Who is a Jain Shravak: 31 ►Jainism and Terapanth

Published: 26.03.2020

Diversity in thoughts is an eternal part of human nature. The history of diverse thoughts begins with the history of birth of the human thinking ability. Freedom of thought is of course necessary for each human being. Thoughts of a person become social when they are useful for the society. Ideas with strong persistence or selfishness divide the communities. Difference in ideas has been a prominent factor in the extended division of Jain sects.

In the present era, BhagawanMahavira is the founder of Jain religion. Diversity of thinking must have existed during his time too. However, in spite of such diversities, all accepted the fundamental aspects as there was no ambiguity in his preaching. At that time, a few monks would put clothes on and some were bare. But this difference was not substantial. Unfortunately, in the course of time, this difference became the reason for the division of Jain Religion in two streams -Shvetambar and Digambar.

A thorough analysis can conclude that wearing clothes is not a significant issue. It is surprising to accept that this difference is the main cause of division. Probably, there must have been some differences in the ideologies amongst the monks, which later led to the division. There had been some philosophical differences. They were not even unanimous regarding compiling of the Aagams. Some monks believed that compiled Aagams were original preaching of BhagawanMahavira. On the contrary, few Acharyas rejected the authenticity because they believed that during the compilation of Aagams originality was not maintained. Differences in thoughts caused differences in practices also, which finally created the foundation for secular division.

A strong leadership can never cause breakdown in any organization in spite of the differences of thoughts. It becomes difficult to avoid disintegration when the organizational leadership is weak and ineffective. The arrogance of some people can also cause breakdown in the organization. Jain religion was fortunate for remaining undivided for long period. Unfortunately, as the course of division started, it kept continuing. On the ground of wearing the clothes (sachel) and not wearing, (achel), two branches Shvetambar and Digambar emerged from one root of Jain. It dates back approximately 600 to 700 years after the emancipation of Bhagawan Mahavira(Veer Nirvaan). Thereafter, in 9th century of Veer Nirvaan (850) chaityas were established. This led to further deterioration in conduct. Samvign or Suvihitmargi came into existence to oppose this tradition. During the same period, the tradition of murtipujak(idol-worshiper) and non-murtipujak emerged. Once the division starts, it becomes difficult to control and stop. Thus, many subsects of the sects started to take birth.

During the 16th century of Vikram Lonkashah Muntha revolted against idol worshipping. In spite of being a householder, he raised his voice against the flourishing ethical sluggishness and presented the strict path of conduct. Some people got inspired and took initiation. This movement gave rise to sthanakvasi sect.

Isa yuga ke antim tirthankar, Vardhaman shri jin devaary,
kiya pravartan dharm chakra, ka jisaka hona tha anivaarya.
Shramani shraman shravika shravak, tirth chatushtayi ki dhaara,
anekant siddhaant bana ha, sabaki aankhon ka taara.
patadhar pratham Sudharama svami, Jambu Prabhav aadi abhidhaan,
ekya raha shaashan me jab tak, tha saksham netritva mahaan.
Shataabdiyon ke baad sangh ka, huva vibhaajan anchaaha,
vighatan-vritti-rasik logon ka, phala manorath manchaaha.
shvet-vastradhaarak muniyon ka, vyaapak Shvetambar aamnaay,
vastra-viraagi bane Digambar, apana chintan apani raay.
Gachchhon pantheon aamnaayon ka, phir bahdata hi gaya pravaah,
pratima-puja kepratipanthi, lunka muntha ki nav raah.

Terapanth

The contemporary sect of Jain tradition is Terapanth. AcharyaBhikshu was the founder of Terapanth. He was initiated in Sthanakvasi sect by Acharya Raghunathji V. S 1808. He stayed with his guru Raghunathji for eight years. He had incredible intellect. He studied all the Aagams. While studying Aagams, he experienced a new light. He had strong faith in BhagawanMahavira and his preaching. He was completely dedicated towards his preaching. He was deeply influenced by the philosophy of non-violence propounded by BhagawanMahavira. He discussed with many Acharya's and monks regarding this context but did not find satisfactory response. To find the new path, he walked out from the sect on the 9th day of lunar fortnight of Chaitra month in V.S.1817 at Bagari. This step created a big excitement in the Jain society. He along with common mass travelled from Mewer to Marwar to spread the light of his thoughts. Finally, on the full moon day of Ashadh of V. S. 1817 he resolved for new initiation. His initiation rooted the foundation of Terapanth sect at that moment.

Shri jin shasahan ka gagan, atbhut atul anant,
Usame abhinav udit hai, taarak terapanth.
Atthaarah satarah sama, shani punam aashaadh,
San satarah sau saath shubh, prakatit punya pragaadh.

From the philosophical viewpoint, it can be said that the origination of Terapanth is the origination of the principle of ahimsa.

A great many people believe that the creation of Terapanth is an outcome of ethical revolution by AcharyaBhikshu, which does not seem true. In fact, it was a revolt against certain ideologies or thoughts. He presented a new dimension of the existing ideologies and brought renaissance in the field of conduct. He explained ahimsa (non-violence), daan(charity), daya(compassion), and upakaar(welfare) in noble way. His clear explanation of the demarcation between laukik(mundane) and lokottar(supra-mundane) was a novel ideology. He never imposed ideas on anyone. He simply presented the parameters to examine the reality. Elucidating the concept of religion and duty he said, 'Every practical aspect of religion is a duty, every duty is not religion'. AcharyaBhikshu believed that conduct could survive for long only if there was depth in understanding. He penned many texts and presented his fundamental concepts in systematic and structured format. This helped in deep and strong understanding of his teachings.

Sant bhikhan svayam terapanth path ke praan hain,
sahi sanyam ki kasauti, kshama ki khar shaan hain.
Vilakshan chintan vishad vairaagya ka var yog hai,
veer-vaani ke samarpan ka suramy prayog hai.

Acharya Bhikshu was the bedrock for Terapanth. In spite of being the founder of the organization, he never imposed his ideas. He presented some touchstones to understand the religion. The prime motif was 'sanyam'(self-control). He at first examined himself. He said lokottar dharm exists if there is sanyam(restraint), vrat (vow), tyaag(renunciation) and ahimsa. It has no concern with asanyam(non- restraint), avrat(non-vow), bhog(consumption), and himsa(violence). This idea and definition was quite different from the existing belief regarding the religion. It hammered upon the selfishness of the people. He faced extensive opposition to his principles. He was successful in managing controversial situations by his forgiving attitude.

The Vital Factors in Terapanth

Developing a powerful organization is more important than establishing an organization. Organizations are demolished in the absence of power and leadership. AcharyaBhikshu analyzed the organization before establishing it and after founding it, he meticulously studied it deeply for 15 years. He pondered upon its potentiality for future.

He focused upon the future-oriented problems and designed a constitution. He emphasized upon five factors to make any organization powerful and everlasting.

Paanch ghatak isa sangh ke, hain svaabhaavika set,
samajhen sab shravak inhe, gahare paani paith.
sthir Shraddha aachaar-uchhata, aur vayavastha nutan bhor,
sarvamaanya anushaashan shaili, eka haath me gan ki dor.

  1. Faith - Faith, belief and trust all are synonyms. The question may arise - faith should be for whom? The answer is one must have faith in his purpose, the means of purpose, the self, his team members, and his leader.
  2. High Conduct - Conduct is the greatest asset for a monk. The conduct can remain pure if he practices the defined norms and disciplines set by the organization with a firm resolution. The monkhood without right conduct is a deception.
  3. Management - Each organization needs management to run perfectly. Any organization be it be small or big, religious or social, its root becomes unstable without sound management. A system of management is strongly required for justice, equal distribution and peaceful co-existence.
  4. Discipline - To discipline is not sublimation, but a secret of training. The system, which begets inferiority in few and strengthens superiority or ego in others, can never be known as discipline. Inferiority develops frustration and superiority breeds non-discipline. It is not desirable to cease progress because of frustration or to stimulate the indiscipline through ego. The working system of discipline in Terapanth takes care of both the extremes.
  5. Single Leadership - The above mentioned four factors can flourish under one organizational head. In the absence of one leader there is no ground for faith. Who can decide the norms for conduct? Who will take the responsibility of management? Who will discipline? The leadership of Acharya in Terapanth is the original contribution of AcharyaBhikshu. It is very important factor in the development and extension of Terapanth.
  6. Fundamental Norms - Acharya Bhikshu was a truth seeker. He moved on the path of sadhana in search of the truth. After finding the truth, he aimed to practice and preach the truth. The obstacles on his way helped him to find a new way and progress towards the goal. The outcome of adverse situation is Terapanth. When he started his journey to seek the truth, he never aimed at establishment of a new organization. When the organization was established and named automatically, he then focused upon strengthening the organization. In V.S. 1832 he structured a constitution (likhat). Thereafter in the passage of time, he revised the constitution many times. Finally, in V.S.1857, the 7th day of lunar month of Magh on Saturday he wrote the final constitution, which included some of the norms of the first constitution. Even today, Terapanth follows this very constitution (Maryaada-Patra).

Aarya Bhikshu ki shaasvat vaani, likhat haajari vardaayi,
shravak nishtha part sughad, hai shaashan Maryaada sthaayi.

In the presence of AcharyaBhikshu, the structure of Terapanth became stable. Later the forthAcharyaShrimad Jay Acharya presented it in pragmatic form and tried to bring those articles more into practice. He introduced many 'haajari' and would articulate or discuss one every day. Based on the last constitution he started a big celebration known as 'Maryaada Mahotsava'. On this occasion, the constitution is read in presence of all the members (monks, nuns, day-man, day-women). The 'haajari', which was read every day, was revised many times. AcharyaTulsi created a new 'haajari' on the basis of those 'haajari', code of conduct, and a new oath-letter (lekh-patr).

He started to read the 'haajari' once in a fortnight, the constitution before chaaturmaasik pakkhi among all the disciples and the oath-letter every day in the morning before pratikraman. This is a beautiful way to develop the organizational values. Repetition of anything strengthens the values. Some of the articles or disciplines set forth by AcharyaBhikshu are still in use. The following Acharyas are ruling the organization on that ground. Today, the format of those norms is as follows:

  1. All the monks and nuns should follow the words of one Acharya.
  2. Travelling (vihaar) and stay (chaaturmaas) should be as per the instruction of Acharya.
  3. Don't make the personal disciple.
  4. Acharya should initiate the eligible and capable person. However, after initiation if someone seems imperfect then Acharya can extricate him/her out of the organization.
  5. All the monks and nuns should accept willingly the successor chosen/selected by the Acharya.

Shravak Nistha Patra(the oath-letter for the followers) shravak(laymen) and shravika(laywomen) are also inseparable part of the organization akin to monks and nuns. They also contribute in oneness and unity of the organization. AcharyaTulsi wrote an oath letter for shravak also, which is:

I am a shravak/shravika following the Terapanth religion. I am proud of it. I believe it as the prime ground in my personal development and solving the problems of my life. Therefore, to fulfill my duties and strengthen my faith I accept the following resolution:

  1. I will be devoted to norms given by Acharya Bhikshu, Terapanth sangh and the Acharya.
  2. I will be aware of the integrity of the organization. I will not promote groupism.
  3. I will not promote the extricated person of the order.
  4. I will not support any activity against the instruction of Acharya.
  5. If I get to know of any flaws in any monk or nun then, I will inform the monk/nun or the Acharya and will not spread it.
  6. I will maintain purity of the food.
  7. I will practice one saamaayik every day or any spiritual practice for at least 20 minutes.

Sources

Title:  Who is a Jain Shravak?
Author: 

Acharya MahaPragya

Translator: 

Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha

Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Vibhag, JVB
Edition: 
2019
Digital Publishing: 
Amit Kumar Jain

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Aagams
  2. Acharya
  3. Acharya Bhikshu
  4. Acharyas
  5. Ahimsa
  6. Anant
  7. Anekant
  8. Bhikshu
  9. Chakra
  10. Dharm
  11. Digambar
  12. Discipline
  13. Gan
  14. Guru
  15. Himsa
  16. Jin
  17. Kshama
  18. Mahavira
  19. Marwar
  20. Murtipujak
  21. Non-violence
  22. Praan
  23. Pratham
  24. Pratikraman
  25. Punya
  26. Raghunathji
  27. Sadhana
  28. Sangh
  29. Sant
  30. Sanyam
  31. Shraddha
  32. Shraman
  33. Shravak
  34. Shravika
  35. Shvetambar
  36. Sthanakvasi
  37. Terapanth
  38. Tirth
  39. Tirthankar
  40. Tyaag
  41. Veer
  42. Violence
  43. Yog
  44. vrat
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