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Section -1 Page 36 To 69


Five Main Vows :

Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmaicharya and Aparigraha these five vows are considered as main vows. The ascetics have to observe these vows very strictly, so they are known as Mahavratas. The laymen however are allowed to practise these vows so far as their conditions permit. Thus when vows are partially observed they are called Anuvratas.

The first vow Ahimsa anuvrata demands that one must not intentionally injure the feelings or the life-forces of any other living beings either through word or deed himself or through an agent or even by approving of such an act committed by somebody else. The occupational injury should be limited to the minimum possible through careful- � ness. A lay aspirant, absolutely abstains only from 1 committing intentional himsa.

The second vow Satya-anuvrata demands that one must abstain from telling lies and taking recourse to falsehood . ~ in speech or action, to using harsh, cruel, shocking or abusive language and even to such truth as may harm �; others or injure their feelings.

The third vow Asteya-anuvrata is to abstain from thieving, stealing, robbing, looting or misappropriating other�s v property and using dishonest or illegal means in acquiring any worldly things.

The fourth vow Brahmacharya or Shila anuvrata is to abstain from having sexual relations with anybody but one�s own lawfully wedded spouse.

The fifth vow Aparigraha anuvrata requires the imposition of a limit on one�s needs, acquisitions and possessions and implies the use of the surplus for the common good.

For the fixing of these five vows in the mind, there are five kinds of Bhavanas or attendant meditations for each of the vows and every Jaina is expected to think over them again and again. Every Jaina must meditate that the five faults meant to be avoided in these vows are pain personified and are of dangerous and censurable character in this as well as in the next world. Every Jaina must meditate ~ upon four virtues i.e. Maitri, Pramoda, Karunya, Madhyastha.

Shila vratas

Along these five main vows, there are seven shila vratas or supplementary vows. It has been asserted that just as the encircling walls guard towns, so do supplementary vows protect Anuvratas. Hence it has been specifically kid down that in order to practise the main vratas, the shila vratas also must be practised by the laity among the Jinas. Among these seven shila vratas the first three are called Guna vratas and remaning four vows are called Shiksha vratas. The Guna vratas are so called because, they are intended to enhance the effect and value of the anuvratas manifold. The four shiksha vratas are so-called because, they are intended to prepare the aspirant gradually for the discipline of ascetic life. The three Guna vratas are an follows :

1. Digvrata : This is a lifelong vow to limit one�s world activities to fixed points in a different spatial direction.

2. Deshavrata : To limit such activities for fixed period only.

3. Anarthadandavrata : Not to commit unnecessary or purposeless moral offence, such as talking ill of others, preaching evil, manufacturing or supplying instruments of destruction or read bad literature.

Four Shikshavratas are as follows :

1. Samayika : Pure meditation time

2. Proshadhopavasa : Taking a vow to fast on four days of the month, namely 2nd, 8th and 2nd, 14th days of the lunar fortnight.

3. Upabhoga-Paribhoga-Parimana : Taking a vow every day limiting one�s enjoyment of consumable and non, consumable things.

4. Atithi samvibhaga : Taking a vow to take one�s food only after feeding the ascetics or in their absence a pious householder.

It has been specially laid dawn that there are five aticharas and these aticharas have also to be avoided by the observers of these vows. In addition to the above twelve vratas a Jaina layman is expected to practise in the last moment of his life the process of sallekhana or peaceful death Sallekhana is described as the giving up of the body on the arrival of unavoidable calamity, distress, old age and disease. With a view to increase spiritual merit, Jainism has also laid down certain gunas or virtues which have to be assiduously cultivated by the householders. The observance of the five anuvratas and refraining from the use of three, makaras ( madya, mansa- and madhu ) are regard as ashta-: mulagunas i. e. eight basic virtues of a householder.

Eleven Stages or Pratimas :

When a householder feels confident that he can undertake the preparation for the higher spiritual life of the ascetic, he resolves to initiate himself into the eleven stages, which mark the development of the Right conduct of a lay aspirant. He goes on step by step from one stage to : the other, making gradual progress on the path. He does not give up observance of the rules prescribed for the preceding stage or stages whilst advancing on to the succeeding ones. Darshana, vrata, samayika, proshadhopavasa, sachitta-tyaga, ratri-bhojana tyaga. brahmacharya, arambha-tyaga, parigraha-tyaga, uddishta-tyaga are the eleven Pratimas or stages, which are necessary for liberation of soul. An ascetic has to follow various other daily : duties and vratas too.

The six daily duties of a Jaina householder are adoration and worship of the deity, veneration of and attendance on the gurus, study of scriptures, practice of self-discipline and sense control, meditation, observance of fasts and, curbing desires and charity. This daily charity usually consists in providing food to holy persons and to the, indigent, medicine and medical help to the ailing, educational facilities to those who are in need of it, and sense of security and fearlessness to those under duress or who are persecuted, exploited or tyrannised. These duties comprise selfless service of humanity, as a pious duty done out of love for those in want or distress.

The Doctrine of Ahimsa :

If Jainism has been described as an ethical system pat excellence, Ahimsa is the keynote of that system. The principle of Ahimsa or non-injury to life, is one of the extreme importance and universal application. It pervades the entire length and breadth of the Jain code of Right conduct, the path. If an action or the conduct of a person is Ahimsa, it is good and right, but if it involves himsa, it is bad and wrong. The degree of its badness depends on the character and extent of the himsa involved. In fact Ahimsa is the nature of the soul. It is essential, intrinsic and inherent nature of a pure soul. No wonder that Ahimsa has been described by the ancient Jaina sages as Parama-Brahma, the very God.

Thus as soon as an individual soul departs from the spiritual nature of its own, it becomes himsaka. So long us soul remains Vitaraga, it is Ahimsaka. As soon as it gets corrupted and develops personal states like anger, greed, sexual desires, jealousy, hatred etc., it becomes himsaka, causing injury in the first instance to its own spiritual nature. This is subjective himsa and it generally manifests itself in that person�s gestures, facial expressions and often causing even physical injury to himself, he does not stop here. Under the influence of that subjective himsa, more often he causes injury, mental, physical to other living beings. This is the apparent gross or objective himsa.

Keeping in view both these aspects, the Jaina text defines himsa as the severance by a person, of his own or somebody else�s life-forces, under the impact of his passional developments or in pursuit of sensual pleasure or due to ignorance, mistaken belief or superstition or on account of negligence or carelessness. These conditions have to be satisfied for an act or omission to be called himsa and the person responsible for it a himsaka. The act must be violent in spirit, if not in appearance and it must be intentional or motivated or due to the lack of carefulness or for the sake of fun unless it is so, the injury done is accidental and person supposed to be instrumental for it, is not responsible morally and spiritually. All the numerous rules so meticulously woven into systematic ethical code of Right conduct both for the laity and the ascetics to serve for them as the practical path and the way of living a religious and righteous life, revolve around this central doctrine of Ahimsa. Various aspects of himsa and ahimsa have been discussed at length in the Jaina-texts.

An ascetic observes complete Ahimsa, while a layman or woman is granted many exemptions. As a matter of fact, accidental, occupational, vocational, protective, types of himsa would be considered a dereliction of duty on the part of a lay house-holder. It is only himsa for himsa�s sake, for more pleasure, without any thought, without any higher end in view, that the lay aspirants are asked to guard themselves against. If the injury involved is necessary they try to avoid more than the minimum possible injury to life. The rule of minimum injury should ever be the guiding motto.

In every civilised religion, sanctity of human life has been recognized but few go beyond that, Jainism recognizes the sanctity of all life including beasts, birds, fish and the smaller creatures down to the lowliest of the lowly. With it life is sacred in whatever form it is found to exist. Non-injury to life is therefore, the highest ethical principle. The true gentleman is one who has no tendency to do violence to anybody nay to any living being. Thus the doctrine of Ahimsa is a great contribution of Jainism to the world and path to world peace.

It is said that �War is necessary to end war or Himsa is necessary to establish Ahimsa� but this is a wrong method and interpretation.� C. F. Andrews observed that, � One war follows another and there seems to be no escape. Surely there must be something wrong in western civilization itself, which causes self destructive tendencies to recur without any apparent means of prevention. � If the aim of religion is to bring peace on earth and good-will amongst mankind, it must always emphasise the ultimate good and declare evil as evil, even if it may appear to be unavoidable at a particular time or in a particular set of circumstances. Good cannot come out of evil. The Ahimsaka way of life is the sure panacea for all moral, social, economic and political ills. Ahimsa is the highest religion and where there is Ahimsa there is victory.

Thus Jaina philosophy and the Jaina way of life envisages the salvation of all living beings. The transformation of man into super human, provides the concept of �live and let live� and founds a pure spiritual base upon which the permanent world peace could be achieved. Thank you again for your presence and participation in the conference. I must also thank the Rotary Club, Solapur for their co-operation and participation in organizing this World Peace Conference.