Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Jivaraja Jaina Granthmala, No. 20

General Editorial
Preface to The First Edition
Preface to The Second Edition
Synoptic Philosophy
  Approach to Reality
  The Jaina Theory of the Soul
  Critique of Knowledge
  The Doctrine of Karma in Jaina Philosophy
  The Pathway to Perfection
  In this Our Life
  Men and Gods




Jaina ethics -- samyaktva -- samyakcaritra as Munidharma and Sravaka dharma -- ethical codes analysed � mahavratas -- samitis, five types of sense control, and avasyakas -- Sravakadharma -- anuvratas, gunavratas and siksavratas -- eleven Pratimas -- the spirit of Anekanta pervading the Jaina ethics -- a note on Samlekhana as a step to towards self-realization -- Samlekhana as a form of suicide refuted -- a note on Ahimsa -- Ahimsa as Mahavrata and Anuvrata -- interpretation of Ahimsa.


1. We have so far seen the pathway to perfection through practice of Yoga and the stages of self realization. But the transcendental perfection is to be rooted in the empirical life; as cannot ignore the empirical for the transcendental. We have first to learn to live a good life in this world and then we can go higher to spiritual perfection, or else it would be like one aiming at climbing the Mount Everest without setting a foot on the base camp without training oneself for mountaineering. Moral excellence is therefore, as much important as spiritual perfection.


 It has been alleged that the Jaina outlook, as of other ancient Indian thought, is negative. In their zeal for the other worldly ends they have ignored the things of the world; life negation  and not life affirmation is the dominant spirit of their outlook; and it is throughout pessimistic. For Jainas ultimate spiritual excellence could be attained by the gradual process of getting moral excellence.  The good man can reach the destiny of perfection of soul.  There is no short cut to moksa. As we have seen in the last chapter, Schweitzer maintains that the problem of deliverance the Jaina and the Buddhist thought is not raised beyond ethics.  In fact it was the supreme ethic, and it was an event full of significance for the thought of India. And in Indian thought category of Dharma is important.  "So far as the actual ethical content concerned, Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism are not inferior  to others" [2] Suffering in the world is a fact.: sarvam duhkham was one of the cardinal principles of the Buddha.  Misery leads to think of an escape from the bonds of this life.  In this sense all philosophy is pessimistic. But, the ultimate ideal of a Jaina is perfection and life-negation is a means to an end.  It is the negation empirical values of life and not of the supreme values; and ethics leads to realization of the supreme values.  In the West the Helenic ideal was to be a good citizen to attain excellence in this life. The Vedic Aryans aimed at happiness and good life in the world, and heaven hereafter. The Indian seers realized that we have to transcend the empirical to reach pure perfection, or else we have no lasting peace. Yet the empirical is a stepping stone for the transcendental perfection. Moral life therefore, is important as the pathway to perfection. The ways of flesh and mind are to be channelised to the pathway to perfection giving Caesar what is due to him. Ethics for the Jainas is working in righteousness all the days of one's life.  Of the triple ways to perfection enunciated by the Jainas, Samyak-caritra is equally important. It is a way leading to moksha: without hunger and thirst for righteousness we shall not enter the kingdom of perfection. Caritra is predominently activistic. lt refers to moral and spiritual excellence. lt implies willed activity, and samyakcaritra (right activity) is an important step one has to adopt in the pathway to self-realisaion. To attain samyaktva is not an easy task. One has to  be ripe for it. Samyak-caritra is possible for one who has attained samyagdrsti (right faith) and Samyagjnana (right knowledge). One who has cleared the darkness of the deluding Karma and who possesses knowledge, adopts samyak-caritra. lt consists in avoiding the influx of Karma (asrava) coming as it does from the practice of himsa (injury to life), anrta (untruth), steya (stealing) and other forms of sense pleasures. Samyaktva has been assimilated to the status of a vrata and presented with five aticaras (infraction). They were enumerated as early as the Tattvarthasutra though not found in the canon.[3] Without entering into the minor discrepancies of the Digambara and Svetambara versions of the essential qualities of Samyaktva, we may mention the characters of Samyaktva. Samyaktva (rightness) is characterised by i) samvega (spiritual craving), ii) Sama (stilling of the passion), iii) nirveda (disgust for sense pleasures), iv) bhakti (devotion), v) anukampa (compassion), vi) ninda (remorse for the evil acts of relatives and others), vii) garha (repentence expressed in the form of alocana made in the presence of guru and viii) vatsalya (loving kindness to The living). Samyaktva expresses itself in nihsanka (freedom from doubt), nihkanksa (desirelessness), nirguhana (absence of repugnance), amudha-drsti (absence of perversity of attitude).[4]


The description of the nature of Samyaktva as shovm above has a great psychological significance. It presents the mental setting required for developing character and personality as needed for spiritual progress., The instructive tendencies and emotions have to be channelized and directed by transformation and sublimation with a view to attaining mental equipoise. Ethically considered the characteristics of Samyak-caritra present a background and a canvas for the illumination of one's self towards the goal of attaining perfect equanimity and spiritual strength.


 II. Samyakcaritra has been distinguished into two types: i) sakala (complete) and ii) vikala (partial) . Sakala-caritra is the rigorous practice of Dharma and is to be adopted by those who are initiated as monks and who have renounced this world. It is Muni-dharma (the way of an ascetic). But for those who have not renounced the world it is still possible to seek the truth and pursue the path of righteousness though in a convenient and lesser degree.  That would be Vikalacaritra, the way of the householder. There are, thus, two levels of moral life. The polarity of house-holder and ascetic is indeed one of the most characteristic features of the Jaina structure. The layman has the obligation to cherish his family, the monk must sever all ties with them.  The monk is excessive since his life is a negation of compromise; while moderation must be the key-note of existence for the house holder whose life is rooted in compromise.[5]


Muni-dharma aims at seeking salvation through the practice of strict moral and spiritual injunctions. Of these, the five vratas (vows) are important. They are l) ahimsa (nonviolence); 2) satya (truth) 3) asteya (non-stealing); 4) Brahmacarya (celibacy); and 5) apari graha (non-possession).  It is difficult to translate these words in proper form. The Vratas have to be practiced rigorously and withou exception.  In this sense the Vratas to be practiced by th ascetic are called Mahavratas (great vows). The reverense towards life (Albert Schweitzer has put it) by which the realm of life was so immeasurably extended, permeates the discipline of Mahavira's order in a way no other ethical prescription does.[6]  'We can observe it-entering into the fields of other vows like truthful speech as arising out of passion. The vow of non-possession is equally important. A monk is not allowed to possess anything, in some cases including a piece of cloth.  The vow of chesty has a large effective range. The prescriptions cohering with it do not refer to normal sexuality only, but they frequently also indicate events of sexual pathology .[7] According to one tradition, the fifth was added by Vardhamana Mahavira, the twentyfourth prophet. Parsva the twenty third Tirthakara did not mention celibacy as a vow. In a discussion between Kesi, a disciple of Parsva and Gautama, a disciple of Mahavira, it was made clear that the addition of the fifth did not imply any major deviation from the teachings of the Jinas, but was an outcome of circumstance.[8] It indicated a fall in the standards of monastic moral life as there was sufficient interval of time between the last two Tirthakaras. Later it is sometimes suggested that the sixth vow rai-bhoyanao veramanam (abstaining from taking food at night) was added with the main intention of avoiding injury to life in the dark.  This was primarily meant as injunction for the householder as the ascetic takes only one meal a day at midday. It is a special case of ahimsa. In fact the entire ethical structure of the Jainas is centered round the fundamental principle of ahimsa. We find this expressed in the other lnjunctions to be followed by the ascetics. The ascetics have to practice: I) the five mahavratas, 2) five samiti.  3) the control in five senses 4) six avasyakas. other practices like i) loca (plucking the hair on the head with hands),ii) acelakatva (abstaining from the use of covering of any sort, iii) asnana (abstaining from bath). iV) Prthivisayana v) adantadhavana (abstaining from cleaning teeth), vi) sthitibhojana (taking food offered by the lay discip1e, by using the palm only and by standing) viii) ekabhukta (taking one meal a day). The five samitis are irya samiti (restriction on movement),ii)bhasa-samiti (restriction on speech), iii) esana-samtti (taking pure and permissible food). iv) adana-niksepa (careful usemovemen: of the necessary objects like kamandalu, a pot for use of water etc., and v) pratisthapana-samiti (answering the nature calls in solitary places). The practice of vows and other injunctions has to be carefully done by the ascetic without exception.  The life of a monk is hard and rigorous in this sense. His object is to attain Moksa, and for this purpose rigorous mortification of the body has to be practiced. The practice of vows is threefold: in body, mind and speech.


The infraction of the practice of vows and other injunctions has also to be threefold: i) by one self, ii) by getting others to commit violation, and iii) by acquiescing in the act of violation.


 A Muni is not to cover himself with any type of clothes ordecoration made of cotton, wool, bark of a tree or even grass.  He is forbidden to take bath (asnana). He should sleep with care on one side where there is little possibility of injury to living being including the tiniest insects. He should not clean his teeth, nails and other parts of the body nor should he decorate himself in any way (adanta-dhavana) . He should eat taking the food on the palm standing on a clean and purified place, and he should eat only once a day after midday. These are included in the twenty-eight basic mulagunas of a Muni.[10] Rigorous restrictions are imposed on an ascetic; which if imposed on the layman, it would not be possible for him to practice in conformity with his responsibility of household life.


The Dasavaikalika-sutra gives description of the essential qualities required of an ascetic. One who is self-controlled, who is free from passion and is non-attached is a real Muni. He saves his soul and those of others. Such self-controlled persons go to heaven (deva-loka) or are freed from the bonds of life according to the degree of destruction of Karma. One who goes to heaven is reborn and has to continue his struggle for the destruction of the remaining Karma ultimately to attain Moksa.[11]


A true monk should have no desires nor attachments and should wander about as the known beggarHe should live as a model of righteousness.[12] He is not to live by any profession or occupation; possessed of full self-control and free from any ties, he should live the life of a homeless mendicant.


The daily routine of a monk is well regulated and regimented. He has to be severely solemn and is obliged to behave in a strictly -reserved and unobtrusive manner. He cannot indulge in singing, dancing, laughing or any other form of merrymaking. He has to devote much of his time to meditation, study. and in the third part of the day he has to go only for

 food and drink.


The Acarangasutra and Dasavaikalika present a detailed picture of the strict rules for taking a midday meal. He has to be modest in behaviour and give precedence to other receivers and even to animals.[14] And such a monk practising the rigours of an ascetic for the sake of a fuller and more perfect life here and here-after-is superior to all others. like a trained 'Kamboja steed' whom no noise frightens,Iike a strong irresistible elephant, like a strong bull and a proud lion.[15]


Four things of supreme value are difficult to obtain in this world: l) human birth. 2) instruction in the Law (dharma), 3) belief in the Dharma and 4) energy in self-control. We must therefore, make the most of what we have not because tomorrow we die but because we become immortal and perfect. The attainment of perfection is in the hands of man; and knowing this, we should avoid sense-pleasures which are short-lived and apparently sweet yet fraught with the danger of losing all that we have, as a man lost his kingdom by eating a mango fruit which was strictly forbidden by his physician[16] and as forbidden fruit whose mortal taste brought death into this world and all our woe. Asceticism is the primary step for the monks on their way to self-realization.  External asceticism consists in dropping one's meals, in restricting oneself to a few objects and in begging for food. These are meant for preparing one's mind for selfpurification. The internal asceticism is mainly mental and it aims at purification in the final form.  It includes the control of the senses, subjection to confession and atonement, readiness to spiritual service. study and the practice of dhyana in gradual stages. And one who has given up all worldly ties, is well-versed in the Dharma, who practices all codes of ascetic life, is the sramana, a bhikkhu. A monk compiles with the rules of yati as regards postures, lying down, sitting down and is thoroughly acquainted with the samitis and guptis.[18]