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The Code Of Conduct for Food & Movement

Only man - not gods, nor demons in any case, nor animals or birds - can win liberation by proper and necessary religious practice. The highest aim of human life is liberation. To accomplish this aim, Bhagvan Mahavira showed the path of religious practice.

The simple meaning of the path of religious practice is to folllow the code of conduct.

The code of conduct for monks - nuns - is to observe the five mahavratas (great vows) and for the Srakakas and the Sravikas it is observance of the twelve vratas (vows). To make the conduct of the monks and the Sravakas purer and firmer, Bhagvan Mahavira laid down the code of food to be taken (Aharasamhita), the code of movement (Asta Pravacana mata), and also the code of thoughts (reflections).

The code of Food (Aharasamhita)

1. Boiled water - The monks, nuns, Sravakas and Sravikas should always drink boiled water.

What modern science has discovered now, the great Tirthankaras proclaimed thousands of years ago. It was that water contains innumerable bacteria. Many living beings are killed by drinking water with bacteria and many physical diseases appear. For this reason, public propaganda is undertaken for drinking boiled water at the time of epidemics like cholera, malaria, etc. Boiled water should be taken to avoid violence and diseases. Raw water should be used only after straining it. By drinking strained and boiled water one can save oneself from the sin of violence and probable diseases.

2. Giving up eating of non-eatables.

There is a proverb - As is the food, so is the eructation. If one has eaten sour food, his eructation would be sour. Food and water have a definite effect on body, mind, behaviour and thought. That food and water, the intake of which causes the mind to be excited, the feelings to be distorted and the thoughts to be polluted, are considered non-eatable. Devotees and aspirants should give up such food and water.

In Jainism a detailed study has been made of non-eatable things. They are fully discussed in books like ‘Jiva-Vichara’. The following is a brief summary of non-eatables in general.

1. Eating meat : Meat-eating should be given up. Meat of small or big creatures, fish and eggs should not be taken. (Medicines and things, wherein these are used should also be avoided as far as possible.)

2. Bulbs, roots, tuber - bulbs etc, should be given up. There are innumerable living beings in bulbous vegetables. By these things living beings die and the mind gets excited. There are 22 types of bulbs like onion, ginger, radish, brinjal, etc. Blood becomes warm by eating these things. The mind gets excited easily and feelings get polluted.

3. Prohibition - Innumerable baecteria are killed in the production of wine. By drinking wine, not only does killing of bacteria take place, but also the drunkard loses his discretion and takes to unworthy things. His intellect gets blunted and feelings get quickly excited.

In order to keep body and mind cool, healthy and free from sin, eating meat, bulbs etc., and consumption of wine should be given up for the whole life.

4. Giving up eating at night - If possible both food and water should be given up after sunset. If water cannot be given up, taking food at night must be given up.

Hygiene also says that food taken after sunset is not properly digested. Non-digestion of food leads to diseases like dyspepsia, constipation, etc. If the stomach is disturbed, surely one cannot worship god with a calm and tranquil mind.

At night many small insects are produced and they die. If we take food at night, many small insects are killed. Eating at night should be given up to save oneself from the sin of violence and also to keep oneself healthy.

Types of Penance (Tapas)

Austerities have a special place and are unavoidable.

The first Tirthankara Risabhdeva fasted continuously for 400 days. The last Tirthankara Bhagvan Mahavira performed various austerities for twelve and half years. Austerities of various types are performed to control the senses and the mind. Austerities destroy karma, make the soul pure and free from selfishness.

Sramana Bhagvan Mahavira divided austerities into two types-
1. External
2. Internal.

External Austerities are concerned with the body of the aspirant. Physical signs are visible on the person who performs external penance. Renunciation and tolerance are the main characteristics of this type of penance.

There are 6 types of this :

1. Anasana (Non-eating) - One should give up 4 types of food, viz. food-grains, water, dry fruits and betelnuts.

This fasting has 2 types :  
(1) Fasting for a limited period, (2) Fasting for the whole life.

There are five main types of limited fasting.

Sreni tapa, Pratara tapa, Ghota tapa, Varga tapa, and Vargavarga tapa. Over and above these, the following are the most current types of limited fasting :

(A) Upavasa - To give up both food and water or only food for the whole day is called upavasa (fast).

(B) Chaththa - To give up food and water or only food continuously for 2 whole days is called chaththa.

(C) Aththama - To give up food and water or to give up only food continuously for 3 whole days is called Aththama.

(D) Aththai - To give up food and water or only food continuously for eight days is called Aththai.

(E) Masaksamana - To give up food and water or only food continuously for one whole month is called Masaksamana.

There are two types of fasting till death -
(A) Bhatta Pratyakhyana. Herein food of 4 types, viz., (1) Food grains (2) Water (3) Dry fruits, sweetmeats, etc. (4) Betel leaves etc. is to be given up
(B) Padopagamana. In this type one has to give up food of all the 4 types, sit still on a seat and meditate on the soul.

Special Features : Only boiled water is to be taken during fasting. Water also is to be given up after sunset. Water is to be taken at one place while sitting.

The Giving up of food and water for the whole day is called ‘Cauvihara’ upavasa.

This penance is especially performed in the Paryusana. In this Parva devotees in a large number perform the penance of aththai, or masaksamana.

2. Unodari - To eat and drink less than what hunger demands.

3. Vrttisanksepa - To lessen the number of things for bhogopabhoga, eating and drinking and decrease daily necessities.

4. Rasatyaga - One should give up food-materials and toiletries, which would spoil the mind and render it unfit for mediation. Meditation on the ‘nine padas’ is very much inspiring and encouraging.

5. Kayaklesa - An experiment to test whether peace, steadiness and tranquility of mind remain undisturbed even on unhappy occasions. To walk with bare footed and bare headed even in severe heat, to meditate bare - bodied in severe cold, to meditate for hours, while sitting or standing at a particular place, are kayaklesa penances.

6. Samlinata - The mind often entertains bad thoughts. The senses follow bad conduct. To prevent the mind running away to bad thoughts and conduct and divert it to good thoughts and conduct is called samlinata penance.

Abhyantara tapa (Internal penance)

This penance is mainly concerned, with the mind of the aspirant. Internal (mental) good thoughts are very significant in this penance. These thoughts cannot be seen; this penance is therefore called ‘Internal’. There are 6 types of this penance.

(1) Prayaschitta (repentance) - A man commits mistakes knowingly or unknowingly, he commits sins or faults. To repent for such sins or faults wholeheartedly, to go to a preceptor and confess one’s sins with tearful eyes, to seek punishment for these sins and to vow never to commit such sins in future is called ‘Prayaschitta’.

(2) Vinaya (courtesy) - To respect, to honor and to praise the virtues of all elderly people - saints, noble persons, who are elder in age, who are more learned and virtuous. This is called Vinaya (showing courtesy).

(3) Vaiyavacca (service) - To serve in various ways the learned, the acarya, the upadhyaya, the monk, the nun, and elderly, old and sick people is service.

(4) Svadhyaya (self-study) - To study books which would inspire and give mental strength to make the soul pure and unselfish. and would strengthen good thoughts and good conduct is ‘Svadhyaya’ (self-study). Books should be read or sermons heard from qualified worthy preceptors.

(5) Dhyana (mediation) - To think and mediate on God with a steadfast mind. This mean sitting firmly and immovably on an uncontaminated seat or standing. This is called ‘Dhyana’.

(6) Utsarga (giving up) - One should mediate on god, after giving up all external activities of the household and business, and giving up all other thoughts except those of god is ‘Kayotsarga’. Kayotsarga is very popular as a penance or mediation. To give up attachment to the body and to become one with god are the main characteristics of this penance.

Special types of Penance (Tapas)

Among external types of penance, Anasana (fasting) is the first penance and Rasatyaga is the fourth penance. Making those two penances the foundation-stone, special penances have been planned. They are as follows :

Varsitapa (yearly penance) - This penance lasts for full 400 days. For the ascetic every altemate day is a fast day and on every alternate non-fast day, he takes meals only twice.

The last fast of this penance is broken with sugar-cane juice.

The first Tirthankara Sri Risabhadeva fasted continuously for one year and broke his fast with sugar-cane juice. Hence this penance is performed in imitation of the penance of Rsabhadeva.

Every year thousands of devotees perform this penance with pleasure.

2. Navpada oli - Navapadas are most important in this penance. It is intended to make the soul pure and free from selfishness, It begins on the 8th day of the dark half of Falguna and ends on the 3rd day of the bright half of Vaishakha.

The soul becomes pure and bright by concentrated mediation on the nava padas. A detailed guidance has been given for the worship and mediation of these ‘Navapadas’. These are as follows :

1. Arihanta - He is the Tirthankara worshipped with absolute faith by the Jains. He who has conquered completely attraction, hatred and attachment and is the most worthy of worship is ‘Arihant’. He is known by various holy names like ‘Vitaraga’, ‘Tirthankara’, ‘Arhata’, ‘Jina’, ‘Jineshvara’, etc.

2. Siddha - Those liberated, enlightened formless souls, free from faults, who have destroyed all karmas, good or bad, and have attained the nature of the God, are called ‘Siddhas’.

3. Acarya - The senior leader of a group of Jain monks is called an ‘acharya’. That Jain monk who is distinguished in knowledge, conduct and observance of self-control, who is capable and strong enough to carry the responsibility of religious management, is given the supreme title of ‘Acharya’. The life-style of such an ‘acarya’ is such that his behavior is silent but gives eloquent inspiring discourses. In the long absence of Arihanta, the Acharya carries on the responsibilities of the fourfold sangha - the monks, the nuns, the Sravakas and the Sravikas.

4. Upadhyaya - The Jain monk, who is extraordinary in knowledge conduct and self-control; who has studied religious and philosophical works fully, who has mastery over the scriptures and the ability to teach them to others is called ‘Upadhaya’. This is also a title.

5. Sadhu - The initiated ascetic who observes the five great vows laid down by Bhagvan Mahavira and who engages in self mediation is called a ‘Sadhu’.

Jainas call these five-Arihanta, Siddha, Acharya, Upadhyaya and Sadhu, as the five Paramesthis. They worship these five and have great and unstinted faith in and respect for them.

6. Darsana - It means unshakeable and firm faith, in the categories for self-mediation as laid down by Bhagvan Mahavira, as well as the path, is called ‘darsana’.

This darsana is known as samyakta, samakita and samyagdarsana.

7. Janana - ‘Janana’ is knowledge which inspires one to know and realize the soul. Knowledge is useful in dispelling darkness, in the form of attachment, hatred and delusion.

8. Caritra - A soldier in an army guards the frontiers of the country with great watchfulness, without even taking a nap. Similarly, to live in self-hood, to become one with the soul with vigilance, without getting tired or bored or remaining careless, is called ‘Caritra’.

9. Tapa - Ritual performance or ceremony to control the emotions of the body and the mind, thoughts and conduct is called ‘tapa’.

The ceremonial worship of these ‘navapadas’, continuously for nine days, is called Navapada oli. Coarse food, without ghee, milk, curds, jaggery, oil and fried things, is taken and that too only once a day during these nine days.

Taking such food once a day, is called ‘Ayambila tapa’.

The worship of ‘navapadas’ is performed twice a year from the 7th to the 15th day of the bright half of aso and of caitra.

This tapa is to be performed by a person at least for 4 years and a half.

In addition to Varsi Tapa and Navpada oli, there are more than 100 types of penances, like Vardhamana tapa, Candanabala tapa, Aksayanidhi, tapa etc.

Boiled water is used in all these types of penance.

In all these types of penance, visiting a temple, worship of the Jina, saluting the preceptor, listening to religious discourses, the morning and the evening pratikarmanas, chanting, mediation, etc. are to be performed. "Vigais" and "Mahavigais" spoil our feelings. Oil, Ghee, jaggery and fried things are "Vigais" while meat, butter, wine and honey are ‘Mahavigais’. They should be abstained from.

Conduct above Movement

Sramana Bhagvan Mahavira has given clear guidance about vihara so that an aspirant can follow his religious practice with simplicity, firmness and purity of mind.

Bhagvan has laid down for the aspirant rules about walking, talking and behaviour along with the types penance, renunciation and the vows. Bhagvan has ordained that an aspirant should properly observe the five samitis and the three guptis.


Samiti means controlling various activities about walking, talking etc. These are five in number.

1. Irya Samiti - An aspirant should take to all activities of walking, sitting and getting up in such a way that nobody is hurt. One should walk carefully so that no insects are crushed under one’s feet, nobody is pushed or nobody is stumbled.

2. Bhasa Samiti - Activity of speaking. To keep silent as long as possible. One should speak, if it is absolutely necessary. One should not speak such words as would hurt or wound the heart. One shall always speak good, measured and sweet words.

3. Esana Samiti - The activity about arranging vessels for food and drink. The utensils for food and drink should be properly washed, cleaned and arranged at an undefiled place. A dirty vessel should not be used. A half-filled glass of water should not be kept. (The observance of this samiti is compulsory for monks and nuns.)

4. Adananiksepana Samiti - The activity about arranging things, for daily use e.g. clothes and books should be placed in such a way that no living being is hurt.

5. Paristhapanika Samiti - The activity of throwing. Mucus and phlegm should be thrown is such a manner that no living being is killed under its weight. One should be very careful, while throwing dirt or food-refuse or water.


They are 3 types of Gupti. Gupti means to check and divert the activities of mind, speech and body to good channel.

1. Manogupti - Man thinks with his mind. He entertains good and bad thoughts. If the mind entertains bad or improper thoughts, it should be checked and one should divert it to good thought. The mind should be kept engaged in mediation of the soul.

2. Vacanagupti - Man utters good or bad words. He speaks both worthy and unworthy words. One should not utter bad words. Bitter and cruel words should not be spoken. Inauspicious and harmful words should not be spoken. One should speak good, measured, agreeable and inspiring words.

3. Kayagupti - Man undertakes many physical activities, both good and bad, necessary and unnecessary. The body is the chief means of religious practice. Physical activity that would be helpful in self - realization, should be resorted to. One should meditate on the soul, sitting alert and straight on a seat.

The observance of these five samities and three Guptis is compulsory for monks and nuns. They observe these eight, in addition to the observance of the five great vows.

The Code of Deep Thought

Deep thoughts play an important part in the formation of one’s personality. Man entertains good or bad thoughts. These thoughts have a definite influence on the body, the mind and the soul.

To think continuously, to contemplate in totality on one thought only is called Bhavana (Reflection). One can himself rise to godliness by reflecting on a Bhavana.

Sramana Bhagvan Mahavir laid down a code of deep thoughts so that mediation on the soul can be speedy and effective. He has described 16 chief and important bhavanas out of many.

The aspirants for the uplift of the soul should reflect on these bhavanas daily, regularly and continuously.

They are as follows :

1. Anitya Bhavna - Nothing is permanent and immortal in this world. A soul is born and dies. Death comes at any moment. There are deaths and deaths of young and old people. Relations break. Relation change. Whatever form is there in the morning, does not continue to be the same till the evening.

The form in the evening changes the next morning. Thus all forms, relations, etc. of this world are impermanent, transient and short-lived. So what is the meaning of showing attachment and selfishness towards all these ? To think continuously in this manner is called ‘Anitya bhavana’.

2. Asarana bhavana - Somebody can help a man if he is overcome by mental trouble, or has physical diseases or any other kind of trouble. A remedy for unhappiness can be found. But nobody can share the pain, the agony and the anguish of that unhappiness. Man him self has to suffer pain and anguish. Only religion, pointed out by god can become a shelter and help one to overcome pain. To think continuously in this manner is called ‘Asarana bhavana’.

3. Samsara bhavana - Our worldly life means the circle of births and deaths. The soul sometimes takes birth as a man, sometimes as a god, sometimes as an animal or a bird. He is sometimes born as a resident of hell. It may happen that whoever was a mother in the last birth may become a wife in this birth. Thus, relations go on changing in a strange manner in this worldly life. What is the meaning and use of living such a worldly life ? To think in this manner is samsara bhavana.

4. Ekatva bhavana - The soul has to traverse along the path of life or death. He is born alone and lives alone. He alone experiences the fruits of good and bad actions. He is alone among relations and friends. All relations in this worldly life are selfish. Nobody is somebody’s relation or friend, To think in this manner is ‘Ekatva bhavana.

5. Anyatva bhavana - The soul pervades and resides in all minutest parts of the body, even hair and every particle of blood. But the body itself is not the soul. The body and the soul are different. The body is mortal while the soul is immortal. The form, the colour and the shape of the body change, while the soul is unchangeable. Why take pleasure in the form and the complexion of the body ? To think in this manner is ‘Anyatva bhavana’.

6. Asuci bhavana - The beauty of the body may be very attractive and enticing, but the whole body is made up of evil-smelling and dirty substances. The excreta and urine are dirty and evil-smelling. The flesh and other parts of the body are dirty and bad-smelling. Under the cover of the soft and beautiful skin, there is a horrible dirt and evil smell. Why should one have attachment to such a dirty and evil-smellihg body ? To think in this manner is ‘Asuci bhavana’.

7. Asrava bhavana - Asrava means the way of entry. The way of entry is the way to exit. One can enter and go out from open gates and open doors and windows. Mind is such a door. Good and bad feelings and activities take place through the mind. Bad feelings and activities make the soul dirty, while good feelings and activities make the soul pure and transparent. To think in this manner is ‘Asrava bhavana’.

8. Samvara bhavana - Samvara means to stop, not to allow to enter. To stop the mind, the speech and the body from showing bad feelings and behaviour and to turn the mind, the speech and the body towards good conduct and good thoughts is called ‘Samvara bhavana’.

9. Nirjara bhavana - Nirjara means to destroy. To destroy the bonds of attachment, hatred and delusion. To lessen and slacken selfishness and attachment. To destroy the mass of karmic particles covering the soul. The annihilation of karmic particles takes place through penance. To think in this manner is ‘Nirjara bhavana’.

10. Lokasvarupa bhavana - To reflect on the form of 14 Rajalokas on the nature of their production, maintenance and destruction is ‘Lokasvarupa bhavana.

11. Bodhidularlabha bhavana - Everything is easy and simple. One may get human birth. One may get all types of happiness and health. One may get a good preceptor. To get all these is easy, but to get the knowledge of the soul and to realize the soul is very difficult (though not impossible). To think on these lines is ‘Bodhidurlabha bhavana.

12. Dharmasvakhyata bhavana - The religion of the soul is the only saviour. Liberation can be obtained through the worship of and meditation on the soul. To think in this manner is ‘Dharmasvakhyata bhavana’.

Mere dry contemplation on these 12 bhavanas is not enough. The underlying principles are to be put into practice.

(1) By reflecting on ‘anitya bhavanas, one renounces attraction and attachment towards temporary objects.

(2) By reflecting on asarana bhavana, one accepts the shelter of only the religion of the soul.

(3) By reflecting on the samsara bhavana, life is coloured deeply by non-attachment.

(4) By reflecting on ‘ekatva bhavana’, one lives a life that would be beneficial to the soul.

(5) By reflecting on ‘anyatva bhavana’, one gives up attachment to the body and realises the soul.

(6) By reflecting on ‘asuci bhavana’, one gives up pleasures enjoyed by the body.

(7),(8) By reflecting on ‘asrava bhavana’, and ‘samvara bhavana’, one unifies. with the soul.

(9) By reflecting on ‘nirjara bhavana’, karma particles are destroyed though penances.

(10) By reflecting on the loka-svarupa-bhavana’, the spirit of I and mine, the feeling of I-ness and my-ness is destroyed.

(11),(12) By reflecting on ‘bodhidurlabha’ and ‘dharma svakhyata bhavanas’, continuous untiring worship of the religion of the soul is performed.

13. Maitri bhavana - To have friendly relation with all the living beings in the whole world, to be a friend of all and to be an enemy of nobody, is maitri bhavana.

14. Pramoda bhavana - Promada means to be happy. To be happy at the happiness and progress of others, to experience joy on seeing people more meritorious, learned and talented than us, to show affection towards the virtuous and to praise virtues; to look only to merits and not faults. of others, this is pramoda bhavna.

15. Karuna bhavana - To share the miseries of unhappy people and that too, without any selfishness and expectation- to give warmth, courage and love to such souls so that they can live happily and they can become steadfast in religion.

16. Madhyasthya bhavana - One should not be angry with those souls, who would not improve their lives, in spite of all efforts at persuasion; one should think of their welfare, and yet remain impartial.

Literature Please read ‘Uttaradhyayaana sutra’, ‘Dasavaikalika sutra’, ‘Santa sudharasa’, ‘Dharmabindu’, ‘Pancasaka’ etc. for further study.





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