Twelve Conduct Rules of A Spiritually Householder


One who has real right belief is a sentient being. In the absence of the first two stages of passions which lead to infinite births, a sentient being developes partial spiritual purity. He is called a spiritually minded householder.

The spiritual purity, that has been developed, is called real abstinence and in the presence of such purity, tendency to renounce five sins and observe five partial abstinences like non-violence are called external conduct rules. Such feelings of merit automatically appear in a sentient being.

Such abstinences are of twelve kinds. Partial abstinence from the five sins including violence is called five rules of conduct of the lower stage. The second classification of three abstinances are just to safeguard the five rules of conduct of the lower stage and to develop them. The four training conduct rules are just a practice of the higher observances of the state of monkhood.


Partial abstinence from violence-

To renounce the feeling of violence in a broad way is partial abstinence from violence. Before understanding this, it is necessary to understand violence. The loss of the purity of the activity of the soul with the rise of feelings of passion is psychic violence and the loss of our own material vitalities and those of others due to feelings of passion is material violence.

In his Purusharthasiddhiupaya Acharya Amrit Chandra has written “Rise of imperfections like attachment in the soul is violence and their absence is non-violence”.

If somebody acts carefully without any feelings of attachment and aversion and even then some living creature is killed, that is not violence. As against this, if somebody entertains passions in his inner self and is also careless in his external activities, he is guilty of violence, even if no living creature is killed or injured due to his activities and movements. To sum up, determination of violence and non-violence does not depend upon death or preservation of life of any being, but upon the presence or absence of the feelings of attachments and aversions.

Violence is of four kinds-

  1. Violence with determination

  2. Business violence

  3. Violence in household activities and Contentious violence.

When feelings of cruelty only lead to determined violence of living beings that is violence with determination. Violence in activities like trade and commerce and those in the household or other activities, in spite of the care to avoid it, are called business violence and violence in household activities.

Violence caused unwillingly with a view to protect our family and religious places is contentious violence.

Spiritually minded householder renounces violence with determination completely. Feelings of such violence do not arise in him. He also tries to keep himself away from other three types of violence, as far as possible. This observance is called partial abstinence from violence.

Partial observance of truth-

To tell lies with recklessness is untruth. Partial abstinence from telling lies is partial observance of truth. Untruth is of four kinds :

 (i) Perversion of truth (ii) Propounding untruth

(iii) Telling otherwise (iv) Harsh and cruel speech

(i) Saying that things in existence do not exist is perversion of truth.

(ii) Saying that things that have no existence, do exist is propounding untruth.

(iii) Describing things as against their intrinsic nature e.g. to say that there is merit in violence.

(iv) To utter scandalous, contentious, painful words, and words opposed to the scriptures and those leading to violence and conflicts is the use of harsh and cruel speech.

Partial abstinence from stealing-

To take anything that entails giving and taking in the worldly sense, without the permission of its master through recklessness is stealing. To abjure stealing is abstinence. Though a renouncer of theft, the householder draws water from a tank or a river and earth from mines without any asking; he is a partial observer of non-stealing.

Partial abstinence from indulging in sex-

Complete abstinence from sex is celibacy. A householder, unable to observe complete celibacy, remains satisfied with his own wife and altogether renounces indulgence in other women. This observance being partial is called partial abstinence from indulging in sex.

Limitation of worldly possessions-

Accumulativeness is a desire for possession of non-self entities. It is of two kinds – external and internal. Internal accumulativeness comprises of fourteen stickings like wrong faith, anger, pride, deceit, greed, and nine mild passions. External possessions are land, house, gold, silver, grain, wealth, servants and utensils etc. Out of the above, the householder renounces wrong faith altogether. He renounces others partially, because he has tints of passions left in him. He imposes a limit to all external possessions. This is called limitation of worldly possessions.



Direction abstinence, regional abstinence, and abstinence from unnecessary demerits are observances to safeguard the five conduct rules.

1. Direction abstinence-

The householder having softness of passions, imposes limitations on his movements in all the ten directions, on the basis of famous places. This is direction abstinence.

2. Regional abstinence-

The broad limitations of direction abstinence are further minimised to movements during particular hours, days, weeks and months etc. This is regional abstinence.

3. Abstinence from unnecessary demerits-

Purposeless indulgence and inclinations towards violence and other demerits is indulgence in unnecessary demerits. The householder observing these rules of conduct does not, without any purpose, dig earth, throw water, burn fire, move air and crush vegetables. He also does not indulge in such other activities, leading to unnecessary loss of life. He abstains from violence of moving creatures and renounces purposeless violence of stationary beings also. He does not take interest in activities such as attachments and aversions and keeps away from them. This is called abstinence from unnecessary demerits.


Meditation, fasting, limitation of objects of sensual pleasures, and service of the saintly beings are four training observances.

1. Meditation-

To develop oneness with our soul, renouncing all attachments and aversions, regarding all merits and demerits as equal and thus developing soul force is meditation. The householder should quietly sit alone in loneliness for at least forty-eight minutes, three times a day, to observe this rule of conduct.

2. Fasting-

To stay nearest own soul, abandoning passions, subjects of senses and food is a fast. On every eighth and fourteenth days of both the fortnights of the month, fasting without indulgence in outside activities of the householder or trade and commerce is a real fast.

 This has three grades.

  1.  The super type– To take meals once at one sitting only on both days before and after the fasting day is the super type fast.

  2. The medium type- To fast only on the day fixed is the medium type of fast.

  3. The lowest type – To take meals once only on the day of the fast is the lowest type of fast.

3. Limitation of objects of sensual pleasures

Even within the limitations already imposed on possession of worldly objects, to decrease the sensual involvement, is the limitation of objects of sensual pleasures. The subjects of the five senses are of two kinds, those that are enjoyed once only and those that are enjoyed a number of times.

4. Service of the saintly beings-

To offer a share of one’s meals to monks and householders and to feed them with proper prescribed process is the service of the saintly beings.

The householder, with real right faith, observing the twelve rules of conduct, without any fault, follows those rules of conduct, because without real right faith and consciousness, these rules cannot be really observed with internal real faith and right consciousness and in the absence of passions, which lead to infinite births, passions which hinder partial abstinence and passions which disturb complete abstinence, the emergent purity of the soul naturally creates cravings for these rules of conduct in the householder. The meritorius feelings of the rules of conduct without the consciousness of the soul is not real observance of the rules of conduct.

Dr. H.C. Bharill