LAWS OF JURISPRUDENCE AND THEIR WORKING


 

I. Introduction.

 

II.The Ten Prayascittas.

 

III. Some details about these.

 

IV. Implementation of the Punishment.

 

V. Laws of Jurisprudence for Nuns.

 

VI. Salient Features.

 

VII. Comparison with Buddhist Jurisprudence.

 

VIII. Epilogue.

 

 

1

 

Introduction

 

Having seen the qualifications that led to the formation of the hierarchy, let us now go into the core of the subject and see the details regarding the main prayascittas and the method or procedure of dealing with a transgressor (vavahara).

 

 

II

 

The Ten Prayascittas

 

The texts of the Svetambaras canon give the following ten prayascittas. (Than.,p. 355b; Bhag., pp. 920bff; Ova. p. 78; etc. etc.).

 

1. Aloynra (alochana)- nivedana tllakshanran shudhim yadrhtyaticharjatam tada lochanaaee' The reporting of the transgression to the guru. Such a confession led to the mental purity of the transgressor as also gave him mental courage of confession.

 

2. Padikkamanr (pratikarmanr)- mithyadushkritam- Condemnation of a transgression committed. (aiyara)

 

3. Tadubhya - alochanamithyadushkrite - Confession and condemnation.

 

4. Viveg (vivek)-- ashudhbhktadityag - giving up of transgressions like impure food etc.

 

5. Viyusag (viyutsarg) - kayotsarga:— practicing kayotsarga.

 

6. Tao (tapas) - nirvikritikadi - penance in the form of fasting or taking a particular kind of food.

 

7. Chhey ( chhed) - prvrjyapyary hasveekaranram — the shortening of seniority or insubordination.

 

8. Mool - mhavrtaropanram - re-consecration.

 

9. Anrvatthappa (anvsthapya) krittapaso vrtaropanram — temporary expulsion.

 

10. Parinchya (paranchik) - lingadibhedam - expulsion.

 

     The last one has been explained by the Ovavaiya commentary as tapovisheshenraivati charpargamanam (p. 79), i.e., the overcoming of transgression by means of the practicing of a peculiar kind of penance.      

 

     This list of the ten prayascittas is the same in practically all the Svetambaras canonical texts.

 

     The list as given in the Digambaras text Mulacara differs a bit from that cited above. For instance, the first eight prayascittas are the same, but the ninth is substituted by 'parihara' and the tenth by 'saddhana'. (Mul. 5, 165).

 

     The former has been divided by the commentator as 'Ganapratibaddha' and 'apratibaddha', and explained as -being the transgressions committed by a monk while leading the corporate life in a Gana, or the transgressions Committed by him when he was alone in a region foreign to him, respectively. The tenth prayascittas 'saddhana' has been explained to mean the determination on the part of the transgressor to give up transgressions and his reaffirmation of faith in the true religion.

 

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.

 

Having noted the ten main prayascittas, we now pass on to another set of these so often mentioned in the Bhasas and CurNis. These are found elaborated in the Jiyakappa and its bhasya. This text makes a statement, which says that the last two of the ten prayascittas went out of vogue during the period after Bhadrabahu, who was well versed in the fourteen poorvas. This statement is corroborated by the contents of the other Chedasutras, which deal mostly with 'parihara'. The Bhasas seem to introduce a set of new prayascittas termed as caturlaghu, caturguru and some others based mainly on short or long-term fasts as punishment for transgressions.

 

     The Jiyakappa sets forth a very complicated system of such fasts of particular nature set in a peculiar structure of different duration. The whole of the 'vyavahara' is divided into three categories as 'guru' or the excellent mode, the 'lahu' or the medium mode and the lahusa or the minimum one. Each of these three categories is further divided into 'utkrsta', 'madhyama' and 'jaghanya'. These are further subdivided each into three kinds such as utkrsta - utkrsta, utkrsta,-madhyama and utkrsta-jaghanya; utkrsta-madhyama, madhyama-madhyama and jaghanya-madhyama; and lastly utkrsta jaghanya, madhyama jaghanya and jaghanya- jaghanya. This can further be grouped and re-grouped.

 

The 'guru', 'lahu' and 'lahusa' are further divided into guru, gurutara, ahaguru; lahu, lahutaru, ahalahu; and lakusa, lahusatara, ahalahusa. Now this division is fastened to a standard 'masa' of thirty days and also to the fasts of various duration’s. Thus ultimately we have the following variations:

 

Guru-masa                  1 month

Gurutara-masa            3 -4 months                              

Ahaguru-masa                  5-6 months

 

Label mama                  30 days

Lahutara-masa            25 days

Ahalahu-masa                  20 days

 

Lahusa-masa                  15 days

Lahusatara-masa            10 days

Ahalahusa-masa            5 days

 

This duration is coupled with fasts.

 

 Guruga —                  atthamia      fast upto 8th meal

Gurugatara—                  dasamaa      fast up to 10th meal

ahaguru                  barasama      fast up to 12th meal

lahu      cheetah      fast up to 6th meal

lahutara                  cauttha      fast up to 4th meal

ahalahu                  ayambila      taking only boiled rice mixed with

                                                                                any other thing

lahusa                        egasana      taking only one meal a day

lahusatara                  purimaddha      half day's fast

ahalahusa                  nivviya            giving up dainties like ghee, etc. in food.

 

Thus ultimately the combination of the period and the nature of the fast, formed the punishment. For instance, 'guru-guru' was the practice of the fast up to the 8th meal (asthma) for a period of one month; 'gurulaghu', a fast up to the 6th meal for a duration of one month, and 'gurulakusa' would be the practice of 'egasana' for one month. Out of these flowered out a variety of combinations of short-term prayascittas. These were further adjusted in relation to the various seasons so as to suit the constitution of the person. Thus, out of these a number of permutations and combinations could be had. These, however, seem to have been brought into force during the period of the Bhasas and the curnis as none of these is referred to in texts of the canon proper.

 

With these details about the various types of prayascittas, we now pass on to the persons who were authorized to pronounce the punishment and the process and procedure of implementing it.

 

IV

 

The Implementation of the Punishment

 

The Executors

 

Normally the monks lived in-groups under an acarya. Each individual monk had to confess and report the transgressions he had committed to his superior who was the judge in this matter.

 

However, certain categories were such that only the acarya was deemed fit to decide whether that particular fault was to be punished with a severer form of punishment. For instance, it was only the acarya who was authorized to decide whether a particular transgression was to be met with by 'cheda' or 'parihara'. Similar was the case with regard to 'parancika'. Here also only the Acarya could pronounce this punishment upon the transgressor.

 

     The acarya had full powers regarding this in the case of the order of nuns as well.

 

The Procedure

 

     Unlike the texts of the Buddhists, the texts of the Jainas are silent on the actual procedure of enacting and enforcing the laws of monastic jurisprudence. There is no reference to the calling up of an assembly to decide the nature of transgression.

 

     According to the Vavahara Sutta (X, 2) the 'procedure towards a transgressor' was of five kinds, to wit, that based on the canon (Agama), or on tradition (sue), or on law (and), or charge (dharana) or on the convention handed down (Jie). It will at once be realized that these are the five pillars of jurisprudence even in the non-monastic field. [Also Angd., p. 671].

     

     It has already been seen that the transgressor himself was to report about his fault to the senior. However, if he did not do so then some of his co-monks reported it

to the head of the group. In spite of this report, the officers or the elders were asked to give the person accused, full scope to prove his innocence. The principle, which underlay this provision, was to put faith more in the person who has been accused rather than in one who reports about him. As is well known even today this forms the basic principle of modern law which agrees with the dictum that saccapainna vavahara', (Vav. II, 24-25).

 

     Along with this, the circumstances under which a particular transgression was committed, were also taken into consideration by the seniors. For instance, the committing of a transgression with the full knowledge of it was met with a more severe form of punishment than the one, which was done unintentionally or under unavoidable circumstances. In such cases, the punishment meted out to the transgressor was comparatively lenient. If a monk who was practicing austerities due to which he went out of the service of the elders and happened to commit a transgression of certain rules of monastic conduct, then in view of the circumstances under which such a fault was committed, the elders 'proceeded towards him in the lightest way' (ahalahusae nama vavahare, Kelp. V, 53).

 

The severity or otherwise of the punishment depended on the nature of the transgression committed. For instance, 'kula-parancika' was prescribed in certain cases, which involved the expulsion of the monk from the kula. Similar expulsion from Gana and samgha under parancika. Depended on the severity of the fault (Brh. kalp. Bha., Vol. V, 512). For instance, for covering the head with a garment in the fashion of a turban, a monk was punished with 'masalaghu'; for covering both the shoulders like that of a nun 'catvaro laghavah' was prescribed; for arranging the ends of a garment on two shoulders for decoration involved the punishment to the extent of 'catvaro gurumasah'; and for dressing up oneself like that of a householder involved ''mula' punishment (Brh. kalp. Bha., Vol. I, 152).

 

Besides this, the severity of punishment increased with the responsible position, which the transgressor occupied in the church hierarchy. For instance, monks were disallowed to stay in a place full of seeds. But if a new entrant to the order violated this rule then it was punished with 'laugh masa' which was not severe in point of either duration or fasting, whereas the same fault done by an acarya made him liable for the same punishment which was severe in duration as well as in fasting. Thus persons in responsibility were punished the more because they failed to carry out the proper rule in spite of full knowledge of it.

 

The major prayascittas were prescribed and judged only by the most senior member of the group who was well-versed in monastic discipline. For instance, 'cheda' was prescribed only for major faults like being proud of one's penance, or failing to carry out penance’s properly, or for having no faith in austerities, or for non-control even with austerities, or for indulging in sexual intercourse and breaking the main requirements of monk-hood. So also 'mula' prayascittas was declared when a monk broke one of the panca-maha-vvayas, or violated the essentials of monk-hood, or accepted worldly life or heretical faith or caused impregnation or abortion. These indeed were serious faults and only the acarya was competent to deal with such cases of transgression.

 

Life under punishment

 

The persons punished under the major- prayascittas had to lead a very rigorous mode of life. The monk punished with anavasthapya had to go on practicing fasts up to the 4th or the 6th meal for a period of twelve long years. During this period he led a completely isolated form of life. He was to bow down to everybody but nobody bowed to him. Nobody exchanged requisites or indulged in discussion with him. As a matter of fact no verbal communication with him was allowed. (Brh. kalp . Bha. 5135-37; Vav. II, 28-30).

 

Further transgression

 

If a person undergoing punishment for a previous transgression committed further transgressions during this period, then his punishment was further increased either by thirty, thirty-five, or forty days up to the maximum period of six months. It was termed as the 'arovana' (Than. pp. 199a-200b).

 

If a transgression happened to pertain to two different rules of one item then it was treated and punished separately in which case the prayascittas was termed as the 'samjoyana prayascittas'. The Scare dealt with all such cases.

 

     The harshness of the punishment and the isolation of the transgressor from the rest of his colleagues did not mean that he was not cared. As a matter of fact, the acarya looked after the transgressor every day during the period of punishment. In cases of illness, necessary nursing aid was also offered to him. However no junior monk was allowed to do him service or have contact with him.

 

Commuting the punishment

 

As under cases of illness, even otherwise the necessities of the situation were taken into consideration. However, it was only the samgha, and not anybody else,: who was empowered to do so. Sometimes, it is remarkable to note, political considerations intervened. If the monk punished under parancika could please the king who was antagonistic to the monks, then at his request, the Samgha could lessen the parancika punishment. However, this lessening was in a fixed proportion. In extreme cases, the Samgha was even empowered to absolve the punished of his punishment altogether.

 

 

 

V

 

Laws of Jurisprudence for Nuns

 

With the basic inferiority of the order of nuns referred to above, the other rules of monastic jurisprudence was the same, both for the monks and the nuns. As a matter of fact most of the rules of monastic discipline begin with the phrase 'je bhikkhu bhikkhuni va' or 'niggantho nigganthi va'.

 

As in the case of the monks, in the case of the nuns also the severity of the punishment increased with the severity of the transgression and the seniority in the church hierarchy.

 

The nuns were subjected to all the ten prayascittas along with the set of those like 'caturguru' and others. Only in the case of 'parihara', the Vavahara Sutta and the Brhatkalpabhaspa are at variance. According to the former, 'parihara' could be prescribed for the transgressor nun, whereas the latter opines against it.

 

 

VI

 

Salient Features

 

After all these details, it would be worthwhile to note down the salient features of Jaina monastic jurisprudence.

 

The first and the foremost characteristic of these monastic rules is the emphasis more on moral values which formed the backbone of monarchism. However, coupled with that, due consideration was also shown to age and academic qualifications as well. Thus a fine blending of moral discipline, standing in monk-hood and academic superiority was given due consideration in the formation of the hierarchy and the implementation of monastic discipline.

 

Another feature was that the law was a great equalizer. For instance, the transgressions of a newly initiated monk as also of an experienced officer, were punished irrespective of position. Actually the higher the status of the transgressor in the hierarchy, the more severe was the nature of punishment inflicted.

 

Third and the most notable feature of Jaina monastic jurisprudence was that the accused was given full scope to explain his position. This was useful in case some mischief-monger, out of vengeance, made a false accusation against somebody. In such cases, the elders put more faith in the accused who gave his defense rather than one who reported about the transgression. After hearing his defense, the elders gave their verdict.

 

Yet another feature was that the transgressor was given due opportunity to improve his behavior. If during that period, he showed his capacity to carry out the rigors of monk-life, then he was allowed entry to the order again in case he had committed a transgression, which wiped out his whole paryaya.

 

Due consideration was given to the circumstances under which a transgression was committed. We have already referred to the 'ahalakusaya vavahara.' in this connection. Besides, the nature of punishment depended upon the circumstances of each case of the delinquency. Extenuating and aggravating circumstances were duly considered in inflicting the punishment. For instance, touring with nuns of other faiths or with eunuchs, in a woman's apparel at daytime was punished with 'laghukacheda' or 'guru-ka-cheda'. Doing so at night was sentenced with 'mule'. If, however, a Jaina monk toured with a Jaina nun at day time then he was punished with 'anavasthappa'; if he did so at night time then he met with the highest punishment, that of parancika.. Here both the circumstances under which the breach of rule of monastic conduct occurred as also the considerations of maintaining the purity of monastic conduct of one's own creed were critically and scrupulously considered by the framers of monastic laws.

 

     Along with this, the makers of monastic laws were conscious of the social, religious, economic and geographical peculiarities of various regions. Hence suitable exceptions in these regions were provided for by the church. Here was therefore flexibility as also the rigidity of the spirit of the law. For instance, the monks and nuns are not to touch each other's body under normal circumstances. This does not mean, however, that this law is to be followed even under peculiar circumstances of distress. If a nun or a monk is bitten by a snake and if there is no other way of outside help then a monk could touch her body by way of treatment (Kalp., VI, 3). Similar is the case in which an ill monk was allowed to overstay at one place (Nis. cunni, 404), or in cases of going out to ease nature in rain instead of suppressing such calls, crossing the river under emergencies, staying at a proper place even without permission instead of living in a forest full of wild beasts and intense cold, so on and so forth. In all such cases, these practices were resorted to only as 'apaddharma' for which suitable prayascittas were undergone afterwards. Actually the Nisihacunni (2684) allows the acceptance of 'adhakarmika' food under such abnormal conditions as famine, wickedness of a king, great fear or illness, etc. Not only this, but those who even when knowing the emergencies that made a monk act abnormally teased or condemned him were punished by the acarya. Therefore, the motive behind the transgression and the tendency that led to the commitment of in-discipline was to be punished, and not the helpless victim of circumstances.

 

This insistence on the practice of the spirit of the law and not the letter of it is reflected in the provisos and exceptions to monastic conduct in peculiar regions as mentioned in the Brhatkalpa-Sutra-Bhasya. For instance, in the Maharastra region, people used the nilakambala in winter. The monks touring that region in that season were also allowed to use that type of Kampala. In the country of Thuna, people used clothes whose ends (dashiki) were cut, whereas reverse was the practice in the Indus region. In the Konkan region, people were accustomed to eat fruits and flowers. In all these social and geographical variations, the monks were allowed to adjust their practice with the local habits for which, however, they had to undergo prayascittas later on.

 

The last and the most important feature of the laws of Jaina monastic jurisprudence is their heterogeneous arrangement. We have already seen that the study of the Cheyasuttas was compulsory for those who aspired for a senior rank in the hierarchy. Their study would have been much easier had the different transgressions been grouped under suitable categories of monk life like dress, food, study etc. On the contrary what we find in the Nihihasutta is the grouping of various acts of monk-life grouped under the categories of prayascittas. This, as the case stands, makes the reference to a particular transgression not very easy to find out.

 

And the last but not the least important point is the total absence of the mention of the background that led to the formulation of a particular rule in Jaina texts dealing with jurisprudence. What we find in the bare texts of the Chedasutras is the abrupt, matter-of-fact, heterogeneous list of different transgressions that were to be dealt with under a particular prayascittas. Of course the cunnis and the Bhasas provide the necessary information which seems to robe the skeleton of rules. As Schubring rightly points out in his introduction to the Kappasutta, "there is nothing of legendary embellishing in the Jain ordinances".

 

 

VII

 

Comparison with

Buddhist Jurisprudence

 

The classification of the Vinaya laws is also arbitrary. No systematic grouping is to be found in any of the texts of the Vinaya literature. However, even such a heterogeneous formulation dons the human touch as every rule is endowed with an episode that led to its formulation. This helps one a lot in understanding the background and the adjustment of monastic discipline to that background. The laws of Jaina monastic jurisprudence do not by themselves explain such background for which we have to depend on later commentaries.

 

Moreover, the association of the Buddha in such a setting and the pronouncement of the rule through his mouth tended to give a sort of grand solemnity to the utterance and formulation. No such pronouncements are attributed to anybody in the Jaina texts.

 

As against the ten main prayascittas of the Jainas, the two hundred and odd offenses are grouped under seven categories in the Buddhist literature. The lightest offense was 'Sekiyu' and the highest parajika'.

 

Yet the nature of acts on the part of the monks and nuns which could be termed as an offense is more or less alike in both the Buddhist and the Jaina texts in a very broad way. For instance, offenses, which involved behavior against celibacy and showing of disrespect to the Buddha or the Tirthankara etc., are alike in both these religions. Similarities can be quoted in a number of cases, which it is needless here to list.

 

There is yet a difference. In the Buddhist Church, the promulgation of a rule could be done either by the Buddha or by the elders in the Samgha or by elderly and well-versed senior monks or by the Vinayadharas. Regarding such agencies of the origin and formulation of different rules, the Jaina texts are silent. What we find in these texts are that the seniors act more as judges than as originators of law.

 

The prosecution of the guilty was an elaborate affair in the Buddhist jurisprudence. Such trials were to be held in the presence of a full assembly (Mahavagga, IX, 3). Besides this, the accused was to be allowed to confess or defend if somebody else had accused him. The declaration of the offense committed by the accused was done by a senior monk (Ibid., X, 3, 9). Opinions were allowed to be expressed by other representative monks regarding the offense and whether the accused was involved in it or not. In cases of grave offenses, such procedures as ballot and open voting, and holding of a jury were also resorted to. In the case of minor offenses, formal confession was deemed sufficient. The account of the trial of Ananda, Devadatta and others makes a wonderful reading, which brings out the elaborate procedure adopted in such trials.

 

Such elaboration of trials is not to be found mentioned or described in any of the Jaina texts. What we have is the reference to the Samgha, which in some cases was empowered to commute the punishment inflicted on a monk, under certain circumstances.

 

The picture that stands before our eyes, on the basis of the information given in the Buddhist texts, is that of a completely organized corporate life of the Bhikkhu sangha, which, though a feature even of the Jaina order of monks and nuns, has not anywhere been graphically represented, so far as the enforcement and administration of monastic jurisprudence is concerned, in the Jaina texts.

 

 

VIII

 

Epilogue

 

Thus, in short, is the rapid survey of the rules and working of Jaina monastic jurisprudence. With all their Matter -of-fact enumeration, the rules definitely reveal the working of the human mind in its wonderful adjustment and reaction to problems of this world full of human beings, humane and cruel, haughty and modest, dauntless and timid. It is a gallant tribute to the Jaina church and its elders that they could see all these facets of the human mind and with all the knowledge of such a complex field, tried to elevate a normal human being to a disciplined ascetic striving for the summum bonum.