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Who is a Jain Shravak: 30 ►Jain Culture

Published: 25.03.2020

Monks and shravak are interrelated with one another. A monk cannot sustain his life without shravak, and a shravak cannot get spiritual guidance in the absence of monks. They both have their thriving tradition and culture.

Ascetics do not speak from an uncovered mouth. They put on a mukhavastrika (mouth mask) on their mouth. There are three basic reasons behind it:

  1. Non-violence is the prime vow of a monk. Mukhavastrika is useful while speaking as it prevents violence of air-bodied living beings (vaayukaayika jiva).
  2. Mukhavastrika is a symbol of moderation in speech. It reminds a spiritual practitioner that they should not speak unnecessarily.
  3. Spit should not come out from the mouth while preaching or discussing. Mukhavastrika helps in preventing this fromoccurring.

Keeping these three aspects in mind, a shravak should also use mukhavastrika during Saamaayik, talking with monks and doing spiritual discussion. Thus, a shravak can also practice non-violence naturally.

When shravak talk with each other, they use the word 'Yes' for affirmation. Some people also use this word while talking with monks, nuns and Acharyas. Though, the use of this word is common for all, as per Jain culture, the word 'tahat is being used in affirmative answer to the monks or nuns. There are two phrases especially prevalent in Jain tradition - 'sevam bhantel' and 'tahatti Guruvaf'. These phrases are in Prakrit language. In simple, it is spoken as 'Tahat Gurudev!’

Guru rewards and disciplines the shravaks as per the situation. If the action of a disciple is praiseworthy, he gets rewarded and on committing mistakes he is admonished. It is necessary for a disciple to stay balanced in both the situations and express his gratitude towards the Guru saying 'Gurudev! You have blessed me. You keep on bestowing your kindness on me, endowing my life with virtues, enriching me with the pious nectar of your teaching and direct me constantly. I will never forget your blessings.'

shishtata sanmaym ahimsa sadhana sanskaar ho,
aur jayana sajagata se dharm ka vyavahaar ho.
'sevam bhantel', 'tahati guruvar' sir jhukaakar vinay se,
badon ke guru ke vachan svikaar hon sthir hriday se.
ki kripa karuna anugrah kiya karate hi rahen,
sada aabhaari rahoon sadbhaav bharate hi rahen.

Such etiquettes with Guru are prescribed mainly for monks and nuns. Shravak and shravikas should also adopt it. This is a lokopachaar vinay (behavioural humbleness). One of the seven acts of humbleness explained in Aagam. Such behaviour is a yardstick of a civilized society.

The Practice of Jain Rituals

A shravak leads a social life. Each society has its own traditions. There may be two underlying motives behind these traditions. One is to follow them blindly and the other is with prudence.

In blind following, attention is not paid on what is applicable and what is not. People merely follow the rituals blindly which carry on through generations. However, prudent people also follow rituals, but not blindly. They give importance to their culture whilst following social and religious rituals.

The tradition of celebrating festivals is not new. Each community has its own reasoning and way of celebrating festivals in a certain manner. Jain society also had its independent traditions and culture. There was a period when Jain religion was on the verge of extinction. During that period, Shraman Sanskrti (Jain culture) protected itself by joining hands with Vedic culture.

A mutual influence is inevitable when two cultures meet with each other. One culture cannot exist without effect of the other. Social and religious festivals of Jains have been influenced by Vedic culture by taking assistance of Vedic scholars who greatly influenced Jain rituals.

This intercultural influence becomes the foundation of social and cultural development. Every development comes with associated risks. One should remain conscious about those cultural customs, which compromises faith and fundamentals. For this reason, 'Jain Sanskaar Vidhi' (Jain methods of practising rituals) was developed which has its own importance. The technique is based on three fundamentals: faith, self-restraint, and non-violence. A person who recites a mantra he has faith in goes to strengthen their faith. A Jain follower has strong faith in Namaskar Mantra, Mangal Paath, Logassa and Uvasaggahar Stotra. The words of Arhats (tirthankar) are powerful reinforcement in developing faith. The belief is that these prayers eliminate obstacles and empowers every mantra or prayer. Acharya Tulsi through following stanzas has inspired to follow Jain Sanskaar Vidhi.

suta janm vivaah bhavan ki niva lagaayen,
laukika lokottar jo bhi parva manaayen.
shri veerjayanti charam-diwas Diwali,
nija varshgaanth ya akshay teeja suhaali.
har prasang me jo upayogi, uplabdh jain sanskaar vidhi,
samyag-darshan me sahayogi, bhaavi pidhi ki nayi nidhi.
kyon chhoda ise andhaanukaranamay-bhedachaal ki dhaal banen,
kar samay shakti ka durupayoga, bematalab hi behaal banen.
shri namokkar mangal-paati, logassa mantra uchchaaran ho,
shri veetaraag ki vaani se sab baadha vighna nivaaran ho.
dekhaadekhi ki vritti chhoda, apane vivek ko hi bal den,
putron pautron mitron sabako samyak sanskriti ka sambal den.

The dignity and identity of Jain culture lies in promoting self-restraint and non-violence while celebrating festivals like Holi, Diwali and occasions such as birthday, wedding, death etc. A common person normally does not think about non-violence and to have restraint on such occasions. The influence of non-violence and restraint in the lifestyle of a Jain shravak is necessary. On this basis, an independent process of celebrating social and religious festivals is developed and suggested to shravaks. The Jain culture will be revitalized in an individual's life by following the culture formulated by prominent people. The society can be uplifted from excessive exuberance of wealth, extravagance, fanatic following and purposeless violence.

The Practice of Jai Jinendra

Faith is formless. It is expressed through behaviour of an individual. Behaviour is a part of collective or group life. What does a person do? What does he say? How does he act? These questions are related with group. These questions have no relevance for a person spending a solitary life. There are certain etiquettes when a person meets with a familiar or new person, takes part in special functions such as festivals, and ceremonies. In this way, there are certain norms of communication and letter-correspondence, which reflects person's center of faith.

A Jain shravak accepts 'veetaraag' (detached being) as his ideal. The goal of his life is to be veetaraag. As a constant reminder for this goal, it is essential to remember the name of veetaraag frequently. The word Jin or Jinendra are synonyms of veetaraag. The words Jai Jinendra is coined to keep his goal in the mind. One strengthens his faith through eulogy of veetaraag and it reminds him belonging to the Jain culture. Hence, it's important for Jain shravaks to use the word 'Jai Jinendra' in greetings and correspondences.

paraspar vyavahaar shishtaachaar patraachaar me,
jain-gaurav jai-jinendra kahen likhen har baar me.
shabd shraddhaashikt sanskritiparak aur yathaarth ho,
'paay laagun paandiya, kyon kahaani charitaarth ho.

Some people are not firm in their tradition and they follow the culture of the people they meet. Usually, people greet in the manner of the tradition they grew up. Anyone who is not proud of their culture keeps on changing the traditions. Some people consider it as harmony among the cultures, but the preservation of cultural value has its own importance and one should not ignore it.

Paryushan Mahaaparv

One of the most important festivals surviving to this day in Jain tradition is Paryushan Parva. It is celebrated for eight days. The last day is Paryushan Parva. Later, it was known as 'samvatsari'. The word samvatsar means a 'year'. This festival happens annually, so it is termed as samvatsari. Synonymous of Paryushan have been mentioned in 'Nishith Bhasya'. The word 'Paryavasaan' is one of them. It is concerned with the sojourn of monks. This sojourn period is divided in two: ritubaddh (seasonal) and varsaavaas (monsoon). There are differences in the practice of routines in these periods. During monsoon, if the selection of place and activity is favourable then the spiritual routines are carried out without any hindrance.

Just as a financial year begins on 1st April, the first day of Savan month in Indian calendar marks the beginning of the spiritual year according to Jain Astronomy. From this day, the monsoon-stay (chaaturmaas) for the monks commences. In case a suitable place is not available on this day, there has been a tradition to start the stay on the fifth day of the same month. If a place still has not been found, the monks have to keep searching consecutively every five days until the fiftieth day, which is final. Thereafter, monk has to stay there until the chaaturmaas ends. This day is regarded as Paryushan Parva. Its transgression is not accepted.

According to the norm of that day, fasting is a must for a monk. As time passed, this tradition was established for shravaks too. As per custom, shravak celebrates this day as fasting, 'paushadh', listening to sermons, pratikraman, khamatkhaamana, etc.

The following verses explain about the same.
jo mahaaparva pajjosavana, sab jain manaayen ek saath,.
to ho aanand anirvachani, vah aayega svarnim prabhaat..
tha aadi divas samvatsar ka, usako atimaatr mahatv mila,.
bhaadrav ki Shukla Panchami ko, aakhir sabaka apnatv mila..
usa din upavaas aur pausadh, prvachan saamuhik pratikraman,.
aadan-pradaan kshama ka ho, agyaat gyaat yadi atikrman..
mila baal vriddh ahamahmikaya, upavaas karenge sabhi kahen,.
pajjosavana ki parampara, nirbaadh surakshit rahi rahe.

In the era of Bhagawan Mahavira, there was no tradition of establishing varshaavaas (chaaturmaas) in the month of 'Bhaadrapad Shukla Panchami'. Bhagawan Mahavira once did varshaavaas on this day (chaturthi). As time passed by, it became a common practice. At times, samvatsari is celebrated on chaturthi (fourth day) of Bhaadrapad Shukla, but normally it’s on panchami (fifth day). Unfortunately, despite being the greatest festival of Jain religion it does not have universal uniformity. There is a clear difference between Digambar and Shvetambar tradition regarding this festival. Digambar tradition celebrates Dasalakshan Parva which starts on panchami and ends on Ananth Chaturdashi (fourteenth day) and is almost like samvatsari. However, among Shwetambar sects there is difference in the day of celebration as chaturthi and panchami.

Acharya Tulsi was an advocate of Jain-unity. The pioneering effort he put for the harmony among the Jain sects, has become an invaluable asset in the history of Jain tradition. For Jain unity, he advocated celebrating samvatsari on one common day. In 1985, during his stay at Udaipur he held a meeting of prominent representatives of Jain sects. As the conclusion of that encouraging meeting, Bharat Jain Maha-Mandal' (All India Jain Forum) was entrusted with the responsibility to convince all the Jain Acharyas to celebrate samvatsari together either on chaturthi or panchami. This institution made every effort and contacted all the sects. In a grand conference organized in Mumbai, the officials declared Bhaadrapad Shukla Panchami as the unified day for celebrating samvatsari, but unfortunately, this declaration did not materialise and the page of the historical chapter of Jain unity remained blank. Acharya Tulsi kept waiting for the golden morning when all Jains will celebrate samvatsari together.


Title:  Who is a Jain Shravak?

Acharya MahaPragya


Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha

Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Vibhag, JVB
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. Aagam
  2. Acharya
  3. Acharya Tulsi
  4. Acharyas
  5. Ahimsa
  6. Arhats
  7. Dasalakshan
  8. Dharm
  9. Digambar
  10. Diwali
  11. Fasting
  12. Guru
  13. Gurudev
  14. Holi
  15. Jin
  16. Jinendra
  17. Jiva
  18. Karuna
  19. Kshama
  20. Mahavira
  21. Mangal Paath
  22. Mantra
  23. Mukhavastrika
  24. Mumbai
  25. Namaskar Mantra
  26. Non-violence
  27. Parampara
  28. Parva
  29. Paryushan
  30. Paryushan Parva
  31. Prakrit
  32. Pratikraman
  33. Sadhana
  34. Samvatsari
  35. Shraman
  36. Shravak
  37. Shravaks
  38. Shravikas
  39. Shukla
  40. Shvetambar
  41. Shwetambar
  42. Tirthankar
  43. Tulsi
  44. Udaipur
  45. Vedic
  46. Veetaraag
  47. Vinay
  48. Violence
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