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Who is a Jain Shravak: 27.1 Awakening of Discretion

Published: 17.03.2020

It is believed that adulteration is rife nowadays. Every object is adulterated. One wonders whether there was any era without any kind of adulteration. Adulteration occurs not only in tangible objects but in our thoughts as well. Even laukik(mundane) and lokottar(super-mundane) activities are both intensely amalgamated with each other that truth about each one of them is lost.

AcharyaBhikshu analyzed the difference between the worldly path and the path of salvation. The path related to the world is known as mundane and the latter is called super-mundane. He did not discover anything new but expressed the prevailing truth unequivocally.

Expression of Reality

Why should we give importance to AcharyaBhikshu? What has he accomplished? He did not discover any novel facts, but simply revealed the truth and differentiated between the path of mundane life and the path of salvation. He did not manipulate the truth or contribute further to the facts. He faced many difficulties in this exposition and was opposed by many. He was labeled as an opponent of charity, uncompassionate, and by many other defamatory allegations. Terapanth was branded as the religion parallel to the conduct of cats and mouse. Credit goes to AcharyaTulsi to clear the air and discard the jeer of 'cat and mouse' attributed to Terapanth. Consequently, all opponents understood the teachings of AcharyaBhikshu as explained by AcharyaTulsi and removed the misconceptions they had regarding Terapanth.

A conference on Anuvrat was organized in Jodhpur. The venue was quite distant from where AcharyaTulsi was residing. He was supposed to address at the venue. Some protestors glued the posters of AcharyaTulsi on the road leading to the venue. It was midday with scorching heat. AcharyaTulsi went there and addressed the gathering and said, 'The people were very compassionate! The road was practically aflame and the people showed their affection towards me by spreading my posters on the street so that my feet don't burn. There was just one thing missing. There was a little gap between the two consecutive posters. It would have been better if the posters were pasted continuously.'

People opposed the current concepts of charity and compassion as advocated in Terapanth. However, opposition did not last long as the concepts were neither imposed nor fake but they were truth.

The Path of World and Emancipation are Distinct

AcharyaBhikshu discriminated between the path of worldly life and the path of emancipation. Both the dimensions are not to be interspersed. Their meaning should be understood distinctly. Just as sunlight and its shadow are concomitant, but not identical, similarly, violence and non-violence cannot be considered as one. It is expressed in the following verse by AcharyaBhikshu:

Hinsa ri karani mein daya nahin chhe, daya ri karani mein hinsa nahi ji,
daya ne hinsa ri karani chhe nyaari, jyun taavdo ne chhanhi ji.

Acharya Bhikshu presented the following example to explain the concept.

jim koi ghrittambaaku vinaje, pin vaasan vigat na paade re,
ghrit lei tambaaku mein ghaale, te donoi vasat bigaade re.

A merchant was trading butter and tobacco. Coincidentally, both the commodities were sold at the same price. One day he had to travel to a neighboring village. He asked his son to take care of the shop during his absence. He instructed the boy to sell the butter and tobacco at the same prices. The son took over and the merchant embarked for the journey. The son saw that many containers of butter and tobacco were only half full.

He thought that his father's idea had become outdated and archaic. He had unnecessarily used two containers where one would have been sufficient and has inundated the shop with these half-full containers. He started emptying the containers of tobacco into the butter and vice-versa to free the seemingly unnecessary vessels. The boy became very pleased with his own intelligence in organizing the shop.

Shortly a customer came to buy butter and asked, 'Where is your father?' The son replied that his father was on tour and asked the customer what he wanted. The customer said that he wanted butter.

The son showed him the pot which he had amalgamated. The customer was shocked and asked. 'What is this?' 'This is butter' was the reply.

Customer, 'Where is the butter? This is the mixture of butter and tobacco!

The son said, 'This is what I have. If you want, take it.'

The customer, admonishing him, said, 'You, foolish boy! You have wasted both the tobacco and the butter.'

An argument ensued, after which the customer went back. After a while, another customer came to buy tobacco. The son kept the same container before him.

The customer was annoyed to see the contents and said, 'What is this? Is this tobacco or its pudding?'

The son replied, 'Whatever, it is before you. This is what you'll get, take it or leave it.'

A number of customers came to buy butter and tobacco but everyone left empty handed stunned with the boy's foolishness. Two days passed by, without any sale. The merchant returned and asked his son, 'How is everything going on? What is the collection from your sales?'

The son replied, All the customers are foolish. They know nothing except quarrelling and wasting time. They came and went back without buying anything.' The merchant went to the shop and saw the containers. He was shocked to see the blend. The son, wishing to express his intelligence, said, 'All the goods were scattered. Look! I have managed everything and now the shop looks so beautiful. I have filled the containers with the things that have common prices.' The merchant was annoyed and scolded the boy, calling him a fool.

The son said, 'All the customers were saying that I am a fool and now even you are saying so.'

The merchant replied, 'What else should I say? What you have done is so insane! Can tobacco and butter be mixed together?'

The son said, 'The prices for both butter and tobacco are the same and thus I mixed them to save space.'

The merchant elaborated, 'You have tainted both, butter and tobacco, by mixing them. Both are distinct, with each having its own unique qualities. Both may have the same cost, but now they have become useless. Neither, the one who wishes to buy butter will take this, nor the one who needs tobacco. This mixture is now useless. Throw it away.'

AcharyaBhikshu has written - The boy did not know the individual qualities of each product and therefore mixed them, rendering both useless. Similarly, if the activities of both mundane and super­ mundane worlds are mixed, both will become faulty.

Shravaks are social beings. They practice religion and are supposed to follow rules laid down by the society. Neither can they leave the society nor can they abstain from practicing religion. They therefore, generally follow the path of life on the basis of nishchay nay (transcendental viewpoint) and vyavahaar nay (pragmatic viewpoint). According to nishchay nay, the soul is the only focal point. However, by focusing only on the soul, people cannot be social, and therefore they have to follow vyavahaar nay as well. It is mentioned in the following verse of Shravak Sambodh:

dono hi nay nishchay vyavahaar nibhaate,
laukik-lokottar mein santulan bithaate
unaka kar mishran nahi mudha kahalaate,
ghee tambaaku ki ghatana bhul na paate

There are two paths a shravak can follow - mundane and beyond-mundane. According to nishchay nay, the beyond-mundane or spiritual path is the most auspicious. On the other hand, the worldly life too cannot be ignored. It says that the soul exists, but its worldly existence is insignificant without a body. Any emancipated soul, which is devoid of body, cannot guide someone to lead their life. Tirthankars possess infinite knowledge, but even they are unable to express it in its entirety. To impart their knowledge to others, they must use shrutgyaan(verbal knowledge). Failing this, knowledge will not be beneficial for the welfare of society. Vyavahaar nay advocates that lokottar is supreme but ignoring the laukik duty is not proper. That is why a shravak must establish a balance between mundane and beyond-mundane activities. If there is lack of understanding and balance, then both activities will be intermixed and the shravak will not achieve his goal in life.

Let not Social Activities Stamp Religious

The doctrine of AcharyaBhikshu helps us to understand that mundane and beyond-mundane should be studied and understood separately. This has become more relevant in today's world. Social activities should not be perceived as religious. It is paradoxical if the same is perceived to be true. Currently, many social practices are prevalent in the name of religion, which is tainting each other.

In 1987, a program was organized at Anuvrat Bhavan in Delhi. Many intellectual litterateurs were present there. I explained this principle of AcharyaBhikshu with the following illustration.

A customer arrived at a shop one early morning with a copper coin. The shopkeeper took the coin and touching his forehead, remarked that the day had begun with good omen. The next day, the same customer arrived with a silver coin. Again, since the shopkeeper's day had started with silver coin, he touched it to his forehead and felt it as an auspicious sign. On the third day, the customer brought a counterfeit coin. Looking at this, the shopkeeper threw the coin and said, 'You have brought me an ill omen by bringing this coin so early in the morning'.

The customer said, 'Why are you getting angry? The other day when I brought a copper coin you were pleased and were equally happy when I brought a silver coin. The coin that I have brought today contains both copper and silver. You should have admired it even more.'

The shopkeeper irritatingly, 'Only independent copper and silver coins are worthy because of purity. However, today the coin you have bought is neither of pure copper nor pure silver. This is sheer chicanery. This coin has a copper core with a silver coating. This makes it inauspicious.'

An eminent journalist Khushwant Singh reported in the Hindustan Times, 'The story that I have heard today plays a vital role in this adulterated age of politics.'

AcharyaBhikshu has differentiated between the path of mundane and beyond-mundane. Each path has its own value. Social necessities can be fulfilled through the path of laukik. Misunderstanding of the two will deform the both society and the religion. A shravak should know the difference between religion and social practices.

Laukik and Lokottar

This issue is to be understood as follows-social activities should be perceived only from the social viewpoint and not from a religious viewpoint, and vice versa. Social and religious outlook should be kept separate. There should be clear distinction in the mind of a shravak regarding both.

A question arises - what is the difference between charity (daan) and donation (visarjan)?

A person donates one hundred thousand rupees as charity. Another person renounces the same amount. The bank balance of both is reduced by one hundred thousand. What is the difference between the two words - visarjan and daan? Both have, in essence, donated one hundred thousand rupees. A man who donates his money for the welfare of society is laukik. It is not related with spirituality. On the other hand, the man who has limited utility of money has placed a limit on his possessions to a certain point. He has resolved to renounce his belongings beyond that point.

Keshisvami delivered his sermon before King Pradeshi, who became a shravak and was detached from administration of the kingdom. This was his religious act that is - lokottar. He distributed the management of administration into four parts -

  1. Army
  2. Granary (storehouse)
  3. Treasury
  4. Large bunker

It is necessary to understand that renouncing the kingdom was lokottar or a spiritual act, whereas the distribution of the administration of kingdom was laukik. A wise person manages his social life along with renunciation.

Another illustration is Balchandji Sethia, a resident of Sardarshahar, who resolved to not earn beyond a certain limit within a year. This limit is visarjan. Once, his turnover exceeded the self-imposed limit. Since he could not retain the extra money because of his resolution, he planned to contribute his surplus. He distributed the balance among his relatives and friends. Deciding the limit was a lokottar act and the distribution was laukik.

Visarjan and donation therefore are different from each other. The underlying intent of visarjan is to renounce and limit his possessions. Therefore, a shravak should have a clear understanding about the concept of laukik and lokottar.


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. Acharya
  2. Acharya Bhikshu
  3. Anuvrat
  4. Bhikshu
  5. Body
  6. Delhi
  7. Ghee
  8. Hindustan Times
  9. Hinsa
  10. Jodhpur
  11. Khushwant Singh
  12. Non-violence
  13. Sardarshahar
  14. Shravak
  15. Shravaks
  16. Soul
  17. Space
  18. Terapanth
  19. Tirthankars
  20. Violence
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