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Duties of Common Man, Jainism
Duties of a Common Man hold a prominent position in the Jain Philosophy. The philosophical tenets of Jainism say that a layman should have complete faith in the teachings in the guru and necessarily must follow the path of righteousness.
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 A common man who has the knowledge of the true doctrine of the true god (Deva or Jina) and the right master (guru) and who is free from 5 offences and does not have any doubt about the faith, the teachings and things does not have indecisiveness in acknowledging the truths of Jainism and has admiration and recognition of other believers such a layman can take upon himself to fulfil the 5 "small vows" (Anuvratas).

1. Ahimsa, not to kill or injure a living being intentionally. This precept does not apply to human beings alone, but also to animals which are not .allowed to be slaughtered for the purpose of eating meat or for the performance of sacrifices. Even immobile beings, like plants, should not, as far as possible, be harmed.
2. Satya, to say the truth, i.e. not to lie,
3. Asteya, not to steal, i.e not to take what is not given.
4. Brahmacharya, to live in chastity.
5. Parigraha-tyaga, not to desire new things greedily, but be satisfied with possession whose limit that is set by one is not crossed.

Observing the Auvratas mentioned above is supported by the observance of the following the Gunavratas.
1. Dig-vrata. The layman takes upon himself to extend his journeys in each direction only up to a definite point (e.g. Himalayas in the north).

2. Upabhogaparibhoga-vrata. He vows to make use of only number of things necessary for life, and to avoid the others. This vow also includes observance of the injunctions about food according to which nothing should be enjoyed that is obtained by harming living beings, and a number of activities are disallowed which cold harm the beings by practising them.

3. Anarthadanda-vrata. He vows to keep himself away from all that is harmful, neither to wish bad to someone, nor to cause others to do bad, neither to use weapons or other things causing injuries, nor to commit reckless acts.

Besides these there are 4 Siksa-vratas:
1. Samayika-vrata: A layman vows to meditate daily in imperturbable peace for one or several Muhurtas (i.e. 48, 96, 144 minutes). This happens in the morning, at the noon time and in the evening.

2. Desavakasika -vrata: He vows not to leave certain boundaries for a definite period, not to used things, eatables, etc.

3. Posadha-vrata: He vows to fast through 24 hours on (usually four times in a moon-month) and live is monk.

4. Atithisamvibhaga-vrata: He vows to offer to guests, particularly monks, what they need by right.

One more vow is taken by many pious people: they vow to accept death by starvation by voluntarily renouncing all foods. Vow is carried out mostly by old people who feel that their end has come, but also by persons who are completely healthy because they hope to attain mundane salvation by this act of highest renunciation for the sake of complete perfection, a layman is not satisfied by observing these vows; he also observes pratimas which bring him closer to asceticism. They are:

1. Darsana means belief in the Tirthankaras, right teacher and the Jaina-faith.

2. Vrata means accurate observance of the 12 vows.

3. Samayika means three meditations daily.

4. Posadhopavasa means fasting on full-moon and new- moon days and on the 8th and the 14th of every half of a lunar month.

5. Sacitla-tyaga means abstinence from eating of living beings, i.e. not only animals, but also fresh vegetables.

6. Ratri-bhukta-tyaga: Avoiding eating of living between sunset and sunrise.

7. Brahmacharya.

8. Arambha-tyaga. Giving up all worldly activities, involving injury to living beings (like building a house, etc.)

9. Parigraha-tyaga: Giving up possession (by distributing it to children and others, renouncing the service of house-servants, etc.).

10. Anumati-tyaga (Anumodana): Renunciation by a pious man of the proper food that is prepared for him and eating only that what has been left over.

11. Udista-tyaga: Acceptance of monk's dress and looking for a temple or solitude to meditate there without being disturbed.

These 11 Pratimas are the stages of perfection. A layman obtains them one after the other, and while doing so, maintains the vow of the each preceding last stage corresponds practically to monk hood, only that the consecration of the order is missing. The significance of the persons who observe the precepts of the last Pratimas is especially great among Digambaras. They consider that those who have given up wearing of clothes are perfect ascetics. They are approximately equally respected like the ascetics among Swetambaras.

(Last Updated on : 24/05/2010)
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