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Who is a Jain Shravak: 19.1 Distinct Sadhana of Shravak

Published: 04.03.2020

Vishraam (Repose)

Today, humans are living a stressful life. The root cause is economic and social competitions. The race for reaching the pinnacle in a highly competitive environment gives rise to tensions. A failure in this rat race stimulates a feeling of inferiority which results in a stressful life. Violence, untruthfulness, and such negative emotions lead to a life devoid of vows which are responsible for a chaotic and stressful life. According to Jain philosophy moha (attachment) is the biggest cause of distress. Man cannot become free from stress as long as the attachment is powerful. In order to eliminate the weariness caused by attachment, vishraam (repose) is required. It is nothing but the process of subsidence of delusion.

Vishraam of a Shravak

In Thanam (4.362), for a weight-bearer (man loaded with heavy luggage) four ways to repose have been depicted which are elucidated in the following verses:

bharvaahi shramik ke vishraam ki parikalpana,
padhenThanam mein chaturvidh sahaj sukhad vikalpana.
shravakon ke liye tyon vishraam vrat-aaraadhana,
sada savidhi vivekapurvak shaantaman ho sadhana.
sheel-anuvrat-guna-aaraadhan, shravak ka pahala vishraam,
saamaayik deshaavakaashvrat, aatmaraman ka duja dhaam.
chaturdashi ashtami aadiko, purnrup se ho paushadh,
antima sanlekhan santhaara, anupam aadhyaatmik aushadh.

The four ways of repose are:

  1. Shifting the weight from one shoulder to another
  2. Put down the weight in order to be free from physical fatigue
  3. To halt for a night in a public resort or inn etc.
  4. To unload the weight after reaching the destination

 In the same way, four reposes have been described for a shramanopasak:

  1. To accept the vow of sheelavrat (vows for development of celibacy), Gunavrat (qualifying vows), viraman (abstinence), pratyaakhyaan (relinquishment) and upavaas (fasting)
  2. To practice the vow of saamaayik and deshaavakaashik
  3. To practice pausadhopavaas on four sacred days (ashtami, chaturdashi, amaavasya and poornima)
  4. With the practice of sanlekhana accepting santhaara by renouncing food and water unto death without expectation of death

From spiritual perspective, repose means remedy of attachment. This remedy is done in four levels:

  1. Acceptance of vows, which in turn reduces the weight of non-abstinence
  2. Strengthening of vows through the practice of equanimity
  3. Special sadhana on parvatithi (sacred days)
  4. Contemplation of separateness of body and soul by reducing the attachment for the body. Sanlekhana (penance unto death) is a process of culminating the delusion of the body

A person would feel light and become holistically healthy after going through the above-mentioned four levels of medication for delusion.

The eighth, fourteenth and fifteenth day of the lunar half-month are considered as the parvatith is. A shravak is supposed to observe fast without water and desist from all sinful activities and remain conscious and aware during the entire length of the fasting on these days. The relevance of these specific sacred days can be investigated in the context of astrology, physiology and science. Sea level increases as the phase of the moon increases during these days. Likewise, the water in our bodies increases during these sacred days. It makes our mind perplexed. During these days, excessive intake of water or eating food that contains high levels of water intensifies the air (gas) element in the body and which can lead to mental instability. In ancient time, due to practice of complete paushadh during those sacred days, use of green vegetables and water was avoided naturally. The tradition of restraining the intake of green vegetables seems to be introduced later.

Manorath (Spiritual Aspiration)

Manorath means strong wish or aspiration. It is, in fact, a technique of goal-setting and enhancing ones will power. In yog, it can be compared with contemplation. Each person should have a clear goal. What does he want to be? Where does he want to reach? Without a definite goal, how can he choose the direction to move? AcharyaTulsi in the following verse says that a shravak must contemplate on three manorath and practice them.

shravak ke tin manorath sahi shravy hain,
manasa vachasa satatam dhyaatavya navya hain.
praayogika hai, prayog karana yadij aane,
jeevan parivartan ki sarani pahachaane

Furthermore, he describes three manorathas:

kabaayegavahdhany divas, jab aparigrahibanunga main
kabaayegavahdhany divas, ghartyaagmunivratlunga main
kabaayegavahdhany divas, anashanaamarankarunga main
jeenakemohmauthbhay se ban muktsamaadhivarunga main.

Three types of manorath have been described in Thanam (3.497):

  1. When shall I renounce my possession small or big?
  2. When shall I get initiated renouncing my worldly life?
  3. Following the course of apashchimmaarnaantiksanlekhana, when shall I renounce all food and water accepting the praayopagamansanthaara without the expectation of death?

A shramanopasak attains mahaanirjara (eradication of big amount of karma) and mahaaparyavasaan (the great end of life) by contemplating through pure mind, speech and body with the above-mentioned manorath. It indicates his spiritual enrichment. The question arises, how can mahaanirjara and mahaaparyavasaan be possible in shramanopasak because he is on the 5th gunasthaan (stage of spiritual development) while mahaanirjara and mahaaparyavasaan occur at the 14th stage? The solution to this discrepancy lies in the second manorath wherein the desire is to be a saint. After becoming a saint, he can ascend onto the 14th stage, where mahaanirjara and mahaaparyavasaan both are possible (where intense level of eradication of karma takes place.).

Looking at these manorath, a question arises, 'Why is the concept of non-possession emphasized more than that of non-violence?' In fact, the method of manorath reflects the far-sightedness of Bhagawan Mahavira. He knew that the ever-increasing greed for possession is the root cause of violence and immorality.

Manorath focuses on the root cause, which is possession and thereby emphasizes upon relinquishment of possessions. Seizing this underlying idea, AcharyaTulsi devised a new concept concentrating upon non-possessiveness. However, Jainism is considered as a religion of non-violence. The principle of 'ahimsa paramodharmah' is an outcome of such philosophy, but if analysed deeply, then non-possession seems more important than non-violence. The possibilities of violence, falsehood, stealing etc. occur under the shelter of greed for possession. Thus, once the possession is gone, negative attitudes and habits can never become effective. From this point of view, the principle of 'aparigrahparamodharmahh' seems more applicable.

It becomes easy for a person to become a saint once he develops detachment for possessions. Renouncing violence is not difficult for a saint. It transpires after he becomes a saint. Describing the eligibility of a saint's life, Uttradhyayan quotes 'sanjogavippamukkassanagarassbhikkhuno' - one, who is disconnected from wealth, property, luxuries, and family, accepts the path of monkhood. Because of being devoid of all sorts of possessions the concept of alms is established for the survival of a saint. As long as attachment with house, family and wealth remains, possession remains. Unless these delusions and possessions are eliminated, one cannot think about becoming a saint.

The third manorath is an experiment of Samaadhi Maran. It is an art of death. During samaadhimaran, the pull towards life and fear of death are disposed of. This is a unique idea of Jainism. It is also termed as sanlekhana, santhaara and anashan.

The very first instruction given is for curtailing possessions and then later on, giving it up to practice these three manorath. In some exceptional cases, it is possible to abandon possessions completely in one stroke but commonly, it needs gradual practice. In the next step, one accepts monkhood in which one abstains from violence. In the third step, reduction of attachment and care of one's body occurs. Therefore, it is a holistic procedure for transformation.

Shravak Pratima (Intensive Courses)

There are four stages of a shravak on the basis of his development of faith and spiritual practice:

Sulabhabodhishravak: The development of religious interest is the first stage. They like to visit monks, and listen to religious discourses etc., but do not attain samyaktv.

Darshanshravak: He attains samyaktva alongside growing religious interest, but do not want to practice any vow.

Vratishravak: He follows twelve vows of a shravak in this stage.

Pratimaadharishravak: They practice intensive sadhana.

Pratima means conditional practice. In this practice, special kind of time-bound vows are observed. Some Acharyas have classified shravaks observing pratimas into three categories. Those observing the first six pratima are considered as grihastha, those observing the seventh to ninth are known as vaani or brahmachaari and those accepting the last two are called bhikshu. The Acharyas have categorized them as jaghany (lowest), madhyam (intermediate) and uttam (highest).

Eleven types of intensive courses have been described in Dashashrutskandha. Although there is a prescribed order in accepting pratima, it is not necessary to follow them altogether. Some shravaks stop after practicing 2-4 pratimas, while some reach up to the 10th stage. Some also complete all eleven pratimas.

avasar par gyaarahpratimashravakdhaare,

darshan se shramanabhuuttakbadhatejaaye,

The above verse says that a shravak should accept the spiritual practices of eleven pratimas to beautify their life which are elucidated in Jain scriptures.

In Samavaao (11/1), the eleven pratimas have been mentioned without any description. The life sketches of ten shravaks like Anand have been explained in the Upaasakadasha. Here, each shravak accepted the pratimas, but Upaasakadasha does not mention the name and description of pratimas. Description of pratima accepted by Anand is documented as, 'Accepting first upaasakpratima, Anandshramanopaasak practiced pratima from first to eleventh according to the scriptures, rules, guidelines and description.' The intense elucidation has been found in Dashashrutskandha (3/8-18). Based on this, a brief explanation of each pratima is as follows:


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. Acharyas
  2. Anand
  3. Anashan
  4. Bhikshu
  5. Body
  6. Celibacy
  7. Contemplation
  8. Darshan
  9. Environment
  10. Equanimity
  11. Fasting
  12. Fear
  13. Greed
  14. Gunavrat
  15. Jain Philosophy
  16. Jainism
  17. Karma
  18. Mahavira
  19. Manasa
  20. Moha
  21. Non-violence
  22. Pahala
  23. Pratima
  24. Sadhana
  25. Samaadhi
  26. Samyaktva
  27. Sanlekhana
  28. Science
  29. Shravak
  30. Shravaks
  31. Soul
  32. Uttradhyayan
  33. Violence
  34. Yog
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