Social Relevance of Ṣāmāyika (Six Obligatory Duties)

Posted: 29.01.2016
Updated on: 16.12.2017

The soul in its pure form is embedded with infinite perception, infinite knowledge, infinite bliss, and infinite vigour. These natural inherent attributes are not, however manifested by worldly soul, because it is smeared with karmās. The large number of ritualistic practices throughout the world has been devised to get rid of the kārmic impurities and eventually liberate the soul from the bondages of karmās. One of the methods of shedding the karmās is the observance of āvaśyaka i.e. an essential spiritual practice of Jains. It is called āvaśyaka because it is compulsory for both the houseless monks and the householders. For monks and nuns, performance of 'āvaśyaka' both in the morning and evening is unavoidable; such is the order of the scriptures, whereas for householders it is left to their will. The āvaśyaka is a cause of purification of everyday sins that's why Mahāvīra emphasized it so much. So let us proceed to explain the six essential duties in detail one by one and their social relevance.  

The first āvaśyaka is sāmāyika. The sāmāyika means the practice of equanimity. For attainment of equanimity giving up of eighteen sinful activities is essential. The Jain monks & nuns undertake sāmāyika for long life but the householders observe at the minimum, for the time period of forty-eight minutes. The householders refrains himself from the worldly affairs and engrosses himself in spiritual introspection during the sāmāyika.


Sāmāyika (Practice of Equanimity) and the Meaning of Sāmāyika Sūtra

Oh Lord! I now engage in sāmāyika. As long as I remain in this state I shall not commit any sinful activity in thought, speech, or action nor shall I encourage others to indulge in such activities. I repent and apologize for having committed sin. I condemn and censure myself for such actions. I am determined to free my soul from this state of bondage. Having made the resolve, the layman sits in a yogic posture and begins his meditational exercises, scriptural study and isolating oneself  from the daily household work, business, social responsibility so on and so forth.[1]

Importance of Sāmāyika

Ācārya Jinabhadragaṇī Kṣamāśramaṇa highly speaks of Sāmāyika to such an extent that the essence of fourteen pūrvas knowledge is equal to the sāmāyika.[2] It is mentioned in the Viśeṣāvaśyaka Bhāṣya that as the space is the basis of five substances so is sāmāyika, the basis of all the virtues.[3] It is said that a person who doesn't practice sāmāyika can get omniscient knowledge, but can't achieve the state of liberation. The essence of colourful and beautiful flowers is, its smell, the essence of milk is, butter, the essence of sugarcane stick is, their juice; likewise the essence of sādhanā is sāmāyika. Moreover Ācārya Yaśovijaya expressed that the essence of thirty two canonical literature's knowledge is equivalent to the observance of one sāmāyika. Mahavira said, the single pure sāmāyika of Punia layman cannot equal the entire treasure of the then king Srenika. Let us see the applied philosophy of sāmāyika.

  i. Equanimity of Mind and Sāmāyika

The foremost attainment of sāmāyika in day to day life is equanimity of mind in all the favourable and unfavourable situations. There are five dualities in human life i.e. profit and loss, pain and pleasure, life and death, censure (blame) and praise and honour and dishonour.[4] It is really a very difficult task to remain neutral in undesirable situations. As a matter of fact, all days don't pass equally. Ups and downs, success and failure always go side by side. Ordinary life is run by mutually contradictory forces. It is natural for the mind to feel grief in adverse circumstances and joy in favourable ones. One can face unbearable and undesirable events by regular dedicated observance of sāmāyika. The practice of sāmāyika will give the insight that this undesirable circumstance will also pass away. This kind of optimistic thinking will give the energy to tolerate the situation and maintain ones mental balance and equanimity of mind. Tīrthaṅkara Mahāvīra's life is a classic example for equanimity of mind even in testing situations of life. On the one side of his feet Indra is paying vandanā, on the other side, snake is biting. In both the situations, the tranquility of Mahāvīra's mind was not disturbed.[5] Moreover Mahāvīra said, One who behaves equally as one's own self towards all living beings, mobile and immobile, is said to have equanimity.[6] In Ācārāṅga it is highlighted that the practice of equanimity is equated with righteousness itself.[7] Sāmāyika if practised systematically leads to equanimity of mind which in turn can bring about peaceful co-existence in the family.

ii. Control of Passions and Sāmāyika

The practitioner of sāmāyika restrains himself from eighteen types of harmful emotional activities. It is the regular systematic practice of sāmāyika, which will, not only stop the inflow of new kārmic bondage but also shed off the earlier bound karmās. Ācārya Mahāprajña has divided eighteen types of sinful activities into four categories:

Ist Category: Violence, untruth, stealing, non-celibacy and possession.

IInd Category: Anger, pride, deceit and greed, attachment, aversion.

IIIrd Category: Quarrel, character assassination, back-biting, malevolent criticism, liking for sensual pleasures and dislike for self restraint.

IVth Category: Deceit oriented untruth, thorn of perverted faith (mīthyādarśana śalya).[8]

There are two sides of sāmāyika, one is positive and other is negative. From the negative point of view, all the sinful activities are withdrawn and from the positive point of view, the auspicious works are undertaken like recitation of scriptural texts, practice of contemplation, etc.[9]. During the practice of sāmāyika, all the eighteen loopholes of the personality are being replaced with eighteen types of virtues which enlighten the personality. The acts of violence, lying, stealing, carnality, possessiveness, pride, anger, deceit, greed, etc. are not only obstacles on the path of spiritual upliftment but also they are considered to be obstacles on the path of attainment of one's holistic personality too. One can control ones passions i.e. anger, pride, deceit and greed through the practice of contemplation of forbearance, humbleness, straight forwardness and contentment in sāmāyika. Daśvaikālika Sūtra mentions that the anger overpowers love, pride overpowers humbleness, deceit overpowers straight-forwardness, greed overpowers contentment.[10] So these are the four passions, which are the main causes of rebirth.[11] These passions are major obstacles in the attainment of success in any walk of life. There is no gainsaying the fact that the regular practice of sāmāyika would lead every person to become a dispassionate soul gradually. During sāmāyika the practice of perception of body, develops the sense of equanimity. It enables one to live in present moment without attachment and aversion.[12]


iii. Emotional Balance and Sāmāyika

The present education system doesn't put  emphasis on Emotional Intelligence. Its emphasis is upon developing the intellectualism, which leads to unidirectional development of personality. It is not so uncommon to see now-a-days highly educated people collapse emotionally for trivia. It happens so because of their lack of emotional intelligence. The practice of sāmāyika will thus help us to face this problem.

Brilliant minds commit suicide just for failure in love-affairs, due to unexpected and unbearable economic-loss in trade or business, sudden and heart breaking grief brought on by the death of the nearest and dearest, appearance of some disease which is incurable, unexpected shock due to failure to realize an ambition so on and so forth. Students commit suicide due to failure in the exams, just for not attaining first place in the merit list. Emotions can be kept under check if a person practises sāmāyika and concentrates on the center of enlightenment to do away from the emotional problems.[13]

iv. Solution for Intolerance and Sāmāyika

In the words of Ācārya Mahāprajña, "Intolerance is an acute problem of the present generation."[14] Due to intolerance, many cases of suicide, murder, divorce, etc. are increasing day by day. Wife doesn't want to tolerate the in-law's nature, habit and interest and vice-versa. It was our great Indian culture, where once one is tied with the bonds of marriage, one has to lead a life of mutual accommodation and adjustment throughout the life. But today the youngsters have forgotten our ancient Indian heritage. Due to intolerance, for very small issues, they decide to give up life or commit suicide. The virtue of tolerance can only help us to get rid of the situations, which is possible through the practice of sāmāyika. For the peaceful co-existence in any family continuous practice of sāmāyika is needed. To overcome the ever increasing problem of divorce, the culture of tolerance is to be incorporated. Recent research undertaken highlights that there is one divorce in every five minutes throughout the world.This very alarming and especially as this are an indirect attack on the Indian culture. The western culture is a dominating factor working behind this issue of divorce leading towards hatred and revenge between both the sides of  the girl's and boy's relatives, which is not a good sign for social harmony. The regular practice of samayika can help in developing the virtue of tolerance.

v. Holistic Personality and Sāmāyika

In the words of Ācārya Tulsi, holistic personality is nothing but the scientific-cum-spiritual personality.[15] Holistic personality implies physical, mental, intellectual and emotional balance in all the situations of life. The state of equilibrium is the root cause of sound health. In the state of anger, the entire systems of body and its secretions are unbalanced. It is a fact that a person who gets angry for nine minutes loses nine hours of acquired biological energy of the body, which in turn minimizes life span.

Thus, sāmāyika is not only a ritualistic practice but Sound mind in a sound body,is a very famous saying. Sāmāyika is a necessary condition for the development of mental powers. Sāmāyika and mental progress is a inseparable pair, both depend on each other for their respective development.[16] Moreover Ācārya Mahāprajña asserts that the practitioner of sāmāyika that develops the consciousness of equanimity can lead a peaceful life. Now-a-days the educational system provides only job-oriented curriculum but completely neglects the knowledge which is the part and parcel of any person's life i.e. how to live together. It is a process of reaching nearer to the nature of self. Sāmāyika is the phase of pause to external world momentum and exploring inner powerful zone of unlimited potential, untouched beauty and eternal peace. It educates the person to become the self-master rather than to survive as a puppet of time, circumstance etc. This practice is conducive both for the individual spiritual upliftment as well as for the peaceful co-existence in the society.



Primary  Texts

Ācārāṅga Sūtra. Ed. Yuvācārya Mishrimalji 'Madhukar'. With original Text, Hindi version, Notes, Annotation and Appendices. Beawar: Shri Āgam Prakashan Samiti.1998.

Āvaśyaka Sūtra. Ed. Yuvācārya Mishrimalji 'Madhukar'. With original Text, Hindi version, Notes, Annotation and Appendices. Agās: Shri Āgam Prakāshan Samiti.2001.

Daśvaikālika Sūtra. Ed. Mishrimalji Maharaj. Beawar: Āgam Prakāshan Samiti.1991.

Navasuttāṇī. Ed. Yuvācārya Mahāprajña. Āvassayaṁ. Ladnun: Jain Vishva Bharati.1987.

Uvāsagadasāo. Ed. Yuvācārya Madhukar and Chaganlal Shastri. With original text, Hindi version, Notes, Annotation and Appendices etc. Beawar: Shri Agam Prakashan Samiti.2006.

Viśeṣāvaśyaka Bhāṣya of Jinabhadra Gaṇī.Ed. Dalsukha Malavaniya and Bechardasji, Lal Bhai Dalpatabhai. Ahmedabad: Bhārtīya Samskṛti Vidyāmandir. Vol.-I, 1968.

Yoga Śāstra of Hemachandrācārya. Ed. Surendra Bothara and trans. A.S. Gopani. Jaipur: Prakrit Bharati Academy.1st edn. 1989.


Secondary Books

Mahāprajña, Ācārya. Adhyātma Kā Prathama Sopāna: Sāmāyika. Churu: Adarsha Sahitya Sangh. 1996.

Mahāprajña, Ācārya. The Mysteries of Mind. Ladnun: Jaina Vishva Bharati. 1982.

Mahāprajña.Prekśā Dhyāna: Perception of Psychic Centres. Ladnun: Jaina Vishva Bharati. 1982.

Mahāprajña, Ācārya. Happy and Harmonious Family. Trans. Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha. Ladnun: Jain Vishva Bharati.1st edn. 2008.

Mahāprajña, Ācārya. Jaina Dharma Ke Sādhanā Sūtra. Delhi: Ādarśa Sāhitya Sangh. 2001.

Tulsī, Ācārya.ê Śrāvak Sambodha. Churu: Ādarśa Sāhitya Sangha. 1998.

Tulsī, Ācārya. The Vision of a New Society. Churu: Adarsh Sahitya Sangh Prakashan. 1998.