A note on Jain Monks

Monday, September 7, 2009
A really tough topic to write upon considering my (unfavourable)prejudice on Jain sadhus(monks), yet I'll try to remain disinterested and fair on the topic. Jains are basically divided into two sects- Shwethambara and Digambara. Sorry, I don't know the fundamental difference between the two but the one difference I have noticed is that saints in digambars are uncovered completely and those in Shwethambars aren't. These monks belong to one of the three categories:

1) Those who wear white clothes.
2) Those who wear a single piece of cloth.
3) Those who restrict themselves from any form of clothing whatsoever.

*Nuns belong to the first category and are mostly in draped in white saree.
*The terminology of the three categories is not mentioned(by me)due to the complexity of their pronunciation and also the spelling.

Do you know:

1) They do not take bath and they don't use toothbrush or for that matter, even toothpaste. They just wash their hands, feet and face after excretion. They are not permitted to bathe because by that action, microbes and other small organisms on their body may die. No creature should die due to their actions.(They strictly follow this principle)

2)They take food only once in a day. It is a strict practice. They cannot use dishes or sit comfortably on a dining table. They stand, stretch their palms, and someone(usually followers) offer them food. The saints check the food offered very carefully before they consume it. If they find germs, dust or anything displeasing, they leave the food at that very instant and remain hungry till the next day.

3)The food they take is simple and tasteless. They take rice, chapatis made of wheat, coconut water.The food is to get minimum strength required to maintain activities in life. (Well, they read, advise, preach,.....)

4)They often take 'hunger vow'; no food for the day. Sometimes, this hunger vow continues for eight days straight.It is said that the great saint of twentieth century, Acharya Shantisagarji maharaj had a total period of twenty-six years of hunger in his life span of seventy years.

5)They do not use vehicles for movement. They travel on foot. And they walk faster than us! As they refrain themselves from using any means of transportation, they remain in our country.

6) They do not use beds, sleeping bags, bedsheets or rugs. They sleep on wooden planks or wooden cot with a mat on it. During sleep, they do not change their side with the thought that germs moving around might get killed.

7) They do not speak after sunset.

8) They are not expected to involve themselves in any worldly matters.

9)They possess the following :

a) A pincha( a bundle of naturally fallen peacock feathers to brush away the dust while sitting),

b) A kamandala( a wooden vessel with water to clean themselves after going for excretion),

c) Religious books,

d) A pair of spectacles, if necessary. Money and other valuable things are of no concern to them.

10)They are not supposed to get angry- even to a person who blames them for something.

11)They don't drink water throughout the day. They have a fixed(not permanent) time for drinking water too; and they drink water only once in a day.

12)Shaving, haircuts are not allowed. Everything is done with bare hands(without the help of even a pair of scissors).
That is all I know of the Monks. I visited a few saints a few years back. During noon, they give lectures on life and related issues. They have vast knowledge about the history of Jainism. They constantly help(force) people to refrain from dark activities. Though most of the things they do is debatable, they have a large following. There are a lot of principles pertaining to Jainism; those interested can refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jain

Happy hours blogging...


Mishika said...

No offense to any Jain, but I really think this is bizarre!! Not moving and not bathing for the sake of not killing germs? Well hello...then they shouldn't be consuming any sort of food. After all, plants are living too!!

I have known just one friend who is a Jain, but she is thankfully far far faaaaaaaar away from all these things. The fact that she despises being born in a Jain family just got justified!!

**still in shock**

Nitin said...

@ mishika ur friend n I think alike then :)

well, I just wanted a certain few to know their hardships. N I strongly feel they r wasting away their LIFE. But then it is their life, their path, their choice.

n the plant thingy... they don't take onions and potatoes too... I see them as Masochists; maybe am too young to learn their coveted reasons for their actions. By the way, am not a religious person, no hard feelings whatsoever :D