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Who is a Jain Shravak: 21.3 Jain Lifestyle

Published: 09.03.2020

8. Vegetarianism and Addiction-Free Diet (Aahar-shuddhiaurVyasan-mukti)

Tremendous emphasis is laid on vegetarianism in Indian literature. Each Indo culture speaks and pens about it. Indian scholars have written about satvik, rajasik and tamasik food extensively. Jain lifestyle talks of avoiding alcoholic drinks, meat, eggs and addiction. The eighth maxim of Jain lifestyle can be summarized as:

vyasan-muktcharyashravakki, isametarkkabhikyon?
khaane-peenekasanyam, kyonulajhesvaasthya-paheli.

Purity of food is necessary for a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Food plays a vital role in achieving physical, mental and emotional well­being. It is also an essential factor for controlling the emotions and protecting the society from criminal inclinations. These objectives are achieved by non-addiction. Along with religious perspective, non-addiction and purity of food are essential for a healthy family and society.

Consumption of alcohol and meat has been prohibited in Vedic Tradition. In Buddhism, use of intoxicants is prohibited, not specifically meat. In Jainism, consumption of meat along with alcoholic items has been prohibited by BhagawanMahavira. The word amadyamaansaashi is found for the monks, to make them aware of the food they consume. BhagawanMahavira did not allow the intake of meat and alcohol under any situations or conditions, for the ascetics, and the shravaks as well. The rules on this subject are same for both sections of the Jain society.

AcharyaTulsi has outlined in 'Shravak Sambodh', that the food habits of a shravak should remain completely free from intoxicants including liquor, meat and eggs. These things should never be part of their meal. Narcotics and addictive drugs such as heroin, opium, hashish, marijuana and tobacco-product like gutaka etc. should also be avoided completely.

Medical science has also drawn attention to the diseases caused by consuming non-vegetarian food. In his book entitled 'Uric Acid as a Factor in the Causation of Disease', Professor Alexander Haig of England has written that meat and eggs contain uric acid which can give rise to diseases such as arthritis, paralysis, respiratory problems, insomnia, ocular weakness etc. Detrimental medicines given to the birds in poultry farms are transferred to their eggs. Consumption of such eggs leads to intellectual and emotional decay. Likewise, a person faces multiple problems by using intoxicants.

AcharyaTulsi has further emphasized on restraint on eating, along with non-addiction and purity of food. Along with spiritual benefits, it boosts physical health too. However, health awareness has brought a positive shift in modern lifestyle. A great transformation in life style is taking place for better health in the western world. People are giving up non-vegetarian food in Europe and America because of health issues. For a Jain shravak, the concept of purity and restraint in diet is equally important from ethical, spiritual perspective as well as health. If considered carefully, it can help solve the enigma of health.

9. Ethnic Affection (Saadharmik[1] Vaatsalya)

Right faith is the backbone of a shravak's life. Without it, a shravak can only hear about religion (dharm), but his faith will not be strengthened. Right faith is reinforced by eight characteristics. The first four of them are related with Jain tenets, while the remaining four deals with attitudinal aspects.

  1. Nishanka: Absence of skepticism and having keen faith in the words of veetaraag
  2. Nishkaanksha: Not to have any inclination towards thoughts or words of religion other than Veetaraag
  3. Nirvichikitsa: Not to have doubt regarding the fruit of religious activities
  4. AmoodhDrishti: Not to be influenced and attracted by religious activities of other faiths

The aforementioned are more concerned with faith.

  • Upabrinhan: Appreciating people for their qualities
  • Sthirikaran: Channeling the mind of the people who are distracted towards religion
  • Vatsalata: Respectful and loving attitude
  • Prabhaavana: Putting effort for integrated development of the society

SaadharmikVaatsaly is the ninth aphorism of Jain lifestyle.

dakshinkaitivrittshrutishrut, dilkochhuta daily.

SaadharmikVaatsaly is a technical term in Jainism which is equivalent to fraternity. It concerns how one should behave with another member of the same ethnicity or religion? The answer is with affection. This is the heart of organizational unity. The prime reason behind propagation of Jain religion in South India was ethnic affection. The history of South India is a testament to the number of Jain followers which increased exponentially there. A large number of farmers accepted Jain religion.

The Jains of South India won the heart of the local people by four kinds of generous contributions. Their charity was not aimed for fame but was purely to enhance fraternity. To fulfill the basic needs of the ethnic people, they arranged four kinds of daan(charity): food (ann), medicine (aushadhi), education (gyaan) and fearlessness (abhay). Charity of food was not simply by distributing food but by providing livelihood to everyone. Medical treatment was made available through the donation of medicine. They encouraged education and reassured their wellbeing and safety under the umbrella of fearlessness.

Food, clothes, residence, education and medication are the basic necessities of life. Compared to all, the assurance of safety or protection is the most important. Humans always want to lead a stress-free life. Government spends vast amounts for defense to secure the physical well-being of the population, but they cannot assure complete safety under all situations and circumstances. They cannot promise that they will be available whenever people need help. In fact, such assurance of help and empathy is abhay-daan. The aforementioned four contributions are ways to express ethnic affection.

Everyone in this world is worried and thinking about their life. Positive changes triggered by such thinking will definitely affect Jains too. Then, why this new concept of Jain lifestyle is introduced? The answer lies in the second line of the following verse:

nav-aayamishubhparinaamishailisatatpravaahit, traikaaliktaatkaalikvividhsamasyasvayamsamaahit,
'Tulsi' varvivek-jaagarana, paayichitraabeli.

Man is surrounded by various problems. Some issues are eternal. They exist in all ages-past, present and future, while some are contemporary and keep on changing. Problems such as perverse faith, negative attitude, arrogance, persistence, perseverance, anger, cruelty, craving, non-restraint, etc. disturb the human life in each era. Some problems get intensified during specific time such as disbelief, slavish imitation, feticide, possessiveness, goods produced by violence, lavish lifestyle, terrorism etc. Solution to both types of problems, permanent and contemporary, is provided in Jain lifestyle.

AcharyaTulsi has used the illustration of a creeper 'Chitra' as an analogy of Jain lifestyle. This creeper is like aksheenmahaanaslabdhi (limitless power). The holder of such labdhi(power) is able to feed thousands of people through only a small amount of food. Even after feeding so many people, food does not deplete.

A villager once went to the forest. He uprooted a creeper and made a round strap out of it. He placed a pitcher of ghee (clarified butter) on it. The villager was on his way to the city to sell the ghee. On the way, he met a wise and experienced man. He looked at the strap and recognized it as the Chitrabel. The wise man was willing to buy the ghee, but with a condition of buying the strap with it. Hearing this, the villager became suspicious and refused to sell his ghee. After a while, the villager asked the wise man, 'Sir, please tell me what is so special about this strap?' The wise man replied, 'Don't you know that this strap is made of Chitrabel? If any pot with eatables is kept on it, it will never get exhausted even after constantly taking the items out of it! Hearing this secret, the villager became very happy.

Similarly, the possessor of 'Chitrabel of Jain JeevanShaili gets endless happiness. Jain lifestyle is an extraordinary and miraculous way of living. By following it, man will have everlasting health and can lay the foundation for a healthy society.


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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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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anger
  2. Buddhism
  3. Dharm
  4. Fearlessness
  5. Ghee
  6. Jainism
  7. Labdhi
  8. Science
  9. Shravak
  10. Shravaks
  11. Vedic
  12. Veetaraag
  13. Vegetarianism
  14. Violence
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