VI. Salient Features
After all these details, it would be
worthwhile to note down the salient features of Jaina monastic
The first and the foremost
characteristic of these monastic rules is the emphasis more on moral
values which formed the backbone of monarchism. However, coupled with
that, due consideration was also shown to age and academic qualifications
as well. Thus a fine blending of moral discipline, standing in
monk-hood and academic superiority was given due consideration in the
formation of the hierarchy and the implementation of monastic discipline.
Another feature was that the law was a
great equalizer. For instance, the transgressions of a newly initiated
monk as also of an experienced officer, were punished irrespective of
position. Actually the higher the status of the transgressor in the
hierarchy, the more severe was the nature of punishment inflicted.
Third and the most notable feature of
Jaina monastic jurisprudence was that the accused was given full scope to
explain his position. This was useful in case some mischief-monger, out of
vengeance, made a false accusation against somebody. In such cases, the
elders put more faith in the accused who gave his defense rather than one
who reported about the transgression. After hearing his defense, the
elders gave their verdict.
Yet another feature was that the
transgressor was given due opportunity to improve his behavior. If during
that period, he showed his capacity to carry out the rigors of monk-life,
then he was allowed entry to the order again in case he had committed a
transgression, which wiped out his whole paryaya.
Due consideration was given to the
circumstances under which a transgression was committed. We have already
referred to the 'ahalakusaya vavahara.' in this connection.
Besides, the nature of punishment depended upon the circumstances of each
case of the delinquency. Extenuating and aggravating circumstances were
duly considered in inflicting the punishment. For instance, touring with
nuns of other faiths or with eunuchs, in a woman's apparel at daytime was
punished with 'laghukacheda' or 'guru-ka-cheda'. Doing so at
night was sentenced with 'mule'. If, however, a Jaina monk toured
with a Jaina nun at day time then he was punished with 'anavasthappa';
if he did so at night time then he met with the highest punishment,
that of parancika.. Here both the circumstances under which the
breach of rule of monastic conduct occurred as also the considerations of
maintaining the purity of monastic conduct of one's own creed were
critically and scrupulously considered by the framers of monastic laws.
Along with this, the makers of
monastic laws were conscious of the social, religious, economic and
geographical peculiarities of various regions. Hence suitable exceptions
in these regions were provided for by the church. Here was therefore
flexibility as also the rigidity of the spirit of the law. For instance,
the monks and nuns are not to touch each other's body under normal
circumstances. This does not mean, however, that this law is to be
followed even under peculiar circumstances of distress. If a nun or a monk
is bitten by a snake and if there is no other way of outside help then a
monk could touch her body by way of treatment (Kalp., VI, 3).
Similar is the case in which an ill monk was allowed to overstay at one
place (Nis. cunni, 404), or in cases of going out to ease nature in
rain instead of suppressing such calls, crossing the river under
emergencies, staying at a proper place even without permission instead of
living in a forest full of wild beasts and intense cold, so on and so
forth. In all such cases, these practices were resorted to only as 'apaddharma'
for which suitable prayascittas were undergone afterwards.
Actually the Nisihacunni (2684) allows the acceptance of 'adhakarmika'
food under such abnormal conditions as famine, wickedness of a king,
great fear or illness, etc. Not only this, but those who even when knowing
the emergencies that made a monk act abnormally teased or condemned him
were punished by the acarya. Therefore, the motive behind the
transgression and the tendency that led to the commitment of in-discipline
was to be punished, and not the helpless victim of circumstances.
This insistence on the practice of the
spirit of the law and not the letter of it is reflected in the provisos
and exceptions to monastic conduct in peculiar regions as mentioned in the
Brhatkalpa-Sutra-Bhasya. For instance, in the Maharastra region,
people used the nilakambala in winter. The monks touring that
region in that season were also allowed to use that type of Kampala.
In the country of Thuna, people used clothes whose ends
(dashiki) were cut, whereas reverse was the practice in the Indus
region. In the Konkan region, people were accustomed to eat fruits and
flowers. In all these social and geographical variations, the monks were
allowed to adjust their practice with the local habits for which, however,
they had to undergo prayascittas later on.
The last and the most important feature
of the laws of Jaina monastic jurisprudence is their heterogeneous
arrangement. We have already seen that the study of the Cheyasuttas
was compulsory for those who aspired for a senior rank in the hierarchy.
Their study would have been much easier had the different transgressions
been grouped under suitable categories of monk life like dress, food,
study etc. On the contrary what we find in the Nihihasutta is the
grouping of various acts of monk-life grouped under the categories of
prayascittas. This, as the case stands, makes the reference to a
particular transgression not very easy to find out.
And the last but not the least important
point is the total absence of the mention of the background that led to
the formulation of a particular rule in Jaina texts dealing with
jurisprudence. What we find in the bare texts of the Chedasutras is
the abrupt, matter-of-fact, heterogeneous list of different transgressions
that were to be dealt with under a particular prayascittas. Of
course the cunnis and the Bhasas provide the necessary
information which seems to robe the skeleton of rules. As Schubring
rightly points out in his introduction to the Kappasutta, "there is
nothing of legendary embellishing in the Jain ordinances".