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Who is a Jain Shravak: 21.1 Jain Lifestyle

Published: 07.03.2020

The modern lifestyle is a prime factor in accelerating crimes and ailments prevailing in the world. Campaigns and policies are instituted globally to advocate lifestyle changes and alleviate these issues. It can be concluded that this is of concern not only for an individual, class or nation, but for the entire world.

In 1989, 'Yogakshem Year' was celebrated at Ladnun. During the celebrations, AcharyaTulsi focused on the way of life and after thorough study and analysis of the scriptures, introduced a contemporary Jain life-style (Jain Jeevan Shaili) consisting of nine key points. This life-style is very significant for a Jain shramanopaasak. Jain tirthankars established the category of shramanopaasak, who acted as torch bearers of one of the prominent religious-culture of the world. The thought of why people should be belonging to this category live a problem-ridden life excited AcharyaTulsi. He analyzed the prevalent problems against the backdrop of Jain Aagams and introduced a new lifestyle to solve these problems.

The life-style of a Jain shramanopaasak is a strong basis for new social reformation. The challenges of non-restraint, intolerance and materialism can be accepted only by an abstinent society. Jain Life­style is the most modern version of shramanopaasak. It can be most beneficial to the masses by disseminating it extensively.

This life-style consists of three constituents - body, mind and emotion. The only way to get relief from physical, mental and emotional imbalance is by renovation of one's life-style. A noble life-style is one in which one has a healthy body, rhythmic breath, efficient sense organs, dynamic vital energy, focused mind, refined emotions, and awakened consciousness. Keeping these outcomes at the forefront, the following nine maxims are formulated which is the basis of an idealistic Jain life-style.

  1. Samyak Darshan (Right Faith)
  2. Anekant (Relative Perspective)
  3. Ahimsa (Non-Violence)
  4. Shraman Sanskriti (Ascetic Culture)
  5. Ichchha Parimaan (Restraint over Desires)
  6. Samyak Aajivika (Right Livelihood)
  7. Samyak Sanskaar (Right Values)
  8. Aahaarshuddhi, Vyasan-mukti (Vegetarian and Addiction-free diet)
  9. Saadharmik Vaatsaly (Ethnic Affection)

1. Right Faith (Samyak Darshan)

Life of human beings revolves around darshan. Here, 'darshan' means perspective. Knowledge and conduct of a person can be analyzed through this parameter. It can be undoubtedly said, 'yaadrikdrishtitaadrikshrishti' - as is the vision, so is the creation.

Perspective connotes a vast meaning. It has many forms. The word 'samyaktv' is also used for 'darshan' in Jain philosophy. 'yathaarthatattvashraddhasamyaktvam'-samyaktvorsamyak-darshan is to comprehend and understand the truth as it is. In other words, samyaktv means having faith in the truth.

Another form of samyaktv seems more practical. It can be assumed that this form is introduced to attract people towards religion. In this context, the definition of samyaktv is,

arahantomahadevojaavjjeevamsusaahunoguruno, jinapannattamtattamiyasammattammaegahiyam.

i.e. the arhat is my dev(God). Monks observing five maahavrats for their whole life are my gurus and the doctrine propounded by arhat is my dharm (religion). I have accepted this samyaktv.

Why has this form of samyaktv been introduced? The answer is the life of a shravak is endowed with attachment. The life can become healthy only if attachment is disciplined by detachment. Thus, the above verse encapsulates detachment - arhat is completely detached, sadhu is on the way of detachment and the religion propounded by arhat is the path of detachment. Therefore, having faith in dev, guru and dharm can help in curtailing attachment.

arhatdevakinchanguruvar, dhaarmiktripadidhyaayein,
samay-prabandhansvaasthya-nibandhan, samuchitlaabhuthaayein.
pratidinapanaaapaparakhein, dharkarhridayhatheli.
badalehridayvyavasthabadale, bane vidhaayakdrishti,
nahinnishedhakbhaavbadhe, yah samyagdarshanshrishti,
avivekiandhaanukarankikyon ho vrittivishaili.

The ultimate aim of a shramanopaasak is to become veetaraag (completely free from attachment). Arhat is the ideal for a shramanopaasak. The Guru teaches them the process in becoming a veetaraagi. Religion is the practice of detachment. One accepts Guru as their preceptor and religion as a path to salvation.

AcharyaTulsi presented samyag-darshan in an absolutely innovative way by relating it with time-management. It reveals an underlying secret. It is difficult to maintain right perspective without time management. For example, a person is a liar from someone else's perspective if he does not arrive at the scheduled time and is always delayed. He is perceived as untrustworthy. Consequently, his changed behavior alters others perspective towards them. This is how time management is associated with samyag-darshan.

Time management is also interlinked with health. A person who is punctual in his daily routine remains physically healthy. A happy mind resides in a sound body. Mental happiness leads a person to be elevated spiritually. One should not ignore this fact that time management plays an important role in attaining holistic health.

Some people emphasize on transformation of the system, whereas other emphasize on transformation of the heart. Coordination of both is the key to right faith. Life-style cannot become appropriate without synchronization of system and the heart. Hence, it can be concluded that both are essential.

Negative thinking is an obstacle in understanding and living a perfect life. Intense negative thinking perverts one's attitude. In Jain terminology, eighteen sins such as violence, untruthfulness etc. are considered as negative thoughts. By strengthening positive thinking negativity can be prevented.

Superstition and blind faith which are prevalent in the society are also caused by perverse faith. Firm right faith helps in getting rid of the instincts of blind faith.

In a nutshell, having faith in truth is the nucleus of right faith. Everything else remains in the periphery.

2. Relative Perspective (Anekant)

Anekant is one of the fundamental principles of Jain philosophy. It implies that each element, person or object is a confluence of various attributes. To analyze any issue or object from various aspects is anekant. With anekant there is no room for persistence. Man is a social being. Relativity, harmony, tolerance, peaceful co-existence etc. are essential for social life. Non-relative viewpoint creates obstinacy, which in turn leads to conflict. The best way to avoid this conflict is through anekant.

The doctrine of anekant plays an important role in changing the attitude of persistence (stubbornness) and hence in subsiding conflicts. How is it possible? The philosophy of anekant and veetaraagata both go hand in hand. In the presence of intense attachment and aversion anekant cannot become effective. When attachment, hatred and passion (kashaay), are ineffective anekant becomes effective. One can reduce his passions by understanding the fundamentals of anekant. Anekant is automatically understood when passions are subdued. AcharyaTulsi has explained this idea in the second verse of 'Jeevanshaili':

anekantsiddhaantsaamanetike na koivigrah,
prekshadhyanprayogon se aaveshvritti ka nigrah,
soch bane saapekshlachili, kyon anamani akeli.

i.e. conflict cannot survive in the presence of anekant. Preksha meditation can overcome anger. Thinking should be relative and flexible, not persistent.

Uncontrolled emotion is one of the leading causes of social conflict. The practice of Preksha Meditation is helpful in controlling emotions. This practical aspect associated with anekant is indeed a unique idea. In fact, people know the philosophical aspect of anekant, but it does not solve behavioural conflicts. People keep on quarrelling due to unrestrained kashaay, even though having faith in anekant. Therefore, its practical approach needs to be practiced to bring radical changes.

Development of collective consciousness is an outcome of relative outlook. This consciousness flourishes on the ground of relativity. In the absence of relativity, individualistic attitude increases. This is why a person experiences loneliness and suffers from depression.

A farmer cultivates crops. How does it happen? While analyzing the sequence of factors, a long list can be prepared. In this context, Acharya Kalugani composed the following verse:

koikahekheti hot barasesaghanghan,
tijokahebeejseti, chauthokahehalseti,
halisetipaanchavobataave so hi chhathihai.
chhathokahe bail seti, saatavonishedhaiyaar,
ek baat maanein yaanmein so hi mithyaadrishti jiva,
saatbaatmaaneinbo hi sachojainmatihai.

i.e. one farmer says, farming is possible because of rain. Another says land is the cause. In the same way remaining five people suggest that seeds, plough, farmer, bull and luck enable farming to occur. According to anekant, any person accepting just one cause has perverse viewpoint, while the one who accepts all seven causes of farming) is true according to Jain philosophy.

To comprehend one out of the infinite attributes of an object at any particular instant of time is called nay. Every thought about any object is a nay. Anekant knows all the attributes simultaneously, but while expressing it uses the approach of what is intended whilst other factors (or notions or truths) are subordinate. It implies that using this approach the prime attributes are conveyed while not rejecting the existence of other factors. The above-mentioned illustration of farming manifests this truth.

3. Non-Violence (Ahimsa)

Violence and life are interrelated. The life of a householder (shravak) is difficult without engaging in violence of some form. On one hand, there is indispensability of violence for leading a worldly life, and on the other hand a non-violent lifestyle is suggested. It is a paradoxical concept. Focusing on this contradiction, if a person aligns to the violent way of life, it will result in greater danger for the society. In such a situation, there will be no way to protect oneself from violence. Jain Acharyas, after deep analysis, have suggested that the middle path of minimization of violence. It can be regarded as a practical path in the field of spirituality.

There are three dimensions of lifestyle:

  1. Mahaarambh(Huge violence)
  2. Alpaarambh(Minimum violence)
  3. Anaarambh(No violence)

Aarambh means violence. Violence and possessions are two prime roots of many problems in the world. Life-style with all dimensions of violence is known as Mahaarambh. Mahaarambh lifestyle is never desirable for a healthy society. Alpaarambh means minimization of violence, which is the middle path. Anaarambh lifestyle is that where violence is absolutely avoided. Anaarambhi lifestyle is not possible for a social being.

Alpaarambh is possible for a common man. How can a person minimize violence? There are four ways to reduce the violence:

  1. Abandoning of unnecessary violence
  2. Abandoning of instigating attack/starting war
  3. Abandoning suicide
  4. Abandoning feticide

All these forms of violence are worthy of abandonment. The aforementioned four levels are vital in developing a non-violent life­style. The following verse elucidates it very well:

bacheinanaavashyakhinsa se, anaakramankivritti,
vikasithokaarunyachetana, apanisajagsaheli.

Mahatma Gandhi can be illustrated as an ideal for living a life free from unnecessary violence. For example, he used a fibrous twig for cleaning his teeth. He never preferred to pluck the entire branch for getting the twig, but simply the twig. He even cautioned others who were inadvertently plucking the entire branch. Moreover, he never permitted anyone to drag his bed while moving it to another place. He was conscious about not killing any living beings unreasonably through any thoughtless actions.

The instinct of not attacking is also a step towards minimizing violence. Attack does not imply war only, but various aspects of life are also encapsulated by it. Mental aggression is also dangerous. Literatures and magazines are also opposed or criticized, which is also a form of violence. To refrain from all such unnecessary attacks are part of leading a non-violent life-style.

Increasing figures of suicides illustrate the seriousness of this social curse. Even intellectuals and rich are victims of this problem. Competent scientists are committing suicide as well. This is an outcome of our stressful world. Sometimes, even the tiniest of unfavorable situation begets negative reactions which lead to suicide. According to viewpoint of the advocates of non-violence, committing suicide is equivalent to murder.

Feticide is an outcome of this present, money-dominant era. With recent medical advancements, it has become possible to detect the gender of the fetus. In fact, this technique was developed to study the chromosomes to avoid physical disability and heredity diseases. However, in spite of having no diseased feticide, selective abortion to female fetus is totally inhumane and callous attitude. The ratio of male to female population will be severely imbalanced if the percentage of female feticide keeps on increasing at the current rate. According to the annual report of Medical Institutions from April 1995 to March 1996, the figure of abortions was around 125,000 during the year. Another report says that in 8,722 abortion centers, approximately 570,000 abortions took place. The actual figure is assumed much higher than the official report.

According to the Family Welfare Statistics published by the Indian Union Health ministry in 2009 India recorded 725,000 MTPs in 2005, 721,000 in 2006 and 682,000 induced abortions in 2007.

Feticide is the effect of a cruelty-dominated lifestyle, whereas Jain life­style advocates compassion and total prohibition for such violence. According to law, killing of any human being is illegal. A murderer is a criminal in the court of law. Logically, there is no difference between killing a human and a fetus. Even killing of a criminal is not permitted, then how can it be legal to kill an innocent fetus?


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 Kalugani
  4. Acharyas
  5. Ahimsa
  6. Anekant
  7. Anger
  8. Arhat
  9. Body
  10. Consciousness
  11. Darshan
  12. Dharm
  13. Gandhi
  14. Guru
  15. Jain Philosophy
  16. Jeevan Shaili
  17. Jiva
  18. Kalugani
  19. Ladnun
  20. Mahatma
  21. Mahatma Gandhi
  22. Meditation
  23. Non-violence
  24. Preksha
  25. Preksha Meditation
  26. Sadhu
  27. Samyak Darshan
  28. Shraman
  29. Shravak
  30. Tirthankars
  31. Tolerance
  32. Veetaraag
  33. Violence
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