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Who is a Jain Shravak: 05 ►The Nature of Pragmatic Right Faith and Deshavrati

Published: 07.02.2020

In ancient times, a shravak would observe twelve vows. By observing the vows, he would practice renunciation partially. That's why he is known as deshavrati (partial restraint). How does a shravak become deshavrati technically?

Kshayopashama (subsistence-cum-destruction) of darshansaptak [1] is the first necessary condition for partial restraint. The consciousness of restraint never gets awakened in the absence of samyaktva. The second condition of accepting partial restraint is subsiding-cum-destruction of apratyaakhyaanaavaran karma (the cause of non-renunciation). One detests taking any vow or practising restraint, whilst this karma exists.

There are four stages of Mohaniya karma (Deluding karma):

  1. anantaanubandhi- Cause of endless transmigration
  2. apratyaakhyaanaavaran- Cause of non-renunciation
  3. pratyaakhyaanaavaran- Cause of hindrance in complete renunciation
  4. sanjvalan- Obstacle in veetaraagata (state of complete detachment)

Samyaktva cannot take place while the first stage exists. The consciousness of partial renunciation gets awakened with the subsistence-cum-destruction of apratyaakhyaanaavaran, which is the second stage. Subsistence-cum-destruction of the third stage pratyaakhyaanaavaran karma is required for complete renunciation. For veetaraagata, destruction of the fourth stage is required.

Attitude of a Non-Abstinent Person

Duryodhana said, 'jaanaamidharmamna cha me pravrittih'. I know righteousness, but I cannot practice it. 'jaanaamyadharmam na che me nivrittih'. I know non-righteousness but cannot quit it. The attitude of non-abstinent persons is the same in the modern era. They are aware of righteousness, but do not practice it. They know, yet do not give up the detrimental action. They knowingly do wrong things and do not reform their lives. Many times, they even try to justify their wrong deeds.

It was 9 o'clock in the morning, but a child was still sleeping. His mother woke him up and said, 'Get up! The sun has risen!'

The son said, 'Oh mother! Where is the sun and where am I? Who are you comparing me with? How lazy is the sun! It sleeps the entire evening. I go to bed by 10 or 11 o'clock. So, tell me who sleeps more - me or the sun?'

A man puts excuses or uses logic to prove himself right for his wrong doings until the inner consciousness gets awakened. Determined work gets done by strengthening the will-power and awakening the consciousness of renunciation. If this consciousness is not awakened, there is no lack of excuses. The awakening of the consciousness of renunciation is life-changing.

Consequences of Apratyaakhyaanaavaran

The awakening of the consciousness of renunciation is the outcome of subsistence-cum-destruction of apratyaakhyaanaavaran karma. When the subsistence-cum-destruction of both darshansaptak and apratyaakhyaanaavaran occur, right faith with partial abstinence comes into existence.

Partial renunciation (deshavrat) makes a shravak feel proud. In ancient time, the lay followers would become deshavrati by observing the vows.

Anand was a deshavratishravak. He accepted the twelve vows of a shravak. He gave up all luxuries. He was from an affluent family and owned a lot of property. Value of his property was very high even when compared to today's billionaires and trillionaires. On one hand, he was the richest person and on the other, he led a life of self-restraint. He would possess only one towel, two sets of outfits and would consume only one meal in a day. Today, we find wardrobes full of new and trendy outfits and a vast variety of edibles. Anand was surviving with just little, but with great contentment.

When the consciousness of renunciation awakens, the attraction to material objects decreases. Material objects are the means for them, not the end. This is the difference in outlook. As the perception is, so is the world.

Vows Reduce Attachment

There was a couple leading a life of detachment. One day whilst walking, the husband was leading the way and he saw a necklace lying on the road. He thought his wife may get tempted by looking at it, so he covered it with sand. His wife saw him covering something and asked, 'What did you cover?'

Husband - 'There's a necklace on the road. To avoid your mind hanging around it I have covered it with sand.'

Wife - 'It seems you have not understood the essence of spirituality yet. You need to begin your practice again.'

Husband - 'Why?'

Wife - 'Do you see gold and sand as different substances? For me, both are the same.'

The consciousness of right faith and renunciation develops the consciousness of detachment.

Once, a few non-Jain people visited AcharyaTulsi. While discussing with them, AcharyaTulsi said, 'We do not keep money in any form.'

They asked surprisingly, 'How is it possible?'

AcharyaTulsi said, 'I don't see any difference between gold and sand. If needed, sand is more useful to us than gold.'

Renunciation reduces attachment and minimizes the desires. Positive perspective transforms our thought process.

It is rightly said, 'yadrikdrishti, tadrikshrishti - As is the vision, so is the creation.'

Today, man is ruled by his desires and he himself is unaware of his doings. His deeds follow his desires and he has become a puppet of his desires. Once we saw a puppet show in an organization Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal. Does a puppet dance by itself? No, it dances the way the puppet-mover wants. The life of human beings has become the same. He takes the steps directed by his desires.

To summarize, taking vow is the initial stage of terminating desires, attachment, and non-abstinence.

Pragmatic Right Faith

Acharya Tulsi had thrown light on practical right faith in the following stanza:

samyakdarshan ho sravakmein, traikaalikaatmameinaastha,
aaraadhyadevarihantasada, sadguruaadhyaatmikaanushaasta.
arhadbhaashitasaddhrmaahinsa, sanyam tap kaaaraadhan,
holakshyamoksaparamaatmapadam, purushaarthasvayamkasansaadhan.

It means a shravak is endowed with right faith if he believes in eternal existence of soul, have faith in dev, guru and dharm and live with the goal of achieving moksha (liberation).

In fact, pragmatic right faith is concerned with dev (tirthankar), guru (preceptor) and dharm (religion or righteousness). Dev, guru, and dharm are defined below:

arahanto maha devo, jaavajjivam susaahuno guruno,
jinapannattam tattam, iyasammattam mayegahiyam.

Arhat (tirthankar) is my dev, sadhu (ascetics, free from internal and external possessions) are my gurus and the philosophy propounded by the Jin or arhat is my religion. I have attained samyaktva by having faith in them.

Faith in the Soul

The first factor of pragmatic right faith is - faith in the soul. Faith in its eternal (past, present and future) existence should stay strong. If there is no faith in the eternal existence of the soul, then religious teachings will not be very fruitful. If one has faith in the soul, his behavior gets transformed. Bhagawan Mahavira kept the soul in the center of his life, not the almighty 'God'. No God writes the destiny of any individual. Having faith in the soul means to get rid of all kinds of problems. Realization of the soul is the initial step of being religious.

There is an illustration from Upanishad - Indra and Vairochan both approached their guru and requested, 'We want to realize our soul.'

Guru - 'Whatever you see in the river is the soul.'

Both disciples went to the river bank. Vairochan was overjoyed on seeing his reflection as he thought the reflection was Supreme God. They returned to the guru.

Guru - 'What happened? Did you see the soul?' Vairochan replied in the affirmative.

Indra - 'Whatever I saw was my reflection. I have not seen the soul.' Guru - 'Go and search again.'

To realize the soul, one needs to go beyond the body. When does one desire to realize the self? 'The body is not everything. I am not the body and the body is not me'- When this thought is reinforced, one achieves right faith and the willingness to realize the soul.

A few days ago, I was having a conversation with a young student of economics from America about life-style. He said, 'I am least interested in such talks. Please teach me about - I am not the body.'

I explained the sadhana for realizing the separateness of soul and body. He got satisfied after understanding the technique.

'I am soul, not the body' - until this knowledge is realized, one does not attain right faith. Bhedvigyaan means - 'I am not matter. I am beyond matter. I am the pure soul.' Awakening of such consciousness reduces attachment. Upadhyay Yashovijayji has correctly written, 'Believing material pleasures as everything is an illusion.'

Why is Illusion Created?

Once an inhabitant of the forest went to a city and found it very interesting. He thought, 'I am visiting the city for the first time, so I should buy something unique to show the people of my village.' After browsing through many shops, he found a large mirror and asked the salesman, 'What's inside it?' The salesman replied, 'You.' The villager understood the way of looking in the mirror, bought it and took it to his hut. He said to his wife, 'I have brought a beautiful thing for you.' Immediately, the wife went inside and saw a lady standing there in the mirror. She ran to her mother-in-law and screamed, 'Your son has got a new lady!'

Mother-in-law - 'My son cannot do such a thing!' Wife - 'Go inside and see by yourself!'

The mother-in-law went inside the hut and looked at the mirror. She saw her own face and started banging her head. 'It's ok to bring a lady with you. But why did you bring a lady who is so old?'

This is self-illusion. Why does an illusion get generated? One, who does not view the original image and gets entangled in its reflection. Not viewing the original image is the root problem. The soul is the main unit. Man is not observing his original unit; rather he is ensnared in the reflection. Faith in the eternity of soul is the first step of right faith.

Faith in AradhyaDev(Ideal God)

The second factor to pragmatic right faith is the faith in God (aaraadhydev). A pertinent question that everyone faces is, 'What do you want to be?' The usual reply in the materialistic world is 'a businessman, a lawyer, an engineer, a minister, a doctor, a politician etc.' If a shravak is posed with the same question, his answer would be to become a veetaraag - a state where one leads a life in total detachment. But how and when can he achieve this state? He can attain this state only if his ideal is veetaraag soul. If Bhagawan Mahavira would not be veetaraag, he could not become our ideal. None of us have seen Bhagawan Mahavira, but we still accept him as our ideal. An ideal for a shravak should be veetaraag (arhat). Recollection of arhat inspires us to move in the direction of veetaraagata - detached state of soul.

Perfect Guru

The third factor to right faith is faith in Guru. One, who maintains spiritual discipline, concentrates on the soul, and shows us the path for self - upliftment, is a true guru.


Dharm (Righteousness)

The fourth factor to right faith is faith in righteousness. The truth propounded by Veetaraag is dharm- righteousness.


Pragmatic right faith includes:

  1. Faith in eternal existence of soul.
  2. Faith in Veetaraga as Ideal.
  3. Faith in spiritual guide as Guru.
  4. Faith in the religion propounded by Veetaraag.

This form of pragmatic right faith is permanently imprinted in the heart of a shravak


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Title:  Who is a Jain Shravak?

Acharya MahaPragya


Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha

Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Vibhag, JVB
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. Acharya
  2. Acharya Tulsi
  3. Anand
  4. Arhat
  5. Body
  6. Consciousness
  7. Dharm
  8. Discipline
  9. Guru
  10. Indra
  11. Jin
  12. Kala
  13. Karma
  14. Mahavira
  15. Mandal
  16. Mohaniya
  17. Mohaniya Karma
  18. Moksha
  19. Sadhana
  20. Sadhu
  21. Samyaktva
  22. Sanyam
  23. Shravak
  24. Soul
  25. Tap
  26. Tirthankar
  27. Tulsi
  28. Upadhyay
  29. Veetaraag
  30. Veetaraga
  31. Yashovijayji
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