Jain : Sadhu & Sadhvi



Posted By : Mr. Amit Sanghvi


When a person renounces the worldly life and all the attachments, and is initiated into monkshood or nunhood, the man is called Sadhu, Shraman or Muni and the woman is called Sadhvi, Shramani, or Aryä. Their renunciation is total which means they are completely detached from the social and worldly activities and they do not take any part in those activities anymore. Instead, they spend their time spiritual uplifting their souls and guiding householders such as ourselves how to uplift our souls.

When they get initiated into the life of Sadhus and Sadhvis, they take five major vows and act strictly in accordance with those vows. The five great vows are:

1) Pranatipätaviraman Mahavrat : Vow of absolute Non-violence.
First vow of Pranatipätaviraman Mahavrat means sadhu and sadhvis will never cause harm or violence to any living being including even the tiniest creatures.
2) Mrishavadaviraman Mahävrat : Vow of absolute Truthfulness.
Second vow of Mrishavadaviraman Mahävrat means they will not lie.
3) Adattadänaviraman Mahavrat : Vow of absolute Non-stealing.
Third vow of Adattadänaviraman Mahavrat means without the permission of the owner they will not take anything from anywhere.
4) Maithunaviraman Mahavrat : Vow of absolute Celibacy
Fourth vow of Maithunaviraman Mahavrat means they have to observe the celibacy with an absolute adherence to it. The sadhu or sadhvis should not even touch a member of the opposite sex regardless of their age.
5) Parigrahaviraman Mahavrat : Vow of absolute Non-attachment.
Fifth vow of Parigrahaviraman Mahavrat means they do not possess anything and do not have any attachment for things they keep for their daily needs.

In summary, while taking these vows, they say, “O Lord Arihant! I will not commit the sins of violence, express falsehood, steal and enjoy sensual pleasures, or be possessive, by speech, thought or deed; nor will I assist or order anyone to commit these sins. I will not approve or endorse anyone committing such sins. Oh Lord! I hereby take a sacred and solemn vow that throughout my life, I will follow these five major vows and strictly follow the code of conduct laid out for a sadhu and a sadhvi.”

Therefore, Jain Sadhus and Sadhvis never cause harm or violence to any living being. They live according to the pledge that they do not harm even the tiniest creatures. They always speak the absolute truth. They do not lie on account of fear, desire, anger or deceptive intentions. Without the permission of the owner, they do not take even the smallest thing such as a straw. They observe the vow of celibacy with an absolute adherence to it. They will not touch the members of the opposite sex, even a child. In case the members of the opposite sex either touch them by mistake or in ignorance, they have to undergo the ritual of repentance (Prayashchitta) for self-purification. Jain Sadhus should not keep money with them. They will not own or have any control on any wealth, houses, any such movable or immovable property or organization. They will limit their necessities to the lowest limit and apart from these limits they should not have any attachments.

Some special rules of conduct for sadhus and sadhvis : The Jain sadhus or sadhvis do not take food or water after the sunset or before sunrise. They wait 48 minutes after the sun-rise before even drinking boiled water. Under any circumstance, they do not eat or drink anything between the hours of sunset and sunrise.

Gochari (Alm) : Jain sadhus/sadhvis do not cook their food, do not get it prepared for them, or do not accept any food which was prepared for them. They go to different householders that are Jains or vegetarians and receive a little food from each house. This practice is called Gochari. Just as cows graze the top part of grass moving from place to place, taking a little at one place and a little at another, in the same way Jain Monks and Nuns do not take all the food from one house. They collect it from various houses. The reason Jain Sadhus/sadhvis accept a little food and not all the food from one house is because this way the householders do not have to cook again. The cooking process involves much violence in the form of fire, vegetable chopping, water consumption, etc., and sadhus or sadhvis do not want to be the part of any violence due to their needs. They do not receive food standing outside the house; but they go inside the house where food is cooked or kept. This way they can understand the situation that their accepting food would not make the householders to cook again. They accept food which is within the limit of their vows.

Vihar : They always walk with bare feet. When they travel from one place to another, whatever may be the distance they always go walking. They do not use any vehicle like bullock cart, car, boat, ship or plane for traveling. Whether it is cold weather or scorching sun; whether the road is stony or thorny; whether it is the burning sand of a desert or a burning road, they do not wear any foot-wear at any time. They move about on bare foot all their life. The reason for not wearing shoes is while walking, they can avoid crushing the bugs or insects on the ground. While going places, they preach the religion (Dharma), and provide proper spiritual guidance to people. They do not stay more than a few days in any one place except during the rainy season which is about four months in duration. The sadhus and sadhvis generally do not go out at night. The place where they stay is called Upashray or Paushadh Shala. They may stay in places other than the Upashrayas if those places are suitable to the practice of their disciplined life and if they do not disturb or impede the code of conduct. The reason they do not stay anywhere permanently or for a longer period in one place is to avoid developing attachment for material things and the people around them.

Loch : The Jain Sädhus and Sadhvis after receiving the Diksha (initiation) do not cut their hair or shave their heads; nor do they get these things done by a barber. But twice a year or at least once a year at the time of Paryushan, they pluck off their hairs or they get the hairs plucked by others. This is called Keshlochan or Loch. This way they are not dependent on others to carry out their needs. It is also considered as one kind of austerity where one bares the pain of plucking of the hairs calmly.

Clothing : They always wear un-stitched or minimally stitched white clothes. Some Jain sadhus do not wear the clothes. A loin cloth which reaches up to the shins is called a Cholapattak. Another cloth to cover the upper part of the body is called Pangarani (Uttariya Vastra). A cloth that passes over the left shoulder and covers the body up to a little above the ankle is called a Kämli. Kämli is a woolen shawl. They also carry a woolen bed sheet and a woolen mat to sit on. Those who wear clothes have a muhapati a square or rectangular piece of cloth of a prescribed measurement either in their hand or tied on their face covering the mouth. They also have Ogho or Rajoharan (a broom of woolen threads) to clean insects around their sitting place or while they are walking. Sadhus who do not wear any clothes have morpichhi and kamandal in their hands. These are the articles by which they can be distinguished. This practice may vary among different sects of Jains but essential principle remains the same to limit needs.

They bestow their blessings on all, uttering the words Dharm Labh (may you attain spiritual prosperity). They bless everyone alike irrespective of their caste, creed. sex, age, wealth, poverty, high, or low social status. Some put Vakshep (scented sandal dust) on the heads of people. Monks and nuns show the path of wholesome life and of a righteous and disciplined life to every one through the media of discussions, discourses, seminars and camps to attain spiritual prosperity.

The entire life of sadhus/sadhvis is directed towards the welfare of their souls. All the activities of their life have only one aim, namely, self-purification for self- realization. For the attainment of this objective, besides following laid down guidelines they perform the pratikraman daily, and perform other austerities.

Conferring a title : The Jain sadhus, after being initiated that is, after receiving the diksha become immersed in such activities as meditation, seeking knowledge, acquiring self-discipline etc. Proceeding on the path of spiritual endeavor, when they reach a higher level of attainment, their spiritual elders, for the preservation of the four-fold Jain Sangh, confer upon them some special titles.

The Title of Acharya : This title is considered to be very high and involves a great responsibility. The entire responsibility of the Jain Sangh rests on the shoulders of the acharya. Before attaining this title, one has to make an in-depth study and a thorough exploration of the Jain Agams and attain mastery of them. One must also study the various languages of the surrounding territory and have acquired a through knowledge of all the philosophies of the world related to different ideologies and religions.

The Title of Upadhyay : This title is given to a sadhu who teaches all the sadhus and sadhvis, and has acquired a specialized knowledge of the Agams (Scriptures).

The Title of Panyas and Gani: To secure this title, one should have acquired an in-depth knowledge of all the Jain agams. To attain the status of Ganipad one should have a knowledge of the Bhagawati Sutra and to attain the Panyas-pad one should have attained a comprehensive knowledge of all the aspects of the agams.

The Jain sadhus, on account of the mode of their life, are unique among all the monks. The entire life of Sadhus and Sadhvis is dedicated to spiritual welfare of their souls; all their objectives, and all their activities are directed towards elevating their souls to the Paramatma-dasha, the state of the Supreme Soul.



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