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The Mirror Of The Self: [12] The Aim Of Kayotsarg

Published: 03.02.2009

Win One, Win All

"Win one, win all!" is a sound maxim. It is an easy path to follow. "Convince one, and the rest will be convinced of themsel­ves." If one is required to bring round a thousand people, one would not know where to start. But if there is only one to be brought round, it poses no difficulty. With the adoration of the Acharya, all others stand adored. It has been beautifully brought out in Oghniryukti - 'Worship one, and all others are worshipped thereby, whereas non-adoration of one is non-adoration of all. Dispraise a monk and the entire order stands dispraised, whereas the praise of one monk exalts the whole order.'

What Is The Meaning Of "Knowing The Body“?

A question that arises again and again is, What is that element the mastery of which leads to mastery over all, and knowing which one comes to know everything?' That element is our body. If one comes to know the body thoroughly, one comes to know all. Both the mind and the speech have their origin in the body. The soul too abides in the body. Likewise consciousness. The body contains everything. If we come to know the secrets of the body, we shall come to know all. Our brain contains in­numerable secrets. A complete knowledge of the brain renders all other knowledge redundant. All literature, art, science, Agamas, spirituality, etc. are the creations of the brain. Our very existence and personality are reflected in the body. To come to know the body is to attain omniscience.

Physical Ailments And Kayotsarg

The body constitutes the basic element of kayotsarg. Why do we have physical ailments? There Is a reason for it - the rigidity of the muscles. Another cause thereof is clotting in the blood-circulatory system. With the hardening of the arteries, the passages get contracted, and this creates a physical problem. If there is no obstruction in the functioning of the various systems, if the muscles do not grow rigid, there is no invasion of physical ailments. Kayotsarg offers a solution to all such problems. It is an effective exercise for ending all rigidity, stiffness and hardening of the body.

Kayotsarg: Three Postures

Kayotsarg may be practised in three postures - lying down, standing or sitting.

Different directions are given to suit particular cases. Those who are young and strong should practise kayotsarg standing. Those who are young but not so strong should practise it sitting. One, who is incapacitated and feeble, may practise kayotsarg lying down. The important consideration is one's strength and capacity. Lord Mahavir said - "No person should hide fiis potential." An important maxim of Mahavir's doctrine of self-exertion is, "Let not your power remain unutilised!"

An Exercise Of Body-Purification

Kayotsarg is an important exercise of body-purification. For a man who wants to lead a life free from restlessness, a peaceful life of pure intelligence, of vigorous talent and stainless mind, the first step is to undertake body-purification. Why do old age and disease visit a man? The root cause of it is the lack of bodily purity. As long as the excretory system of the body func­tions properly, a man leads a healthy and peaceful life. Two im­portant systems connected with physical health are the digestive system and the excretory system. The function of the digestive system is to digest the food and that of the excretory system is to clear the body of excrement. Waste matter accumulates in the body everyday. If the defecation system does not function proper­ly, a man's health is impaired. The point we wish to make is that whereas eating demands 25% of our attention, 75% of it should be reserved for the evacuation of waste-matter. If a person pays due attention to evacuation, he will be able to lead a peaceful life, his senses, his mind and his consciousness will be filled with contentment.

Food And The Body

One method of excreting waste matter is fasting. To do penance constitutes a spiritual practice, but fasting is also essential for health. Another method is the practice of asanas. Practising asanas activates the entire body; it causes the body to sweat; a lot of filth is ejected out of the body thereby. Experiments have been conducted in which 70-80 kg of waste matter was extracted from a dead body. So we must concentrate our attention on whether the waste-matter is being regularly evacuated from the body or not. We must come to appreciate the truth that we eat for the preserva­tion of the body and that the body is not meant merely for consumption of food. We eat to live and not live to eat. But we seem to be moving in a contrary direction. We must get rid of our delusion. The first objective of kayotsarg is to end the insensitivity of the body, to remove its inertia. With the practice of kayotsarg, the blood-circulatory system gets toned up; there is then no obstruction anywhere.

Equanimity In Joy And Sorrow

Let us observe the current style of living. From the view­point of economic progress and provision of amenities, society has advanced a great deal, but from the point of view of character and social and moral health, society has degenerated. Many people have become industrialists, have risen high in the world, but it seems to me the cultural level has gone very much down. People have started visiting night-clubs. The consumption of liquor among them has increased. Purity in food has been adversely affected. Their character too has suffered deterioration. The character of a society not used to austere living cannot be very strong. Because of the opportunistic mentality, an individual is ever caught in tension. He becomes addicted to liquor and in­toxicating drugs. When a society or an individual becomes ad­dicted to liquor, they become vulnerable to other evils. The more the amenities, the greater is the desire for comfort and it is difficult to endure pleasure. Only a saint or a highly intelligent person can endure pleasure. A life of comfort tends to greater negligence. The talk of enduring pain or suffering is understandable, but that of enduring pleasure is not so intelligible. It does not seem to make any sense to an average person. But it is essential that one should be able to endure pleasure in order to forestall sloth or negligence. Whether he be a monk or a householder, a man must practice living an austere life. Kayotsarg helps to create a stale of mind, which is conducive to the development of one's capacity to endure both joy and sorrow. It is an exercise for meeting pain and pleasure with equanimity. He, who masters kayotsarg, transcends pain and pleasure and the comfort-seeking mentality. Only such a person can preserve moral and social values and those of good character.

Foundation of Anupreksha and Meditation

Two important ways of bringing about a change are anupreksha and meditation. Only in a state of kayotsarg is it possible to practice them. Until one learns well how to practice kayotsarg, the exercise of meditation and anupreksha does not prove to be effective. The practice of kayotsarg constitutes the groundwork for the practice of meditation and anupreksha; without kayotsarg they do not yield adequate results. Hence for a person undertaking meditation and anupreksha, it is essential to practice kayotsarg.

The question is often posed as to why one should practice kayotsarg. Kayotsarg is practised for

  1. removing physical inertia;
  2. sharpening intelligence;
  3. developing the capacity to endure pain and pleasure:
  4. anupreksha
  5. meditation

All these five objectives of kayotsarg are important for a sadhak. For the man who attains them, success in life is assured.


3rd Edition 1995

Jain Vishva Bharati Institute
Ladnun -341 306 (Rajasthan)

Muni Dhananjay Kumar (Hindi)
Muni Mahendra Kumar (English)

Translated by:
Late Prof. R.K. Seth

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Agamas
  3. Asanas
  4. Body
  5. Brain
  6. Consciousness
  7. Equanimity
  8. Fasting
  9. Kayotsarg
  10. Mahavir
  11. Meditation
  12. Sadhak
  13. Science
  14. Soul
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