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In Jainism, the word Śrāvaka is used to refer the Jain laity (householder). The word śrāvaka has its roots in the word śrāvana, i.e. the one who listens (the discourses of the saints).


The tirthankara restores or organises the sangha, a fourfold order of muni (male monastics), aryika (female monastics), śrāvakas (male followers) and śrāvikās (female followers).

In Jainism, two kinds of votaries are there:-

  • The householder (one with minor vows)
  • The homeless ascetic (one with major vows)

According to Jain text, Puruşārthasiddhyupāya:Template:Quote Template:Quote

Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra, a major Jain text discusses the conduct of a Śrāvaka in detail.

Six essentials

six essential duties are prescribed for a śrāvaka. These help the laity in achieving the principle of ahimsa which is necessary for his/her spiritual upliftment. The six duties are:[1]

  1. Worship of Pañca-Parameṣṭhi (five supreme beings)
  2. Following the preachings of Jain saints.
  3. Study of Jain scriptures
  4. Meditation
  5. Following discipline in their daily engagement
  6. Charity (dāna) of four kinds:[2]
    1. Ahara-dāna- donation of food
    2. Ausadha-dāna- donation of medicine
    3. Gyan-dāna- donation of knowledge
    4. Abhaya-dāna- saving the life of a living being or giving of protection to someone under threat

Ethical code

Jain ethical code prescribes five main vows and seven supplementary vows, which include three guņa vratas and four śikşā vratas.[3]

Head Vow Meaning
Five minor vows
1. Ahiṃsā Not to hurt any living being by actions and thoughts
2. Satya Not to lie or speak what is not commendable.[4]
3. Asteya Not to take anything if not given.[5]
4. Brahmacharya Chastity
5. Aparigraha (Non-possession) Detachment from material property.
Guņa vratas[6]
6. digvrata Restriction on movement with regard to directions.
7. bhogopabhogaparimana Vow of limiting consumable and non-consumable things
8. anartha-dandaviramana Refraining from harmful occupations and activities (purposeless sins).
Śikşā vratas[3][6]
9. samayika Vow to meditate and concentrate periodically.
10.desavrata Limiting movement to certain places for a fixed period of time.[7]
11.upvas Fasting at regular intervals.
12.atihti samvibhag Vow of offering food to the ascetic and needy people

A householder who observes these vows is called viratavirata, i.e., one who observes abstinence as well as non-abstinence.[8] During



A householder who has observed all the prescribed vows to shed the karmas, takes the vow of sallekhanā at the end of his life.[3] According to the Jain text, Puruşārthasiddhyupāya, "sallekhana enable a householder to carry with him his wealth of piety".[9]

See also

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  1. Jain 2012, p. v.
  2. Sangave 2001, p. 58.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Tukol 1976, p. 5.
  4. Jain 2012, p. 61.
  5. Jain 2012, p. 68.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Jain 2012, p. 88.
  7. Jain 2012, p. 90.
  8. S.A. Jain 1992, p. 202.
  9. Jain 2012, p. 114.


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