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Who is a Jain Shravak: 18.1 Four Supplementary Vows

Published: 02.03.2020

Out of the twelve vows for a shravak, the last four vows are shiksha vrat (supplementary vows) which need to be practiced repeatedly over time:

1. Saamaayik: Abstinence from all sinful activities for a limited period - One muhurt (48 minutes)

2. Deshaavakaashik: Additional restraint of the first eight vows

3. Paushadhopavaas: Observing upavaas on sacred days and living like a monk for certain period.

4. Yathaasamvibhaag: Offering food to sadhu or

Out of the four sikshaavratas, two - Saamaayik and Deshaavakaashik are to be practiced daily while paushadhopavaas and yathaasamvibhaag are observed occasionally - the former on sacred days and the latter is to be practiced whenever one has an opportunity.

1. Saamaayik

Saamaayik means abstinence from sinful activities for a specific period. Saamaayik is the first shiksha vrat. It is an applied form of religion. It includes three practices:

a. Practice of mental balance

b. Practice of harmony among body, speech, and mind

c. Practice of developing positive attitude

In Digambar literature, the word 'samaya' is used for soul. The word saamaayik literally means to reside inside or to be with one's inner-self. A person staying with the self does not encounter the problem of imbalance in life. He can concentrate his mind, control his speech, and attain physical stability. He is always aware of developing positive attitude by refraining himself from eighteen sinful activities.

Equanimity in thinking and consciousness can be attained only by practice; to attain or implement it not just by talking. People who do not believe in religion or spirituality, but emphasize on developing equanimity at social level, need to develop equanimity at mental and consciousness level.

A person is always under stress caused by circumstances. Sometimes everything is favourable and other times everything turns unfavourable. A true sadhana or spiritual practice of equanimity or balance is to remain unaffected in both situations. Frustration or agitation arises when external influences are dominant. The objective of saamaayik is to culminate these outer influences.

How should we perform saamaayik? This question can be answered through two live-illustrations of Mishrimalji Surana and Mohanlalji.

Mishrimalji was a noteworthy anuvrati and an honest person full of positive energy. The harmony between his mind, speech and body was extra-ordinary. His consciousness was endowed with equanimity. Performing saamaayik in shirshaasan (head down) was quite common for him. He also practiced saamaayik in supta Garbhasan. In 1981, while AcharyaTulsi was in Delhi, Mishrimalji was also present there. While he was performing saamaayik in his cabin before sunrise and meditating in standing posture, a creature like rat bit his leg. It started bleeding but he did not move. The creature bit him repeatedly infecting his foot but he was completely absorbed in meditation. Only a man who has activated the vibrations of equanimity in his thoughts can withstand such an act.

Mohanlalji Khater had a deep faith in saamaayik. He used to practice saamaayik every day. He would not even take water without doing saamaayik. Once he was traveling in train and his journey was two days long. He could not do saamaayik. He observed fasting during his travel. During his journey, sometimes he would deliberately miss the train, practice saamaayik at railway platform and then get on the next train. He would repeat it few times until he reached his destination. He fulfilled his resolution despite many difficulties. While in Ladnun, he would practice saamaayik in religious environment and listened to the sermons with full concentration. He used to chant the eulogy of 24 tirthankar before the sermon. People around him would experience immense joy hearing his songs. His physical steadiness and engrossment would reflect that he had become 'saamaayik'.

Importance of Saamaayik

Once, BhagawanMahavira was in Rajagriha. King Shrenik along with his queen Chelana, his son Abhaykumar and other respected citizens visited Gunashilakchaitya to see BhagawanMahavira. Kalasaukarik, the heartless butcher, also visited him to satisfy his curiosity. Suddenly an old leper reached the gathering. Pus was secreting from his body. He approached Bhagawan and started rubbing his pus on his body. Bhagawan sneezed at that moment and the old man said, 'Lord, Die immediately'. When the king sneezed, the man said 'Live long!' Similarly, when Abhaykumar and Kalasaukarik sneezed he responded 'Either you live or you die' and 'Neither you live nor you die' respectively.

There was a chaos in the audience due to uncivilized behaviour of the old man. King Shrenik ordered his soldiers to grab the leper. He disappeared as soon as the soldiers tried to get hold him. King Shrenik out of curiosity asked Bhagawan about the old man. Bhagawan responded, 'He was not a human but a heavenly being. The pus from his body was nothing but fragrant sandal. Whatever he said was just a manifestation of truth.'

To satisfy King Shrenik's curiosity, Bhagawan disclosed the secret. 'The old man asked me to die, which means that in renouncing this body I will attain emancipation! The king asked why he asked him to live long. Bhagawan replied 'after death, you will take birth in hell. It is better for you to live here for long time!

The king was perplexed listening this from Bhagawan. He asked, 'Lord, is it fair that your follower goes to hell?' Bhagawan explained him, 'Your destiny of hell-being is already determined. You became my devotee after your future was determined. You will have to suffer for the karma you have accumulated. You are doing pious activities now as a result of which you will be the first Tirthankara in the next cycle (Chaubisi)! King Shrenik was satisfied with this reassurance.

Bhagawan further explained, 'Abhaykumar is leading a life of self-awareness. He will live happily here and will be born as God (Deva) in Anuttaravimaan in his next birth. Therefore, life or death does not make a difference to him!

About Kalsaukarik Bhagawan explained, 'Kalsaukarik is the most wicked man on earth. He indulges himself in violence round the clock. He is facing difficulties in this life which will continue in his next birth in the 7th hell. It does not make a difference whether he lives or dies!

King Shrenik had doubts even after the assurance of being born as Tirthankara in the future. He asked Bhagawan if there was a way to protect himself from his life in hell. Bhagawan advised! If you can get the benefit of saamaayik practiced by Puniya shravak, you may save yourself from hell. The answer amazed King Shrenik and his son Abhaykumar.

King Shrenik approached the house of Puniya shravak the very next day. Seeing the King in his house, Puniya shravak was extremely pleased, though had trepidation at the same time. He did not understand purpose of king's visit. He was an ordinary man who would make cotton rolls for a living. Puniya politely said, 'You have blessed my cottage by visiting me. Please let me know how I can serve you?'

Shrenik replied, 'I don't need anything else, but your saamaayik'. Puniya was perplexed on hearing this. Shrenik added, 'Don't worry; I will pay you whatever you ask for.' Puniya replied, 'Whatever I have is yours. I would be fortunate if I could be of any use to you. O King! Each material thing has its own price, but saamaayik is related to soul. It is a spiritual practice. Can anybody monetise it using material things?'

Shrenik was ready to buy saamaayik and Puniya was ready to give it away, but the problem was the price. They approached BhagawanMahavira to seek solution to this problem. Bhagawan said, 'The price of saamaayik is more than your kingdom. Can you imagine how much price of saamaayik is?'

King Shrenik was surprised at this answer, but eventually understood that saamaayik is an intense spiritual practice which cannot be evaluated with material things. He accepted that going to hell was in his destiny which could not be altered.

This incident verifies that in the context of saamaayik, the respect or value Puniya shravak had was much higher than extremely wealthy King Shrenik.

2. Deshaavakaashik Vrat

Deshaavakaashik vrat is the second supplementary vow. Desh means small or fractional. In this vow, shravak accepts small resolutions for a short time. This simple vow becomes very useful for those who cannot make resolutions for a longer duration. It can be considered as preliminary steps for development of conduct. For example, a novice meditator cannot practice meditation for prolonged period, but can practice for 5 to 10 minutes easily. Similarly, a shravak who cannot practice non-violence, truth and other virtues for a whole day can strengthen his sadhana by resolving these vows for few hours. This short term sadhana makes our resolution more powerful.

3. Paushadhopavaas Vrat

Four types of diet (such as food, water, dry fruits and mouth-fresheners) as well as all sinful activities are forsaken for the whole day and night in this third supplementary vow. It is known as Ashtaprahari paushadh. The word paushadh is also used for this vrat. It is complete fasting along with giving up sinful worldly activities and living a life like a monk for a certain period. It can be practiced in three ways:

  1. Paushadh done only at night (from sunset to sunrise) with fasting
  2. Paushadh done only during day time (from sunrise to sunset) with fasting
  3. Paushadh done through entire day and night (from sunrise to next sunrise) with fasting

In Jain Aagams, we also find description of paushadh done with having meals i.e. without complete fasting. In present times, paushadh is practiced for four prahars, six prahars, and eight prahars and for a longer time too. A prahar means one-fourth time of the day (sunrise to sunset) or night. paushadh is a special kind of spiritual practice.


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. Aagams
  2. Anuvrati
  3. Body
  4. Chaubisi
  5. Concentration
  6. Consciousness
  7. Delhi
  8. Deva
  9. Digambar
  10. Environment
  11. Equanimity
  12. Fasting
  13. Karma
  14. Ladnun
  15. Meditation
  16. Non-violence
  17. Rajagriha
  18. Sadhana
  19. Sadhu
  20. Shiksha
  21. Shravak
  22. Shrenik
  23. Soul
  24. Tirthankar
  25. Tirthankara
  26. Violence
  27. vrat
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