Positive Non-Violence


Appendix: Canonical quotes in support of positive non-violence (7)

1 Vaiyāvṛtya (service)

2 Types of vaiyāvṛtya (service)

3 The importance of vaiyāvṛtya (service)

  VAIYĀVṚTYA (service)

Veyāvaccaṁ abbhintaro tavo |

- Uttarādhyayana, 30.30.

That is, – Service is a form of internal penance (that results in great karmic destruction and reduction).

Vyāpadi yatkriyate tad vaiyāvṛtyaṁ |

- Dhavalā, Book 13, p. 63.

That is, – The cooperation that is extended when needed (in troubled situations) is said to be service.

Comments – This characteristic of service explains its basic nature. Though the term ‘vaiyāvṛtya’ is generally employed for rendering service to the ordained ascetics only, it takes the form of any service rendered to the householders when they are in trouble due to natural or manmade causes.

Addhāṇa-teṇa-sāvada-rāya-ṇadīrodhaṇāsive ome |

Vejjāvaccaṁ vuttaṁ saṅgaha-sārakkhaṇo vedaṁ |

- Mūlācāra, 5.194; Bhagavatī Ārādhanā, 305.

That is, – To serve and protect the ordained ascetics that are tired from long monastic tours, that have been harassed by the thieves, that have been attacked by wild beasts, that have been prohibited (to move about and preach) by the king, that have been held by flooded river, that have been sick and hungry due to famine, etc., is said to be vaiyāvṛtya or noble and selfless service.

Kāyaceṣṭayā dravyāntareṇa copāsanaṁ vaiyāvṛtyaṁ |

- Sarvārthasiddhi, 9.20.

That is, – To serve with own body or with any other material means is vaiyāvṛtya.

Vyāvṛttasya bhāvaḥ karma ca vaiyṛvṛtyaṁ |

Kāya-ceṣṭayā dravyāntareṇa vā vyāvṛttasya bhāvaḥ karma vā vaiyāvṛtya-mityucyate |

- Tattvārthavārtika, 9.24.2.

That is, – The intention and the act of service constitute complete service. Whatever the servant does bodily or with other material with appropriate emotions is said to be noble service.

Ācāryādināṁ vyādhi-parīṣaha-mithyātvādyupanipāte satyapratyupakārāśayā prāsukauṣadhabhukti-pānā’’śraya-pīṭha-phalakasaṁstārādibhirdharmopakaraṇaistatpratikāraḥ samyaktvapratyavasthāpanamityevamādivaiyāvṛtyaṁ |

Bāhyasyauṣadha-bhukti-pānāderasambhave svakāyena śleṣmasiṅghāṇakānatarmalādyapakarṣaṇādi tadānukūlyānu-ṣṭhānaṁ ca vaiyāvṛtyamiti kathyate |

- Cāritrasāra, pp.66-67.

That is, – When Ācārya, etc., suffer from any disease or monastic hardship or fall prey to false vision, the service rendered to them with an intent to reestablish them in truth and without expecting anything in return in order to mitigate their troubles arising out of their sickness and hardships by way of giving them flawless medicine, food, water, shelter, monastic equipment and bed, backrest, etc., is said to be noble service. When it is not possible to give them external medication, food, water, etc., even to comfort them by way of taking and disposing of their spittle, phlegm, excrement, etc., is also said to be rendering of noble service.

Ādhivyādhiniruddhasya niravadyena karmaṇā |

Saucintyakaraṇaṁ proktaṁ, vaiyāvṛtyaṁ vimuktaye |

- Upāsakādhyayana, 214.

That is, – To serve a person suffering from mental or physical sickness through non-violent means is to render noble service.

Vaiyāvṛtyaṁ kāyikvyāpārāhārādibhirūpagrahaṇaṁ |

- Mūlācāravṛtti, 4.53.

That is, – To serve bodily or by giving food etc., is to render noble service.

Anavadyena vidhinā guṇavatāṁ, duḥkhāpanayanaṁ vaiyāvṛtyamucyate |

- Tattvārthavṛtti śruta., 6.24.

That is, – To serve the virtuous with non-violent means is said to be noble service.

Comments – In canonical literature Vaiyāvṛtya has been given a place amongst the internal penances and it has been depicted as a potent means of destroying and reducing accumulated karmic bondages. The ordained ascetics must serve the spiritual masters, teachers, senior ascetics, austere ones, newly ordained young ascetics, ascetics that are receiving education, the sick ones, etc., on priority. So much so that they must leave everything else such as self-study, etc., and serve the needy ascetics. When this activity of service has been given such a high priority in the monastic life, why should it be any less important in the householders’ lives?


Veyāvacce dasavihe paṇṇate, taṁ jahā –

1. Āyariya-veyāvacce

2. Uvajjhāya-veyāvacce

3. Thera-veyāvacce

4. Tavassī-veyāvacce

5. Gilāṇa-veyāvacce

6. Seha- veyāvacce

7. Kula- veyāvacce

8. Gaṇa- veyāvacce

9. Saṅgha- veyāvacce

10. Sāhammiya- veyāvacce

- Vyākhyāprajñapti Śataka 25, Uddeśaka 7.

That is, – Noble service is of ten types, such as –

1. Service rendered to the spiritual master,

2. Service rendered to the spiritual teacher,

3. Service rendered to the senior monks,

4. Service rendered to the monks that undertake penances,

5. Service rendered to the sick monks,

6. Service rendered to the studying and young monks,

7. Service rendered to the monastic family,

8. Service rendered to the monastic group,

9. Service rendered to the religious order, and

10.Service rendered to the coreligionists.

Comments – These various types of services have been mentioned with reference to monastic life. However, some of these types of services are applicable to the householders as well. For example – serving the sick, serving the newly ordained and studying, serving the austere ones, serving the monastic families, groups and orders, etc.,. For the householders the field of service is very vast.

Tivihe veyāvacce paṇṇate, taṁ jahā –

1. Āya-veyāvacce 2. Para-veyāvacce

3. Tadubhaya-veyāvacce

That is – Noble service is of three types, such as –

1. Service rendered to self (Ātmavaiyāvṛtya),

2. Service rendered to the other (Paravaiyāvṛtya),

3. Service rendered to both (Tadubhayavaiyāvṛtya),

Comments – The service can be rendered to the self as well as to the other or to both. When we take care of our body realising fully well that it is quite distinct from our soul, it will be self-service. The service to the others can be rendered physically, mentally and verbally as well as through one’s wealth, and material belongings etc.,. Here we get the concepts of both kinds of services.

Cattāri purisajāyā paṇṇattā taṁ jahā –

1. Ātaveyāvaccakare ṇāmamege, ṇo paraveyāvaccakare

2. Paraveyāvaccakare ṇāmamege, ṇo Ātaveyāvaccakare

3. Ege ātaveyāvaccakare vi, paraveyāvaccakare vi

4. Egeṇo ātaveyāvaccakare, ṇo paraveyāvaccakare

That is – There are four kinds of people, such as –

1. Some serve themselves but do not serve the others,

2. Some do not serve themselves but serve others,

3. Some serve themselves as well as the others,

4. Some neither serve themselves nor serve others,

- Sthānāṅga sūtra, Ch.4, Uddeśaka 3

Comments – These four types of servants quoted above from the Sthānāṅga sūtra have been mentioned with reference to monastic life.



Kiṁ Bhante! jo gilāṇaṁ paḍiyarai se dhaṇṇe udāhu je tumaṁ daṁsaṇeṇa paḍivajjai?”

Goyama! je gilāṇaṁ paḍiyarai |”

Se keṇaṭṭheṇaṁ Bhante! evaṁ vuccai?”

Goyama! Je gilāṇaṁ paḍiyarai se maṁ daṁsaṇeṇa paḍivajjai | Je maṁ daṁsaṇeṇa paḍivajjai se gilāṇaṁ paḍiyarai tti | Āṇākaraṇa-sāraṁ khu Arahantāṇaṁ daṁsaṇaṁ | Goyama! evaṁ vuccai – “Je gilāṇaṁ paḍiyarai se maṁ paḍivajjai | Je maṁ paḍivajjai se gilāṇaṁ paḍiyarai |”

- Āvaśyakasūtra, Haribhadra (comm.), Agamodaya Samiti, Surat, 1917, folio 661-62.

“Lord! Who is blessed, the one who serves the ill and the miserable or the one who serves you?”

Gautama! The one who serves the ill and the miserable.”

“Lord! Why do you say so?”

Gautama! One, who serves the ill and the miserable, serves me and the one who serves me, serves the ill and the miserable. This is the essence of the Arihanta’s teaching. Therefore, O’ Gautama! I say that the one who serves the ill and the miserable, serves me and the one who serves me serves the ill and the miserable.”

Comments – In this conversation between Bhagvān Mahāvīra and His principal disciple Gaṇadhara Gautama the service rendered to the sick has been reckoned as equivalent to worshipping the Lord, probably even more than that.

Ātmaprayojanapara eva jāyate svādhyāyameva kurvan |

Vaiyāvṛtyakarastu svaṁ paraṁ coddharati manyet |

- Bhagavatī Ārādhanā, 329.

That is, – One who undertakes self-study does well by himself only while the one who undertakes an act of service does well by himself as well as the others.

Veyāvacceṇaṁ Bhante! Jīve kiṁ jaṇayai?”

Veyāvacceṇaṁ titthayaranāmagottaṁ kammaṁ nibandhai |”

- Uttarādhyayana sūtra, 29.45.

“Lord! What does a soul gain by rendering noble service?”

“By rendering noble service a soul bonds Tīrthankara body making and status giving karmic bonds.”

Comments – This conversation indicates the bonding of Tīrthankara body making and status giving karmic bonds as a result of rendering noble service and highlights the importance of vaiyāvṛtya (service).

Continued …

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