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Part 8: Jain Reform Movement

Sant Bala

Biographical Sketch

In 1904 A.D., Shivalal, later known as Muni Sant Bala, was born in the village of Tola to Nagjibhai and Motibai. They belonged to the Visa Srimali Jaina Doshi family. He lost his father at the tender age of 7.  In 1917 he completed formal education and came to Mumbai for the job. Despite his desire to remain a celibate, familial pressures led him to become engaged to a girl. However, after his mother’s death, he broke off the engagement and considered his former fiancé as his sister. At this point, he began reading and contemplating Gandhi’s works.

In 1929, at the age of 24, he took initiation under Sthanakavasi Muni Nanacandraji Maharaja. From then on, he came to be known as Saubhagya Candra; he was also known as Santabala (Saint’s son). For the next two years, he diligently studied Sanskrit and Prakrit languages, and also Jaina agamas. He studied Nyaya philosophy within six months and even studied bits of the English language. By 1931, he mastered the technique of Satavadhana, which involves performing a hundred things simultaneously. The following year, in 1932, in Kutch he did the first public performance of his Satavadhana.

Changes in the Traditional Practices

Having a revolutionary approach, he brought about changes in the traditional code of conduct. He would accept alms offered with love and attachment by anyone who was completely vegetarian and non-alcoholic, irrespective of his caste, creed or religion.

He believed in equality of all living beings and saw the acceptance of customary respect from others as potentially inflating one’s ego. He, therefore, requested all those who respected him to refrain from bowing down to him, but to instead embrace him with affection. He renounced all titles, including those typically bestowed upon Jaina monks.

He found the practice of constantly covering one’s mouth with a muhapatti, as observed strictly by the Sramanas belonging to the Sthanakavasi sect, to be improper as it might lead to unhygienic conditions. Instead, he chose to cover his mouth only on some specified occasions, departing from the strict adherence to this practice.

As a Critique of Contemporary Socio- Religious Conditions

Concept of Sarvagna

Having a very reformist approach, Sant Bala was very much critical of the contemporary situation. The most important reason for the stagnation of Jaina religion, according to him, is the concept of “Sarvagna” which is highly misunderstood in Jaina religion.

The traditional understanding of sarvagna becomes a hurdle for the development of the sramanas and the sravakas. In his opinion, “they just carry on their shoulders the weight of their tradition. That mental state which has force and more effect on the mind, becomes a habit, hence thereafter humans get entangled with such habits. Eventually wisdom gets destroyed and leads to traditional ways of doing things which do not have any value, are worthless”.

Tradition sometimes acts as a dead – burden on the development of the people by opposing all dynamic views of life which the changing time may demand. “Arnold Toynbee says that the process of birth, decay and death of civilizations involve ‘challenge and response’. Changing circumstances pose a challenge to society. If a society can adapt itself to these, it survives and develops; otherwise it degenerates and dies. Hence it is imperative that our traditional value – system is restated and re-evaluated on the basis of various changes, internal and external, coming in the wake of changing circumstances.” As sant Bala says, “One who acts according to time is Samyag”.[1]

It is suggested here “that one should think and act according to the time and situations. What is appropriate at one time may become worth discarding at another time. Without understanding the changing needs one’s effort becomes dogmatic and leads to evil. It is said that one should follow religion according to one’s physical strength. To act according to time is wisdom. To study one’s own religious scriptures as well as of others and develop one’s cognition; which is necessary for a muni”.[2]

“Activities in themselves are not worthy or unworthy because they are not religious or irreligious, but the intentions of the doer are responsible in deciding the status of religious acts.”[3]

That one who knows dravya, ksetra, kala and bhava, own scriptures as well as of others; one who is far sighted, of equanimous vision and knowledge, does have an authority to preach. That preacher should take care of the religion, sect, view, aim, and the medium, which the seeker follows to attain his aim and also understand and examine his psychology and thus help him in his aim (religious).

He warned that if the preacher fails to foster goodwill and development of the seeker through his preaching, he should realize that it is his own fault. In such instances, it is essential to reassess and adjust the methods of his preachings according to the principles of dravyaksetra, kala and bhava.


Sant Bala complains that Sramanas are not holistic in their approach. Their views are very narrow. They cannot guide the people properly and therefore do not have any right to ask people to follow religion in all aspects (social, economical, political, and educational) of life. How will these Sramanas with their narrow attitude and limited knowledge co-relate and reconcile all religions? Even though some of the sramanas are doing such work, it is only limited to their sect.

The sadhus are not educated in various fields of history, geography, politics, economics, sociology, science etc. Their information is very limited and they only study their own scriptures. Some sadhus /sadhavis are really thinkers but because of their elders they do not get the scope to express their knowledge. Therefore Sant Bala feels that even secular knowledge is important whereby the Sramanas can guide people on spirituality in co-ordination with the present situations.

The traditional ways of discourses and writings cannot solve today’s problems. Some Sadhus are putting forward the ancient glorious past. But they forget that many changes have taken place through the ages. It is insufficient to merely remember and glorify ancient achievements. True progress lies in bringing about tangible change in how we regard and relate dravya, ksetra, kala and bhava.  Unfortunately, many sadhus are not doing this.

Throughout history of Jainism, one notices that due to various reasons there has been emergence of sects in Jaina tradition. Commenting on this, Sant Bala positively comments that being of or known by one’s own sect is not wrong, but only limiting to one’s own sect is wrong. One sect recognizes the other sect as mithyatva. It regards only its sect as the right one. Such an attitude develops hatred or rivalry among the sects. Each sadhu speaks different and opposite to one another, which confuses the society. Each sect has its own set up, but it is not ready to join or work with the other sect. The ego of ‘only I am right’ is always there. Sant Bala, therefore, suggests these sramanas to have a broader perspective for which he recommends a proper academic study. History or geography or other such subjects may not directly contribute to spiritual growth. However, a proper understanding of the past, including their circumstances and ways of life during those times, can help in understanding and preserving the true essence of religion. Rather than simply glorifying the past and placing excessive emphasis on external codes of conduct, this knowledge helps prevent religion from becoming impracticable in the present.

After leaving their family house etc. the individuals take initiation but then get attached further to their sect, monastery, math and their own titles. This is also a form of parigraha. Therefore it is crucial to overcome vrittis or mental disposition, in order to truly progress on the spiritual path.

Sant Bala was absolutely against religious conversions. According to him every one should follow the religion he was born in. Of course, he may implement the good points that are there in other religions also. One should respect the gods and saints of the other religions for whatever good qualities they have. One should do away with and one may even criticize that which is against the spirit of true religion in one’s own religious tradition, but he says that one should avoid criticizing even what one finds unwholesome in other religious traditions because such criticism is generally done out of mean motives.

Jaina sramanas are extremely careful about eating habits, using water etc. but rarely think about or take care of clothes they wear, like silk etc.

In their discourses, they lay extreme importance on giving up leafy vegetables on the auspicious days and other external possessions. Extreme importance is given to austerities. However, hardly any importance is given to internal improvement and change (adhyatmic vikasa). Discourses on Aparigraha are always given but extreme possessive attitude is observed at the temples or monasteries, where the monks stay.


Sant Bala argues that the present scope of Ahimsa and Aparigraha is very limited. If any ant dies a Jaina would get scared of procuring bad karma, but does not bother if he thinks ill of others. Indirectly because of one self, if any person, society or country is harmed, he does not think about it. He is very scared of eating green vegetables on auspicious days but not of collecting black money and undue collection of interest, excessive hoarding of money, and betting.

A sensitive religious person must find it painful to speak untruth. But by speaking it, he does not feel pain, instead feels pain on the loss of money. He undergoes prayascittas, if by mistake he kills any living creature like mosquito, but does not bother about cutting the pay of his workers, not giving them food, overloading them with work and exploiting them. On the day of tithis, the Jaina refrain from consuming prohibited food and are even scared of accumulating papa karma, but not afraid of speaking ill of others, being jealous or of involving in quarrels.

The consequence is that while ahimsa is reflected in activities such as building pigeon houses or panjrapola (special residences for animals), it has failed to reach out to friendship of humans. The ones who do ‘samayik’, ‘pratikramana’ and ‘pausadha’ also fail to overcome cravings, parigrahalalsa. Similarly there is an unpardonable gap between social life and religious life. For instance, in someone who is considered religious, one may observe routine displays of excessive lust, craving for food, dishonesty, jealousy and quarrels.

This is a common phenomenon, not only in Jaina religion but also in all other religions. Sant Bala says “But I do not blame present sramana samgha and sravaka samgha, but the tradition, which is handed down to present society, is responsible. External conduct, rituals do serve certain purpose but the main purpose is forgotten and has become a routine (rudhi), which is a blemish.”[4]

As routine expands, it results in degradation in the tradition, a phenomenon seen in Jaina religion. Jaina religion is well organized; it is inclusive of female, male, lay followers and ascetic followers. World is, therefore, neither to be completely discarded nor always the cause of papa. Examples of different people in Jaina agamas who have attained kevala jnana, and others like Jambu, Bharat cakravarti, are found in Jaina religion, were previously involved in killing or enjoying carnal pleasures. By reflecting on the world they attained kevala jnana. Narrowness has infiltrated Jaina tradition as the relative doctrine is regarded as complete and wholly true. The trend has persisted for centuries, so today’s four-fold community cannot be solely blamed.

He argued that due to the misinterpretation of the term ‘Sarvagna’ Ahimsa and Aparigarha, which are not followed properly, visvamaitri (friendship of the whole world) and jeevanvikas (personal development) gradually broke down.

Acaranga sutra stresses only on clearing one’s internal impurities. It mentions external kriyas, but in a limited way.

But presently in Jaina society external kriyas especially those which lead to easy life are stressed upon and given importance.

Looking inwards and contemplating on such matters, Sant Bala felt a tremendous need to have a camp of sadhus and sadhavis, which was held at Matunga in Mumbai in 1961. Invitations were sent to many of Sramanas but unfortunately only 15 people attended.

In this four month long camp topics like, visvavatsalya, revolutionary life, Indian culture, non-violence, sarva dharma sambhavana, different aspects of the world, need and usefulness of sadhus /sadhavis, developing one’s own memory were discussed. Sadhus from any religion could attend the camp. They were expected to be reformers, thinkers and would work for the betterment of society.

Exposition of Sant Bala’s Views

Establishment of the Moral Order in Society

As a critique of the present conditions of society and religion, Sant Bala felt a tremendous need to establish a moral order in society. Individuals are a part of a larger world. He, therefore, suggests a collective work to set up spiritual development. Morality and Spirituality cannot be separate from each other. Sant Bala suggests that in daily routine life people should follow the moral doctrines and values. He says so because religion is followed merely externally, following the rituals and has departed from the moral values. He, therefore, insists that following the moral code of conduct, is the beginning of religion which aims at spirituality.

Human beings are a part of this universe; hence life should be such that the whole universe grows along with the development of human beings. Hence the members of the samgha must continuously work for the welfare of society by taking some training. Society should be established on the basis of moral foundation, not influenced by power and money. Therefore, all the auspicious tattvas should come together. It is very essential to make people aware of their potential in all aspects of life.

For this, Sant Bala suggests that people must oppose injustice. There are many things surrounding the life of an individual such as politics, government, law and order, social conditions, economic conditions etc. which need to cohere with one another. It is seen that people get their work done by all sorts of illegal means. For this, Sant Bala suggests that politics should be cleaned to overcome stagnation, which has crept in the society. India is a country where villages still exist. Therefore, the primary focus should be on development of villages. This entails uplifting the people who live below the poverty line; those who are socially, financially and morally marginalized, and empowering them to become self sufficient in all these aspects.

Not only financially independent but also assurance and execution of political freedom should be there to solve the problems of governance. This would be a true democratic spirit according to Sant Bala. He says that internal problems solved mutually will give an environment to set up a proper ethical base for spiritual development. Fights between two groups can be resolved without bureaucracy. Such quarrels, if solved amongst themselves, will not lead to further aggrandizement. Then, and then, can healthy living become achievable. For this, there must be education which purifies the environment and which will lead to a healthy living. Sant Bala suggests that financial independence, political freedom, social equality – all guided by moral values will lead to personal development (vikasa puja) and further lead to spiritual development. As a muni, Sant Bala undertook the responsibility of purification tasks, which a Jaina muni would never do. Undergoing all the difficulties, facing the ban from the Sramana samgha, he left Mumbai and went to Bhal Nala Kantha (Gujarat).

Sant Bala had, therefore, undertaken a task of purification. The area where he worked was Bhala Nala Kantha (Gujarat) where there was scarcity of water, people were living below the poverty line. They were alcoholics, drug- addicts, robbers engaged in kidnapping of women, their trading etc.; Zamindari, problem of interest and consequent exploitation was also on large scale.

1. In 1938, Sant Bala undertook the survey of 200 Villages. He undertook the purification process which later on spread to 500 villages.

2. In 1938, in a village near Vagajipur, he addressed the issues of drinking water.As a result, by 1943, 78 villages had their water problems resolved through the installation of pipelines and other infrastructure. 

3. In 1947, Rishi Bala Mandir for children was established in Sananda for children of the scavenging community.

4. In 1948, he started educational, cultural and social activities for the Padhar community (Backward Class).

5. Between 1949-1951, he helped farmers in establishing co-operative societies.

6. Between 1953-1954, 6000 acres of land was acquired through Bhoodan in Bhala Nala Kantha.

7. Between 1954-1958, cooperative societies were established for good governance in 84 villages. 

8. In 1958, 40,000 acres of land were made available for 240 Gopalan Cooperative Mandals (farmers).

He personally worked in those areas, evident from the fact that wells were dug and lakes were deepened etc. (1943-50). He says that ‘the real reform should be in social, religious and political fields’. People should be inspired in all these aspects and also in the right way.

According to him, a restrained person is more superior to the person who is hoarding things and then giving them to charity. The needs of a restrained person are very less. He only takes a little from the world because he takes only what is required. Due to self-control, inner development takes place and satisfaction is also there. This revolution of self-control when spread in the world will lead to the destruction of selfishness.

The restrained person should be knowledgeable – one who is non-violent and has equanimity. The question is whether a householder can follow non-violence? He said that when a house holder becomes self-contented, restrains himself and gradually decreases his needs. Non-violent tendencies increase in such a person as a result of calmness of mind.

He disagrees with the ways in which the external austerities are performed by the people. For him tapascarya is not to remain hungry but to control those verities, which lead to destruction of ego, and only then there is inner development of an individual. His consciousness shines and this is real tapa. He was against any type of external rituals, like going to temple or only prayers on rosary.

He believed that the more a person is away from violence etc. and the more he follows self-control, compassion, sacrifice and equanimity, the more an individual is religious in the real sense.

His main revolutionary idea or the view of reform was that sadhus/sadhavis could help in building up the national character. They cannot live away from society meditating in a forest. They have to help people in building up their character, which leads to inner development. Sadhus can stay in their limitations and take part in the problems of society by helping them.

He also believed that now the time is not proper for the newly initiated sadhus to pluck their hair by hand because that physical strength is not there. He was even against initiation of the children into the order of the monastery. Also muhapatti is not supposed to be kept on mouth for 24 hours of the day. It can be removed when silence is observed.

Place of Thought

Sant Bala emphasis five characteristics for the inner development of man:-

1. Rules

2. Beneficent

3. Fearlessness

4. Humility

5. Thought

The state in which a person realizes the mistakes on the path they are following and thus feels the necessity to inquire about the tattvas, is called Sansaya or doubt. Knowledge arises only when the seeker removes the ego, realizing that what they initially knew was false or imposed as true. Without shedding this ego, peace cannot be attained in a state of doubt. Therefore inquiry into truth through doubt is necessary. One should comprehend doubts objectively, akin to becoming a detached observer of one’s inner cravings. Doubt is a subject of intellect, hence only intellect can decide, without which development is not possible. Doubt is thus a natural and useful tool in the process of development. For example, Indrabhuti Gautama, the Ganadhara of Mahavira.

Doubt is a tool of intellect and should not affect the heart/soul (antahkarana). Otherwise self will be ruled by intellect and heart will become void and weak. In this situation the intellect will not be able to make the correct decision, and where there is no definite view of Pravritti or Nivritti, there is no peace or justification. Where there is a mention of sankha, kankha etc., it really means to go on raising doubts till one reaches a doubtless state.

The inquiry into the order of the world is justifiable. Some things are directly perceived, while others are indirectly perceived. When intellect cannot grasp the knowledge of reality directly, one can derive it from immediate conditions and experiences. Doubts are eliminated both by intellect and by heart. Development of a seeker depends on such discernment. Heart or antahkarana (the inner realm), is where the rays of the soul fall;it isalso known as ‘Bhava Mana’. Intellect or Dravya Mana, is influenced by the material world. Intellect helps the knowledge, which is of inner self. Intellect is an instrument for knowledge and the inner self is an abode of knowledge. Therefore thought is a necessary process for one’s own development.

A disciplined life can indeed help a person to lead a virtuous life, and thus, rules that guide people along the path of religion, are necessary. These rules must accommodate even the tasks of helping others and performing beneficial actions without having any single intention of getting returns (Niskama Karma Yoga). One must, therefore, inculcate fearlessness and be humble. This is all possible only if one is a true thinker. One can therefore say that Sant Bala, here, is going from external to internal. The rules form the external part of human development. Performing beneficial actions that foster friendliness towards all, supports adherence to external rules. Consequently one becomes inreasingly humble and fearless.

Sant Bala personally believed that change is necessary in every era. He recognized the current period as crucial because people forget that spirituality and our daily routines are interconnected. Religion, for him, does not merely consist of external rituals, it involves realizing the above five characteristics and living in accordance with them.

Sant Bala also studied other religions. He was very much influenced by Gita and says that Gita is the mother and Acaranga sutra is the father. He also asserts that all religions convey the same messages regarding happiness and sorrow, cause of existence, birth and death etc.

“In the Gita the worshipper of God has been asked to engage in the service of all living beings. Love and service are accorded considerable importance in the Christian religion. Christ served the poor, convalescing and sorrowing people throughout his life, which culminated in his reunification. There has been a tradition of medical service in society in the name of religion. The fundamental reason for such a move is that the religious person serves the helpless and ill, as a part of his worship to God”.[5] All religions should, therefore, be respected equally.

Sant Bala is regarded as a reformer because of the work he has done. In the Jaina scriptures, code of conduct of monks and munis are mentioned in relation to Ahimsa etc. According to the codes of conduct, Sadhus are not supposed to take part in any socio-political matter nor physical work can be done by them. They are only supposed to read the scriptures, give discourses and meditate. But Sant Bala has shown how Sadhus can live within the code of conduct, practice ethical values and yet can work for the betterment of society, nation and the whole world.

He stresses that not only sadhus can attain liberation, but that a householder, if he lives a self controlled life, can attain moksa.

Traditional views regarding the Sramanas are that; “When a muni, who is in the last of the eleven stages of gradual renunciatory development of the right conduct prescribed for the lay aspirant, and is virtually a recluse, feels confident that he has had the requisite discipline, sufficient sense-control, and necessary detachment from the world and worldly things, he takes the next step. In order to reinforce the spirit of detachment he repeatedly ponders over and contemplates the twelve renunciation-bearing reflections (bhavanas and anupreksas), such as the transitoriness of worldly things and stages, the inevitability of death, the loneliness of the being, the obvious misery of mundane existence, the separate entity of the soul as distinct from non-soul, and so on. Then, fully equipped and prepared as he finds himself, he requests an acarya (master ascetic) to initiate him into the order.

On his initiation, he vows to observe for life and absolutely, without any reservation or qualification, the mahavratas (five great vows) of ahimsa, satya (truthfulness), asteya (taking nothing belonging to others, for own use, without permission of the owner), brahmacarya (chastity), and aparigraha (possessionlessness). He also observes the five precautionary rules or cares (samitis). There are six essential duties (avasyaka) enjoined on an ascetic, the first of which is pratikarmana which consists in retrospection, confession and repentance, and usually means the statement of the sins, transgressions or deviation committed by the ascetic in the performance of his daily routine, and making penance for them. The second duty, pratyakyana, implies a determination to renounce or avoid thinking, speaking or doing all that is inconsistent with his saintly status and code of conduct. The third is stuti which means adoration, recitation and contemplation of the divine attributes and godly characteristics which became manifest in the persons of the twenty-four Tirthankaras or Jinas. The fourth duty, vandana, is paying prostrating obeisance to the Arhats, the  Siddhas, and the worshipful ascetic gurus. Both stuti and vandana are aspects of devotion towards the ideal ones, practiced out of one’s own humility and gratefulness, with the object of keeping the mind free from impure or unbecoming thoughts. Samayika is the fifth duty which the ascetic performs at least thrice daily, in some undisturbed secluded spot, calmly and happily, withdrawing wandering thoughts and concentrating them in the meditation upon one’s own soul, its attributes and modes, so as to accomplish a state of equanimity. The last is kayotsarga, that is, practicing complete bodily abandonment for sometime daily, whereby tries to relinquish all sense of attachment to the body and the things connected with it.“[6] All these rules of conduct which a monk has to follow alienate him from the path of pravritti and only expect him to live an inactive life.

Responsibilities of the Sadhus and Sadhvis: A New Perspective

The general Jaina tendency is in favor of Nivritti. The idea that every activity involves some violence has been prevalent in Jainism. Activity leads to karmic bondage and hence the goal of the Jaina monk is to get rid of all kinds of karmas and to get liberation. All sorts of worldly activities are forbidden for the Jaina Sramanas and they are asked to follow the Mahavratas and engage themselves in performing religious activities like giving the traditional religious discourses, serving the gurus, going for Bhiksa etc. According to Santa Bala, such a fear of committing violence in every act does not allow monks to participate in social service. He, therefore, suggested that a person, who takes diksa, leaving his family, becomes the part of a larger family, that is, the world. He, therefore, should work for the improvement of society and for upliftment of the moral well being of the individuals. This is only possible when there is a total social transformation. Sant Bala has written an exhaustive commentary on Acaranga Sutra. His whole thought is summarized by T. U. Mehta in his book “Sant Bala: A Saint with a difference”. The following elongated quotation from the book gives a preview and core of Sant Bala’s stand for his reform:

“Acaranga Sutra is the most ancient and important Scripture which prescribes in great detail how a Jaina Sramanas should function in life. It nowhere prohibits a Saint from acting for the amelioration of the Society he lives in. Jaina philosophy has always given prominence to “Bhava”, i.e. “intention” or “motive” in the performance of Karma. So long as the body persists, some sort of Karma is inevitable, and since the whole universe is full of Jivas (sentient objects) even the acts of breathing, drinking, moving, and eating result in violation of different types of “Jivas”. If they result in violation (Himsa) and if every violent act results in akarma no soul (Jiva) can ever hope to be free. But that is not so, because, binding nature of Karma depends upon the motivation, intention and the measure of attachment with which it is done. If you once accept this position, it follows that if Sramanas takes active interest in social amelioration being guided by the disinterested and universal love for all souls of the universe, all his actions are “non-actions”, actions without any expectation or attachment, and binding nature of such non-actions is practically nil. This is the simple logic of Jaina philosophy which the critics of Sant Bala either did not understand or intentionally avoided its understanding. This is also what Gita preaches. If the work of social amelioration was foreign to Jaina monk why it was that even after obtaining “Kaivalya” (last stage of pure knowledge) Lord Mahavira, and all other Tirthankars who preceded him, moved from place to place to educate people in spiritual values, why they tried to prevent violence, untruth, stealing, accumulation of possession, sex indulgence and various other social evils? Why did the first Tirthankara Shri Risabhdev teach people how to build moulds, houses and cities, how to establish and organize social institutions including marriages, how to dispose of your dead, and how to settle as an organized society? He is also said to have taught the methods of agriculture and invented an alphabet called “Brahmi”. All these activities of various Tirthankars were the activities for social amelioration.

One argument is that one can do all these things of social importance before renouncing the world, but not after renouncing the same. Any such argument is liable to be rejected summarily as totally devoid of merits. If a Sravakas who remains active in the society can take active interest, of course without any attachment, and still obtain Moksa (freedom from Karmic bondage), it is difficult to understand why a saint cannot do so. “Renouncement” of worldly affairs only means renouncement of attachment to the worldly affairs. Affairs themselves do not bind you; what binds you is the attachment”.[7]

The moksamarga as expressed in Tattvartha Sutra

“samyagdarsana jnana caritramoksamarga”.[8]

“How can you know that you are developing your Charitra” (character), which is considered in Jaina philosophy as a third jewel in our life, unless you are constantly testing your mental reactions to the problems of life? If you renounce worldly currents of life and go to a lonely place for life, you are separated from life’s vicissitudes. The blessed segregation in a lonely place cannot prepare your mind to keep proper balance in times of distress and difficulties because these are absent in your isolation. Thus if you are isolated from society your mind does not get any training. But the human mind always remains active and hence in absence of proper training it gets distorted. It is only when you are associated with worldly currents that you can test and know how far you have been able to keep it detached from hate, anger, avarice and attachment of all sorts. If you are honest and sincere in achieving not only “Dharma Dhyan” but also the process of “Sukla Dhyan”. Thus for a saint, to remain alive to the world he lives in, is a good training ground for the achievement of spiritual progress. Such training is very much necessary even for those who enter the order simply because you have taken Diksa, it does not mean that you have conquered or even trained your mind. ”[9]

Here Mahavira asks you only to remain “aware” of whatever you are doing because awareness brings discrimination and once you are able to discriminate between right and wrong you have little or no chance to fall in trap of binding Karmas. This pragmatism of Mahavira is not followed by orthodoxy because fanaticism and pragmatism are strange bedfellows. If you bring this type of awareness in your social actions, and can behave like the “Sthitapragna” (one whose mind and intellect are steady) of Gita, you are on right path whether you are the man of the world or of the saintly order.

The primary duty and responsibility is to work for the welfare of all living beings. While science has brought the world closer on the material level, bridging hearts is the task of these sadhus. Nationally and internationally, there are linguistic problems, caste problems, color/social, fanatic nationalism, individual worship etc. and because of these there is jealousy, hatred, divisions in castes, sect etc. In such a disastrous and disorderly situation, the sadhus can be like a bridge to solve such problems by experimenting on the basis of tapa, tyaga and ahimsa and also to win the hearts of the people of different countries by peace and equanimity. To spread Maitri (friendship) should be the aim. This is the bhavana of the ahimsa vrata.

The original self-dependent structure of villages is now being destroyed, with the government taking control. This interference is affecting village life leading towards a sense of aversion among its inhabitants. Furthermore, because the honest people are now few in number, antisocial elements have capitalized on these disruptions in village affairs. In such a chaotic situation, sadhus with their inspiration and influences, should try and remove such negative elements. The need is to elect people from local villages that are honest.

Since attaining independence, the middle class, women and villagers have had little influence in state affairs. Corruption has proliferated in politics, trading and commerce, with exploitation rampant everywhere. There is black marketing on a large scale.

There has been a rise in communal disharmony, with displays of religious fervor leading to superstition and other societal challenges. Selfless work, love and service to society have been overshadowed by pursuit of power and wealth. To counteract these disturbances, the sadhus can play a significant role.

The education field also demands reform, as the teachers are often solely focused on their salaries and ensuring that the students pass, neglecting the broader goals of education. Virtues such as service to society, humility and good character are lost and these can be revived with the help of sadhus.

Guidance to people on physical, psychological level should also be given by the sadhus. The spiritual leaders who encompass a world view can guide the people for their overall development.

Sant Bala says that sadhus are no longer confined to, or accountable only to one family, caste or nation, but they are a part of the global family. They are the mother and father of the whole world, not only to humans, but animals and all other living beings too. Mahavira Swami, Gautama Buddha, Lord Ram and Lord Krishna have fulfilled this responsibility and have asked their followers to do the same.

Therefore the Sramana can work with Karuna Bhava for the upliftment of the society.

Karuna is a process, rather a quality in particular people. At its highest level Karuna does not attach itself to the intricacies of suffering of individual human situations; it is involved in the salvation of all human beings. Karuna has nothing to do with achievement at all. It is spacious and very generous and is filled with joy, spontaneously existing joy and constant joy. The highest level of compassion is without any ‘purpose’ or intent. It seeks neither the good of others, nor its own good. It lies in ‘being good’ and not ‘doing good’.

“Renunciation does not mean the state of non-action, but to remain equanimous every moment or to engage one’s self in worthy activities amidst various attractions and difficulties. To bear hardship and not to perform evil actions does not mean that one should remain without performing action. One can remain physically non-active but not mentally, there it is action. Hence engage one’s self in religious activities. At any given time, religious and irreligious acts are never together. Wherever there is yoga there is pravritti. Hence nivritti does not mean inactivity but worthy/good activities”.[10]

On Sarvadharma Upasana

Having suggested the new responsibilities to the Sramanas, Sant Bala further crosses the traditional limit of restricting oneself to one’s own Samgha. Though Jainism believes in Anekantavada it falls short of imbibing good principles of other religion. Sant Bala therefore writes in his book “Sarva Dharma Upasana” the good principles from all the religions.

Mahavira dealt with his contemporaries and their views in a positive way. (As mentioned in chapter 1). With the spread of Jainism throughout India, Jaina sramanas encountered leaders of other religions. In an age dominated by royalty,gaining royal support was crucial, leading monks to resort to various methods, such as totems, magic and debates to demonstrate their power and gain favors while undermining others. Hence the principles of samyaktva became as opposite of mithyatva, which means one should not worship other god, scripture and religion. But in the present age, when interfaith dialogues are in vogue, and Jainism is showing itself on the world scene, this foresighted Jaina reformer took initiative in the 1970’s to rule out the age-old orthodox view of mithyatva and propounded the view of sarva-dharma-sambhava and to have equal respect for all religions – Indian and non-Indian.

Concept of Anubandh and Visva Vatsalya

To give practical shape to his theory of reconstructing the society on ethical grounds, which he called ‘Dharmanubandhi Samaj Racana’, Sant Bala developed another concept, which is called‘ Anubandha Vicara’. Anu means ‘atom’ and bandha means ‘binding force.’ Hence Anubandha means bind and put force in harmony. He stated four principal forces of social evolution.

1. The state- that is the political institution.

2. People’s association- voluntary or otherwise to guide and control state administrative and legislative machinery.

3. The associations of public. spiritual and social leaders to give correct guidance to people’s association.

4. Spiritual leaders of the society, the saints, to inspire and guide all the previously mentioned three forces.

Sant Bala explains that Truth or Dharma is the foundation stone of the whole universal scheme. But if its “Anubandha” (connection) with its followers is not in order, the whole social order of the universe is disturbed. In other words “Anubandha” is the “live-wire” which supplies dynamism to truth or spirituality which nourishes and protects the universal order and maintain its balance.

The daily routine (Jeevan Vyavahara) and spiritualism cannot be different from each other. Acaranga is the witness of this (Saksirupa). Therefore the essence of Jainism lies in renouncing violence and craving. Friendship with the whole world and peace in life is paramount and they rest on the above two principles and in the mental disposition (vritti) rather than material possessions (padartha). This negative condition of not hating others is not sufficient, but the positive condition of loving them (vatsalaya) is very much necessary. To love is to see that equal opportunities of education, teaching and the like is received by every individual without any distinction, of race, religion, sex and nationality. In his own times, Mahavira fought for the equality of all men, and he revered individual dignity. When there is love, there is no exploitation. To treat other individuals as mere means is decried and denied. Where there is Vatsalya, all our dealings with others will be inspired by reverence; the role of force and domination will be minimized.

The adjective used for Bhagwan Mahavira is Jagavacchala (visvavatsal). In the eighth part of samyakdarsana ‘vachala’ it is mentioned that samyag drsti is necessary until one becomes kevali (i.e. from fourth Gunasthana till fourteenth). For the householder, samyagdarsana, which consists of vatsalya, is necessary. The vatsalya of householders is called sachmmiyavacchala, meaning sadharmika vatsalya. But when a person from a particular sect applies this principle to his own sect it reflects a narrow outlook. The true essence lies in samgha vatsalya and in today’s context it can be called samay vatsalya as sadharmi means samanadharmi. Since humans are samandharmi, cultivating samaya vatsalya is essential. For advancement of humanity, visvavatsalya or compassion for the entire is necessary, particularly for higher qualified individuals like sadhus who are the guardians of six kaya jivas. For a householder, the scope of compassion may be limited to sadharmivatsalya but for a sadhu it should extend to the entire world. Even though there is a difference, the aim of both should be visvavatsalya. This principle of Sant Bala can thus be analysed in such a way that it expands the scope of anekantavada.

[1] Sant Bala, Acaranga Sutra. ,p. 56.

[2] Ibid. , p. 56.

[3] Ibid. , p. 60.

[4] Ibid., introduction ,p. 19.

[5] T. U.Mehta, Saint Bala, A Saint with A difference,

[6] Dr, Jyoti Prasad Jain, op. cit., pp.107-109.

[7] T.U.Mehta, Op.Cit., pp.30-32

[8] Tattvartha Sutra 1.1

[9] T. U. Mehta ,Op.Cit.,

[10] T.U.Mehta, Op.cit., p.

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