Jain Mendicant

132. Jain scripture prescribes the code of conduct for the spiritual aspirant {Mahavrati) who observes total renunciation. It is called Samacaro (Right conduct), which is formulated in consonance with the spiritual vigilance for the mendicant. The Elaka who is in the last of the eleven stages of monk hood and is virtually a recluse (Mahavrati), feels confident that he has had the requisite discipline and self-control over worldly things, gets initiation for Acelakatva from the Acarya into the Digambara order by pulling the hair out from his head with his own hands (Kesaluncana). He then becomes Panipatri in Digambara tradition that takes food placing it on the palm of their hands or Patradhari in Svetambara tradition that use some utensils while eating. He also keeps with him the small whisk broom (Rajoharana) made of peacock feathers for removing insects and a Kamandalu (water-pot) for sanitation purpose. The Svetambara Murtipujaka aspirant is provided three large pieces of cloth, a broom made of woolen tufts, a begging bowl, a blanket, a staff, and some scriptures. In addition to these articles, the Sthanakavasi and Terapanthi aspirant gets a small strip of cloth called Muhapatti for protecting the air bodies. A Jain ascetic will not stay alone, but he should join with two other ascetics to form the Gana. He will also not stay with nuns nor share alone with them at any occasion.

133. The ascetic observes first six essential duties (Avasyakas)- 1) Pratikramana (introspection, confession and repentance on sins, 2) Pratuyakhayana (to renounce thinking, speaking or doing all that is inconsistent with his code of conduct), 3) Stuti of Caturvimsati Tirthankaras, 4) Vandana (paying prostrating obeisance to the Arhats, Siddhas and other Parmesthis, 5) Samayika meditation upon one’s own soul thrice in the day, and 6) Kayotsarga (to practice complete bodily abandonment for sometime daily, to relinquish all sense of attachment to the body and the things connected with it ).Samayika is the foundation of all the Avasyakas. It gives tranquility of mind.” It is to stay within “Sama” that means in the detached state with an excellent way and “Ayam” is conduct. So this is the right and faultless conduct. It is meditation regular and at fixed times. The Bhagawatisutra says that the soul itself is Samayika and that Samayika is the soul. Jainacaryas have considered it from different angles like name, time, place etc. The Pratikramana is to return from sin to virtue. It means retracing the step from wrong to right approach. Repentance is not only for misdeeds done in the past, but it refers to present and future as well. Not to let the influx of Karma enter the soul is present repentance and the resolve not to commit any sin necessarily refers to the future. Kayotsarga means renunciation of body that you are not the body but have your body must be contemplated every day so much so that it should become your second nature. It is mostly done in a standing posture. It is not only the body that is straight, but also the mind, which is elevated side by side. It is concentration on prayer offered to twenty-four Tirthankaras. The Pratyakhyana is the renouncement of certain objects and acceptance of certain others to which also the aspirant is not in the least attached. He merely makes use of them. He thus becomes Samacari by observance of equality and right conduct.

134. Self- regulation and self- restraint are meant to stabilize and purify the five great vows. Uttaradhyana and some other Texts have called them Pravacanamata. Pravacana means right vision and right knowledge. To keep them intact there are five self-regulations (Samitis) and three restraints (Guptis), termed together Asta Pravacana Matrakas. Iryasamiti means carefulness in moving out. Bhasasamiti means anger, deceit pride, greed, fun, fear and irreligious things must be avoided in speaking. Esanasamiti is concerned with monk’s diet, which should not suffer from 42 and 96 defects. Adananiksepanasamiti is to accept with circumspection cloth, utensils, book etc. and place them on clean ground or floor. Nothing should be used without looking closely. Non-injury must never be lost sight of. The Utsargasamiti is to discharge the excreta and urine on the soulless ground. Gupti means self-control on mind, body, and speech. This is possible by taking the mind away from evil tendencies and fixing it on auspicious ones.

135. The mendicant stays in temples of woods with total renunciation and proper conduct. He must observe fully all the twelve vows prescribed to the householder. The ascetic cultivates and observes the ten noble virtues (Dharmas), viz. forgiveness, humility, simplicity of mind, body and speech, total abstinence from greed of life, sense-organs and pleasure etc., truthfulness, self-control, penance, abstinence from the possession of things etc., renunciation of attachment for body and like, and complete celibacy. He proceeds to arrest the karmic matter by controlling passions, careful movement, observing virtues, engaging himself in contemplation and conquering the suffering by endurance and conduct. For curbing the threefold activity of body, speech and mind an ascetic takes every care in walking, speaking, eating, lifting and lying down and depositing waste products for avoiding injury to organisms. Besides, he has also to Endure twenty-two types of afflictions (Parisahas), such as hunger, thirst, Cold, heat, insect-bites, nakedness, abstinence of pleasures, women, pain, discomfort of postures, uncomfortable couch, scolding, injury, begging, lack of gain, illness, pain, inflicted by blades grass, dirt, reverence and honor, conceive of learning, despair or uneasiness arising from ignorance and lack of faith. These afflictions are to be endured so as not to swerve the path of stoppage of Karmas and for the sake of dissociation from Karma. He follows 28 Mulagunas completely.

136. Acelakatva or nakedness is the requisite characteristic of the ascetics. Mahavira is called Nigantha Nataputta in the Pali Literature. The term Nigantha reveals the qualities such as renunciation, purity, restraint, etc. As the result of the later development, the Scripture also allowed afterwards in the Svetambara tradition the mask for preventing the death of micro-organisms normally entering the mouth (Mukhavastrika), the piece of cloth (Avamacela), blanket (Padakambala), broom (Rajoharana), pot (Patra), seat (Asana-peetha), phalaka etc.43 Thus the ascetic constitutes the conduct by observing five causes of stoppage, namely control (Gupti), regulation (Samiti), moral virtues (Dharma), reflections or contemplations (Anupreksas) and conquest of afflictions (Parisahajaya) and conduct (Caritra).

137. In this context we should also understand the penance or religious austerity, which is the chief stoppage of influx and dissipation of Karmas. It is, of course, self-imposed. Penance purifies the body. It sets right blood circulation in the body and bestows the inner power to control the mind. There is no penance, of course, without the right knowledge and sense of discrimination. The first thing to comprehend is that the body is distinct from the soul and the aggregate of Karma particles that remain attached to the soul are separated by means of penances. The spiritual energy shines forth when the soul contains no impurities. The spotless soul then develops the latent energy and achieves so many miraculous powers like Sambhinnasrota (capable of seeing with his ears), Carana (going into sky), Kevalajnana (omniscience) etc. The penances are not leman to acquire miraculous powers. The aim is to achieve the purity of soul. Such powers may emanate from an immaculate soul, but they are not to be exhibited.

138. Penance (Tape) is of two types, namely external penance (Bahyatapa) and internal penance (Antarangatapa). The external penance is of six types, viz. fasting (Ansana), reduced diet (Avamaudaraya), special restrictions for getting food (Vrttiparisankhyana), giving up stimulating and delicious dishes (Rasaparityaga), and mortification of body (Kayaklesa). The main object behind the external austerity is to purify the mind and body, cultivate patient endurance of bodily pain and suffering in order to remove attachment to pleasure and to proclaim the glory of the teaching of the Jainism. They effect both external and internal purification. Only then their devotion becomes lustrous. Gold, in order to be purified, has first to be heated and then polished. External penance is a sort of naturopathy, which is beneficial to cure of all ills.

139. The internal austerities are also six types, viz. expiation over negligence of duties (Prayascitta), reverence to the holy personage (Vinaya), services to the saints in difficulty (Vaiyavrtti), study of the Scriptures (Svadhyaya), and meditation for checking the mind. The auspicious meditations (Dharma and Sukla-Dhyana) became the cause for attainment of various types of transcendental powers (Riddhis). Eventually, the aspirant attains Kevalajnana (omniscience) as the result of destroying the Ghatiyakarmas and then finally reaches to the 14th Gunasthana, the highest stage of spiritual development where all the Karmas are destroyed. This is the most purified stage of soul, which is called Nirvana.

140. To attain this highest position in the spiritual sphere an aspirant undertakes daily Samayika and Caityavandana and then goes out to beg for food with the certain Aharamudra and eats in the standing posture from the hollow of his hands once in the day if he is the Digambara monk, while the Svetambara monks eat from their pot after returning to the monastery. Afterwards, they further engage themselves in studying the Scriptures, writing the books, preaching to the audience and performing penance. No female ascetic goes naked, but keeps herself covered from head to foot, except the face. The Taranapantha and the Bhattaraka-pantha of Digambaras and all the sects of Svetambaras do not observe the nudity. The Svetambara ascetics keep the long cotton-cum-woolen brush to dust the ground where they sit or lie down whereas the Digambara ascetics keep peacock-feather brush for the purpose and the Kamandalu for having water for cleanliness. The Sthanakavasi and Terapanthi monks and nuns also wear a small rectangular piece of cloth (Mukha-patti) over the mouth. There are some more minor differences in practice between Digambara and Svetambara ascetics, but all Jain ascetics go barefoot, and do not use vehicles. They do not stay in a place for more than a few days except during four months of the rainy season (Varshavasa).