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Book of Compassion

The Jaina Path of Ahimsa


Path of Jainism - Index

  Publisher's Foreword

Author's Preface



  Meaning of Jainism
  Principles of Jainism
  Philosophy of Jainism
  Moksha-marga According to Jainism
  The Twelve `Vratas' or Vows
  The Concept of `Himsa'
  Ahimsa-vrata, i. e., the vow of `Ahimsa'
  Supplements to Ahimsa--Vrata
  Implementation of Ahimsa
  Comprehensiveness of Ahimsa

Carefulness in Ahimsa

  Practicability of Ahimsa
  Basic Positivity of Ahimsa

Social Significance of Ahimsa

  Jain Books
  Catalog of Books in English
  Catalog of Books in Hindi
  Catalog of Books in Gujarati
  List of Books, Topics & Sub-topics and Authors


Along with various restrictions laid down as necessary elements in the observance of the vow of Ahimsa, certain specific virtues, reflections and controls or sufferings are also prescribed by sacred Jaina texts as supplements to the practice of Ahimsa-vrata. These supplements are

  1. Ten Kinds of Dharma,

  2. Twelve kinds of Anupreksha and

  3. Twenty-two kinds of Parishaha jaya,

and these are considered specifically useful in achieving Samvara, i.e., stoppage of influx of Karmic matter into the soul, which is a necessary condition to the attainment of Moksha or salvation. These supplements constitute a part of the rules of conduct prescribed for the saints. But it has been particularly mentioned that these should be followed by householders also to the best of their capacity.

Dasalakshana Dharma:

The ten noble virtues, known as 'Dasalakshana Dharma', are expected to be assiduously cultivated and put into actual practice during their normal life by the followers of Jainism. Since the emphasis has been laid on the translation of the virtues into practice, these ten virtues are known as ten observances also. The ten noble virtues are:

  1. Uttama-Kshama, i.e., Supreme Forgiveness or Forbearance,

  2. Uttama-Mardava, i.e., Supreme humility or tenderness,

  3. Uttama-Arjava i.e., supreme honesty or straight forwardness,

  4. Uttama-Saucha, i.e., Supreme contentment or purity of thought and freedom from greed,

  5. Uttama-Satya, i.e. Supreme truth,

  6. Uttama-Samyama, i.e., Supreme self-control or self-restraint,

  7. Uttama-Tapa, i.e., Supreme austerities,

  8. Uttama-tyaga, i.e., Supreme renunciation,

  9. Uttama-Akinchana, i.e., Supreme non-attachment or not taking the non-self for one's own self, and

  10. Uttama-Brahmacharya, i.e., Supreme chastity.


In addition to ten noble virtues, every pious person is expected to contemplate on the following twelve 'Anuprekshas' i.e., the ideas which must be kept at the focus of thoughts constantly.

  1. Anitya anupreksha, i.e., impermanence or in other words everything is subject to change or is transitory,

  2. Asarana anupreksha, meaning without refuge, unprotectiveness or helplessness. The feeling that soul is unprotected from fruition of Karmas, for example, death, etc.,

  3. Samsara anupreksha, i.e., mundaneness or cycle of births and deaths. Soul moves in the cycle of existences and cannot attain true happiness till it is cut off.

  4. Ekatva anupreksha, i.e., loneliness. I am alone, the doer of my actions and the enjoyer of the fruits of them.

  5. Anyatva anupreksha, i.e., separateness or difference in nature. The world, my relations and friends, my body and mind, they are all distinct and separate from my real self.

  6. Asuchi anupreksha, i.e., impurity. The body is impure and dirty.

  7. Asrava anupreksha, i.e., inflow. The inflow of Karmas is the cause of my mundane existence and is the product of passions.

  8. Samvara anupreksha, i.e., stoppage. The inflow of Karma must be stopped.

  9. Nirjara anupreksha, i.e., shedding. The old Karmic matter must be shed from or shaken out of the soul.

  10. Loka anupreksha, i.e., the world or the universe. The nature of the universe and its constituent elements in all their vast variety proving the insignificance and miserable nothingness of man in time and space.

  11. Bodhi-durlabha anupreksha, i.e., variety of religious knowledge. It is difficult to attain right belief, right knowledge and right conduct.

  12. Dharma anupreksha, i.e., reflection on the nature of religious path as preached by the conquerors, namely the true nature of the three fold path of liberation.

These twelve Anuprekshas are meditations or reflections and have to be meditated upon again and again. Sometimes these Anuprekshas are termed as Bhavanas also.


Along with the inculcation of the noble virtues and meditation of twelve reflections, every pious person must attempt at Parishaha-Jaya, i.e.,. the conquering of various types of Parishahas i.e., sufferings or inconveniences and pains. The Parishahas are the hardships or sufferings which have to be undergone by a conscientious person for the sake of non-falling off from the path of Moksha, i.e., liberation, and for the shedding of Karmic matter from the soul. Hence Parishaha-Jaya means victory over the consciousness of pain or suffering. Such sufferings are of following 22 kinds:

  1. Kshut, i.e., Hunger,

  2. Pipasa, i.e., Thirst,

  3. Sita, i.e., Cold.

  4. Ushna, i.e., Heat,

  5. Damsamasaka, i.e. Insect-bite,

  6. Nagnya, i.e., Nakedness,

  7. Arati, i.e., Ennui or disagreeable surroundings,

  8. Stri, i.e., Sex-passion,

  9. Charya, i.e., Walking too much,

  10. Nishadya, i.e., Continuous sitting in one posture,

  11. Sayya, i.e., Resting on hard earth,

  12. Akrosa, i.e., Abuse or unpleasant and insulting language,

  13. Vadha, i.e., Beating or violence inflicted by cruel persons,

  14. Yachana, i.e., Begging or desire to beg for food, medicine, etc.,

  15. Alabha, i.e., Disappointment from not getting what one wants, e.g. food,

  16. Roga, i.e., Diseases and infirmities in the body,

  17. Trnasparsa, i.e., Thorn-pricks or pricks from the sharp grass,

  18. Mala, i.e., Dirt and impurity all over the body,

  19. Satkara-puraskara, i.e. Remaining uninfluenced by praise or reward,

  20. Prajna, i.e., Pride of knowledge,

  21. Ajnana, i.e., feeling of ignorance or non-possession of knowledge, and

  22. Adarsana, i.e., slack-belief or temporary lack of faith.

For example, on failure to attain supernatural powers even after great piety and austerities, to begin to doubt the faith of Jainism and its teachings.

It is laid down that these 22 sufferings should be ever endured without any feeling of vexation, by one who desires to get rid of all causes for pain.

Apart from these three types of supplements to Ahimsavrata which are considered useful

in achieving Samvara, i.e., stoppage of influx of Karmic matter into the soul, there is one more important supplement to Ahimsa-vrata known as the "Practice of Tapa", i.e., observance of austerities. These austerities are regarded as essential things for achieving Nirjara, i.e., the shedding of Karmic matter from the soul, which is a necessary condition to the attainment of Moksha, i. e., salvation. The Jaina scriptures distinguish twelve kinds of austerities, as the expedients of Nirjara, grouped together under the two headings of Bahya Tapa, i.e., external austerities, and Abhyantara Tapa, i.e., internal austerities.

Bahya Tapa:

The six external austerities are:

  1. Anasana, i.e., periodical fasting,

  2. Avamodarya, i.e., eating less than the capacity of the stomach,

  3. Vrtti-parisankhyana, i.e., putting restrictions in regard to food, for example, to accept food only if a certain condition is fulfilled.

  4. Rasa-parityaga, i.e., daily renunciation of one or more of six kinds of delicacies, viz., ghee, milk, curds, sugar, salt and oil,

  5. Vivikta-sayyasana, i. e., sitting or sleeping in a lonely or isolated place, devoid of animate beings, and

  6. Kayaklesa, i.e., mortification of the body so long as the mind is not disturbed.

Abhyantara Tapa:

The six internal austerities are

  1. Prayaschitta, i.e., expiation,

  2. Vinaya, i.e., reverence,

  3. Vaiyavrtya, i.e., service of the saints or worthy people,

  4. Svadhyaya, i.e., study.

  5. Vyutsarga, i.e., giving up attachment to the body, etc., and

  6. Dhyana, i.e., concentration of mind.

All these external and internal kinds of austerities are practiced with the object of burning or shedding out all karmic impurities from the soul. These austerities are meant mainly for the ascetics, but it has also been enjoined upon the householders to practice them to the best of their abilities.