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Who is a Jain Shravak: 19.2 Distinct Sadhana of Shravak

Published: 05.03.2020

1. Darshan pratima

Duration - 1 month

Technique - To have conviction (faith for truth) in religion at all points, to abandon the infringement of samyaktv.

2. Vrat pratima

Duration - 2 months

Technique - Observance of the five anuvrats and three gunavrat and doing paushadh.

3. Saamaayik pratima

Duration - 3 months

Technique - Observance of the vow of saamaayik and deshaavakaashik.

4. Paushadh pratima

Duration - 4 months

Technique - Observance of paushadh on the 8th and 14th day of the lunar half month, the last day of the dark half of a lunar month and the full moon day.

5. Kayotsarg pratima

Duration - 5 months

Method - Practice of kayotsarg at night. One, who observes this 5thpratima, does not take a bath, does not eat after sunset, uses an unfolded dhoti (loin-cloth), observes celibacy during the day and limits the non-celibacy in the night.

6. Brahmachary pratima

Duration - 6 months

Technique - Observance of complete celibacy.

7. Sachitt pratima

Duration - 7 months

Technique - Abstinence from eating sachitt (food which con­tains life).

8. Aarambh pratima

Duration - 8 months

Technique - Not doing the activities involving injury to life.

9. Preshy pratima

Duration - 9 months

Technique - Not getting the activities done by servants etc. that involve injury to life.

10. Uddishtavarjak pratima

Duration - 10 months

Technique - Not consuming any food cooked solely for them. In addition to this, they shave their head with a razor or keep a tuft of hair. For household affairs, they simply reply 'I know' or 'I don't know'.

11. Shramanbhut pratima

Duration - 11 months

Technique - Similar to an ascetic life. They may use a razor or simply pluck their hair. They accept the conduct, outfits and ob­jects akin to a saint. They following the discipline of a saint such as iryasamiti (comportment in movement) live their life. They restrict their alms to their relatives, as they have not disconnect­ed their attachment to them. In spite of living a life like a saint, they accept them self as a shramanopasak.

The discipline of all former pratimas continues in the succeeding Pratima.

Refraining from Mahaaskandh

There has been a tradition of practicing various kinds of abstinence to fortify vows in a shravak's life. The practice of twelve vows with sanlekhana is the fundamental conduct of a shravak. Vishraam, manorath and pratima are practiced in order to enrich the vows. These are based on the Aagams and have been prevalent since the era of Bhagawan Mahavira. The practice of refraining from mahaaskandh is not mentioned in the Aagamic texts. When and how this practice started is a matter of research. In this matter, it can be said that this is a posterior practice. The names of four mahaaskandh are mentioned in the following verse:

chaarmahaashrvadvaar, mahaaskandhnamnavidit,
aajeevanparihaar, varsakshamshravakkare.
mahaaskandh se muktmahaashravakkahalaaye,

i.e. complete celibacy, no food and water after sunset, not eating food having life and not eating root vegetables are mahaaskandh. A mahaashravak follows these four vows for - his life.

Acharya Tulsi has used the term 'mahaaskandh for four 'skandhs'. These are termed as mahaaskandh because of being major causes of inflow of karma. Karmas are attracted through the doors of aashrav (influx). A shravak inhibits the inflow of karma as far as possible. Inhibition is possible by taking vows. However, a number of vows are accepted with some exceptions. They depend upon dravy (object), kshetr (place) and kaal (time). For instance, if one takes a vow of not eating any specific green vegetable, he can consume pickle, candy etc. One who has renounced fresh apples and gooseberries (aamala), can eat candied or pickled apples and gooseberries. But in the context of mahaaskandh, the vows are resolute. There is no exception at any cost in any form or time.

Traditionally, four types of skandhs were - incontinence, eating at night, sachitt and green vegetables. It can be assumed that the first three skandhs are adopted from the pratimas. These are also related to the vows of shravak. However, the fourth skandh regarding green vegetables has neither been mentioned in the pratimas nor in the vows. Moreover, it is also not included in the manorath and vishraam also. In this case, the intake of green vegetables is considered as a skandh, due to the specific perspective of time and place. In ancient times, apart from chaaturmaas, green vegetables were scarcely available. In dry areas such as Rajasthan, its production was very limited. Under these situations, the intake of dried green vegetables was prevalent. It can be presumed that natural availability of dried vegetables might have led some monks and nuns to use them for avoiding avrat (non-abstinence).

While composing 'Shravak Sambodh', Acharya Tulsi pondered over the nature of the four skandhs. He realized the globalization and connectivity of the world through medium of transportation. He studied the regional conditions and focused on the psychology of the common man. He sensed that, green vegetables and fruits have become inevitable for the present way of life. Those people who had given up the four skandhs previously, were experiencing difficulties. In order to solve this contemporary problem, AcharyaTulsi replaced green-vegetable with kandamul (root vegetable) as a fourth skandh.

New Form of Mahaaskandh

Religion sustains the old traditions but establishes something new also. The tradition of abandoning four skandhs for a shravak is neither mentioned in the Aagams nor was it considered a compulsory act to be followed. Along with the practice of shravakdharm, the skandhs were renounced for special spiritual practice. Acharya Tulsi, the author of Shravak Sambodh, has commemorated the skandhs in a new form to make them more effective and create a positive impact on the thinking and lifestyle of a shravak.

Those who praise the significance of anekant, are free from persistence of thoughts and believe in practicing the pragmatic form of religion can become mahaashravak by quitting these skandhs, irrespective of their observance of the 12 vows. It is articulated trough the following verse:

naividha se bhihomahaaskandhkavarjan,
anaagrahichintan ho anekantki lay mein.

The new four mahaaskandhs have been narrated as follows:

  1. Superstitions (Rudhi)
  2. Craving (Aasakti)
  3. Negative impulses (Aavesh)
  4. Dishonesty (Aprramaanikata)

A human being is contingent on tradition. His behaviour is based on conventions. Rites that become endemic are known as conventions. This meaning is not applicable in this context. The conventions that become meaningless, encourage reaction, violence and competition, are thus worth abandoning. Instead of blindly following traditions, a change is necessary. The tradition, that increases financial pressure, intensifies the superstitions and leaves an adverse impression on the values, is an indication of discretion. The transformation of such tradition is possible through conscience.

Renouncement of craving is a great practice of spirituality. It is the second skandh. By renouncing objects, one can make himself free from craving, but life is not sustainable without objects. Consuming objects without being engrossed in them is a special spiritual practice. To be free from craving is one of the internal eligibility of being a mahaashravak.

Anger is the third skandh. It acts as an important factor in tarnishing human-behaviour, which in turn causes bitterness within families and society. In addition to behavioural efficiency, getting free from anger is also a secret of success. Airhostess, nurses and sales-girls are being trained in communication skills. Their ever-smiling face and warm cooperative behaviour with customers can promote them to higher posts. Control over anger is necessary in both personal and professional life. The concept of being free from anger is a practical implementation of religion in the life.

Dishonesty is the fourth skandh. Honesty is given a special value in the field of business and behaviour. Usually, people believe that the policy of honesty does not work in the field of business, as it seems easier to earn more through dishonest means. But the thought of quick easy money through ill means is a short-sighted experience. In the long term, an honest person achieves success. Only an honest person is seen to be successful in the export business. It is truly said, 'It is a foolish fish that is caught with the same bait'. In this age of fierce competition, any person would not conduct repeated business with a dishonest dealer and thus, the dishonest businessperson will not be able to compete with the honest businesspersons in the end. Therefore, in business and all spheres of life, 'honesty is the best policy.


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. Acharya
  3. Acharya Tulsi
  4. Anekant
  5. Anger
  6. Anuvrats
  7. Celibacy
  8. Darshan
  9. Discipline
  10. Globalization
  11. Gunavrat
  12. Kaal
  13. Karma
  14. Karmas
  15. Kayotsarg
  16. Mahavira
  17. Pratima
  18. Rajasthan
  19. Sanlekhana
  20. Shravak
  21. Tulsi
  22. Violence
  23. vrat
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