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Brahmacharya – Asteya And Aparigraha In Jainism

Brahmacharya, Asteya and Aparigraha along with Ahimsa and Satya are the Mahavratas in Jainism. They are also part of anuvratas.


Brahmacharya refers to the vow of continence. The deeper significance is that one should give up self-indulgence of every form. The ascetics lead a celibate life and observe the vow of chastity in thought, word and deed. In the case of the householder, this principle cannot be understood in the literal and strict sense. The anuvrata of brahmacharya signifies being faithful to one’s spouse and observance of the principle of monogamy.


This principle refers to abstention from stealing. One should not take nor desire another’s possessions. Malpractice in trade and commerce, black marketing and the like also constitute steya or stealing. In the case of the anuvrata of asteya, it is realized that the householder has certain limitations. For instance, a trader may price his goods much higher than their worth. The lay disciple follows the principle in the anuvrata form and does not take things not offered to him nor does he unlawfully appropriate another’s possessions.


This vow refers to the principles of non-possession and non-covetousness. The mahavrata of aparigraha has the important qualification that the ascetic should be unattached to wealth and renounce his material possessions before entering the order. The attitude of detachment extends in every sphere, to objects and persons. Aparigraha, strictly maintained, is the vow to give up all attachment to objects signifies bondage and the force of this causes rebirth. The anuvrata of aparigraha is practice by the householder insofar as he attempts to cultivate a balanced attitude to worldly life. Parigraha is a kind of intense attachment to one’s belongings and such an attitude must be overcome by lay disciples. The principle of aparigraha in this context means imposing a voluntary limitation on desires.