divisions of
sanyam (I) control of mind, (ii) control of speech, (iii) control of body
and (iv) control of equipment.
There are two sets of seventeen
divisions of self-control which are commonly accepted and which throw
light on the vast scope of self-control or sanyam in Jain thought. These
are tabulated below:
First set of seventeen divisions of
Restraint in relation to five types of
Not to hurt-earth beings.
Not to hurt-water beings.
Not to hurt-fire beings.
Not to hurt-air beings.
Not to hurt-vegetable beings.
Restraint in relation to four types of
Not to hurt-two sensed beings.
Not to hurt-three sensed beings.
Not to hurt- four sensed beings.
Not to hurt-five sensed beings.
Avoiding nonliving things which are
valuable avoid attraction towards them.
Be careful in sitting, walking,
Indifference towards worldly activity.
Careful disposal of excreta.
Careful maintenance of clothes &
Control over mind.
Control over speech.
Control over body.
Second set of Seventeen divisions of
Control over five senses (indriyas)
Control over sense of touch
Control over sense of taste
Control over sense of smell
Control over sense of sight
Control of sense of hearing
Renunciation of five sins or means of
Renunciation of violence
Renunciation of non-truth
Renunciation of theft
Renunciation of non-chastity
Renunciation of accumulation
Victory over four passions (kashaya)
Victory over anger
Victory over pride
Victory over deceit
Victory over greed
Control over three medias (yoga)
Control over mind
Control over speech
Control over body
The above analytical classification of
self-control only highlights the wide coverage accorded to it in Jain
ethics. Virtually no aspect of spiritual or material life is left out of
its scope. e.g. earlier it was stated that self-control is necessary for
abjuring violence, but in the above analysis it is seen that non-violence
is essential for proper exercise of self-control. Thus all aspects of
spiritual conduct are inter-related-one supporting the other and in turn
being supported by the other. The main emphasis all through for practice
of the self-control is upon regulation and disciplining of the senses, the
speech, the body and the mind and to control desires. However, it is an
arduous task and the seers realizing the difficulty of the practitioners
of sanyam-the senses and the mind defying restraint in-spite of all
efforts-have provided recourse to penance which is the third and the last
hallmark of Jainism.
Penance (Tap)-the third hallmark (Lakshan
of Jainism)- As a means of self control penance is recommended by all
religious systems-oriental or occidental. As an example in Islam we find
the observation of roza during the month of Ramzan when no food, water or
any other intake is permitted during daylight hours. In Indian religious
system a monk is known as Tapasvi meaning one who practices penance being
an essential ingredient of the life discipline of very monk. However. in
Jainism penance-like non-violence and self-control-has been taken to the
highest pinnacle of glory. All Jain prophets practiced penance of the
severe type- going without food or water for weeks and months. Lord
Mahaveera�s fast for six months is described in details in the scriptures.
The reasons for glorification of Penance
are that, according to Jainism, penance, apart from ensuring self-control
and exterminating attachments and desires, ensures not only stoppage (sanwar)
but also separation of karmas from the soul(nirjara) thus freeing the soul
from the bondage and hastening liberation(moksha). Thus penance is an
essential ingredient of Right Conduct as mentioned earlier.
Penance can either be for reward or
result e.g. fasting for obtaining wealth or progeny or other favors. This
is well known that penance can also bestow super-natural power on the
practitioners like flying in air etc. These are called glories (labdhies)
and have been listed in details in the scriptures. However, such penance
is called immature penance (Bal tap) and has been condemned universally.
The reason is that penance is practiced for control of desires and not for
perpetuating them. An attempt to use penance for fulfillment of mundane
desires is, therefore, a waste and counter-productive.
Real penance(desireless penance)-is
without expecting any reward or result except realization of soul on
liberation. Actually destruction of all worldly desires is the purpose of
penance. This again brings us to the need for correct mental attitude
behind penance which requires freedom from the four passions, anger,
pride, deceit and greed. This will make for penance becoming Right Penance
and a part of Right Conduct, which along with Right Vision and Right
Knowledge leads towards salvation.
Penance has been divided into two
categories-external (bahiya) and internal (abhyantar) each of which are
further divided into six sub-divisions. The penance which primarily
concerns the body is external and that which primarily concerns the mind
is the internal. The former is more apparent and visible to others than
the latter. However, this division is not hard and fast as each of the two
types supplements the other one being incomplete without the other. Both
are aimed at purification of the soul and both must be supported by
absence of passions and be accompanied by Right Vision and Right
The six sub-divisions of external (bahiya)
penance are discussed below
giving up all types of food or drink or both and desire therefor is
fasting. It is a very difficult form of penance and when done without
passion it purifies the body, the mind and the soul. It can be (a)for a
fixed time (etvarik) or till death (yavatkalik). The first can be for a
minimum period of 48 minutes (one muhart) and for a maximum of months in
these times (according to pattern laid by Lord Mahaveer who fasted for
six months). There are numerous types of fasts for fixed period like
fasting for one day, two days, on alternate days and various
combinations thereof. Fasting till death known as santhara is giving up
the body willfully, when the circumstances so require-briefly mentioned
in previous chapter. This is the highest form of renunciation and
penance whereby the performer facing death bravely, willingly discards
the body like old clothes realizing that the soul and body are separate.
Reduced consumption (of food
etc.)-or Unodari-This involves taking of food
less than one�s appetite. In broader scope it is applied to take minimum
of equipment and clothes as also to minimize the four passions by
deliberate effort. One may go without food or drink, but to give up food
and drink lying available, in-spite of appetite, requires lot of self
discipline-physical and mental. The main purpose is to reduce one�s
necessities to the minimum at the same time maintaining the body as a
medium of salvation. It also helps control over sleep as also meditation
Begging for living (Bhikshachari)-Taking
food and equipment available by begging only is the third form of
external penance. Such begging is not out of poverty or for shirking
from labor but for further controlling the desire for food. Begging is
also done subject to number of conditions, main theme being that the
food should be untainted and should not hurt any body. The term used for
begging in Jainism is madhukari-eating by the bumble bee. Just as a bee
takes juice from different flowers without discrimination and without
hurting them, similarly the Jain monk takes food from different
households in small quantities and without discrimination between rich
or poor household or the quality of food offered. It is not unusual to
put voluntary restriction on the type of food one will accept or the
person from whom it will be accepted. If such condition is not satisfied
the monk is prepared to go without food.
to the broader view of this type of penance the practitioner gives up
food which is tasteful or attractive to the sense of touch, taste,
sight, smell etc. The reason being that one should eat to live and not
live to eat. Specially speaking any or all of the six types of rasas
i.e., milk, curds, ghee, oil, sugar and salt are to be avoided since
these give rise to attachment to food, (Meat, wine, honey and butter are
in any case to be avoided completely).
Tolerance of body pain(Kaya Klesh)-To
discipline and train the body and to have no attachment to body and
bodily comforts, the disciple adopts diverse postures, bears heat or
cold, plucks the hair, sleeps without lying down and so on. All these
form part of this category of penance. However, under this penance the
body is not to be destroyed or harmed-as there is no enmity towards the
body. The body has to be maintained as a medium for practicing religion.
However, it has to be kept under control. Also the disciple does not
feel any pain as a part of these practices. If at all he gets pleasure
and satisfaction from these efforts, just like a mountaineer gets
satisfaction from the hard labor and difficulties he encounters while
conquering a peak.
of the soul from external matters or worldly pursuits and devoting it
towards its own upliftment is this kind of penance. In other words it
involves efforts to make soul introvert, stopping it from becoming
extrovert. This needs constant endeavor to watch the activity of the
media(mind, speech and body) and to divert them inward, which requires
continuous watch upon the senses, control of passion etc. Special
mention may be made of the residence to be used by the disciples which
should be free from disturbance through sound, smell, touch and sight.
The six sub-divisions of internal(abhyantar)penance
are described as under
Repentance or Expiation(Prayaschit)-To
admit one�s faults in observance of Right Conduct and sins under the
influence of negligence or passions, to make efforts to reduce the same
and to avoid repetition of sinful activity is expiation or Prayaschit.
There are numerous sub-divisions of this like confession, repentance,
punishment, reinstatement etc.
Humility or reverence(Vinaya)-To
show veneration towards the superiors in knowledge, faith and conduct
and to hold them in esteem is this type of penance. It involves practice
of self-control, discipline and humility. Veneration should be practiced
through all the three media of body, speech as well as mind. Also
humility is as important in worldly conduct of day to day life as for
is the help rendered to the deserving needy by bodily activity or by
material things without selfish motive. Service is given priority even
over acquisition of knowledge. Service can be in the form of providing
food, drink, accommodation, medicines, nursing etc. Service should not
only be without any selfish interest but also with equanimity e.g.
without revulsion while serving a sick person.
Study or Swadhyaya-To
study respectfully and according to prescribed procedure the scriptures
falls under this category and is considered a high type of penance
because it helps to acquire right knowledge and destroys Karmas
pertaining to knowledge. It has been divided into (a)taking lessons
(from the teacher), (b) inquiring, (c) repeating, (d) reflecting and (e)
Meditation or concentration (Dhyan)-Turning
mind away from several objects and fixing it on one object is
concentration. Concentration can be of four types:
I. Sorrowful (Aart)
concentration is to think of getting rid of disagreeable objects and
acquiring agreeable ones.
II. Cruel (Roudra)concentration
is to think of violence, untruth, theft and pleasures (of the senses).
III. Virtuous (Dharma)
concentration is to think of the instructions of the Jinas, the
channels of sin and methods of stopping them, the Karmas and
the universe. The best kind of Dharma meditation is to
concentrate one�s mind upon the self, renouncing all other thoughts.
IV. Prime or Shukla
concentration is the highest type of concentration when all desires
have vanished and passions extinguished and the mind attains absolute
purity without any trace of worldly thoughts.
The first two types leads to bondage and
are to be shunned and the latter two types lead to salvation.
6. Renunciation or Vyutsarga
means giving up and is of two types (a)giving up of external attachment
like house, wealth etc. (b) giving up of internal attachment like the
passions, even the body, This type of penance is intended to encourage
fearlessness and non-attachment.
Before closing this discussion of Jain
Penance, the wide scope of its practice may by reiterated, if it has not
become clear already-for the reasons that generally Jain penance is
condemned as very harsh and difficult to practice. Actually, even simple
acts like study of scriptures or eating one morsel less than one�s
appetite tantamounts to practicing very high type of penance. Thus there
is scope for every one to select any practice suitable to his talent and
power. Of course, what is universally necessary behind such a practice is
freedom from worldly desires and passions. From small beginnings one can
rise to the greatest heights as was done by many a seer. However, examples
are not wanting where practice of minor and easy types of penance have
lightened the burden of the soul and embarked it on the way of salvation.
In the bargain such practices have resulted in a contented and peaceful
existence in this world which is no small gain.
This brings us to the end of description
of three hallmarks of Jainism-non-violence, self-control and penance which
cover the entire range of right conduct, therefore Jain ethics. In fact
these three are so inter-related that strict practice of one ensures and
embraces the other two e.g. if non-violence is to be practiced,
self-control and penance have to be adopted. Similarly, exercise of
self-control will ensure a non-violent conduct in life and also penance.
Again practice of penance will not be possible without non-violence and
self-control. All the three together provide for a way of life which is
full of happiness, contentment and joy in this world and hereafter. Even
if one were not to believe in the hereafter a happy, contented and
peaceful life itself is the greatest reward for such a conduct, which is
to be cherished. Actually, happy and contented individuals make a happy
and peaceful society and the world a utopia, dreamt of and prayed for by
all philosophers, statesmen and prophets alike. Here is, therefore, the
panacea for the ills of the world-simple in content and easy in practice.
May the world arise, awake and proceed on this noble path.