Jain World
Sub-Categories of Jain Books
Book Introduction
Sravaka and Sravakacara
The Mula-Gunas
  The Vratas
  The Anu-Vratas
  The Guna-Vratas & Siksa-Vratas
  Significance of Sravakacara
  Relevance of Sravakacara to the present times




All the Jainacaryas and all the texts,93 canonical and non- canonical, recognize that the ahimsanu-vrata is the first of the five small vows of the householder This is so because ahimsa holds the key position in the whole scheme of the ethical discipline of the householder, as it also does so in that prescribed for the monk, which fact is reflected in the following maxim-like words that have echoed down the sages to the delight of the religio-spiritual minded world and also for the good of all the living beings:

  1. jlvanam rakkhanam dhammo94 - Giving protection to living beings is (true) religion.

  2. so dhammo jattha daya95 - That is (true) religion which is based on compassion.

  3. daya mulu dhammanighivaha96 - Compassion is the root of the tree in the form of religion. And Amrtacandra97 has tried to elucidate the same and to show that every other vrata is but another form of the first one restarted in different terms

The nature of the ahimsanu-vrata has been admirably depicted by Svami Samantabhadra in a single verse and in lucid terms in his Ratna Karandaka.98

Abstaining from intentionally injuring mobile living beings, through mind, words or body, in any of the three ways- directly, through somebody or by consent (i. e., in nine ways) is called .sthula-vadha-viramana or ahimsanu-vrata by the wise.99 For the proper understanding of the contents of this verse, it is necessary to know what is himsa as held by the Jaina seers. Umasvami defines himsa as severence of any of the vitalities (pranas) by one moved by passion.l00 According to Jainism, immobile beings (sthavara jivas) possess four vitalities: touch, energy, respiration and span of life. These are also called ekendriyas. The mobile beings possess, besides the above, any two or more of the senses; sense of taste, smell, sight, hearing and speech. Those having mind possess in all ten vitalities. Injury is caused by the severance of any of these vitalities in a mobile or immobile being, which leads it to pain and suffering. One who inflicts injury to living beings, with passion or carelessness (pramada) is guilty of himsa.

Himsa is also marked in two forms: suksma himsa- taking of life of any living being and sthula himsa - taking of life of living beings with two senses onwards, which are also known as trasa or cara jivas. The first is obligatory for the monk and the second for the householder. It may be noted, at this context, that the householder is also expected to abstain from killing or injuring living beings even with one sense (ekendriyas) according to some Acaryas like Vasunandi,101 which move is an instance of rather hardening the vow.

Then, himsa, may be arambhaja - inherent in one's occupation or anarambhaja - unrelated to one's occupation which is also known as samkalpaja - intentional. Hunting, offering animals in sacrifice to please the gods, killing for food, for sport etc. are some of the instances of intentional himsa. Arambhi himsa is further elucidated by dividing it into three categories: (1) udyami, (2) grharambhi and (3) virodhi. (1) udyami himsa: The householder, who has to maintain himself and his family, has necessarily to some occupation and in the course of his working he may commit himsa. Therefore certain select occupations are regarded by some Acaryas, as permissible asi-sword, masi-ink, krsi-agriculture, vanijya-trade, silpa-sculpture and vidya-art, literature or teaching (2) grharambhi himsa: This is some kind of himsa involved in the course of one's carrying out the manifold domestic duties and other obligations. Preparation of food, use of water in bathing and washing clothes, keeping of cattle, maintenance of gardens, cutting fruits and flowers, digging of wells, construction of houses etc. are some of such instances; and whatever himsa is involved in such household obligations is permissible; otherwise normal course of life becomes impossible. (3) virodhi-himsa: It is committed generally in self-defence or in the protection of persons or property of members of the family, relatives or friends. In the ordinary course of life, one has to defend oneself from thieves, robbers or enemies in battles. If one is a soldier (asi-sword), defence of his county is a bounden duty; but he is not expected to indulge in unnecessary himsa as a matter of hostility or revenge.

Moreover commission of himsa does not depend merely on the act, but also on the will towards such act. Hence distinction is made between bhava-himsa--intention to cause injury and dravya-himsa--actual injury caused. Amrtacandra says: Because of intention, himsa is culpable sometimes before it is committed, sometimes at the time of commission, sometimes even after it has been actually committed, and sometimes for an attempt to commit it, even though it is not committed, because of the intention to commit it.l02 Thus it is the intention which makes one culpable.

For the observance of the ahimsanu-vrata, Jainacaryas have enjoined certain injunctions. The house-holder should avoid first (or be previously equipped with the mula-gunas) the three makaras and the five milky fruits. He should avoid the various abhak.syas and nanta-kayas. He should abstain from taking food at night and drinking unfiltered water. Amrtacandra poignantly cautions against a number of stupid ideas and beliefs involving himsa which were entertained and carried out possibly in the contemporary society. Some of them are as follows : (1)one should not sacrifice animals for the adoration of gods, being carried by the perverted notion of receiving benediction in return. (2) Animals should not be killed for guests, in the belief that there is no harm in killing goats etc, for those persons deserving respect. (3) Beings (like tigers, snakes, scorpions), which kill or severely hurt others, should not be killed in the belief that the destruction of one such being leads to the protection of others. (4) Do not kill the distressed beings with the misconception that they will get relief from agony after being killed.103

With a view to guiding the householder in avoiding himsa in the course of his day to day life, the following aticaras-- transgressions are laid down:

(i) bandha--keeping in captivity

(ii) vadha--beating or thrashing

(iii chavi-ccheda--mutilating

(iv) atibhararopana too much of loading

(v) bhakta-pana-vyavaccheda--denying or depriving of food and drink

The writers of treatises on the householder's code of conduct discuss each of these aticaras at length; and the interpretations and other details given by them cover a number of acts of cruelty and injury caused to animals, birds, servants, children etc., that were prevailing in the society. Some writers also present numerical calculations of the possible way of breaking the vow. Thus there could be 108 forms of himsa according to some writers, 147 to 247 according to others. All this may appear like theoretical speculation'. but the magnitude of attention given by the Jainacaryas to the consideration of the various ways of avoiding himsa is undoubtedly laudable.l04

Some of the Acaryas, after sensing certain difficulties, in the observance of the ahimsanu-vrata by the householder, have outspokenly recorded in their works the practical method of following this vow, by proposing a minor change in respect of the number of ways in which sthula-himsa could be avoided. According to Samantabhadra, the householder has to abstain from himsa in nine ways (trividha trividhena); but according to Amitagati and, later, Asadhara too, it could be done in six ways (trividha dvidhena), after omitting 'by way of consent' (anumata), which is impracticable. Amitagati holds, for the sravaka who has left home, 9 ways of abstension from himsa are possible and for the one who is still staying at home, 6 ways of the same are possible.l05 Pt. K. C. Shastri has taken a brief critical survey of the contents of the definitions or depictions of the ahimsanuvrata as obtaining in the Digambara sravakacara works up to V. S. 1300 and summerised them in the following six points :106

  1. Severence of the vitalities of living being through pramada--carelessness is called himsa.

  2. Where there is pramada, himsa is committed; and even when the vitalities of others are severed without pramada, himsa is not committed. Therefore himsa depends on the doer's intention.

  3. Abstaining from causing injury to trasa-jivas (mobile beings) is called ahimsanu-vrata. This is a single gross characteristic of this vrata, which is recognized by all. But its perfect nature is depicted by Samantabhadra as follows: Abstaining from causing injury intentionally to the trasa jivas, through mind, words and body in any of the three ways--directly, through somebody or by consent.

  4. In the later period, the nature of this vrata was interpreted or explained as follows: The sravaka staying at home can abstain from intentional himsa only in six ways; but the one who has left home can abstain from it in all nine ways, omitting the anumata (by consent) way This explanation was given first by Amitagati.

  5. The householder practicing the anu-vratas can take up the occupations like agriculture; if he is a judicial administrator, he can punish the offenders; but he cannot harm any living being out of reason, revenge etc Moreover it is quite improper to take life of any living being in the name of religion or gods and for acquiring magical formula, for food or medicine etc.

  6. Himsa is of two kinds: arambhi himsa and anarambhi or samkalpi himsa. The monk has to abstain from these both; but the householder can abstain only from anarambhi himsa and not from arambhi. This kind of division of himsa is seen in Amitagati's treatise. Later it was taken in the Sagaradharmamrta by Asadhara.

Some of the authors have given general advice to the householder for keeping himself away from himsa. Asadhara says: "one who is contented with minimum arambhi (occupational activities) and parigraha (property and other possessions) can practice ahimsanu-vrata."107 Similarly, Somadeva remarks: "How could there be ahimsa, where there is abundant arambha (occupational botheration) and parigraha (property and other possessions). We cannot find compassion with the cheat and immoral man." l08

Somadeva also stresses the positive aspect of ahimsa for the benefit of the householder. One should cultivate the attitude of friendship towards all living beings; he should be happy with those who are more virtuous; he should have compassion for the suffering ones; and he should be indifferent to those with wanton behaviour.109 At this context, it would be interesting to remind ourselves that the positive nature of ahimsa, which term is found in a negative form, has been shown even by early canonical texts, as has been done by the later Acaryas. The Panha-vagarana-sutta, the seventh Anga of the Ardha-magadhl Canon (Ch. VI-2t), enlists daya - compassion and raksa - protection as synonyms of ahimsa. Then Hemacandra holds that daya is the beneficent mother of all beings; it is the elixir for those who wander in suffering through the ocean of reincarnations.

Some Acaryas in the course of depicting the ahimsa-vrata have taken a critical view of meat eating and animal sacrifice rampantly prevalent then among the members of the rival creeds. Amrtacandra stressed: One should not entertain the stupid idea that religion (religious merit ) flourishes through gods and, hence, everything may be offered to them, and with such perverted judgement, he should not kill embodied beings (and offer them to gods).ll0 Hemacandra called the Manusmrti himsa-sastra and poignantly criticized some of its contents. I would rather reproduce the summary of the concerned versesl1l as presented by R. Williams 112 "It is a hideous distortion of reality to pretend that animals have come into existence to be offered to the divinities for the prosperity of the world and that the jivas inhabiting them will be reborn as divine beings. Those who perform such sacrifices will go to the lowest hell, and even a wretched atheist, a Carvaka, will have a better destiny than the hypocrites who preach a dharma of cruelty. That men abandon the dharma of compassion for this repellent creed is an evidence of the evil of the age. If sacrificial victims really went to an abode of bliss, why should not one kill one's parents in the sacrifice ?"

Lastly, coming to the Jaina story-literature i. e., the Vaddaradhane as a representative work of the early medieval period, we get some interesting glimpses of the practical side of observance of the ahimsanu-vrata by the lay members of the community. Several such men and women, appearing in different stories, after listening to dharma (dharma-katha-- sermon or preaching) delivered by different Acaryas or teachers, staying in parks outside the cities, acquired samyaktva and accepted the sravaka-vratas at their hands. In Story No. l4,113 we find an instance of the observance of the ahimsanu-vrata in its positive aspect by Gomati, a lay woman (who had just accepted the vows) and wife of Garudavega, a wood-cutter and professional hunter, in the following manner: Garudavega caught in a hunting net some wild fowls (like lavuge, gorasu etc), brought them home alive and kept them in captivity (probably for selling them the next day) and went back to the forest for hunting again. In the meanwhile, Gomati, just accepting the sravaka-vrata at the hands of teacher Samadhigupta, came home and saw the captive fowls, entertained compassion for them and released them out to their natural free life. Garudavega, after returning from the forest and not seeing the fowls, asked Gomati who released them off. She replied that it was herself. Garudavega decrying, in rage, that such dharma- seeking women was not needed in his house, thrashed her and drove her out.

In Story No. 16,1l4 there is a series of instances of transgression of the ahimsanu-vrata viz., bhakta-pavyavaccheda depriving of food and drink: Sudamaka, (possibly pretending sravaka) a minister to the King, was very much greedy and hard-hearted too. He used to get the mouths of his oxen tied in the course of harvesting corn-crops in his fields He also used to get the breasts of his wet-nurses, catering women and maid-servants without giving them scope to feed their own of-springs, and consequently, bound karma leading to hell.

The depiction of these two instances each presented in just a few lines, in the two stories in the Vaddaradhane also indicates the fact that the Jaina narratives have preserved a mine of information about the religious, social and cultural life of the people of medieval India.


Anekantavada--- the principle of non-absolutism or the non- absolutistic way of thinking or approach, though belonging to the field of philosophy, is closely related to ahimsa. Some scholars think that anekanta-vada is, in a way, a form of the principle of ahimsa itself to be observed or thought. Instead of entering into an elaboration on this point, I would rather present here a summary of deliberation on it by an eminent scholar, like Pt. K.C. Shastri. ll5

Ahimsa forms the basis of the Jaina way of living and thinking. Ahimsa holds a pivotal position in respect of human conduct, and anekantavada does so in respect of human thought. Reality is complex with several attributes (aneka-dharmatmaka). One attribute may be true from one person's point of view, but it may not be so from another's point of view. This phenomenon can be explained with the popular illustration of the five blind men and the elephant.

In such situation, anekantavada-- non-absolutistic way of approach brings about propriety or accuracy (samanjasya) among persons who look at a particular object or phenomenon with different points of view. The concept of ahimsa itself has given rise to anekanta-vada for calming down the storm (for alleviating the conflict) created on the plane of thought. Hence it will not be an exaggeration, if we say that anekantavada is just another name or designation for ahimsa. We can also call it satyagraha (persistence at truth), because the practitioner of anekantavada is persistant (agrahi) for truth (satya), which is ever multi-sided or with many attributes (aneka-dharmatmaka). Without non absolutistic attitude (anekanta-dristi) it is hardly possible to reach truth.


Like poetry, it is difficult to define truth though its nature can be described and understood. In the context of the householder's ethical discipline, The Jainacaryas have given it a considerably wide connotation, which R. Williams calls the Jaina interpretation of truth.

Umaswami statesll6 that speaking what is not commendable is false-hood (anrta); and Pujyapada, the commentator, explains that what causes pain and suffering to a living being is not commendable, whether it refers to the actual fact or not. Thus the words that inflict injury to living beings is falsehood. Almost maintaining the same purport and rather elucidating the scope, Samantabhadra defines the satyanu-vrata as follows :117 Abstaining from speaking oneself and from making others to speak gross false-hood, and also from truth that causes injury to others, is called satyanu-vrata -- the minor vow of truthfulness by the saints. Vasunandi says118 One should not utter untruth out of attachment or hatred and even truth, if it causes destruction of a living being. According to Kartikeya119 the satyanu-vrata is abstinence from harmful, rough, cruel or secret-revealing speech and the use of harmless, balanced language that gives satisfaction to all the living beings and that which also expresses sacred truths. The Savaya-pannatti, however, presents the positive aspect of satya.120 One's speech should be based on the pursuit of the good for both the worlds and (also) on the avoidance of what is not at all harmful to one- self, to others and to both together. With a view to explaining the implications of the satyanu-vrata, the Jainacaryas, both the svetambara and Digambara, have given in their treatises different classifications of asatya and satya and asatya, which are noted, with certain observations, by R. Williams.121

Lastly, Amrtacandras treatment of the Satyanu vrata is quite worth noting, though he has adopted a negative approach to truth.l22 Any statement made through pramada-vaga - careless activity of body mind or speech is false-hood. It is of four kinds:

  1. Denying the existence of a thing with reference to its position, time and nature, when it actually exists. For example to say "Devadatta is not here", when he is actually present there.

  2. Asserting the existence of a thing with reference to its position, time and place, when it does not exist at all. For example, to say "the pitcher is here", when it is not there.

  3. Representation of an existing thing as some thing different from what it really is. For example, when a horse is said to be a cow.

  4. When a speech is ordinarily garhita - condemndable, savadya--sinful or apriya--- disagreeable.

Back-biting, harsh, unbecoming, nonsensical or unethical speech is condemnable. That kind of speech which provokes another to engage himself in piercing, cutting, beating etc., or which is likely to lead to destruction of life is sinful and speech causing uneasiness, pain, hostility, misery or anguish etc., is disagreeable.

All these kinds of speech are actuated by pramatta-yoga-- passion in the form of anger, greed, hatred or deceit etc, and, hence, false-hood involves himsa or injury of some kind or other. But when a sage or preceptor extends to others sound and beneficial advice regarding bad habits or vices, he cannot be said to utter false words even though the concerned persons may feel ashamed or uncomfortable (for the time being). Hence intention is always the determining factor in each case.

There are five aticaras-- transgressions against which the householder is cautioned. The Acaryas, both Svetambara and Digambara, have used different designations for some of these aticaras; and even when all of these bear the same designations, divergent interpretations of them are given by the various Acaryas,123 which phenomenon is nothing but looking at a thing from different angles of vision. Presently we have to be satisfied with any one list, say that of Amrtacandra :124

  1. mithyopadesa--false preaching or advice

  2. rahasabhyakhyana--disclosing secrets

  3. kutalekhakrti forgery

  4. nyasapaharana -- breach of trust

sakaramantrabheda ---divulging inferences drawn from behavior or gestures.


Umasvami defines125 stealing as taking anything which is not given; and this amounts to theft if the activity is actuated by passion. Samantabhadra gives'126 rather a comprehensive definition of what is acauray-- not theft- He who does not appropriate to himself, nor give away to any one else, the property of another, which is placed, dropped, forgotten or deposited by him, is said to observe the house holder's vow of non-stealing. Thus the asteyanuvrat (the gross vow of non-stealing) can be observed by abstaining from taking any property which is not actually given by the owner. Amrtacandra holds :127 Taking, actuated by passion, of objects which have not been given is theft; and it is also himsa because it is the cause of injury. The person who steals causes pain to one whom he deprives of the objects and such deprivation may bring about inconvenience, trouble and even death. Seizing the property of another is like depriving him of his vitalities, for all objects belonging to one are his external vitalities Hence theft includes himsa too. Somadeva elucidates these views with certain additions :128 Excluding public water, grass etc., taking of all other objects, without their being given is theft I someone's family member dies, his property can be appropriated without being given; but if somehow he becomes alive that property has to be received after being given by him. Any kind of wealth hidden underground cannot be taken by anybody because the King is its owner. If there arises any doubt to anybody as to whether an object belongs to himself or not, it should not be taken by him until the doubt becomes clear.

Siddhasenaganin's elucidation129 of adattadana--theft is also worth noting: The taking with intent to steal of objects, even of such things as grass, which are in the possession of others. The svetambara writers generally present in their treatises a four-fold classification of adatta before they commence discussion on steya--stealing. It is as follows -

  1. svamyyadatta-- what is not granted by its owner.

  2. jivadatta--what is not granted by a living creature.

  3. Tirathankaradatta--what is not granted by the Tirthankara

  4. Guruvadatta--what is not given to the monks.

They also present a three-fold classification of objects. that can be stolen:

  1. sacitta--animate

  2. acitta--inanimate

  3. ubhaya--partly animate and partly inanimate .

The following are the five aticaras-- transgressions of the asteyanuvrata, which are almost the same among both the Digambara and the Svetambara 131

  1. cauraprayaga--instigating another to commit theft

  2. caurarthadana--receiving stolen property

  3. vilopa--evading the injunction of the law of the state.

  4. sadrga-sammis'ra--adulteration of goods

  5. htnadhikavinimana-- using false weights and measures .

It can be marked that these transgressions mostly apply to the members of the trading class. But according to Hemacandra and Asadhara, they may be committed by others like the Kings, ministers and other officials.132 The interpretation of these transgressions at considerable length by the various Acaryas indicate a number of anti-social practices prevalent in the contemporary society.


Umasvami defines abrahma-- unchastity as copulation actuated by (sexual) passion. l33 And Pujyapada elucidates: Abstaining from intercourse with other woman who is grhita-- having a husband or agrhita having no husband (who is dead). Samantabhadra's definition is quite lucid.134 He who neither visits nor causes any other person to visit another man's wife for fear of sin, is said to observe the anuvrata which is known as abstinence from another man's wife and contentment with one's own wife. The definition given by the Savaya-pannattil35 is almost the same, wherein paradara-- another man's wife is further shown in two categories: audatika - celestial and vaikriyika-terrestrial. Kartikeya defines136 this vrata as regarding the wife of another man as one's own sister or daughter and realising that the bodies of women are filled with impurity, and beauty and charm can only delude the mind. Vasunandi states 137 One who permanently abstains from intercourse with woman and love-play during the parvan days, is grossly celibate. Asadhara states :138 One who does not go to another man's wife physically, mentally or verbally, nor makes another to do so, is svadara-sontosin. But Somadeva's definition139 is unique among all these: Except one's own wife and the vitta-stri-- the harlot or courtesan, considering all other women as mother, sister or daughter is the-householder's vow of celibacy.

Among the contents of the various definitions by, different writers noted above, our attention is particularly drawn by two elements: Firstly, the positive and negative aspects of the definitions (i.e., svadara-santosa-- contentment with one's own wife and paradara-nivrtti or aparadara-gamana--- not visiting the wives of others) given by Samanrabhadra and the author of the Savaya-pannatti. R. Williams, who has possibly in view the Savaya-pannatti as well as some other svetambara texts, observes in this regard as follows :140 The brahma-vrata differs from all other vows in its double formulation: Positive in the sense of contentment with one's own wife and negative as avoidance of the wives of others Secondly, it is only Somadeva, who in his definition of this vrata gives concession of including the harlot within the observance of the same, whereas others are unanimous on enjoining singular loyalty to one's own wife. Pt. K. C. Shastri discusses the implications of this concession as elucidated by some scholars like Asadhara and observes:141 Such concession could be owing to the exigencies of the time. But extending such concession was also in vogue among the svetambara Acaryas in general. R. Williams. who has taken into consideration several svetambara works, notes142 "The concession may in the general view of the Acaryas go further than the use of one's wife and include recourse to prostitutes, but an anya-stri (a married woman, or a married girl in the care of her parents) must always be left alone." And in support of this I would now adduce a solid evidence found in a treatise in Prakrit on the householders life composed by an eminent medieval Jainacarya of Gujarat: Jinesvara-suri (1100 A.D.)143 in his Satsthanakri Prakarana or sravaka-vaktavyata Prakrana describes six progressive qualities or virtues of the householder, devoting one chapter to each of these virtues, the last of which is Pravacana Kausalya; and this virtue is further subdivided into the following four: dharma, kama, artha and loka. Discussing Kama Kausalya; the Acarya states: The householder should always keep his wife pleased. He should be careful in intercourse with her. Before this act he should see that she had her toilet clean and pure in all respect. He should not disclose his secrets to her. Such relations also be kept by him with the vesya-harlot. Giving these details of the concerned part of the treatise, Acarya Jina Vijaya Muni observes 144 Going through all this, the readers would be rather surprised as to what has the house-holder to do with the harlot. But this is an indicator of the general social custom prevailing in those days. The harlots too had their own social status at that time. Keeping contact with or visiting the harlot's house was not then considered as any condemnable part of behavior, but, on the other hand, a kind generous and gentle behavior, particularly on the part of the affluent members of the society.

The five aticaras--transgressions of the brahmanu-vrata enumerated by the Digambara and the svetambara Acaryas are almost the same with slight changes in the designation of one or two. The following aticaras are given by Umasvami 145

  1. para-vivaha-karana--match-making

  2. itvarika-parigrhita-gamana -- intercourse with a married immoral woman

  3. itvarika - aparigrhita - gamana -- intercourse with unmarried woman

  4. ananga-krida--love-play

  5. kama-tivrabhinivesa--excessive desire or longing for sex pleasure

These aticaras represent most of the possible sexual deviations against which the Acaryas have cautioned the householder in the course of his observance of this vow. In respect of some of these aticaras, they give various interpretations, with details of different shades of sexual deviations, possibly prevailing in the contemporary society and, thus, help the householder to maintain a high moral standard.


The parigraha-parimana-vrata is the fifth anuvrata of the householder. Umasvami defines parigraha as murccha--infatuation for possession;146 and Pujyapada, the commentator, explains it as hankering after possession and protection of external objects both sacitta--animate and acitta--inanimate, and also of internal attachment, in which all mamattva--acquisitive egotism is the root-cause. Samantabhadra defines this vow as follows 147 Putting limits to the measure of one's worldly possessions like money, grains etc., is pari, mita-parigraha (limit to possessions) which is also known as iccha-parimana (limit to desire). The Savaya-pannatti definesl48 this vow in almost similar way with the following terms: sacitta-acitta iccha-parimana-- limiting desire for animate and inanimate objects. Amrtacandra however, treats this vow rather at length l49 Attachment itself is Parigraha; and attachment is affectionate regard that arises from tile operation of moha- karma. Parigraha is of two kinds abhyantara-- internal and bahya--external. Internal parigraha is of fourteen kinds :150

  1. mithyatva--false belief

  2. krodha--- anger

  3. mana-- pride

  4. maya-- deceit

  5. lobha-- greed

  6. hasya--laughter for joke or out of contempt

  7. rati-- pleasure

  8. arat--dejection

  9. bhaya--fear

  10. soka--sorrow

  11. jugupsa--disgust

  12. pumveda--male sex-urge

  13. striveda--female sex-urge

  14. napumsakaveda--androgyne sex-urge

External parigraha is of two kinds, sacitta--animate and acitta--inanimate, which are further divided into ten kinds, as found in other works.151

  1. ksetra--land or fields

  2. vastu--houses

  3. hiranya--gold coins

  4. suvarna--gold

  5. dhana--heads of cattle

  6. dhanya--grains

  7. dasi--maid servants

  8. dasa--male servants

  9. kupya--clothes

  10. sayyasana--beds and furniture

Amrtacandra further states that possession of external things is not possible without internal attachment. Hence both the internal attachment and the possession of external objects come within the fold of parigraha. Moreover internal attachment varies with the nature of the external objects possessed or desired. For example attachment is weak in the young deer which lives on the green blades of grass, whereas it is strong in the cat which kills several mice--even more than needed for quenching its hunger. Then, the more one possesses things, the stronger becomes the murchha-- desire to possess. Hence all sorts of internal attachments should be curbed or suppressed by exerting the self and meditating upon virtues like humility, contentment etc. Again, all this parigraha never excludes himsa. The renunciation of both the kinds of parigraha is ahimsa, and the appropriation of them is himsa. Internal attachment is proved as himsa because of its being a form of himsa; and attachment to external objects naturally establishes the fact of himsa. Lastly we can deduce from this view of Amrtacandra that for the householder absolute renunciation of parigraha is not possible; he should have the minimum of it by putting limitations to its acquisition, possession and protection.

Pt. K. C. Shastri rightly points out,152 that most of the authors of treatises on the householder's code of conduct (coming within the compass of his study) have not, except one or two, said any thing about the matter as to what extent the householder should limit the measure of his parigraha, and he also presents153 the relevant portions of two such works, along with his observations in brief, which are worth noting at this context: People generally think that if one cuts the measure of his possession so as to be the owner of the property worth a lakh or a crore rupees, he can be said to be the observer of parigrah parimana-vrata. It is, no doubt, better to have such limitation than not to have it for one's thirst for property is curbed to that extent. But it is not the Objective of this vow that the householder should -put limitation to the maximum of his possessive capacity. These points have been very well brought home by Kartikeya:

One who subdues greed and curbs the wicked thirst by the elixir of contentment, and puts limitations to money, grain, gold, land etc. considering them to be ephemeral, he is said to have observed the fifth anuvrata: (Kartikeyanupreksa, Vs. 339-40). This means that the householder's measure of limitation to possession of property should be strictly need- based. Racamalla explains it in lucid terms: Whatever measure of limitation to property we adopt or decide upon, mamatva--acquisitive egotism is bound to it. By far more reduction of such mamatva man becomes like a monk. Hence reduction of wealth to suit one's own self would be the best path. Acquiring wealth more than one's needs and then reducing it is a meaningless or worthless move. Whether you reduce or put limitation to the willed or intended wealth or not, it is like drawing pictures in the sky (Latisamhita. Vs. 86-87). From this it can be asserted that we should reduce from what we already possess; it is futile (to decide) to reduce from what we do not possess (or we are yet to possess). One can renounce what is present at hand and not what is not even probable to come to one's hand.

The aticaras of this vrata enumerated by most of the Digambara Acaryas and all the svetambara Acaryas of traditional view are almost the same that fall in line with those given in the Tattvartha-sutra wherein the infractions of the limitations set for the possession of nine or ten categories of property are laid down as the five aticaras, each one covering two of the categories. Yet the wording of the traditional list of the Svetambaras is interesting for its elucidatory nature155

  1. yojanena ksetra-vastu-pramanati-krama - exceeding the limits set for lands and houses by incorporation.

  2. pradanena hiranya-suvarna-pramanatikrama- .exceeding the limits set for gold and silver by donation.

  3. bandhanena dhana-dhanya-pramanatikrama exceeding the limits set for grain and other food-stuffs by packing together.

  4. karanena dvipada-catuspada-pramanatikarma, exceeding the limits set for bipeds and quadruped.

  5. bhavena kupya-pramanatikrama - exceeding the limits set for household chattels by combination.

But Samantabhadra,l56 not basing his list on the ten categories of possessions, presents rather a comprehensive and unique type of series of aticaras of the fifth anuvrata

  1. ativahana - driving out of greed, beasts of burden like oxen for a distance longer than their capacity could tolerate.

  2. atisangraha - hoarding of foodgrains and other such commodities for high profit.

  3. ativismaya - feeling or entertaining extreme disappointment after selling some thing at a price involving much loss.

  4. atilobha - entertaining excessive greed for a higher price when reasonably good price is obtained.

  5. atibharavahana - overloading beasts of burden out of greed for more gain.

It may be noted that these aticaras are designed more particularly for the trading community, though one or two could be applicable to farmers too. The last one has been already covered by the list of the aticaras of ahimsanuvrata.


Jainacaryas hold different views on ratri bhojana -- taking food by night. Camundaraya taking a clue from the svetambara tradition that panca- maha-vrata is followed by the sixth one, which is aratri-bhojana--avoidance of taking food by night, called it the sixth anu-vrata; and Amrtacandra's treatment of it, immediately following the parigraha- parimana-vrata, indicates that he rather gives it the same status.157 He states that one, who takes food by night, cannot avoid himsa. But somehow aratri-bhojana did not further get recognition of the sixth vow and, hence, the five aticaras too did not at all come into existence. For some Acaryas like Samantabhadta, it is the subject of the fifthpratima; but Vasunandi thinks that it should be a prerequisite of the first pratima. Among others, like Amitagati and Asadhara, aratribhojana is considered as one of the mula-gunas.

Moreover, if Vasunandi says that liquids can be taken at night, the Savaya-dhamma-doha (v. 37) permits water, betel and medicine at night. Asadhara advises filtered water and avoidance of food and drink at night for both ahimsa and health. He, following Hemacandra (who tops the svetambara Acaryas in giving due importance to this subject), states: The best type of Jaina will eat once a day, the next best twice, like an animal, whilst the least satisfactory type comprehending nothing eats day and night making himself "a ruminant though devoid of horns and tail"158

Pt. K. C. Shastri takes a critical survey of the views held by the (Digambara) Acaryas flourishing between the 7th and l7th century A. D., and notes'159 that the essence of all such views has come down to us in the form of a single verse of Somadeva (Upasakadhyaana, v. 325), wherein he states: Of course, for the protection of the vow of ahimsa and for keeping the basic vows intact with their purity, one should avoid taking food by night, which is harmful both in this as well as the next world. However, in later days, phalahara--eating of fruits and the like by night, became admissible; and when the Jainas remained as a Vaisya class only and laxity in the observance of the vows too set in, avoidance of eating by night was accepted rather as a family custom (kulacara), as is reflected in the Latisamhita. But the factual state of affair can be seen in the following words of the Savaya- dhamma-doha (gaha 37):

"Of course one, who desires, after sun-set taking food or fruit-items besides betel, medicine or water, sets aside faith (itself)." And today we find that taking food by night is avoided, by some select Jaina families in a region or locality, and in a majority of cases, as a family custom (kulacara) only. Some pious individuals stick to it till the end of their life.


Out of all this critical discussion on the asta-mulagunas and the five anu vratas of the householder, we are impressed by an outstanding point that at the root of all these virtues and vows, which mainly formulate the code of conduct for the laity, lies ahimsa--the principle of non-violence or non- injury to living beings Pt. K C Shastri,l60 who gives expression to this view, also presents some significant observations on how the actual practice of these eight basic virtues and the five small vows by the lay section of the Jaina community, took shape in the course of the post-medieval days and settled down in the modern days, which, I feel, are quite worthy of note in this context:

After a comprehensive study of the asta-mula gunas and the five anu-vratas, we are led to the conclusion that ahimsa forms the very heart of the Jaina Code of Conduct for Householders It is with a view to bringing ahimsa (the first small vow) into actual practice, the eight basic virtues and the remaining four small vows are laid down. Because spoiled and putrid food, far lately cooked meals and eating of things with combination of contradictory elements, bring in the blemish of consuming meat and wine. Hence such food and drink were forbidden and much stress was laid on such infraction. I think that in the early scheme of the asta- mula-gunas, which consisted of the five anu-vratas and the three ma-karas, the five sins (himsa etc.,) were replaced by the five milky fruits (udumbaras), and this then changed the very direction of the Jaina Code of Conduct for Householders. Because the later scheme of asta mula-gunas, consisting of the five milky fruits and the three ma-karas, is related only to the sphere of food and drink, whereas the five anu-vratas are related to the entire practical life of the householder Therefore the Jaina laity began to pay more attention to matters of food and drink and became indifferent to truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy and restraint on possessions. They regarded purity of food and drink itself as ahimsa and in still later days, this very idea was expounded to people. And our class of renunciators (the monks) too had almost the same view and are having it even to this day. Whenever they advise or instruct any lay disciple to renounce anything it is some item or items of food, drink etc., only. I have not seen anybody taking a vow or administering it, in respect of conducting truthful professional transactions, of not carrying on give-and-take business in a dishonest manner, of not charging undue interest on loan, of earning one's livelihood by justifiable means, of being contented with one's own wife or of not having possessions beyond one's just needs.

Moreover the aticaras--transgressions of the anu-vratas display human weaknesses, or we can say, they keep before us the living examples of human mis-adventures on the ethical plane; and a comparative study of these transgressions shed light on the exigencies of time as well as on the relevant reactions by our Acaryas to such exigencies.



125. Tattvartha-sutra, VII-15.

126. Ratnakarandaka Sra, V. 57.

127. Purusattha-siddhyaupaya Vs. 102-104.

128. Upasakadhyana, Vs. 364-367:

129. In his commentary on the Tattvartha-satra.

130. For more details vide R. Williams, Op cit, pp. 78-79.

131.Except Somadeva, who uses a clarificatory designation for the third given above (i.e., of Samantabhadra's list) and omits the fourth one.

132. As noted by R. Williams, Op. Cit

133. (i) Tattvartha-sutra. VII-16. (ii) Sarvartha-siddhi, VII-16.

134. Ratnakarandaka Sta, O. 59.

135. V. 270.

136. Kartikeyanupreksa, Vs. 337-38.

137. Vasunandl-5ravakaeara, V. 211.

138. Sagara-dharmamrta, IV. 52 (Comm).

139. UpasakadhyaYana, V. 405.

140. Op,cit., p. 85.

141. Intro. to Upasakadhyayana, p. 82.

142. op. cit p. 91.

143. (i) Jinesvarasuri is a reputed author of the Kathakosa Prakarana, critically edited with an admirable introduction by Acarya Jina Vijaya Muni and published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1949. (ii) Besides the Kathakosa Prakarana, Jinesvarasuri has produced five more works and the Satsthanaka Prakarna or Sravaka-vaktavyata Prakarana is one of these, composed in 103 Prakrit gahas and endowed with two commentaries; and Acarya Jina Vijaya Muni, in his introduction to the Kathakosa Prakarana has presented a good critique on it, upon which I have drawn as relevant to my purpose.

144. Op. cit., Intro., pp. 52=53.

145. Tattvartha-sutra. VII.28.

146. (i) Tattvartha-sutra, VII-17. (ii) Sarvartha-siddhi, VII-17.

147. Ratnakarandaka Sra, V-61.

148. V. 278.

149. Purusartha-siddhyupaya. Vs. 111-12

150. (i) R. Williams thinks that these are largely irrelevant to the consideration of this vrora; they of course, comprise the kosayas and no-kosayas. Vide Op cit, p. 93. (ii) Justice T. K. Tukol, however, considers that they are relevant in emphasising how the purity of the soul becomes effected in various ways in acquisition, possession enjoyment and protection of property consisting of both animate and inanimate objects, for further details vide, op. cit., p. 216

151. (i) Like the Caritrasara, p. 7 and the Upasaka-dhyayona, v. 433. (ii)R.Williams notes detailed classifications of all these (nine instead of ten) kinds of possessions found in the Svetambara treatises. Vide Op. cit, pp. 94-96.

152. Intro. to Upasakadhyayana, p. 84.

153. Ibid, pp. 84-85.

154. VII-29.

155.For the translation of these aticaras. I have followed R. Williams, Op. cit., pp. 96-97.

156. Ratnukarandaka Sra. V. 62.

157. (i) Camundaraya, Caritra-saro, p. 7. (ii) Amrtacandra, Purusartha-siddhyupaya, Vs. 129- 36

158. For details, vide R. Williams, OP cit.. pp. l08-9

159. Intro. to Upasakadhyayana, pp. 74-76.

160. Intro. to Upasukadhyana p. 86.