Vegetarian Diet

115. Jainism stressed more and more on vegetarian diet since inception. According to it, the object of man’s food is not just to fill his stomach, to maintain health or to satisfy his taste but to properly develop his mind, character and spirituality too. Our intake of food is closely related with our thinking, character and deeds. There is high truth in ancient saying that the kind of food you eat determines the kind of man you are. The taste of the man indifferent types of food reflects his behavior and character. In fact, it is an indicator of one’s innermost self. Meat eating is totally against human nature. Jain thinkers discussed the subject at length in their works about its demerits. Modern physiologists also hold that human body and meat are contraries. The very constitution of man does not warrant it. Man’s habit of taking meat is not natural. It is the result of perverted taste, which becomes a sort of addiction. As such it should be completely discarded.

116. Our food should contain all those ingredients, which produce energy, health and heat. Our food should have proteins, sugar, vitamins, minerals and fats in adequate quantities and right proportions so that good quality of new cells and Red Blood Corpuscles are produced continuously. It is misunderstanding that meat is invigorator. In fact it is medically proved that vegetarianism gives more lasting strength. Vasunandi and other Acaryas explained the fact in detailed. Meat does not contain calcium, and carbohydrate with the result that meat-eaters are irritable, angry, and intolerant and pessimists. In vegetarian diets they are present in greater measure and so vegetarians are just the reverse in their nature. Animal proteins do not have additional value in the human nutrition rather it forms the potential risk for the development of the large number of serious meat borne diseases like cysticercus’s, hydrated cuts, trichinosis which do not have any permanent treatment. Some of these diseases may be lethal.

117. It may be mentioned here that eggs are not included in vegetarian diet. The term vegetarian egg is the misnomer. Eggs are obtained from the birds whereas vegetables are obtained from plants. The question of unfertilized egg does not seem to have any clarification. Therefore, the eggs can never be vegetarian in origin. The term vegetarian egg is a misnomer and has misled the masses. The sperms cannot fertilize non-living material. Electrical activity has been recorded over unfertilized eggs, which clearly supports the life in them.
118. The Paksika Sravaka is also expected not to eat which is not fit to be eaten (Abhaksya). This is included into the Mulagunas. Asadhara gives the list of such Abhaksyas: I) four banned Vikrtis, 2) five Udambaras, 3) water etc. in leather containers, 4) honey, 5) flowers, 6) food eaten at night, 7) formented rice etc., 8) Anantakayika Padarthas like Mulabija, Agrabija, Parvabija Kandbija, Bijaruha, Palandu (onion), 9) unknown fruits, 10) curds kept for more than two days, 11) tainted food and so on. Such plants or food contain infinite number of living organisms. 2. Naisthika Sravaka (Allegiant Layman)

119. One who fulfils his religious duties with constant vigilance is the Naisthika Sravaka. He follows the twelve vows (five Anuvratas, three Gunavratas and four Siksavratas). First five Mahavratas are also called Silavratas, which are the fundamental basis of good conduct. They are: I) non-injury (Ahimsa) which forms the basis of Jainism .He avoids injury by mind, speech and body. He does not trade flesh and skin, nor does he incite others to do it. He avoids the prescribed limits to observe the Ahimsanuvrata. Its transgression may be as follows: i) Bandha or binding or to prevent one from going to the desired place. ii) Vadha or killing or torturing, iii) Chavicheda means to maim the person, IV) Atibhara or overloading, v) Bhaktapanaviccheda or carelessness in giving food and water. The second vow is Satyanuvrata, which means not to tell the lies. Under this vow, the householder is expected not to state the thing, which is not a fact, and not to twist facts. He should not transgress the vow by revealing the secrets of others, accusing somebody without any justification, writing counterfeit documents, playing tricks in weighing and measuring and so on. The third vow is Acauryanuvrata, which means not to appropriate to him what belongs to somebody else without his express permission. He should not purchase the stolen property, should not encourage and praise thieves, should not purchase the property in cheaper rates, should not indulge in illegal export and import business, should not adulterate at all and so on. The fourth vow is Svadarasantosavrata, which means to keep satisfaction with one’s own wife or husband without any sexual craving for other women or men. Celibacy is the great force and potential aid to self-realization. He is expected to avoid irrepressible yearning for sexual intercourse etc. The fifth vow is Aparigrahanuvrata, which means to have the limited possessions, which are root cause of sins. Such passions are like territories, houses, ornaments, utensils, gold, silver coins, grains, animals, men, women, quadrupeds, clothes, conveyances etc.

120. Gunavratas are intended to enhance the effect and value of the Anuvratas. They are for acquisition of religious merit. For instance Digvrata is the lifelong vow to limit one’s worldly activities to fixed points in different directions. The Desavrata is to keep limit for a fixed period only. The Anarthadandavrata is not to commit unnecessary of purposeless moral offence, such as talking ill of others (Apadhyana), preaching evil (Papopadesa), facilitation of destruction (Himsa-pradana), purposeless mischief (Pramadacarita), and faulty reading (Duhsruti). In fact, it would include all acts which denigrate others or through which others are hurt or deprived of liberty.

121. The four Siksavratas are intended to prepare the aspirant gradually for the discipline of ascetic life. They are: I) Samayika (to contemplate of the self and attainment of equanimity), 2) Prosadhopavasa (to keep fast on the eighth and the fourteenth day of each fortnight of the month, 3) Bhogopabhoga-parimana (Putting the limit daily on enjoyment of consumable and non-consumable things for that day), and 4) Atithisamvibhagavrata (to entertain some ascetic or needy person with a portion of food who happens to come uninvited.). These Siksavratas are to practice the ascetic life. The Acaryas show their progressive trends in fixing them depending on the various regions, their needs, and times. Dana or gift is one of them. It has played the significant role all along the course of the history of Jainism Somadevasuri in his Yasastilakacampu (43.765-852) considered at length regarding Patra (the recipient), Datr (the giver), Datavya (the thing to given, Danavidhana (the method of giving), and Danaphala (the fruit of giving). All the Jain thinkers are of view that what is given should be for the pleasure of giving or for the spiritual rise and self-restraint of ascetics. The householders may also be considered for charity purpose on their genuine needs.

122. In order to prepare himself for the ascetic life, the householder goes further to observe the eleven spiritual stages (Pratimas). They are; I) Darsana Pratima; – it requires true and unshakable faith in Jainism with firm conviction in the reality of seven fundamental principles of Jainism and devotion to Pancaparameshthis. After the long practice he becomes Samyagdristi. He should also not be proud of knowledge, worship, family, caste, wealth, practices, and beauty26. He will ponder daily over twelve points of meditation to realize self or deep-reflection Dvadasanupreksas as follows; – transitoriness, helplessness, transmigration, loneliness, distinctness, impurity, influx, stoppage, dissociation, universe, rarity of enlightenment and the truth. These reflections help the spiritual aspirants to practice ten moral virtues, such as forbearance, modesty, straightforwardness, purity, truthfulness, self-restraint, austerity, renunciation, non-attachment and celibacy. The realization of self through these attributes generates tranquility, disenchantment with the materialistic world, prosperity and supreme perfection.

123. 2) Vrata Pratima (the stage of observing vows); – In order to prepare himself for the ascetic life the householder goes ahead to observe the twelve vows for obtaining inner purity of the self. Firm conviction with right understanding in the reality of fundamental principles of Jainism generates benevolence towards all living beings (Maitri), joy at the sight of virtuous (Pramoda), compassion and sympathy for afflicted (Karuna), and tolerance towards the insolent and ill behaved (Madhyasthya). He who conducts himself in this manner is able to practice non-violence, truth, not stealing, refraining from all illicit sexual activities and non-possession to perfection. Non-violence is the fundamental principle of Jainism. Here violence means severance of vitalities out of passion. Negligence is the main cause of violence. Even violence in the thought in view of Jainism is the cause of injury. It is said that when the monk goes on foot with carefulness sometimes small insects get crushed under his feet and die. Still there is not the slightest bondage of sin in his cause. From the spiritual standpoint, infatuation is called attachment. Violence is mainly of three-fold, i.e. I) committed by himself (Krta), ii) that which is committed by others (Karita), and iii) giving consent to violence done (Anumodana). This violence should be avoided by any of the three agencies of mind, speech and body. By this way the layman starts his steps towards equality and equanimity. The true householder should be kind enough to animals and others. He should not bind, beat and mutilate their limbs. He should not overload them and withhold food and drink. Another point should also be cleared in this respect. Jainism is very firm and says that one should not sacrifice animals for the adoration of gods, being dominated by the perverted notion of receiving benediction in return. It is inconceivable how the gods seek satisfaction and serenity from such in human deeds, which cause unbearable pain to the animals. It must not be obligatory to kill the animals for the entertainment of guests, the pious design by impious means.41

124. All the other vows are intended to safeguard non-violence, speaking what is not commendable is falsehood. Preparing false records prompted by others in order to cheat others, misappropriation, proclaiming other’s thoughts etc. are included into the ambit of falsehood, which should be avoided in practice. Asteya means not taking the property of others whether pledged or dropped or forgotten unless it has been given. He again should not be indulged in activities like receiving stolen things, using false weights and measures, deceiving others with artificial or imitation goods. Unchastity and excess accumulation of wealth etc. are also prohibited to the Jain householder. These observations should be in practice to make justice and create congenial atmosphere and relationship between fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy. Ordering someone to bring something illegally from outside the country is also prohibited for householders.

125. Rendering help to one another is the basis to the formula of Jain discipline. Some more supplementary vows are prescribed for householders, which pave the way for their spiritual elevation with the view to having socio-economic justice. For instance, to curb the mentality of masterminding operations aimed at enlarging one’s wealth or concentrating their economic power to achieve greater exploitative capacity. Jainism directs the householder to fix boundaries for business, not to pursue commercial activities causing injury to living beings, to extend hospitality by offering food, implements, medicine and shelter and to bestow one’s possessions upon one another for mutual benefit. He should also observe compassion towards living beings in general and towards the devout in particular. He should practice charity, contemplation, equanimity and freedom from greed. (See, Ratnakaranda. Sagaratarmamrta, Upaskadhyayana etc.).

126. Other Pratimas like meditation, fast, renouncing eating after sunset etc. should also be observed, for attainment of gradual renunciation from worldly concern and becoming prone to monk hood. The spiritual aspirant who reaches the eleventh stage is called Kshullaka (junior) having three long pieces of clothes and the lion cover (Langota), the Kamandalu and the broom in Digambara tradition. In Svetambara tradition he is called Sramanabhuta possessing the begging bowl and whisk broom. 3.Sadhaka Sravaka

127. Sallekhana, the spiritual death in Jain tradition, is the third stage of the householder, which is very close to that of an ascetic where the subjugation of the senses is conducive to the removal of passions. He is, therefore, also called Maha-sravaka It is defined as making the physical body and the internal passions emaciated by abandoning their sources gradually at the approach of death with pleasure and not by force.42 for various reasons one decides to perform Sallekhana. According to the Bhagawati Aradhana, the old age, physical weakness, famine, incurable disease, calamities etc. are such reasons, which render the performance of Avasyakas impossible. It should be performed at the Jain temple or one’s own house or in jungle at the eve of the death, so that one could achieve better prospects in the next birth. Sallekhana is also called Samadhimarana. It should be observed through Ayambils, Penances, Internal and external Tapas, renunciation of worldly affairs, forgiveness, Alocana, Pratikramana, Dhyana etc. with the view to attain purification of mind. (Pravacanasaroddhara, 902-3; Bhagawati Aradhana, 253-4).

128. This is an important and interesting feature of the Jain householder and spiritual aspirants. Some scholars are of opinion that Sallekhana is a sort of suicide, since there is voluntary severance of life etc. but this is not correct, as there is no passion. The person who kills himself by means of passion, weapon etc. swayed by attachment, aversion or infatuation etc. commits suicide. But he who practices holy death is free from desire, anger, and delusion. Hence, it is not suicide. This is called Sallekhana in Jain terminology, which means to make the body and the passion thin.

129. In modern days it is named “Euthanasia” or “Right to die” which is a sort of suicide and not the spiritual death. This has come into light the world over and became the subject of debate because of the revolutionary changes in medical knowledge and life- supporting systems, which could prolong human life even after the brain, stopped functioning. The practice, has, of course been accepted in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and some other countries. But it should be treated as the case of suicide if it does not follow the line of spiritual death.

130. Thus the householder’s stage is the pre-stage of the Jain ascetic. It is, therefore, simply natural for him to observe the ascetic practices to certain extent. The daily routine of the Jain lay disciple starts with reciting the Mahamantra “NAMO ARIHANTANAM, NAMO SIDDHANAM, NAMO AIRIYANAM, NAMO UVAJJHAYANAM, NAMO LOE SABBSAHUNAM”. In Brahmamuhurta (early morning) thinking” who am I? “What are my vows”? “What is my Dharma”? Etc. he observes Samayika, then mediates (Dhyana), studies the Scriptures (Svadhyaya), worships the Jinas Caityavandana or Jinapuja) and then takes the meals. Avasyakas, Alocana and Pratikramana etc. are also to be observed by the householder.43

131. Another type of division of spiritual stages is called Gunasthanas in the Jain scripture. They are fourteen in number stating the nature of the self in possession of the Ratnatraya on the path of purification. It starts with Mithyadrsti, the lowest one which involves gross ignorance where the self accepts wrong belief as the right, and therefore, the person cannot make the distinction between reality and unreality, and ends with Ayogakevali, the last one and most purified stage where all the passions and karmas are annihilated by the third and fourth stage of Sukladhyayana. This is called Siddhavastha. The spiritual development in fourteen steps can be comprehended by the three main divisions, viz. the external self (Bahiratman), internal self (Antaratman) and the transcendental self (Paramatman).