Jainism: Prescription of Ethical Code
The eleven pratimas or
stages laid down for householders are as follows:
Darsana Pratima :
The householder must
possess the perfect intelligent and well-reasoned faith in Jainism, that
is, he should have a sound knowledge of its doctrines and their
applications in life. He must be free from all misconceptions and also
from attachment to worldly pleasures of every kind.
Vrata pratima :
The householder must
observe the twelve vows, that is, five anuvratas, three gunavratas and
four siksavratas, without transgressions of any of them. He must also
keep up the extra vow of sallekhana. Such a householder is called a
When the observance of
the twelve vows is satisfactory, the householder should perform samayika
which temporarily assimilates him to the status of an ascetic. Samayika
consists in worshipping regularly, in general for forty-eight minutes,
three times daily. Here worship means self-contemplation and
purification of one's ideas and emotions.
Prosadhopavasa Pratima :
This is a judge of
fasting and it involves fasting regularly, as a rule, twice a fortnight
in each lunar month. The entire period of fasting has to be spent in
prayer, study of scriptures, meditation and hearing of religious
Sachitta-tyaga Pratima :
The householders should
abstain from eating uncooked or insufficiently cooked vegetables and
food-stuffs and should also refrain from serving such food to others.
Similarly, he should not trample upon any growing plant or pluck fruits
from a tree. According to the Svetambara texts this vow is ranked
seventh in the list of Pratimas. Unboiled water as well as liquids that
contain salts are also prohibited.
In this stage the
householder abstains form taking any kind of food after sunset. This
practice is extended to include abstinence from taking any kind of drink
also at night. According to the Svetambara texts, the sixth stage refers
to abrahma- varjana pratima wherein the layman is prohibited from having
not only sexual contact but also being alone with his wife and engaging
in conversation with her.
Brahmacharya Pratima :
The householder in this
stage must observe complete celibacy, maintain sexual purity, put an end
to all sexual desires and even avoid the use of all personal decorations
which would lead to sexual desires. According to the Svetambara texts,
abrahma-varjana pratima is the sixth stage requiring similar
restrictions on sexual life.
Arambha-tyaga Pratima :
The stage contemplates
has to make further advance in this stage. He must refrain from all
activities like commerce, agriculture, service etc. exercised directly
or indirectly for livelihood. This he has to do with a view to avoid
himsa, i.e., injury to living beings, as far as possible. If he has
children, he must give them all their shares and must use what is left
with him for his maintenance and for giving as charity to others. In
this stage the Svetambara texts, however, do not seem to prohibit
activity exercised indirectly through agents or servants for the sake of
Parigraha-tyaga Pratima :
This stage contemplates
the abandonment of all kinds of attachment. The householder should give
up ten kinds of worldly possessions, viz., land, house, silver, gold,
cattle, grain, clothes, utensils, maid-servants and male-servants. Even
in matters like food, shelter and clothing, he should keep just enough
for his mere requirements. In a way he should train himself generally to
bear the hardships incidental to a life of asceticism. Hence this stage
is essentially one of preparation for the eleventh stage.
The Svetambara texts use
the word presya-tyaga pratima to denote this stage. It requires the
householder to lay down the burdens of worldly life and stop carrying on
any activity through servants and agents. He reduces his requirements to
the minimum and cherishes a longing for final release.
A householder in this
stage has to increase the vigor of his living in the direction of
asceticism. As such he should give up all his activities like trade and
agriculture, his attachments to property and his concern with any of the
family affairs. He should not express either consent or dissent towards
any of the activities or functions carried on by any of the members of
Uddista-tyaga Pratima :
This is the highest
stage of discipline for a householder. Here he abandons his family
house, goes to a forest or a lonely place for shelter and adopts the
rules laid down for the guidance of ascetics. He will not accept
invitation for food. This is the highest stage of a Sravaka and hence
he is called Uttama Sravaka.
According to Svetambara
texts, the Uddista-tyaga Pratima is the tenth stage and the eleventh stage
is called the Sramana-bhuta Pratima. In this stage the householder observe
according to his capacity the rules of conduct prescribed for the
A householder is advised
that according to his ability and environment he should proceed stage by
stage and that he should observe the rules of discipline that are
prescribed for each stage. It, therefore, follows that the progress which
a householder can achieve would finally depend upon his own convictions
and faith in the Jaina philosophy. Psychologically, there cannot be a
sudden change in life from the stage of material attachments to the stage
of renunciation. That is why the eleven stages of discipline involving
practice of vigorous mental and spiritual austerities is quite practical
and worthy of realization by every aspirant. The final stage of a
householder is, thus, a preparation for asceticism. He practically
performs all the austerities and awaits his initiation into asceticism.
It is obvious that these
eleven stages are scientifically conceived and practically graded. The
graded steps have to be climbed one after the other only after the
householder has been firm in the preceding step or steps. The climbing
commences with the `Right Belief', and progress is achieved only when he
is prepared to observe the more difficult vows and rules of conduct. Thus
through these eleven stages a householder is fully prepared for practicing
the severe course of ascetic life.
Apart from the observance
of twelve vratas, i.e., vows and eleven pratimas, i.e., stages, a
householder is also required to perform six Avasyakas, i.e., daily duties.
As regards the nomenclature of these six Avasyakas, i.e., daily duties,
there is a difference of opinion among different authors. Accordingly, the
six daily duties of a householder are commonly listed as follows:
Danam cheti grhasthanam
satkarmani dine dine.
that is, the six daily
activities or duties of householders are : worship of God, worship of the
preceptor, study of scriptures, practice of self control, practice of
austerities, and giving gifts.
It may be noted that in
many authoritative sacred texts, a second set of six Avasyakas is :
Chaturvimsati-Jina-stuti, i.e., Praising of the twenty-four Jaina or
Tirthankaras who are the religious ideals of all Jaina;
Vandana, i.e., Ceremonial
and humble greeting of or salutation to the spiritual teachers or
Repentance of all transgressions (or the recitation of the formulae of
confession of past faults);
Austerity performed by standing motionless in a specific posture; and
renunciation, which means resolving to avoid particular thoughts and
actions in future, which tend to disturb the performance of essential
duties, (or, the recitation of formulae for the fore-fending of future
faults generally expressed in the form of abstinence from food and drink
As regards this second set
of six Avasyakas it may be noted that while Digambara texts mention these
Avasyakas in the order given above, the Svetambara texts reverse the
positions of the last two duties of Kayotsarga and Pratyakhyana, that is,
the Svetambara texts mention Pratyakhyana as the fifth duty and Kayotsarga
as the sixth duty.
The main reason for the
constant performance of these daily duties seems to always keep up the
eagerness and enthusiasm of the householders in their march towards
General Principles of
On the basis of the rules
of Right Conduct laid down in Jaina scriptures, the prominent Jaina
Acharyas or saints and thinkers have enunciated a number of general
principles of appropriate conduct as guidance for putting them into actual
practice by the sravakas or householders during their entire career as
members of the Jaina community. These principles are also termed as
Sravaka-gunas, i.e., qualities of an ideal householder. In this connection
among the relevant Svetambara Jaina texts, the important treatise entitled
Yoga-sastra composed by the renowned Acharya Hemachandra presents a list
of the thirty-five attributes of an ideal sravaka or general principles of
appropriate conduct of sravakas:
Possessed of honestly earned wealth.
Eulogistic of the conduct of the virtuous.
Papabhiru : Apprehensive
anyagotrajaih krtodvahah : Wedded to a spouse of the same caste and
traditions but not of the same Gotra.
samacharan : Following the reputable usages of the country.
Avarnavadi na kvapi
rajadisu visesatah : Not denigrating other people, particularly rulers.
Anativyakte gupte sthane
suprativesmike aneka- nirgamadvaravivarjita-niketana : Dwelling in a
place which is not too exposed and not too enclosed, with good
neighbors, and few exits.
: Attached to good moral standards.
Mata-pitroh pujakah :
Honoring father and mother.
Upaplutam sthanam tyajan
: Eschewing a place of calamity.
Garhite apravrtta : Not
engaging in a reprehensible occupation.
Vyayam ayochitam kurvan :
Spending in proportion to one's income.
kurvan : Dressing in accordance with one�s income.
Astabhih dhigunaih yuktah
: Endowed with the eight kinds of intelligence.
Dharmam anvaham srnvan :
Listening everyday to the sacred doctrine.
Ajirne Bhojana-tyagin :
Not eating on a full stomach.
Kale bhokta satmyatah :
Eating at the right time according to a dietary regime.
trivargam sadhayan : Fulfilling the three-fold aim of life - that is,
dharma, artha and kama - without excluding any of its elements.
Yathavat atithau sadhau
dine cha pratipatti-krt : Diligent in succoring the ascetics, the
righteous and the needy.
Always devoid of evil motives.
Gunesu paksapatin :
Favorably inclined to virtues.
tyajan : Avoiding action which is inappropriate to time and place.
Balabalam janan : Aware
of one's own strength and weakness.
pujaka : Venerating persons of high morality and discernment.
Posya-posaka : Supporting
Krtajna : Grateful.
Salajja : Actuated by a
sense of shame.
Sadaya : Compassionate.
Saumya : Gentle in
Ready to render service to others.
Antarangari-sadvarga-parihara-parayana : Intent on avoiding the six
adversaries of the soul.
Victorious over the organs of sense.
On the same line among the
Digambara texts, the reputed work entitled Sravakachara, i.e., Rules of
Conduct for the householders, composed by the most revered Acharya
Amitagati has given the following list of eleven gunas, i.e., attributes
of a parama-sravaka, i.e., best householder :
Kama-asuya-maya-matsara-paisunya-dainya-madahina : Devoid of lust, envy,
deceit, anger, backing, meanness and vain glory.
Dhira : Steadfast.
Prasanna-chitta : Of
Priyamvada : Fair-spoken.
Vatsala : Tender-hearted.
Kusala : Competent.
skilled in discerning what is to be accepted and what to be eschewed.
Gurucharanaradhanodayata-manisa : Ready in mind to adore guru's feet;
Jina-vachana-toya-dhauta-svantah-kalanka : Having the taints on one's
heart washed clean by the Jina's words.
Apprehensive of the samsara.
Mandikrta-sakala-visaya-krta-grddhi : Having one's lust for sensual
Thus it is clear that both
the Digambara and Svetambara texts have been very particular about
impressing on the minds of Sravakas their responsibility to lead proper
religious life and to become useful members of society.
As regards these principles
of appropriate conduct for laymen it can be said in general that if the
householder would carefully observe these principles of conduct, he would
come into the possession of following qualities which every true gentleman
should possess. He would be serious in demeanor, clean as regards both his
person and clothes, good-tempered, popular, merciful, afraid of sinning,
straight-forward, wise, modest, kind, moderate, gentle, careful in speech,
sociable, cautious, studious, reverent both to old age and ancient
customs, grateful, benevolent and attentive to business.