Internal Austerities

Atonement (Prayaschit)

In Prayaschit, one asks for forgiveness for the various errors of commission and omission, the faults and sins committed knowingly or unknowingly. This austerity may be performed in the presence of a monk or nun or can be done alone. Prayaschit helps us to reflect upon ourselves in a way that leads to self correction. Even for a small fault we begin to say ” Michchami Dukkadam.”

Humility (Vinay)

One must cultivate humbleness towards everyone. This austerity leads to tolerance and sympathy towards others and helps us to overcome ego and anger.

There are four types of Vinay:

Jnan Vinay – One should be humble and respectful to those who are superior in knowledge and wisdom.
Darshan Vinay – One should be humble and respectful to those who have
acquired the true insight of religious principles.
Charitra Vinay – One should be humble and respectful to those who have good morals and follow religious principles.
Mana Vinay – One should pay respect and be humble to all saints who help
others in their spiritual uplift.


Serving others (Vaiyavachch)
Vaiyavachch means serving religious teachers, ascetics, virtuous people, sadhus, colleagues, and companions with devotion. One should especially render services to the sick and weak. Though this austerity seems to be external activity it makes a person humble and serves the purpose of overcoming ego and hatred.

Giving away (Vyutsarg)
In Vyutsarg, not only one gives away sinful physical activities but also gives away sixteen different inner passions.

Spiritual Study (Svadhyay)
Svadhyay means to study scriptures or can also mean to understand the self. Through study we try to answer the questions: who am I? Who should I be? Through Svadhyay we realize that a soul is a pure thing. This will lead us to contemplate on the question: what am I doing in this body? Thus, study will lead you to be a pure soul. This study is divided into five levels:
When one starts reading the scriptures it is called Vachana.
While reading some doubts may arise and trying to resolve them is called Prachana.
After understanding what is right and contemplating on it is called Anupreksha.
After realizing what is right, one should contemplate on it again and again so one can stay in focus. This repetition is called Amnaya.
After learning what self is one should teach others the same. This is known as Dharmopadesh.
All five of the above are external svadhyay, but they will lead us to do internal svadhyay about the self. Thus, one will acquire right perception and right knowledge which will lead to right conduct and will open up the path to ultimate liberation.

Meditation (Dhyan)
Dhyan means concentration of thought. This concentration could arise from intense passions like attachment, lust, or animosity or from the search for the truth and from absolute detachment towards worldly affairs.

Dhyan is divided into four categories:

Arta dhyan
Raudra dhyan
Dharma dhyan
Shukla dhyan

In arta dhyan a person reflects on the i) loss of dear ones (Ishta Viyog), ii) development of a new relationship with an undesirable or unpleasant person (Anishta Samyog), iii) physical illness (Roga chinta) and iv) future planning (Agrasocha or Nidanartha).

In raudra dhyan one is absorbed in taking total revenge for some damage or loss caused by others. There are four types: i) Hinsanubahndhi, ii) Mrishanubadhi, iii) Steynubandhi, and iv) Samrakshanubandhi.

Both arta and raudra dhyan lead to accumulation of bad karmas and therefore art and raudra dhyan should be avoided.

Dharma dhyan means reflecting on the ways and means towards realization of self.

Shukla dhyan means reflecting on the purity of the soul.

Dharma dhyan and shukla dhyan lead to the removal of karmas. Therefore, for the purpose of nirjara we shall contemplate on dharma dhyan and shukla dhyan. If contemplation on dharma dhyan is at the highest level then we can completely destroy Mohniya karma and within 48 minutes of the destruction of Mohaniya Karma, Jnanavarniya, Darshanavarniya and Antaräy Karmas are also destroyed and one becomes a Kevali.