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Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions
Jaina Monastic Jurisprudence
The Background to Monastic Jurisprudence
The Custodians of Monastic Discipline
Laws of Jurisprudence and Their Working
Transgressions and Punishments
  Church Affairs
  Moral Discipline and Self Control
  Select Bibliography

THE BACKGROUND TO MONASTIC JURISPRUDENCE


 

 

Besides these texts of the canon itself, the commentary literature is of immense help in the study of Jaina monastic jurisprudence. For instance the chunnis and the Bhasas provide the details about the formulation of rules of monastic conduct, their working, the exceptions, and the actual process of the enactment of procedure of dealing -with a transgressor, so on and so forth. In this regard the Nisihacunni, the Brihatkalpa-bhasya - sutra and the Jiyakappa and its commentary prove to be invaluable. These commentaries are so indispensable that without these it is not possible to go to the core of the working of monastic jurisprudence. Besides providing information in amplification of the rules of monastic discipline, these texts give stories and incidents which throw a great deal of light on the then existing social conditions under which the Jaina monk had to live and preserve the purity of monastic standards.

     This much about the Svetambaras texts. Coming to the Digambaras texts, we-have to depend chiefly on the texts grouped under the head 'carananuyoga'. Of these, the Mulacara of Vattakera belonging to about the beginning of the Christian era is invaluable as it gives many details of monastic life and the prayascittas. 

Before entering into the details Of monastic jurisprudence, it may be worthwhile to- summarize the main characteristics of the nature of evidence for the study of the subject. We have already seen that the texts contributing to such a study cover a very wide period. We have, therefore, to present the picture of Jaina monastery as a whole rather than treat it on historical principle. Besides this aspect, some texts are such that they incorporate sometimes older and later strata of contents, which make the historical treatment practically impossible, unless critically edited editions are forthcoming.

Secondly, as will be further amplified later on, the Digambaras and Svetambaras texts do not differ much in the treatment and working of monastic jurisprudence. For instance, the list of prayascittas is more or less the same, save two changes. The Digambaras have 'parihara' and 'saddhana' replacing 'anavatthappa' and 'paranciya' as given in the Svetambaras Cheyasuttas. The rest of the details do not basically differ.

Well, we have so far seen very briskly the history of research in Jainology, the nature and controversy regarding the canon and lastly the nature of the source-texts for the study of Jaina monastic jurisprudence. The survey has been very brief, as we have yet to cover the major field that lies ahead of us.

 

V. The Spirit of Monastic Rules

We have now to see how the rules of monastic conduct were formulated, their basic conceptions and the features and considerations that underlay the making up of such

rules. These rules are numerous and cover so many details for which the Jainas seem to have a peculiar flair.

     The rules, as remarked above, are numerous indeed. They pertain to initiation, confirmation, church units, relations with the laity, nuns, those who belonged to other sects, touring and residence, begging of food, donors, study, clothing and nudity, requisites like pidha-phalaga- sejja-samtharaga, rules regarding daily routine, study or sojjhaya, penance, fasting and bodily mortification, death and death-rites and moral discipline. 

It is not the purpose of these lectures to detail out here all the rules. I would request the persons interested to refer to my book "History of Jaina Monarchism" for the details of such rules. Here we are concerned with the basic considerations that were taken into consideration in the framing of these.

A survey of Jaina monarchism would reveal that all the rules of monastic conduct seem to originate from the five great vows (panda mahavvayas) that were expected of every Jaina monk. The five great vows are Ahinsa (savvao panaivayao veramanam), sacca (savvao musavayao veramanam), asteya (savvao adinnadanao veramanam), apariggaho (savvao pariggahao veramanam) and bambhacera (savvao mehunao veramanam). These form the basis of every field of Jaina monastic conduct. Even the sixth vow, as given in the Dasaveyaliya and consisting of the abstinence from taking food at night (savvao raibhoyanao veramanam) is apparently the corollary of the first vow.

These five vows were to be followed in the thrice threefold way, inasmuch as, the monk was not to transgress these himself, or make some other to transgress these or consent to somebody else transgressing these, either mentally (manna), vocally (vaena) or bodily (kana). Thus the following of these basic vows which comprised the whole fabric of Jaina monastic life led to the flowering up of numerous rules and conventions which have survived to this day. 

As remarked above, these numerous rules and regulations arose out of the necessity of the proper following of these great vows. And yet the network of the mass of rules based on these basic vows arose also out of the considerations of human psychology and its adjustment to environment. It may not be an exaggeration to say that those who framed the rules of monastic conduct were keen observers of the working of human mind in relation to the society at large. Accordingly, the rules were so framed as to preserve the utmost sanctity and purity of monk-life without grossly violating the existing social etiquette. It will not be out of place here to amplify the statement. Take for instance the famous forty-six faults to be avoided by a monk in the course of his begging round. The Pinda and the Oha-Nijjuttis furnish us with most convincing episodes that lay at the back of these elaborate rules.

Take for instance, the fault pertaining to �chaddiya�, which disallows a monk to accept food, which has been so carelessly served that some portion of it falls on the ground. Apart from the hygienic point of view, the makers of this rule seem to foresee a lot of circumstances, which might lead a monk into trouble. The story is told of a Jaina monk called Dharmaghosa who refused to accept alms at the house of a minister Varattaka whose wife came out in such a way that part of the food to be offered as alms fell on the ground. Naturally Dharmaghosa did not accept such alms much to the surprise of the minister who was watching from a distance. He remained, where he was and decided to see what would happen further within a short time, flies settled on the drop of soup. The flies were attacked by spiders that in turn were: subjected to an onslaught by the chameleons. Soon the cats attacked the latter, while the dogs fell upon the cats. Out of the fight between the dogs arose the quarrel between their owners, which finally led to great excitement! To many of us the contents of the story may appear farfetched and artificial, yet the spirit of it is really remarkable. The monk is to foresee things and extricate himself from such worldly bickering. (Pindanijutti, 623-25).

Another instance can be had in the formation of the rule, which forbids a monk to accept food from the daughter of his maternal uncle. On the face of it one might wonder why this rule was enforced. But the commentator rightly points out that the violation of this rule might lead to the affinity between the monk and the cousin sister which may irritate the husband of the lady. The rule becomes significant when we take into consideration the fact that the daughter of the maternal uncle often married her cousin brother. In view of this, the husband of the lady might suspect intimacy between the monk-brother and his wife, which might also lead to trouble for all. Here is, therefore, an excellent example of the formulation of monastic rules in consonance with social practices. It would thus be clear that though purity�mental and physical� was at the basis of monastic rules, other factors also were taken due cognizance of.

Such illustrations can be had even in other facets of monastic life. Take for instance the rules regarding study. The Uttarajjhayana (XXVI, 12) clearly states that the first and the fourth porisi of the day should be utilized for study by the monk. Yet in abnormal circumstances study was not to be done. For instance, phenomena like the fall of meteors (ukkavaya), thunder of supernatural beings in the sky (nigghate), the appearance of goblins in the sky (jakkhalitte), eclipses of the moon and the sun (candovarate, surovarate)�all of these being occasions of ill omen in the mind of the people at large, were unfit for study. Besides this, some occasions which involved political tension like the death of a king or a prominent person (rayavugghahae) also were deemed unfit for study. (Thananga, p. 476b; ayar. II, 1, 3, 9: pp. 96-97, Nis. XIX, 8-12). The considerations behind these were both psychological and political, if one may be allowed to infer. Psychological in the sense that such times are abnormal and are associated with excitement and tension-which are not conducive to concentration in study: Secondly, if people see monks engaged in study at such a time, they were likely to take it as a sign of indifference towards the deceased personality, which was likely to arouse their frenzy. These rules, therefore, reveal knowledge of social psychology coupled with the needs of monastic life.