The classification of the Vinaya
laws is also arbitrary. No systematic grouping is to be found in any of
the texts of the Vinaya literature. However, even such a
heterogeneous formulation dons the human touch as every rule is endowed
with an episode that led to its formulation. This helps one a lot in
understanding the background and the adjustment of monastic discipline to
that background. The laws of Jaina monastic jurisprudence do not by
themselves explain such background for which we have to depend on later
Moreover, the association of the Buddha
in such a setting and the pronouncement of the rule through his mouth
tended to give a sort of grand solemnity to the utterance and formulation.
No such pronouncements are attributed to anybody in the Jaina texts.
As against the ten main prayascittas
of the Jainas, the two hundred and odd offenses are grouped under
seven categories in the Buddhist literature. The lightest offense was
'Sekiyu' and the highest parajika'.
Yet the nature of acts on the part of
the monks and nuns which could be termed as an offense is more or less
alike in both the Buddhist and the Jaina texts in a very broad way. For
instance, offenses, which involved behavior against celibacy and showing
of disrespect to the Buddha or the Tirthankara etc., are alike in both
these religions. Similarities can be quoted in a number of cases, which it
is needless here to list.
There is yet a difference. In the
Buddhist Church, the promulgation of a rule could be done either by the
Buddha or by the elders in the Samgha or by elderly and well-versed
senior monks or by the Vinayadharas. Regarding such agencies of the
origin and formulation of different rules, the Jaina texts are silent.
What we find in these texts are that the seniors act more as judges than
as originators of law.
The prosecution of the guilty was an
elaborate affair in the Buddhist jurisprudence. Such trials were to be
held in the presence of a full assembly (Mahavagga, IX, 3). Besides
this, the accused was to be allowed to confess or defend if somebody else
had accused him. The declaration of the offense committed by the accused
was done by a senior monk (Ibid., X, 3, 9). Opinions were allowed
to be expressed by other representative monks regarding the offense and
whether the accused was involved in it or not. In cases of grave offenses,
such procedures as ballot and open voting, and holding of a jury were also
resorted to. In the case of minor offenses, formal confession was deemed
sufficient. The account of the trial of Ananda, Devadatta and others makes
a wonderful reading, which brings out the elaborate procedure adopted in
Such elaboration of trials is not to be
found mentioned or described in any of the Jaina texts. What we have is
the reference to the Samgha, which in some cases was empowered to
commute the punishment inflicted on a monk, under certain circumstances.
The picture that stands before our eyes,
on the basis of the information given in the Buddhist texts, is that of a
completely organized corporate life of the Bhikkhu sangha, which,
though a feature even of the Jaina order of monks and nuns, has not
anywhere been graphically represented, so far as the enforcement and
administration of monastic jurisprudence is concerned, in the Jaina texts.
Thus, in short, is the rapid survey of
the rules and working of Jaina monastic jurisprudence. With all their
Matter -of-fact enumeration, the rules definitely reveal the working of
the human mind in its wonderful adjustment and reaction to problems of
this world full of human beings, humane and cruel, haughty and modest,
dauntless and timid. It is a gallant tribute to the Jaina church and its
elders that they could see all these facets of the human mind and with all
the knowledge of such a complex field, tried to elevate a normal human
being to a disciplined ascetic striving for the summum bonum.