Lay Followers Vows
Ascetics follows five great vows absolutely in mind, speech and word.
But, for those who want to live in family life and have a keen desire
to lead a spiritual life, Jain ethics specify the following small vows
(Anuvratas). These vows help to lay out a rational course of life and
tend to lead to liberation. Those lay followers who practices anuvrats
are known as anuvrati. Anuvratas are twelve in number:
1.Ahimsa Anuvrata: It means abstinence from gross injury
or intentional or purposeless violence in word, thought, and deed towards
himself or through others or by approving such actions committed by somebody
else. In this vow they abstain from engaging in anything that is not strictly
required for them.
2. Satya Anuvrata: In this vow, they abstain from gross telling of lies
to fulfill their own vested interests, giving false evidence, or denying,
or giving back the property of others. They also avoid speaking such truth
as would be the cause of killing innocent being.
3 Achaurya Anuvrat: This means abstaining from stealing
robbing, looting , thieving, plundering, misappropriating, other’s
property, and using dishonest and illegal means in acquiring worldly things.
4 Savadara santish: It means abstinence from sexual
intercourse with anybody else but ones own wife. They avoid adultery and
excessive sexual indulgence totally, and practise continence in regard
to intercourse with one’s own wife or husband.
5 Aparihraha Anuvrata: This means abstain from hoarding
land, gold, house, cattle etc., in large scale and try to make voluntary
limits on one’s own needs, possessions and acquisitions such as
land, real estate, gold, silver, money, other valuable goods, cattle and
furniture. In this vow, they vow not to possess accumulations beyond a
For strengthening and cultivating the effect of anuvratas, three Gunavratas
and four sikshavratas have been pescribed. These seven vratas are supplementary
vows. The following Gunavratas are to practiced for the whole lifelike
the above five vratas to keep life on the right track.
6 Digvarta parimana: Dig means direction, vrata means
a vow. It is a vow to carry out once own movement only within a restricted
area. In this vow, they limit the distance up to which he will do in different
7 Upabhoga paribhoga parimana: This means to limit the
sensual enjoyment of material things. Upabhoga means consumption of food,
drink etc., which can only be used once, the paribhoga means semi-permanent
articles like cloth, furniture, ornaments, buildings, etc., which can
be used several times. They restricts fifteen types of sinful professions
which are known as karmadana like manufacturing and supplying arms, selling
meat, cutting forests, etc., twenty six articles such as food, ornaments
etc. In this vow, householders limit the everyday usage of the quantity
or number of food items, articles, etc.
8. Anarthadanda virati: In this vow householders abstain
from all kind of purposeless violence, thinking ill of others, manufacturing
or supplying of arms. This prevents themselves from indulging in those
acts which are not required.
Among the seven vratas the four are called disciplinary vows or practical
vows (sikshavrats). All four vrats are to be practiced repeatedly. Of
the four, samayika and deshavakasika are to be observed daily while pushadhopavasa
and atithisamvibhaga are observed occasionally.
9.Samayaka: This means abstinence from all sinful activities
for a fixed intended period of 48 minutes known as muhurat. While sitting
motionless, they perform samayaka meditation and contemplating upon there
own soul with equanimity of mind.
10. Deshavakasika It means further lessening in the
respect of the sphere of digvrata in certain areas and bhogopbhoga parinama
for particular days and limited times. In the foregoing vows renunciation
is made for the whole life, but the renunciation for a fixed time or shorter
period comes under deshavakasika vrata.
11. Paushadhopavasa: In this vow, they accepts all the
restrictions of the monk and pass time in meditation or religious study
like a monk for one or more days by retiring household activities and
keeping the fast by giving up all kind of food, drink, etc., on the eighth,
fourteenth, or fifteenth day of each fortnight or month as per will.
12. Atithisamvibhaga: It means to offer food, drink,
medicine and other articles to monk sand nuns with great reverence and
with avoidance of all blemishes. It amounts to a sin to prepare food or
other things intentionally for their sake. Before taking breakfast or
lunch, householders think, wish and feel that it would be better for me
if I had the chance to provide some portion of my food to the monk. This
is called atithisamvibhaga. If the monk and nuns are not available, even
they think about monks and nuns.
All the vows are to be observed in true spirit. By performing and practicing
all these vows, and lay follower leads a righteous, spiritual, and pious