Saturday, December 16, 2017
Gateway to Sikhism


Five Samitis and Three Guptis

Besides the five great vows for ascetics and twelve vows for laypeople, Jainism lays great emphasis on observance of five rules of conducts (Samitis) and three rules of avoidance of misconducts (Guptis).

A person must be careful in walking, sitting, standing, and lying down. He must speak only gentle, sweet, and righteous speech. He must be careful in placing and removing articles of his use. He must be clean and should not make himself instrumental in the growth or death of germs and insects.

Five Samitis
  1. Iriya Samiti - regulation of walking
  2. Bhasa Samiti - regulation of speaking
  3. Esnna Samiti - regulation of begging
  4. Adana Nikshepana Samiti - regulation of taking or keeping
  5. Utsarga Samiti - regulation of disposal
Three Guptis
  1. Mana Gupti - regulation of mind
  2. Vachana Gupti - regulation of speech
  3. Kaya Gupti - regulation of bodily activity
Five Samitis:
  1. Iriya Samiti - regulation of walking. One should walk carefully looking forward about six feet distance so as not to cause the pain or death of any living being.

  2. Bhasa Samiti - regulation of speaking. One should avoid the eight faults of speech during conversation. The eight faults are anger, pride, deceit, greed, laughter, fear, gossip, and slander. Always use sinless and concise speech.

  3. Esnna Samiti - regulation of begging. Monks should search and obtain pure foods and other articles necessary for use, and to use the same in a faultless manner.

  4. Adana Nikshepana Samiti - regulation of taking or keeping. One should lay down or take up an article of use very carefully so as not to endanger the life of small creatures and insects.

  5. Utsarga Samiti - regulation of disposal. One should dispose of waste things, such as mucus, urine, stools, etc. in a solitary and out of the way place in a proper manner so as not to cause any inconvenience to anybody by becoming a source of nuisance, unsanitation, or contamination. This waste helps the growth of germs, and is also the indirect cause of their death.

Three Guptis:
  1. Mana Gupti - regulation of mind. One should guard one's mind from impure thoughts such as anger, hate, curse, greed, jealous, ego, etc. Always be forgiving and devote the mind to pious meditation.

  2. Vachana Gupti - regulation of speech. One should guard his speech so that it might not utter harmful, harsh, careless, foul, senseless, embarrassing, or bad language.

  3. Kaya Gupti - regulation of bodily activity. One should guard movement of his body, so as not to hurt others, walking with an eye on the path so as not to harm, or kill an innocent life such as ants, bugs, etc. One should not day dream while doing any activity. Develop decent behavior and manners.

Thus Samitis purify the actions and make them faultless, while Guptis are prohibitions against sinful activities of mind, speech, and body. Both are equally necessary for the spiritual uplift of soul. Collectively all eight virtues are known as Ashta Pravachan Mata.

Five Bodies and Eight Vargnas

A liberated soul does not have a material body, mind, speech, and does not breathe. The soul is totally free from all karmas. It merely exists in Moksha in the permanent blissful state.

As far as a worldly soul is concerned it possesses a material body along with some other types of bodies. These bodies are made up from different types of varganas (matters). Jainism explains that eight types of vargana exist in the universe. Every space in the universe is filled with these vargana. When five of the eight vargana when attach to the worldly soul they create five different bodies. The remaining three vargana provide three different functions to the material body.

The eight Vargnas (matters) are:
  1. Audaric vargana - creates the physical body of the living being
  2. Tejas vargana - creates the Tejas body to the living being which provides heat and digestion power to the audaric body.
  3. Karman vargana - creates Karmic or Causal body
  4. Aharac vargana - creates Aharac body, which is very small in size and is possessed by some unique soul
  5. Vaikriya vargana - creates Vaikriya body, which can be converted into very small or large in size
  6. Breathing vargana- provides breathing
  7. Mind vargana - provides mind for thinking
  8. Speech vargana - provides speech
The five bodies are:
  1. Audaric body -The body that we see from the outside (Bahya Sthula Sharira) is called Audaric body. It is made up of Audaric vargna. A person can not be liberated without the help of this body. Hence it is the most important body of the human being. At the time of death, the soul leaves this body behind.
  2. Tejas body - This body is made up of Tejas vargna. This body is responsible for digestion, heat, etc. in the Audaric body. At the time of death, it accompanies the soul and helps to create a new Audaric body for the soul.
  3. Karmic/Causal Body (Karmana Sharira) The karmic matter that covers the soul is called karmic body. It changes every moment because new karma is continuously attached to the soul due to activities of body, mind, and speech. At the time of death, the soul is accompanied by this body for the next birth. It leaves the present physical (Audaric) body behind. The karmic body along with tejas body forms the basis of the other newly produced audaric body. It also provides the fruits of living being's past action when due.
  4. Aharac body - This body is possessed by some special souls. Aharac body is very small in size. These souls put on this body to travel far distant places. Sometimes monks who possess this body can travel to the other part of the universe (ex. Mahavideha Kshetra) to visit a Tirthankara to remove their doubts about soul, karma etc.

    It is said that Achaurya Shri Kunda Kunda possessed Aharac body. With this body he visited Shri Srimandhar Swami, the present Tirthankara of the Mahavideha Kshetra. He removed his doubt about soul and matter substances.

  5. Vaikriya body - This body can be obtained by human being by practicing yoga, meditation, etc. With this body one can transform his body into a very small or a large size. The heavenly beings and hellish beings possess this body by birth.

All worldly souls possess three bodies (Audaric, Tejas, and Karmic) and some unique soul may possess additional one or two bodies.

Five Great Vows (Maha-vratas)

Right knowledge, right faith, and right conduct are the three most essentials for attaining liberation.

In order to acquire these, one must observe the five great vows:

  1. Non-violence - Ahimsa
  2. Truth - Satya
  3. Non-stealing - Achaurya or Asteya
  4. Celibacy/Chastity - Brahmacharya
  5. Non-attachment/Non-possession - Aparigraha
Non-violence (Ahimsa): Among these five vows, non-violence (Ahimsa) is the cardinal principle of Jainism and hence it is called the highest religious principle, or the cornerstone of Jainism.

Non-violence is the supreme religion (Ahimsa parmo dharma)

It is repeatedly said by all Tirthankaras in Jain literature

Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being.
According to Jainism all living beings, irrespective of their size, shape, or different spiritual developments are equal. No living being has a right to harm, injure, or kill any other living being, including animals, insects, and plants. Every living being has a right to exist and it is necessary to live with every other living being in perfect harmony and peace.

Nonviolence is based on love and kindness for all living beings. Nonviolence in Jainism is not a negative virtue. It is based upon the positive quality of universal love and compassion. One who is actuated by this ideal cannot be indifferent to the suffering of others.

Violence of every type should be completely forbidden. Mental tortures by way of harsh words, actions, and any type of bodily injuries should also be avoided. Even thinking evil of some one is considered violence in Jainism.

Practically, it is impossible to survive without killing or injuring some of the smallest living beings. Some lives are killed even when we breathe, drink water, or eat food. Therefore, Jainism says that minimum killing of the lowest form of life should be our ideal for survival.

In the universe, there are different forms of life, such as, human beings, animals, insects, plants, bacteria, and even smaller lives which cannot be seen even through the most powerful microscopes. Jainism has classified all the living beings according to their senses as follows:

  1. five senses - human, animals, birds, heavenly, hellish beings
  2. four senses - flies, bees, etc.
  3. three senses - ants, lice, etc.
  4. two senses - worms, leaches, etc.
  5. one sense - vegetables, water, air, earth, fire etc.
The five sense are, touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing.

It is more painful if a life of the higher forms (more than one sense) are killed. All non-vegetarian food is made by killing a living being with two or more senses. Therefore, Jainism preaches strict vegetarianism, and prohibits non-vegetarian foods.

Jainism explains that violence is not defined by actual harm, for this may be unintentional. It is the intention to harm, the absence of compassion, and the ignorance that makes an action violent. Without violent thought there can be no violent actions.

Non-violence is to be observed in action, speech, and thought. One should not be violent, ask others to do so, or approve of such an activity.

Truth (Satya): Anger, greed, fear, jokes, etc. are the breeding grounds of untruth. To speak the truth requires moral courage. Only those who have conquered greed, fear, anger, jealousy, ego, frivolity, etc., can speak the truth. Jainism insists that one should not only refrain from falsehood, but should always speak the truth which should be wholesome and pleasant.

One should remain silent if the truth causes pain, hurt, anger, or death of any living being.

Truth is to be observed in speech, mind, and deed. One should not utter an untruth, ask others to do so, or approve of such activities.

Non-stealing (Achaurya or Asteya): Stealing consists of taking another's property without his consent, or by unjust or immoral methods. Further, one should not take anything which does not belong to him. It does not entitle one to take away a thing which may be lying unattended or unclaimed. One should observe this vow very strictly, and should not touch even a worthless thing which does not belong to him.

When accepting alms, help, or aid one should not take more then what is minimum needed. To take more than one's need is also considered theft in Jainism.

The vow of non-stealing insists that one should be totally honest in action, thought, and speech. One should not steal, ask others to do so, or approve of such activities.

Celibacy / Chastity (Brahmacharya): Total abstinence from sensual pleasure is called celibacy. Sensual pleasure is an infatuating force which sets aside all virtues and reason at the time of indulgence. This vow of controlling sensuality is very difficult to observe in its subtle form. One may refrain from physical indulgence but may still think of the pleasures of sensualism, which is prohibited in Jainism.

Monks are required to observe this vow strictly and completely. They should not enjoy sensual pleasures, ask others to do the same, nor approve of it. There are several rules laid down for observing this vow for householders.

Non-attachment / Non-possession (Aparigraha): Jainism believes that the more worldly wealth a person possesses, the more he is likely to commit sin to acquire the possession, and in a long run he may be more unhappy. The worldly wealth creates attachments which will continuously result in greed, jealousy, selfishness, ego, hatred, violence, etc.
Lord Mahavir has said that wants and desires have no end, and only the sky is the limit for them.
Attachments to worldly objects results in the bondage to the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, one who desires of spiritual liberation should withdraw from all attachments to pleasing objects of all the five senses.

Monks observe this vow by giving up attachments to all things such as:

  • Material things: Wealth, property, grains, house, books, clothes, etc.
  • Relationships: Father, mother, spouse, sons, daughters, friends, enemies, other monks, disciples, etc.
  • Feelings: Pleasure and painful feelings towards touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing objects. They have the equanimity towards music and noise, good and bad smells, soft and hard objects for touch, beautiful and dirty sights, etc.
They do not eat food for taste but for survival with the intention to destroy his karma with the help of this body. Non-possession and non-attachment are to be observed in speech, mind, and deed. One should not possess, ask others to do so, or approve of such activities.

Jainism has laid down and described in much detail these five great vows for the path of liberation. These are to be observed strictly and entirely by the monks and nuns. Partial observance is laid down for the householders with an additional seven vows.


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