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Ascetic life

The aim of human life is to achieve liberation. This can be accomplished through right faith, right knowledge and right and right conduct. Jain scriptures deal elaborately with the path of salvation. A vow is self-impressed obligation as to what one ought to do and what not to carry out. Lord Mahavira propounded two type of religion, Anagarg Dharam known as Mahavrat belonging ascetic life and Agara Dharma known as “Anuvrta” pertaining the house holder life. The great vows (Mahavrata) and small vows (Anuvrtas) should be practiced in thought, word, deed with full commitment to its careful observation at all times. Asceticism is the central path of salvation.

The Period of Probation

Those souls who wants to renounce worldly life or worldly life or worldly attachment must first of all undergo a period of probation and extensive training for from five to seven years. In this respect, the radical step was taken by Shravakas in Terapanth tradition that they establish an institution named Parmarthit Shikshan Sanstha which aims at creating full-fledged ascetic life before initiation into monk hood or nun hood. They all learn spiritual practice, life style and religious study including the Jain basic texts, grammar, and literature in the institution. They pass the curriculum or courses specified for graduates and undergraduates. The daily routine is to wake up 4:00 AM and go to bed at 10:00 PM

Initiation


When the supervisor and he or she feels confident that they would be able to live the life of monk hood or nun hood, they get permission from there parents. When Acharya himself is convinced that they are capable of following the vows of Sadhus and Sadhvis, Acharya gives Deeksha (initiation). Deeksha is a ceremony in which a householder becomes a monk or a nun. At the time of Deeksha, they take five major vows. Along with the great vows, they practice five samitis (compartments) and three guptis (restrains)

Five Major Vows

1. Ahimsa Mahavrat (non-violence): Monks and nuns never cause harm or violence to any living being including tiniest creatures.
2. Satya Mahavrata (Truth): They never lie.
3. Achaurya Mahavrata (non-stealing): They never take anything from anywhere, even a small needle, without the permission of the owner.
4. Brahmacharya Mahavrata (Celibacy) : They observe an absolute adherence to celibacy. They do not touch the opposite sex.
5. Aparigraha Mahavrata (non-possession) : They possesses only the barest necessities. Apart from this, they have no attachment to maternal things, relationships, pleasure of the five senses, etc., and for that which they keep for there daily needs.
All of these major vows are practiced in world, thought, and deed. They do not get it done by others, do not assist anyone in committing sins, nor do they approve anyone that commit such sins.
Non-violence is the basis of all other vows just as a fence is meant to protect a field. The other four vows are intended to enable a person to observe the prime vow of non-violence.

Five Samitis


1. Irya Samiti : Taking due care in walking and moving about.
2. Bhasha Samait : taking due care in speaking.
3. Eshana Samait : taking due care in accepting things.
4. Adananikshepa Samait : taking due care in lifting, using, laying and putting down things.
5. Utsarga Samait : taking due care in disposing of excreta such as mucus, urine, stool, and other items.

Three Guptis

Mano Gupti : Restraint of mind.
Vaka Gupti : Restraint of speech
Kaya Gupto : Restraint of body
All thirteen of the foregoing rules constitute the practical code of right conduct for the ascetic life.

Six Essential Duties

All monks and nuns performs essential duties known as Avashyak twice a day before sunrise and after sunset..
1. Samayika : Equanimity of mind, i.e. concentrating the mind upon ones own soul and its attributes by withdrawing wandering thoughts
2. Chaturvinshatistava : Adoration recitation and contemplation of the attributes of the divine 24 Tirthankars.
3. Vandana : Obeisance to Acharya (guru).
4. Pratikraman : Repentance of transgression of past activities committed in the performance of monk hood life.
5. Kayotsarga : Practice of the complete abandonment of the body while devoid the attachment.
6. Pratyakhyana : Determination of renouncing sweets fried foods, and other things.

Living Style

Digambar ascetics live naked. They were no clothes. They own nothing except a peacock feather and one bowl for containing water. They have no bowl to hold food .At mid day they go for alms and stand where householders are, they receive and eat food from the cavity of there hands. They also drinks liquid poured there in while in the standing position. They eat and drink once a day, and they sit and sleep on the floor.
Shvetambar monks and nuns wear white clothes. They tie a rectangular piece of cloth over the mouth. To avoid violence. They always have ogho (rajoharan), which means a mop of woolen thread to avoid violence where they walk sit or lie down etc. they keep only limited clothes and bowls made of wood, coconut shell, or shell made of pumpkin. These are the articles by which they can be distinguished. They style of taking alms (gochari), vihar (walking )
And locha are unique activities of Jain monks and nuns.

Gochari

The Jain monks and nuns do not cook, nor do they get it prepared for them. They go from house to house to receive little food and water. As a cow eats grass moving place to place, similarly the monks and nuns take a little portion of food from the homes of householders. Thus they collect alms from various houses. They do not accept food from those males and female householders who offer food just after washing hands by running water, or putting down a crying baby if he or she touches or crushes a living being or plant , seeds, etc., with the physical body then, in that state they do not accept alms. They don’t through out even a particle of food. They take there meal at the place where they are staying. In rains and after sunset, they do not go out for alms. They show alms to Guruji senior. If sometimes it is insufficient, they remains satisfied with there share. From time to time they go fasting. The entire life of Sadhus and Sadhvis is directed towards the upliftment of his or her own souls and other’s welfare.

Vihar

They always move about on bare feet throughout their life whether it may be scorching sun or cold whether, stony or thorny passage. They do not put on shoes while travelling. They do not stay more then a few days in one place except in the rainy season called Chaturmas, which is four months long. They do not move out of their place after sunset. Mostly they stay in Sabha Bhavana, Upashray, etc.

Loch

Loch is a particular activity of Jain Sadhus and Sadhvis. They pluck out their hairs by their hands or they plucked them plucked out by others. As a rule they perform this twice a year at aparticular time. It is regarded as an essential rite of their life.

Self-Supported

Monks and nuns are self supporting. The whole work is done by themselves. They do not take help from anybody except their colleague monks. A nun is not allowed to be alone to take alms. If a nun is sick, she can be carried in carts drawn by nuns and the monks can be carried by monks nuns are more then twice the number as compared to monks. All monks and nuns show the path of wholesome, righteous, disciplined life to everyone through the media of discourses, discussions or spiritual practices.

Revolutionary Order

Apart from the Jain Ascetic life, a new order was stablished by late Ganadhppati Tulsi and Acharya Mahapragya. The need of third category between monks and nuns and householders for Jains living abroad and current time has been felt fro the past 30-40 years. As a result to satisfy the demands of modern age, the new order came into being in 1980. it was the revolutionary step in the modern epoch.

The Saman and Samani follow the lifestyle of Jain Sadhus and Sadhvis in respect to the five great vows and code of conduct for the minor exceptions. They are granted permission to use, transportations and allowed to take food which is prepared for them the aim of establishing this order is to facilitate the spread of Jainism and open up new anenues of constructive work world wide.
Before initiation, all undergo of probation and extensive training for about five to seven years. Afterwards they become Sanman and Samani. Today there are over ninety Sanman and Samanis. They travel all around the world. Over the last twelve years, several groups have visited Japan, Hong Kong, U.S., Europe, Australia, etc., they have attended several world wide conferences and conducted many camps. They also lectured while abroad at school, colleges, universities and other communities.

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