Friday, February 3, 2012

Jain Monks and nuns

Jain Monks and nuns
When a person renounces the worldly life and all the attachments, and is initiated into monkshood or nunhood, the man is called Sadhu or Muni and the woman is called Sadhvi..Their renunciation is total which means they are completely detached from the social and worldly activities and they do not take any part in those activities anymore. Instead, they spend their time spiritual uplifting their souls and guiding householders such as ourselves how to uplift our souls.
When they get initiated into the life of Sadhus and Sadhvis, they take five major vows and act strictly in accordance with those vows. The five great vows are:
1) Vow of absolute Non-violence.
First vow means sadhu and sadhvis will never cause harm or violence to any living being including even the tiniest creatures.
2) Vow of absolute Truthfulness
Second vow means they will not lie.
3) Vow of absolute Non-stealing
Third vow means without the permission of the owner they will not take anything from anywhere.
4) Vow of absolute Celibacy
Fourth vow means they have to observe the celibacy with an absolute adherence to it. The sadhu or sadhvis should not even touch a member of the opposite sex regardless of their age.
5) Vow of absolute Non-attachment.
Fifth vow means they do not possess anything and do not have any attachment for things they keep for their daily needs.
In summary, while taking these vows, they say, "O Lord Arihant! I will not commit the sins of violence, express falsehood, steal and enjoy sensual pleasures, or be possessive, by speech, thought or deed; nor will I assist or order anyone to commit these sins. I will not approve or endorse anyone committing such sins. Oh Lord! I hereby take a sacred and solemn vow that throughout my life, I will follow these five major vows and strictly follow the code of conduct laid out for a sadhu and a sadhvi."
Therefore, Jain Sadhus and Sadhvis never cause harm or violence to any living being. They live according to the pledge that they do not harm even the tiniest creatures. They always speak the absolute truth. They do not lie on account of fear, desire, anger or deceptive intentions. Without the permission of the owner, they do not take even the smallest thing such as a straw. They observe the vow of celibacy with an absolute adherence to it. They will not touch the members of the opposite sex, even a child. In case the members of the opposite sex either touch them by mistake or in ignorance, they have to undergo the ritual of repentance (Prayashchitta) for self-purification. Jain Sadhus should not keep money with them. They will not own or have any control on any wealth, houses, any such movable or immovable property or organization. They will limit their necessities to the lowest limit and apart from these limits they should not have any attachments.
Some special rules of conduct for sadhus and sadhvis:
The Jain sadhus or sadhvis do not take food or water after the sunset or before sunrise. They wait 48 minutes after the sun-rise before even drinking boiled water. Under any circumstance, they do not eat or drink anything between the hours of sunset and sunrise.

Gochari (Alm): Jain sadhus/sadhvis do not cook their food, do not get it prepared for them, or do not accept any food which was prepared for them. They go to different householders that are Jains or vegetarians and receive a little food from each house. This practice is called Gochari. Just as cows graze the top part of grass moving from place to place, taking a little at one place and a little at another, in the same way Jain Monks and Nuns do not take all the food from one house. They collect it from various houses. The reason Jain Sadhus/sadhvis accept a little food and not all the food from one house is because this way the householders do not have to cook again. The cooking process involves much violence in the form of fire, vegetable chopping, water consumption, etc., and sadhus or sadhvis do not want to be the part of any violence due to their needs. They do not receive food standing outside the house; but they go inside the house where food is cooked or kept. This way they can understand the situation that their accepting food would not make the householders to cook again. They accept food which is within the limit of their vows.
Vihar: They always walk with bare feet. When they travel from one place to another, whatever may be the distance they always go walking. They do not use any vehicle like bullock cart, car, boat, ship or plane for traveling. Whether it is cold weather or scorching sun; whether the road is stony or thorny; whether it is the burning sand of a desert or a burning road, they do not wear any foot-wear at any time. They move about on bare foot all their life. The reason for not wearing shoes is while walking, they can avoid crushing the bugs or insects on the ground. While going places, they preach the religion (Dharma), and provide proper spiritual guidance to people. They do not stay more than a few days in any one place except during the rainy season which is about four months in duration. The sadhus and sadhvis travel after sunrise & before sunset only.. The place where they stay is called Upashray or Paushadh Shala. They may stay in places other than the Upashrayas if those places are suitable to the practice of their disciplined life and if they do not disturb or impede the code of conduct. The reason they do not stay anywhere permanently or for a longer period in one place is to avoid developing attachment for material things and the people around them.

Loch: The Jain S�dhus and Sadhvis after receiving the Diksha (initiation) do not cut their hair or shave their heads; nor do they get these things done by a barber. But twice a year or at least once a year at the time of Paryushan, they pluck off their hairs or they get the hairs plucked by others. This is called Keshlochan or Loch. This way they are not dependent on others to carry out their needs. It is also considered as one kind of austerity where one bares the pain of plucking of the hairs calmly.
Clothing: They always wear un-stitched or minimally stitched white clothes. Some Jain sadhus do not wear the clothes. A loin cloth which reaches up to the shins is called a Cholapattak. Another cloth to cover the upper part of the body is called Pangarani (Uttariya Vastra). A cloth that passes over the left shoulder and covers the body up to a little above the ankle is called a K�mli. K�mli is a woolen shawl. They also carry a woolen bed sheet and a woolen mat to sit on. Those who wear clothes have a muhapati a square or rectangular piece of cloth of a prescribed measurement either in their hand or tied on their face covering the mouth. They also have Ogho or Rajoharan (a broom of woolen threads) to clean insects around their sitting place or while they are walking. Sadhus who do not wear any clothes have morpichhi and kamandal in their hands. These are the articles by which they can be distinguished. This practice may vary among different sects of Jains but essential principle remains the same to limit needs.
They bestow their blessings on all, uttering the words Dharm Labh (may you attain spiritual prosperity). They bless everyone alike irrespective of their caste, creed. sex, age, wealth, poverty, high, or low social status. Some put Vakshep (scented sandal dust) on the heads of people. Monks and nuns show the path of wholesome life and of a righteous and disciplined life to every one through the media of discussions, discourses, seminars and camps to attain spiritual prosperity.
The entire life of sadhus/sadhvis is directed towards the welfare of their souls. All the activities of their life have only one aim, namely, self-purification for self- realization. For the attainment of this objective, besides following laid down guidelines they perform the pratikraman daily, and perform other austerities.
Conferring a title:
The Jain sadhus, after being initiated that is, after receiving the diksha become immersed in such activities as meditation, seeking knowledge, acquiring self-discipline etc. Proceeding on the path of spiritual endeavor, when they reach a higher level of attainment, their spiritual elders, for the preservation of the four-fold Jain Sangh, confer upon them some special titles.
The Title of Acharya: This title is considered to be very high and involves a great responsibility. The entire responsibility of the Jain Sangh rests on the shoulders of the acharya. Before attaining this title, one has to make an in-depth study and a thorough exploration of the Jain Agams and attain mastery of them. One must also study the various languages of the surrounding territory and have acquired a through knowledge of all the philosophies of the world related to different ideologies and religions.
The Title of Upadhyay: This title is given to a sadhu who teaches all the sadhus and sadhvis, and has acquired a specialized knowledge of the Agams (Scriptures).
The Title of Panyas and Gani: To secure this title, one should have acquired an in-depth knowledge of all the Jain agams. To attain the status of Ganipad one should have a knowledge of the Bhagawati Sutra and to attain the Panyas-pad one should have attained a comprehensive knowledge of all the aspects of the agams.
The Jain sadhus, on account of the mode of their life, are unique among all the monks. The entire life of Sadhus and Sadhvis is dedicated to spiritual welfare of their souls; all their objectives, and all their activities are directed towards elevating their souls to the Paramatma-dasha, the state of the Supreme Soul.
Above discription is related to Svetambar Monks..
Who is a Jain?
The devotee of vishnu is called a Vaishnav; the devotee of Shiva is called a Shaiva; the follower of the Buddha is called a Buddhist: the follower of Christ is called a Christain. In the same manner, the follower of Jineshwer is known as a Jain. Hence, this dharma has become current, established and reowned under the name of the Jain dharma. One who follows the path shown by Jineshwer is a Jain.
Such a man is a Jain to whatever nation he may belong; to whatever sect or creed he may belong; in whatever philosophical context he might have been born or brought up. The Jain dharma is not a religious sect or creed. Anyone can adore and follow this dharma irrespective of his caste and creed. This living dharma is meant for all.

Fasting is very common among Jains and as a part of Jain festivals. Most Jains fast at special times, during festivals, and on holy days.Paryushan is the most prominent festival, lasting eight days in Svetambara Jain tradition and ten days in Digambar Jain tradition during themonsoon. The monsoon is a time of fasting. However, a Jain may fast at any time, especially if he or she feels some error has been committed. Variations in fasts encourage Jains to do whatever they can to maintain whatever self control is possible for the individual
Purpose of fasting

Monks, nuns and laity fast as penance and to control desires. Jains believe fasting purifies the body and the mind, reminding one of Mahavir's emphasis on renunciation and asceticism. Mahavir spent months fasting and in contemplation. It is not sufficient simply to stop eating when fasting; the person must also stop wanting to eat. Control over one's mind is a major goal. If one continues to desire food, the fast is fruitless..

Why is fasting essential ?
The body experiences weakness by fasting and hunger but that weakness is not caused by the absence of food but because the unclean stuff is cast off. After the body is purified strength returns to the body. It acquires freshness and agility. In this, there is no wonder. After the foreign, unwanted substances are removed from the body, health naturally appears in it.
Normally, in the body heat is always being produced. hence, there is always a certain degree of heat in the body. In the Jainterminolgy, this process may be given the, Taijas Sharir or Taijas Namkarma. To keep this process of the production of heat continuing, fuel is necessary. Most of the fuel is obtained from the carbohydrates and fats in our food. But during the period of Upavas fasting when the consumption of food has been stopped, the remaining oart of the food gets urnt and assimilated. Hence, during Upavas (fasing period) the fats soon decreases; and like fats the strength of the liver, the spleen and muscless also gets reduced but the brain never grows weak and never sustains even the slightest loss; so we get sound sleep. The thoughts become wholesome and pure. In the begining, the foul stuff found in the body may appear on the tongue; may come out in form of spittle; may cause giddiness etc., but gradually, everything gets all right.
Upavas is useful in getting rid of such diseases as fever, smallpox, measles, asthma, blood pressure, eczema etc. By means of Upavas the children of a doctor in America by name, Edward David, were saved from the dreadful disease of Diphtheria. In his book, The Non-breakfast plan and Fasting Cure, the doctor has written that during illness, it is far better to fast than to take fod or medicines because by that means, health can be soon recovered.
We are all human beings and as human beings the problems,humanity is facing today are our own.As a matter of fact,we ourselves are responsible for their consequences also.It is our earnest duty to ponder over their roots and causes, to suggest their solutions and to make their eradiction..Today we are celebrating SAMVATSARI, and each and every Jain according to his capacity does something towards fasting,swadhyay,samayik,jain readings & pratikraman..By pratikraman he or she asks or begs pardon for the carelessness in his or her movements and for the violence he or she caused to any creature,knowing pretty well that the fruit of non-violence is happiness and well being and that of violence is pain,grief and misery..
Fasting from one fast to 3,8.30& more fasting have been done by many..If you feel like meeting any jain saint ,you can meet or contact who have done fasting for their welfare of inner soul..


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