Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
  THE NATURE OF KARMA (Karma ka swroop)
  Vairagya Bhavana




     The thirty-five rules of good conduct enjoined on a Jaina house- holder, are fully described in Mr. Warren's 'Jainism', and may be summed up as follows.


     'He should earn his livelihood by honesty, and follow some kind of business, which should not be of an ignoble or degrading nature. He should not undertake to do more than he can perform. The layman should marry to avoid promiscuous indulgence. He should not commit any offence, and avoid deeds, which have evil consequences. He should respect wisdom and admire the wise. He should control his desires and passions. He should not live in dangerous or infected places, nor in a country where there is no adequate protection of life or property. He should walk in the footsteps of the wise and the spiritually advanced, and should not keep the company of bad persons. He should not build his house in a place altogether open or too much concealed. He should dress himself simply, and his expenses should be in proportion to his income. He should follow the customs of the locality where he resides unless they involve a violation of the rules of Dharma (religion). He should not eat such things as meat, nor take to intoxicants. He should not slander any body, especially the king. He should respect his parents, and avoid giving offence to others by his actions, maintaining and preserving those, dependent on him. He should live peacefully, respecting and serving the Master, the Preceptor, the guest and the deserving poor, and observing moderation in all things. He should sympathize with all, but avoid too much intimacy with any. With regard to the four objects of life-- Dharma (virtue), Artha (wealth), Kama (pleasure) and Moksha (salvation)--he should never allow the higher to be sacrificed for the sake of a lower one. He should daily read the Scripture and observe the rules of life, excelling in right conduct and aspiring to rise higher and higher every day. He should avoid obstinacy and develop a partiality for virtue. His attitude towards religion, philosophy, opinions and beliefs should be that of a critical student, and he should try to solve all the doubts that arise in his own mind'.


     If the house- holder would carefully observe these thirty-five rules of conduct, he would come into the possession of the following twenty-one marks, which every true gentleman should possess. He would be serious in demeanor, clean as regards both his clothes and person, good-tempered, popular, merciful, afraid of sinning, straight foreword, wise, modest, kind, moderate, gentle, careful in speech, sociable, cautious, studious, reverent both to old age and ancient customs, humble, grateful, benevolent, and attentive to business.


     By the time that the house- holder becomes steady in the observance of the above rules of conduct and pratimas he is qualified to become a Muni. The admission into the order of monks is accompanied by the impressive ceremony of Kaisha Alochana, which means the pulling out hair. Perhaps this was intended as a test of the true spirit of Vairagya, since the intensity of the feeling of disgust with a purely animal existence and the proper observance of the rules of conduct enjoined on a layman suffice, by themselves, to bring into manifestation, to a fairly appreciable extent, certain of the natural qualities of the soul which enable it to endure pain with a cheerful heart. The intoxicating rhythm of true joy, which is partially felt by a perfect house- holder, is one of such qualities, and suffices to make one immune to almost all kinds of bodily pain.


     The Kaisha -Alochana over, the house- holder becomes a wanderer, possessing nothing, and dependent for his very subsistence on the charity of others. He may posses nothing of value-- neither clothes, nor metal, nor anything else. His conduct must be characterized by the highest degree of self- control, and he should perfect himself in righteousness, mercy, equanimity, renunciation, and all other auspicious qualities of a like nature. His object being the attainment of absolute freedom from the trammels of samsara, he neither pays any attention to the taunts or jibes of men, nor to the objects of senses, nor even to the embellishment of his own person. He aims at the perfection of the holiest form of Dhyana, the immediate cause of emancipation, and leaves all other things, such as the embellishment of his physical 'prison' and the like, to those who have no desire, or capacity, to realize the great Ideal of Immortality and Bliss. What the others say or think of him does not worry him; he is indifferent to the vagaries of fortune and the inclemency's of seasons, and steadily pursues the course he has deliberately adopted for escaping from this Vale of Tears. While as a house- holder he had vowed only to spend a certain portion of his time daily in the reading of Scripture and meditation, he now devotes every moment of his life to these holy objects, and brings all his energies to bear on the attainment of pure, undisturbed Dhyana. The five great vows, which he now takes are similar to those of the layman, but of unbending rigidity.


(i)      His first vow relates to the observance of Ahimsa (non-injury) in the widest sense. The ascetic must try to avoid even injuring the one-sensed form of life to the best of his ability. He must walk along the trodden path, so as to be able to detect the presence of any insects; use only the gentlest form of expression in speech; be careful as to the food that is given to him by others; avoid injuring the insects that might have got into his books, etc., and be circumspect in depositing refuse, excretions and the like, so as not to injure any insect's life.


(ii)      The second vow enjoins avoidance of untruth, which means not only the speaking of truth, but also the abstaining from unpleasant or rude speech. There are five special points to be observed in connection with speech. One should never speak without deliberation, nor in wrath. Speech when the speaker is influenced by greed is to be condemned, and the same is the case when one is moved by fear. To tell a falsehood for fun, or from the desire to return a smart repartee, is also to be avoided.


(iii)      Non-stealing. A monk is required to be exceedingly careful in respect of this vrata. He should not even enter any one's house without the permission of the owner, though there be reason to believe that his presence would be welcomed; nor even use any article belonging to another monk without first obtaining his permission for the purpose.


(iv)      The vow of absolute celibacy. One should not look at the feminine form, nor occupy any seat previously occupied by a woman or by a female animal or an eunuch, nor recall to mind the incidents of any past experience of pleasure in connection with the female sex, nor decorate one's person, nor eat highly seasoned food.


(v)      The vow of renunciation. All liking for pleasant touch, taste, smell, form (beauty), or word (literature), and for all the objects of the five senses, also hatred or loathing for unpleasant objects, must be completely surrendered to the pursuit of the sublime Ideal of the soul.


     These are the five great vows of asceticism; and, as stated before, they differ in the degree of rigidity from the five similar ones of the layman.


     The aim being the attainment of liberation from the liability to repeated births and deaths, the ascetic must ardently and earnestly strive for the emancipation of his soul in every possible way, shunning virtue as much as vice-- since they are both instrumental in the prolongation of bondage --and trying all the time to establish himself in the purity of contemplation of his own effulgent Atma. It is not to be supposed that the shunning of all kinds of activities of mind, speech and body is tantamount to idleness; pure and simple, or leads to stultification of character, as some unthinking writers have urged. The process of self-contemplation has nothing in common with these two characteristics of ordinary humanity, and implies the realization of sleepless bliss, infinite perfection, true immortality and perfect freedom from all kinds of ties and bonds. There is no use denying the fact that what we call character means neither more nor less than a resolute frame of mind, though all sorts of evil passions and emotions are also, at times, allowed to be smuggled in under that name. Self-contemplation does not, in any sense, imply the eradication of will, rather, on the contrary, it leads to its development in the highest possible degree, so that if the word character be employed in its true sense, it is only in respect of the Siddha Atma that it can express its full purport. Nor has the non-performance of virtuous deeds the effect of exposing the Siddha Atma to blame for not doing good; for the kind of good which flows from the Perfect Ones cannot be equaled by men even in imagination. Men generally do good by gifts of money, medicine, clothes and the like, which, even when we lose sight of the fact that these things are not always acquired or amassed with a strict regard to the rules of virtue or good conduct, can only go to afford temporary relief to the suffering, or, at best, enable them to stand upon their legs to enter into the struggle for life, --to thrive at the expense of their fellow beings. The good that constantly flows from the being of the Perfect Ones is not to be compared to this kind of human philanthropy; it is the greatest good which one living being can do to another, and consists in the imparting of the knowledge which would enable each and every soul who cares to benefit thereby, to attain freedom from all kinds of bonds, and the perfection and joy of Gods. And not only is the knowledge imparted by the Holy Ones the true source of freedom and joy, the example set by Them is even more useful to those who aspire to escape from pain and misery consequent on the four conditions of life, Deva, Manushya, Tiryanch, and nark. Their holy feet have illuminated the Path to the highest height of glory, and we have their noble example before us to inspire and encourage us in the pursuit of the ideal. Let no one in his senses call this idleness or stultification of character.