Bhagwan Parshvanatha

With the knowledge that attachment and desire for pleasures causes suffering, Parshvanatha retired to the forest at 16

By Madhuri Y

Parshvanatha was sixteen years old when his father told him that it was time for him to marry. But, Parshvanatha decided that enjoying pleasures increases the desire for more. He knew that the soul experiences sufferings due to attachment which in fact causes pain.

The desire for pleasures, he understood, causes greed, theft, adultery and all vices and crimes. Due to these acts, the soul is forced to take birth in lower forms and to suffer hell.

Feeling that he had wasted his life so far, he decided to shun pleasures. He went to the forest, became naked and turned into a monk.

He undertook the 12 meditations, he fasted and observed the 28 primary and the 94 secondary rules of monks. He meditated, eventually attaining liberation on the Parasnath Hills.

Parshvanatha preached four vows – non-violence, truthfulness, not stealing and not owning things. He is believed to have preached for seventy years in Kashi, Kosi, Kosala, Panchala, Magadha, Avanti, Anga, Vanga among other regions.

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Anuvratas (Vows of Limited Nature)

1 Ahimsa: Non-violence: Not causing intentional hurt. This is the principle behind their vegetarianism. Not causing unintentional hurt which involves drinking filtered water, not eating at night to name a few. Jains can use violence in self-defence though.

2 Satya: Truthfulness: Being truthful, conducting business with honesty. Not doing something when that inaction is dishonest is not allowed by this principle.

3 Asteya: Non-stealing: Not stealing, cheating or not paying tax.

4 Brahmacharya: Chastity: Having sex only with the spouse, avoiding sexual indulgence even with spouse and if possible, to give up sex after having a son.

5 Aparigraha: Non-attachment: Possessing only what they need, using surplus possessions to benefit others, living simply and not using too many resources.

Guna Vratas (Vows of Merit)

6 Dik Vrata: Limited area of activity: Restricting the area of travel to reduce the area in which they may bring harm.

7 Bhoga-Upabhoga Vrata: Limited use of resources: Limiting the use of items like food, clothing and other items to just what they need.

8 Anartha-Danda Vrata: Avoiding punishable sins: Not thinking or speaking ill of others, not being inconsiderate, self-indulgent or watching or listening to that which is immoral.

Shiksha Vratas (Vows of Discipline)

9 Samayik Vrata: Meditation: Meditating daily in one place for 48 minutes.

10 Desavakasika Vrata: Limited duration of activity: Restricting certain activities to specific times.

11 Pausadha Vrata: Limited ascetic life: Adopting the life of a monk for a day.

12 Atithi Samvibhaga Vrata: Limited charity: Giving to monks, nuns and the poor.