CHAPTER  VI

PRECEPTS  OF  MAHAVIRA

 

(1)  The Practice of Religion:

          Religion is the highest bliss; it is made up of abstinence from injury (to living beings), self-restraint and penance. Even gods bow down to him who has his mind always firm in religion.

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           From the root grows up the trunk of the tree, from the trunk shoot up the branches, out of them grow the twigs and the leaves; and then there are produced flowers, fruits and juice. Similarly, obedience is the root of the tree of religion and the Liberation is the highest resultant (viz. the juice).  It is by obedience that one gets quickly and completely renown and learning.

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           While old age has not begun to ail, or disease has not grown, or senses have not failed, one should practise religion.

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          Whatever day passes never comes back, in the case of a man practising irreligion, the days pass without bringing any fruit (i.e. benefits) to him.

         Whatever day passes never comes back; in the case of a man practising religion, the days pass bearing much fruit to him.

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           In the case of living beings carried away on by the rapid current of old age and death, it is religion that stands as island, firm ground, refuge as well as the best shelter.

 

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           This is the unchangeable, eternal and permanent religion expounded by the Jinas.  By means of this, the enlightened have reached perfection; others also will reach perfection by it

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(2) The Value of Self-Control

         The body is said to be the boat and the soul is said to be the sailor. The Samsara, i.e. the worldly existence, is said to be the ocean which is crossed only by great sages.

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            One must always guard one's soul from all evil, by having all the sense-organs properly controlled.    In case the soul is not well-guarded, it takes to the path leading to birth and death; while if well-controlled, it becomes free from all worldly sorrows. and misery.

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         The Self alone should be subdued, for it is very difficult to subdue it; he who has subdued his Self becomes happy in this world as well as in the next.

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          It is far better  that I myself should subdue   my  Self-control and austerities, rather than be subdued by others with fetters, and corporal punishment .

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              My own Self is the river Vaitarani (i.e. river in hell with bitingly cold water); my own Self is the Kutashalmati tree (i.e. a tree in hell with sharp leaves); my own Self is the Kamadhenu, (i.e. the desire-yielding cow); and my own Self is the park Nandana (i.e. paradise).

           My own Self is the doer and un-doer of misery and happi­ness in this world; my own Self is my (best)  friend or (worst) enemy, depending on whether it acts well or badly.

                      

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             A man may conquer thousands and thousands of in­vincible foes (but that is of no real consequence) ; his greatest victory is when he conquers only his own Self.

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          Fight with your (own) Self ; what is the good of fighting the external foes ? By conquering one’s Self by means of one’s own Self, one obtains true happiness.

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             The five senses, and (the four passions, viz.) anger, pride, deception and greed, are all difficult to conquer ; equally difficult it is to conquer one's own Self. But one who has conquered his Self, has conquered everything else in the world. 

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              Having committed a wrong (or sin) knowingly or un­knowingly, one should immediately revoke it, and should never repeat it a second time.

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              The gods, the demons, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, the Rakshasas and the Kinnaras-all bow down to a chaste monk who observes the difficult Self-Control.

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               A man might give by way of charity, thousands of thou­sands of cows every month ; but far better than him will be the man who may give nothing in charity, but only observes perfect Self -Control.

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             Self-control is untasteful like eating a morsel of sand. And to practise life-long penance is as difficult as to walk on the edge of a sword.

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                 In this world nothing is really difficult for one who is free from  desires.

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                 O man ! You better control and curb your own  Self ? Thus alone will you be free from all sorrows and misery.

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              I beg pardon of all living beings ; may all living beings pardon me. I bear friendship for all living beings ; I bear no enmity to any.

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                Anger destorys love, pride puts an end to modesty, deceit removes friends, while greed destroys everything.

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 (3) The Theory of Karma :

                 All souls are susceptible to assimilating Karma particles, flowing from all the six quarters ; the Karma binds the soul in all its parts, and the entire Karma-particles bind or cover the whole soul in every way.

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               In this world, all living beings suffer individually for their deeds. For the deeds they have done, they obtain punishment or rebirth ; none can escape the fruit of actions, except by suffer­ing for it.

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                 In this world or in the next, the sinner suffers himself what he has inflicted on others   a hundred fold or in some different form of punishment. Living beings in Samsara, i.e. cycle of worldly existence, go on ever acquiring fresh Karma (by mind, speech or action), and suffer for their evil deeds.

 

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              As a burglar caught in the breach of a wall, perishes by the act he himself had performed (viz. giving a breach in the wall), even to people, in this life and after death (i. e. in the next life), can never escape the fruit of actions performed by them.

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              A man goes according to his Karma sometimes to the world of gods, sometimes to hell; and. sometimes to the Asura world (i. e. the world of demons).

                          

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              The relatives of a man will not act as relatives at the time when the man is to reap the fruit of his Karma which he has done in this worldly life for the sake of others, or in common for himself along with others.

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             Neither his kinsmen nor his friends, nor his sons, nor his relatives are prepared to share his pain. He alone bears the pain himself.         Karma follows invariably the doer alone.

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                Therefore, a wise man should know the various sub­divisions or types of these Karmas, and should also exert him­self to prevent any new Karma and to destory the past Karmas.

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               Just as a large tank, when its supply of water has been stopped, gradually dries up by the consumption of the water, and by evaporation, similarly the Karma of a well-controlled monk, acquired in crores of past births, is annihilated by austerities provided, however, that there is no further influx of bad Karma.

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               Just as a dried gourd fruit, when it is covered with layers of soft clay, becomes heavy and sinks down in water, in the same way the soul becomes heavy because of the influx of Karmas, and sinks to (i. e. is born in) the lower types of births. But the same gourd  fruit, when it is freed from the thick layers of clay (-with the clay - gradually being dissolved in water-) becomes light (or attains its natural lightness), and floats on the surface of water ; in like manner, the souls devoid of all the Karmas, (attain their natural state), and go to         the  top of the world and reside there permanently.

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(4) The way of salvation :

               Right faith, right knowledge and right conduct, these together constitute the path to liberation.

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              Liberation comes soon to those desiring Self-advancement, when they exert ceaselessly in the threefold path of right belief, right knowledge and right conduct.

 

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                 One must by all possible means, first attain right belief, because only on the acquisition thereof, knowledge and con­duct become right.

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                   Right knowledge, right faith, right conduct and austerities : Those who follow this fourfold path will attain the best state of existence i.e.  the final beatitude.

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                 By right knowledge one knows the true nature of things, by right  faith one believes in them, by right conduct one controls the influx of Karma, and by austerities one attains purity.

 

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              Without right faith, there cannot be right knowledge ; without right knowledge, there can be no right or virtuous conduct ; without virtuous conduct, there cannot be release or freedom from Karma (i.e. release from bandage) ; and with­out release from Karmic bondage, there cannot be Nirvana (i. e. liberation).

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              Having destroyed their past Karmas by means of Self-­control and austerities, the sages proceed towards the goal of Mohsha, which is free from all sorrows and misery.

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              By          the manifestation of perfect knowledge, by the avoi­dance of ignorance and delusion, by the destruction of love and hatred, one obtains Liberation which is full of pure happi­ness.

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(5)     The Rules of conduct:

                   Do not injure any living beings.

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            All living beings love their own life, crave for pleasures, and are averse to pain; they dislike any injury to themselves; every­body is desirous of life, and to every living being, his own life is dear.

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            One should treat all creatures as counterparts of one’s own Self.

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                This is the quintessence of the wisdom of the wise; Not to injure any living being.  Non-injury to living beings should be  regarded as  the ‘Samaya’ i.e. the essence of the teaching of scriptures.

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              Non-injury is the highest religion.

 

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             If a man kills living beings himself, or causes others to kill them, or even if he merely consents to their killing, he increases his enmity towards living beings.

 

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            Know and realise that all classes of living beings desire happiness. By hurting these beings, yon harm your own souls, and will again and again be born as one of them.

 

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           Impartiality or equanimity towards all living beings in the world, whether friends or foes, and life long abstention from injury to living beings, is a vow difficult to observe.

 

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                The very first principle of religion is Ahimsa, i.e., non-injury to living beings, which must be observed very scrupulously and thoroughly. One should behave towards all living beings with proper restraint and control.

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            Knowing that all the evils and sorrows arise from injury to living beings, and knowing further that it leads to unending enmity and hatred, and is the root cause of great fear, a wise man, who has become awakened, should refrain  from all  harmful activities. 

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                 Do not kill  living beings in any of the three ways (i.e. in mind, word or deed) if you seek your interest being free from desires of fruit and practising full self-control.  In this way many became perfect in the past, many become so at present and many others will become so.

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                  Any injury whatsoever to the material or conscious vitalities caused through passionate activity of mind, body or speech is Himsa.

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                Assuredly, the non-appearance of attachment and other passions is Ahimsa, and their appearance is Himsa.

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                Truth is the highest divine principle.

 

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              O man ! Know that truth is the fundamental principle ! The wise man, who always abides by the commandment of truth, goes beyond death.

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            Man should never speak a lie which is  always injurious to living beings, whether for his own sake or for the sake of others, or out of anger or fear; he should also not force others to speak a lie.

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               A wise man should never utter words sinful or condoning sin, whether out of anger, greed, fear or jest.

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                Himsa comes in, certainly, in falsehood also.

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              The third great sin is taking     what is not expressly given i.e. stealing; it causes heart-burning to others, endangers life, is sinful, alarming and scaring others, it is the cause of greed for others’ property, and it is the root-cause        of greed; it is a vile and ignoble act, censured by the good; it causes disrup­tion among friends and dear ones, and gives rise to passions and hatred.

 

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           To abstain from taking what is not given, even so much as a tooth-pick, etc. ; and to accept only such alms as are free from all faults; this is a difficult vow to observe.

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            The taking of objects, which have not been given, is to be deemed theft, and that is Himsa because it is the cause of injury.

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              Celibacy is the best among all the vows in the world.

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               Celibacy is the root cause of excellent austerities, vows, knowledge, faith, conduct, righteousness and discipline.

 

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                  Among all the austerities, celibacy is the highest.

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                 Non-celibacy is the root of all sins, and a multitude of all great faults.

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               A celibate monk should avoid a women, even though her hands and feet are cut off, her ears and nose are lopped off, and though she be a hundred years old.

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                    Sexual indulgence has root in desire and hence it is Himsa.

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                 To renounce all sense of possession with regard to wealth, corn and servants, to abstain from all harmful undertakings, and not to entertain any feeling of possession or attachment : this is a very difficult vow.

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                 He, who owns even a small property in living and non­-living things, or consents to others possessing it, will never be delivered from misery.

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                Immovable and movable property, wealth, corn and other perquisites-none of these is capable of freeing a man, from misery, who is suffering from the ripening of his actions.

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                  Every man should think that he has to depart certainly one day, leaving behind land, house, gold, sons, wife and relations –in fact leaving even his body.

 

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                   If somebody were to give the whole earth to one man, even then the man will not be satisfied; a greedy person is extremely difficult to be satisfied.

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                 Reading that wealth merely increases your sorrows and worries, and the bonds of attachment or possession bring in their wake great dangers, you should bear the excellent yoke of religion, which will give you real pleasure, and will also bring you the great happiness of Moksha.

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              Renunciation of all possessions is Ahimsa; and the appro­priation of all possessions is Himsa.

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             Misery is gone in the case of a man who has no delusion, while delusion is gone in the case of him who has no desire; desire is gone in the case of him who has no greed, while greed is gone in the case of him who possesses nothing.

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(6)     The duties of Ascetics:

            A monk who follows the order and commandments, who gives proper respect to elders, and who acts according to his teachers’ desires is a disciplined monk.

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          When reprimanded, the wise monk      should  not get angry; but he should have forebearance.  He should avoid company, jokes and play with mean persons.         

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                        Others may abuse a monk; but the monk should not be angry with them in return; because in that case the monk becomes like a child, the monk should not get angry.

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            Self-restrained monk should withdraw with effort his mind directed to any desire or thought of injury, or any sinful act.

 

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                  In thought, words or deeds a monk should not undertake harmful activity to living beings, who live in this world, whether they are mobile or immobile.

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                  Well-dressed food quickly arouses passions; a monk, who is intent on practising celibacy, should always avoid such food.

 

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                    A monk, intent on practising the vow of celibacy, should abstain from ornaments, and should not do anything whatso­ever to adorn or decorate his body in any manner.

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                     A monk should always abstain from the five-fold pleasant things (i.e. objects giving pleasures) viz. sounds, colours, smells, tastes, and touch.

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          The ascetic life of those, who are intent on self-control, is comparable to living in heaven; while the life of those, who do not practise self-control, is like living in hell.         

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Mortify yourself; give up the feeling of tenderness for the body; conquer desires and then you will realise that you have conquered all sorrow and misery; cut off all types of attach- ment, suppress hatred, and thus you will be happy in this worldly existence.

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He, who is desirous of storing, is a householder and not a monk.

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             A monk should always concentrate on the highest and most pure type of meditation, be free from Nidana (i.e. carving for worldly or temporal gains in lieu of his austerities), should possess nothing, and move about in the world completely dis­regarding his body, till such time as death overtakes him.

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                How can a monk, who cannot control his passions and who is swayed away by distracting thoughts and is discouraged at every step, can ever possibly practise the rules of asceticism?

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                He, who abandons the evil thought of attachment to worldly objects, can alone give up possessions; he alone is a monk who has realised the real danger in the world, and who has no worldly attachments.

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              A monk should not care for sleep, should avoid cutting jokes, should not take interest in the secrets of others, but should always be occupied and devoted to his studies.

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              A monk is without any possessions, without egoism, with­out attachment, without vanity or conceit, he is impartial towards all living beings whether mobile or immobile.

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               A monk is indifferent to success or failure, happiness and misery, life and death, so also to censure or praise, and honour or insults.

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              The enlightened monks, who are completely disinterested in the world, who are keen on receiving alms from different places and not from one place only, and who are self-controlled, are like the bees; and that is why they are called the true monks.

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           A monk should not eat for the sake of the delicious taste of the food, but far the sustenance of life and body, not being greedy for delicacies, nor eager for good fare, and restraining his tongue and being free from cupidity.

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             If any body abuses a monk, he should not get angry with him.

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             One who never tells stories that will incite quarrels, never gets angry, always controls his senses, and is calm and serene, who is always pursuing firmly the precepts laid down for observ­ing self-control, is always unpurturbed, and never offends or insults others—he alone is a true monk.

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             A monk should have compassion towards all beings, should be of a forgiving nature, should be restrained and chaste, and should avoid all sinful activities. He should move about in the world with all his senses properly controlled.

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               A monk should not use words of censure behind the back of another, he should not use painful language in the presence of another; so also he should not use determinative expression as also unpalatable expression; a monk who behaves thus, is really a worthy one.