Namo Loe Savva-sahunam: I bow down to Sadhu and Sadhvi.
Eso Panch Namokaro: These five bowings downs,
Savva-pavappanasano: Destroy all the sins,
Manglananch Savvesim: Amongst all that is auspicious,
Padhamam Havei Mangalam: This Navkar Mantra is the foremost.
The Navkar Mantra is the most important mantra in Jainism and can be recited at any time. While reciting the Navkar Mantra, we are bowing down with respect to Arihantas (souls who have reached the state of non-attachment towards worldly process), Siddhas (liberated souls), Ächäryäs (heads of sadhus and sadhvis), Upädhyäyas (those who teach scriptures to sadhus and sadhvis), Sädhus (monks, who have voluntarily given up social, economical and family relationships) and Sädhvis (nuns, who have voluntarily given up social, economical and family relationships). Collectively, they are called Panch Parmesthi (five supreme spiritual people). In this mantra we worship their virtues rather than worshipping any one particular person; therefore, this Mantra is not named after Lord Mahavir, Lord Parshvanath or Adinath, etc. When we recite Navkar Mantra it, also reminds us that, we need to be like them. This mantra is also called Namaskär or Namokär Mantra because we are bowing down.
The Navkär Mantra contains the main message of Jainism. The message is very clear. If we want to be liberated from this world then we have to take the first step of renunciation by becoming a monk or a nun. This is the beginning. If we stay on the right path then we will proceed to a higher state, Arihant, and ultimately proceed to Siddha after nirvana (liberation from the cycle of birth and death). The goal of every Jain is, or should be, to become a siddha.
The word Arihanta is made up of two words: 1) Ari, meaning enemies, and 2) hanta, meaning destroyer. Therefore, Arihanta means a destroyer of the enemies. These enemies are not people like you, me, or any animal, or plant, etc. These enemies are inner desires known as passions. These includes anger, ego, deception, and greed. These are the internal enemies within us. Until we control our passions, the real nature or the power of our soul will not be realized or manifested. When a person (soul) wins over these inner enemies he/she is called Arihanta. When that happens, the person has destroyed the four ghati karmas namely Jnanavarniya (knowledge blocking) Karma, Darshanavarniya (perception blocking) Karma, Mohniya (passion causing) Karma and Antaraya (obstacle causing) Karma. These karmas are called ghati karmas because they directly affect the true nature of the soul. Arihanta attains: 1) Kevaljnan, perfect knowledge due to the destruction of all Jnanavarniya Karmas, 2) Kevaldarshan, perfect perception due to the destruction of all Darshanavarniya karmas, 3) becomes passionless due to the destruction of all Mohniya Karmas, and 4) gains infinite power due to the destruction of all Antaraya Karmas. Complete knowledge and perception means they know and see everything everywhere that is happening now, that has happened in the past, and that will happen in the future. Arihantas are divided into two categories: Tirthankar and Ordinary. Tirthankaras are special Arihants because they revitalize the Jain Sangh (four-fold Jain Order) consisting of Sädhus, Sädhvis, Shrävaks (male householders), and Shrävikäs (female householders). During every half time cycle, twenty-four persons like us rise to the level of Tirthankar. The first Tirthankar of our time period was Lord Rushabhdev, and the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankar was Lord Mahävira, who lived from 599 B. C. to 527 B. C. A Tirthankar is also called a Jinä. Jina means conqueror of passions. At the time of nirvän (liberated from the worldly existence), Arihanta sheds off the remaining four aghati karmas namely 1) Nam (physical structure forming) Karma, 2) Gotra (status forming) Karma, 3) Vedniya (pain and pleasure causing) Karma and 4) Ayushya (life span determining) Karma. These four karmas do not affect the true nature of the soul; therefore, they are called Aghati karmas. After attaining salvation these Arihants are called Siddhas.
Siddhas are the liberated souls. They are no longer among us because they have completely ended the cycle of birth and death. They have reached the ultimate highest state, salvation. They do not have any karmas, and they do not collect any new karmas. This state of true freedom is called Moksha. Siddhas are experiencing unobstructed bliss (eternal happiness). They have complete knowledge and perception and infinite power. They are formless and have no passions and therefore are free from all temptations.
The message of Jina, Lord Mahävira the last Tirthankara, is carried on by the Ächäryas. They are our spiritual leaders. The responsibility of the spiritual welfare, but not social or economical welfare of the entire Jain Sangh, rests on the shoulders of the Ächäryas. Before reaching this state, one has to do in-depth study and achieve mastery of the Jain scriptures (Ägams). In addition to acquiring a high level of spiritual excellence, they have the ability to lead the monks and nuns. They know various languages with a sound knowledge of other philosophies and religions of the area and the world.
This title is given to those Sädhus who have acquired a special knowledge of the Ägams and philosophical systems. They teach Jain scriptures to sädhus and sädhvis.
5) Sadhus and Sadhvis
When householders become detached from the worldly aspects of life and get the desire for spiritual uplift(and not worldly uplift), they give up their worldly lives and become sädhus (monk) or sädhvis (nun). A male person is called sädhu, and a female person is called sädhvi. Before becoming sädhus or sädhvis, a lay person must observe sädhus orto understand their life style and do religious studies. When they feel confident that they will be able to live the life of a monk or a nun, then they inform the Ächärya that they are ready to become sadhu or sadhvi. If the Ächärya is convinced that they are ready and are capable of following the vows of sadhu or sadhvi, then he gives them Deekshä. Deeksha is initiation ceremony when a householders changes to a monk or a nun. At the time of Deekshä, the sadhu or sadhvi voluntarily accepts to obey following five major vows for the rest of his/her life:
Commitment of Total Ahimsä (non-violence)-not to commit any type of violence.
Commitment of Total Satya (truth)-not to indulge in any type of lie or falsehood.
Commitment of Total Asteya (non-stealing)-not to take anything unless it is given.
Commitment of Total Brahmacharya (celibacy)-not to indulge in any sensual. activities
Commitment of Total Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)-not to acquire more than what is needed to maintain day to day life.
Some other things they observe are:
They do not accept the food cooked specially for them;
They do not eat before sunrise or after sunset;
They drink boiled water;
They walk bare footed and do not sit in a car, train, airplane or any other vehicle;
They do not stay in one place for a longer time;
They do not touch any person of the opposite sex even the children of opposite sex;
They do not get involved in social or society affairs;
Some monks wear no clothes while others wear white clothes;
All nuns wear white clothes;
They offer spiritual guidance to us, Self-discipline and purity is the part of their daily life.
That is why Jain monks and nuns are unique. Their activities are directed towards the uplift of their souls to Paramätman (the state of liberation).