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Yati Dharma – Observance – In Jainism

Good conduct, the path of samyaka caritra, emphasizes that one must refrain from what is harmful and develop attitudes which aid one in treading on the right path. In this context, yati-dharma (observances) of ten different kinds are enjoined on the monks:

It is the action of body, speech and mind that produce subtle karma which cause bondage to the jiva. For breaking the cycle of karma, the jiva is required to take up different types of ethical regulations. These include the different kinds of samiti-s (carefulness0, gupti-s (restraint), yati-dharma (observance), bhavana-s (reflections), pariksha-s (overcoming troubles) and caritra.

Kshama (forgiveness) – A spirit of forgiveness and cultivation of goodwill is one of the important dharmas. One should not seek vengeance but learn to forgive another. It is a positive quality that is to be developed as it leads to the attainment of self-control over emotions like anger and prevents vindictive behavior.

Mardava (humility) – The cultivation of the virtue of humility subdues pride, arrogance and selfish tendencies. A humble person is sensitive and sympathetic to the needs of others.

Arjava (simplicity) – This is an important characteristic of the Jain ascetics. This quality develops veracity of character and leads to the attitude of non-attachment, overcoming tendencies of avariciousness.

Nirlobhata (non-covetousness) – The vice of greed leads to increasing attachment and craving for possessions. Hence the spirit of nirlobhata, which is absence of greed, is helpful in cultivating goodwill and the attitude of detachment.

Tapas (austerity) – The practice of austerity is an important duty of the monk. Tapas leads to self-discipline and concentration of mind. The austerities are of various kinds and can be classified into bahya (exterior) and antar (interior) forms. The former refers to physical austerities such as fasting, dietetic restrictions and withstanding physical strain and troubles. The ascetic avoids temptations and gains perfect control over passions so that he develops equanimity of mind as part of bahya tapas. Antar tapas refers to the practice of penance as repentance for the mistakes done in the past.

Samyama (restraint) – The Jain ascetics practice restraint over the senses, speech and mind as a pre-requisite to spiritual progress. Temperateness with regard to all spiritual progress. Temperateness with regard to all emotions is necessary and leads to the virtue of continence. Turning the focus of consciousness from attachment to objects, one concentrates on the true nature and the cardinal truths regarding oneself.

Satya (truthfulness) – Forming part of the five mahavratas, the practice of truthfulness is an important virtue. The vow of speaking the truth, carefulness in speech and control of vocal activity is practiced in a rigid manner by the Jain monks.

Sauca (purity or personal cleanliness) – Sauca is a quality that applies to both body and mind. One must cultivate healthy habits and must guard one’s thoughts and keep them pure. Sauca dharma liberates the mind from greed and leads to contentment.

Akincanatva (renunciation) – Renunciation of possessions by the Jain monk is an indication that he has developed the spirit of detachment. He keeps his thoughts, activities, and feelings away from craving for worldly objects. This aspect is also termed as uttama tyaga or supreme renunciation.

Brahmacarya (celibacy) – This virtue is one of the five mahavratas. Celibacy is a principle that has to be maintained in thought, word and deed. One should free the mind from erotic thoughts of any kind.