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
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VII. Comparison with

Buddhist Jurisprudence

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 commentaries. 

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 trials.

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.

VIII. Epilogue 

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.