(Jain Sadhus and Sadhvis -
Monks and Nuns)
Those who teach us are called teachers. Those
who teach religion are called the spiritual teachers. Among Jains, they are
called Sadhus (monks) or Sadhvis (nuns).
To be a Jain Sadhu or Sadhvi,
people have to undergo training. During that training they learn about the
Jain philosophy, the Jain scriptures, and the special code of conduct for
monks and nuns. They learn to detach themselves from all their worldly ties.
They learn to give up their families, businesses and social aspects. They
must also learn to live without any money.
Once they get used to this
life of detachment, they will decide to become Sadhu or Sadhvi. They should
not be and are not under any pressure to make this decision. They have to
listen to their self. This decision gives them the inner strength they need
to be initiated as a true Sadhu or Sadhvi.
Once an Acharya decides to
accept them as a Sadhu or Sadhvi, the ceremonial initiation (Diksha) takes
place. This is the time when they renounce their worldly life, and break
their social and economic ties forever. They voluntarily accept five great
1) I will not commit any
violence. (Ahimsa) 2) I will not lie. (Satya)
3) I will not steal. (Asteya)
4) I will not indulge in any
sexual activities. (Brahmacharya)
5) I will not have any
They observe these vows in
nine ways. They are:
Each of these three are
further divided into three more ways
1) By not doing themselves
above five tasks,
2) By not asking anyone else
to do above five tasks,
3) By not encouraging any one
else to do above five tasks.
If monks and nuns get
involved in a social-economic life styles, they are defeating the whole
purpose of their renunciation. Involvement in worldly affairs would amount
to breaking their vows, since they are suppose to be involved in spiritual
uplift. Because of their detachment and spiritual uplift, monks and nuns are
considered a part of the Panch Parmesthy (the five supreme beings), that we
recite in the Namok�r Mantra.
Monks and nuns no longer
consider their fathers or mothers as fathers or mothers any one. They
interact with them the same way they interact with any other householders.
Similarly, they have given up other relationships like a husband, wife,
brother, sister, son, or daughter. They have also given up all their
belongings like money, houses, cars, jewelry, or anything else that belongs
They have given up the
comforts of life, and have adopted a very simple lifestyle. Monks who wear
only white clothes are called
Svetamber Sadhus. Those who
have given up all clothes are called Digamber Sadhus. The nuns in both
groups always wear white clothes.
Sadhus and sadhvis walk
barefooted and do not travel by car, train, plane or any other type of
vehicle. They don't live in one place, they move from place to place to
live. oweverHowever, they do not travel before sunrise, after sunset, or
while it is raining.
For food, sadhus and sadhvis
go to different houses accepting very little food from each house. They do
not accept any food which was made especially only for them. They accept
food that was cooked for the householders consumption. They can not accept
any raw green vegetables. Svetambar monks keep a set of wooden bowls to
accept food in. While Digambar monks eat the food offered to them out of
their own hands. Svetamber monks eat twice a day. They only drink boiled
water. Except for boiled water, they do not consume anything between meals.
They never eat or drink before sunrise or after sunset. Digambar monks eat
and drink only once a day and from only one house. Many monks and nuns
observe austerities by fasting.
Monks do not touch any
females, and nuns do not touch any males. Those monks and nuns who wear
clothes, keep only two or three plain white clothes. Some monks wear a white
cloth (Muhapati) covering their mouth, some hold it in their hands, while
others do not use a muhapati at all. Some keep Rajoharan (a small broom made
of fine threads) to clean the area around them. Others keep a small broom
made of peacock feathers. The feathers used for these broom were naturally
shed by the peacock. They do Pratikraman twice a day, once in the morning
and the other in the evening. They perform various austerities. They also
teach religious beliefs to householders.
They have a great deal of
discipline in observing their vows. If a householder offers a sadhu or a
sadhvi something which they can not accept, they calmly explain to the
householders that they cannot accept
certain things. They are
highly respected everywhere.
People like us who are
ignorant of the real truth and are involved in worldly aspects can get
religious advice from these monks and nuns. They explain the message of Lord
Mahavira. We should bow down to such monks and nuns to show our reverence.
When we bow down, we should kneel so that our lower legs, both hands and
head touch the floor, and then we should say "Mathen Vandami" which means ,
"I am bowing down my head." While bowing down, males should not touch the
nuns, and females should not touch the monks. We should try to follow the
example set by sadhus and sadhvis.
In conclusion, while
renouncing their worldly aspects, there are three conditions they must
fulfill to attain monkhood or nunhood. They are:
1) Voluntary renunciation of
all worldly possessions, social, and economic aspects of the life.
2) Voluntary adaptation of
the five great vows and their nine fold observance.
3) Wearing only white clothes
or not wearing any clothes at all.
All nuns wear white clothes.
1) Who are our spiritual teachers?
2) To become a monk or a nun what do you have
3) When they renounce their worldly lives,
what do they give up?
4) Name the five vows they take?
5) Are monks and nuns spiritual leaders or
are they social workers?
6) What kind of water do they drink?
7) How many times do they eat in one day?
8) Do they eat at night?
9) How do they get their food?
10) Do they accept raw green vegetables?
11) Do monks and nuns touch people of