A Short History Of The Terapanthi Sect Of The Swetamber Jains And Its Tenets: 02.3.1 Five Mahavratas or Great Vows

Published: 31.08.2010
Updated: 02.07.2015

Five Mahavratas:

  1. Non-injury (Ahimsa) to all sentient beings.

    All living beings are divided into two classes-moving (Tras त्रस) and non moving (Sthavar स्थावर). Those having the organ of touch or body are one-organned.
    They are of five kinds viz.Earth-being, Water-being, Fire-being, Air-being and Vegetable-being (पृथ्वीकाय, अप्काय, तेजकाय, वायुकाय, वनस्पतिकाय).
    Those having two organs of touch (body) and taste (tongue) are two-organned (द्वीन्द्रि्).
    Those having three organs of touch (body), taste (tongue) and smell (nose) are three-organned (त्रीन्द्रिय).
    Those having four organs of touch (body), taste (tongue), smell (nose), and sight (eyes) are four-organned or (चतुरीन्द्रि) and
    those having full five organs of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing (ears) are five-organned (पंचेन्द्रि).
    There are also many divisions and sub-divisions of these beings. To observe the first vow of non-injury, a Sadhu is not to hurt, injure or kill any living being, moving or non-moving, either himself, or cause others to injure, hurt or kill any being, or eulogise such hurt, injury or killing by others either by thought, deed or word.

  2. Absolute abstention from falsehood ((मृषावादविरमण व्रत) or the vow of truthfulness).

    A Sadhu is neither to tell a lie nor to cause others to tell a lie nor to countenance or support the telling of a lie, either by deed, mind or speech. A Sadhu must not also speak even such truth as may cause hurt or injury to others. In a case like this, the Sadhu must observe complete silence.

  3. Absolute refraining from theft or the vow of non-stealing (अदत्तादान विरमण व्रत).

    A Sadhu must not steal any thing nor cause others to steal nor aid and abet or support stealing, either by deed or in thought or by words. A Sadhu is not to take or occupy a thing without the express permission of the owner.

  4. Absolute abstention from sexual inter-course or the vow of celibacy (मैथुन  विरमण व्रत).

    A Sadhu must keep himself aloof from sexual intercourse of any kind whether by deed or in thought or in speech and should not cause others to have sexual intercourse nor support or eulogise intercourse.A Sadhu is not even to touch a female being, whether human, bird or beast.

  5. Vow of non-possession of property (अपरिग्र)

    A Sadhu must not own or keep any property of value, metals or precious stones, slaves or servants and should not cause others to keep them nor support any such possession either by Word or by deed or in thought. A Sadhu is only allowed to keep for his personal use, such wooden recep­tacles, books, or clothes as are absolutely necessary and are prescribed by the Jain Sastras.

Besides the above five Mahavratas the Sadhus have to observe complete abstention from taking food after sunset or before sunrise. This vow is called (वात्रि विरमण व्रत) and is to be strictly observed throughout life.


5th Edition, 1946
Sri Jain Swetambar Terapanthi Sabha, Calcutta, India

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  1. Ahimsa
  2. Body
  3. Celibacy
  4. Mahavratas
  5. Sadhu
  6. Sadhus
  7. Sastras
  8. Sthavar
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