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Rules Of Conduct In Jainism

Rules of conduct in Jainism is known as Caritra and it refers to the principle of right conduct. It forms one of the three jewels of Jaina philosophy along with samyaga darshana (right faith) and samyaga jnana (right knowledge).

Jainism sets out the ethical doctrine in the form of five mahavratas, three guna vratas and four siksha vratas. The five great vows or mahavratas are the following:

  1. Ahimsa – non-violence and non-injury to all beings and kindness to the needy.
  2. Satya – speaking truth
  3. Asteya – non-stealing and honest behavior
  4. Brahmacharya – Purity in thought, word and deed
  5. Aparigraha – Renunciation of all worldly interests and cultivation of a spirit of detachment and towards them.

The Jaina Sangha or community is four-fold, consisting of monks and nuns, lay-brothers and lay-sisters. While the disciples of the Order have to follow the maha vrata rigidly, the lay-disciples follow the same in modified manners which were accordingly termed anuvratas.

The three guna vratas are vows that set out a code of conduct concerning daily duties, rules concerning food and regulations concerning enjoyment. The siksha vratas are the rules concerning worship and rites, observances of fasts, limitation of material comforts and the practice of charity.

For Jainism, bondage consists of the union of jiva (being) with ajiva (matter) and salvation is the dissolution of this combination. Actions have the potency to produce karmic influences. The subtle karma matter is produced by the passions of anger, greed, pride and delusion. These particles of karma adhere to the soul causing its bondage. It is through samyak caritra that one can overcome the four passions and attain freedom from the effects of karma. The soul then achieves the goal of moksha (liberation) and regains its nature of purity, perfect omniscience and bliss.