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The Quest For Truth: [08.01.02] The Path Of Sadhana - To Torture The Body Is Not Dharma. (2)

Published: 11.04.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

The Mughals were in battle with the Marathas The Marathas were indulging in gorilla warfare. They would attack the Mughals and come back to their camp at night. In this warfare they had to go through many problems. They always had the problem of shortage of rations. Then it was wintertime and they did not have adequate warm clothing. One soldier's clothes got torn and as he looked at the ragged attire he felt a little sad. He went to Chatrapati Shivaji. "Your majesty, it is biting cold and the body is shivering. There is no protection from the cold. Even the cold I can bear, but my clothes are so ragged that I am not even able to cover my modesty." Shivaji saw that his brave soldier had weakened, was giving up. Said Shivaji, "Brave soldier, do you know you have a wound on your body? What do these wounds say? Said the soldier widening his chest, "They speak of my bravery." "So brave soldier, if you wear all your clothes, these wounds will be covered. These clothes will conceal your courage." Revitalized the soldier returned to his camp.

The desire for comfort and luxury conceal courage.

Whenour minds are awake to the need of deriving comfort, the power of courage weakens. The one who follows the body will think of physical comfort while the one who follows the soul will think of physical benefit. Comfort is a small truth while benefit is a larger truth. A man may derive comfort by continually sitting for fifteen hours, but that is not to his benefit. The probability of diabetes increases in such a man. Maharishi Charak has said that those desiring luxury are prone to diabetes. There is a limit to comfort. The body needs comfort, but to subordinate the body to excessive ease and comfort is detrimental. Kayaklesh should be understood in this context. Mahavira established the principle of kayaklesh so that a man does not develop his desires for luxuries or negligence towards duty. It is not a contradiction of penance. When water is added to flour it becomes wet. When the dough is baked, it becomes dry again, looses its wetness. Similarly the body put through the fire of penance is not vulnerable. A pot that has not been fired cannot be used to store water. Only after baking it, it can be used for storing water. Is firing the clay causing it pain? When a potter fires his clay should we say he is causing pain? This is not the method of torture; it is the method of strengthening. Kayaklesh too is not the method of causing pain but of strengthening.

The one who has not been seasoned cannot far hardships. Vajrasan may not be comfortable, but is definitely beneficial. The one who has not strengthened his knees cannot sit in that posture. His knees give way.

The one who wears more woollens in winter has very little capacity to face the cold. Even to face scorching heat, the body has to be trained. To live in shunya (loosely translated as vacuum), to live alone is very difficult. Cosmonauts are acclimatized to undertake their journeys. Anybody and everybody cannot undertake this journey. Only those who have been trained can undertake the journey.

Kayaklesh is the second lesson in sadhana. The first lesson in training is fasting. Bhagvan Mahavira gave four instructions in respect of food:

  1. Fasting,
  2. Meager meals,
  3. Different resolves pertaining to food, and
  4. To give up milk, yoghurt etc.

Jainism does not treat fasting as compulsory. To bring about a balance between a person's energy and his inner capabilities, fasting is advised. Fasting till the mind is healthy and happy.

If the mind is not pure then even the fasting is not. Fasting does affect the body but it helps fully the development of the inner capabilities. This is not a method of causing pain to the body or the mind.

Bhagvan Mahavira gave three instructions with respect to kayaklesh: asana, atapna and giving up of bodily samskaras (sharir samskar).

We have many energy centres in our body. Asanas play a great role in awakening them. For mental development it is necessary for our endocrine glands to function properly. Asanas help in ensuring that also. Sarvangasan regulates the functioning of the thyroid glands. Half an hour of practice of sarvangasan may be strenuous physically but it is not meant to give pain. That physical exertion which troubles the body but does not give comfort can be said to be torturing the body. Kayaklesh however means bringing real happiness and doing good to the body. Matsyasan, vajrasan, virasan are all-important asans, which promote development. So their utility cannot be negated.

Absorbing heat from the sun (atapana) is also very useful. The solar radiations are not only the source of life to the physical body but they are also the secret of the source of strength to the psyche. With this the brilliance increases and loss of light is prevented. To take the heat of the sun with the eyes open, to gaze at the sun can be both beneficial and detrimental. In the first step the heat of the sun is absorbed either on the back or while lying down. In the second step it is absorbed by facing the sun in a standing posture. Some take the sun's heat in the morning and some in the afternoon. In Bhagvan Mahavira's time hundreds of monks used this technique.

  • The Quest For Truth: In the context of Anekanta by Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Edited by Muni Dulahraj
  • Translated by Sudhamahi Regunathan
  • under the guidance of Revered Munishree Mahendra Kumar.
  • Published 2003 by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute (Deemed University), Ladnun, Rajasthan, India

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Asana
  2. Asanas
  3. Atapana
  4. Body
  5. Fasting
  6. Jainism
  7. Mahavira
  8. Sadhana
  9. Samskaras
  10. Sarvangasan
  11. Sharir
  12. Soul
  13. Thyroid Glands
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