Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Jainism  -  Respect For All Life

The birth of Jainism
Mahavira the Path-Maker
The Enlightenment
The Rise of Jainism
  The Two Sects
  The Scriptures
  Rise and Fall
  Jain Beliefs-The Universe
  The Soul
  Karma and Rebirth
  The way of Salvation
  The Everyday Life of a Jain
  The Life of an Ascetic
  Ways of Worship
  Temples and Domestic Shrines
  Ninian Smart

The Life of an Ascetic



The life of an ascetic begins with initiation.  First he gives away his clothing and jewels to relatives, and dons the dress of an ascetic (sadhu), three upper garments and two lower ones which vary in color according to sect.  Next, he has his hair removed.  From now on he is a homeless wanderer and must remain possessionless except for his robes, a few pieces of cloth with which to strain insects from his daily drink of water, a cloth mask with which to cover his mouth for fear of hurting the air, a few wooden jugs or gourds, and a brush or whisk with which to sweep insects from the path before him.

The five great vows taken by the Jain ascetic are stricter versions of the first five taken by the layman:

  • Non-violence�not to kill any living thing, whether five, four, three, and two, sensed or immovable (one-sensed), even through carelessness.

  • Truthfulness�to speak only of what is pleasant, wholesome and true.

  • Non-stealing�not to take what is not given.

  • Chastity�to have no dealings with gods, human beings or animals of the opposite sex.

  • To renounce love for any thing or person, which means ending all likes and dislikes with regard to sounds, colors or smells as well as people;  in other words, to be indifferent to anything mediated through the senses.

As there exists an ideal for the Jain layman, so too there exists the picture of a perfect monk, It has been said that the true ascetic should possess twenty-seven qualities, for he must keep the five vows, never eat at night, protect all living things, control his five senses, renounce greed, practice forgiveness, possess high ideals, and inspect everything he uses to make sure that no insect life is injured.  He must also be self-denying and carefully keep the three rules for controlling mind, speech and body, he must endure hardships in the twenty-two ways, and bear suffering till death.