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Who is a Jain Shravak: 28 ►Responsibilities of a Shravak

Published: 20.03.2020

'Shramanopaasak' is another name of shravakas they venerate (upaasana) shramans. Upaasana means to stay in the proximity of the saints. Being in the presence of shramans is very fruitful Shravak as they get an opportunity to have conversation and listening to the saints. The Sanskrit verse below signifies this thought:

Paricharitavyah santo, yadyapi te kathayanti no sadupadesham,
Yaastesham svaraikathaasta, eva bhavanti shaastraani.

i.e. even if saints do not preach, one still should sit with them. Sometimes just observing the subtle conversation amongst the saints may benefit similarly as listening to the scriptures.

A shravak should understand the benefits of upaasana. However, the duty of a shravak does not end here. Their responsibilities also include taking care and managing the proper functioning of the sangh (religious order); contribute in enhancing the glory of the sangh, and avoiding the actions, which can lead to defamation.

Relationship between monks and shravaks does not grow by chance or any circumstances. The monks reward shravaks with constant spiritual guidance. A shravak may have some personal, family, social or national issues, which he cannot discuss with anyone. However, he feels free in expressing his problems to the monks as they are trustworthy and hence can share with an open heart. Therefore, shravaks dearly need monks in their life. On the other hand, monks also need assistance of the shravaks. Monks may face hindrances in their spiritual practices, if appropriate help is not provided by shravak sat the opportune time.

Sangh is constituted into four folds - monks, nuns, shravaks and shravikas. Together, these four components make the sangh complete. All of them uphold their respective roles in the progression of the order. Just as monks and nuns have responsibilities for the sangh (order), similar responsibilities apply to the shravaks and shravikas as well.

Shramanopaasak's have been equated to parents for the monks and nuns in the Sthanang Sutra (Verse 4:430). Just as parents are affectionate towards their children, in the same way shravaks are affectionate to the monks and nuns in every field, be it spiritual discussion or personal life. This analogy has increased the dignity of a shravak.

Five nishras(haven) are described in the Sthanang Sutra (Verse 5:192) - the six kinds of jiva, sangh(the four-fold order), the king, the householder (who provides place to live in) and the body. Nishra means supportive place. Here, the word householder is used for shravak. Upaashray occupies an important place in a monks' life. There is an ancient Sanskrit verse-

dhritisten data matisten datta, gatisten data sukham ten dattam,
gunashreesamaalingitebhyo varebhyo,
munibhyo muda yen datto nivaasah.

A person, who provides a place for monks to live in, indirectly gives them everything - patience, intellect, motion, and happiness.

AcharyaTulsi remarked, in Shravak Sambodh-

shraman-gan-samupaasana sab shravakonka dharm hai,
sangh ki sambhaal bhi kya nahin unaka karm hai?
Shravakon ke liye pathdarshak sada se sant hain,
Sadhuon ke liye shravak apekshit atyant hain.
Sangh ki samvardhana sthaayitva ka abhiyaan hai,
Saadhuon ki tarah shravak shravika ka sthaan hai.
kaha 'ammaapiyusamaana' shravakon ko sutra mein,
aur nishraasthaan hitasandhaan atr amutr mein.

The Responsibility of Pointing Out Faults

There is a spiritual relation between monk and shravak. Hence, they have some mutual responsibilities. If a shravak commits any mistake, it is duty of a monk to indicate so. It is generally not taken in a derogatory sense. However, AcharyaTulsi has said that it is responsibility of a shravak to point out mistakes committed by a monk, if any.

Anguli nirdesh santon ke liye shravak karen,
samay par anushaasanaatmak kaaryavaahi bhi karen.
Nahin hastakshep kinchit maatr nirhetuk kabhi,
Sada apane kshetr mein shaalinata saadhein sabhi.

It is not a big deal in pointing out the fault but taking disciplinary action against the fault is a big deal. Acharya Bhikshu has given authority to shravaks to initiate disciplinary action against adverse conduct of a monk. Many such incidents have been registered in the history of Terapanth.

As an illustration, muni Lachchhiramji was father of Rishiramji (Sisay) in the worldly relation. Earlier, both were effective monks of the order. A few years later, the outlook of Rishiramji changed. He became obstinate and egoistic. Therefore, he was subjected to complaints many times.

In Vikramsamvat 1989, Acharya Kalugani was residing in Rajaladesar. During the stay, Lachchhiramji committed a mistake. Acharya Kalugani summoned him and advised him to accept atonement for it. Lachchhiramji did not accept. In accordance with the traditions and rules of the order, Acharya Kalugani expelled him from the organization. When muni Rishiramji heard this news, he approached Acharya and said, 'There is partiality in your commendation for punishment. Some are not punished adequately for big offences, whereas others are heavily punished for the smallest offence!

Acharya Kalugani said, 'I know more than you about your father. He has committed the same mistake many times. Our Aagams say that if a monk commits the same mistakes repeatedly, even though the mistake may be small, the atonement may be big.’ Muni Rishiramji kept on debating the issue. Kalugani warned him that his behaviour could lead to his separation from the organization. He then became cool. Muni Rishiramji explained this to Lachchhiramji and made him agree to take the atonement. On special request, he was associated back into the organization.

In Vikram Samvat 1990, Acharya Kalugani ordered muni Rishiramji to stay in Pachpadra for chaaturmaas. Muni Chiranjilalji was in his group. He left the sangh because of not having harmony within the group. He departed from Pachpadra and arrived at Sujangarh. He met Acharya Kalugani and narrated the entire story. After giving him appropriate atonement, Acharya Kalugani included him back into the organization. When muni Rishiramji and Lachchhiramji came to know about this incident, they said, ‘How can Kalugani include him in the sangh without consulting us?’ Their mind was still upset because of the earlier incident. After this incident, they started criticizing Kalugani, other monks and nuns as well.

When Acharya Kalugani heard about the situation, he called shravak Vridhichandji lirawala from Samdari and asked him to investigate. He went to Pachpadra and studied the situation minutely. Khubchandji Chopra and Bastimalji Chopra, two shravaks of Pachpadra accompanied him. They reported details of the situation to Kalugani. He immediately expelled both the monks from the organization on account of their disrespectfulness.

Upon reaching Pachpadra, the shravaks conveyed the orders of Kalugani, which infuriated both the monks. The shravaks requested them to return the books and papers related to the sangh. They refused and approached the local authorities. The officers said, ‘We are government employees. We get all our ofiice supplies from the government. When we retire or quit the service, we cannot take anything with us. In the same manner, you have no right to carry anything with you.’ On hearing this, both the monks remained silent. They returned the books and documents to the shravaks. During that time sadhvi Sohanaji, who was completing her chaaturmaas in Balotra went to Pachpadra and collected all the returned belongings.

Shravaks such as Vridhichandji Iirawala (San-iadri), Khubchandji and Bastimalji Chopra (Pachpadra), Prataprnalji Mehta (]0dhpur] and Manakchandji Bhandari (lodhpur) performed their duty with their far-sightedness and devotion. In this way, shravaks have fulfilled their responsibility with discretion and efficiency. They have contributed tirelessly in enhancing the dignity of the sangh.


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. Aagams
  2. Acharya
  3. Acharya Bhikshu
  4. Acharya Kalugani
  5. Balotra
  6. Bhikshu
  7. Body
  8. Dharm
  9. Jiva
  10. Kalugani
  11. Muni
  12. Pachpadra
  13. Sadhvi
  14. Samdari
  15. Sangh
  16. Sanskrit
  17. Sant
  18. Shravak
  19. Shravakas
  20. Shravaks
  21. Shravika
  22. Shravikas
  23. Sisay
  24. Sujangarh
  25. Sutra
  26. Terapanth
  27. Vikram Samvat
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