The Daily Activities & Special Duties of A Shravak
By Acharya Shri Bhuvanbhanusoorishwarji
Our thoughts are formed by our activities and observances. Noble activities and observances inspire noble thoughts. The internal feelings and thoughts and the development of the heart take place in accordance with the external activities. Noble activities and observances bring about noble propensities. Therefore, noble observances and activities are essential to bring about in the shravaks, noble thoughts, noble emotions and noble developments. With this aim in view, the Jain shastras expound the shraddhavidhi. The writers of those shastras have described the daily activities of shravaks, their austerities during the Chaturmas, the festival of Paryushan and the activities to be carried out throughout the year.
First of all, let us think of the daily activities of a shravak. The shravak who desires spiritual elevation must sacrifice sleep when there is still about one and half hours of the night, that means, he must get up one and half hours before sunrise. As soon as getting up, he must utter with devotion, the holy expression "Namo Arihantanam" (The Namaskar Mahamantra). Then in order to remain polite, firm and safe he must get out of bed and offer salutations to the Panchaparameshti and must recite the Navakar Mahamantra about 7 times. This contemplation should take place in the sun-centre of the heart; in the centre of the grains in the eight petals of the lotus of the heart. After that, the shravak must think of these questions. "Who am I? From where have I come? Whither should I go? What is my dharma? What is my duty in that sphere? How is that duty necessary? What kind of god and spiritual head have I got? How is it proper to utilise this opportunity?
The Namaskar Mahamantra contains salutations to the Arihantas, the Siddhas, the Acharyas, the Upadhyayas and the Sadhus. These are the Panchaparameshthis. This is the greatest of all mantras because :
(1) The Namaskar Mahamantra should be recited before any mantra is learnt and before the commencement of the study of any scripture; (2) The Namaskar Mahamantra is the essence of the Jin Shasan; (3) This mantra exemplifies the 14 poorvas (shastras) because Parameshti means samayik and the samayik is an epitome of the 14 poorvas; (4) Even those who attain the Navakar in the last moments of their life, attain spiritual elevation; (5) The Navakar Mahamantra dispels adversity and brings prosperity; (6) Navakar dispels Antaray (impeding Karmas) and brings the most auspicious fruits; (7) By uttering the Navakar once or by remembering it once we can destroy the sinful Karmas of 500 Sagaropams (a tremendous number of years); (8) You get the benefit of adoring the noble activities of the Panchaparameshti. Therefore, you must remember, Shri Navakar Mahamantra at every step in your life; while going to sleep, while getting up from sleep; while standing up; while sitting down; while taking food; while beginning any occupation and while entering or leaving your house.
In the mornings; you, must, soon after getting up in the morning, remember the Navakar and contemplate on your soul and thus attain inspiration for carrying out spiritual activities. Afterwards, you must carry out the austerities of the Samayik and Prathikraman. If this is not possible, at least, you must think of all the holy places, the Jin temples and the images in the universe and you must salute them. While carrying out these contemplations you must also salute and glorify the Thirthankars and the Shatrunjay Thirtha. You must remember Mahasathis (great women) and all your benefactors. You must also contemplate on the exalted emotions of amity, neutrality, etc.
After that, you must carry out Pachchakkan (atonement for sins). You must carry out the Pachchakkan, at least, to the minimum extent of Navakarsi. After the sunrise for two ghadis (48 minutes) you must not even rinse your mouth.
One Navakarsi can destroy the sinful karmas that cause one hundred years of torture in hell.
Porasi destroys one thousand years of torture in hell.
Sadporasi ten thousand years,
Purimudda one lakh years.
Ekasan ten lakh years and
Rookhi Nivi one crore years.
Ekasan datti, ten crore years.
Ekalatan hundred crores
Ayambil one thousand crores,
Upvas ten thousand crores,
Chatt one lakh crores; Attai ten lakh crores of years of torment in hell.
After receiving Pachchakkan, you must go to the temple and carry out the activities of seeing, saluting and glorifying the Lord. By having a darshan of the Lord we attain a high state of existence as human beings; and substances necessary for carrying out dharma and the grace of the Lord. These are the benefactions that the Lord bestows on us. This thought must fill us with joyful emotions. We should be happy that we have had the darshan of the Lord more precious than the Chintamani (precious stone) we should feel grateful to the Lord for his benefactions and we should shed tears of joy. Afterwards, we should worship the Lord with dhoop (burning incense) deep (burning lights) worshipping with sandal powder, Chaityavandan etc. and then you should utter the song of glorification. After that, you should go to the Gurumaharaj in the upashraya and salute him; You must make polite enquiries and receive from him Pachchakkan. Then, you must entreat him to accept such things as food, water, clothes, vessels, books, medicines etc. as necessary.
Then you must go home and if the Pachchakkan of Navakarsi is over you must take your breakfast ; must go to the Gurumaharaj and listen to his scriptural discourses which bring you spiritural elevation. You must carry out some vrata, rule or observance which will help you to attain benefit from Scriptural discourses and progress in your life. At noon, and 2 hours later, you must have this caution. See that on account of your activities no jiva gets killed; and then you must take a bath with a limited quantity of water. Afterwards you must carry out the 8 kinds of worship of the Paramatma. At the time of worshipping the Lord, in accordance with your means, without concealing your means, you must offer to the Lord such substances as sandal paste, milk, saffron, flowers, incense, lights, holy rice-grains, fruits, food (Naivedya) etc., because the Jin Bhagwan is a Paramatma (one who supremely deserves the highest kind of worship and offerings). Even the smallest wealth that is dedicated to the Lord becomes the greatest wealth. It has been written in the Panchashak that just as even a drop of water that falls into the ocean becomes Akshaya or imperishable; in the same manner, even the smallest wealth that is offered to the holy feet of Jin Bhagwan becomes Akshaya (imperishable). Later, in this book, we will discuss the principles relating to darshan (seeing the Lord) and Pooja (worshipping the Lord).
After this Dravyapuja or worship with substances, you must offer to the Lord what is called Bhavapooja or emotional devotion or a heartfelt devotion. You must carry out Chaityavandan in such a manner that you become deeply overwhelmed with joyful emotions and you shed tears of joy. At the end, you must recite the sutra called Jai Viyaraya in order to get rid of the agitations of Samsar; and you must make entreaties to the Lord in order to attain such virtues as dislike for worldly life and the spiritual capacity to pursue or to approach the path of salvation, We will be able to see that in consequence, a great spiritual evolution appears in us. But you must not repeat the sutra like a parrot without understanding its meaning.
After that, the shravak must return home. He must not eat prohibited food. He must take his food in accordance with the principles of Dravya Sankoch (limitation in respect of substances); Vigai (limitation in respect of taste) and Unodari (the principle of eating a little less food than you require). Then, having carried out the spiritual activities like reciting the Namaskar Maha Mantra you must engage yourself in your occupation to earn a living. You must carry out Dharma Mangal (beginning activities with a spiritual invocation) because the Dharmapurushartha is the most sublime purushartha or endeavour. That is why you must carry out the Dharmapurushartha before engaging yourself in the endeavours relating to the other three Purusharthas. In your occupations, you should not utter lies; you should not adopt immoral means to earn money; you should avoid exhibition, vanity, and unkindness etc. You must be extremely cautious with respect to these principles relating to your activities. Even if you get a little less profit it does not matter. You must set apart half your income for the expenses of your family; one quarter of your income, you must deposit in your savings account; and the remaining one quarter you must spend on spiritual activities.
You must take your food in the evening 2 Ghadis (48 minutes) before the sunset or at least; before sunset and you must also have before sunset taken water and you should have carried out the austerities of Chauvihar Pachchakkan.
In the evenings, after you have had food you must go to the Jin temple and offer to the Jin's image incense, Arti, Mangal Deepak (auspicious lights) and you must carry out Chaityavandan. After that, you must carry out the Pratikraman of the evening and if this is not possible at least you must engage yourself for some time in self-scrutiny; in despising sins; in contemplating on the necessity of rendering heartfelt services to the Guru Maharaj etc. After this activity, you must return home and make the members of your family listen to narrations of Dharmakatas, Ras kavyas or the life histories of Tirthankars or great men etc. Even you yourself must carry out some new spiritual study and attain spiritual knowledge, You must contemplate on such ideas as Anitya (the transitory nature of this life) and the Asaran (thinking of a proper refuge).
You must contemplate on the tremendous celibacy and the other spiritual excellences of such great people as Sthulabhadra, Sudarshan Seth, Jambukumar, Vijaya Seth, Vijaya Sethani etc. and their virtue of practising celibacy and think over sensual passions which compel the jiva to keep wandering in the four directions of samsar. If you feel sleepy in the night then you must go to your bed ad sleep only after reciting Shri Namaskar Maha Mantra. At this time, you must also contemplate on holy places and pilgrimages. During your sleep, in the night, if you happen to wake up, you must contemplate on the 10 points mentioned below and you must develop your samveg (the agitation regarding the samsar) :
(1) Sukshma Padartha (subtle thoughts)
(2) Bhavastiti (condition of life)
(3) Adhikaran Shaman (sinful occupations)
(4) Ayushyahani (Reduction of life span)
(5) Anuchitachesta (improper actions)
(6) Kshanik Labh Prapti (the light of spiritual benefit for a moment)
(7) Virtues of Dharma (thinking about the qualities of Dharma)
(8) Bhadak Doshavipaksha (thinking of the derogations which impede spiritual progress)
(9) Dharmacharya (the spiritual head)
(10) Udyathvihar (travelling on foot as in the life of sadhus).
What should you contemplate on when you wake up in the night. (The 10 contemplations regarding your agitation caused by the samsar).
1. Suksma Padartha : (subtle things)
You must think of karmas, their actions and their ripening; you must think of the pure and impure forms of the soul. You must also think of the subtle things called Shaddravyas.
2. Bhavastiti : (the nature of samsar)
You must think of the nature of the samsar. A king may become a beggar; a sister may become a wife; a father may become the son through various janmas. You must realise these truths and also realise that the samsar is without any commendable quality. You must also contemplate on the distortions of samsar and you must also realise how your life can attain ripeness of perfection.
3. Adhikaran Shaman : (reducing occupations)
Karmas means occupations life cultivation etc. You must think of these two points "When can I reduce the means of sins in my life? When can I check completely my propensities to commit sin?" This is called Adhikaran Shaman.
4. Ayushyahani : (reduction in the span of life)
The span of our life goes on decreasing every moment. It goes on disappearing like water in a pot which is not burnt. You should think of this question, "How long will I remain in this state of intellectual infatuation ignoring the importance of dharma in my life?"
5. Anuchithachesta : (improper actions)
Causing violence to the jivas, uttering lies, deception, hypocrisy etc. are dreadful sins. You must realise that these sinful actions have terrible consequences not only in this world but also in the other world.
6. Kshanalabh Dipna : (the light of spiritual benefits in the brief life)
(i) You should think of this question "How can our auspicious contemplations bring about tremendous consequences in accordance with their spiritual potentialities in this brief existence of ours as human beings?
(ii) What a magnificent opportunity this is for carrying out endeavours to attain salvation by means of substances, place, time and attitude.
(iii) We should realise that this golden opportunity of human existence which we have attained is like a light in darkness or an island in a sea.
7. Dharma Guna : (thinking about the qualities of dharma)
You must contemplate on the virtues, the efficacy, the ethical excellence resulting from the greatness of the state of Charitradharma or Sadhudharma. We must realise that by discarding our passions and distortions, we can attain spiritual felicity which excels even the grandeur of Devendra and the other heavenly beings. You must also think of the causes that inspire in you such virtues as forgiveness etc.
8. Bhadak Dosha Vipaksha : (thinking of the harmful derogations to discard them)
You must think of the various derogations that bring about spiritual agitations such as attachments and try to discard them. You must also think of the question. "How greatly do we become agitated for the sake of money? and how many sins do we commit? And how many precious moments are wasted in our life in which we could have carried out auspicious austerities?
9. Dharmacharya : (the spiritual head)
The spiritual head helps us to attain dharma and to attain progress in that sphere. He is helpful. He bestows upon us sublime benefactions. The benefactions of this spiritual head are such that they cannot be returned. We cannot repay to the Guru Maharaj our debt of gratitude.
10. Udyathvihar : (travelling on foot)
The munis do not have any fixed and permanent residence. They go on foot from place to place without using any vehicles. They eat the Biksha (food) that they obtain from their devotees. They carry out such austerities as Ekanthacharya (lonely life) and travelling on foot etc. You must think; "When can I attain these levels of excellence?"
Parvakrithya : (special duties on festivals)
Some days are specially fixed for the observance of some special spiritual austerities and activities. For example : Dwitiya (the second day) Panchami (fifth day) Ashtami (8th day) Ekadashi (11th day) Chaturdashi (14th day) the Full moon day and New-moon day etc. are the special days fixed for such activities. The 8th day of Karthik, Palgun and Ashad; the festivals of Oli in Chaitra and Ashwin; Paryushan; on such auspicious days one should not carry out such activities as grinding, pounding, powdering anything or washing clothes etc. You must not consume on these days green vegetables; you must observe the principles of celibacy; carry out samayik according to your ability; you may also carry out such austerities as Pratikraman and Paushad; you must worship the Jin with devotion; carry out Tap (spiritual austerity) and you must not consume on these days vigai (tasty and spicy food). Full details are given about festivals in the chapter relating to festivals.
Source : From Article from, 'A Handbook of Jainology'