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The Background to Monastic Jurisprudence
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Laws of Jurisprudence and Their Working
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LAWS OF JURISPRUDENCE AND THEIR WORKING


 

 

III. Some details about these

Jaina monastic life laid the utmost emphasis on mental -purity, which rested on self-control and the courage to admit one's mistake. This being the case, the first two of the ten, i.e. aloyana and padikkamana formed the most important items of daily routine of the monks of all ranks.

Whatever be the reasons for the mental, vocal or physical transgressions committed by a monk, he had to confess and condemn them before his senior. Whether a transgression was committed deliberately or otherwise, out of Pride or carelessness or illness or fear or hatred or bad company of heretics, every member of the order had to report it to the guru.

Every precaution was taken that this reporting and condemnation was not formal or superficial. For instance, the Thanangassutta (484a) lays down that a monk should not so report his transgression as to create pity or a feeling of sympathy in the mind of the senior that would tend to lessen the harshness of the prayascittas inflicted on him. So also monks were not to approach such a senior as was well known for his leniency, instead of one's own senior. Reporting only the major transgressions, or those seen by somebody, or only the minor faults, or in such a way that the senior fails to hear it properly, or doing so in a very noisy way, or confessing the same fault before different acarya, or confessing before a person who is not competent in monastic discipline and its rules, or doing so before a guru who had done the same type of transgression�all these were not allowed. Not only that, such methods were taken to be transgressions by themselves. It will be clear from these details that in the formulation of confession no scope was left for the transgressor either to avoid the responsibility of his faults or the proper expression of these. Another point worth notice is that the senior himself must be a person of ideal integrity and good moral conduct who would not try to lessen the facts of the actual transgression committed. At the most, he was allowed to permit the transgressor to undergo punishment in suitable parts. Moreover, he did not expose before others the nature of transgression committed by a monk in order to save his becoming the target of criticism and humiliation by the co-monks. Here is, therefore, the example of the foresight on the part of the framers of monastic laws, in the working of human mind.

     The next prayascittas, the 'pratikramana' or the condemnation of transgression also formed an item of daily routine. The Bhagavati sutta and the Mulacara are unanimous in stating that this condemnation of transgression became a compulsory item of daily monastic routine during the tenure of the first and the last Tirthankara whereas it was not so during the lifetime of the rest of the Tirthankara. In the lifetime of the latter, condemnation was done only when and if a transgression was committed. Whatever it is, the condemnation forming a compulsory item of daily routine must have led to mental purity. This is also emphasized by the rule that alocana and pratikramana must be done with childlike simplicity without keeping back anything in the mind. (Mill., 2, 56-58) .

The pratikramana was either daily (daivasika), nightly (ratrika), regarding movement (airyapathika), fortnightly (paksika), four-monthly (caturmasika) or yearly (samvatsarika). Thus the insistence on confession and condemnation of transgression daily and on several occasions throughout the year was intended to contribute to mental discipline so essential to monastic life.

Along with mental control, control over the body was also essential. For that, kayotsarga was practiced. Along with alocana and pratikramana, this also formed part of daily routine of a monk. Not only was this to be done daily and nightly but even at the time of taking food or drink, after return from the begging round, in tour, after easing nature, at study, so on and so forth. A definite table of the duration of the practice of kayotsarga at these various items was laid down based on the uccavasas. (Mul. 7, 150-86). The act consisted in concentrating in meditation of an auspicious nature without any movement of the body.

A number of rules pertaining to the performance of kayotsarga are found. Standing with movement of the body or with a blank mind or with support of something or with movement of eyes or eyebrows or with change in calm facial expression was not allowed. Thus the practice of kayotsarga tended to lead to mental concentration and control over physical movements.

Another important prayascittas consisted of 'tapes'. Penance or bodily mortification was either 'external' or 'internal'. The external penance consisted chiefly of facing or the restrictions on eating or begging etc., which led to indifference to bodily needs. The internal penance gave stress mostly on mental purity. All the ten prayascittas cited above are grouped under internal penance, the other items of which comprised modesty, waiting upon others, study, meditation and non-attachment to the body (Than p. 364b; Titter. 28, 34; 30, 8).

The texts of the Anga do not furnish us with the details about the other prayascittas and their implementation. The only information we get pertains to anavasthapya and parancika, the last two in the list. However, the information so given is purely theoretical and fails to satisfy the reader as to the actual process of bringing it into effect.

The Thanangasutta (p. 162b) tells us that anavasthapya was prescribed on three occasions. If a monk steals something from his own co-religionist, or if he does this in the case of those who do not belong to his creed, or if he slaps somebody, then, in these three cases he was to be punished with anavasthapya.

The last of the prayascittas was divided into three categories. The duttha paranciya was said to have been committed when a monk showed disrespect to the acarya or the Ganadhara or the Agama; or developed intimacy with a nun or a queen; or murdered a king. If a monk often violated the rules regarding food and drink due to carelessness, then it was designated as 'pamatta paranciya'. A monk with Homo- sexual tendencies was charged with the third type of paranciya. (Annamannam karemane).

It is only when we come to the Chedasutras, that we get abundant information about these various prayascittas and the mode of implementing them. However, these details pertain mostly to the last four or major prayascittas. [Also, Angd., VII, 54-57 and comm.].

     As regards the 'cheda', the Jiyakappa (80-82) tells us that the minimum cut enforced under this punishment was five days. This is also corroborated by the commentary to the Ovavaiyasutta, which explains it as dinpanchkadina karmenr pryaychhedanam (P. 78). The Chedasutras often refer to 'santara elder' which pertains to the scale of the gradual increase in the cut in paryaya if another transgression is committed while undergoing punishment for a previous fault. Another and most remarkable feature is that the period of cut in paryaya increased the more, the higher the status of the person in the hierarchy. Thus whereas in the case of a monk the minimum cut was five days, in the case of an Upadhyaya it was ten and for an acarya it was fifteen days. It was in the fitness of things that it was so resolved; for if those who knew the laws and were supposed to be the custodians of it, broke the rules of monastic conduct, then no ideal would have been left before the subordinates.

Another term connected with monastic jurisprudence is 'parihara'. This occurs for the first time in the Thananga (p. 167b) and Bhagavati Suttas (348b, 893b, 909a, A.), and has been amplified in the Cheyasuttas. The parihara-visuddhi or the purification of the transgressor by means of penance in isolation, cut off from other members of the group, lasted for one, four or six months.

This parihara punishment is qualified either as 'ugghaiya' or 'unugghaiya' and has often been referred to in the texts of the Chedasutras. Schubring opines that these expressions possibly denote the period in which the punishment is softened in between the different periods of expiation or the period between the declaring of the punishment and its execution (Vavahara and Nisiha -Sutta: Leipzig, 1918, pp. 9-10).

The undergoing of 'parihara' involved the practice of different kinds of fasting for a maximum period of six months. The fasts were so arranged as to suit the different seasons. For instance, in summer, fasting from the 4th to the 8th meal was prescribed, whereas in the rainy season it varied between the 8th and the 12th meal and in winter it ranged between the sixth and the tenth meal. (Than. pp. 168ab). In a group of monks, the fasting was undertaken alternatively by smaller groups and the one left over acted as the head to supervise.

As regards the 'anavasthapya', the Chedasutras lay down that when the complete 'paryaya' or standing in monk-hood was wiped out, the person concerned was given some time during which it was his duty to prove himself worthy of re-entry to the order again. Only when he succeeded in qualifying himself for monk-hood, he was re-consecrated.

A little digression is necessary here to explain some terms connected with monastic jurisprudence besides the ten prayascittas as detailed above. For instance, we have seen that 'paranciya' involved the expulsion of a monk from the order. This expulsion has to be differentiated from 'sammukkasana' and '. Nijjuhana�. Whereas 'parancika' involved the expulsion of the transgressor due to some fault committed by him, 'sammukkasana' meant the compulsory abdication of a person in office who no longer enjoyed the confidence of his colleagues and followers. As against this, the 'nijjuhana' meant the deliberate omission of a particular monk from a Gana or group of monks.