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Who is a Jain Shravak: 21.2 Jain Lifestyle

Published: 08.03.2020

4. Ascetic Culture (Saman Sanskriti)

Since ancient times, two streams of culture are prevalent in India -Brahman Culture and Shraman Culture. Only one culture does not constitute the entirety of the society. All the diverse cultural streams collectively contribute to form the culture of a society. However, culture is recognized by the prominent factors prevailing during any epoch of time.

The word Shraman has its origins in the Sanskrit word saman. The lifestyle of a saman is worth adopting for a healthy society even today. Today, three things are emphasized:

  1. Equality - The development of equality
  2. Equanimity - Peaceful co-existence
  3. Endeavour - Respect for hard work (intensive efforts)

These three vital elements- sam (equality), sham (equanimity) and shram (endeavour) of the Shraman culture are considered as the foundations for a healthy society. Therefore, erudite Jain Acharyas have included these three elements in the word 'saman' as mentioned below:

sam sham shramkasangam, sadashramansanskritikaraasta,
pravanchanakakyonprapanch, apanepaurush me aastha,
kaduvaahatkibaatna, sabakomeethigudkibheli.

Sam (Equality)

Shraman culture is divided into two main streams - Jainism and Buddhism. The fundamental elements of Jain ethics are equality and equanimity. From a worldly point of view, equality at financial level is encouraged, along with other social factors. From a spiritual viewpoint, the most comprehensive aspect is equality of all souls. External visible differences are marginal. In fact, in the presence of principle of equality of souls, external disparity cannot sustain.

Sham (Equanimity)

Control over emotions brings peace. The practice of controlling emotions is very significant in shraman culture. The anecdote for a shraman (monk) is 'uvasamsaaram saamannam', which means that the essence of monkhood is equanimity. This can be translated in modern context as 'uvasamsaaro khu vavahaaro' i.e. the essence of human behaviour is equanimity. Therefore, behaviour of humans should be calm and composed. Peaceful and humble behaviour is essential for a happy, spiritual life.

Shram (Endeavour)

Endurance and endeavour are both necessary for a society to flourish. A hard worker cannot succeed in the absence of power of tolerance and endeavour. The increasing complacent lifestyle can only be altered by imbibing values of hard work. Physical health and mental happiness cannot be secured in the absence of endeavour. Ironically, in this materialistic world desire for growing luxurious mentality is possible only through the sanskaar of hard work. Jain lifestyle emphasizes the value of physical effort, which is diminishing in the current mechanical life.

 5. Control over Desires (Ichchha Parimaan)

Luxurious lifestyle stimulates affluent people for more consumption. There was a time when many family members would sleep under a single fan. Today, the same family is not satisfied even after having separate fan for each. This led to the advent of air-coolers and air conditioners. In ancient times a single vehicle was enough for a family's convenience. Today, every member desires their own vehicle.

In the era of late 20th Century, some problems have been increasing globally at an alarming rate. Amongst them, many are related to rampant consumerism:

  1. Lack of limiting materialistic consumption
  2. Lack of limiting of accumulation of goods
  3. Increasing temptation towards use of cosmetics
  4. Accumulation of goods without contribution (visarjan)
  5. Mounting cravings for material goods

Solution of these problems is being proposed by every field of the society. Principle of self-restraint or vow is proposed as an effective solution by spiritual leaders. People who ponder over these issues nationally endeavor to bridge the economic gap between the rich and poor.

Consumption and utility of goods is necessary to sustain life, but only consumption cannot be the goal of life. Moral and ethical values of life have gone wayward by considering materialistic consumption as the primary goal. To re-establish the importance of a restraint life, one has to curb the instinct of unlimited possessions and over­indulgence. This aspect cannot be controlled by laws or force. The desire to limit materialistic consumption must come from within. However, training of mindset can induce such control.

Man is a beauty-lover by nature. Cosmetics have been in use even during ancient times for physical adornment. However, the source was nature. Herbs, fruits and similar plants were used as ingredients. Unfortunately, mankind today in the race of satisfying unchecked desires has overlooked humanity and ecology. For instance, thousands of wild cats are killed every year merely to produce perfumes.

Certain cosmetics are manufactured by crushing the eyes and livers of 'Loris' monkeys. For testing of cosmetics, chemicals are applied at the surface of the skin or injected under the skin of guinea pigs to determine the skin sensitivity of lotions. Fragrant cats are tortured terribly to produce perfumed scents. Beaver rats are killed for their oil and skinned for making leather and fur-coats. Innumerable items are manufactured from this leather. Karakul sheep too are mercilessly slaughtered for their leather.

Earning money is necessary for one's survival, but unfair means of earnings indicate the boundless desires of mankind. The instinct of unrestrained accumulation is not laudable. Money should circulate. It means that if there is visarjan (donation) along with earning, then wealth will not be misused and hoarded in the hands of a few. Furthermore, visarjan helps in curtailing unlimited desires. The theory of donation is the theory of detachment. Intensive attachment for money and materialistic things may cause tragedy. To protect oneself from harm, sense of charity needs to be awakened. Therefore, it is said:

ichchhakaparimaanbhog-sangrahkaseemaakaranam,
hinsaajanyaprasaadhan-saamagrikaasvikaranam,
arjansaathvisarjan ho, yah anaasaktialabeli.

On one hand, people are inspired to increase their desires and have an ambitious strategy to satiate them. On the contrary, they are advised to limit their desires and consumption to solve life problems. This is a contradiction in itself. Limiting one's individual accumulation and consumption is the solution to overcome this contradiction. Neither it ceases progress nor does it help in growing the problems aroused by unlimited consumption and accumulation.

 6. Right Livelihood (Samyak Aajivika)

The question of livelihood is eternal. It is not affected by time and land. Every individual from all walks of life is conscious of his career just to earn money, without ensuring the means of his livelihood. We live in this money-oriented modern age which is wealth and material centric. Therefore, financial outlook is at the center of life. Since, money is the axis of the worldly system, purity of the means of earning needs due consideration. BhagawanMahavira, Bhagawan Budhha and even in 'Manusmriti' discuss this concept well.

Livelihood is directly associated with sustaining life. Human ambitions have grown so lofty that common people earn not only to maintain their life, but aim to earn, accumulate and consume. Consequently, morality and the environment are affected adversely. Nonetheless, in Jain life-style the focus is on right means of livelihood which takes three factors into consideration:

  1. Market-atmosphere
  2. Morality
  3. Social purity

Immorality is the main contributor of the environment's degradation. Decline of morality causes series of the social vices to emerge. Therefore, pure livelihood is very important.

Boundless desires are the root cause of financial impurity. Mounting desires drive people to work extra to earn even more. Such mindset in turn compels people towards accumulating wealth. More accumulation stimulates more consumption. This is a vicious cycle which impels people to acquire wealth through improper means which affects their behaviour.

An honest person cannot earn is a common perception amongst people with unbridled ambition in accumulating wealth. An insightful way of thinking can be that honesty may not make one a millionaire or billionaire, but it can certainly provide them with a happy life. Some people resort to unethical means to earn excessively which is the prime cause of the gap between the rich and the poor. A small minority have made the entire society unstable by their illicit methods of earning. Seeing the grandeur of such people, immature people tend to follow their footsteps which ultimately increase the crime rate.

It is true that having money is an absolute necessity to sustain life. It has its own importance. Nevertheless, to earn money at the expense of losing values is never admirable. People should think of the approach to secure their identity - is it possible through prudence or consumption? Is accumulation of wealth, the only parameter of success or do life-values have any merit? As long as human instinct is not disciplined by spirituality, the detriment caused by a money-centric world will continue. Why are problems such as insurgency and terrorism increasing? In fact, limitless prosperity of some is creating outrageous discontentment amongst the terrorists. Robberies, kidnapping, murders and such crimes are a result of disparity in the society. One of the best solutions for maintaining a healthy society and protecting it from the prevailing problems is to promote right and fair means of livelihood.

In the following verse AcharyaTulsi, suggests accepting any occupation using pure means and rejecting socially unacceptable ventures.

aay-niyaamakduvidhaashaamak sutra Jain jeevanka,
lok-ghrinitvyavasaay-vivarjanlakshyshuddhsaadhanka,
pravaahpaatipradushanon se, kyon ho Ganga maili.

The doctrine of right livelihood is the philosophy of healthy society. It suggests avoiding three types of businesses.

  1. Businesses involving fraud - adulteration, promoting fake items as genuine, discrepancy between showing and selling an object, fake documents etc. are fraudulent
  2. Businesses which are socially violent or harmfull- Business of meat, wine, eggs etc., child and girl trafficking, smuggling of toxic ingredients and charging high interest on loan are all deplorable trades in society
  3. Businesses which pollute the environment - Deforestation, intense exploitation of earth, dumping of factory-waste in rivers (without proper treatment) create ecological imbalance. The sewage dumped in rivers has disastrous effect on health

Jain life-style inspires purity in business and it is possible by following the philosophy of non-possession propounded by BhagawanMahavira. Solutions to major problems related to business are available in Jain life-style.

7. Right Values (Sanskaar)

In Vedic tradition, sixteen sanskaars(sacraments) of life have been accepted:

  1. Garbhaadhaan(Conception): Conception, a ceremony performed by Hindus when a woman conceives (becomes pregnant)
  2. Punsavan(Fetus protection): A ceremony which is performed on the third month of pregnancy
  3. Seemant(Satisfying the cravings of the pregnant mother): A Vedic rite performed in the sixth or eighth month of pregnancy
  4. Jaatakarm(Child birth): The ceremony performed on the birth of a child
  5. Naamkaran(Naming the child): The ceremony of naming a child
  6. Nishkraman(Taking the child outdoors for the first time): The ceremony in which the child (four months old) is taken out of the house for the first time
  7. Annapraashan(Giving solid food): The ceremony of feeding a child (six months old) for the first time. The child is fed with rice cooked in milk
  8. Chudaakarm(Hair cutting): The tonsure ceremony
  9. Karnavedh(Ear piercing): The ceremony of piercing the ear of an infant (boy child)
  10. Upanayan(Sacred thread ceremony): The initiation of the born child with a sacred thread
  11. Vedaarambh(Study of Vedas): The study of the Vedas
  12. Samaavartan(Returning home after completion of education): A Vedic rite which is performed when a student returns from the Gurukul to his household, after finishing his studies
  13. Vivaah(Marriage): Wedding ceremony
  14. Vaanaprasth(Preparation for renunciation): The third part of the life preparing for renunciation
  15. Sanyaas(Renunciation): The fourth stage of a Brahmin's life, the abandonment of all worldly desires
  16. Antyeshti(Cremation): The funeral rite

Jain scriptures do not mention about these sacraments, yet few of these sanskaars have been adopted by the Jain society as part of tradition. Historical analysis illustrates that Jain followers have faced tough situations from a religious point of view. To protect their existence, Jains have had to adjust with other religions. They had no other way to escape from this. Acharya Somadev Suri said:

sarvev hi Jainaanaamsammatahlaukikovidhih, yatrsamyaktvahaanirnayatrnavratadoshanam.

i.e. Jain people can accept any kind of worldly traditions, but they should keep in mind and abide by the following two rules:

  1. Protection of samyaktv
  2. No infraction of vows (vrat)

By following some of the traditions, samyaktv is not compromised. However, there are some traditions which go against the Jain principles and vows of shravak. It is advised to follow Jain Sanskaar Vidhi[1] to avoid such traditions. Jain traditions can be inherited by all future generations by following Jain Sanskaar Vidhi (following rituals as per the Jain code of conduct) regularly in events such as Deepawali, birth of a child, marriage or any other general occasion. This idea is expressed in the verse:

  1. samyaksanskaaronkesanrakshankakaarysukar ho,
  2. parv-utsavon me vyavhaaron me Jainatvmukhar ho,
  3. sanskaariaalekhchitrsajjaghar-gharrasareli.

Many people want to live a better life, but due to ignorance they fail to achieve this. Only thoughts cannot change life. Akhil Bharatiya Terapanth Yuvak Parishad came up with an idea of Jain Sanskaar Vidhi. The organization has published a useful booklet that outlines the method and process of ceremonies such as naming, marriage, cremation etc. Diwali is the day of emancipation of BhagawanMahavira. The Jain way of celebrating this pious day has also been included in the same booklet and with extensive use Jain values can be kept evergreen.

The interior decor and setting of a house, in many ways, influences the mindset of family members. There should be a separate unit in the house for family members to pray and study the scriptures. It should also include culture-expressing slogans and the pictures of Acharyas and tirthankars. In this way any guests visiting the house can identify it as a Jain family.

Furthermore, in ancient times, Jains were recognized instantly by their way of life such as not having food at night. This is however, lost in the current era. Currently, Jainism can be propagated through two ways - upaasana-vidhi (doing the spiritual activity) and sanskaar-vidhi (imbibing Jain values). These two approaches play an active role in the formation of values or sanskaars in children. Therefore, Jain lifestyle includes the maxim of right sanskaar.

Footnotes
1:

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Sources

Title:  Who is a Jain Shravak?
Author: 

Acharya MahaPragya

Translator: 

Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha

Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Vibhag, JVB
Edition: 
2019
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. Acharya
  2. Acharyas
  3. Buddhism
  4. Consumerism
  5. Deepawali
  6. Diwali
  7. Ecology
  8. Environment
  9. Equanimity
  10. Gurukul
  11. Jain Code Of Conduct
  12. Jainism
  13. Mantra
  14. Saman
  15. Sanskrit
  16. Shraman
  17. Shravak
  18. Sutra
  19. Terapanth
  20. Terapanth Yuvak Parishad
  21. Tirthankars
  22. Tolerance
  23. Vedas
  24. Vedic
  25. vrat
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