Of the rules
prescribed for laymen and saints, those, suitable for the former are
divided into twelve
(vows) and eleven pratimas,
in addition to thirty-five minor directions for general conduct enjoined
on every house- holder.
The layman must begin
with the avoidance of the five
(short-comings) of faith, namely, (i) entertainment of doubt after once
being convinced of truth, (ii) desire to belong to another faith, (iii)
beginning to doubt the efficacy of the Law (Dharma)
in moments of suffering, (iv) praising hypocrites, and (v) constant
association with those known to follow a wrong faith. This will enable him
to observe the vows, which mark the first stage of Right Conduct. The
twelve vows* are:--
(*The first five of these
vows are called
(minor or less rigid vows), the next three
= qualities) because they widen the scope of the five anu
and the last four shiksha
because of their being helpful in study and meditation.)
(i) To refrain from
killing and destroying. Killing means the forcible separation of the body
of gross matter from the two other bodies, the
and the taijasa.
It is forbidden, because it is the source of pain to the living being
concerned, and also because it betrays ignorance of the nature of soul in
the destroyer. Hinsa
is the immediate cause of hard-heartedness, and leads to re-births in
hells and to suffering and pain generally. This vow extends to all kinds
of killing whether it be done for sport, science (vivisection), dress
(skin, feathers, and the like), food, private revenge, religion
(sacrifices), comfort (destruction of insects, and the like), as a
punishment to evil doers (capital sentence), in self-defense, or for any
other purpose. A king who fights in defending his empire, however, does
not violate this vow, for his motive is to protect his subjects. The vow
also extends to such acts as tying up animals too tightly, beating them
mercilessly, cutting their limbs, overloading them or neglecting to feed
them properly. Of the five types of living beings, the one-sensed and the
like, a layman is forbidden to kill, or destroy, intentionally, all except
the lowest (like one sensed, such as vegetables, herbs, cereals, etc.,
which are endowed with only the sense of touch).
from falsehood. This vow is transgressed by revealing the secrets of
others, false speech, forgery, and the like.
or taking what is not freely given is the subject matter of the third vow.
Selling goods not up to sample, employment of false weights and measures,
adulteration, counterfeiting, receiving stolen property, employment or
encouragement of thieves, and harboring
are some of the forms of its transgression.
(iv) Refraining from
indulgence in sex-passion. The
is naturally enjoined to practice complete control, since sex-passion is a
great enemy of spiritual progress; but the layman only vows to restrict
his carnal lust to his married spouse. Artificial gratification,
encouraging others in sexual lust, looking lustfully at any woman other
than one's own wife, use of aphrodisiac remedies when weak, and the like,
constitute a transgression of this vow.
(v) Putting a limit on
one's possessions. This is calculated to lessen the sense of power, pride,
and the like.
(vi) Setting bounds to
one's travels. This does not apply to a
though he is required to avoid luxury in his traveling.
(vii) Limiting the number
of articles of
(those which can be enjoyed only once, such as food) and
(which can be enjoyed more than once, such as furniture, clothes, etc.).
The object being the control of (nafs
= lower nature), the layman should cheerfully place greater and greater
restrictions on his senses, remembering always that the aim of life is the
attainment of Moksha,
but no the pursuit of sensual lust.
(viii) The eighth vow is
designed to guard against unnecessary evil befalling others through one's
carelessness. One should not hope that some evil should befall another,
nor think evil of any one. One should take care not to let oil, milk and
other liquid substances lying about uncovered, for flies and other insects
get drowned in them and thereby suffer unnecessary pain and loss of life.
One should keep as few weapons as possible. The encouraging of another in
evil deeds is also prohibited. We should not also fear the loss of any of
the good things we have-- wealth, friends, health, etc, etc., --nor
imagine that conditions of poverty, disease, ill-luck, and the like are in
store for us. Even undue anxiety to get rid of disease, poverty, and other
undesirable conditions is to be avoided. The vow also condemns such deeds
as rejoicing at the death of another to come into his property, or for
one's own safety; giving gratuitous advice, lending dangerous weapons,
such as guns, fishing tackle, and the like; sheer carelessness of thought,
word, and action; drinking, meaningless chitchat, excessive sleep, talking
about things which do not concern one, writing immoral books, selling evil
medicines and poisons, buffoonery, abuse, lustful thoughts, sensuality,
and all other like thoughts and deeds.
vow. It consists in spending a certain amount of time at least once every
day in a particular place, reading Scripture, praising the Master,
recounting the merits of the
repenting of evil deeds, and, in a general way, concentrating the mind on
suitable, proper and holy objects of meditation.
(x) The tenth vow is a
severer form of the sixth, and consists in limiting one's movements, at
least once a year or so, to one room or, at the most, to one's house. This
is transgressed by ordering things from beyond, or by transacting business
outside the limits.
(xi) This vow is a severer
form of the ninth. Prolonged meditation coupled with fasting is its
characteristic. The layman should try to spend a whole day, four times in
a month, in holy meditation, and should observe fasting on those days.
(xii) Sharing one's food
with some holy monk, or a pious
(house-holder), and giving him presents of books and other useful articles
at least once a year. This implies that one should also eat the same food
as is offered to the guest.
In addition to these
twelve, there is another vow, which a man on the point of death is
expected to take. Its object is to be inferred from the following formula
in which it is generally worded:
"I vow to abstain
from food and drink and fruits and
(betel-nut) as long as I live."
Terrible and cruel as
this last vow may appear to the uninitiated, it is the severest form of
austerity, and, therefore, leads to the greatest prosperity in the next
life. There is no idea of suicide involved in the operation of this vow,
since it is only taken when the last remaining hope of life is given up.
At that supreme moment of life, when fate may be said to be trembling in
the balance, the successful carrying out of a terrible resolve like this
is an ample guarantee of future happiness, for the exertion of will to
adhere to its resolve, in the trying moments of a departing life, goes a
long way to remove its negativity, and there by enables the soul to attain
to the region of heavens where pain and misery are the least known.
We now come to the
eleven pratimas, which may be described as follows:
(i) The worship of
Deva (God, i.e.,
(preceptor) and shastra
(Scripture), and the avoidance of gambling, meat- cutting, drinking
(wine), adultery, hunting, thieving and debauchery.
(ii) The keeping of
the vows, and the
(the last vow taken on death bed).
(iii) The observance
vow at least three times a day.
(iv) The observance
of the eleventh vow at least four times a month.
(v) Refraining from
eating uncooked vegetables, plucking fruit from a tree, and the like.
(vi) Abstaining from
taking food, etc., as well as from offering it to others after sunset (to
avoid accidental destruction of animal life).
(vii) Sexual purity;
even keeping away from the society of one's own wife, as much as possible,
also not decorating ones person.
from all kinds of occupations and trades.
(ix) Preparation for
which means withdrawing oneself still further from the world, dividing
one's property among one's sons or heirs, or making over its management to
some other member of the family, and otherwise generally training oneself
to bear the hardships incidental to a life of asceticism.
(x) Practicing a
still severer form of the last
--eating only what is permissible, and that only if offered at mealtimes
and without special preparation; refraining even from giving advice on
matters relating to family honor and business, and the like.
(xi) The complete
renunciation of the house- holder's life, retiring into a forest and
adopting the rules laid down for the guidance of