Carefulness in Ahimsa


Jain Philosophy
by Acharya Mahapragya


The sacred Jaina texts have not only propounded the comprehensive and all inclusive character of the doctrine of Ahimsa and revealed how the basic principle of Ahimsa is present in all the five main and seven supplementary vows prescribed for the observance of Jaina householders, but have also stressed emphatically the dire necessity of exercising utmost care by the Jaina householders in the actual observance of Ahimsa in their daily life. It has been specifically laid down that the prescribed twelve vows should be observed both in proper spirit and action. In this connection it has been recommended to avoid the mental and behavioral faults or defects in the observance of the Vratas. i.e., vows. These defects are mentioned as follows: that is, “In the observance of vows, when there is loss of purity of mind, it is called ‘atikrama’, i.e., contravention; when there is craving for sensual pleasure, it is said to be ‘vyatikrama’, i.e., violation; when there is laxity or idleness, it is known as ‘atichara’, i.e., transgression; and when there is, in fact, a breach or break, it is termed as ‘anachara’, i.e., immorality or improper conduct “

In these categories of faults or defects, special prominence has been given to the avoidance of ‘aticharas’ so as to make the observance of Ahimsa more complete and at the same time more meaningful. The main purpose of this injunction is to maintain the purity of the Ahimsa in all its aspects and phases involved in the observance of the twelve vows. It is emphasized that for the maintenance of sanctity of Ahimsa every vow should be observed with great care and zeal, since only such vows can bear desired fruits, and serve as a means to the moral and the spiritual upliftment. That is why extreme carefulness in the practice of Ahimsa has been strongly advocated and with this end in view the Jaina scriptures have particularly laid down the five kinds of ‘aticharas’, i.e., transgressions, of each of the twelve vows and have specifically enjoined upon the householders to avoid these ‘aticharas’. The most authoritative Jaina sacred text “Tattvarthadhigama-sutra” has given a list of five aticharas, i.e., transgressions, of each of the five main vows, i.e., Anutvratas and seven supplementary vows, i.e., Sila-vratas.

Vow of ‘Ahimsa’:

The partial transgressions of the first vow of Ahimsa Anuvrata are

  1. Bandha, i.e., keeping in captivity (angrily or carelessly animals or human beings),

  2. Vadha, i.e., beating (angrily or carelessly animals or human beings),

  3. Chheda, i.e., mutilating (angrily or carelessly animals or human beings),

  4. Ati-bhararopana, i.e., overloading (angrily or carelessly animals or human beings), and

  5. Annapana-nirodha, i.e., with-holding food or drink (from animals and human beings angrily or carelessly).

Vow of ‘Satya’:

The partial transgressions of the second vow of Satya Anuvrata are:

  1. Mithyopadesa, i.e., preaching false doctrines,

  2. Rahobhyakhyana i.e., divulging the secret (actions of man and woman),

  3. Kutalekhakriya, i.e., forgery (and perjury),

  4. Nyasapahara, i.e., unconscientious dealing by means of speech (for example, when A deposits Rs. 1000/with B; and later on thinking that he has deposited only Rs. 900/- demands Rs. 900/-, back and on this demand when B returns Rs. 900/-only, then the transgression of Nyasapahara takes place).

  5. Sakara-mantrabheda, i.e., divulging what one guesses by seeing the behavior or gestures of others, who are consulting in private.

Vow of ‘Achaurya’:

The partial transgressions of the third vow Achaurya Anuvrata are:

  1. Stenaprayoga, i.e., abetment of theft,

  2. Tadahrtadana, i.e., receiving stolen property,

  3. Viruddha-rajyatikrama, i.e., illegal traffic (e.g., selling things to alien enemies or at inordinate prices in time of war),

  4. Hinadhika-manonmana, i.e., false weights and measures, and

  5. Pratirupaka-vyavahara, i.e., adulteration.

Vow of ‘Brahmacharya’:

The partial transgressions of the fourth vow Brahmacharya Anuvrata are :

  1. Paravivaha-Karana, i.e., bringing about the marriages of people who are not of one’s family

  2. Itvarika-Parigrahitagamana, i.e., intercourse with a married immoral woman,

  3. Itvarika-aparigrahitagamana, i.e., intercourse with an unmarried immoral woman,

  4. Ananga-Krida, i.e., unnatural sexual intercourse, and

  5. Kamativrabhinivesa, i.e., intense sexual desire.

Vow of ‘Aparigraha’:
The partial transgressions of the fifth vow Aparigraha Anuvrata are in the nature of violation of the limits imposed on the possession between five pairs of things, namely,

  1. Kshetra-Vastu, i.e., Land and Houses,

  2. Hiranya-Suvarna, i.e., Silver and Gold,

  3. Dhana-Dhanya, i.e., Cattle and Corn,

  4. Dasi-Dasa, i.e., Female and Male servants, and

  5. Kupya-Bhanda, i.e., Clothes and Utensils.

Vow of `Digvrata’:
The partial transgressions of the first Silavrata, viz., Digvrata are

  1. Urdhvav-vyatikarma, i.e., to go up higher than the limit in the vow,

  2. Adh-vyatikrama, i.e., to go lower than the limit in the vow,

  3. Tiryag-vyatikrama, i.e., to go in other 8 directions beyond the limit in the vow,

  4. Kshetra-vrddhi, i.e., to increase the boundaries of the distance than the limit in the vow, and

  5. Smrti-antaradhana, i.e., forgetting the limit in the vow.

Vow of `’Desavrata’ :

The partial transgressions of the second Silavrata, viz., Desavrata are:

  1. Anayana, i.e., ordering for things from beyond the limits,

  2. Preshyaprayoga, i.e., sending an agent beyond the limit,

  3. Sabdanupata, i.e., drawing attention by making sound,

  4. Rupanupata, i.e., drawing attention by making gestures and signs, and

  5. Pudgalakshepa, i.e., throwing articles beyond the limit.

Vow of ‘Anartha-dandavrata’:
The partial transgressions of the third Silavrata, viz., Anartha-dandavrata are:

  1. Kandarpa, i.e., uttering obscure words,

  2. Kautkuchya, i.e., gesticulating with obscure words,

  3. Maukharya, i.e., gossip,

  4. Asamikshyadhikarana, i.e., acting unthinkingly, and

  5. Upabhoga-paribhoganarthakya, i.e., accumulating too many consumable and non-consumable objects.

Vow of ‘Samayika’:
The partial transgressions of the fourth Silavrata, viz., Samayika are :

  1. Mano-dushpranidhanam, i.e., misdirection of mind during meditation,

  2. Kaya-dushpranidhanam, i.e., misdirection of body during meditation,

  3. Vak-dushpranidhanam, i.e., misdirection of speech during meditation,

  4. Anadara, i.e., lack of interest, and

  5. Smrutyanupasthana, i.e., forgetting of due formalities.

Vow of `Proshadhopavasa’:
The partial transgressions of the fifth Silavrata, viz. Proshadhopavasa, are:

  1. Apratyavekshita-apramarjita-utsarga, i.e., passing excretion on the ground without examining and sweeping it,

  2. Apratyavekshita-apramarjita-adana, i.e., laying down things in a place without examining and sweeping it,

  3. Apratyavekshita-apramarjita-samstaropakramana, i.e., making bed or seat in a place without examining and sweeping it,

  4. Anadara, i.e., showing lack of interest or enthusiasm (in the obligatory duties on account of feeling hunger), and

  5. Smrtyanupasthana, i.e., forgetting of due formalities (or lack of concentration).

Vow of “Upabhoga-paribhoga-parimana”:
The partial transgressions of the sixth Silavrata, viz., Upabhoga-paribhoga-parimana, are:

  1. Sachitta-ahara, i.e., eating articles having life (e.g., green vegetables),

  2. Sachitta-sambandha-ahara, i.e., eating articles in contact with those having life (e.g. using a green leaf as a plate),

  3. Sachitta-sammisra-ahara. i.e., eating articles mixed with those having life,

  4. Abhishava-ahara, i.e., eating aphrodisiacal articles (e.g., fermented and exciting food), and

  5. Duhpakva-ahara, i.e., eating articles not well-cooked.

Vow of “Atithi-samvibhaga”
The partial transgressions of the seventh Silavrata, viz., Atithi-samvibhaga, are:

  1. Sachitta-nikshepa, i.e., placing food on things having life (e. g. on a green plantain leaf),

  2. Sachitta-apidhana, i.e., covering food with things having life,

  3. Para-vyapadesa, i.e., delegation of host’s duties to another,

  4. Matsarya, i.e., lack of respect in giving or jealousy towards another donor, and

  5. Kalatikrama, i.e., not serving meal at the proper time.

From the description of the five ‘aticharas’, i.e., transgressions, of the five main and seven supplementary vows it is quite obvious that householders have been enjoined to observe their twelve vratas or vows in such a way that they would avoid the five ‘aticharas’, i.e., the transgressions of each of these vows. Since these twelve vows are designed so as to strengthen and fortify the doctrine of Ahimsa, the avoidance of ‘aticharas’, i.e., transgressions, of these vows makes the observance of Ahimsa as faultless as possible. Thus, the necessity of giving importance to carefulness in the observance of Ahimsa has always been impressed on the minds of the householders with a view to making the actual practice of these vows as correct as possible.