JAINISM – THE CREED FOR ALL TIMES
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(the monastic conduct)
The Monastic Conduct (Aṇagāra Dharma) –
The very desire of every soul is to gain its natural state of infinite knowledge and perception and that of eternal bliss and unlimited spiritual prowess. All sentient beings, in general, and the intelligent thinking five sensed living beings like humans, gods and some animals desire it more intensely than others. However, it is only the human beings that can actually endeavour to attain this state of the soul that has been variously described as perfection, liberation, final deliverance, Mokṣa and Mukti.
The secret of this supreme and ultimate accomplishment, after which nothing remains to be achieved, lies in the irresidual separation of the karma–matter that has a timeless association with the soul and, which associates itself with it with every action of the embodied soul coupled with specifically karma–binding false and passionate psychic dispositions of delusion, attachment and aversion.
The monastic conduct with suitable psychic dispositions is the spiritual highway that can facilitate such karmic separation. The five great vows of complete and flawless observance of non–violence, truthfulness, non–stealing, sexual continence and non–encumbrance with their attendant psyches stops further karmic associations and what remains is to achieve the separation of the earlier bonded karma–matter, which can be achieved by appropriate penance. The resultant progressive purity of the soul ensures its spiritual progress, through the fourteen stages mentioned earlier, culminating in its ascent to the final stage of ‘IncorporealPerfection’ known as ‘Siddhatva’.
The Monastic Vows And Associated Psychic Dispositions –
The five monastic vows that are known as great vows for their stringent provisions are observed by the exclusion of any sinful activity by three means – mind, body and speech as well as three methods – doing, ordering or approving. They are the same as the five vows of the householders except that they are observed totally flawlessly and absolutely strictly. They accept these vows for life and observe them with utmost care as long as they live.
The five great vows and corresponding psychic dispositions that enhance their effectiveness are as follows: –
1. The First Great Vow : Prāṇātipāta Viramaṇa Vrat (Renunciation Of All Kinds Of Violence) –
All ascetics – monks and nuns – take the vow not to kill or hurt any living being in any manner, nor to get them killed or hurt by others nor to approve of such killing or hurting by others. They avoid all forms of violence – physical, mental or vocal in all possible ways. In doing so they take care not to infringe upon any of the ten types of vitality of any fine or gross, movable or immovable, one sensed through five sensed, intelligent or unintelligent, developed or undeveloped living being. For observing such stringent non–violence they are known as the friends and protectors of all living beings. Thus, they inhibit the most potent source of karmic influx and bondage. This is the most important of the five vows taken by the ascetics and all their practices and dispositions are geared to promote this singleaspect of their lives. This vow is known as ‘Prāṇātipāt Viramaṇa Vrat’ or vow to refrain from hurting or compromising any vitality of any living being because it is this that constitutes violence and refraining from it is non–violence.
The psychic dispositions and cares that help in observing this great vow and enhance its effectiveness are as under:–
a. To carefully observe the ground and sweep it of any fine creatures that might be in the way while walking or moving from one place to the other.
b. Not to bring any sinful or worldly thoughts to the mind.
c. Not to utter any sinful or violent words.
d. To seek and accept food and other monastic necessities after careful observation for any flaws and without showing any undue humility or gratitude, fear or favour to the giver.
e. To carefully observe and sweep the places for disposal of waste materials or excretions for any fine and difficult to observe creatures in order to avoid hurting them in any manner.
2. The Second Great Vow : Mṛṣāvād Viramaṇa Vrat (Renunciation Of All Falsehood) –
The ascetics neither tell any lies, nor do they ask the others to tell any lies nor do they approve of anyone else telling any lies. They avoid falsehood mentally, bodily and vocally. They neither resort to lies either under the influence of passions, nor under the influence of attachment and aversion nor due to any fear or any other compulsion. Falsehood is deluding and defaming; it encourages enmity, hatred, disinterest and many other mental miseries. It ultimately takes the soul to bad destinies and is, therefore, worth giving up altogether. Having taken this vow, the ascetics always speak the truth, only the truth and nothing but the truth. The rule that guides his speech is to speak beneficial truths and to avoid verbosity. He neither gossips, nor utters querulous words nor decries others nor enters into unnecessary argument. He, thus, reveals the truth and refrains from the lies.
The psychic dispositions and cares that help in observing this great vow and enhance its effectiveness are as under:–
a. To speak thoughtfully and what one is sure about without undue hurry and haste.
b. Not to speak in anger.
c. To avoid greed.
d. Forgo fear, and
e. Forgo jocularity and ridicule.
3. The Third Great Vow : Adattādāna Viramaṇa Vrat (Renunciation Of Taking Any Ungiven Thing) –
The Jaina ascetics do not accept anything unless its rightful owner offers it to give it to them. Besides many other restrictions as to its suitability for their acceptance, this is one of the most important injunctions that they cannot take anything unless its rightful owner gives it to them. They can neither take anything like this themselves, nor cause it to be taken by someone else on their behalf nor approve of anyone taking anything without the permission of the rightful owner. Their vow also makes it binding on them neither to think of taking any ungiven thing nor to speak of such an infraction nor to physically take it as such. It is clear that taking anything ungiven is a direct outcome of greed. Therefore, the ascetics have to overcome greed in order to observe this vow flawlessly. What to say of valuable articles, the ascetics cannot accept even any trivial items like a toothpick or a blade of grass unless their rightful owners offer them. The bylaws of this vow even prohibit the ascetics to use those items that are brought by them for others’ use. The ascetics that have given up taking of ungiven things overcome fear, worry, sorrow and envy and are able to lead peaceful monastic lives. This vow applies equally to the items of food and other monastic necessities.
The psychic dispositions and cares that help in observing this great vow and enhance its effectiveness are as under:–
a. The ascetics must seek permission for the use of suitable places of residence only after due thought and consideration of their requirements even if more accommodation is available.
b. The shelters and beds etc must be used only after seeking due permission. Even trivial items must be used only after their owners have given permission for their use.
c. While seeking permission for residential accommodation, the permission for using the prayer–halls etc must also be taken. Also, they must use only the permitted portions and not more.
d. The brought food must be consumed only after seeking the permission of the guru or the most senior ascetic in the group.
e. If the ascetics of other monastic groups are also staying in the same premises, the portion under their permission must be used only after seeking their permission.
4. The Fourth Great Vow : Maithun Viramaṇa Vrat (Renoucing Sexual Indulgence) –
Under this great vow, the most difficult of all vows, the monks and nuns renounce all forms of sexual activities with the human and divine members of the opposite sex or with the neuters or the animals. This they do with three means and three methods. They neither indulge in such activities themselves nor do they get others to indulge in them nor do they approve of anyone indulging in such activities. They do not indulge in any amorous activity at thought, speech or physical level. For ensuring a flawless observance of this great vow the ascetics comply with nine provisions that have been especially formulated for the safety of this vow. They are –
a. The celibate monk must not stay, sit or sleep in a place that is inhabited by women, neuters and animals. He must stay in lonely shelters.
b. He must not indulge in amorous gossip concerning the enticing qualities of women.
c. He must not cultivate familiarity with women and must not talk to them for long and never in secluded places.
d. He must not observe the beauty of women nor must he look at the enticing parts of female anatomy.
e. He must not pay any attention to the women’s laughter, sensual talk, sweet voices, etc audible from across the wall, curtain or partition.
f. He must not recall the sexual and sensual enjoyments enjoyed when he was a householder.
g. He must not take highly nutritious and invigoratingly stimulating foods as they awaken sensual desires.
h. He must not overeat.
i. He must not be unduly concerned about his physical appearance and must not use cosmetics.
These provisions are quite comprehensive and also include the psychic dispositions and cares that help in observing this great vow and enhance its effectiveness.
5. The Fifth Great Vow : Parigraha Viramaṇa Vrat (Renouncing Encumbrance) –
The possessions are of two types – External and Internal. The external possessions are material and the internal ones are volitional and psychic. All kinds of wealth such as lands and buildings, gold and silver, servants and animals, etc belong to the first category and attachment, attraction, revulsion, laughter, fear, sorrow, hatred, anger, pride, guile, greed, libido, and falsehood belongs to the second. Actually, concern for anything other than the self (soul) is an encumbering adjunct and must be avoided by those who have their sights set on spiritualemancipation. Even if there is attachment towards own body, it is an encumbrance.
As the Jaina ascetics are said to be unencumbered (Nirgrantha). The question can be raised as to how is it that they are still in the possession of their own bodies as well as some monastic equipage such as woollen or peacock–feather sweep, wooden utensils or gourd for carrying water, books and other study material, as also some items of clothing and other necessities – how so ever minimal – by the ascetics of the white–clad (Śvetāmbara) sect? The answer lies not in their physical encumbrance but in the lack of attachment towards them.
The encumbrance is also an outcome of the greed–passion. It causes further spiritual damage, by associated anger, pride and deceit, that goes into their receipt, accumulation, enhancement, etc. Also, the gain gives rise to further greed and the vicious cycle goes on uninhibited unless it is checked consciously. We must recall, here, that greed is the most persistent passion that stays with the soul till the tenth stage of spiritual progress. Therefore, a conscious effort is called for overcoming this persistent passion.
The Jaina ascetics not only do not possess any valuable material belongings and whatever they have for sustaining their monastic practices is not encumbering for them, as they have no attachment for those belongings and look upon them as only necessary monastic aids. In doing so they abide by certain regulations such as –
a. They do not desire to possess anything how–so–ever valuable or trivial.
b. They do not accept anything unless it is within the limit laid down for their monastic equipage.
c. They accept only that much of food that can be consumed then and there for the Digambara ascetics and that very day for those of the Śvetāmbara pursuit.
d. They cannot store anything or even keep it overnight.
e. The ascetics accept clothing for protection from the vagaries of weather, for saving themselves from social censure and covering their nudity only and not for looking good.
The Jaina canons are so emphatic about the bondage of encumbrance that the very opening verse of the second primary canon – Sūtrakṛatāṅga – says, “Anyone who has an iota of sentient or insentient encumbrance, cannot liberate”. For the ascetics the Ācārāṅga goes a step further and says, “The monk who is encumbered is like a householder”. Such being the damaging influence of encumbrance, it is in fitness of things that the Jaina ascetics do everything possible to shed it.
a. An ascetic must be indifferent towards the pleasant or unpleasant words or sounds.
b. He must be indifferent towards the pleasant or unpleasant sights.
c. He must be indifferent towards the pleasant or unpleasant smells.
d. He must be indifferent towards the pleasant or unpleasant tastes, and
e. He must be indifferent towards the pleasant or unpleasant touches.
So stringent are the five great monastic vows.
6. Rātribhojan Viramaṇa Vrat (The Vow of Refraining From Eating at Night)
Besides these five great vows the Jaina clergy also accepts a sixth vow of not eating or drinking at night. The sixth aphorism of the fourth chapter of the famous Daśavaikālikasūtra, thatcontains the essence of monastic conduct, lays down that all ordained ascetics must, at the time of their ordination itself, take the vow of refraining from imbibing all four kinds of foods – staple food, fluids, nourishing foods and taste improvers – after the sun sets. They may neither imbibe such foods themselves, nor ask someone else to so imbibe such foods nor approve of anyone imbibing any food at night.
Ten Monastic Duties (Daśa Muni–Dharma) –
The venerable ascetics also observe the following ten monastic duties besides the aforementioned five great vows and the vow of refraining from eating or drinking at night: –
1. Noble Forgiveness – by overcoming anger and developing tolerance.
2. Noble Greedlessness – by overcoming attachment for material adjunct.
3. Noble Simplicity – by developing a guileless disposition.
4. Noble Softness – by overcoming pride.
5. Noble Lightness – by renouncing external and internal encumbrance.
6. Noble Truthfulness – by overcoming falsehood.
7. Noble Restraint – by overcoming indulgence.
8. Noble Penance – by overcoming desire.
9. Noble Renunciation – by overcoming greed, and
10. Noble Celibacy – by overcoming lust.
Monastic Virtues –
The Jaina ascetics are endowed with 27 monastic virtues as under: –
1–5. Observing five great vows of non–violence, truthfulness. Not taking of ungiven things, sexual continence and non–encumbrance (Five Mahāvrata),
6–10. Controlling five senses of touch, taste, hearing, smell and sight (Pañcendriya Nigraha),
11–14. Careful about four passions – anger, pride, guile and greed (Kas>āya–Vivek),
15. Volitional truth (Bhāva Satya),
16. True of methods (Karaṇa Satya),
17. True of means (Yoga Satya),
18. Forgiveness (Kṣamā),
19. Detachment (Vairāgya),
20. Propriety of thoughts (Mana–Samādhāraṇatā),
21. Propriety of speech (Vacana–Samādhāraṇatā),
22. Propriety of body (Kāya–Samādhāraṇatā),
23. Scriptural knowledge (Jñāna–Sampannata—),
24. Right–belief (Darśan–Sampannatā),
25. Right–conduct (Cāritra–Sampannatā),
26. Tolerance for pain and hardhips (Vedanā Sahanśīlatā), and
27. Equanimity in death (Mṛtyu Sahanśīlatā).
Six Essentials (Ṣaḍāvaśyaka) –
Monastic life is essentially spiritual. It, therefore, prescribes certain essential practices that must be undertaken by every member of ascetic order without fail. There are six such activities, which are called six essentials or ‘Ṣaḍāvaśyaka’. These activities have been so designed that they afford an ascetic aspirant opportunity for introspection and consequent correction if he starts going wrong at some stage in his monastic life. These six essential activities that must be undertaken everyday are as follows: –
1. Sāmāyik – Practising equanimity.
2. Caturviṁśatistava – Singing praise of twenty–four Lords Prophets who gave us the right–faith for our spiritual emancipation. This practice is to show gratitude to our greatest benefactors.
3. Vandan – reverently bowing to the spiritual preceptors who show us the path of salvation.
4. Pratikramaṇa – recalling all the infringements of theright–conduct committed during the period under review and repenting for and retracting from the committed infractions with a reaffirming of one’s faith by vowing not to commit such infringements in future. These are done every morning (Rātrik Pratikramaṇa) and evening (Devasik Pratikramaṇa), at the end of a fortnight (Pākṣik Pratikramaṇa), at the culmination of four–monthly cycles (Cāturmāsik Pratikramaṇa) and at the end of the year (Sāmvatsarik Pratikramaṇa). These observances afford the aspirant timely and periodic opportunities for introspection and correction.
5. Kāyotsarga – Practising periods of detachment from the body in order to achieve better concentration for spiritual pursuits.
6. Pratyākhyāna – Regularly renouncing something or the other in order to develop an attitude of detachment from the physical and an inclination for the transcendental.
Monastic Routine (Sāmācārī) –
The monastic life will cease to be the effective tool of spiritual emancipation if it did not adhere to a systematic and regular routine to direct their practical day–to–day conduct. The guideline for daily monastic routine is known as Sāmācārī. Besides matters like – obtaining the guru’s permission for going out on some essential detail (Āvaśyakī); reporting back to him on return (Naiṣedhikī); doing anything with the approval of the guru (Āpṛcchā); asking again if the permission is denied the first time and the reason is pressing enough (Pratipṛcchā); showing any food and other necessities brought from begging–rounds to the guru and then, with his approval, to invite the other members of the monastic group to share those things (Chandanā); requesting help from other members of the monastic group if it is convenient for them to render such help (Icchākāra); atoning for one’s misdemeanours by repenting for them by uttering ‘Micchā me dukkaḍaṁ (may my actions become false meaning that ‘may I be pardoned’)’ (Micchā–kāra); acknowledging instructions from the guru and the elders by saying ‘taha tti’ (Tathākāra); rising from one’s seat on the arrival of the guru and the elders in order to show reverence to them (Abhyutthān) and migration to other monastic groups for specific accomplishments (Upasampadā), the Uttarādhyayanasūtra mentions timely observance of the following eight monastic duties at their appropriate times of the day and the night: –
1. Scriptural study – in the first and fourth quarters of the day and the night,
2. Meditation – in the second quarters of the day and the night,
3. Inspection And Dusting Of Monastic Equipage – in the first fourths of the first and the last quarters of the day,
4. Service – as and when required by the guru and other old, feeble, student and sick members of the monastic group,
5. Seeking And Consuming Food – in the third quarter of the day,
6. Disposal Of Wastes – generally in the third quarter of the day, exceptionally at any time of the day or night,
7. Sleep – in the third quarter of the night, and
8. Tour – generally in the third quarter of the day, exceptionally at any time of the day.
Following such a regular and rigorous monastic routine keeps the members of the ascetic order in their best spiritual frame of mind and conduct.
Twelve Advanced Monastic Practices (Bhikṣu Pratimā) –
Monks resort to some advanced practices when they notice that leading prolonged normal monastic lives has not yielded the desired spiritual progress. These advanced monastic practices, known as Bhikṣu Pratimā, have been so designed as to achievegreat annihilation of karmic bondage in short periods of time. It is only to be expected that these advanced practices would be much more tedious than the normal ones. There are several kinds of advanced practices, undertaken by those who dare, all of which require a complete detachment from the bodily cares. Here, we describe those twelve advanced monastic practices and the special conditions under which they are observed as given in the canon ‘Daśāśruta–Skandha’ of the conduct genre.
The special conditions that are equally applicable to all the twelve advanced practices are as under: –
1. The practitioner of these advanced monastic practices must, generally, remain silent only and speak only on one of the four occasions such as
a. To beg for food and water,
b. To enquire the route, etc.
c. To seek permission for staying at a place, and
d. To answer the asked question.
2. The practitioner of these advanced practices must not leave a place once stayed in on the occurrence of any afflictions such as burning by somebody, etc. He must stay calm and composed and maintain a state of equanimity of mind even under such murderous and fatal afflictions.
3. He must not take out any insect that may fall in his eyes nor must he rub his eyes for any relief.
4. He must remain engrossed in his meditation even if provoked by some person(s) for sexual intercourse.
5. He must not bother about and endeavour to take out if some thorn or wooden wedge gets lodged in his feet while on his monastic tours.
6. On his way from one place to the other he must stop and take shelter, even under a tree, as soon as the sun sets.
7. He must not sleep on the bare ground even for the wink of an eye.
8. He must not bathe or wash except when soiled by food or excreta.
9. He must not change his course to save himself from the attacks of wild beasts, maddened horses, bulls or elephants.
10. He must not change place for comfort from the discomfort of cold and heat.
It is only such unimaginably difficult observances that annihilate the karmic bondage in no time.
The twelve advanced practices are as follows : –
1. First Month Long Advanced Practice (Māsikī Bhikṣu Pratimā) – In this month–long practice the monk lives on only one helping of food and one helping of water once a day, taken in his own hands joined together to form a receptacle (Kara–pātra). For seeking this little food and water, too, he lays down several conditions and accepts the food and drink only if those conditions are fulfilled and goes without food and water if the conditions are not fulfilled.
2. Second Month Long Practice (Dvaimāsikī Bhikṣu Pratimā) – At this stage the aspirant monk lives on two helpings of food and two of water for a period of one month. Other conditions remain as in the case of first Pratimā.
3. Third Month Long Practice (Traimāsikī Bhikṣu Pratimā) – At this stage the aspirant monk lives on three helpings of food and three of water for a period of one month. Other conditions remain as in the case of first Pratimā.
4. Fourth Month Long Practice (Cāturmāsikī Bhikṣu Pratimā) – At this stage the aspirant monk lives on four helpings of food and four of water for a period of one month. Other conditions remain unchanged.
5. Fifth Month Long Practice (Pañcamāsikī Bhikṣu Pratimā) – At this stage the aspirant monk lives on five helpings of food and five of water for a period of one month. Other conditions remain as in the first Pratimā.
6. Sixth Month Long Practice (Ṣaṇmāsikī Bhikṣu Pratimā) – At this stage the aspirant monk lives on six helpings of food and six of water for a period of one month. Other conditions remain as in the first Pratimā.
7. Seventh Month Long Practice (Saptamāsikī Bhikṣu Pratimā) – At this stage the aspirant monk lives on seven helpings of food and seven of water for a period of one month. Other conditions remain as in the first Pratimā.
8. First Seven Day–night Long Practice (Pratham Sapta Rātridivas Bhikṣu Pratimā) – At this stage the aspirant monk observes waterless fast for a period of seven days and nights. He leaves the inhabited area and goes out in the wilderness to meditate in lying down posture without bodily movements except for answering nature’s calls at specified places. He remains unmoved in his meditation in spite of afflictions caused by humans, beasts or gods. Other conditions remain unchanged.
9. Second Seven Day–night Long Practice (Dvitīya Sapta Rātridivas Bhikṣu Pratimā) – At this stage the aspirant monk observes waterless fast for a period of seven days and nights. He leaves the inhabited area and goes out in the wilderness to meditate lying down or sitting on one’s feet. Other conditions remain unchanged.
10. Third Seven Day–night Long Practice (Tritīya Sapta Rātridivas Bhikṣu Pratimā) – At this stage the aspirant monk observes waterless fast for a period of seven days and nights and meditates in cow–milking or warrior posture. Other conditions remain unchanged.
11. Day–night Long Practice (Ahorātra Bhikṣu Pratimā) – At this stage the aspirant monk observes waterless fast for a period of two days and meditates in a posture in which he stands with his legs slightly bent and his arms stretched to his knees. Other conditions remain unchanged.
12. Night Long Practice (Rātrikī Bhikṣu Pratimā) – At this final stage of advanced monastic practice, the aspirant monk observes waterless fast for a period of three days and nights and meditates in a posture in which he keeps his body bent forward and keeps his arms outstretched. He keeps his eyes open and his gaze fixed on one inanimate object and bears all afflictions with equanimity. Other conditions remain unchanged. This practice is considered to be most critical and while its successful culmination may render the aspirant monk achieve great spiritual accomplishments such as clairvoyant perception or telepathic perception or even omniscience, failure may render him insane or afflicted with incurable malady.
These advanced practices used to be observed in the distant past and are no longer in current practice. The reason being lack of bodily prowess of the present day monks who lack the make and mettle of the monks of the days of yore. Also, for similar reasons, in those days, too, these practices used to be carried out only by the monks and not by the nuns.
Preparation And Practice Of Voluntary Death (Sallekhanā Santhārā) –
The ascetics also undertake this practice for the same reasons and rationale as mentioned under the same heading in the part of this chapter on Householders’ conduct. The practice is carried out in two parts – the preparatory part called Sallekhanā and the practice part called Santhārā. Sallekhanā is the preparatory penance in order to purify the soul by weakening the body and may extend up to a period of twelve years. After the preparatorypenance, the ascetic proceeds to embrace death by giving up food when he realises that his living any longer is not only spiritually unproductive but, actually, counterproductive due to his inability to carry out the usual monastic practices for want of bodily strength or owing to disablement due to disease. The Santhārā or the actual embracing of voluntary death in a state of equanimity of mind is carried out in one of the following three ways: –
a. Bhakta Pratyākhyāna– Renouncing all four kinds of food – Staple food, water, nourishing food and mouth–fresheners – for life and accepting fast unto death. In this form of observance, no restrictions are placed on his movements as well as on taking care of his own needs or accepting the services from the others.
b. Ingini–maraṇa – Besides accepting fast unto death, confining oneself to a predetermined premises. Movement within the specified area is permitted. The subject may attend to his own requirements but may not avail of the others’ services.
c. Pādapopagamana – Besides accepting fast unto death the subject practitioner confining himself to the deathbed only and keeps lying like a fallen tree without any movement.
Improper Monastic Conduct –
There are some activities that are considered unsaintly and are contraindicated for the monks and nuns. Daśavaikālikasūtra mentions 52 such activities. They are –
1. Taking food cooked for them,
2. Taking items purchased for their sake,
3. To accept invitation,
4. Accepting food brought to their place of residence,
7. Using perfumes,
8. Wearing flower garlands,
9. Fanning oneself,
10. Storing food,
11. Using householders’ utensils,
12. Taking food from the royal households,
13. Accepting food from the giver who gives on desire,
14. Getting one’s body pressed for relieving pain,
16. Enquire after householders’ worldly welfare,
17. Looking at one’s mirror image,
19. Wearing umbrellas,
20. Taking undue treatments without any serious ailment,
21. Wearing shoes,
22. Starting fires,
23. Accepting food from the provider of shelter,
24. Sitting on chair, sofas, etc.
25. Using beds and bedsteads meant for the householders’ use
26. Sitting in others’ households without any just reason,
27. Using body–pastes,
28. Accepting householders’ services,
29. Working for a living,
30. Using untreated water,
31. Recalling household comforts when tormented by monastic hardships,
32. Taking fresh and raw roots even as medicine,
33. Eating ginger,
34. Sucking at sugarcane pieces,
35. Eating bulbous roots,
36. Eating roots like radish, carrots etc,
37. Eating fruits like mangoes, citrus fruit etc.
38. Eating raw seeds,
39. Eating raw rock–salt,
40. Eating raw salt from the salt–lakes,
41. Taking raw salt of the Romak variety,
42. Taking raw table salt of sea origin,
43. Eating raw salt collected from the saline sodic lands,
44. Taking raw black salt,
45. Perfuming the clothes etc by burning incense,
46. Vomiting by taking medicines,
47. Taking animas for clearing the bowels,
48. Taking laxatives,
49. Applying mascara to the eyes,
50. Applying tooth powder or brushing the teeth with twigs or brushes,
51. Massaging the body with oils, and
52. Adorning the body with good clothes and jewellery, etc.
It is plain from this list of unmonastic activities that the Jaina monastic code of conduct aims at spiritual beautification of the soul rather than its physical embodiment. The ascetics are required to lead a simple and spiritual life and not a comfort–loving, food–loving, physical and fashion–loving life.
Bearing Monastic Hardships –
Monastic life is not a bed of roses. It is a life to be devoted to spiritual pursuits by renouncing physicality. On its way to spiritual perfection the spiritual aspirant comes across many a hardship that tests his mettle. Those who endure these hardships succeed in achieving their ultimate aim of spiritual perfection and those who succumb to them fall by the way–side. The twenty second section of Samavāyāṅga and the second chapter of the Uttarādhyayana–sūtra mention twenty–two such hardships that the ascetics must endure. They are as follows: –
1. Hunger – when suitable flawless food is not available.
2. Thirst – when suitable flawless water is not available.
3. Cold – bearing intense cold in few clothes or wraps,
4. Heat – bearing intense heat of summer without fanning, bathing as well as by walking barefoot.
5. Insect–bite – bearing mosquito and other insect–bites with equanimity,
6. Nakedness – bearing nudity or discomfort of living with few clothes only,
7. Distraction – patiently bearing the distraction caused by hardships,
8. Opposite sex – remaining detached in the presence of the members of opposite sex,
9. Touring – patiently bearing the discomfort of constantly touring the country side for spreading the gospel,
10. Uneven seat – patiently bearing the discomfort of uneven seat,
11. Unsuitable shelter – to bear the hardship of unsuitable shelter,
12. Wrath – to calmly bear somebody’s even uncalled for wrath,
13. Beating – to bear the beating with equanimity,
14. Begging – not to consider monastic mendicancy as degrading and bearing the insults, if any, with fortitude,
15. Non–gain – to bear the non–gain of food etc unruffled,
16. Disease – not to despair on falling ill,
17. Grass–touch – to bear the discomfort of getting scratched when sleeping on grass–beds,
18. Mire – to bear the discomfort of body and cloth mire when they get soiled,
19. Reverence – not to be proud when revered by important people,
20. Learning – to bear the discomfort of constant enquiry by the learners,
21. Ignorance – bearing the curse of ignorance with the thought that it is due to the effect of the knowledge obscuring karma, and
22. Faith – to remain steadfast in own right–belief and not waver by seeing others’ name and fame.
Types Of Monastic Ordinations –
The scriptures mention five types of monastic ordinations starting from the simplest type called ‘Sāmāyik Cāritra’ to the ultimate monastic conduct of the enlightened souls known as ‘Yathākhyāt Cāritra’. The three that fall in between are – ‘Chedopasthāpanīya Cāritra’, ‘Parihāraviśuddha Cāritra’ and ‘Sūkṣma Samparāya Cāritra’.
1. Sāmāyik Cāritra – In this type of ordination the initiated aspirant renounces all forms of violence, sensory enjoyments, passions and encumbrance as well as night–eating and aspires to gain a state of volitional equanimity.
2. Chedopasthāpanīya Cāritra – the aspirant ascetic is taken off the Sāmāyik conduct and re–established in the five great vows. This type of ordination has provisions for exceptions to the rules of conduct and awarding of due expiation therefor. The term ‘ched’ refers to reduction in monastic seniority or expulsion from the monastic order as a punishment depending upon the severity of the infraction and upasthāpana means reinstatement after due expiation.
3. Parihāra–viśuddha Cāritra – this is a more stringent form of monastic conduct in which both, the flaws and consequent karmic bondage are minimised.
4. Sūkṣma Samparāya Cāritra – In this type of conduct the aspirant ascetic overcomes all types of passion except some traces of greed–passion.
5. Yathākhyāt Cāritra – This is the monastic conduct of ultimate purity in which there are no spiritual flaws left. This state of conduct is achieved by the corporeal and incorporeal omniscient souls.
Renunciation And Exceptions –
Out of the five aforementioned types of monastic ordinations only the first two are being practised in the present times. The reason for such a limitation is the limitation of physical inability of the present day ascetics for the lack of appropriately strong physical constitutions.
The second type of ordination – Chedopasthāpanīya – indicates that in the present times the ascetics are bound to flinch from their expected monastic conduct and, therefore, prescribes suitable expiating penance or punishments in the form of reduction or excommunication. If there were no exceptions to the prescribed conduct there would be no necessity to prescribe the expiating penance and the punishments as well.
However, the monastic code for the present times also has some acceptable exceptions to the true monastic practices for which one can atone by undertaking awarded expiating penance or reduction in monastic seniority. The faults that exceed these acceptable exceptions come in the category of monastic misconduct and calls for severe punishments like excommunication or re–ordination after ascertaining that the subject defaulter is unlikely to commit such misconduct again.
VIGILANCE (SAMITI) AND RESTRAINT (GUPTI)
Care Causes No Sins –
When Lord Mahāvīra was asked as to how should an ascetic walk, stand, sit, sleep, eat and speak so as not to incur sin, the Lord replied that an ascetic who walks, stands, sits, sleeps, eats and speaks carefully does not incur sin. It can be inferred from this adage that one who is casual and careless in doing anything incurs sin. We can sum up this exchange in this phrase – “Care causes no sins, casual conduct does”. Therefore, for obvious reasons, Jaina ethics is very particular in ensuring physical, mentaland vocal discipline of its followers to the minutest details. There are, therefore, rules that govern the DOs and DON’Ts for the Jaina clergy in the matters of walking, talking, and thinking, as well as in seeking and consuming or using necessities such as food, clothing study material etc and discarding and disposal of wastes. These are at two levels – Prescriptive and Prohibitive. Five types of vigilance (Pañca Samiti) fall in the first category while the three types of restraints (Trigupti) fall in the second. Samitis constitute the DOs as they tell the clergy as to how to do while Guptis constitute the DONTs as they tell it as to how not to do things. This chapter deals with these DOs and DON’Ts.
This alertness and self–control guards the purity and thereby protects the sanctity of the five great monastic vows. Therefore, taken together, these are also known as Pravacan Mātā or the godmother of monastic wisdom. To understand this status, we must appreciate that these DOs and DON’Ts are at the conduct level, which, in turn, are guided by knowledge and vision or ‘monastic wisdom’.
Samiti – Cautious or watchful action with due care and attention is called ‘vigilance’ or ‘Samiti’. The Jaina thought talks of five–way vigilance to be observed by the members of its ascetic order. The five areas of activity in which an ascetic is expected to be vigilant are – 1. Exercising vigilance in moving from place to place (Iryā Samiti), 2. Exercising vigilance in the use of language while talking or preaching (BhāṣāSamiti), 3. Exercising vigilance in seeking food etc. (Eṣaṇā Samiti), 4. Exercising vigilance in looking after monastic equipage (Ādānabhaṇḍa Nikṣepaṇā Samiti), and 5. Exercising vigilance in disposal of wastes and excretions (Pariṣṭhāpanikā Samiti). It can be seen that Samitis are prescriptive in nature for they advocate cautious or watchful action.
Gupti – Withholding improper action is called self–control or Gupti. Depending on the type of activity to be withheld, they are of three types. Withholding improper mental activity is mental self–control or Manogupti, doing away with improper speech is vocal self–control or Vacan–gupti and withholding improper physical activity is bodily self–control or Kāya–gupti. It is easy to see that these three types of self–controls or Guptis are prohibitive in nature as they advocate refraining from mental, vocal and physical impropriety.
In other words we can say that discrete activity is Samiti and refraining from indiscretion in the interest of preservation of the Self is Gupti. However, this classification is not final. The Uttarādhyayana–sūtra mentions eight Samitis instead of five Samitis and three Guptis. The author of that monumental work argues that the three Guptis are also not only prohibitive but prescriptive as well. When withholding of improper thoughts is recommended, proceeding with the proper thoughts is implied and it becomes prescriptive by implication. Similar arguments can be advanced for the vocal and physical activities as well.
In keeping with the present trend, we shall follow the classification of five Samitis and three Guptis.
Five–way Vigilance (Pañca Samiti) –
Bringing out the importance of vigilance, Ācarya Śivakoṭi (Śivārya) of Bhagavatī–ārādhanāfame has written in his famous work Mūlāradhanā that the vigilant ascetic who is ever alert and cautious does not get mired by the karma–mire and incurs no sin even while living in the world beset with it. As pointed out earlier, there are five areas of activity in which an ascetic is required to exercise vigilance. They are as follows: –
1. Vigilant Movements (Iryā Samiti) –
To exercise vigilance while moving from one place to the other by carefully observing the ground in front up to a distance of four hands (six feet) is Iryā Samiti. For proper exercise of thistype of vigilance it is essential to be careful about four considerations of movement, namely 1. Reason (Ālamban), 2. Time (Kāla), 3. Path (Mārga), and 4. Care (Yatnā).
From the first consideration of reason, the ascetic must move out of the place of residence only on purpose when it becomes absolutely essential. He is not to move about aimlessly. Even when going out on essential purpose, he must seek his Guru’s permission by stating his purpose aloud three times. The essential purposes for which an ascetic may move about are for scriptural study, meditation, seeking food, water and other essential monastic requirements, for answering nature’s calls, etc.
From the second consideration of time, the ascetic must move about only during the day–light hours and not at night. The reason for this injunction is obvious. They can observe any small creatures on the way during the day, which is not possible at night. While they are totally prohibited to go out at night for the purpose of seeking anything, movements with due care and continuous sweeping of the ground ahead with their woollen sweeps is permitted for answering the nature’s calls. Even when ascetics are moving from one village or town to the other and it becomes dark on the way, they must find the nearest shelter and stay there until next morning when they can resume their tour. It is prescribed that they ought to stop as soon as the Sun sets even if they have to take shelter under a tree. For similar considerations of protecting fine lives, the ascetics are not allowed to tour or peregrinate from place to place during the rainy season.
From the third consideration of path, ascetics must generally move along only those land routes that are even. Only under exceptional circumstances can they move along uneven land routes and water–ways. They must also avoid treading on wet ground, water puddles, grassy or moss infested patches, etc. As far as air travel is concerned, the scripture mentions the flying prowess of some specially accomplished saints who could make use of their special accomplishment under exceptional circumstances. The Jaina lore is silent about air–travel in the current sense of the term for the simple reason that it was not prevalent at the time when they were composed or even reduced to writing.
From the fourth consideration of care, the ascetics move with due care by observing the ground in front up to a distance of four hands while moving during the day, by sweeping the ground with their sweeps when it becomes necessary to move at night, and that, too, with due concern. The ascetics are not supposed to distract themselves by talking reading or reciting anything while moving so that they may concentrate only on the path ahead and their attention is not divided.
2. Vigilant Speech (Bhāṣā Samiti) –
To speak in discrete language without anger, pride, guile and greed, ridicule, fear, verbosity, and gossip when required and to speak in few true and beneficial words is to observe the rules of vigilant speech or Bhāṣā Samiti. Vigilant speech requires that the ascetics speak only purposefully and not without purpose, they must avoid ambiguity and speak at the appropriate time only and not out of turn. They must, at all times, be concerned that their speech does not compromise truth and, at the same time, does not hurt someone.They must not speak in harsh and querulous tones, avoid using fractious language, and must never utter such words as may cause violence. They must avoid speaking while walking and must not speak aloud late at night when others are either meditating or sleeping.
We can sum up the provisions of Bhāṣā Samiti in terms of the famous Upaniṣadic adage “Satyaṁ bruyāt, priyaṁ bruyāt, Mā bruyāt asatamapriyaṁ” meaning ‘Speak the truth, speak the beneficial truth; Don’t speak harmful or untrue words’.
3. Vigilant Seeking Of Food etc (Eṣaṇā Samiti) –
To seek and obtain food and other monastic necessities like shelter, clothes, utensils, etc with due discretion is to observe the rules of vigilant seeking or Eṣaṇ>ā Samiti. Food is the prime necessity for preserving the body, which is a means to perform even the monastic duties. According to the practices followed in the two traditions – Digambara and Śvetā–mbara – there is some amount of monastic equipage that their ascetics keep. Seeking these necessities requires exercise of a lot of care and watchful discretion. The ascetics have to be extra careful because exercising due care may even deprive them of accepting available food and other necessities and they may be tempted to overlook some provisions. Jaina practices prescribe seeking and accepting food only for sustaining life for preserving the body for monastic duties and not for satisfying their taste–buds or enhancing their bodily strength and looks. They are, therefore, to avoid 42 flaws of seeking food. Mūlācāra by Vaṭṭakera also mentions 46 flaws of origin, production, purposive food, etc, which must be avoided by the ascetics while seeking and accepting food. The spatial constraint of distance directs that food can be sought only within a distance of two miles, that of time specifies that food must be sought, brought and consumed within the third quarter of the day (these days, however, the food is sought brought and consumed three times a day. Nevertheless, time–constraint still applies and the ascetics are not supposed to keep the food for more than three–quarters of the day), the constraint of mood requires them not to have any attachment towards food or other material monastic possessions.
For a proper observance of these discretionary provisions, only those monks or nuns are allowed to proceed on food–seeking rounds, who have studied the ‘Piṇḍaniryukti’ that contains detailed descriptions of all the flaws of seeking food and the ways to avoid them. Only those monks or nuns who have studies Ācārāṅga can seek shelters and clothing. Even if the other ascetics may have to seek food etc under special circumstances the items brought by them are not used by other ascetics.
4. Vigilant Care Of Equipage (Ādāna–bhaṇḍa Nikṣepaṇā Samiti) –
The ascetics are required to carefully inspect and maintain all their possessions such as clothes, utensils, books, etc twice a day in the first fourths of the first and the last quarters. To take these items carefully, to clean them carefully so as to avoid killing or hurting any living being, how–so–ever small and to put them back on swept ground equally carefully after such an inspection and maintenance is vigilant care or ‘Ādāna Bhaṇḍamātra Nikṣepaṇā Samiti’. The four considerations of this vigilance are 1. To take and put back, after inspection and cleaning, carefully, 2. To inspect and clean all the area under use, 3. To carry out such inspection twice a day at appointed hours, and 4. To be duly concerned about the timely inspections and cleaning. Even the ground for disposal of wastes and excretions is required to be inspected and cleared, before hand, during the day–light hours and swept again just before disposing of something.
The reason for this provision is that anything that lies unused for some time harbours small insects and microscopic organism. Timely inspection, airing and cleaning prevents such harbouring and growth and consequent violence towards them.
The procedure for such inspections and cleaning has also been very carefully drawn and requires that the ascetics perform these tasks, with utmost care, by separating individual items and unfolding them for proper scrutiny. They are not supposed to shake them violently and not to distract themselves in other activities while carrying out these inspections and cleaning.
5. Vigilant Disposal Of Wastes And Excretions Pariṣṭhāpanikā Samiti) –
The ascetics have to dispose of certain waste materials such as broken utensils, worn out sweeps and unusable pieces of clothes as well as certain body–excretions such as faeces, urine, sputum, nasal discharge etc. Their vow of observing complete non–violence towards all forms of living being makes it incumbent on them to dispose of these things in such a way as to cause no or as minimal hurt to life as possible. For ensuring such vigilance they inspect the areas in the vicinity of the places of their stay and identify such places that are comparatively free from the infestation of insects and other difficult to observe fine creatures. Also, there is a social angle to the selection of disposal grounds. The items to be disposed of are of repulsive nature and their disposal at places in the vicinity of the habitation in the clear view of other inhabitants may invite social censure and ill–will from the neighbourhood. From these considerations the selected disposal grounds may fall in one of the four categories in their diminishing order of suitability – 1. Away from habitation and out of sight, 2. Away from habitation but observable, 3. Near the habitation but out of sight and 4. Near the habitation and within sight. However, the care must be taken to select places, which are free of living creatures. Dry grounds, dry pits, funeral grounds where the fire of the pyre has been extinguished recently, where no grass is growing and which is free from seeds.
Having selected the place, the ascetics dispose of various disposable things there only after carefully inspecting the place for any fine creatures and sweeping them off if there are any.
Three–way Self–control (Trigupti) –
Withholding inappropriate action is Gupti. Depending upon the type of activity the self–controls may be of three types – mental, vocal or physical. Consequently, there are three Guptis known as 1. Manogupti, 2. Vacan–gupti and 3. Kāya–gupti.
1. Mental Self–control (Manogupti) –
To withhold the violent thoughts of the mind and to direct them towards non–violence is mental self–restraint or Manogupti. For example, to think of causing harm to someone, to think of the means to cause such harm and to think of collecting such means and of proceeding to cause such harm are the stages of mental impropriety and to withhold such thoughts is mental self–control. Mental self–control is of paramount importance for a spiritual aspirant as concentration and meditation both result from a controlled mind only. An out of control mind is like a stubborn horse with vice, which can only harass the rider. On the contrary, a restrained mind is like a well–trained horse that gives the rider immense riding–pleasure. It is said of the mind that it is the cause of all karmic bondage (Manaḥ eva manuṣyāṇāṁ karma–bandhan– kārayoḥ) as well as liberation therefrom. The inappropriate thoughts can be withheld in two ways – 1. By killing the thoughts and 2. By directing them in right direction. The first method results in resistance and revolt and many psychosomatic manifestations. It is the second method, which is positive and desirable.
2. Vocal Self–control (Vacan–gupti) –
Withholding inappropriate vocal activity is vocal self–control or Vacan–gupti. The examples of restrained speech are – not to utter hurtful words, not to order violent activities, not to tell lies, not to gossip, not to back–bite, to observe periods of silence etc. Vocal self–restraint is highly important because the sword–wounds heal with time but word–wounds rankle forever. Also, the whole body and the soul suffer the harmful effects of a bad tongue. According to the Uttarādhyayanasūtra the Lord said to Gaṇadhar Gautam that by vocal self–restraint one can achieve the mental restraint as well.
3. Physical Self–control (Kāya–gupti) –
To refrain from physical preparation and execution of deeds harmful to the others is to observe physical self–control or Kāya–gupti. This is evident in refraining from thoughtless activities, unnecessary movements; sitting, standing and sleeping carelessly and in refraining from inauspicious activities. The direct outcome of physical self–control is achievement of karmic stoppage. Actually, physical self–ontrol is the stepping stone to the vocal and mental self–control.
The way to achieve physical self–control is to develop a spiritual outlook. Unless we stop concentrating on physicality and sensory pleasures we cannot expect to control the physical self. The Jaina concept of duality of body and soul is an effective tool to achieve physical self–control and thereby the vocal and the mental self–controls as well.
The vigilance and restraint, Samiti and Gupti, or eight mothers of monastic spiritual wisdom (Aṣṭa Pravacana–mātā) are the means of ensuring the purity and rightness of the monastic conduct. In the words of Śivārya in Bhagavatī–ārādhanā, “Samiti and Gupti protect the right–belief, right–knowledge and right–conduct of the ascetics in the same way as the mothers protect their children.
Right–conduct is an inescapable requirement for the aspirants of liberation from the mundane miseries and gaining of eternal bliss. This chapter brought out, in sufficient details, the right conduct for the members of the monastic order in all their glories.
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