|The Jaina Path Of Ahimsa
DR. VILAS SANGAVE
TO AHIMSA VRATA
Along with various restrictions laid down as necessary
elements in the observance of the vow of Ahimsa, certain specific
virtues, reflections and controls or sufferings are also
prescribed by sacred Jaina texts as supplements to the practice
of Ahimsa-vrata. These supplements are
- Ten Kinds of Dharma,
- Twelve kinds of Anupreksha and
- Twenty-two kinds of Parishaha jaya,
and these are considered specifically useful in achieving
Samvara, i.e., stoppage of influx of Karmic matter into the soul,
which is a necessary condition to the attainment of Moksha or
salvation. These supplements constitute a part of the rules of
conduct prescribed for the saints. But it has been particularly
mentioned that these should be followed by householders also to
the best of their capacity.
The ten noble virtues, known as 'Dasalakshana Dharma', are
expected to be assiduously cultivated and put into actual
practice during their normal life by the followers of Jainism.
Since the emphasis has been laid on the translation of the
virtues into practice, these ten virtues are known as ten
observances also. The ten noble virtues are:
- Uttama-Kshama, i.e., Supreme Forgiveness or Forbearance,
- Uttama-Mardava, i.e., Supreme humility or tenderness,
- Uttama-Arjava i.e., supreme honesty or straight
- Uttama-Saucha, i.e., Supreme contentment or purity of
thought and freedom from greed,
- Uttama-Satya, i.e. Supreme truth,
- Uttama-Samyama, i.e., Supreme self-control or
- Uttama-Tapa, i.e., Supreme austerities,
- Uttama-tyaga, i.e., Supreme renunciation,
- Uttama-Akinchana, i.e., Supreme non-attachment or not
taking the non-self for one's own self, and
- Uttama-Brahmacharya, i.e., Supreme chastity.
In addition to ten noble virtues, every pious person is
expected to contemplate on the following twelve 'Anuprekshas'
i.e., the ideas which must be kept at the focus of thoughts
- Anitya anupreksha, i.e., impermanence or in other words
everything is subject to change or is transitory,
- Asarana anupreksha, meaning without refuge,
unprotectiveness or helplessness. The feeling that soul
is unprotected from fruition of Karmas, for example,
- Samsara anupreksha, i.e., mundaneness or cycle of births
and deaths. Soul moves in the cycle of existences and
cannot attain true happiness till it is cut off.
- Ekatva anupreksha, i.e., loneliness. I am alone, the doer
of my actions and the enjoyer of the fruits of them.
- Anyatva anupreksha, i.e., separateness or difference in
nature. The world, my relations and friends, my body and
mind, they are all distinct and separate from my real
- Asuchi anupreksha, i.e., impurity. The body is impure and
- Asrava anupreksha, i.e., inflow. The inflow of Karmas is
the cause of my mundane existence and is the product of
- Samvara anupreksha, i.e., stoppage. The inflow of Karma
must be stopped.
- Nirjara anupreksha, i.e., shedding. The old Karmic matter
must be shed from or shaken out of the soul.
- Loka anupreksha, i.e., the world or the universe. The
nature of the universe and its constituent elements in
all their vast variety proving the insignificance and
miserable nothingness of man in time and space.
- Bodhi-durlabha anupreksha, i.e., variety of religious
knowledge. It is difficult to attain right belief, right
knowledge and right conduct.
- Dharma anupreksha, i.e., reflection on the nature of
religious path as preached by the conquerors, namely the
true nature of the three fold path of liberation.
These twelve Anuprekshas are meditations or reflections and
have to be meditated upon again and again. Sometimes these
Anuprekshas are termed as Bhavanas also.
Along with the inculcation of the noble virtues and meditation
of twelve reflections, every pious person must attempt at
Parishaha-Jaya, i.e.,. the conquering of various types of
Parishahas i.e., sufferings or inconveniences and pains. The
Parishahas are the hardships or sufferings which have to be
undergone by a conscientious person for the sake of non-falling
off from the path of Moksha, i.e., liberation, and for the
shedding of Karmic matter from the soul. Hence Parishaha-Jaya
means victory over the consciousness of pain or suffering. Such
sufferings are of following 22 kinds:
- Kshut, i.e., Hunger,
- Pipasa, i.e., Thirst,
- Sita, i.e., Cold.
- Ushna, i.e., Heat,
- Damsamasaka, i.e. Insect-bite,
- Nagnya, i.e., Nakedness,
- Arati, i.e., Ennui or disagreeable surroundings,
- Stri, i.e., Sex-passion,
- Charya, i.e., Walking too much,
- Nishadya, i.e., Continuous sitting in one posture,
- Sayya, i.e., Resting on hard earth,
- Akrosa, i.e., Abuse or unpleasant and insulting language,
- Vadha, i.e., Beating or violence inflicted by cruel
- Yachana, i.e., Begging or desire to beg for food,
- Alabha, i.e., Disappointment from not getting what one
wants, e.g. food,
- Roga, i.e., Diseases and infirmities in the body,
- Trnasparsa, i.e., Thorn-pricks or pricks from the sharp
- Mala, i.e., Dirt and impurity all over the body,
- Satkara-puraskara, i.e. Remaining uninfluenced by praise
- Prajna, i.e., Pride of knowledge,
- Ajnana, i.e., feeling of ignorance or non-possession of
- Adarsana, i.e., slack-belief or temporary lack of faith.
For example, on failure to attain supernatural powers even
after great piety and austerities, to begin to doubt the faith of
Jainism and its teachings.
It is laid down that these 22 sufferings should be ever
endured without any feeling of vexation, by one who desires to
get rid of all causes for pain.
Apart from these three types of supplements to Ahimsavrata
which are considered useful
in achieving Samvara, i.e., stoppage of influx of Karmic
matter into the soul, there is one more important supplement to
Ahimsa-vrata known as the "Practice of Tapa", i.e.,
observance of austerities. These austerities are regarded as
essential things for achieving Nirjara, i.e., the shedding of
Karmic matter from the soul, which is a necessary condition to
the attainment of Moksha, i. e., salvation. The Jaina scriptures
distinguish twelve kinds of austerities, as the expedients of
Nirjara, grouped together under the two headings of Bahya Tapa,
i.e., external austerities, and Abhyantara Tapa, i.e., internal
The six external austerities are:
- Anasana, i.e., periodical fasting,
- Avamodarya, i.e., eating less than the capacity of the
- Vrtti-parisankhyana, i.e., putting restrictions in regard
to food, for example, to accept food only if a certain
condition is fulfilled.
- Rasa-parityaga, i.e., daily renunciation of one or more
of six kinds of delicacies, viz., ghee, milk, curds,
sugar, salt and oil,
- Vivikta-sayyasana, i. e., sitting or sleeping in a lonely
or isolated place, devoid of animate beings, and
- Kayaklesa, i.e., mortification of the body so long as the
mind is not disturbed.
The six internal austerities are
- Prayaschitta, i.e., expiation,
- Vinaya, i.e., reverence,
- Vaiyavrtya, i.e., service of the saints or worthy people,
- Svadhyaya, i.e., study.
- Vyutsarga, i.e., giving up attachment to the body, etc.,
- Dhyana, i.e., concentration of mind.
All these external and internal kinds of austerities are
practiced with the object of burning or shedding out all karmic
impurities from the soul. These austerities are meant mainly for
the ascetics, but it has also been enjoined upon the householders
to practice them to the best of their abilities.