Philosophy In Jain Agams ► 06 ►ĀCĀRĀ MIMĀNSĀ [Ethics - A Critical Probe]] ► Types of Conduct ► Viryācāra: (Conduct qua Spiritual Energy) ► Practice of Pratimā (Intensive Course of Austere Practices)

Posted: 20.07.2019

The pratimā (the intensive course of austere practice undertaken with determination and performed in conformity with the prescribed procedure) has a specific description in the Jain spiritual tradition. It is desirable to discuss it in the present context. The specific criteria of penance or the special rule of spiritual practicing is known as pratimā. The meaning of pratimā in Sthānāga commentary is- acquisition, vow or resolution.[1] There are different methods and practices for spirituality and they have also been classified into different pratimās. There is a description of the twelve types of pratimā in Sthānāga, as, 1. Samādhi 2. Upadhāna 3.Viveka 4. Vyutsarga 5. Bhadra 6. Subhadra 7. Mahābhadra 8. Sarvtobhadra 9. Khudraka prasravana 10. Mahat prasravaa 11. Yavamadhyacandra and 12. Vajramadhyacandra.

Although, there are definitions available for some of the pratimās, it is hard to say whether the available meaning/definition implies the proper meaning or not. Meanings of some of the pratimās have also been lost. Abhayadevasuri has himself accepted this fact. He has referred about the Subhadrapratimā that its meaning is not available.[2]

The practice characterised by the auspiciousness of feelings is Samādhi pratimā. It has two types-śruta samādhipratimā and cāritra samādhipratimā as Sāmāyika etc.[3]

Upadhāna pratimā- the meaning of upadhāna is penance. A monk's twelve and a śrāvaka's eleven pratimās are called upadhānapratimās.

The viveka pratimā is a process of knowledge of discrimination of the body and soul. Discrimination between the soul and the body is done during the practice of this pratimā. Its practitioner analytically thinks about anger, pride, deceit and greed with its discrimination from the self. These are the nearest non-spiritual elements of the soul. After a good practice of its discrimination, the practitioner ponders upon his discrimination with the external relations. There are three types of external relations, namely - (i) religious group (ii) body (iii) food.[4] Acharya Mahapragya has compared vivekapratimā to viveka khyāti i.e. discrimination.[5] Maharsi Patanjali has mentioned it in Hānopāya (way for liberation).[6]

Eleven pratimās for the śravakas and twelve pratimās for the monk have been prescribed in the Samavāyāñga Sūtra.[7] In that same agama, there are mention of 91 and 92 pratimās of vaiyāvtya karma without mentioning names and directions.[8] There are many pratimās available in the Jain āgamas but their appropriate practice methods are not available.

In Antagadadasāo, there is a mention of a Mahāpratimā practiced in a single night.[9] There is no mention of the name of Mahāpratimā (grand pratimā) in the Daśa. Only one night Bhikupratimā is referred over there.[10] In both, one night mahāpratimā and one night Bhikupratimā, there is a minor difference in their name and not in the very nature of the practice. Lord Mahavira had accepted one night mahāpratimā in a three day fast. A night's bhikupratimā is also accepted in a three day fast.

Lord Mahavira did the Bhadra Pratimā, outside the Sānulasthi village. This involved Lord Mahavira doing kāyotsarga by facing the eastern direction on the first day a whole night, he practiced kāyotsarga in the southern direction. Second day, he did kāyotsarga by facing the western direction. During the second night, he did it by facing the northern direction. Lord Mahavira accomplished the Bhadra pratimā having two days fast with the practice of kāyotsarga for two days and nights continuously.[11] Lord Mahavira underwent special practices of meditation and penance. Its information is revealed in the above references.

Acharya Mahapragya has deeply explored these pratimās in Sthānaga ippaa (a detailed explanation). For in depth study one should refer that.[12]

Ekala-vihāra Pratimā

Ekala vihāra pratimā means taking a resolution of doing spiritual practice by living alone in solitary place. According to Jain tradition, a practitioner can live alone in three conditions only:[13]

  • By accepting this Pratimā
  • By accepting Jinakalpa Pratimā
  • By accepting the monthly etc. Bhiku Pratimās.

Everyone can not accept this pratimā. An ascetic having special eligibility can only accept it. The eight eligibilities of accepting a pratimā have been described in the Sthānāga[14] as follows:-

  1. Faithful - Having full faith in his practices. Such person's right faith and conduct stand as firm as mountain Meru.
  2. Truthful - Truth practitioner. Such person remains fearless in following his vow of truthfulness. One is an ardent follower of
  3. truth.
  4. Brilliant - Person who is skilled enough to receive the knowledge of scriptures.
  5. Outstanding Scholar - As a minimum knower of upto the third section of the nine pūrvas or maximum upto the incomplete tenth
  6. pūrva.
  7. Powerful - Person who has tested himself under the five criterions such as penance, strength, knower of scripture, practitioner of solitariness, energy.
  8. Peaceful - Person who neither indulges in repeating the pacified conflictual conditions nor does he initiate newer conflicts.
  9. Patient - Person who remains in the state of equanimity in both favourable and unfavourable conditions.
  10. Energetic - Person who maintains enthusiasm to move ahead in accepted spiritual practices.[15]

At present, there is no provision for ekala vihārapratimā in the Jain tradition. It used to be accepted by specially- skilled persons in the past, who have been doing special experiments in the field of spiritual progress. They have gained special skills by indulging their soul in those experiments. Jain philosophy is a non-absolutistic philosophy (Anekāntavādī). Hence, there is no restriction in doing this particular type of practice. External types of practices are changing on the basis of substance, space, time, mode, patience and power. The main factor of soul's development is inner purification. This principle is universally valid. Therefore, Jain conduct remained untouched from the one sided hard of performance of ritualistic practices. That's the reason of continuation of the concept of Asoccākevalī,[16] the fifteen types of liberated souls[17] etc.

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