TEN UNIVERSAL VIRTUES
(Uttama Brahmacarya Dharma)
ills of life are cured, if you root out lust from your heart.'
a word with a
very wide scope. It means maintaining sexual purity by assuming the strict
aspect of celibacy. (Brahma) means soul, which is chaste,
enlightened, eternal and blissful. To become fully engrossed in soul is
The opposite of
(Brahma) is (Abraham) -sexuality. It is of several forms -match-making
(bringing about marriages as a hobby), unnatural gratification, indulging
in voluptuous speech, and visiting immoral married and unmarried women,
are all different forms of Unchastity or sexuality.
The vow of chastity is an
ornament of a man and a woman both; it is a garland woven by auspicious
virtues and is a gateway to heaven. Chastity is the most precious jewel of
a lady. "The impenetrable fence which protects a woman is her virtue of
celibacy; no other fence can safeguard her as well." Indeed, chastity thy
name is woman.
Observance of chastity
keeps the body healthy and free from sickness; and it develops the mind
i.e., sharpens the intelligence. All people honor a chaste man in this
world and such a man become entitled to enter heaven or attain salvation.
Non-observance of chastity makes one suffer many types of miseries in this
world; also, he or she is destined to go to hell in the next births. An
unchaste person always lives awe-stricken lest his/her immoral deeds
should come to limelight, and on being caught red-handed he/she has to
suffer great humiliation and undergo different types of punishments. In
truth, 'Too much indulgence in sexual pleasures brings physical as well as
The root of self-restraint
or abstention from sensual pleasures is good conduct; and both
self-restraint and good conduct are dependent on chastity. The persons who
realize the need and glory of celibacy in human life come to know the
significance of self-restraint and good conduct very well. The capability
of sustaining the life force in the body is celibacy. It alone generates
vitality, radiance and luster in the body. The American saint Thoray has
said, "Chastity is the flower of life tree; genius, purity and velour are
its numerous fruits." Self-restraint is attained only through good conduct
A monk came to take meals
at the house of a Seth. After taking meals the holy saint dwelt
upon the significance of chastity in his sermon. On hearing the importance
and glory of celibacy, Jin Datt, the son of the Seth, took the vow
to observe celibacy during the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of
every month. On the other hand, Jin Datta, the daughter of the Seth
of Ujjain City, had taken a vow to observe celibacy during the dark
of every month. Ignorant of each other's pledges, as the chance would have
it, Jin Datt and Jin Datta were tied in wedlock. The wedding ceremonies
were performed on the 13th day of the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha).
Thereafter, Jin Datt returned home with his newly wedded bride.
On the first night when
all wedding ceremonies were over Jin Datta fully adorned with proper
make-up entered her bedroom in the grand palatial building. During sweet
conversation Jin Datt disclosed to her, "My darling! I have taken a vow of
observing celibacy during the bright fortnight of every month. Therefore,
we shall be able to celebrate the honeymoon night only after four days,
not before that. Don't get worried and restless. It's a matter of only
three or four days." In reply to the loving words of her husband, Jin
Datta said, "My lord! What a strange contradiction! I have also taken a
pledge to observe celibacy during the dark fortnight. So you enter into
another wedlock and marry any other damsel. I shall now get initiated as a
female ascetic and try for my spiritual uplift."
At this Jin Datt said to
her, "My dear! When you are so eager for your spiritual uplift despite
being a lady, why should I get indulged in the mud and mire of sensuous
pleasures, being a man. We both shall observe the vow of life-long
celibacy while living under one and the same roof in our home. But this
decision should not leak out." Thus, taking a firm pledge of celibacy,
which is as difficult to observe as walking on a sharp edged sword, they
both began to live together happily and peacefully practicing rigorous
Once a princess suffered
from leprosy. All treatments to cure her failed. One day the princess
chanced to see a monk. After paying homage to the monk with full
reverence, the princess asked the holy sage to tell her a remedy to get
rid of her incurable malady. The compassionate sage spoke, "My daughter! A
happy newly wedded couple named Jin Datt and Jin Datta, who have been
practicing the rigorous vow of celibacy for long, lives in your city. If
you shower over your body water purified by the touch of their hands, you
can get rid of your disease."
Soon after, in order to
act on the advice of the saint, the princess went to Jin Datt's house. All
the members of Jin Datt's family were taken aback on hearing the words of
the princess. As soon as water touched with the hands of Jin Datt and Jin
Datta was poured over the princess, her skin disease was cured in no time.
Flowers rained from the sky at this miracle. Ultimately, the happy couple
Jin Datt and his wife Jin Datta got initiated to Jain monkshood. This
example shows without doubt that only practicing the vow of celibacy
attains self-restraint and good conduct.
Shuchi bhumigatam toyim,
brahmchari sada shuchi
I.e., The underground
water is pure. A wife loyal to her husband is chaste. A king dedicated to
religion is always just and merciful; above all a celibate's life is
Supreme chastity is the
last of the ten universal virtues. Just as when a temple is built, a
golden canopy is installed on the cupola at its peak; likewise the virtue
of celibacy is at the pinnacle of the ten supreme virtues. Stating
celibacy as the true nature of the soul, the Acharyas have said:
atmni charti iti brahmcharya"
I.e., One who always
remains engrossed in his holy soul only; one who practices celibacy free
from transgression; in truth, he alone is a celibate. A monk who avoids
company, jokes and foul bodily play with mean persons, renounces ten kind
of 'Abraham' -sexual indulgence.
Kinds of Celibates
Q. How many kinds of
celibates are there?
There are five kinds of celibates:
-Donning the sacred threads
Avalumh -Sub-ordinate or dependent
-Dedicated or having perfect faith
Who are called 'upney' (sacred threads donned) celibates?
The persons (apostles) who wear on their body
the sacred threads in a manner ordained by the holy teachers and study the
Jain scriptures; and thereafter observe the vows mean for the
house-holders, are called 'God' (sacred threads donned) celibates.
Who are called avlamb celibates?
persons, who assume the appearance of ascetics; donne clothes ordained for
them by the holy teachers; study and follow the Jain scriptures in
practical life and thereafter observe the vows meant for the
house-holders, are called 'Avalumb' (sub-ordinate or dependent)
Who are called 'Adiksha (non-initiated) celibates?
persons who neither assume the appearance nor donne clothes ordained for
celibates, but study and follow the Jain scriptures in practical life and
thereafter observe the vows meant for the house-holders, are called 'ago'
Who are called 'gurh' (fully devoted) celibates?
Persons, who get initiated to monkshood in adolescence, study and follow
Jain scriptures. But on the insistence of their kith and kin, or being
incapable in bearing severe tortures, or forced by some special royal
decree, or by their own sweet will, discard the nude state as that of Lord
Jinendra and still observe the vows meant for the house-holders, are
called 'by' (fully devoted) celibates.
are called the 'neshtik' (dedicated or having perfect faith in the
omniscient lord, the scriptures and the holy teachers) celibates?
persons, who can be distinguished by the tuft of hair on their head at the
time of meditation. Their chest is adorned with the sacred threads. Their
loincloth of red or white color is always tied round their waist. They
always subsist on alms; which are learned in scriptures and observe all
vows of ascetics; and who are always engaged in prayer and worship of Lord
Jinendra, are called 'neshtik' (dedicated) celibates.
Sukh Deva was a life long
celibate by birth. It is said that as soon as he grew young he went away
to the forest to perform penance. At the time of his departure, his father
Vyas Deva gave him counsel and spoke, "My son! The name and fame of our
grandfather has survived as a result of the noble deeds of our father, and
our father's glory has survived due to our good deeds. Likewise, our fame
and glory will remain immortal in the world owing to your virtuous deeds.
But alas! The name of our family will be extinct on your becoming an
ascetic. If you are bent upon doing penance, first enter into wed-lock
like your ancestors and then perform penance in the company of your
But Sukh Deva turned a
deaf ear to his father's appeal and spoke, "Dear father! You are mistaken
to think that a son makes his father's name immortal. The name and fame of
a person depends on his or her virtuous deeds. The fame and glory of the
truthful, religious minded persons and celibates alone shines in the world
for ever like that of the sun and the moon, even if they do not have sons
Saying so Sukh Deva set
out for the forest. The great sage Viase followed him to bring him back.
On the way the queens, princesses and ladies of the royal family of the
historic city were bathing in the river Narmada. These ladies did not put
on veils and go in seclusion on seeing the young Sukh Deva. But later on
when the old sage Viase passed by that side, all these ladies at once put
on veils out of the feeling of shame. Seeing this sage Viase was amazed
and he asked the ladies, "My daughters! What is the reason that on seeing
me you covered yourselves, but went on bathing unperturbed naked in the
river despite seeing the nude young Sukh Deva passing from here?" In reply
the females said, "O great sage! You are fully aware of all secrets of a
woman and you yourself were a victim to sexual desires. That is why on
seeing you we covered ourselves. But Sukh Deva is totally ignorant about
sexology. Therefore, we did not deem it proper to put on veils on seeing
the innocent nude Sukh Deva." On hearing this eye opening word, sage Viase
returned to his hermitage.
Bhartrahari writes about
celibacy in the following lines:
Krishna kanr khaj
Vrinr puti kiln
Koshuha Kshama jinro
hatmapi ch hastaiv bhavan
A very old lean and thin
dog, starving for two days; whose wounded body was bleeding and covered
with pus; who was blind of one eye; who was lame and crippled; whose ugly
face with fattened throat was hanging down, lay in the road in this
miserable plight. The pedestrians in the road suspecting an immediate end
of the dog, which was in the last stage of life, thought if the dog died
in the mid-road, the environment would be filled with pestilence (foul
smell). Therefore, the dog must be shifted elsewhere, before it breathed
its last. Meanwhile a bitch passed by that side. On seeing her, the almost
dead dog got up overpowered with a passionate desire of lust and began to
In fact, celibacy is the
only superb vow in all the three worlds. He who observes this vow attains
a sacred state of existence. It has been said:
tarnai yadvad, upao no pakirtit
Sansar tarne tadvat,
I.e., Just as a boat or
ship proves a helpful means in going across the sea, likewise celibacy is
a very fine and easy means to cross the ocean of the world. The lustful
desire for sex exists in the heart of a living being only so long as
he/she does not realize the real motif of life and does not understand
his/her real self, or does not grasp the real nature of the soul. The day
when one begins to see one's own soul face to face, one gives up one's
lustful desires for sex and sensual pleasures and observes celibacy.
There is an incident of
the times of Lord Ram. Two princes -Mesh Bhushan and Kul Bhushan went to a
Gurakul (boarding, school) for study. When they set out from home
on this noble mission to receive education, no other child was left behind
in the family. On completing their education, when they returned home they
saw a fairy-like, beautiful damsel also standing at the door beside their
mother taking burning earthen lamps in her hands to welcome them home. At
the sight of her matchless beauty, both the princes were bewitched.
Instantly an idea flashed in their mind to marry her. Both the brokers
gave vent to the feelings of their heart unhesitatingly.
Soon the two brothers who
were anxious to marry the same girl entered into hot exchange of words.
Seeing her two sons quarreling at the door, their mother who was eager to
greet and welcome them inquired of them the reason behind their dispute.
On knowing the reality, the mother reproached them saying, "My sons! What
evil thought has entered your mind! She is your sister." Hearing this the
two brothers were filled with remorse and repentance. An overwhelming
feeling of self-reproach possessed them. They determined to renounce the
world then and there and turned back for the forest from their doorstep.
They got initiated as nude Jain monks and performed severe penance in the
hills of Kunthalgiri and attained liberation i.e., salvation from there.
tapsa raja rashtram rakshti
I.e., A king defends his
nation, her culture and her people only by observing the vow of
self-restraint, penance i.e., austerity and celibacy.
The mind of a person who
is indulgent in lustful desires always roams in the wilderness of sensual
pleasures. Just as when a forest elephant is separated from its partner -a
female elephant, it becomes mad with lust and the helpless and poor animal
has to suffer untold miseries viz. bondage, torture and even death.
Exactly same is the condition of a lustful person. Being overpowered with
a passionate desire for sensual pleasures in the garb and illusion of
love, he fails to distinguish between what is worth doing or not worth
doing, just or unjust; and thus the poor fellow blinded by lust takes to
the evil path which leads him to his doom.
One who has infatuation
for ladies other than his wife and maintains illegitimate relations with
them has to suffer uncalled for miseries in the world. Ever growing
bitterness and enmity, chopping off his sex organ, public disgrace by
being fettered and imprisoned, forfeiture of all his possessions and even
the terror of murder are possible. He is humiliated and condemned to live
as an outcast in society. Such an ill-fated person gets birth in an
inauspicious state of being in the next world. Therefore, to subdue lust
and observe celibacy by discarding sexuality ultimately proves beneficial
to the human soul.
An aged man in Greece used
to impart lessons in spirituality to the youngsters. He would impress upon
the youth the importance of celibacy time and again'. The youngsters began
to ridicule his teaching. The old teacher was in a fix as how to make the
youth realize the great value of celibacy. He hit upon a plan. The next
day when his young disciples assembled in a garden to receive lessons as
usual, they were astonished to see a beautiful damsel sitting on the back
of their teacher and making him move to and fro like a horse.
Being enraged the pupils
got ready to beat the young lady rider black and blue. The teacher checked
them from their hasty foul deed. He instructed them saying, "My pupils!
Behold. When for want of self-restraint, the mind of such an aged man as I
am, got distracted by the amorous looks of this bewitching beauty in my
extreme old age, the youth are inevitably likely to fall victims of such a
calamity. If no reins are put to the mind, and it is given a long rope to
loiter in the wilderness of sensual pleasures, one may have to face many
such ugly situations, where one will have to suffer disgrace and
Celibacy is of two kinds, based on 'Mahavratas' (great vows) and
'Anuoratas' (small vows). He who for fear of committing a sin neither
himself indulges in sexual relationship with any other lady, nor
instigates others for such immoral traffic, observes the small vow of
abstention from sexual relations with other ladies but his own wife. When
a house-holder discards sexual indulgence even with his own legal wife or
shuns illegitimate relationship with another's wife, he practices the
fourth small vow -Anavrata called 'Parstri tyaga' i.e.,
discarding illegitimate sex with so called beloved or illegal co-wives.
house-holder who regards the body of a lady as unholy, unchaste and foul
smelling skin bag containing blood, excrete and urine, takes her physical
beauty and charm, which excite evil passions in the mind as transitory
illusions. He who accepts all ladies other than his own wife as mothers,
sisters and daughters in thought, speech and action i.e., who believes in
the axiom matrivat padraraishu -'look at other's wife as your
mother'; observes the great vow of staunch celibates. Sir Edwin Arnold
'Touch not thy
neighbor’s wife; neither commit
Sins of the flesh, both
unlawful and unfit.'
Long ago there lived a
highly religious minded and benevolent wealthy person named Sudarshan
Seth in Bharat Kshetra i.e., India. One day he went with his wife to
his pleasure garden for merry making. By chance the king also happened to
come there for picnic accompanied by his queen. On seeing Seth
Sudarshan -a living image of beauty, the queen was enamoured by him and
fell in love at first sight. She began to think in her mind, "Hurrah! Who
is this handsome fellow? Is he Kam Deva -the god of love; or a Nag Kumar
-a royal prince of the Naga dynasty; or a Vidhya Dhar -a celestial being
endowed with divine powers? I have never seen such a handsome man in all
my life so far."
The queen was overpowered
with a sexual desire seeing Sudarshan's face and figure, and well built
charming body. She at once summoned her trustworthy maid and questioned
her, "Do you know who is this stranger in the company of the king? Where
does he live?" In reply the maid asked, "O Queen! Do you not know the
renowned Seth Sudarshan, the richest man of your kingdom?" Then the
queen said, "Oh! Then he is the crown person of our city. Look at him.
What a charming personality and attractive features he possesses! I have
never come across with a matchless man like him, endowed with such charm
and beauty to this day. He is more charming than even the gods in heaven.
Have you ever seen a man with such a blooming face?" Hearing this the maid
said, "O Queen! No human being in all the three worlds can match him."
The queen became restless
to hold Seth Sudarshan in sweet embrace and make him her illegal
spouse. Therefore, shedding all sense of shame and royal dignity the queen
said to her maid unhesitatingly, "O sister! My life is useless without
enjoying the sweet company of this jewel among men. My mind is wavering
and has lost peace ever since the onslaught of his bewitching beauty on my
heart. I cannot live without him. Therefore, try with all your might to
fetch Sudarshan Seth by hook or crook into my chamber to meet me."
The words of the queen
left the maid puzzled and amazed. She cried, "Condemned be this sexual
instinct, overpowered with which a person fails to distinguish between
morality and immorality, and forgets loyalty to his/her spouse."
Of all the physical and
mental ailments and sicknesses, sexual desire is the worst disease. This
disease ruins the life of a person. So long as a person is not a prey to
this disease, he makes attempt for self-uplift through diligence; but for
a mentally sick person, who is a slave to sexuality, it is impossible to
get enlightenment. With this thought the maid humbly offered her pious
advice to the queen, so that good sense might prevail on her. She said, "O
noble Queen! This lack of chastity in you will spoil the reputation of the
royal family and bring disgrace to you as well. Like fire your sexual
instinct will burn the orchard of your humane virtues to ashes."
The maid tried her level
best to make the queen understand the pros and cons of her action; but the
queen blinded by the intense sexual urge in her heart turned a deaf ear to
her wise counsel. On the contrary she commanded the maid to bring Seth
Sudarshan into her palace at any cost. In obedience to the queen's
command, the maid began to make every possible effort to arrange a secret
meeting between Seth Sudarshan and the queen in the royal palace.
Sudarshan was a highly
religious minded and God-fearing soul. He had renounced all worldly
enjoyments and sensuous pleasures. He used to become deeply engrossed in
self-meditation and perform severe penance at night going into a dreadful
cremation ground on the 8th and 14th day of every fortnight of the month.
The maid was well
acquainted with all these characteristics and virtues of Seth
Sudarshan. She thought out a plan to bring Seth Sudarshan into the
royal palace at night. She got a clay image of a man made by a potter. One
night clothing the clay image and putting it on her head she began to
enter the palace. When the guards at the gate checked her, she
intentionally shuddered and shook her whole body. As a result the clay
image fell down and broke down into pieces. Instantly threatening the
guards of severe consequences, she spoke in a harsh voice, "O sinful
persons! You have committed a great crime. Today the queen had kept a vow
of human worship. So she could take food only after worshipping this clay
idol. Now I will go to the queen and complain against you. I will tell her
how all of you made the clay image fall to the ground, as a result of
which it broke down to pieces. The queen will award all of you severe
punishment for it."
On hearing the words of
the maid, the guards were badly terrified and turned almost lifeless. They
apologized the maidservant in a very humble voice, "O gentle lady! You
alone can save us from punishment. In future, we shall never do such
behavior with you. Please pardon us this time." At this she said, "All
right! In future never come in my way and create hindrance in my religious
activities." So saying, she went away from there and brought the
meditating Sudarshan from the cremation ground into the palace loading him
on her shoulders. This time the guards did not check the maid. Thus, she
succeeded to fetch Sudarshan into the queen's royal room.
On seeing Sudarshan the
queen's joy knew no bounds. The lustful queen who was fully under the
spell of a passionate desire to derive sexual gratification from Seth
Sudarshan, made a humble appeal to him saying, "O jewel among men! You
excel even Kam Deva -the god of love in beauty. You have captivated my
heart. Now cool down my body burning with a passionate desire of sexual
gratification by holding me in your sweet embrace." But the pious hearted
noble Seth Sudarshan stood there firm and unmoved by her entreaties
and amorous glances. Then the queen tried to rouse his passion and
distract him from his firm stand by immoral and sexual motions and
But the holy Seth
who was deeply lost in the meditation of Lord Jinendra did not budge in
the least. Just as the mount Sumeru does not shake by the cyclic winds and
storms that invade the earth on the dooms day; likewise great men never
dwindle from their firm determination at any cost. Meanwhile, Seth
Sudarshan took a pledge that if he came out successfully from this great
calamity and trial of his moral strength, he would get initiated into nude
The queen badly failed to
degrade the noble soul Seth Sudarshan from his lofty moral
character by all her insane gestures arid tricks. She was fully
disappointed and perturbed. She now thought of seeking revenge on him for
her disgrace. She scratched her whole body, broke down her precious
jewelry and tore down her clothes with her own hands. Then she started
wailing and crying loudly, "Alas! The wicked Sudarshan tried to molest me
and criminally assault me. What a shame! This devil has turned me to such
condition. O inmates and guards of the palace! Run quickly and save my
honor. Defend me! Protect me from this brute. I had summoned him into my
palace taking him for my brother. How could I presume that this lusty
fellow aspired to play with my body and spoil my chastity."
On hearing the lamentation
and shrieks of the queen, the attendants and guards came running to the
help of the queen and rescued her. They arrested Sudarshan and presented
him before the king in the royal court. The king, ignorant of the reality,
believed the statement of the queen. The enraged king sentenced Seth
Sudarshan to death.
At the command of the
king, the hangmen took Sudarshan to the prosecution ground and struck a
blow with a sword on his neck to kill him. But lo! By the touch of his
body the steel sword turned into a delicate and fragrant flower garland.
Flowers began to rain from the sky. The Gods descended from the sky and
began to sing hymns in praise of the celibacy of Sudarshan. They spoke, "O
Seth Sudarshan! You are blessed. You are a true devotee of Lord
Jinendra and a perfect householder. Your celibacy is unbreakable."
The news of the miraculous
incident that occurred at the prosecution ground astonished the king
highly. He at once went on the spot and apologized to Sudarshan lying at
his feet. All the city people began to praise the celibacy of Seth
The great poet Reidhu
explains the supreme virtue of celibacy or chastity as below:
dharijyi varu phaidijyi visyas nriruTiye sukhayim ratau mnr kari matau tam
ji bhav rakhaiu thiru
Chitbhumi mynru ji
upjyi, tainr ji pidiu karyi akajyiTivahm sriryim nrindyim saivyi , nriy
parnrari nr mudhu yaiyi
Nrivjyi nriryi mhaduyi
bhunjyi, jo hinru ji vambhau bhanjyiIye janraipinru manr vye kaen,
bhamchairu palhu anruragam
Tainr sahu ji labhei
bhavparu banbhey vinru vautau jji asarauBhambau vinru kayekalaisyi , vihal
sayal bhaseyi jinraisi
Bahir pharsindayi suh
rakhau , param banbhu abhitari paikhauAinram ubaem labheyi siv haru, im
ryidhu bahu bhanryi vinryru
Jinrnrah bhijyi munri
panrmijyi dahlkhanru paliyinriruBhi khaimsinh suy bhav vinryjuy holav manr
ih karhu thiru
A man should adopt the difficult to perform
superb vow of celibacy; and discard the lustful ambitions for sexual
pleasures. This living being is running amuck like an elephant whose mind
is always engrossed in thoughts of sexual gratification. Therefore, O
grand souls! Safeguard the vow of celibacy with a firm mind.
god of love and sex, as a rule takes birth in the soil of the unchaste
mind. By its onslaught the living beings perform improper deeds. They take
delight in the embrace of the disdain bodies of the ladies, and the fools
fail to make any distinction between their legally married wife and
The mean fellow, who breaks the vow of
celibacy ultimately goes to hell, and suffers untold miseries there.
Knowing this truth, one should observe the vow of celibacy in thought,
speech and action whole-heartedly.
A living being is relieved from the world by
celibacy. All penances and vows are worthless without it. All bodily
tortures in the absence of celibacy are of no avail; such is the opinion
of Lord Jinendra.
Defend your soul from the outward sensual
pleasures derived through the sense of touch and maintain the superb
virtue of celibacy in the inner self -soul. The abode of celibacy is
attained through this plan. Such is the humble prayer of the great poet
Observe in a noble way the ten supreme
universal virtues, which have been glorified by the omniscient Lord
Jinendra and to which the holy monks pay homage and bow in reverence.
Hence, O Mortal Man!
Observe celibacy, observe celibacy and under all odds observe celibacy,
which is the Supreme virtue, highly adulated by all religious philosophies
of the world. Violation of chastity of any woman by way of criminal
assault on her or otherwise, is a cognizable offence in all legal systems
of the world, punishable even to the extent of severe bodily torture and
hanging to death. Indeed, sweet are the fruits of celibacy.
To sum up, men of chastity
are men of character; and character is the supreme and unique possession
of a man. This is why the scholars assign the highest value to character
in human life. The great poet writes:
If wealth is lost,
nothing is lost;
If health is lost,
something is lost;
If character is lost,
everything is lost.