Jain Monks and Nuns
(SADHU AND SADHVI)
When a person renounces the worldly life and all the
attachments, and is initiated into monkshood or nunhood, the man is called
Sadhu, Shraman or Muni and the woman is called Sadhvi, Shramani, or Ary�.
Their renunciation is total which means they are completely detached from the
social and worldly activities and they do not take any part in those
activities anymore. Instead, they spend their time spiritual uplifting their
souls and guiding householders such as ourselves how to uplift our souls.
When they get initiated into the life of Sadhus and Sadhvis,
they take five major vows and act strictly in accordance with those vows. The
five great vows are:
1) Pranatip�taviraman Mahavrat - Vow of absolute
First vow of Pranatip�taviraman Mahavrat means sadhu and
sadhvis will never cause harm or violence to any living being including even
the tiniest creatures.
2) Mrishavadaviraman Mah�vrat - Vow of absolute
Second vow of Mrishavadaviraman Mah�vrat means they will
3) Adattad�naviraman Mahavrat - Vow of absolute
Third vow of Adattad�naviraman Mahavrat means without the
permission of the owner they will not take anything from anywhere.
4) Maithunaviraman Mahavrat - Vow of absolute
Fourth vow of Maithunaviraman Mahavrat means they have to
observe the celibacy with an absolute adherence to it. The sadhu or sadhvis
should not even touch a member of the opposite sex regardless of their age.
5) Parigrahaviraman Mahavrat - Vow of absolute
Fifth vow of Parigrahaviraman Mahavrat means they do not
possess anything and do not have any attachment for things they keep for their
In summary, while taking these vows, they say, "O Lord
Arihant! I will not commit the sins of violence, express falsehood, steal and
enjoy sensual pleasures, or be possessive, by speech, thought or deed; nor
will I assist or order anyone to commit these sins. I will not approve or
endorse anyone committing such sins. Oh Lord! I hereby take a sacred and
solemn vow that throughout my life, I will follow these five major vows and
strictly follow the code of conduct laid out for a sadhu and a sadhvi."
Therefore, Jain Sadhus and Sadhvis never cause harm or
violence to any living being. They live according to the pledge that they do
not harm even the tiniest creatures. They always speak the absolute truth.
They do not lie on account of fear, desire, anger or deceptive intentions.
Without the permission of the owner, they do not take even the smallest thing
such as a straw. They observe the vow of celibacy with an absolute adherence
to it. They will not touch the members of the opposite sex, even a child. In
case the members of the opposite sex either touch them by mistake or in
ignorance, they have to undergo the ritual of repentance (Prayashchitta) for
self-purification. Jain Sadhus should not keep money with them. They will not
own or have any control on any wealth, houses, any such movable or immovable
property or organization. They will limit their necessities to the lowest
limit and apart from these limits they should not have any attachments.
Some special rules of conduct for sadhus and sadhvis:
The Jain sadhus or sadhvis do not take food or water after
the sunset or before sunrise. They wait 48 minutes after the sun-rise before
even drinking boiled water. Under any circumstance, they do not eat or drink
anything between the hours of sunset and sunrise.
Gochari (Alm): Jain sadhus/sadhvis do not cook their
food, do not get it prepared for them, or do not accept any food which was
prepared for them. They go to different householders that are Jains or
vegetarians and receive a little food from each house. This practice is called
Gochari. Just as cows graze the top part of grass moving from place to place,
taking a little at one place and a little at another, in the same way Jain
Monks and Nuns do not take all the food from one house. They collect it from
various houses. The reason Jain Sadhus/sadhvis accept a little food and not
all the food from one house is because this way the householders do not have
to cook again. The cooking process involves much violence in the form of fire,
vegetable chopping, water consumption, etc., and sadhus or sadhvis do not want
to be the part of any violence due to their needs. They do not receive food
standing outside the house; but they go inside the house where food is cooked
or kept. This way they can understand the situation that their accepting food
would not make the householders to cook again. They accept food which is
within the limit of their vows.
Vihar: They always walk with bare feet. When they
travel from one place to another, whatever may be the distance they always go
walking. They do not use any vehicle like bullock cart, car, boat, ship or
plane for traveling. Whether it is cold weather or scorching sun; whether the
road is stony or thorny; whether it is the burning sand of a desert or a
burning road, they do not wear any foot-wear at any time. They move about on
bare foot all their life. The reason for not wearing shoes is while walking,
they can avoid crushing the bugs or insects on the ground. While going places,
they preach the religion (Dharma), and provide proper spiritual guidance to
people. They do not stay more than a few days in any one place except during
the rainy season which is about four months in duration. The sadhus and
sadhvis generally do not go out at night. The place where they stay is called
Upashray or Paushadh Shala. They may stay in places other than the Upashrayas
if those places are suitable to the practice of their disciplined life and if
they do not disturb or impede the code of conduct. The reason they do not stay
anywhere permanently or for a longer period in one place is to avoid
developing attachment for material things and the people around them.
Loch: The Jain S�dhus and Sadhvis after receiving
the Diksha (initiation) do not cut their hair or shave their heads; nor do
they get these things done by a barber. But twice a year or at least once a
year at the time of Paryushan, they pluck off their hairs or they get the
hairs plucked by others. This is called Keshlochan or Loch. This way they are
not dependent on others to carry out their needs. It is also considered as one
kind of austerity where one bares the pain of plucking of the hairs calmly.
Clothing: They always wear un-stitched or minimally
stitched white clothes. Some Jain sadhus do not wear the clothes. A loin cloth
which reaches up to the shins is called a Cholapattak. Another cloth to cover
the upper part of the body is called Pangarani (Uttariya Vastra). A cloth that
passes over the left shoulder and covers the body up to a little above the
ankle is called a K�mli. K�mli is a woolen shawl. They also carry a woolen bed
sheet and a woolen mat to sit on. Those who wear clothes have a muhapati a
square or rectangular piece of cloth of a prescribed measurement either in
their hand or tied on their face covering the mouth. They also have Ogho or
Rajoharan (a broom of woolen threads) to clean insects around their sitting
place or while they are walking. Sadhus who do not wear any clothes have
morpichhi and kamandal in their hands. These are the articles by which they
can be distinguished. This practice may vary among different sects of Jains
but essential principle remains the same to limit needs.
They bestow their blessings on all, uttering the words
Dharm Labh (may you attain spiritual prosperity). They bless everyone alike
irrespective of their caste, creed. sex, age, wealth, poverty, high, or low
social status. Some put Vakshep (scented sandal dust) on the heads of people.
Monks and nuns show the path of wholesome life and of a righteous and
disciplined life to every one through the media of discussions, discourses,
seminars and camps to attain spiritual prosperity.
The entire life of sadhus/sadhvis is directed towards the
welfare of their souls. All the activities of their life have only one aim,
namely, self-purification for self- realization. For the attainment of this
objective, besides following laid down guidelines they perform the pratikraman
daily, and perform other austerities.
Conferring a title:
The Jain sadhus, after being initiated that is, after
receiving the diksha become immersed in such activities as meditation, seeking
knowledge, acquiring self-discipline etc. Proceeding on the path of spiritual
endeavor, when they reach a higher level of attainment, their spiritual
elders, for the preservation of the four-fold Jain Sangh, confer upon them
some special titles.
The Title of Acharya: This title is considered to be very
high and involves a great responsibility. The entire responsibility of the
Jain Sangh rests on the shoulders of the acharya. Before attaining this title,
one has to make an in-depth study and a thorough exploration of the Jain Agams
and attain mastery of them. One must also study the various languages of the
surrounding territory and have acquired a through knowledge of all the
philosophies of the world related to different ideologies and religions.
The Title of Upadhyay: This title is given to a sadhu who
teaches all the sadhus and sadhvis, and has acquired a specialized knowledge
of the Agams (Scriptures).
The Title of Panyas and Gani: To secure this title, one
should have acquired an in-depth knowledge of all the Jain agams. To attain
the status of Ganipad one should have a knowledge of the Bhagawati Sutra and
to attain the Panyas-pad one should have attained a comprehensive knowledge of
all the aspects of the agams.
The Jain sadhus, on account of the mode of their life, are
unique among all the monks. The entire life of Sadhus and Sadhvis is dedicated
to spiritual welfare of their souls; all their objectives, and all their
activities are directed towards elevating their souls to the Paramatma-dasha,
the state of the Supreme Soul.
Above discription is related to Svetambar Monks.
Main concept of renunciation is same in both Svetambar and
Digambar sectss. But there are some differences in what they keep and how they
take Gochari/Ahar. Digambar Monks do not wear any cloths. Elak waers one
cloth. Khulak wears two clothes. Digambar Nuns wear white clothes. All of them
keep keep Morpichhi and Kamandal. All of them eat once a day from "Choka".
These chokas are arranged by Householders and they invite Monks and nuns to
accept the food from there. Digambar monks and elaks eat standing up and in
their hands. Khulaks eat in one utensil. Nuns eat in their hand or in utensil.