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Who is a Jain Shravak: 13.2 Path to Bliss

Published: 22.02.2020

Right Knowledge: A Positive Attitude

Birbal was a very prudent man. It seems that his knowledge and vision was right and progressive. One day the emperor Akbar and Birbal went for a walk towards the jungle.

The emperor said, 'Birbal, tonight I had a dream. In the dream, we were walking together and we came across two tanks. One of the tanks contained nectar, while the other was full of mud. I fell into the tank of nectar and you fell into the tank of mud.'

Birbal was smart and immediately he responded, 'Your highness! Even I had the same dream. But my dream did not finish with us falling in the tanks. I saw that later we both came out of the tanks. I was licking you and you were licking me.'

When a person understands the truth and has right attitude, they do not get angry. They create an aura of positivity and people around them also feel blissful.

Every shravak should have the knowledge of nine realities. One, who has this right knowledge, never gets sad. Secondly, a shravak with right faith and positive attitude will never be encircled by negativity.

Renunciation - The Power of Rejection

Samyakdarshan, samyak gyaan and samyakchaaritr are all essential in Jain philosophy. Without the combination of these three constituents, sadhana (spiritual practice) remains incomplete. Samyak darshan is directly related to the faith of an individual in the existence of soul, karma, re-birth, ex-birth, universe, etc. To know their existence, the knowledge of panchaastikaay is essential, though in the context of conduct, knowledge of nine tattva is essential. Without understanding them, the practice of right conduct is not possible.

The role of knowledge is confined to listening, knowing, and contemplating upon the nine realities. The next step of spiritual practice is renunciation. Due to kshayopasham (destruction-cum-subsidence) of apratyaakhyaanaavaran (cause of non-renunciation) karma, the will of accepting partial vows awakens. Then what should one renounce? For this, let's understand the tattva from another perspective. In fact, realities can be categorized into three groups as follows:

  1. Heya-to be abandoned
  2. Gyeya- to be known
  3. Upaadeya- to be practiced

All nine realities are worth knowing (gyeya). What needs to be rejected are five heya out of nine: ajiva, punya, paap, aashrav and bandh. Impure state of jiva is also subject of denunciation. These tattvas pollute the soul with karma and bring sorrow. Therefore, they should be rejected. Whatever is left is upaadeya (worthy of practice) and those are - pure state of jiva, samvar, nirjara and moksha.

When a statue is carved on a piece of rock, nothing is required from outside. It can be given a form of a statue simply by removing the extra or unnecessary parts of the stone. The same principle is applied to heya and upaadeya.

Why Renunciation?

Renunciation is an embodiment of a shravak's life. Even with right knowledge and right faith, a shravak without renunciation cannot truly become a shravak. For this reason, renunciation is equally important to understand the art of life as the learning of alphabets to read the scriptures.

Renunciation is the highest strength. There are multiple powers in this world, but none is more powerful than renunciation. A person, who can renounce, can change the situation. If there is conflict between two and one says, 'ok, I leave it.' The conflict comes to an end. When two people fight for the same object and one renounces it, then the struggle is finished.

Acharya Kalugani used to give one illustration. Two people were holding a rope from opposite ends and trying to pull it towards themselves. What will happen? If the rope snaps, both will fall. If accidently the rope was missed from one end, then also both would fall. The wise thought, 'Why should I pull it?' So, he let the rope go loose and stood straight. The person, who was holding the rope tightly, fell down.

Therefore, one who knows how to relinquish or give up is more happy and free from many conflicts.

The Effect of Detachment

Renunciation is the biggest power of the world. Whatever is offered, if you just accept, you will get entangled in attachment. Jain monks fulfill all their needs with the offerings of the house-holders. AcharyaBhikshu instructed the monks to accept food, water, clothes or any other requirements from the shravaks after hearty and humble request. He said this would increase the power of renunciation in the monks. It will also increase the respect for the monks in the heart of the followers.

Once, Acharya Kalugani arrived in Pali city with large number of his disciples, monks and nuns. At that time, very few families residing there belonged to Terapanth community. We had to go for alms to the families of other sects. There we saw the effect of polite refusal of food by the monks and humble offerings by the people. At our surprise, shravaks offered food with great pleasure. We thought, 'What is the reason?' The reason was the instinct of detachment and refusal. There was a belief in the monks- 'just put the pots before shravak and do not stop them while they are giving food or anything. Prohibiting or stopping them while offering may cause bondage of antaraay (hindrance-producing) karma to him.' In fact, it's not true. AcharyaBhikshu removed the concept of 'antaraay' (being obstacle) for some reasons.

Firstly, the shravak has a family. He wishes to offer food and water to the monks, but the monks should be judicious regarding the quantity of the food they take by being sensitive of the needs of the shravak family. Secondly, if shravak keeps giving then it may raise a doubt in his mind that monks accept everything. Monks do not demonstrate restraint. It may decrease their enthusiasm of offerings.

A monk should always have the mentality and habit of 'saying no' to the offerings. It reflects his detachment. If he takes less alms, shravaks will want to offer more. Even if monk's needs are not fulfilled, he should take in small quantity. Taking alms is only a necessity of life. One should not get attached to it. It is only possible when renunciation becomes strong. Therefore, the power of renunciation is the greatest power in the universe.

How Long Terapanth will survive?

Someone asked AcharyaBhikshu, 'How long will Terapanth survive?'

AcharyaBhikshu replied, 'As long as the monks and nuns do not accumulate clothes, pots, etc., follow the rules and regulations and maintain the discipline according to the constitution, Terapanth will survive.'

In addition, it can also be said, 'Terapanth will not face any problem till the monks and nuns are keen in following renunciation.'

In the materialistic world, two powers dominate - the power of governing and the power of wealth. The power of ruling or governing includes police and military forces. Sometimes the power of wealth overrides the power of governing when the materialistic gift or money brings their (ruler's) moral down. But the power of renunciation is stronger than the other two. If this power is strengthened it can bring great change in the nation.

Gurudev Tulsi: A Role Model of Relinquishment

A gentleman said, 'Once a person achieves any position, he does not want to leave his position and give up his rights. Sometimes even after leaving the post he wants his subordinates to ask him for permission before starting any work. Despite of not having authority, he is unable to detach from it.'

I said, 'Gurudev Tulsi led Terapanth as an Acharya for fifty-five years. In spite of being capable of working more he relinquished his post and entrusted it to me (his successor Yuvacharya Mahaprajna). He was not attached to his leadership position. He also gave up all responsibilities of the organization.'

This is a great example of renunciation.

Renunciation: Superior Power

In the absence of power of renunciation other powers also get suppressed. We find multiple examples in Indian history. People who practiced renunciation or relinquishment attained success and happiness, whilst those who did not kept on quarrelling. In this way we can say that renunciation is the supreme power.

The verse in the beginning depicts three guiding principles for a shravak-

  1. Basic knowledge of the nine realities,
  2. Right perception, and
  3. Development of the power of renunciation.

This is the path to happiness. Perverse knowledge, perverse attitude, and non-renunciation lead only lead to sorrow. People are often asked, 'Are you addicted to anything like smoking, drinking or drugs? These are harmful to health and hence their consumption must be stopped.' They reply, 'It's difficult to quit.'

Peoples who cannot quit have weak will power and poor vital energy. Without will power relinquishment is not possible. When there is right knowledge and right faith, only then, willpower is increased and power of renunciation is strengthened.

It is suggested that a shravak should regularly renounce one item for a day. It increases the power of renunciation.

There are three powers - physical, mental and emotional. Muscles impact physical health. The stronger the muscles are, the stronger will be the physical power. The stronger the nervous system, stronger will be the mental will power. The stronger the endocrine system, stronger will be the emotional power.

Right knowledge, right faith, right conduct and the power of renunciation lead to the development of physical, mental and emotional powers, and this is the key to happiness in your hands.


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 Kalugani
  3. Ajiva
  4. Akbar
  5. Aura
  6. Bandh
  7. Darshan
  8. Discipline
  9. Endocrine System
  10. Gurudev
  11. Heya
  12. Jain Philosophy
  13. Jiva
  14. Kalugani
  15. Karma
  16. Kshayopasham
  17. Moksha
  18. Nirjara
  19. Paap
  20. Pali
  21. Punya
  22. Sadhana
  23. Samvar
  24. Samyak Darshan
  25. Shravak
  26. Shravaks
  27. Soul
  28. Tattva
  29. Tattvas
  30. Terapanth
  31. Tulsi
  32. Yuvacharya
  33. Yuvacharya Mahaprajna
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