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




A layman who is desirous of attaining the higher stage in the upward path to Moksa will have to go through the eleven stages of moral and spiritual practice resulting from the careful observations of the twelve vows mentioned so far. They are the Pratimas stages of spiritual progress; and Schubring says "Horizontally expanded as it were, these obligations are projected in the vertical by the ladder of the 11 uvasaga-padima".[47] The eleven Pratimas are the injunctions or the ways of conduct progressively leading towards the development of ideal personality. They present a ladder (sopdna-marga) for the layman.


The eleven Pratimas are: 1) samyagdrsti (right attitude). 2) vrata (practice of vows). 3) samayika (equanimity which helps in the practice of vows. 4) prosadha (fasting on certain days of the month), 5) sacitta-tyaga (giving up certain types of food like roots etc ). 6) ratribhojana-tya ga (giving up eating at night).  7) bramacarya (celibacy), 8) arambha tyaga (giving certain types of occupations like agriculture involving injury to living beings.), 9 ) partgraha-tydgas (giving up all  possessions except clothes), 10) anumati-tyaga (non-participation in the household responsibilities), and ll) uddista-tyaga. In this stage the sravaka accepts only the minimum of cloth like the loin cloth (kaupina).[48] There are minor variations in the list of practices presented by the svetambara and Digambara sects, and they are not relevant for our discussionSuffice it to say that in the progressive realization of these Pratimas a pious layman is led step by step towards the attainment of samnyasa, i.e., a life of renunciation. There is, in this, a psychological presentation of the principle of varnasrame prevailing in the Hindu way of life because a householder steadily and surely proceeds towards renunciation. 'This transformation is much truer to human nature a there is no sudden transformation which needs acute psychological orientation. 'When one moves from Grhasthasrama to Vanaprasth asrama and then to samnyasa, one cannot just walk into samnayas unless one is a prophet, but one has to prepare oneself for the gradual transformation.  Sudden change from one life into the other may create psychological problems as the repressions would accumulate into the dung heap of the Unconscious. The conception of pratimas is, therefore, phychologically sound.  This can be easily shown from the fact that the first two Pratimas are mental preparations for the practice of rigorous moral life.  Moral control, like continence is always linked with fasting and the control of nourishment. Rich food and clothing have to be avoided as they lead to an easy universe of desires. ln the ninth and tenth stages one has to break away from the household attachments still living with family and friends.  He is detached and spends most of the time in contemplation in the temple.[49] He does not take part in the affairs of the house nor does he advise the family members in household affairs even if his advice is sought.[50]. In the eleventh stage he is on the verge of being an ascetic. He has to wear a minimum dress like the loin cloth (kaupina). In the eleventh Pratima two divisions have sometimes been mentioned: i) ksullaka and ii) ailaka. In the former there is only provisional ordination which does not bind the ordinated to the monastic life if he has not the vocation. The second is the quasi-ascetic, the ascetic on probation. Still, in this Pratima certain features of monk's life are forbidden for the layman.  He is not allowed to study the mysteries of the sacred texts. He may not go round for alms as a monk does, nor practice trikala yoga, the form of asceticism which emphasises meditation on a hill top in the hot season, under a tree during rains and by a river bank in winter. They are to wish others as a layman would.[51]' The Pratimas are thus, a means to achieve spiritual development which will, in the end, lead the devotee to take a Samlekhana. As a result of the conquest by Moslems who disapproved of nudity and for other reasons layman in the 11th Pratima came, to a larger extent, to take the place of monks.[52] Today social conditions have considerably changed, and we are becoming more secular-minded. It would be necessary to reorientate our values so as to emphasise the spiritual levels of householder's life in the practice of Vrata and the eleven stages of spiritual development.


The Jaina has a conception of an ideal layman and an ideal monk. A layman develops twenty one qualities which distinguish him as a perfect gentleman. He will be serious in demeanor, good tempered, merciful, straight-forward, wise and modest. He is sociable, yet careful in speech, reverent both to old age and old customs. A true ascetic should possess twenty-eight qualities for he must keep the five vows, control his five senses, renounce greed, practice forgiveness and possess high ideals. He must be self-denying and endure hardships, always aiming at the highest ideal of perfection.


In the present survey of the ethics of Jainas we can see the spirit of Anekanta pervading the two levels of moral life  the ascetic and the householder. They are not opposed to each other, nor do they present any degree o� comparison. The distinction between the sravaka-dharma and muni-dharma is only to show that there is a continuity in the spiritual efforts of man. Hunger and thirst for righteousness flowers into perfection only gradually if watered with slow and steady flow of moral and spiritual practice. The lay estate was initially admitted in deference to human frailty and was regarded in theory as a stage of preparation for the ascetic life. Later it gained importance as the foundation for spiritual ends. Layman's ethics was always considered with reference to the prevailing social and religious conditions. Local usage or customary law, the desacara though accorded no mandatory force, has always been admitted as a guide, wherever there is r conflict with the Jaina doctrine and more particularly in the modern period it has been increasingly incorporated in the Sravakacara.[53]


The pervasion of the spirit of Anekanta can be demonstrated by the theory and practice of Ahimsa as the cardinal ethical principle of Jainas. It is considered as the fundamental principle of the religion, ahimsa paramo dharmah. We may, therefore, aptly add a critique of Ahimsa.


The five Vratas have been important for the Jaina way of life. They have undergone modifications as to their application in the practice by householders as and when necessary according to the need of the social structure. And 'changelessness of Jainism is a more than a myth'. Had Jainism become a majority religion in Southern India something akin to Digambara Mahayana might have emerged. Whilst the dogma remains strikingly firm the ritual changes and assumes an astonishing complexity and richness of symbolism.[54] For instance, Danavrata has widened its field from feeding the ascetics to religious endowments,and Yatra ceases to be a mere promenading of the idols through city on a festival day and comes to denote an organised convoy going on a pilgrimage to distant sacred places. And all the time more and more stress being laid on the individual's duty to the community.[55]


Jainism is a tirtha, a way of progress through life, and whilst the yatyacara teaches the individual how to organise his  own salvation, the aim of sravakacara is to ensure that an environment is created in which the ascetic may be able to travel the road of Moksa.[56] The emphasis has also to be on the community as well as the individual. This is clear from modifications of the practices and assimilation of the prevailing ritual and practices in Hindu society, as for instance, in the adoption of the right of Upanayana and marriage rites.


The importance of sravakdcara has been enhanced by the fact that it has widespread application to the community, and moral ideas of the lay followers have been suited to the needs of the society for good and perfect social order. They are still useful in the perfect social order. They are still useful in the daily life of man, whether he be a Jaina or non-Jaina. A perfect social order would be possible if we follow the Vratas carefully. The Anuvrata movement started by Muni Tulsi is a welcome crusade against the evils in society, and the most useful effort towards establishing a coherent, healthy and moral social order. The supreme importance of the lay ethics as given by the Jainas has been clear by the aticaras (infractions) elaborately mentioned by the Acaryas.


The ethical ideal of a Jaina is not mere pleasure of the senses nor gratification of the body. Pleasures of the senses are insatiable.  More we get them the more we want and the more pained we are.  There is glue as it were in pleasure: those who are not given to pleasure are not soiled by it; those who love pleasure must wander about in Samsara, those who do not will be liberated. Like the two clods of clay, one wet and the other dry, flung at the wall, those who love pleasure get clung to the influx of Karma, but the passionless are free.[57] Not the pleasures of the moment nor even the greatest happiness of the greatest number are attractions to the truly pious, for, their ultimate end is to attain perfection and to lead other men to the path of righteousness. Yet the Jaina does not say that pleasures of the senses are to be completely avoided, specially for the lay disciple. And mortification of the body is equally one sided. Rigorous asceticism for a monk is a means to an end and not an end in itself. For a lay followers he may continue his occupation, earn money, Iive a family life and enjoy normal acceptable pleasures of life in good spirit according to the needs and status of an individual in society.


Jainism aims at self-realization, and the self to be realised is the transcendental and pure self. The empirical self is to be cared for and its energy is to be channelised, in the direction of the attainment of the highest ideal of Moksa.


SAMLEKHANA: In the present political life of our country, fasting unto death for specific ends has been very common. The Manu Smrti mentions some traditional methods of fasting unto death in order to get back the loan that was once give The Rajatarangini refers to the Brahmins resorting to fast in order to obtain justice or protest against the abuses.  Religious suicide is occasionally commended by the Hindus.  With a vow to some deity they starve themselves to death, enter fire and throw themselves down a precipice.[59]


The Jainas were opposed to such forms of death. They called such death as unwise (bala-marana). It has no moral justification. The Uttardhyayana Sutra condemns such practices and states that those who use weapons, throw themselves into the fire and water, and use things not prescribed by the rules of conduct are liable to be caught in the wheel of samsara.  Such persons are caught in the mohadharma.[60] Fasting unto death for specific purposes has an element of coercion which is against the spirit of non violence.


However, the Jainas have commended fasting as an important means to self-realization. Among the austerities, fasting is the most conspicuous; the Jainas have developed it into a kind of art. They have reached a remarkable proficiency in it.[61] The Jaina monks and the laymen have to fast at regular intervals for the spiritual progress. More important is fasting unto death. It is called Samlekhana. The Jainas have worked out a scientific analysis of Samlekhana.[62]


Fasting unto death for specific purposes has raised moral problems. The question whether it would be a suicide and as such unjustifiable has been persistently asked with no relevant answer.  The Jaina theory of Samlekhana has raised similar problems. It is a much misunderstood doctrine, both in its theory and practice.  Radhakrishnanmakes mention of it as a form of suicide.[63] The Rev. Dr. A. C. Bouquet Trinity College, Cambridge, states that the attitude of the Stoic towards his own death seems to be curious-He claims that one is entitled to do, whatever one likes with ones own life.  Perhaps the Jaina, 'if interrogated, might say the same thing'.[64] He gives an instance of Zeno who is said to have suffocated himself to death in his old age because he had damaged one of his hands. It can only be said that a better understanding of the Jaina theory of Samlekhana would dispel the misgivings about it as a form of suicide and as an act of disregard for life. It is, therefore, necessary to analyse the theory and practice of Samlekhana as the Jainas presented.


According to Jainas, the individual souls are pure and perfect in their real nature. They are substances distinct from matter.  Through the incessant activity, the souls get infected with matter.  The Karma, which is of eight types and which is material in nature-accumulates and vitiates the soul from its purity. The souls get entangled in the wheel of Samsara. This is beginningless, though It has an end. The end to be achieved is the freedom from the bonds of this empirical life. It is to be achieved through the three jewels right intuition, right knowledge and right action. [65] 'The way to Moksa, which is the final end, is long arduous.  The moral codes of religious practices, which are rigorous, gradually lead to the self-realization. In the final phase of self-realisation, as also in emergency, the Jaina devotee, a monk or a householder (sravaka) is enjoined to abstain from food and drink gradually and fast unto death. Death is not the final end and destruction of self. It is only casting off the body, freedom from the bonds of life. We are asked to accept a quiet death, as far as possible, within the limit of our capacity. This is Samlekhana.