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Thus Spoke Mahapragya - Vol.1: 03. Rules, Regulations and Discipline

Published: 27.03.2011

Rules, Regulations and Discipline

It was chaturdashi (fourth day of the Hindu calendar month) and the first day of our stay at Ladnun. Anushashan (self-discipline) and Maryada Patra (Acharya Bhikshus Letter of Conduct) was the topic of the discussion among the Sadhus Sadhvis. Maryada Patra (constitution of Terapanth) begins with the Aachar (conduct).The first sutra of this Aachar is “Every sadhu and sadhvi should religiously follow: Panch Mahavrat, Panch Samiti and Teen Gupti”.

Thirteen Fundamental Principles

Panch Mahavrat

Five great vows observed by Jain monks and nuns

Panch Samiti

Five Samitis (Carefulness): Samitis purify the actions

Teen Gupti

Three Guptis (Preservations): Guptis prohibit sinful activities

The above sutra has the complete description of a sadhu and his characteristics. The five great vows or Mahavrats are:

Five Great Vows








Chastity, Celibacy


Non-possession/Non-attachment. Abstention from greed for worldly possessions

Panch Mahavrat, Panch Samiti and Teen Gupti all together sum up to the thirteen sutras. It is a co-incidence that in Terapanth also there are thirteen fundamental principles. In Jainism, both Shwetambara and Digambara they are equally important. Pujyapaad, a great scholar of the Digamber sect had written in his book that Lord Mahavir had described thirteen different principles of religion. No other Tirthankara has said anything about the thirteen forms of religion. This religion was not there during the time of Parshva (twenty third Tirthankara). It was Lord Mahavir who had shaped the thirteen forms of religion. This co-incidentally was passed on to Acharya Bhikshu in the form of Terapanth.

Panch Mahavrat is a big topic of discussion and needs to be discussed independently. The five Samiti (conduct) are closely related with the code of conduct:

Five Samitis

Irya Samiti

Proper care in walking

Bhasha Samiti

Proper care in speaking

Eshna Samiti

Proper care while taking alms which should be free from blemishes

Adana Nikshepa Samiti

Proper care in taking and keeping

Utsarga Samiti

Proper care in disposing body wastes

1. Irya Samiti (Proper care in walking):

This samiti talks about the caution one needs to take while he walks. One must first see and then walk. This is very important from Ahimsa viewpoint and from the behavioural point of view. One who doesn't see and walk is sure to hurt not only himself but also small creatures and others.

2. Bhasha Samiti (Proper care in speaking):

This samiti talks about how one should speak. This is applicable to both the shrawak (sadhu) and a householder.

Care in speaking

One should be polite in speech. As far as possible let the speech be in the form of asking a question.

According to this samiti one should not use harsh words or speak impolitely. A muni who uses harsh words is required to seek forgiveness every month. Speaking is an art. One should be polite in his speech. It is our experience that what we can achieve anything by being polite in our speech. We should remove the thought from our mind that we can get the job done from the people only by being harsh or impolite in our speech. If we are able to establish relationship with so many people, it is because of politeness in speech. Politeness could attract people towards you. Take a case when you need to call a doctor. You don't use a commanding language saying call the doctor. Instead, when sadhus or sadhvis are not well, they are asked “Is it the right time to call a doctor?” Look at the difference between the two tones. One is commanding tone and the other is asking a question. Whenever possible let the speech be that of asking a question. Being polite in speech is very important.

3. Eshna Samiti (Proper care in begging):

This samiti talks about what are the different things a sadhu needs to consider before begging. When a sadhu accepts food, he should accept food only on request from the donor. This was a very important sutra from Acharya Bhikshu. Even when a sadhu is in hurry, it does not mean that he can take the vessel, go out and just seek the alms. He should properly enquire as to why the food was made, in what quantity was it made and only after a proper enquiry, he should accept it.

In Panchasutram it is very beautifully described why one becomes a sadhu. It is not for food, water, clothes or any prestige. Even when you are accepting food one should see the intention of the donor. Before accepting any food one should check if there is anyone else left to eat the food. This has become of paramount significance in today's time considering the fact that the number of sadhus and sadhvis have increased significantly.

The shrawak vrata (vow of a householder) is called Athithi Samvibhaga (equality in sharing with food and the like by offering them to monastic order). There should not be any unequal division. The division should be equal and to the minimum extent. When a sadhu and a householder have divided food equally, it is an equal division. However, if the sadhu eats everything and the householder remains hungry then it is an unequal division. This is not fair and is unacceptable. One should be humble in determining what to take and how much to take. One should be humble and only after enquiring, should accept anything politely. Sadhvi Deepaji had set a very good example in front of sadhu and sadhvi. Jayacharya was supposed to conduct chaumasa (a four month period of penance when sadhus do not travel) at Chittor. There were not many houses of the followers in Chittor. Jayacharya inquired, “Who will do chaumasa at Chittor?” Nobody came forward. Apparently getting food and water during these four months would be very tough and there was lot of resistance during that time. Sadhvi Deepaji, who was the head of the sadhvis came forward and volunteered to go to Chittor to do chaumasa. Jayacharya asked “How will you do chaumasa there? You may not even get food and water there.”

Deepaji replied “Gurudev. Please do not worry. The four sadhvis along with me are ready to fast during these four months. Hence we do not see this as a problem at all”. This was a very good example set by Sadhviji in front of us.

Ladnun is a large city. In a small town or village where there are not many followers, then finding food and water can be a problem for a sadhu. For such situations a good option that emerges is ekantar (eating on alternate days). At this moment this is not required. We have sadhus who have set a very good example in this regard. Muni Purnanandji and Muni Rajkaranji who are brothers are also doing this alternate day fasting. Shreyansji, Ajithji who are with us is also doing this alternate day fasting. The expectation is that the sadhu and sadhvi should be prepared and ready for any situation. Worrying about food and water should never be a concern.

We should be doing sadhana (meditation). Food, water, stay etc are all secondary aspects. Eshna Samiti is not only for a sadhu but also for a householder. For our followers, I would to like give an example. It is about Ramkumarji Saravagi who was the son of Mahadevji Saravagi. He was living in Calcutta and his native was Rajgarh. He was one of the best shrawak (follower) that we have seen. He was very polite and humble. Whenever any Sadhu or Sadhvi used to go to him seeking alms, he used to say “I have four chapatis. Two of them, I am going to give to you and two I shall eat. I cannot give you everything”. A very important point to note is when you give alms you should not replenish what you have given as alms. For example, when you have four chapatis and given two chapatis, you should not replenish those two chapatis. One should exercise self-control here. This is Athithi Samvibhaga.

4. Adana Nikshepa Samiti (Proper care in taking and keeping):

When accepting or keeping clothes, vessel etc. one should exercise caution.

5. Utsarga samiti (Proper care in disposing waste):

When performing Utsarg Samiti[1], Pratikraman (a special prayer for repentance, forgiveness) and Pratilekhan[2] (observing one’s clothes carefully with the aim of not killing or hurting any living organisms) one should abstain from talking. This is the sutra of the conduct.

There are five Maulik Maryada (fundamental principles):

Maulik Maryada (Fundamental Principles)


All the sadhus and sadhvis should remain under the leadership of one Acharya


One should commence the journey or chaturmas with prior permission from Acharya.


One should not make his or her own disciples


Acharya should identify a capable person for diksha (Diksha stands for the beginning of a new spiritual life for the novice whose past has been 'digested'. The novice leaves his family of origin and joins the lineage of the spiritual community). If the person turns out to be unfit, then he should be removed.


When the Acharya nominates his successor, all sadhus and sadhvis should respect the decision.

These fundamental principles may raise questions in the mind of people. Today when everybody has freedom to express their feelings then why such a rigid discipline? Why, so many restrictions and constraints?

Acharya Tulsi has written a book Panchasutram in which he highlights the importance of abiding by rules of conducts and restrictions. In a group where there is no restriction defined, it can lead to chaos. This could happen to sadhus and sadhvis who also live in a group. One has to give importance to discipline and Maryada (conduct).  Fulfilling ambitions can work in politics but in religious groups.

One disciple asked “We became sadhu to free ourselves from all bondage. Even after becoming a sadhu why there are so many bondages again. Why are there so many norms and constraints? Why, so many restrictions? Why, so many do's and don'ts?” Acharya who was patiently listening to this asked “Tell me which bondage have you seen here. You have become sadhu and have joined this religious group. What is that is appearing as bondage to you?”

The disciple replied “You are asking about bondage? Here at every step we have discipline, rules; there is list of do's and don'ts. There is a restriction on getting water. Even if you get water then there are restrictions on where the water can be used and where it cannot be used, how much is required and how much can be consumed etc. I see restrictions in everything. There is a restriction even on place. We cannot sit where we want. The head of sadhvi had given us place yesterday. We are supposed to divide the place such that it does not cause inconvenience to the old sadhus.”

The disciple further said “Gurudev. We are people with independent consciousness. We are supposed to do work according to our wishes. We would like to sit wherever we want. We would like to go for alms wherever we want to go.” It should not be that where sadhus have gone for alms the sadhvi cannot go and vice-versa. These are all bondages and restrictions, which are clearly visible. The Acharya replied “Don't consider these as bondages. Discipline is not bondage. Guidelines are not restrictions. They are there actually to free you from any bondage.”

Where there is a group of people living together then discipline is very important. If there is just one individual then for him you do not need any discipline or guidelines. He is free to do anything. However when there are even two individuals living together then the guideline needs to be there. One cannot stay alone without the support of others. It is written in the Upanishads that even Lord Brahma could not stay alone. He felt that like him many others should be there. As a result the universe was created and the humanity came into existence. The question is when Brahma himself could not stay all alone, how can we sadhus and sadhvis live alone?

Family is where a group of people live together. Religious group is also like a family where a group of people live together. They stay together and live together. Here there are two types: one set of people live fighting amongst one another and other set of people live in peace. People who do not understand discipline and norms end fighting. Where there are norms defined people will live in peace.

Sutra for a peaceful life

Love, affection and trust is there only when the norms and guidelines are defined.

I have told many people when there is love and affection, they do not follow any guidelines or norms. When there is misunderstanding, people think about division of property and court. It would be good if the norms and guidelines are defined before only. When there is love and affection, make an attempt to define the norms and guidelines. It is very important to note that love, affection and trust is there only when the norms and guidelines are defined and in place.

There was a family of two brothers. The elder brother bought home some mangoes. Both the brothers had two sons each. The elder brother had bought four mangoes.  He gave his sons, two mangoes, which were good, and the remaining bad ones he gave it to his younger brother sons. The younger brother's wife saw this. The next day, the joint-family was divided into two.

When people are living happily and have mutual trust and respect, it would be good that division of property etc takes place then itself. Once this love, trust and affection diminish, this division would then become a bitter experience. This problem is occurring everywhere. This has not left even the big industrial houses and they now form the headlines of daily newspapers.

Why does this happen? This happens because the norms and guidelines were not there or were not clear. Acharya Bhikshu, Jayacharya and Acharya Tulsi, have given due importance that the guidelines and norms should be very clear. It avoids misunderstandings and conflicts. Aagam (sacred literature of Jain's) also stresses on this. Hence where there are group of people living, these guidelines become a must. Without this one cannot live together in peace for a long time.

The Guru stressed that guideline, norms and discipline is a must for people living in groups. The disciple understood this very clearly. He understood the power that lies in unity. When there is group the guidelines are a must there.

During the Bidaasar chaumasa, in 1966, I asked one Muni - “You two are relatives, then why do you divide things between yourself”. We were young at that time and were curious to find out. The Muni gave a very satisfying reply. He said “From a practical viewpoint, what you say is correct. However the fact is that today we have love and affection between us. In future, if there is a conflict on some issue and if we have difference of opinion and then if we do this division, it would look odd”. When a division takes place because of difference of opinion or a dispute it is not good.

Equal division, is very important word. For this, the guidelines, norms and discipline are very important. Hence all sadhus and sadhvis should respect these norms and guidelines. They should not only respect the order and discipline but also believe that this is for their well-being and not a bondage for them. When people do not realize this, it results in disputes. Understand its importance and respect it and you would realize its benefits. If these norms, guidelines and discipline is there even in our shrawak family, then there would be peace and trust in the family and it will prosper. For a joint family this is a very important sutra and it can avoid the disintegration of a joint-family.

Acharya Bhikshu has given a very important direction to us: it is of being disciplined, polite and having clear norms and guidelines. We should remember it and especially on the chaturdashi (fourth day of the Hindu calendar month) and we should dedicate ourselves towards it. Everybody sees that bench which is laid for us. Who has put this here? Neither I, nor Mahashramanji, nor any of the sadhu and sadhvi has asked anybody to put this bench here. The point I am trying to make here is that there is no need to tell. Norms and guidelines have been well defined. Today it was the turn of Muni Nayan Kumar ji; tomorrow it would be the turn of Muni Mahaveer Kumar ji. Tomorrow, Muni Nayan Kumar ji just has to say “Mahaveer ji, today it is your turn”. Then the rest of the worry would lie with Mahaveer ji. People would take turns to do their duty, whether it is to fill water, get alms or anything.

The first Mahotsav (festival) of Gurudev was in Beawar (Rajasthan). After Gangapur chaturmas, under his leadership the first festival was celebrated amidst lot of struggle and criticism. There were three hundred to four hundred sadhvis staying in Kundan Bhawan, which belonged to the Kundan ji who belonged to the sthanakvasi sect. When we were about to leave the Bhawan, some followers from the sthanakvasi came to us and said “Maharaj! We were waiting when all the sadhvis would fight amongst one another. We could not see such a fight, and we are disappointed.” One could ask why this did not happen. The answer is our norms, guidelines and discipline. Everybody knew their responsibility and, hence there were no question of any dispute or a quarrel.

We have to keep Terapanth's discipline, norms and guidelines very clear. With norms, guidelines and discipline in place, it is benefiting us and we are progressing also. One should accept them not only from outside, but also from within, and believe that we have to live within these norms and guidelines defined for us and are beneficial to us.

On a 7th January


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Mahapragya ne Kaha - Vol.1 Translated by:
Rakesh Kumar Jain Online Edition: 2011

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Aagam
  2. Acharya
  3. Acharya Bhikshu
  4. Acharya Tulsi
  5. Achaurya
  6. Ahimsa
  7. Aparigraha
  8. Beawar
  9. Bhawan
  10. Bhikshu
  11. Bidaasar
  12. Body
  13. Brahma
  14. Brahmacharya
  15. Calcutta
  16. Celibacy
  17. Chaturmas
  18. Chaumasa
  19. Chittor
  20. Consciousness
  21. Digambara
  22. Digamber
  23. Diksha
  24. Discipline
  25. Fasting
  26. Five Samitis
  27. Gangapur
  28. Greed
  29. Gupti
  30. Guptis
  31. Guru
  32. Gurudev
  33. Jainism
  34. Jayacharya
  35. Ladnun
  36. Mahaveer
  37. Mahavir
  38. Mahavrats
  39. Maryada
  40. Maryada Patra
  41. Meditation
  42. Muni
  43. Muni Mahaveer Kumar
  44. Non-violence
  45. Pratikraman
  46. Rajasthan
  47. Rajgarh
  48. Sadhana
  49. Sadhu
  50. Sadhus
  51. Sadhvi
  52. Sadhvis
  53. Samiti
  54. Samitis
  55. Satya
  56. Shrawak
  57. Sthanakvasi
  58. Sutra
  59. Terapanth
  60. Tirthankara
  61. Tulsi
  62. Upanishads
  63. Utsarga Samiti
  64. Utsarga samiti
  65. Vrata
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