Anuvratas : 5 Minor Vows of Layperson (Shravak)

27 Jul

5 Anuvratas (Minor Vows) which a layperson must follow :

Ahimsa – Non Voilence

In this vow, a person must not intentionally hurt any living being (plants, animals, humans etc.)  or their   feeling either by thought, word or deed, himself, or through others, or by approving such an act committed by somebody else.

Intention in this case applies selfish motive, sheer pleasure an even avoidable He may use force, if necessary, in the defense of his society, family, life, property, religious  His agricultural, industrial, occupational living activities  also involve injury to life, but it should be as minimum as possible, through carefulness and due precaution.

Four stages of violence are described:

  • Premeditated Violence  - to attack someone knowingly
  • Defensive Violence - to commit intentional violence in defense of one’s own
  • Vocational Violence –  to incur violence in the execution of one’s means
  • Common Violence - to commit violence in the performance of daily Premeditated violence is prohibited for all.

A householder is to incur violence defensively and vocationally provided maintains complete detachment.  Common violence is accepted for, but even here, one should be careful in preparing food, house, etc.This explains the Jain’s practices of drinking water, vegetarianism, not eating meals at  night,  abstinence from alcohol. is the foundation of Jain ethics.

Lord Mahavir says:

“One should not injure, subjugate, enslave, torture or kill any living being including animals, insects, plants, and vegetables.”This is the essence of religion.  It embraces the welfare of all It is the basis of all stages of knowledge and the source of all rules of conduct.  The scriptures analyze the spiritual and practical aspects of nonviolence and discuss the subject negatively and positively.

Satya Anuvrat - Truthfulness Anuvrat

The second of the five limited vows is Truth.  It is more than abstaining from falsehood. It is seeing the world in its real form and adapting to that reality.  The vow of truth puts a person in touch with his inner strength and inner capacities.

In this vow, a person avoids lies, such as giving false evidence, denying the property of others entrusted to him, avoid cheating others etc.  The vow is to be followed in thought, action, and speech, and by doing it himself or by getting it done through others.He should not speak the truth, if it harms others or hurts their feelings.  He should, under these circumstances, keep silence.

Asteya Anuvrat: Truthfulness Anuvrat

In this vow, a person must not steal, rob, or misappropriate others goods and property.  He also must not cheat and use illegal meansin acquiring worldly things, nor through others or by approving such an act committed by others.

Chastity Bhramacharya Anuvrat:

The basic intent of this vow is to conquer passion and to prevent the waste of energy.  Positively stated, the vow is meant to impart the sense of serenity to the soul. In this vow, the house holder must not have a sensual relationship with anybody but one’s own lawfully wedded spouse.  Even with one’s own spouse, excessive indulgence of all kinds of sensual pleasure need be avoided.

Aparigraha Anuvrat: Non-possession / Non-attachment

Non-possession is the fifth limited vow.  As long as a person does not know the richness of joy and peace that comes from within, he tries to fill his empty and insecure existence with the clutter of material acquisitions.

Lord Mahavir said, security born of material things is a delusion. To remove this delusion, one takes the vow of non-possession and realizes the perfection of the soul. One must impose a limit on one’s needs, acquisitions, and possessions such as land, real estate, goods, other valuables, animals, money, and etc.The surplus should be used for the common good.  One must also limit the everyday usage of number of food items, or articles and their quantity.

This Jain principle of limited possession for householders helps in equitable distribution of wealth, comforts, etc., in the society. Thus Jainism helps in establishing socialism, economic stability, and welfare in the world. Non-possession, like non-violence, affirms the oneness of all life and is beneficial to an individual in his spiritual growth and to the society for the redistribution of wealth.

No Comments

Posted in Jainism



Leave a Reply