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Who is a Jain Shravak: 7.2 Purpose of Shravak's Life

Published: 11.02.2020

Characteristics of a Shravak

Jain Agams describe shravakas - 'abhigayajivajiva uvaladdhapunnapava' - One, who knows jiva, ajiva, punya and paap.

Furthermore, it is said - asavsamvarnijjarakiriyahikaranabandhamokkhakushala - A shravak is well-versed with a deep knowledge of aashrav, samvar, nirjara, bandh and moksha.

Contemplation of nine tattvas is the characteristic of a shravak. Before each action, his inner voice should guide him with the goal of eradication of karma and thereby getting merit (punya). He must avoid the actions leading to inflow of karma and attracting demerits (paap). Right perspective becomes the navigator when the inner voice monitors the path in every action. Religion or right faith is only superficial if only money and monetary gain is intended not the punya and paap while doing any work. In this case, the person has not understood the true meaning of religion.

They have not understood the meaning of dharm. Before doing any work, one must think whether it is advisable to do it or not, will this action lead to punya or paap? Will it be aashrav, samvar or nirjara? If a person believes himself to be spiritual and claiming to be endowed with right perspective does not act as per the above meaning of dharm, then there will be no difference between a religious and non-religious person.

Effect of Right Faith

Businessman Chainroop Sampataram Dugar from Sardarshahar was very affluent. He had a successful trading business of importing goods from foreign lands. One day his son Sumermalji Dugar thought - 'The goods from foreign countries are brought through ships. It causes death of many fishes, crocodiles, and other sea animals. This business should not be done by us.'

Who would think today to leave such a money-making business? Ignoring the underlying inherent violence, people are ready to do business of even mutton and animal-flesh. Man does not think of the merits or sins while doing business. The prime focus of money has led a man to ignore such concepts in the present time.

Seth Sumermalji analyzed the outcome of his business and immediately handed over the business of generating turnover in millions to his accountant. He said, 'We will not do a business which kills living beings.'

Lord Mahavir has explained about 15 karmaadaans (commercial and industrial activities involving huge violence). A shravak should avoid business involving extreme violence. Many people don't even reflect upon it, but they should think- 'What will be the effect of my business or work? Will it cause punya, sin, inflow of karma, or eradication of karma?'

Each action should be analysed critically. This is the outcome of right faith. Being devout, if one does not think about the consequences of ones' actions and does whatever he pleases, is merely wearing a body of religion, there is no soul. Until we reach the heart of the religion, right thinking patterns will not be formed.

Money is Not Ultimate

Many people say - Jain monks have prohibited shravaks from establishing large industries due to which they could not become big industrialists. The Oswal Jain society is behind in the field of setting up large industries.

Let us look at it from a different perspective. Until today, the Jain community is at the forefront amongst other societies. It is not true that only the millionaires or billionaires hold prime positions in society. A closer look at situation highlights that people of the middle class are happier than millionaires. They do not lack food or any other amenities to lead a comfortable life. The only difference is that they are not millionaires. In fact, most of the rich people do not have a peaceful harmonious life. Their life revolves only around money. Religious preaching has no value for people enamoured with money as their nucleus point. Money is not the nucleus of life. It is just the means of life. Just in as much as the middle-class people are satisfied and happy, the upper-class people are even more sorrowful.

Once, during Gurudev Tulsi’s stay in Kolkata an old lady came to him and during the conversation she started crying. AcharyaTulsi asked her the reason for her sorrow. She said, 'What should I tell you? My husband has passed away and my sons are at loggerheads. Nobody is as distressed as I am'

It is surprising to know that similar stories can be found in many rich industrialist families of in India. On the other hand, when we look at the older women of middle class families, they are more joyful. It is understandable that living a life under poverty and not being able to satisfy the necessities of life is not a good state. But a person, who has all the luxuries is unhappy because he keeps running after making money and do not think of his demerits. In fact, a person having all the necessities of life should not go for the business that involves considerable violence. While doing business if a person does not think about merits, demerits, bondage, influx of karma, stoppage of karma, shedding of karma etc., the perspective will be untrue or perverted.

Nine Tattva: The Parameters for Action

Whatever activity we do, the nine tattvas should become the guiding parameters. Any work you do, if it results in shedding of karma, it is worthy, and if not, then the action is worthless. It is an instruction for a shravak- You must decide not to engage in a business involving extreme violence because you have attained the right faith. Don't just think of present life of seventy or eighty years but think about the long period of your next lives too. If somebody goes to hell, or takes birth as an animal, in any of the next lives, the life-span may be of numerable, innumerable, or infinite years which is articulated by Bhagawan Mahavira as - 'kaalam sankhaaiyam kaalam sankhijjasanniyam, kaalamanantadurantaram' Have this awareness before you do any action. Always keep the present and future life in your mind. On one side of the scale weigh the present life, and on the other, your future life, then make your choices.

An inner voice should be constantly breathing, 'I am aware of the nine tattvas and I should take decisions only after pondering over them deeply'. Such awareness makes the right faith fruitful.


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. Agams
  2. Ajiva
  3. Bandh
  4. Body
  5. Contemplation
  6. Dharm
  7. Gurudev
  8. Jiva
  9. Karma
  10. Kolkata
  11. Mahavir
  12. Mahavira
  13. Moksha
  14. Nine Tattvas
  15. Nirjara
  16. Oswal
  17. Paap
  18. Punya
  19. Samvar
  20. Sardarshahar
  21. Shravak
  22. Shravakas
  23. Shravaks
  24. Soul
  25. Tattva
  26. Tattvas
  27. Tulsi
  28. Violence
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