Jain Path of Twelve
Gems(Vows of a Laity)
The word Vrata (Vows)
is derived from the verb word “Vru” meaning to select.
Therefore, the Vrata means the type of the selection for
renunciation. ‘Vrata’ is approximately translated by the
English word ‘vow’. Literally, a Vrata means a kind of
choice. However, in the technical or idiomatic sense in which the
word is used in the connection now under consideration, there is also
the meaning of choosing a right course, and then there is the implied
effort of will in willing to so choose.
Choice implies that the
person has before him several ways of conduct, and that he picks out
one from among them.
The choosing of a right
course of conduct from among many ways necessitates the exercise of
the judgment and discrimination. Exercising of the judgment in
selecting a right course of conduct, as distinguished from living a
life where no such choice is made, implies an effort of will.
Vrata depends on:
Selection of the type
of conduct to be practiced,
Knowledge of what is
the right conduct and what is the wrong conduct
How much energy one
can use for the right conduct.
The hallmark of right
conduct is right conviction in thought and action, freedom from
infatuation or delusion and passions life anger, hatred etc.
Therefore, Vrata is to retire from the wrong conduct like violence,
non-truth, stealing, sensual pleasure and possessiveness and to get
engaged in the true religious activities through body, mind and
speech. We do not take Vrata to please any divine power or any one
else. We take Vrata to purify ourselves to continue and enhance the
process of liberating ourselves, and to achieve the liberation
Types of Vrata:
renunciation of all worldly attachment is called Mahävrata
[major vows], practiced by the Sädhus and Sädhvijis, and
the partial renunciation of worldly attachments is called Anuvrata,
[minor vows] practiced by Shrävaks and Shrävikäs. In
Jainism, each Anuvrata has its negative as well as its positive
aspect. Each vow has its negative aspect in the form of moral
prohibitions and positive aspect in the form of a moral duty.
Negative terms are effective restriction.
Each of these vows has
a two-fold purpose. The first is spiritual in that the observance of
each of these vows will prevent the influx of new Karmas. The thought
of injury, theft, or falsehood is the cause of sin. The other purpose
is social. The same thoughts expressed in action will be punished by
the state. By observance of each of the vows, an individual will be
discharging his social obligation. To desist from violence or theft
is to preserve peace and safety in society. While the spiritual fruit
of observance of the vows is self-control and stoppage of the evil
propensities of the mind, the mundane fruit is mental peace and the
good of the society at large.
Five Main Vows of
Limited Nature (Anuvratas):
Parimäna or Parigraha-Parimänvrata
Three Merit or
Supporting Vows (Guna Vratas):
Dig Parimäna Vrata
of Geographical Limitations
Bhoga Upbhoga Vrata
of purposeless activities
Vows (Shikshä Vratas):
Minutes of Meditation and equanimity
the life of a Monk
Atithi Samvibhäg Vrata
of Share and Care
Anuvratas (Minor Vows)
Ahinsä Anuvrata - Nonviolence
Savvabhooesu Sattu-Mittesu Vä Jage
all beings in the universe, to the friends as well as the foes, is
Ahinsä (though) it is hard to refrain from hurting the living
beings for the entire life.
The First Vrata, in
Sanskrit, is called Sthul- Pränätipät Viraman Vrata.
Sthul means gross, as distinguished from strict or subtle. Pränätipät
means separating the Pränas (life forces). Viraman means giving
The following aphorism
from Tattvärtha Sutra presents the definition of violence:
Präna Vyaparopanam Hinsä'
destruction of life due to an act involving negligence is violence'.
The term 'Pramäda'
yields two meanings:
Therefore, to destroy
the life of a living being through passions of attachment and
aversion is violence; and to destroy the life of a living being
through negligence is also violence. The mental state of attachment
and aversion, and of negligence, is internal violence (Bhäv-
Hinsä). The actual act of destroying the life of a living being
is external violence (Dravya- Hinsä).
Now the next thing is
to know what killing is, and what particular kinds of killing must be
Ahinsä means not
hurting, he who abstains from hurt or harm to any - Jiv or a living
being - either intentionally, or through others, or by consenting to
another to do so, observes the vow of Ahinsä. Surely, the lack
of attachment and passion is Ahinsä. When a person is overcome
by passions, he causes Hinsä or injury to his own self, though
there may or may not be injury to any living being. Everything
depends upon the state of mind, and intention to abstain from or
commit Hinsä, even where actual hurt or injury is not caused.
Different living beings
have different numbers of Pränas (life forces) as follows:
Life Forces (Pränas)
The ability to move
the of body
Duration of life
Beings, which have only
these four forces of life, are vegetables, trees, earth-beings,
water-beings, air-beings, and fire-beings.
Beings with two
sense-organs have six Pränas, namely, the above four and also:
Sense of taste
Ability of speech
They have the means of
power of communicating among themselves, which can be called speech.
E.g. Shell beings and worms
Beings with three
sense-organs have seven Pränas, namely, the above six and also:
Sense of smell
Ants, lice and bed bugs
are instances of such beings.
Beings with four senses
have 8 Pränas, namely, the above seven and also:
Sense of sight or
Wasps, bees, scorpions
are instances of such living beings.
Beings with five senses
are of two kinds, the first kind have no mind (mind as meant in the
Jain philosophy), and these beings have nine Pränas, namely, the
above eight and also:
Sense of hearing and
are known as Asanjni Panchendriya.
The second kind have
mind as meant in the Jain philosophy and they possess ten Pränas,
namely the above nine and also:
Force of mind.
They are called Sanjni
The injuries caused by
severance of any of the vitalities, to a mobile or immobile being,
cause pain, suffering, or even loss of life.
As far as possible, one
should save the developed living beings (that is, those on the higher
scale of evolution and hence those having more sense organs (Pränas).
Again, one should live in such a manner that even the killing of the
undeveloped living beings is minimized. This is the teaching
promulgated by the saints. It is from this standpoint that meat
eating, hunting, massacre, and killing is forbidden.
We cannot but do harm
and violence to living beings for the sustenance of our body. We
cannot live without killing living beings. Even our breathing
involves violence. However, we should do only as much harm or
violence as is absolutely necessary for the sustenance of our body.
We should make sincere efforts to find out how we can live with
intentionally injuring mobile living beings, through mind, words, or
body, in any one of two ways directly or through somebody is
called Sthul Pränätipät-Virman-vrata or Ahinsä
Anu Vrata. Householders cannot eliminate Hinsä of immobile
Jain scriptures have
prescribed five rules of restraint for being firm in the observance
of the vow of non-injury. Control of speech, control of thought,
regulation of movement, care in lifting and placing things or
objects, and examination of food and drink before taking in are the
five observances. Self-control is of vital importance. Since the vow
of Ahinsä requires one to refrain from hurting the feelings of
others, control of speech and thought are quite essential. Everyone
ought to be careful in his movements for fear of causing harm to a
living being through carelessness. Similarly one ought to be careful
while placing down objects let they should hurt some tiny being. Such
precaution even ought to be taken while lifting up any object.
Similarly, it is necessary to examine minutely one’s own food
or drink before taking it in, making sure that there is no tiny being
Jainism makes a
distinction between Bhäv- Hinsä (intention to hurt) and
Dravya- Hinsä (actual causing of hurt). That is why five kinds
of restraints have been expressly mentioned above as the cautions to
be observed by one who wants to desist from causing hurt. Similarly,
a distinction is made between Sukshma- Hinsä and Sthul-Hinsä.
The former requires abstention from causing hurt to life in any form,
while the latter requires abstention from hurting forms of life
possessing two or more senses. It is not possible for a householder
to refrain from causing hurt to forms of life with one sense, like
plants, trees, crops, etc. He must, however, refrain from causing
unnecessary harm to Ekendriya and Sthävar Jivs. However, it is
still ordained that a monk should desist from causing Hinsä to
any form of life.
In order to steer clear
of violence it is necessary to know the various ways in which
violence is incurred.
Hinsä is of two
animal sacrifice, killing for amusement, decoration or sport are
instances of intentional Hinsä. Abstinence from those is
possible without any difficulty. All Jain householders should
is Hinsä committed by a householder in the ordinary course of
his living. It is of three kinds:
A householder commits
Udyami Hinsä while he undertakes some occupation in order to
maintain himself, and his family.
is committed in carrying out the domestic acts like preparation of
food, constructing home, cleaning etc.
Virodhi Hinsä is
committed in self-defense of defense of person or property of members
of the family and friends. One has to defend against thieves,
robbers, dacoits or enemies in battles. Jainism does not
preach cowardice. Hinsä must not be indulged in as a matter of
hostility or revenge.
(Atichär) of the Vow of Ahinsä
Binding any creature
and putting it in a prison-house
Beating and chasing of
Cutting their organs
or castrating them
Making them draw or
carry heavy loads
Starving them without
food and water
These affect the purity
of the vow, as each of these five acts brings suffering to all-living
The consequences of
violence (Hinsä) are calamity and reproach in this life and the
next. He who commits violence is always agitated and afflicted, being
actuated by animosity. He suffers pain and suffering, sometimes
imprisonment too. Therefore, everyone should avoid violence and
practice benevolence towards all living beings, feel joy at the sight
of the virtuous, show compassion and sympathy towards the afflicted,
and adopt an attitude of tolerance towards the insolent and ill
behaved. He who conducts himself in this way is able to practice
nonviolence and other vows to perfection. Thus, the positive virtues,
which a votary of non-violence must possess, are Maitri (love or
friendship), Pramod (joy and respect), Karunä (compassion), and
Mädhyastha (tolerance) towards living beings.
Is it bravery to yield
to the passion of anger and fury, and to enter into a fight with
one's adversary? Bravery consists of non-violence, that is,
restraining the mind from being under the sway of anger and cruelty;
it consists of keeping the mind cool and calm by using the internal
wholesome strength of discretion. The just mentioned mental or
spiritual strength, which is of the form of non-violence, is a
superior physical strength that is considered to be an animal
strength. Human society achieves progress -religious, spiritual, and
even material - in proportion to the cultivation of this strength.
The strength of non-violence is the light of intellectual discretion
and mental purity. In addition, with this strength, the world of
human beings can become rich in friendliness, sympathy, love,
spiritual, happiness, and bliss.
Non-violence is a
spiritual power. Noble bravery or heroism demands self-sacrifice.
Sacrificing violence, supporting, and fostering non-violence is the
bravery of high order. Opposing violence only verbally, and running
away out of fear when one is required to face and endure physical
sufferings and torture, is really not the practice of non-violence.
In spite of his having courage and strength to fight, the person who
controls his passion and excitement and does not yield to violence is
the true follower of non-violence. One who wants to practice
non-violence properly and rightly should have, in addition to right
understanding, mental strength and courage.
It is only the brave
endowed with the power of discrimination and discretion, who can
practice non-violence. This is the reason why all the Arhats
(Tirthankars) belong to the Kshatriya class/caste; and they do have
the heroic character of the highest order. Only those who have the
heroic character and at the same time possess the power of
discrimination and discretion can become their followers.
One commits violence by
not contributing to the efforts of stopping violence or by simply
remaining indifferent to violence, just as one commits violence by
indulging in positive violent activity. If one who can swim does not
rescue a drowning man, and simply watches him drown, it is an act of
violence. Not giving food to the hungry in spite of one's ability to
give food is also a case of violence. Violence of such type is the
result of callous carelessness of the form: 'What concern have
I? Why should I invite trouble? I cannot afford to give food, etc.,
to others'. Hard-heartedness is opposed to religion and
religious practice. Universal love is the foundation of religion.
Remaining indifferent to others' happiness, comforts, and benefits
for the sake of one's own is a form of violence. Taking undue
advantage of others' labor is also a form of violence. One knows the
truth, and there is the possibility of saving an innocent man by
one's speaking the truth on the witness stand in court. Yet if one
does not speak out the truth in the court and thus allows the man to
be a victim of injustice, is also a case of violence as it is a case
It can be seen that
Jain ethics are founded on the principle of Ahinsä and love for
all living beings. While a layman ought to have a rational faith in
Jainism, his daily conduct must exhibit the true ideals of
non-violence and truth. In his dealings, he must be upright to the
core and practice charity, not only by giving, but also by
cultivation of non-attachment towards worldly possessions. He must be
constantly aware of his duties towards himself and society. His life
as a layman should pave the way to the ultimate goal of
self-realization. Having perfect faith and knowledge should not be a
matter of mere theory, but should be an ideal constantly reflected in
Satya Anuvrata – Truthfulness
Cha Logammi, Savvasähuhim Garihio
Bhuyänam, Tamhä Mosam Vivajjae
--- Dash Vaikälika
All the saints in
the universe have denounced telling lie.
Lie causes distrust
among the people and should therefore be given up.
It is also known as
Sthul-Mrushäväda-Viraman Vrata. It is falsehood to make a
wrong statement through careless activity of body, mind or speech
Like poetry, it is
difficult to define “truth” though its nature can be
described and understood. Umäsväti says that speaking what
is not commendable is falsehood. Commenting on this Sutra, Pujyapäd
says that which causes pain and suffering to a living being is not
commendable, whether it refers to actual facts or not. The words that
lead to injury constitute falsehood. Samantabhadra says that
he who does not speak gross (Sthul) falsehood does not cause others
to speak and does not speak the truth even it is likely to bring
danger to him or to anybody else, can be said to abstain from gross
Lying is due to some
form of passions; therefore, all lying is forbidden, except in cases
where the truth is likely to result in greater Hinsä.
Satyänu Vrata is abstinence from harmful, rough, cruel or
secret revealing speech and requires using harmless and
One should not utter
untruth out of attachment or hatred and even the truth, if it causes
destruction of a living being. Gross falsehoods are those in which
there is an evil intention and knowledge that the statement is false.
Four kinds of
Denying the existence
of a thing with reference to its position, time and nature when it
Assertion of the
existence of a thing with reference to its position, time and nature
when it does not exist,
Where a thing is
represented to be something different from what it is actually,
When a speech is
ordinarily condemnable, sinful and disagreeable.
Any speech, which is
actuated by passion, is false. Back biting, harsh, unbecoming, and
unethical speech is condemnable. That speech which provokes another
to engage in any kind of injury or destruction of life is sinful. A
disagreeable speech causes uneasiness, pain, hostility, grief,
anguish etc, to another person. When a saint or a preceptor gives
sound advice against vices or questionable habit of life, he cannot
be said to indulge in false speech, even though the person affected
may feel ashamed or uncomfortable.
advised that a person who wants to be truthful ought to give up
anger, greed, cowardice, fearfulness, and tease. Divulging of
secrets, slander, backbiting, forgery and perjury are obstacles to
truth. One must use caution against exaggeration; fault-finding and
indecent speech and one should always speak what is “noble,
beneficial and concise.” One must avoid boasting of one’s
own merits and avoid jealousy about the merits of others. This would
draw one unconsciously into falsehood.
To describe a thing as
it is or an event as it happened is generally regarded as the truth,
and factually no doubt it is the truth, but from the religious
standpoint, it may or may not be the truth. If the factual truth is
beneficial or at least not harmful to others, it is worthy of being
called the truth. However, if the factual truth is harmful to others,
it is not worthy of being regarded as the truth. So, mere factually
truthful statement should not be uttered, if it is harmful to a
living being. Let us explain the point by some examples. We know the
direction a deer has gone in. Nevertheless, when we are asked the
direction the deer has gone in by a hunter, pointing out the right
direction endangers its life. Therefore, in such a situation, keeping
silence or showing the hunter a wrong direction in order to save the
creature is our duty and religion. It is absolutely necessary to be
cautious and to use one's power of discrimination and discretion to
decide as to whether or not one should make a statement of fact.
(Atichär) of this Vow
Giving wrong advice
about any matter and misleading people in matters of belief or
conduct is very objectionable and must therefore be avoided.
confidential talks, which one may have overheard, is similarly
objectionable. Slandering others or talking about the weaknesses of
other people should not be indulged in, as it will damage the
prestige of the people concerned. Divulging the secrets of others or
breaking the promise of secrecy involves untruth.
Committing perjury or
forgery. This includes keeping false accounts, documents, and
carrying on false propaganda about others.
Committing breach of
trust or misappropriation of what is entrusted to an individual in
Achaurya Anuvrata - Non-stealing
It is also known as
Sthul- Adattädäna-Virmanvrata. Umäsväti defines
stealing as taking what is not given (Adattädäna). Taking
anything that is not given amounts to theft. The gross vow of
non-stealing can be observed by desisting from taking away property
that is not actually given by the owner.
Theft also involves
Hinsä as taking of property, which is not given, not only
injures the purity of thought but also pains the person who is
deprived of his property. The desire to possess other’s
property without his consent or knowledge involves spiritual
denigration of the self. One must not take anything belonging to
others whether in a house or in the street though it may be of
unknown ownership or belonging to a government. This view is
consistent with modern law in our country.
Picking up goods which
have been lost or forgotten by their owners, employing thieves to
obtain things for oneself, encouraging and prompting others to steal,
approving others' acts of stealing, receiving stolen merchandise,
using false weights and measures, secretly adulterating commodities
or substituting inferior ones for the original, gaining or storing
goods without paying taxes, breaking laws formulated by the state for
the good of the people, indulging in smuggling, dealing in the
prohibited items-all these are acts of theft. Buying goods of much
value at a very low price taking advantage of the seller's
helplessness or keeping the excess material given by the seller by
mistake is also an act of theft. In short, taking anything owned by
others, through injustice, dishonesty, fraud and unfair means is an
act of theft.
Employing unfair means
in business, owning another man's property by fraudulent tricks,
deceiving others by misleading them, driving others into losses after
having won their confidence, damaging others' interests through
cunningness, harassing others unnecessarily and unjustly, distressing
the innocent-all these are vicious and sinful acts. When society
achieves moral elevation through the cultivation of good qualities
like contentedness in proper limited possession, self-control, simple
living and universal brotherhood, then the sins of immorality, theft,
roguery and devilry that have spread over the entire society will
The results of the
observance of this vow are that all people trust you, you are
considered a good citizen; and in that way, you prosper; and it
develops strength of character.
(Atichär) of this Vow
Accepting or buying
stolen property, you did not actually steal it, but you have
possession of it without the real owner’s consent.
One may not commit
theft but if he instigates another to commit theft or shows him the
way of committing theft, he is guilty of abatement of theft.
Therefore, the manufacturing or supplying of burglars’ tools
is an Atichär.
Using false weights
and measures, As for example using heavier weight for purchasing
articles from others and using lighter weights for sale of one’s
The fourth kind of
transgression is when a person resorts to under-hand dealings for
getting a thing in contravention of rules of control and
restrictions which the state might have imposed. This would include
smuggling of banned product or supplying an enemy with goods, in
time of war.
imitating. That is, selling things as one thing when they are really
another. This would include the adulteration of foods, etc.
Stealing is taking
1. What is not granted
by its owner, (Swämi Adatta)
2. What is not granted
by a living creature, (Jiv Adatta)
3. What is not granted
by the Tirthankars and, (Jin Adatta)
4 What is not given by
Gurus. (Guru Adatta)
Based on today’s
advancements and environments, the vow of Achaurya will exclude
making illegal copies of software, unauthorized use of copyrighted
material and unauthorized downloading of music and many similar
Brahmacharya Anuvrata – Celibacy
Mehunasansaggam Niggantha Vajjayanti Nam
--- Dash Vaikälika
Being the root cause
of sins and abode of major faults,
contacts are abandoned by saints.
It is also known as
Sva-Därä-Santosh. Brahmacharya term has spiritual as well
as physical connotations. Spiritually it is defined as Brahmani
Charyate Iti Brahmacharya. Brahman means consciousness or soul,
Brahmani means within soul and Charyate means staying. So, the term
Brahmacharya literally means staying or dwelling in soul. Therefore,
when one remains fully aware of his pure consciousness and stays
aloof of all the physical as well as the mental involvements, he can
be said to be observing Brahmacharya. Equanimity being the principal
property of consciousness, the spiritual Brahmacharya also denotes
maintaining equanimity by being free from attachments and from all
sorts of craving and aversion.
In physical sense,
Brahmacharya means celibacy or averting of the sensual activities.
Its observance is essential for attaining the state of spiritual
Brahmacharya. Thus, physical Brahmacharya is a prerequisite for
spiritual Brahmacharya. On the other hand, when one dwells in soul or
Self, he gets rid of all attachment. Such detached person cannot
indulge in sensual activity that necessarily needs attachment.
Physical celibacy is thus the cause as well as the effect of
spiritual Brahmacharya. No wonder that celibacy has been accepted as
an ideal and is considered highly virtuous in India and other
oriental societies those are spiritually oriented. People observing
celibacy are therefore held in high esteem in those countries
The meaning of the vow
as far as the words goes is: Sva means own; Därä means
wife; Santosh means being satisfied with. This is the first part of
the vow. Para means others; Därä means wives; Viraman means
refraining from, Vrata means a choice of undertaking.
This vow consists in
desisting from having sexual contact with other women and from
abetting others to have such contact, for fear of incurring sin. A
person ought to be content with a spouse whom he/she has married in
the presence of his/her preceptor and others. He/she should have no
sexual desire or sensual look at other women. This vow differs from
all others in its double formulation: positive in the sense of
contentment with one’s own spouse (Svadärä-Santosh)
and negative as avoidance of contact with other women (Par-Stri-
He who wants to observe
this vow both in letter and in spirit must studiously avoid all
occasions of meeting women in privacy and talking of matters that are
likely to stir feelings of sexual or sensual contact.
All Jain philosophers
have been unanimous in condemning breach of the vow of celibacy as
leading to commission of various kinds of sins. It is also a sin
against the society as it disturbs code of common ethics so essential
for peace in domestic life and mutual trust. A man or women given to
adultery involves himself or herself in various kinds of deceitful
acts, which result in the destruction of all other virtues.
Knowing or being
convinced of the usefulness of the restriction placed upon himself,
Shrävak can help himself to keep the vow by paying attention to
the following points. They may be called hedges to keep oneself away
from self-injury in the direction of sex passion.
Try not to indulge in
lustful stories or conversations or talks about woman.
He should not look
with a lustful eye or in the spirit of lust on woman’s body,
which are factors in arousing the passion.
One should not listen
private conversation of a couple.
He should not bring to
mind the sexual enjoyment he had with his wife in former days.
He should avoid taking
foods that are exciting, intoxicating, or stimulating, especially
things that are very oily, containing too much fat, because they
Even non-exciting and
non-stimulating food should not be taken in excess; he should not
gorge himself, because a too great quantity of food will produce
He should not
embellish his body.
All the foregoing
remarks apply equally to women, although they are worded for men.
Thus, this vow requires
one to be faithful to his/her own spouse, not to involve in any
illicit sexual activities, must view opposite sex person as brother
or sister, should not get involve in match making, except for his/her
own children and should not talk to or look at a person of opposite
sex with lust.
Transgressions of this Vow:
Having sexual intimacy
with unmarried men and women and widow/ widowers,
Keeping a mistress or
going to a prostitute,
Gossiping about sex or
making sexually provocative gestures,
Leaving one's own
children and celebrating the marriages of others
Wearing indecent dress
and decorations, and taking intoxicating things.
Aparigraha Anuvrata - Non-possessiveness
Na So Pariggaho
Butto Näyaputten Täinä
Pariggaho Butto Ii Buttam Mahesinä
Articles needed for
life do not constitute possessiveness;
possessiveness,’ says the graceful Lord.
It is also known as
Ichchhä Parimäna or Parigraha-Parimäna-vrata.
Parigraha is infatuate attachment to possessions (Muchchhä
Parigraha). ; It is the result of delusion or operation of the
Mohaniya Karma. The desire to acquire and possess a number of worldly
things like lands, house, heads of cattle, gold, silver and cash is
natural to men and women. This desire should not become insensible.
When attachment to such objects of possession becomes uncontrollable
or unreasonable, the mind becomes affected by passions of greed and
delusion; such mind becomes oblivious to right faith, knowledge and
conduct. Infatuation or attachment of any kind becomes a source of
evil. In safeguarding property, one is likely to resort to violence
For the householder
absolute renunciation of Parigraha is not possible.
When the desire to
possess is uncontrolled, becomes an evil. To be free from such evil,
one should voluntarily decide upon the extent of property and wealth
that one should acquire and refrain from all activities of
acquisition after the target is reached; this is called Ichchhä-
of all sense of attachment is Aparigraha. Parigraha or attachment to
possession of property is either external or internal. Possession of
external things is not possible without internal attachment. Hence,
both the internal attachment and the possession of external objects
come within the fold of Parigraha.
External Parigraha is
of two kinds: Sachitta animate and Achitta inanimate,
which are further divided in ten categories.