Celibacy is the fourth vow, applicable to
monks and householders in differing degrees. Its basic intent is to
conquer passion and to prevent the waste of energy. Positively stated,
the vow is meant to impart the sense of serenity to the soul. The
householder fulfills this vow when he is content with his own wife and is
completely faithful to her.
Nonpossession is the fifth miner vow. As
long as a person does not know the richness of joy and peace that comes
from a consciousness of the soul, he tries to fill his empty and insecure
existence with the clutter of material acquisitions. But, as Lord
Mahavira said, security born of things is a delusion and must come to
nought. To remove this delusion, one takes the vow of nonpossession and
realizes the perfection of the soul, Nonpossession, like nonviolence,
affirms the oneness of all life and is beneficial both in the spiritual
and social spheres.
In addition to the Five Minor Vows, the
householder observes three Social Vows that govern his external conduct in
the world. Then there are four Spiritual vows that reflect the purity of
his heart. They govern his internal life and are expressed in a life that
is marked by charity (dana).
The Jaina householder who observes twelve
vows progresses upon the spiritual path until he comes to the place where
he must decide whether to observe the discipline of the monk�s life. To
enter this higher domain, he must pass through eleven successive stages
called Pratimas, Where the eleventh stage is reached, he can begin the
conduct of a monk.
In order to preserve the integrity of the
principal vows listed above, Jain thinkers have prescribed sub-vows as
precautionary means. First, there is reference to the Salyas or
disturbing factors such as ignorance, deceit, and self-interest, from,
which a person should free himself. The salyas represent the negative
requirements for the perfect practice of the vratas. In addition, there
are the four Bhavanas (virtues) that represent the positive means of
supporting the Vratas. These qualities, which a votary of nonviolence
must possess, are maitri (love, friendship), pramoda (joy and respect),
karunya (compassion), and madhyastha (tolerance toward living beings).
Third, there are the twelve sub-vows known as anupreksas (reflections).
Broadly stated, they are twelve topics of meditation that cover a wide
field of teaching. They are designed to serve as aids to spiritual
progress, produce detachment, and lead the devotee from the realm of
desire to the path of renunciation. They are reflections upon the
fundamental facts of life, intended to develop purity of thought and
sincerity in the practice of religion.
In this way Jaina ethics prescribes
thirty-five rules of conduct for the householder. They are meant for the
good of his entire personality. By observing these rules, he comes to
possess all of the twenty-one qualities that a fully developed individual
Having observed all the rules of conduct and
having passed through the eleven religious stages (pratimas, the
householder is now qualified to become an ascetic. The life of a monk is
marked by the spirit of detachment. Through the practice of yoga and
meditation, he finally attains the highest knowledge and becomes an
enlightened soul. This is the ultimate end of Jaina ethics.
Viewed from the level of the life of a monk,
Jaina ethics appears to be a rigorous discipline for the individual, aimed
at cultivating his detachment from the world. From a broader view,
including the life of the householder, Jaina ethics is not just individual
and spiritual, but inclusive of all forms of life for the total upliftment
of existence. The person who subjects himself to this form of ethics will
be serious, good tempered, merciful, straightforward, wise, and modest.
he will be sociable, careful in speech, reverent to age and custom.
Renouncing ego and possessions, he will endure all manner of hardships
until he attains the highest ideal of perfection.