SADHU AND SADHVI
When a person renounces the worldly life
and all the attachments, and is initiated into monkshood or nunhood, the
man is called Sadhu, Shraman or Muni and the woman is called Sadhvi,
Shramani, or Aryä. Their renunciation is total which means they are
completely detached from the social and worldly activities and they do not
take any part in those activities anymore. Instead, they spend their time
spiritual uplifting their souls and guiding householders such as ourselves
how to uplift our souls.
When they get initiated into the life of
Sadhus and Sadhvis, they take five major vows and act strictly in
accordance with those vows. The five great vows are:
1) Pranatipätaviraman Mahavrat -
Vow of absolute Non-violence.
First vow of Pranatipätaviraman Mahavrat
means sadhu and sadhvis will never cause harm or violence to any living
being including even the tiniest creatures.
2) Mrishavadaviraman Mahävrat -
Vow of absolute Truthfulness
Second vow of Mrishavadaviraman Mahävrat
means they will not lie.
3) Adattadänaviraman Mahavrat -
Vow of absolute Non-stealing
Third vow of Adattadänaviraman Mahavrat
means without the permission of the owner they will not take anything from
4) Maithunaviraman Mahavrat - Vow
of absolute Celibacy
Fourth vow of Maithunaviraman Mahavrat
means they have to observe the celibacy with an absolute adherence to it.
The sadhu or sadhvis should not even touch a member of the opposite sex
regardless of their age.
5) Parigrahaviraman Mahavrat -
Vow of absolute Non-attachment.
Fifth vow of Parigrahaviraman Mahavrat
means they do not possess anything and do not have any attachment for
things they keep for their daily needs.
In summary, while taking these vows,
they say, "O Lord Arihant! I will not commit the sins of violence, express
falsehood, steal and enjoy sensual pleasures, or be possessive, by speech,
thought or deed; nor will I assist or order anyone to commit these sins. I
will not approve or endorse anyone committing such sins. Oh Lord! I hereby
take a sacred and solemn vow that throughout my life, I will follow these
five major vows and strictly follow the code of conduct laid out for a
sadhu and a sadhvi."
Therefore, Jain Sadhus and Sadhvis never
cause harm or violence to any living being. They live according to the
pledge that they do not harm even the tiniest creatures. They always speak
the absolute truth. They do not lie on account of fear, desire, anger or
deceptive intentions. Without the permission of the owner, they do not
take even the smallest thing such as a straw. They observe the vow of
celibacy with an absolute adherence to it. They will not touch the members
of the opposite sex, even a child. In case the members of the opposite sex
either touch them by mistake or in ignorance, they have to undergo the
ritual of repentance (Prayashchitta) for self-purification. Jain Sadhus
should not keep money with them. They will not own or have any control on
any wealth, houses, any such movable or immovable property or
organization. They will limit their necessities to the lowest limit and
apart from these limits they should not have any attachments.
Some special rules of conduct for
sadhus and sadhvis:
The Jain sadhus or sadhvis do not take
food or water after the sunset or before sunrise. They wait 48 minutes
after the sun-rise before even drinking boiled water. Under any
circumstance, they do not eat or drink anything between the hours of
sunset and sunrise.
Jain sadhus/sadhvis do not cook their food, do not get it
prepared for them, or do not accept any food which was prepared for them.
They go to different householders that are Jains or vegetarians and
receive a little food from each house. This practice is called Gochari.
Just as cows graze the top part of grass moving from place to place,
taking a little at one place and a little at another, in the same way Jain
Monks and Nuns do not take all the food from one house. They collect it
from various houses. The reason Jain Sadhus/sadhvis accept a little food
and not all the food from one house is because this way the householders
do not have to cook again. The cooking process involves much violence in
the form of fire, vegetable chopping, water consumption, etc., and sadhus
or sadhvis do not want to be the part of any violence due to their needs.
They do not receive food standing outside the house; but they go inside
the house where food is cooked or kept. This way they can understand the
situation that their accepting food would not make the householders to
cook again. They accept food which is within the limit of their vows.
always walk with bare feet. When they travel from one place to another,
whatever may be the distance they always go walking. They do not use any
vehicle like bullock cart, car, boat, ship or plane for traveling. Whether
it is cold weather or scorching sun; whether the road is stony or thorny;
whether it is the burning sand of a desert or a burning road, they do not
wear any foot-wear at any time. They move about on bare foot all their
life. The reason for not wearing shoes is while walking, they can avoid
crushing the bugs or insects on the ground. While going places, they
preach the religion (Dharma), and provide proper spiritual guidance to
people. They do not stay more than a few days in any one place except
during the rainy season which is about four months in duration. The sadhus
and sadhvis generally do not go out at night. The place where they stay is
called Upashray or Paushadh Shala. They may stay in places other than the
Upashrayas if those places are suitable to the practice of their
disciplined life and if they do not disturb or impede the code of conduct.
The reason they do not stay anywhere permanently or for a longer period in
one place is to avoid developing attachment for material things and the
people around them.
Jain Sädhus and Sadhvis after receiving the Diksha (initiation) do not cut
their hair or shave their heads; nor do they get these things done by a
barber. But twice a year or at least once a year at the time of Paryushan,
they pluck off their hairs or they get the hairs plucked by others. This
is called Keshlochan or Loch. This way they are not dependent on others to
carry out their needs. It is also considered as one kind of austerity
where one bares the pain of plucking of the hairs calmly.
Clothing: They always wear un-stitched
or minimally stitched white clothes. Some Jain sadhus do not wear the
clothes. A loin cloth which reaches up to the shins is called a
Cholapattak. Another cloth to cover the upper part of the body is called
Pangarani (Uttariya Vastra). A cloth that passes over the left shoulder
and covers the body up to a little above the ankle is called a Kämli.
Kämli is a woolen shawl. They also carry a woolen bed sheet and a woolen
mat to sit on. Those who wear clothes have a muhapati a square or
rectangular piece of cloth of a prescribed measurement either in their
hand or tied on their face covering the mouth. They also have Ogho or
Rajoharan (a broom of woolen threads) to clean insects around their
sitting place or while they are walking. Sadhus who do not wear any
clothes have morpichhi and kamandal in their hands. These are the articles
by which they can be distinguished. This practice may vary among different
sects of Jains but essential principle remains the same to limit needs.
They bestow their blessings on all,
uttering the words Dharm Labh (may you attain spiritual prosperity). They
bless everyone alike irrespective of their caste, creed. sex, age, wealth,
poverty, high, or low social status. Some put Vakshep (scented sandal
dust) on the heads of people. Monks and nuns show the path of wholesome
life and of a righteous and disciplined life to every one through the
media of discussions, discourses, seminars and camps to attain spiritual
The entire life of sadhus/sadhvis is
directed towards the welfare of their souls. All the activities of their
life have only one aim, namely, self-purification for self- realization.
For the attainment of this objective, besides following laid down
guidelines they perform the pratikraman daily, and perform other
Conferring a title:
The Jain sadhus, after being initiated
that is, after receiving the diksha become immersed in such activities as
meditation, seeking knowledge, acquiring self-discipline etc. Proceeding
on the path of spiritual endeavor, when they reach a higher level of
attainment, their spiritual elders, for the preservation of the four-fold
Jain Sangh, confer upon them some special titles.
The Title of Acharya: This title is
considered to be very high and involves a great responsibility. The entire
responsibility of the Jain Sangh rests on the shoulders of the acharya.
Before attaining this title, one has to make an in-depth study and a
thorough exploration of the Jain Agams and attain mastery of them. One
must also study the various languages of the surrounding territory and
have acquired a through knowledge of all the philosophies of the world
related to different ideologies and religions.
The Title of Upadhyay: This title is
given to a sadhu who teaches all the sadhus and sadhvis, and has acquired
a specialized knowledge of the Agams (Scriptures).
The Title of Panyas and Gani: To secure
this title, one should have acquired an in-depth knowledge of all the Jain
agams. To attain the status of Ganipad one should have a knowledge of the
Bhagawati Sutra and to attain the Panyas-pad one should have attained a
comprehensive knowledge of all the aspects of the agams.
The Jain sadhus, on account of the mode
of their life, are unique among all the monks. The entire life of Sadhus
and Sadhvis is dedicated to spiritual welfare of their souls; all their
objectives, and all their activities are directed towards elevating their
souls to the Paramatma-dasha, the state of the Supreme Soul.