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Who is a Jain Shravak: 23 ►Relevance of Jain Life-style

Published: 11.03.2020

Life is the most precious thing compared to any other thing in the world. Things are valuable only if life is. Without life, things have no value.

The Purpose of Life

Quality of life depends upon lifestyle. The question is how should one live? Just to live is different from how purposefully one lives? A skilful life becomes meaningful and successful. The life becomes dry, stressful and purposeless if a person does not know how to live an artfully. Therefore, it is important to know right way of living. Today's lifestyle does not appear idealistic and purposeful. Life is becoming meaningless because of perspectives that have intruded life such as rat-race, cut-throat competition, lack of time, and impatience.

The primary focus of life is good health. Having a healthy and happy mind is the second objective. The third is to develop healthy and pure emotions, staying away from negative thoughts, having constant flow of positive emotions, amity and compassion for all. Such attitudes are necessary to maintain the beauty of the garden of life.

The Solution is Veetaraagata

Today everyone is voicing that lifestyle needs to be changed. Understanding the needs of the current era, AcharyaTulsi realized the necessity of bringing some new lifestyle maxims. He found Jain life style as the solution which is based on veetaraagata(detachment). In this world of attachment and attraction for exuberant materialistic affluence, veetaraagata is the only solution. Therefore, nine maxims of Jain life style are propounded. Let's understand their relevance in the present context.

Samyak Darshan: Entering the Right Lifestyle

The first maxim of Jain lifestyle is - Samyak darshan (right faith). Negative perspectives have increased violence, terrorism and doubt which cause mistrust between one another. Life is not secure for anyone, anywhere. There are no assurances in life. People are entangled with negative and perverse attitudes leading them to making erroneous decisions. However, in worldly life attachment is a life-chord which can itself become a death-chord when it surpasses the limit. Today this very attachment is becoming harmful because there is no other power to control it. The only principle which can discipline it is veetaraagata(detachment).

Veetaraagata, which is reflected through right faith, should be our goal, and navigator to guide our path. Dev, Guru and Dharm are the trinity of right faith - dev propounds veetaraagata, guru guides the path and the dharm is the path. Right faith can discipline the attachment if it becomes embedded in our life. Our lifestyle will become peaceful, justice and indifferent between rich and poor by managing the biases towards caste, religion, language, state, and materialistic things. Therefore, the first maxim samyak darshan is very significant. This is an entrance to a puritanical lifestyle leading to happiness and trouble-free life.

Co-existence, Harmony and Relatively

The second maxim of Jain life style is anekant. This unique philosophy of the Jains should become an integral part of our life. Differences in interest, thoughts and opinion are quite natural within a family or a group of people. Unison is not possible. Amid such differences, struggle and conflict are inevitable. Will people live a struggled life forever? Will they continue fighting? No, such lifestyle can be altered by applying the principle of anekant. Anekant is the trinity of co­existence, harmony and relativity.

How can one stay and live together with people having conflicting ideas and thoughts? Anekant implies co-existence of many is indeed possible. Along with diversity in nature, seeds of co-existence are also concomitant. We should endeavour to sprout the seeds of co­existence. Co-existence demands empathy and giving importance to the thoughts of others. Everyone believes themselves to be correct. Quarrels commence when one disagrees with another. Here anekant solves the tension as, 'Ok, you accept yourself as correct, but try to find possible truth in others opinion too.' Such guidance prepares the ground for co-existence. Struggles can be avoided if every person considers others thinking as true as his own.

The second maxim of anekant is samanvay (harmony). It is required to understand and explore the harmony among diverse thoughts and beliefs.

The third maxim is saapekshata (relativity). Life is interdependent. Everyone needs one another. To illustrate, for chapaati (bread) the effort of many hands is implicitly behind it. A chain of many people is involved in the process from sowing the seeds, watering, cutting the harvest, bringing to the market, grinding the wheat and finally making the chapaati to the person who eats it. Only after a long chain of arduous toil is the chapaati is ready to eat. Thus, our life is completely dependent on others.

Anyone elder or younger, senior or junior cannot deny the need of mutual dependency. Life cannot sustain without relative attitude. Contributions of thousands of people make our life fulfilled. The root cause of conflict and strife is due to false ego and ignoring the dependency on others.

Humility is intertwined with anekant based life style, which embraces relativity, harmony and co-existence. These three constituents make life meaningful and blissful.

Avoid Unnecessary Violence

Ahimsa is the third maxim of Jain life style. Not killing is non-violence. It is an incomplete definition of ahimsa. Compassion, sympathy, amity and equanimity are the grounds of non-violence and the true nature of a soul. Without living at the level of soul or consciousness, one cannot practice non-violence. It is just a minimum level of practicing ahimsa but not at a higher level. Minimum ahimsa in the form of avoiding unnecessary violence must be part of social life. Necessary violence is inevitable for survival - this truth is acceptable, but it does not mean that violence is always favourable. 'Avoid unnecessary violence' is a basic code of conduct of non-violence to enter the realm of ahimsa. Harmonious people give value to ahimsa from a social perspective, develop a non-violent society and do not want the society to be a battlefield of violence and terror.

The greatest benefit of avoiding unnecessary violence is the culmination of environmental pollution.

Unnecessary violence is a prime factor behind increasing pollution. Examples behind the rates of increase of pollution are wastage of excessive water, deforestation, barbaric hunting of animals and birds, destruction of plants, exploitation and excavation of land for selfish needs. Advocating unnecessary violence can bring peace on earth and lead to a happy life.

Sensitivity is a Necessity

Sensitivity is essential for ahimsa. Sensitivity is to feel the pain oneself, before inflicting pain to others. In the absence of sensitivity, society becomes bedrock of criminals, murderers and inhumane people. Such society cannot be called civilized or disciplined. Therefore, sensitivity must be nurtured in the society. Feelings of amity strengthen sensitivity.

In fact, lack of trust causes mutual enmity. Avalanche of distrust between people and countries is increasing constantly. Therefore, enhancing feeling of amity and eradication of doubt is of necessity. When the feeling of amity is extended, life becomes harmonious and the world takes a new dimension.

The Pious Ganges

The fourth maxim of Jain lifestyle is Saman Sanskriti. 'Saman' is a symbol of equality, equanimity or tranquillity, penance, effort, and endeavour. Saman sanskriti gave rise to tripathaga (The Ganges), which flows in three different paths of equality, equanimity and endeavour. Thus, Saman sanskriti gave rise to three dimensional cultures.

Equality is the first dimension which should be developed not only for human beings, but for every single living being. Without it one cannot perceive others as himself. Awakening such attitude will help minimise violence. Therefore, the very first step taken by Saman culture to minimize violence and advocate non-violence is the feeling of equality.

Equanimity or tranquillity is the second dimension. Peace is possible if negative emotions are dormant, and the four passions of anger, ego, deceit, and greed are at minimum level.

The third dimension is endeavour or putting efforts. Hard work, self-reliance and to believe in one's own efforts is a lifestyle endowed with endeavour. Problems are increasing because of lack of will of being laborious. Man, because of ego, wants to live in comfort-zone with no efforts. Employees or servants work to satiate our requirements. Such mentality has declined interest in hard-work. Here is an illustration.

Once, a man went to the house of a merchant, in the need of some vessels. He asked, 'sir, I need some vessels.' Merchant: why?

Man: Tomorrow I have a marriage in my house.

Merchant looked around and replied, 'I cannot give you now because there is no one to give.'

The man came back after a while and requested, 'sir! I badly need the vessels please provide me!

The merchant again looked around and replied, 'right now there is no man! The man could not control and replied with reaction, 'I came here thinking that you are a man!

And the man left the place.

What a surprise when master cannot do any work and for him his employee is man not he.

Saman culture therefore emphasizes culture of endeavour and promotes, 'Do hard work, and believe in yourself.'

Let our lifestyle be the life of equality, equanimity and endeavour and not of aggressiveness, anger, dependence and indolence.

Unlimited Desires are the Problem

The essence of three maxims anekant, ahimsa and Saman culture of Jain lifestyle can be equated as - limit desires, which is the fifth maxim of Jain lifestyle.

Each one of inequality, indolence, and aggressiveness begets unlimited desires, which consequently stimulates violence and does not allow anekant to thrive. Excessive desires have made life imbalanced. Therefore, limiting desires is a significant maxim of life and one must control the desires. After all, where will desires cease? How long will people chase relentlessly after desires?

Once, after a king was pleased, he promised a man to reward land as far as he could run. The man in temptation of getting more kept running throughout the day without pause. In the evening, when he could run no more, he fell and lost his life.

Extreme desires are an invitation to death. Therefore, curbing and limiting desires are a benchmark of physical as well as social health. Restraining desires does not lead a person to become a beggar. Such life, of course is not for anyone. He lives his life according to his dreams. Insatiable cravings and desire for limitless possessions is not beneficial.

The Solution is Visarjan(Donation)

The simple solution to curb unlimited desires is visarjan. Acharya Tulsi coined a new maxim, visarjan, when he was travelling in Kerala. This maxim is very significant for all. Visarjan is a powerful maxim to eradicate social inequity caused by possessions and accumulations. Desires will be curbed, if visarjan is applied along with earning.

Economic fabric is responsible to some extent for creating or destroying the society. Economists, sociologists and politicians have accepted this truth. It is surprising to observe that supporters of socialism and communism are rejecting the idea of limiting desires and not curtailing personal ownership. Society cannot be healthy if there is limitless personal ownership and desires. Curbing desires is significant from a spiritual as well as social and pragmatic perspective.

Means of Earning

Right livelihood is the sixth maxim of Jain lifestyle. Earning is essential for a social being. Profession, business or trade is a must for survival, but the means of earning should be pure. Quality of means should also be taken into equal consideration along with earning. Businesses dealing in meat, animal's products and liquor are not laudable. A person accepting Jain life style always avoids such trades. Activities which increase crimes, cruelty and theft can never become true means of earnings. Hence, the means of earning needs attention.

The biggest barrier of right means is smuggling. It seems that trade of weapons is a prime cause in enhancing violence and terrorism. Terrorism will abate if widespread selling of weapons and usage is banned. Easy access to weapons creates desire acquire and use it which consequently stimulates a person towards violence. Students of developed countries carry guns in schools. Then, how can one even contemplate of establishing ahimsa. How can ahimsa become part of life when bombs and guns are used over trivial issues? Therefore, to control such issues, right livelihood is a panacea.

Sanskaar: The Foundation of Life

Sanskaar(morals) is the seventh maxim of Jain lifestyle. Life stands on the foundation of sanskaar. As the sanskaar is, so is the behaviour. Positive nurturing in early childhood makes the life bountiful.

Once, two brother parrots were raised at two different places. The one who was receiving good values welcomed the King as soon as he saw him. Another parrot as a result of getting negative sanskaar said to visiting King, 'come! Kill him! Cut him! Rob him!' The king was surprised to see such great differences between the two. The parrot answered, 'We are real brothers. I was raised in the hermitage of a sage and imbibed those values, but my brother lived among the thieves where he learned their language.'

Life moves according to the sanskaars it receives. Jain lifestyle has encapsulated some basic sanskaars. For example, using Jai Jinendra, while greeting, means 'hail to veetaraag'. The decoration and aura of the house should remind the goal of achieving veetaraagata. In brief, our values should lead us towards detachment. Inclination towards attachment is easy, but a lifestyle of detachment is more effective.

Vegetarianism

Purity of food and addiction-free life is the eighth maxim of Jain lifestyle. Food has been discussed in spirituality since ancient times. Science is coming up with new researches regarding effect of food on our life. Thus, it is an old as well as new subject of discussion.

Our conduct, thoughts and behaviour are closely associated with food. Therefore, food demands close attention. Food should not stimulate aggressiveness and contort our values. Every animal is endowed with their own sanskaar. Besides immense cruelty, meat is prohibited as the instincts of the slain animal are transferred to the consumer. How can the consumer escape from those sanskaars? Awakening of animal instincts in human brain is possible Human brain consists of a layer of animal brain and frequently eating meat activates this layer which stimulates craving to eat more.

Vegetarianism is considered to be more beneficial for physical health. A person who is aware of purity of food will discriminate the food which includes intoxicants. Food is also associated with addiction as many stimulants make people addicted. Purity of food makes easy for a person to be free from addictions. Gambling, drinking, robbery etc. are addictions triggered by impure food. There is an old illustration.

Once, a monk received unhealthy food in alms. Consequently, he stole a necklace from a house of a businessman. He vomited all the food he had eaten in the jungle. Immediately after vomiting he became conscious of his act of stealing. He returned the necklace to the owner. The bad effect of eating contorted food can be realized through a microscopic analysis of body and mind.

The Comprehensive Radius of Ethnic Affection

Ethnic affection is the ninth maxim of Jain lifestyle. Spirit of affection and brotherhood for people belonging to same ethnicity is desirable. It is said - jonamukkaardhaarao, so me parambandhavo- the one who has faith in and chants Namaskar Mahamantra is my ultimate brethren. It does not mean that others are despised. In fact, this concept is developed to strengthen the feeling of affection among the people of the same ethnicity. This statement does not ignore and condemn others, but to have the feeling of love and intimacy, help in progress, religious stability etc. is included in ethnic affection. Gurudev Tulsi inspired for being Karmana Jain. The underlying feeling was ethnic affection. Any person, who is Jain by action, is also my brother. Thus, the radius of ethnic affection becomes very comprehensive. We should think of strengthening it and being helpful and supportive to one another.

The nine maxims of Jain Jeevan Shaili becomes the lifestyle of every human if the word 'Jain' is removed from it. In fact, the word Jain is prefixed because of utilising the maxims preached by Jain philosophy, otherwise these nine maxims are equally important for all humans. We should think, analyse, practice and apply these maxims in our life. Life, based on such lifestyle, will bring about health and happiness to an individual, family, and the society as well.

Sources

Title:  Who is a Jain Shravak?
Author: 

Acharya MahaPragya

Translator: 

Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha

Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Vibhag, JVB
Edition: 
2019
Digital Publishing: 
Amit Kumar Jain

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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. Acharya Tulsi
  3. Ahimsa
  4. Anekant
  5. Anger
  6. Aura
  7. Body
  8. Brain
  9. Consciousness
  10. Darshan
  11. Deceit
  12. Dharm
  13. Discipline
  14. Equanimity
  15. Greed
  16. Guru
  17. Gurudev
  18. Jain Philosophy
  19. Jeevan Shaili
  20. Jinendra
  21. Karmana Jain
  22. Kerala
  23. Namaskar Mahamantra
  24. Non-violence
  25. Saman
  26. Samyak Darshan
  27. Science
  28. Soul
  29. Tulsi
  30. Vegetarianism
  31. Violence
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