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Jaina Monastic Jurisprudence
The Background to Monastic Jurisprudence
The Custodians of Monastic Discipline
Laws of Jurisprudence and Their Working
Transgressions and Punishments
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THE BACKGROUND TO MONASTIC JURISPRUDENCE


 

 

Similar was the case regarding the selection of a proper residence. Apart from the non-acceptance of notorious places, the reasons for which are based on commonsense, the Jaina texts hold that too much extensive or too small a residence was not to be accepted by a monk. An extensive lodging was normally the resort of indifferent elements in the society like guards, beggars (karpatika) and unmarried males and females (vantha). The very presence of such people was likely to disturb a monk in his daily routine of study as also his answering the normal calls of nature for which he would have to go to a distant place which might lead to hinsa. If he suppressed such calls, then he was likely to fall ill. Then at night, if he tried to find out his own place or his requisites and in doing so happened to touch the bodies of other persons mentioned above, these were likely to take him to be an eunuch or a thief or a person having an appointment with his beloved. This would definitely lead to trouble. Moreover, if the monk happened to be healthy, he was likely to be kidnapped by women and eunuchs, in which case it was not possible for him to get help. (Oha. N. 21724). On the other hand, too small a residence left meager space for moving about which was likely to lead to quarrel by others and breaking up of requisites. Such rules, therefore, display the deep foresight in judging the possibilities, in knowing the nature of the bad elements in the society and last but not the least the utmost precaution in maintaining the puritanical rigor of monastic life.

     Besides the purely ethical basis of the structure of Jaina monastic rules, other considerations were also there. For instance, take the normal rule of not initiating a boy under eight. This is found in the Thanangasutta (p. 164b). However, by the time of Nisihacunni we find that six types of children could be initiated.

uvsante vi mhakule nranteevagge vi sanrri sejjatre

ajja karanrjate anrunrata balpvvajja

                                               - niseehchunrri

     For our discussion here, two categories are worth notice. First is that of 'karanajata'. In explanation of this, the commentary says:

'karanrjate ti kul-ganr-sanghkajje annmmi va gcchadite kajje 'sachivo' mantee so bhanrejja - "aham vo tujjham imam kajjam karemi, jaee me imam balam alakkhanram

moolnrkkhatiyam, va pvvaveh," tahe pavvavejjnra.

                                                     - (tritya vibhag, pri. 236) 

     Here is, therefore, a clear instance of the practical foresight of the Jaina church, so characteristic of its later stage of development. If, therefore, the church or the Gana or the sampha was likely to be benefited by such an initiation, then, there was found to be no harm in allowing entry to such a child, which normally could not be permitted. Similar was the case regarding an eunuch who was not normally to be initiated. But if he were to be in the good books of a king or was one who was an expert physician or able to manage the well-being of the gaccha in cases of royal disfavor, then such an eunuch could be allowed entry to the fold. (Brhatkalpa bhasya V, 517374.) In these cases it is fairly apparent that the church took quite a practical view of the situation and avoided incurring the displeasure of the royal power. On the other hand, refusal to initiate a person who has been inimical to the king (rayavagari) or one who is a dasa (Nisihacunni, Vol. III, pp. 261-64) shows in the case of the former, avoidance of royal trouble and the disengagement from political affairs, and in the case of the latter the failure of the church to violate the bonds of slavery current in the society.

On the other hand, the liberal humanitarian and reasonable attitude of the church in the formulation of rules and their exceptions is evidenced in the case of the child of a raped nun. Such a nun was kept in the monastery was well looked after, was fed by co-nuns and when well advanced in pregnancy was handed over to a devoted layman. All her duties as a nun were suspended till her child sucked her; even her child could be initiated. The most remarkable aspect was that those who teased or condemned her were compelled to undergo expiatory punishment. (Brh. kalp. Bha., 4129-46). For this liberalism and sense of realism, the masters of the organization deserve praise.

 

VI. Meaning! of Transgressions and Exceptions

From the discussion of the structure of monastic rules, their basic ethics, the principles underlying their formulations and the deviations from these, it will be clear that the rules of monastic conduct of the Jainas were formulated as a blending of monastic purity as a major part with the reading of and adjustment with social etiquette and traditions. Thus though in a major part, they were quite rigid, yet they could be elastic as well.

The question arises as to how the exceptions are to be interpreted and under what circumstances are they to be resorted to? Simultaneously we have to make clear the difference between a transgression (aiyara) and the practice of exception (apavaya). It will be readily accepted that it would be incorrect to resort to 'apavaya.' often, as also not to resort to it under any circumstances. Extremes in both are wrong. The real danger lies here. A lax monk would like to resort to exceptions often, whereas a die-hard puritan would go to the extent of accepting death rather than resort to exceptions. What is needed is the relative evaluation of the circumstances under which one happens to be, and the clear-cut understanding of the acceptance or non-acceptance of the exceptions to a general rule.

     Upadhyaya Amara Muni in his Hindi preface to Nisihasutta has dealt with this problem in a masterly ways. The gist of it being relevant to our problem may be summarized for the proper understanding of the rules of Jaina -monastic jurisprudence.

     First and the foremost point is that a person not well- versed in monastic conduct (agiyattha) has no right to decide whether a particular behavior or reaction to circumstances can be adopted as an exception or 'apavada'. The decision as to the judging of an exception to a rule and the consequences related to it were the sole responsibility of a senior who was well-versed and experienced (giyattha.). This practice thus checked the tendency of a lax monk to resort to exceptions for his own convenience.

Secondly, even in the case of well-behaved monks, resort to exceptions was favored in abnormal circumstances, for if otherwise he died, no question remained about self-control.

savvtth sanjmam, sanjmao appanrmev rakkhija

muchei eivayao, punro visohee na yavirei -46

sanjmheum deho dharijjei so kyo u tadbhave

sanjam phainimitam, dehparipalanra ittha            -47

                                                                 -ohnrijjuti

These verses clearly tell us that a person should Pursue Self-control by all means. If it, however, means death for him in abnormal circumstances, then one should protect oneself, even if it means a deviation from self-control. A monk who protects his life by resorting to exceptions is not guilty of transgression, if his mind is pure. Moreover, by remaining alive he can undergo expiatory punishment for such a transgression. For the proper following of self-control, the protection of the body is essential.

The author referred to above puts the whole argument in a nutshell when he says�

mool men jain prampara ko bahye drishyman vidhi-vidhano ka utna agrh hai. sadhak na keval utsarg ke liye hai. veh donon ke liye hai, aur na keval upvad ke liye hai.

This, then, is the spirit of Jaina monarchism and the rules of discipline that guide it. Therefore, if in the following of such rules, one has to resort to exceptions, One should do it out of extreme necessity of protecting the body, which becomes the vehicle in attaining the ideal of self-control. Thus for the proper carrying out of self-control one should resort to exceptions. The resort to exceptions for any other reason than that of self-control amounts to deliberate transgression. Therefore the circumstances under which a person resorts to exception and the aim for which it is done are the main pillars over which the edifice of monastic jurisprudence has been erected by the Jaina church.