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


The Guna-Vratas & Siksa-Vratas

The Guna-Vratas


We have already discussed about the nature of the guna-vratas in general and their classifications by the various Acaryas. For our purpose here we shall follow any one classification, say A-l noted under the topic The Vratas.

The dig-vrata is the first of the three guna-vratas. Swami Samantabhadra decribes it as follows 161 'I shall not travel beyond these limits of the ten directions', determining like this with a view to avoiding anu-papa--minor sin for the rest of one's life, is known as the dig-vrata. The ten directions are: East, West, North, South, North-East, South-East, South- West, North-West, Up and Down. While putting limitations to one's movements in these ten directions, prominent oceans, mountains, rivers, countries and yojana-marks (measure of distance) should be considered as boundaries. One who limits his activities to the fixed boundaries, can observe the vow of non-injury absolutely in respect of the area lying beyond the fixed limits or boundaries. For want of activity there could be no breach of any of the anu-vratas too; and, thus, for that period he can also afford to lead the life of complete renunciation wherein the anu-vratas can be said to have matured as maha-vratas. The Savaya-paannatti162 explains that since the householder is like a heated iron ball, his movements, wherever they are made, bring in himsa. If the area of his movements is fixed, he would be restrained from committing himsa out-side that area. Kartikeyal63 states that by fixing the limits on all the ten directions, one's greed, which is at the root of parigraha, is curtailed. Hemacandra 164 tells almost the same thing in other words. Hence the dig-vrata appears like a particularised extension of the last anu-vrata viz., the parigraha-parimana-vrata. Thus the primary objective of this vow is to help the householder curtail his activities on all sides, so that his internal passions, particularly lotha--greed, could be commensurately curbed.

Following are the five aticaras of the dig-vrata, the designations of which are almost the same as given by both the Digambara and svetambara Acaryas

  1. urdhva-dik-pramanatikrama - moving in the upward direction beyond the limits set by oneself.

  2. adho-dik-pramanatikrama - going deeper into the ground than the determined limits.

  3. tiryag-dik-pramanatikrama - travelling in any of the eight directions beyond the fixed limits.

  4. ksetra-vrddhi - extending the already set limits to movement.

  5. smrti-antardhana - crossing the set limits through forgetfulness.


Owing to approach to the desa- vrata or desavakasika vrata from different points of view by different Acaryas,l65 Digambara and Svetambara, it has found place both among the guna-vratas and the siksa vratas and also in different sequence. Several of the Digambara Acaryas, like Camundaraya, Amrtacandra, Somadeva etc., include it in the guna-vratas and place it next to the dig-vrata.l66 But Samantabhadra and Asadhara etc. present it as the first, and Kartikeya as the last, of the siksa vratas. Generally the svetambara Acaryas consider this vow, which is an abridged form of the dig-vrata in respect of time and space to be the second of the siksa- vratas. Lastly, some Acaryas like Kundakunda, Devasena and Vasunand1 somehow totally omit it. R. Williams thinksl67 that perhaps because of being considered to be basically identical with the dig-vrata, the desavakasika vrata is omitted by those Acaryas who make sallekhna the subject of the last siksa-vrata. But I would pose a question, how is it that Jinasena does not do so in his Adipurana ? He presents desa- vrata as the second guna-vrata and sallekhana, too, as the last siksa-vrata (but omits bhogopabhoga-parimana-vrata).168 Hence we have to explain this phenomenon as just an approach to this vrata by an individual Acarya with his own point of view.

Now coming to this vrata itself, Samantabhadra defines it169 as limiting (the sphere of one's activity) still further, day after day, and for fixed periods within the longer limits (already fixed in the dig-vrata). The Savaya-pannatti definesl70 it in a similar way and further states17l that it should be carefully observed on the line of 'the maxim of the poison of the serpent's eye and its curtailment': sappavisa- nayao paleyavvam Haribhadra in his commentary explains this illustration as follows: In olden days the serpent's poisonous eye could kill beings at the radius of twelve yojanas; but later a skilled magician cut down its range to one yojana. Similarly the house-holder should cut down his activities and reduce the danger caused by them by putting narrower limits on his own poisonous eye, i. e., those movements that destroy living beings.

Amrtacandra describesl72 this vow in rather a lucid style: One should again fix a limit (of course, within those limits of the dig-vrata) for a fixed time, to a village, market, street, house etc. and thus observe the desa-vrata. He should not, during a certain period of time, go beyond a certain vil1age, market, street or house, or have any thing to do with objects lying beyond that limit Then he possessing pure mind, thus, confines his activities and observes absolute ahimsa for that time by renouncing all possible himsa in the vast space which has been excluded.

With all different views on the approach to this vow held by the various Acaryas, its aticaras are the same, some of which though expressed in different synonymous terms. Umasvami enumeratesl79 them as follows:

  1. anayana--sending for some one from beyond the fixed limit.

  2. presya-prayoga -- sending some one out beyond the limit.

  3. sabdanupata--effecting one's voice out beyond the limit.

  4. rupanupata making signs or gestures for persons beyond the limit.

  5. pudgala-ksepa communicating by throwing out objects beyond the limit.


The anartha-danda-vrata is unanimously acknowledged as a guna-vrata by Acaryas of both the traditions. The svetambara Acaryas consider it as the third guna-vrata and so also do some Digambara acaryas like Camundaraya, Amrtacandra, Somadeva Vasunandi etc., whereas Samantabhadra, Kartikeya, Asadhara etc. consider it as the second and Padma-nandi as the first guna-vrata. According to the classification we are following i.e., A-1 is the third one.

This vow generally enjoins the householder to abstain from harmful activities that do not serve any useful purpose. It covers several dissimilar topics and also partly touches the contents of some other vows and transgressions. Samantabhadra defines it174 as abstaining from wanton or purposeless activity which is likely to cause injury to others, within the determined limits. It is of five kinds 175

  1. papopadesa - - harmful advice

  2. ahimsadana (-pradana) -- helping towards destruction or violence

  3. apadhyana--evil brooding

  4. pramadacarya--purposeless activity, mischief

  5. duh-sruti--faulty reading, listening to bad reading

Though the definitions and the general nature of this vow are more or less the same, the interpretations and explanations of its four or five kinds of anartha dandas--harmful and useless or purposeless activities presented by the various Acaryas, are varied .and vast with several individual additions, elucidations expansions and widening of the field of applicability. For example, if Samantabhadra views'; apadhyana-anartha-danda as 'wishing, from motives of love and hatred, of destruction, captivity, injuries etc. to another's wife and the like', Kartikeya considers it177 as 'talking of the faults of others, coveting the wealth of others, lusting for the wives of others and watching the disputes of others'; and Amrta candra178 as 'thinking about battles; conquests, hunting, adultery and theft'. If himsa-dana (-pradana)- anartha-danda is interpreted by Samantabhadra179 as 'giving the means of himsa like a battle-axe, a sword, an instrument for digging, fire-weapons, or a chain' Hemacandra elaborates180 by stating that carts, ploughs, swords, bows, pestles, mortars, bellows or other similar objects should not be supplied to another person unless a question of their being helpful is solved, because himsa-pradana to a son or other relative is almost unavoidable. And if Camundaraya views181 it as 'supplying of poison, weapons, fire, ropes whips, stares and other similar objects', Kartikeya adds182 to such lists 'keeping of destructive animals like cats and all kinds of trade in such materials, as iron or lac'. Then if the duh-sruti-anartha-danda is described by Samantabhadral83 as 'reading of works full of worldly undertakings, ghastly crimes, false doctrines, and the tales of riches, hatred, love, pride, passionate sex etc. that disturb the mind', Kartikeya considers184 it as 'reading kama-sastra works and listening to others faults' and Amrtacandra advises185 that one should not listen to or teach such bad stories that increase attachment etc., and are full of absurdities.

Some authorities like Amrtacandra 186 present the generalised implications of this whole vow, which also include some categories of the sapta-vyasanas--seven vices: one should never think of hunting (papardhi), of getting victory over or defeating (others), of quarrel or battle, of visiting other's wives or prostitutes, or theft etc., which only lead to sin. He very seriously strikes a caution particularly against gambling.l87 Gambling should be renounced from far distance. It is the topmost evil, the disturber (churner) of contentment, the home of deceit and the abode of theft and false-hood. Thus the vow of anartha-danda covers a vast field of worthless or evil activities from which the householder has to abstain with all carefulness in avoiding the binding of karma or commitment of sin.

The following are the five transgressions of this vow

  1. kandarpa--poking fun at another.

  2. kautkucya-- mischievously gesticulating or buffoonery.

  3. moukharya--garrulity, gossip.

  4. asamlksyadhikarana--over doing things, or acting unthinkingly.

  5. upabhoga-parihhoganarthakya -- indulging in superfluous luxuries.

The Siksa-Vratas


We have already discussed the nature of the siksa-vratas in general and their classification. The samayika-vrata is acknowledged as the first siksa-vrata-- disciplinary vow by all Acaryas, except some like samantabhadra and Asadhara to whom it is the second one; and it is the third specific pratima for those like Vasunandi. It is also the first of the six daily avasyakas--necessary duties of the householder as well as of the ascetic). Such multi-sided position of this vow in the Code of Conduct for the House-holder, which is mainly a spiritual one, rather indicates its own significance. According to our list of the siksa-vratas i.e., B-I, it is the first one.

Samayika generally means engaging oneself in the attainment (aya) of equanimity or tranquility of mind (sama). Pujyapada explainsl89 samaya as ekatva-gamana--the process of becoming one, the process of fusion of the activities of body, mind and speech with the atman--soul and the method of practice meant for achieving this objective is the samayika. Akalanka holds190 that the samayika is a positive way of submerging the activities of one's body, mind and speech in the atman. Haribhadra explains 191 sama as the state of freedom from attachment and aversion (rag-dvesa) formulating an attitude of looking at all objects the alike of one's own self and aya as accomplishment or attainment; and samayika is the practice for accomplishing the state of freedom from attachment and aversion, formulating an attitude of looking at all objects the alike of one's own self. Moreover it is an exertion, to be put day and night, to avoid harmful activities and also to indulge in harmless activities. Samantabhadra definesl92 this vow as abstaining from the commission of the five kinds of sin in all respects and altogether for a specified period of time (daily). He further states 193 the samayika should be performed with a cheerful heart in an undisturbed solitude, in forests, temples or houses. The samayika is the cause of perfection in the observance of the five vows, and it should be practiced daily according to the prescribed method with a resolute mind, casting off laziness. During the period of practice of the samayika all kinds of attachment and undertaking are absent; and therefore the house-holder, then, assumes the state of ascetism and, thus looks like an ascetic (yati) on whom a piece of cloth has been thrown. Those who intend to perfect themselves in the samayika vow, should calmly bear the hardships of cold, heat, mosquito-bite, insect-stings, and other troubles (caused by enemies), maintaining perfect silence and control over the activities of body, mind and speech. They should also meditate upon the transitory nature of the world, the true nature of the self and liberation etc.

As regards time, place, posture etc., for the-samayika, the Acaryas hold different views. The minimum time prescribed is one muhurta- 48 minutes, twice or thrice or even more times a day which is beneficial. The place could be a forest, a temple, a house or a hall for fasting etc The posture could be padmasana, paryankasana, seated or standing kayotsarga etc.194. For strengthening the daily practice of the samayik discipline, one should observe fast twice each fortnight i.e.,the 8th and 14th day of each lunar fortnight 195 Haribhadra, however, describes196 two methods of performance of the samayika enjoined to the householder: one for iddhipatta--the affluent and the other for aniddhipatta-- the ordinary, with separate ritual details for each. In this connection R. Williams notes :197 The Svetambara texts give a ritual for the samayika based on the Avasyaka-curni, a distinction being made between the ordinary and the affluent layman. For a man of great wealth or invested with the authority of a ruler, special rules are laid down in order to increase the prestige of theJaina community by emphasizing the fact that he has adhered to the sacred doctrine." Though such two separate methods of the samayika ritual did not continue in later days, the svetambara tradition maintained the separate identity of the samayika-vrata to a considerable extent, whereas the later Digambara Acaryas seem to have simplified it by adopting vandana--adoration, puja--worship and its rituals etc., which were also the needs of the age and region. This phenomenon is lucidly reflected in the definition and description of this vow by Vasunandi198 under the samayika-pratima and also in the long treatment of this vow by Somadeva in the Upasakadhyayana199 wherein puja -- worship, bhakti -- devotion, dhyan -meditation etc., are described at great length. According to Vasunandi200 the .samayika is adoring the Jaina scripture, the Jina-dharma, the Jina-image, the five paramesthis and the adode of the Jina regularly three times a day. And Somadeva states 201 Instruction in the adoration of (or service to) the apta-- Jina is called samaya and a host of duties enjoined to the adorer is known as samayika. Even in tbe Svetambara tradition, this vow gradually met with similar simpli-fying trends, which fact is noted, with a textual evidence, by R. Williams :202 "The diminishing importance of the samayika in the lay life is manifest in the fifteenth century Sraddha-- vidhi, where it figures among the practices which are possible only during the leisure of the rainy season. In that connection (the author of this treatise) Ratnasekhara comments significantly that the acceptance of the samayika is difficult for a rich man while the puja is easy."

Following are the five transgressions of the samayika vow203 which are alike in both the traditions. the Digambara and the svetambara:

  1. mano-duspranidana--misdirection of mind .

  2. vag-duspranidana --misdirection of speech.

  3. kaya-duspranidhana--misdirection of body.

  4. anadara--lack of interest.

  5. smrtyanupasthana--forgetting of the required formalities.

Leaving aside the trends of the historical line of the practice of this vow, one can easily make out its importance in playing the role of training the house-holder towards acquiring the necessary spiritual equipment for trodding the further path leading to salvation.


All the Acaryas accept the prosadhopavasa as a siksa-vrata The svetambara Acaryas generally present it as the third, whereas among the Digambaras, some Acaryas like Camundaraya, Amrtacandra, Amitagati, Somadeva etc. present it as the second and others like Samantabhadra, Asadhara Medhavin etc, as the third siksa-vrata. It is also the fourth pratima. Moreover it is regarded as a tapa--austerity204 and is closely connected with the samavika vow. According to our list i e., B-I, it is the second disciplinary vow.

The Prakrit term posaha (corresponding to the Sanskrit upavastha) which has come down from the canonical literature, including the Uvasaga-dasao, Ovavaiya-dasao etc, was later subjected to the Sanskrit back formations like pausadha, posadha and prosadha etc., of which posadha and prosadha gained wide currency. Posadha is generally meant the parvan, the 8th and the 14th day of the lunar fortnight and posadho- pavasa the fast on the parvan day, is thus a tautological expression. In usual course of practice posadha or prosadha stands as a synonym of posadhopavasa or prosadhopavasa. Pujyapada explains 205 prosadasabdah parva-paryaya-vaci prosadhe upavasah prosadao-pavasah-- the word prosadha is synonymous with parva. The fast (to be observed) on the parvan day is prosadhopavasa.

As regards the observance of the prosadhopavasa, the Digambara and the svetambara Acaryas hold two major different views: The Digambara Acaryas generally state that the fast should commence from the noon on the day preceding the prosadha (the 8th and the 14th day of each lunar fortnight) and it should end at noon on the day following it, covering, thus, a period of 48 hours. The svetambara authorities prescribe for such fast a period of 24 hours of the parvan day. The place for observance of the fast could be one's home, forest, temple, monastery or the prosadha-sala---hall for the prosadha.

Amrtacandra's depiction206 of this disciplinary vow is worth noting: For strengthening the practice of the samayika discipline, one must observe fast twice each fortnight. Being free from all worldly activities and casting off attachment to the body etc, one should commence fasting at mid-day preceding the prosadhal day, retire to a secluded place, renounce all harmful activities, abstain from entertaining all objects of senses and remain in restraint of body, mind and speech. He should pass the day submerged in righteous contemplation, perform the samayika at the sunset, subdue sleep by svadhiyaya--study of scriptural works and, thus, spend the night on a pure mat. Rising at dawn, he should attend to the necessary duties of the time, engage himself in the adoration of the Jina as per prescription with the prasuka (pure) objects. Thus in the above stated manner, he should pass the day, the second night and the half of the third day. One who frees himself from all harmful activities and passes 16 yamas (48 hours) in tbe manner stated above, certainly observes the vow of ahimsa thoroughly. Vasunandi describes207 the ritua1 of this vow (pasaha-vihim) at still greater length, mentioning its three types: uttama, mudhyama, lnd jaghanya. In the course of describing this vow Somadeva remarks 208 In the case of one, who observes this fast and yet engages himself in worldly affairs, such fasting would just be tormenting of one's body like the gaja-snana-- elephant-bath: (The elephant after duly bathing in water, fills its trunk with dust; and sprinkles it all over its body, making, thus, the earlier bath futile).

The Savaya-pannatti,209 however, mentions four categories of application of the prosadha, which could be partial or complete in each case:

  1. ahara-posah--in respect of food

  2. sarira-sakkara-posaha--in respect of bodily care

  3. bambha-posah--in respect of celibacy

  4. vavara-posaha -- in respect of worldly occupations or activities.

R. Williams notes210 that the prosadha ritual is given in considerable details in the later svetambara texts and presents as an example of a long passage211 covering the relevant description of the same found in Yasovijaya's Dharma-sangraha.

Following are the five transgressions of the prosadhopavasa-vrota,2l2 which, except in the usage of different terminology in respect of some, are virtually the same in both the traditions:

  1. grahanaticara -- acceptance of articles of adoration or worship without examining and handling them carefully.

  2. visargaticara --placing objects or spreading one's body on the ground without scrutinizing it.

  3. astaranaticara--preparing one's bed without carefully examining and harmlessly sweeping the place.

  4. anadaraticara -- showing no interest or enthusiasm in the observance of the fast.

  5. asmaranaticara--forgetting the due procedure of the fast.


Owing to the dual nature of this vow, which possesses characteristics of the guna-vrata as well as the siksa-vrata, it is given place in both of these groups of the vratas. The svetambara Acaryas generally present it as the second guna-vrata, whereas among the Digambara authorities, Samantabhadra, Kartikeya, Asadhara etc. present it as the third guna-vrata and others like Camundaraya, Amrtacandra.

Amitagati etc. include it as the third siksa-vra, According to our list, i.e., B-l, it is the third disciplinary vow.

This vow enjoins the householder to put limitations to the use of objects of senses categorised as those for bhoga and upabhoga, with a view to curtailing his sense of attachment to them and, thus, increase his capacity for self-restraint and will-power Samantabhadra delineates it as follows:213 Putting limitations, even within the already accepted limits, on the use of objects of senses for the day, or according to one's requirements, and with a view to reducing the sense of attachment to them, is the bhogolul-bhoga-parimana-vrata. Food, clothing, and other objects of the five senses, which can be enjoyed only once, come under bhoga; and those which can be enjoyed more than once pertain to upabhoga. Renunciation of bhogas and upabhogas is of two kinds: niyama and yama. That which has a time limit is niyama and the other, which is undertaken for life, is yama. Limitation of time could be for an hour, a day, a night, a fortnight, a month, a season or half a year and renunciation could be from food, conveyances beds, bathing, betel-leaves, clothes, ornaments, cohabitation or music etc. Honey, flesh, wine, green ginger, roots, butter, buds and flowers etc. should not be consumed to avoid injury to living beings and to escape from pramada. It is not enough if one gives up what is undesirable, he should also give up even what is desirable, for a vrata implies this two-fold Objective. Amrtacandra states 214 Considering his Own strength, the wise should renounce even those objects of senses which are not prohibited; and in respect of those which he cannot renounce, he should limit their usage by day or night. Again having regard to one's capacity at the time, a further limit to the already set limits, should be put every day. He who being thus contented with limited objects of senses, renounces a majority of them observes ahimsa because of his abstaining from considerable part of himsa.

The older svetambara texts like the Savaya-pannati use215 the terms upabhoga and paribhoga to mean, by and large, the same bhoga and upabhoga respectively. R. William notes :216 "Two basic divisions of this vrata are recognized by the svetambaras: it may refer to food eaten or occupations pursued. The second- aspect, expressed in a ban on the pursuit of fifteen cruel trades, is unknown to the Digambaras, except Asadhara, who for this theme, is heavily indebted to Hemacandra. Other topics included at least by the svetambaras under the bhogopabhoga-vrata are the anantakayas, the abhaksyas and ratribhojana."

As regards the aticaras of this vow, though the general concepts are more or less the same, the svetambara list slightly differs from the one given by the majority of the Digambara authors, from which differs Samantabhadra's list, that bears scope for wider interpretations.217 The following is the one given by Umasvami :218

  1. sacittahara--eating living objects i. e., green vegetable

  2. sacitta-sambandhahara-- taking any thing connected with things possessing life i. e., using green leaf as a plate

  3. sacitta-sammirahara-- taking a mixture of living and non- living things i. e., hot water with fresh water

  4. abhisavahara taking aphrodisiacs or exciting

  5. duhpakvahara--taking badly cooked food


This vow is acknowledged as the fourth or the last siksa- vrata--disciplinary vow by all the svetambara Acaryas and by most of the Digambara Acaryas except some like Kundakunda, Kartikeya and Vasu nandi, who present it as the third one. According to our list, B-I, it is the fourth one. Though generally known as dana, this vow is also designated as atithi- samvibhaga (sharing with the atithi) by some Acaryas like Umasvami; as vaiyavrtya (rendering service to monks by householders) by Samantabhadra; Vasunandi etc., as atithi- dana (giving alms etc., to the atithi) by Amrtacandra and as atithi-puja (adoring the atithi) by a few others Here the word atithi carries a special Jaina meaning viz., the ascetic or sadhu. This vow holds a significant position in the Jaina Doctrine and in the Jaina social organization (the Jaina Sangha) in the sense that on dana (giving gifts) or samvibhaga (sharing with) alone the atithis-- ascetics or sadhus can lead their life--the ethico- religious life, and protect, interpret and transmit the sacred law. Moreover, dana is one of the householder's satkarmas--six duties to be carried out daily, besides its being a constituent element of the four-fold dharma--the lay morality, consisting of dana-- charity, sila-- virtuous life, puja--adoration and upavasa- -fasting, which seems to have been enjoined to the householder at the initial stage.

The essential nature and scope of the dana-vrata depicted by the various Digambara and the svetambara Acaryas is more or less the same; but the details are worked out on different patterns in some of its aspects. So we can afford here just to follow the depiction of one of the Acaryas, say Vasunandi, who treats219 this vow at considerable length covering well its principaI aspects, and then to note differences in respect of the details of a few needful ones only.

On the authority of the Upasakadhyayana-sutra says Vasunandi,220 atithi-samvibhaga is to be considered as divided into the following five aspects 221

  1. patra--the recipient

  2. datr -- the giver

  3. datavya--the object to be given

  4. dana-vidhann --- the manner of giving

  5. dana-phala-- the fruit of giving.

The patras--recipients are of three kinds:

  1. uttama-patra--the best recipient, the Jaina ascetic equipped with all vows and self-restraint.

  2. madhyama-patra -- the mediocre recipient, the Jaina layman who has placed himself in the eleven pratimas.

  3. jaghanya-patra--- the least satisfactory recipient, the one on the householder's path who acquired the right faith.

There are also two kinds of unfit or unsuitable recipients:

  1. kupatra--a poor or unqualified recipient. A righteous person devoid of right belief.

2. apatra--a wrong recipient, a person devoid of right faith, other vows and virtuous life.222

The following should be the seven datr-gunas-- qualities of the giver of gift: 223

  1. sraddha --faith

  2. bhakti--devotion

  3. tusti--contentment

  4. sattva--energy and zeal

  5. vijnana -- capacity for discrimination

  6. alubdhata--lack of greed or self-interest

  7. ksama--forbearance

Datavya--the objects to be given are of four kinds:

  1. ahara--food

  2. ausadha--medicine

  3. sastra--knowledge

  4. abhaya-- shelter to living beings with fear of injury or death

Vasunandi says that the charity of these objects should not be restricted to the three kinds of recipients; but it should be extended to the young and old, the blind, the dumb, the deaf and also the diseased and wanderers from other lands, treating it as karuna-dana-- the gift of compassion. He also remarks that the abhaya-dana-- the gift of shelter or fearlessness is the crest jewel among all other gifts.224 It may be noted that the practice of the caturvidha dana - four-fold gift among the Jaina laity has played a significant role in the glorious history of Jainism.

Dana-vidhana (dana-vidhi)-- the manner of giving gifts consists of the following nine elements, which are also called the nine punyas--meritorious acts:

  1. pratigraha--reception

  2. ucca-sthana--offering a high seat

  3. padodaka--respectfully washing the feet

  4. arcana--adoration, worship

  5. pranama--obeisance

  6. manah-suddhi--purity of mind

  7. vacana-suddhi--purity of speech

  8. kaya-suddhi purity of body

  9. esana-suddhi--purity of food.

This list of the nine punyas can be called the general list developed by the Digambara Acaryas. The list presented by the svetambara Acaryas contains almost the same nine elements, which are brought under the term satkara. They depict the ritual of dana as given in the Avasyaha curni.225 Vasunandi describes the ritual of dana in about six verses.226

Regarding the dana-phala-- the fruit of giving gift, Vasunandi states: Just as the seed sown in a good soil bears good fruit, similarly gifts given to the three kinds of recipients bring in proportionately beneficial result.227 This the wise can understand. But the ordinary or ignorant people will not do any thing if they are not to get material benefits in return. Hence he describes those benefits like birth and enjoyment of different kinds of happiness in the heavenly regions. Samantabhadra228 says that giving, alms with devotion to ascetics wipes away the karma stored up by the activities of household life, just as water washes away blood. Amrtacandra holds229 that lobha--greed, which is a form of himsa, is over-come by dana--gift; therefore gifts offered to worthy recipients verily amount to the stoppage of himsa.

Following are the five transgressions of the dana-vrata,230 which are the same for the Acaryas of both the tradition:231

  1. sacitta-niksepa -- placing food on a living thing (like the green leaf)

  2. sacitta-pidhana--covering food with a living thing.

  3. para-vyupadesa--delegation of host's duties to another,

  4. matsarya--lack of respect in giving or being envious of another donor.

  5. kalatikrama--not giving at the proper time

The earlier Acaryas are silent about the question of dana- pramana, or, to be accurate, the proportion of dana to one's property: Devasena (C. 1000 A. D.) thinks that a wise house-holder should divide his property into six parts: the first for dharma--religio-spiritual activities, the second for the maintenance of his family, the third for bhoga-- luxuries, the fourth for employing servants, the fifth and sixth for puja (dana). Hemacandra's concept of the seven fields (ksetra)232 on which the great or illustrious sravaka (maha--sravaka) liberally practices dana, is also worthy of note in this context The seven ksetras are:

  1. jina-bimha --- Jina-images

  2. Jina-bhavana-- Jina-temples

  3. jinagama--Jaina scriptures

  4. sadhu--monks

  5. sadhvi-- nuns

  6. sravaka--layman

  7. sravika--laywoman

Hemacandra also urges that a maha - sravaka should freely use his wealth to help all those found in misery, who are blind, deaf, lame or sick whether hey are proper patras---recipients or not. We should note that such advices by the Jainacaryas, recorded in their writings and expressed in their sermons, may have certainly helped to enrich the sense of charity among the laity all along the course of the history of jainism .


Sallekhana means emaciation, which is two-fold:

  1. kasaya-sallekhana -- emaciation of passions to be accomplished by internal austerities (tapa) like subduing anger by forgiveness etc., and

  2. sarira-sallekhana-- emaciation of body to be accomplished by external austerities (tapa) like fasting etc.233

The sallekhana-vrata is thus a spiritual process of emaciating one's passions and body by internal and external austerities. And Umasvami states that the householder, after duly practicing the twelve vows, should observe such spiritual process culminating to death. 234 According to Pujyapada235 this vow implies the emaciation of internal passions and external body in a willful way by the gradual removal of the causes of their nourishment (i. e., inequanimity and food respectively), so that one may peacefully abandon the present body Formerly belonging to the monastic discipline, sallekhana appears to have been later extended to the lay discipline with lesser vigour and on voluntary basis.236 Hence it is generally treated as supplementary to the householder's twelve vows. Yet some Acaryas like Kundakunda, Devasena, Padmanandi and Vasunandi have included it as the fourth siksa-vrata.

Leaving aside the canonical and exegetic sections, among the svetambara treatises on the lay life, the Navapadaprakarana of Devagupta Vs. 129-135) is the only work to treat sallekhana in some detail. Other ones just touch it and the later ones are silent over it. On the other hand, the Digambara Acaryas have given considerable importance to this vow in their treatises. Asadhara, who has also commented on the Mularadhana in the form of his Sanskrit darpana (mirror), has naturally given a fairly comprehensive exposition of the sallekhana-vrata.237 For us here, however. Samantabhadra's succinct depiction of this vow is worthy of note 238

The abandonment of the body on being confronted with unavoidable calamity, famine, senility and disease for the sustenance of religio-spiritual practices (dharmaya) is regarded as sallekhana. According to almost all philosophical systems, one's being able to restrain conduct at the moment of death is the fruit of austerities. Hence one should, as per one's capacity, try to attain samadhi-marana239 death with equanimity. Giving up love, enemity, attachment to possessions etc., and with pure mind, One should forgive with pleasant words one's kinsmen and others and be forgiven by them too. Casting aside grief, fear, anguish, wickedness etc., with all sincerity and zeal, one should allay the innermost passions by scriptural words. Reflecting on the sins committed in the three ways, one should adopt the maha- vrata for the rest of life. Abstaining from solid food One should take milk and whey and then, give them up too for just warm water. And abstaining from warm water too and observing fast with all determination, and fixing the mind on the sacred five-fold invocation, pamca-namokkara-mantra, he should peacefully abandon the body.

Following are the five transgressions of the sallekhana- vrata as enumerated by Umasvami :240

  1. jivitasamsa--desire to prolong life

  2. maranasamsa--desire to die soon

  3. mitranuraga--attachment to friends

  4. sukhanubandha--remembrance of past enjoyments

  5. nidana-- desire for pleasure in the next life

It is worth considering, in this context, that some foreign scholars, like Mrs. Sinclair Stevenson, have called this kind of religio-spiritual conclusion of life (i. e, sallekhana or samadhi-marana) "a terrible vow." 241 Even R. Williams has translated it as "ritual suicide by fasting.242 Several authors, both in India and outside, have called it suicide. Pt. Sukhalalaji Sanghavi has presented convincing critical observations on this point in his article 'Samthara aur Ahimsa243 some thirty years ago. He points out that the term 'suicide' for the Jaina way of death, rather implies some sort of contempt. Scriptures have laid down methods of samadhi-marana that do not admit of any air of suicide therein. Dr. T. G. Kalghatgi notes that this doctrine has been misunderstood and observes: "It would be inconsistent to believe that those who considered life as sacred and those who condemned himsa of any type, should have so little regard for human life as to preach self destruction.244 Justice T. K. Tukol writes 245 There is difference between suicide, and sallekhna as regards intention, situation, means adopted and consequences of death. Jaina thinkers have addressed themselves to this question and have given cogent reasons for saying that sallekhana is not suicide. Amrtacandra has defined suicide with such precision that his definition can stand the scrutiny of any modern jurist: "He, who actuated by passion, puts an end to his life by stopping breath or by water, fire, poison or weapons is certainly guilty of suicide.246

Thus it is quite probable that the misunderstanding of this mode of death by some is due to the imperfect knowledge of the meaning and connotation of ahimsa as taught by the Jinas. We must not forget whatthe Tattvartha-sutra lucidly states 247-Hurting the vitalities out of passions is himsa (injury). But in the case of one who voluntarily submits himself to this mode of death, no passion of any kind can be traced. Moreover the Jainacaryas have often condemned suicide. To substantiate this, I would now illustrate an event in a Jaina story: in the story of 'Asokadatta and his son Sripati' in the Kathakosa,248 Sripati, out of utter disappointment due to the loss of his entire wealth, goes to a mountain and is about to throw himself from its top. A Jaina sage in Kayotsarga, sees him and cries out, Sripati do not act rashly; by such a death you will attain the condition (gati) of a demon; do not die an evil death, for--

In taking the halter, and in swallowing poison, in fire, and in entering water,

Wearied by hunger and thirst, they slay themselves, and become demons.

Therefore do not inflict death on yourselves. The Mulacara which also exposes the pandita-marana--the wise man's death in short, expressly condemns suicide and states that one, who commits suicide is tied to the cycle of birth and death.249

Lastly I would recall Munisri Nathmalji (now Yuvacarya Mahaprajnaji), who, coming out for a moment from the canonico-technical or religio- spiritual atmosphere around sallekhana or samadhi-marana thinks 250 Birth and death are two significant points of rest on the course of the journey of life. If life is an art, death also is not a lesser art. Those who know the art of living and are ignorant of the art of, death, they permanently leave polluted atmosphere behind them. Hence one should have the right idea as to what kind of death one should not die. Jaina Seers have provided it in sermons such as Akama-maranijjam, Ch. V in the Uttarajjhayana-sutta.


161. Ratnakarandaka Sra. Vs. 68-70.

162, V. 281.

163. Kartikeyanupreksa, v. 341.

164. Yoga-sastra. III-3.

165. This point has been already discussed under the topic 'The Vratas".

166. R. Williams (Op. cit, p. 99) considers phenomenon among the Digambara Acaryas as according an exact pedant to the dig-vrata But I think that objective of these Acaryas in this regard could possibly be carrying on the curbing of passions, particularly greed, to the minimum with continued effectivity.

167. Op. cit., p. 139.

168. Vs. 67 and 91.

169. Ratnakaratldaka Sra., V. 62.

170. V. 318.

171. V. 319.

172. Purusartha-siddhyupaya. Vs. 139-140.

173. Tattvartha-sutra, Vl1-31.

174. Ratnakarandaka Sra, V. 74.

l75. (i) The svetambara Acaryas, following the Uvasagadasao (I-40), give only the first of these. (ii) R. Williams (Op. cit, p. 123) notes that Siddhansenagani and Siddhasenasuri are exceptions to this. He also thinks that the fifth kind is an addition by the Digambara Acaryas.

176. Ratnakarandaka Sra, V. 78.

177. Kartikeyanupreksa, V. 344.

178. Purusartha-Siddhyulpaya, V. 141.

179. Ratnakarandaka Sra, V. 77.

180. Yoga-sastra, III-81.

181. Caritrasara, p. 10.

182. Kartikeyanupreksa, V. 347.

183 Ratnakarandaka sra, V. 79.

184. Kartikeyanupreksa, V. 348.

185, Purusartha-siddhyupaya, 145.

186. Ibid., 141.

187 . Ibid., 146.

188. (i) Tattvartha-sutra, VII-32, (ii) Samantabhadra's list contains the term ati-prasadhana- surrounding oneself with object of sensual pleasure for the fourth transgression (Ratnakaranduka sra, V. 81 and the Svetambara version of it is Sarhyuktadhikarna bringing together harmful implements(Savaya pannatti. V. 291).

189. Sarvartha-siddhi. VII-21.

190. Rajavartika, VII-21/7.

191. Savaya-pannatti, Comm. on V. 292.

192. Ratnakarandaka Sra, V. 97.

193. Ibid., Vs. 99-105.

191. kayotsarga-- abandonment of body is nothing but mamatva-tyaga--renunciation of mineness, i. e., perfect contemplation or concentration on one's own self.

195. Purusartha-siddhyupaya, V. 149.

196. Savaya-pannati, Comm. on V. 292.

197 Op. cit., p. 132.

198 Vasunandi-Sravakacara, Vs. 274-278

199 (i) Verses 460 to 749, (ii) It may be noted, at this context, that Jina sena has already almost replaced the six daily avasakas by the six daily karmas of the householder, wherein puja (covering the samayika, caturvimsati stava and vandanaka takes the place of the samayika in the former. Vide Mahapurana, Ch. 38-24

200 Vasunandi-sravakacara, V 275

201 Upasukadhyayana, v. 460

202 Op . cit. , pp. 138- 139

203, Tattvarthasutra, VIII-33.

204. (i) From this austerity possibly may have stemmed several other austerities like Caritra-siddhi- vrata. the Jina-guna-sampatti vrata, the Srutojnanopovasa- vrata etc., which were composed, in later days, small treatises in Prakrit, Sanskrit and Kannada. (ii) For further details in this regard vide section on 'Vrata-vidhana' in the Kannada Prantiya Tadapatriya Granthasuci.

205. Sarvartha-siddhi, VII-220

206. Purusartha-siddhyupaya, Vs. 151-157.

207. Vasunandi-Sravakacara, Vs. 280-294.

208. Upasukadhyayuna, V. 755.

209. V. 321.

210. Op.cit., pp. 144-145.

211. Op.cit., p. 145.

212. Enumerated by Samantabhadra, Ratnakaranuka Sra, V. 110.

213. Ratnakarandaka Sra, Vs. 82-89.

214.Purusartha-siddhyupaya, Vc. 164-166.

215. V. 284 and Comm. On it.

216. (I) Op. Cit., p. 102. (ii) Nemicandra's Pravacana-saroddhara enumerates 22 abhaksyas--objects not fit to be eaten and 32 a nanta-kayas-- consumable plants which are inhabited by an infinite number of living organisms. Vide R. Williams, Op. Cit., pp. 110 and 114-15 respectively.

217. R. Williams compares all these lists, op. cit., p. 103.

218. Tattvartha-sutra, VII-35.

219. Vasunandi Sravakacara Vs. 219-270.

220. Ibid, 219.

221. (i) The Tattvartha-sutra (VII-39) mentions the first four only. (ii) The svetambara texts consider dana as conditioned by the following five elements: desa,place, kala time, sraddha-faith, sutkara- regard and krama-the right order. vide Savaya-pannatti, V. 325

222. (i) Somadeva gives his own list of five kinds of recipients, wherein he accomodates astrologers, orators, erudites, literary personages etc., in the fifth category. Vide his Upasakadhyayana, V. 808. (ii) He also tells if no sadhu is available dana--charity may be extended to any coreligionist. op cit., Vs. 821-822.

223. Some svetambara texts enumerate six and others eight such qualities of the datr. Vide Jaina Yoga, pp. I53-154.

224. (i) The concept of datavya--what is to be given varies from tradition to tradition and, at times, from one Acaryas to another. Hema-candra (Yoga-sastro III-87) points out some earlier view that there is no canonical authority for dana in any form other than food and drink, but the later texts permitted the gift of clothes, blankets, and other requisite accessories to the ascetics. (ii) Camundaraya's four-fold classification oi datavya is restricted to alms-giving to ascetics. Vide Caritra-sara, p. 14. (iii) The Savaya-pannatti (V. 325) lays down that the gift of food etc., should be justifiably acquired (nayagaya) and pure or suitable (kappanijja) one. (iv) Samantabhadra's concept of vaiyavrtya includes rendering of physical services to ascetics: Ratnakarandaka Sra,V. 112.

225. Vide Jaina Yoga, pp. 158-159.

226. Vasunandi-Sravakacara Vs. 226-231.

227. lbid.. V. 240.

228. Ratnakarandaka Sra, V. 114.

229. Purusartha-siddhyupaya, V. 172.

230. Tattvartha-sutra, VII. 36.

231. Samantabhadra, however, gives anadara in place of kalatikrama, Op. cit., V. 121.

232.Noted by R. Williams with some comments, Op.cit., pp. 164-165.

233. (i) For details vide the Mularadhana of Sivarya gaha Nos. 205, 206, 210 and 260, and also the Commentary thereon. (ii) lt may be noted that Sallekhana forms the 11th of the 40 adhikaras (Chapters) in this reputed precanonical bulky Prakrit text of the Digambaras that comprehensively describes the bhakta pratyakhyana-marana-- courting death by absolute abstinence from ,all kinds of food, a spiritual gate-way for the soul for liberation to eternal bliss.

234. Tattvartha-sutra, VII-22 maranantakim sallekhanam josita.

235. Sarvartha-siddhi, VII-22.

236. There could also be some controversial period in the early days of Jainism, which phenomenon is indicatedwell by the .Savava-pannatti (V. 382) stating that sallekhana is not restricted to the monastic discipline alone as some Acaryas say.

237. Sagara-dharmamrta, Ch. VIll.

238. Ratnakarandaka Sra, Vs. 122-129.

239. (i) In Jaina inscriptions and story literature besides sallekhana, the terms samadhi- marana and sanyasa-marana (or sanyasana in Kannada are often found used synonymously). (ii) The term sanyasana appears to have been first set in currency only in the case of house-holders who adopted the maha- vrata or who were given the samastra- diksa, which was immediately followed by the bhakta-pratya khyana--courting death by abstinence from all kinds of food. For details vide 'The Vow of Samadhimaraqa in Early Karnatak" by B. K. Khadabadi, Studies in Indian History and Culture, (Prof. P. B. Desai Felicitation Volume) .

240. Samantabhadra replaces sukhanubandha by bhaya --fear. The list presented by the svetambara Acaryas is, by and large, similar to this one, with some differences in the usage of terms.

241. The Heart of Jainism, p. 221.

242 Op. cit., p. 166.

243. Darsana aur Cintana, pp. 533-36.

244. The voice of Ahimhsa, (Feb. 1962 Issue).

245. Compendium of Jainism, p. 280.

246. Purusartha-siddhyupaya V. 178.

247. VII-13.

248. Edited by C. H. Tawney, pp. 7-8.

249. Gaha. 74.

250. Preface (amukha) to Ch. V., Uttaradhyayana-sutra Part I, p. 57.