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Who is a Jain Shravak: 20 ►Guidelines fora Healthy Lifestyle

Published: 06.03.2020

Awareness is a significant maxim of religion. BhagawanMahavira has propounded profound instructions to a monk to have awareness in all daily activities such as walking, sitting, eating, speaking and sleeping to avoid violence. In the absence of awareness, any action of a monk becomes sinful. For example, walking of a monk becomes sinful in the absence of awareness, even if a single living being is not killed. A shravak, like a monk, can also prevent himself from the sins of non-abstinence (avrat) by being aware of his daily activities.

Out of the twelve vows of shravak, Deshaavakaashik is the tenth vow. This vow adds the restraint to the first eight vows i.e. five anuvrat and three gunavrat. It allows a shravak to take vow at small scale. There is an ancient tradition of observing the fourteen vows (chaudahniyam), which is prevalent today also. The observer limits the number of the things mentioned in the vows. The following are the fourteen vows:

  1. Sachitt- Food having life
  2. Dravy- Number of food items
  3. Vigay- Delicacies and stimulating food products
  4. Panni- Shoes
  5. Tambul - Mouth-fresheners
  6. Vastr- Outfits
  7. Itra- Perfume and scents
  8. Vaahan- Transportation
  9. Shayan- Bed
  10. Vilepan- Lotions etc.
  11. Abrahmchary- non-celibacy
  12. Disha- Movement or travelling in the various directions
  13. Snaan- Bath
  14. Bhakt- Intake of food and water etc.

These resolutions or vows are in practice even today. AcharyaTulsi realized the current lifestyle and thus designed a beautiful array of nine restraints. The nine beautiful adornments answer the question of how to live an ideal life. The following verse frames these guidelines very well which are explained below.

mahaneeya mahaashravak ki ho dincharya,
badhati hi jaaye jeevan ki jaagarya.
jo har hamesha vrat ki seema sankoche,
nav niyam nirantar praatah pratyaaloche.
khaadyon ki seema vastron ka parisiman,
paani bijalika ho na apvyaya dheeman!
yaatra parimaana maun pratidin svaadhyaayi,
har roja visarjan anaasakti varadaayi.
ho sada sangha seva savivek safai,
pratidivas rahe in niyamon ki parachhaai.

Control over Food

The life routine of a shravak includes many activities such as eating, talking, walking, working, entertaining and many more. Some people, who are fond of eating, keep eating throughout the day, whereas others eat multiple items at a time.

A king named Nero was a food-lover. His sole purpose of having food was to satisfy his taste-buds. He used to consume variety of delicious food and would vomit it right away using medication. This would cause him have multiple intakes of food in a day. Such people do not eat for health or hunger, but for taste. People who can limit their food intake not only benefit the soul through restraint but also their health.

Control of Outfits

A person's attire is a symbol of his culture and civilization. It helps him survive in various seasons such as winter and summer and also helps him maintaining his social status. However, some people are extremely focused on their outfits. They change their clothes a couple of times a day. For such people, attires become the parameter of their personality. Having too many clothes in wardrobe for an individual reflects his inner cravings. After observing the latest fashion in the market, intense desire to acquire them is a symbol of ceaseless craving and consumption.

Limiting the Water-Usage

There was a time when water was used efficiently because it was rare and not easily available. Rain was the primary source of water. Wells were an alternate source in the absence of rain. The development of technology in the latter half of twentieth century has made water available in every house. This abundance has resulted in free use of water.

Mahatma Gandhi's life is an inspiration for careful use of water resources. Once, in Anand Bhavan, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was pouring water to help him wash his hands. He poured some water unnecessarily. Gandhi ji interrupted Jawaharlal Nehru saying, 'Do you know the way you are pouring water? Look! How much water has been wasted?' Nehru responded. 'I am an inhabitant of Sangam (a place where three rivers meet), where there is no scarcity of water.' Gandhiji replied, 'What are you talking about? Millions of people are deprived of drinking water and you claim that water is available in abundance? Efficient use of water can conserve water resources.' These words of Gandhiji were a very powerful message for Nehru.

Save Electricity

In ancient times, there was no electricity and humans were living with prevalent natural resources. The invention of electricity and its consumption has made man dependent on modern amenities. Now they cannot live in the dark, cannot sleep without fan or cooler and cannot work without these facilities. The rate at which water and electricity are being consumed can bring crisis in the coming years. Therefore, one must think to minimize the usage of electricity.

Limiting the Travelling

In ancient times, people would not prefer unnecessary traveling. The invention of vehicle changed this outlook dramatically. People, possessing vehicles, find it difficult to walk even a mile on their foot. It has influenced the life of common mass also. Unnecessary travelling has led to increasing fuel prices and increasing pollution. Excessive traveling has also created shortage of fuel, growing number of road accidents and traffic problems. A simple solution to these problems is to limit traveling. This idea may not sound appropriate in the modern era, but it is a special practice to manage daily routine supporting the vow of dig-parimaan vrat.

Power of Silence and Svaadhyaay

Humans possess a wonderful power of communication and the exchange of ideas depends upon this power. Unreasonable and meaningless talk, back-biting and criticizing others reduce this power. Silence and svaadhyaay (scriptural studies) can develop this power. One can be endowed with power of vachan-siddhi (spoken words turn into reality) by practicing it. Time management is required to practice silence and scriptural studies regularly. One should analyse and manage time to be spent on regular activities, scriptural study and silence. Such reflection can transform the daily routine.

Act of Donation

Detachment is accepted as an important part of a religious life. The consciousness of 'visarjan' or donation is a practical experiment of detachment.

Serving the Society

Spending time in spiritual activities is a contribution towards the religious order.


Along with that cleanliness is also important. Cleanliness depends upon awareness about it. It definitely has effect on the health.

The first four guidelines listed below directly relate to the vows of shravak, while remaining five are not. Yet they are very useful for life.

In summary, the difference between healthy and unhealthy life style can be traced as:

Healthy Life Style

1. Limiting food consumption

Unhealthy Life Style

1. No limit on food consumption

2.  Limiting number of attires

2.  No limits of attires

3.  Restricting use of water and electricity

3. Misuse  of water and electricity

4.  Limiting travel                    4.  Unnecessary travelling

5.  Practicing silence and moderate talk

5.  Unnecessary talk

6.  Scriptural study

6.  Indolent talking

7. Donating

7. Possessiveness

8.  Serving the society

8. Self-centered

9. Cleanliness

9.  Unorganized life

These guidelines are helpful to answer some important questions of life - How do you spend your life? How do you manage your everyday life? A man by being aware of his life style and daily routine can make his life beautiful and healthy.


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. Anaasakti
  2. Anand
  3. Anuvrat
  4. Consciousness
  5. Gandhi
  6. Gandhiji
  7. Gunavrat
  8. Mahatma
  9. Niyam
  10. Pandit
  11. Sangha
  12. Seva
  13. Shravak
  14. Soul
  15. Violence
  16. vrat
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