Some Jain Sadhus and Sadhvis perform all their
spiritual austerities in the presence of the Sthapanachrayaji. After
giving a special form to the lower part of the Conch-shell, the Panch
Parameshthi are enshrined in it. They are installed and enthroned there by
uttering holy incantations. It is rolled in a piece of cloth and is kept
on a specially made wooden stand. This is known as Bhagavan or
sthapanacharyaji. Even at the time of discourses, etc., it is placed
before them. Its presence is considered essential in the groups or
gatherings of some Sadhus and Sadhvis. It is kept also in some Upashray, a
place of worship, etc.
In case the Sadhus or the Sadhvis fall ill at any
They bear with their physical ailments as much as they
can. If the physical ailment reaches the point of causing agony to the
mind, they use remedies which are sinless and faultless. Normally, they do
not use medicines obtained through violence but if they get some serious
and incurable illness and if operations, etc., are to be resorted to, then
after being cured, they perform Pr�yaschitta.
The Jain Sadhus and Sadhvis wash their clothes
themselves. For this, they use only boiled water. They do not take a bath
at any time. They have to practice austere and total celibacy. So,
decorating the body and keepin~ it trim and attractive is prohibited,
When Sadhus and Sadhvis meet one another they greet
each other with the complimentary expression, Maththen Vandami -- I
respectfully bow to you.
Conferring a status or a title.
The Jain Sadhus, after being initiated that is, after
receiving the Deeksha become immersed in such activities as meditation,
seeking knowledge, acquiring self-discipline, etc. Proceeding on the path
of spiritual endeavour, when they reach a higher level of attainment,
their spiritual elders, for the preservation of the four-fold Jain Sangh,
confer upon them some special titles or types of status. At present, the
following titles are in custom.
The Title of Acharya
This status or title is considered to be very high and
at the same time it is a position of responsibility. The entire
responsibility of the Jain Sangh rests on the shoulders of the Acharya
Shri. Before attaining this status, one has to make an in-depth study and
a thorough exploration of the Jain Agamas and attain an absolute mastery
over them; one must possess certain physical proprieties; and perfections;
one must have acquired Mantra Siddhi a high level of spiritual excellence;
and must possess a magnetic and influential personality. These merits are
considered absolutely essential. He must also have made a study of the
various languages of the country and must have acquired a sound knowledge
of all the philosophies of the world and of the various ideologies and
The Title of Upadhyay.
This title is given to a Sadhu who can ably teach all
the Sadhus and Sadhvis and who has acquired a specialised knowledge of the
Agamas ( Scriptures ) philosophical systems and who manifest certain lofty
This title is given only after some years of his having
received the (Deeksha) initiation. That too it is given to an able and
The Title of Panyas and Gani.
This title is conferred on a Sadhu only after the
passage of some years after his initiation and after his life becomes
forceful and influential by means of special studies, austerities; and
meditation. To secure this title, one should have acquired an in-depth
knowledge of all the Jain Agamas. For attaining the status of Ganipad one
should have a knowledge of the Bhagavati Sutra and for attaining the
Panyas-pad one should have attained a comprehensive knowledge of all the
aspects of all the agamas.
In order to attain these titles, it is essential that
one should have carried out for months together not only yogic activities
but also such austerities as Ayambil. This is called Yogodwahan.
The Titles for Sadhvis.
The practice of conferring the titles of Mahattara: and
Pravartini on Jain Sadhvis, who possess special capabilities, the power to
exercise influence and the purity resulting from self-discipline, is
prevalent. At present, they are not much in custom. Now-a-days apart from
these titles, other special titles are given to them to honour them for
their capabilities and their power to make an impact on others.
The Jain Sadhus, on account of the mode of their life,
are unique among Sadhus. The entire life of Sadhus and Sadhvis is
dedicated to their souls; and all their objectives, all their activities
are directed towards elevating their souls to the Paramatma-dasha, the
state of the Supreme Soul. The ascetic life becomes meaningful only if
they have in their hearts the lofty feeling of dedication as well as these
powerful objectives, strongly and firmly fixed in their hearts. Until they
are unable to attain these objectives and virtues, they can remain as
householders (grihasthas) carrying on spiritual austerities and activities
according to their ability. They can travel on the path of self
realisation slowly but steadily in accordance with their ability,
endurance, inclination and taste. For this reason, Lord Jineswar has given
to householders the Deshvirati dharma.