Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Ten Universal Virtues

Munishri 108 Kam Kumar Nandi
Message, Foreword, Preface
Hymn To Five Divinties
  Paryushan Parva
  Supreme Forgiveness
  Supreme Tenderness or Humility
  Supreme Uprightness or Honesty
  Supreme Contentment or Purity
  Supreme Truthfulness
  Supreme Self-Restraint
  Supreme Austerities or Penance
  Supreme Renunciation
  Supreme Non-Attachment
  Supreme Chastity
  Kshamavani Parva




     The equanimity soul, who tortures his body in various ways in the hope of getting happiness in this world and the other world, performs the unblemished penance. In order to attain this virtue of austerity the monks perform penance on the riverbanks in extreme winter; on the mountain peaks in the scorching summer heat and under a tree in heavy down pour in the rainy season. So long as we don't let our body pass through severe penance well performed, this body will not prove helpful in annihilating the karmas attached to our soul. Iron has to pass through many ordeals under heating process, before it can be finally molded into different shapes and sizes to manufacture precious implements and other objects. Likewise only the living being, who mortifies his body through various types of penance and tortures, attains the invaluable and invisible three -fold jewels of Right faith, Right knowledge and Right conduct, all of which lie dormant in the human body. Rightly has it been questioned: 'Has not being purged in fire gold wrought a crown?'

     Self-torture or mortification of self is undoubtedly the surest way of purging both body and soul."

"Penance vanquishes karmas and annihilates all sins. What to speak of obtaining ordinary things as royal happiness and the high rank of Indra, the mundane soul can attain even Godly hood by penance. Human life is futile without penance?" - Lokantic Deva (Vardhman Puran, pg. 68)

     The penance performed in a perfect way alone is real penance. Only such penance can be helpful to the monks to attain salvation - Moksha. Any other penance contrary to it is Bal tapa (ignorant penance). This ignorant penance is the cause of migration in the world. Acharya Kundkund Swami states the characteristics of 'Bal Tapa' in Samaysaau as follows;

     Parmathmimhi du athido jo kunrdi tavam band ch dharyadi

     Tam sacham baltavam balvandam vinti savanrhu

          Samaysar gatha 152

     The omniscient lord has termed all such penance and observance of vows that a living being attached to the worldly allurements performs, as 'Bal Tapa' or Bal Vrata (ignorant vow). The bodily torture and observance of vows deceitfully for pubic show; that which cannot prove helpful in treading the path of liberation i.e., salvation due to wrong belief is Bal Tapa (ignorant penance). Because such penance does not become helpful in relieving the soul from karmas, rather it becomes the cause of the bondage of soul by karmas.

     Penance has been regarded a part and parcel of self- restraint. Those who adore moral conduct i.e., self- restraint, as a rule adore penance as well; and those who worship penance inevitably get the benefit of character worship. Penance is performed by the observation of vows discarding indolence and passions; and through study of scriptures and by meditation. It has been said:

     "Svadhyaya parmam tap"

     On this ground also penance implies character. Hence, all the penances are included in character worship. A full and perfect dedication to the thirteen types of characters is self-restraint. This self-restraint is achieved only when one is made purified by external and internal penance, otherwise not. Therefore, on account of being purified by external and internal penance, self-restraint has been counted as part of penance. The self-restrained wise monks, after proper deliberation over all the six things, e.g. matter (dravya), age (kal), place (kshetra), thoughts (bhav), power (bal), and virility (virya), should engage themselves in penance in different posture, viz. Sarvasan, Vidhasan, and Suddhasan; in order to enjoy the bliss of perfect good health and real self. A man should not aspire for worldly rewards in exchange for the above said penances while performing them. In the performing of penances it is essential to be indifferent to their results. Indeed, to practice life long penance is as difficult as to walk on the edge of sword.

     Penance has been assigned an insignificant place in this 'Pancham Kala' i.e., materialistic age. While telling the interpretation of the dreams of the sovereign king Bharat, Lord Rishabh Deva said, "The sight of a horse with bent back due to being over loaded with a burden fit to be carried by an elephant indicates that in the 'Pancham Kala' (materialistic age) the monks will not be capable to adhere to all the characteristics of penance." Due to this very reason declaring the study of scriptures as the superb type of penance, the Lord emphasized the study of scriptures both by monks and householders.

     We should know that one, who does not perform penance or practice austerities in life to one's utmost power, deceives one's real self. Besides, all powers of such a man lie dormant. By being engrossed in worldly pleasures a living being is held by the shackles of severe bondage of sins due to the influx of evil karmas which bring him untold misery and bitter agonies in the several births to come.

     If a living being performs penance within his power, he reaps its fruits beyond imagination. Just as the high temperature of a person's body scorched by the fierce rays of the sun subsides by a shower bath, likewise penance works as a tranquilizer for the noble souls burnt by the great worldly fire of passions. Penance possesses the infinite power of undoing of the worldly miseries. The glory of penance beggars description i.e., its significance is unlimited. He, who does not perform penance observing as much self-restraint as possible, is worthless like a straw.

     The great poet Reidhu has described the supreme virtue of austerity or penance as below:

     Tam tau jhin parigahu chandijyi, tam tau jhin Myrna ji


     Tam tau jhin nrgtnru disei tam tau jhin gir kandri nrivsyi


     Tam tau jhin uvsagg sahijyi tam tau jhin rayain jinrijyi

     Tam tau bhivkhyi munrijyi savay gaih kalinrivam sijyi


     Tam tau jath samidi paripalnru tam tau gutityam nrihalnru

     Tam tau janhi apaparu bujhiu tam tau jhin bhav manru ji ujhayu


     Tam tau jhin sasruv munrijau, tam tau jhin kamaham gnru khijyi

     Tam tau jhin sur mati pyasyi, pvynrth bhaviynrham pabhasyi


     Jainr tavain kaivlu upjyi sasye sukhu nrich sampjyi

     Varah vihu tau viru gugyi pariharu, tam pujyi thir ganrinra

     Machhru mau chhandivi karnryim dandivi, tam vi dharijyi gau ravinra


1.      He who has abstained himself from greed or worldly possessions; who has got rid of mental impurities; who has adopted nude monkshood; who resides in mountain caves, observes the supreme penance.

2.      Penance is that in which calamities are suffered without murmur; that in which feelings of attachment are conquered and that in which food is accepted as alms at an appropriate time from the householders.

3.      Penance is that in, which the five samities - regulation of the movements of the body are observed. That in which full attention is paid to the three Guptis - regulation for self- control. That in, which a man ponders and meditates over his self and non-self; and that in, which a man sheds the feeling of vanity in his present state of birth.

4.      Penance is that in, which a man ponders over the purpose of his real life; that in which the karmas are vanquished; that in which the Gods give expression to their devotion; and that in which the sermons are delivered for the well-being of mundane souls.

5.      Penance is that by the performance of which, as a rule one attains salvation and obtains eternal bliss.

6.      These are the twelve types of supreme penance. Penance rids one of a miserable state of existence. We should pay homage to it with a stable mind; and discarding vanity and malice with full pride, the living beings should subjugate all the five senses.

     Hence, O Mortal Man! 'Mortify yourself, mortify yourself and mortify yourself. Give up the feeling of tenderness for the body. Conquer desires and then you will realize that you have conquered all sorrow and misery; cut off all types of attachments, suppress hatred, and thus you will be happy in this worldly existence and reap a rich spiritual harvest.'

     'Self-torture is not a curse, but a boon and a way to eternal peace.' Indeed, sweet are the uses of penance i.e., self-torture.

     To sum up, penance teaches us to surmount hardships and difficulties willingly and cheerfully. In truth, difficulties, which are part and parcel of penance, are the ladders that lead us to heaven.

Be there thorns or flowers

What difference they make for soul;

Be it a palace or a cottage

They shelter the body not soul;

Be it a clod of clay or gold

The real wealth lies in soul;

Who can excel a person?

Enlightened is whose soul?