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Who is a Jain Shravak: 12.2 Shadjivanikaay (Six Categories of Jivas)

Published: 20.02.2020

What is Cheap and Easily Available?

Once, King Shrenik asked in his assembly of ministers, 'Nowadays, what is cost-effective and easily available food in the market?' Many members replied, 'Meat is the cheapest thing.' Abhaykumar, the Chief Minister thought - This is not right. It will encourage the consumption of meat. He said, 'What is the cheapest in the market will be decided tomorrow.' The matter was closed.

At midnight, Abhaykumar visited a minister. The minister inquired, 'I am grateful to you. What brought you here without any invitation? What is the purpose of your visit?'

Abhaykumar replied, 'I have come here for a specific purpose. King Shrenik has suddenly become sick. The doctors have advised that the king can only be saved if he gets two tolas (twenty grams) of human flesh, else he will not survive. That is why I have come to you. You are faithful to the king and also his top official. Please donate two tolas of your flesh and you can have anything in return!

The ministers begged for pardon and said, 'I am highly obliged with the trust of the king for me. But my situation does not permit me to do so. I have a young son and there is nobody to take responsibility of my household after me. Instead, it would please me if you take 10,000 gold coins from me in exchange and relieve me.'

Abhaykumar took the coins and set him free. Abhaykumar went from one minister to another, but none was willing to share a portion of their flesh, but instead gave him gold coins in exchange.

The next day, when the assembly gathered for a session, all were surprised to find the King in perfect health. Abhaykumar said, 'I was told by all the ministers yesterday that meat was the cheapest thing available in the market. Last night, I went to most of the ministers. In place of meat, I got thousands of gold coins. Now tell me, what is cheaper - flesh or wealth?'

Abhaykumar then narrated the entire incident of the night. All the ministers were ashamed.

Abhaykumar said, 'All living beings should be considered at our own level. Whatever I feel, others also go through the same experience. The feeling of equality for all beings can keep people away from cruelty and unnecessary violence. Such feeling will not let them do anything without being thoughtful.'

Thoughts such as I am the superior, I want happiness, I want comforts, and I want to stay relaxed lead a person to commit violence and hurt others. Conversely, if one thinks, 'everyone wants to survive like me and I am not the only one in this world'- there would be minimal violence. The principle of shadjivanikaay is nothing, but a principle of ecology.

Ethics of Shravak and Shadjivanikaay

We are analysing shadjivanikaay in the context of ethics of a shravak. The question arises - If a shravak decides not to kill earth-bodied and water-bodied living beings, then who will build a house for him to live. If one abstains from violence of fire-bodied and air-bodied beings, how can he cook his food? What will he eat? Complete non-violence is very difficult for a householder. In this context, a pragmatic view is to understand equality of all living beings, but at the same time accept the impossibility of survival without hurting or killing them. However, if one endeavours to commit minimal violence, excavate the earth for necessity of survival, use water and electricity economically and avoid unnecessary violence, then he has become aware of the environment.

A shravak cannot renounce violence absolutely, but he can give up unnecessary violence.

Minimization of Violence

A foreign scholar wrote - Jains say to commit a smaller amount of violence - this is a good idea, but I refute it. I wrote, 'Jains do not ask to commit less violence, but they advise to minimize it as much as possible. There is good difference between 'doing less violence' and 'minimizing the violence'. Committing less violence is a good idea, but it is endorsing violence and thereby supportive of it. Instead, it is better for a shravak to minimize the violence. This advocates non-violence. How can I minimize it? How can I avoid unnecessary violence? In this competitive world, where a millionaire is aspiring to be a billionaire, a billionaire to be a multi-billionaire and so on, how can one think of minimizing it?'

Who is Tyaagi (Practitioner of Renunciation)?

A person, who always thinks of staying at the topmost, does not discriminate between necessary and unnecessary. Only by altering this objective, and reducing one's ego and ambitions, can one have the discrimination between them. It is difficult to disconnect with competition, ostentatious displays and unnecessary acts until the ego exists. Even for a monk observing five great vows, it is not very easy to abandon ego and be modest. For a householder, it is even more difficult.

A merchant once planned to show off his wealth to others. He called a pandit and said, 'I want to worship my mother. Will you help me?' The pandit replied in the affirmative. The merchant got his mother seated on a small chauki (short-height stool) and the rituals were performed. The merchant stood up and said, 'You have done well. I am very pleased with your work so I wish to gift you a gold chauki.' Everybody applauded the merchant's generosity. The merchant further said, Panditji, have you seen any better charitable person than me?'

The pandit was a man of great restraint and contentment, who had no greed of wealth but with high self-esteem. He soon changed the entire scenario. He stood up, took out a Rupee note from his pocket and put it on the chauki and said, 'I return the chauki to you with one more Rupee. Have you seen anyone more restraint than me?' Hearing this, the merchant's ego was shattered.

Shravak, who understands the secret of spirituality, should not fall in the race of wealth, or display his superiority and false pride. He should treat others (living beings) like him and equal. He should always think and resolve - 'I will control consumption. I will not commit unnecessary violence of earth-bodied organisms, water-bodied organisms, fire-bodied organisms, air-bodied organisms, plants and mobile living beings.' A shravak's life becomes meaningful and true when the consciousness of minimizing the violence and feeling of equality with others is awakened.


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. Consciousness
  2. Ecology
  3. Environment
  4. Greed
  5. Non-violence
  6. Pandit
  7. Pride
  8. Shravak
  9. Shrenik
  10. Violence
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