This chapter answers the following questions.
What is Navakar Mantra?
Who are Arihants?
Who are Siddhas?
Who are Tirthankars?
Who are Jina?
Who are Acharyas?
Who are Upadhyayas?
Who are Sadhus?
Who are Sadhvis?
Who are Jinas?
What is the role of Passions in our life?
What are different karmas?
Why do pay homage to Arihantas first?
Namo Loe Savva-sahunam
Eso Panch Namokaro
Padhamam Havei Mangalam
(Namo Arihantanam: I bow down to Arihanta,
Namo Siddhanam: I bow down to Siddha,
Namo Ayriyanam: I bow down to Acharya,
Namo Uvajjhayanam: I bow down to Upadhyaya,
Namo Loe Savva-sahunam: I bow down to Sadhu and Sadhvi.
Eso Panch Namokaro: These five bowing downs,
Savva-pavappanasano: Destroy all the sins,
Manglananch Savvesim: Amongst all that is auspicious,
Padhamam Havei Mangalam: This Navkar Mantra is the foremost.)
The Navkar Mantra is the most fundamental mantra in Jainism and can be
recited at any time of the day. While reciting the Navkar Mantra, the
aspirant bows with respect to Arihantas, Siddhas, Ächäryäs, Upädhyäyas,
Sädhus, and Sädhvis. The mantra enables us to worship the virtues of
all the supreme spiritual people instead of just worshipping one
particular person. For this reason, the Navkar Mantra does not mention
the names of any Tirthankaras, Siddhas, Acharyas, Upädhyäyas, Sädhus,
or Sädhvis. At the time of recitation, we remember their virtues and
try to emulate them. In this mantra we bow down to these supreme
spiritual personalities, and therefore, it is also called Namaskär or
The Navkär Mantra contains the essence of Jainism. It points out that
if we want to be truly liberated, we have to give up worldly life
(samsär). The first stage of renunciation is to become a monk (sadhu)
or nun (sadhvi). While progressing on a spiritual path, some may be
designated as Upädhyäyas or Acharya. The ultimate aim is to attain
omniscience, becoming an Arihanta, which leads us to liberation, the
becoming a Siddha.
The term Arihanta is made up of Ari, meaning enemies, and hant,
meaning destroyer. Consequently, Arihanta means destroyer of enemies.
In this case the term enemies refers to passions such as anger, greed,
ego, and deceit which are internal enemies, because they defile the
true nature of the soul. A soul can only reach the state of Arihanta
by overcoming all its inner enemies. Once a soul has shed all of its
four defiling (ghati) karmas namely Jnanavarniya (Knowledge obscuring)
Karma, Darshanavarniya (Perception obscuring) karma, Mohniya (Deluding)
Karma and Antaraya (Obstructive) Karma, it becomes an Arihanta and
attains perfect knowledge (Kevaljnana), perfect perception
(Kevaldarshana), and infinite power (Ananta Virya) and it becomes a
passionless(vitragi). Arihantas are divided into two categories:
Tirthankar and Ordinary. Arihantas who have attained Tirthankar Näm
Karma become Tirthankaras while the rest of them become Ordinary
Arihants. There are twenty-four Tirthankaras during every half time
cycle. These Tirthankaras reinstate the Jain Sangh (four-fold Jain
Order) consisting of Sädhus (monks), Sädhvis (nuns), Shrävaks (male
householders), and Shrävikäs (female householders). The first
Tirthankar (Arihanta) of this time period was Lord Rushabhdev, and the
twenty-fourth and last Tirthankar was Lord Mahävira, who was lived from
599B.C. to 527B.C. Tirthankaras are also called Jinä (conqueror of
inner passions) from which the term Jain, follower of a Jinä, is
derived. At the time of Arihanta's nirvän (death), the remaining four
non-defiling (aghati) karmas such as Nam (Physique determining) Karma,
Gotra (Status determining) Karma, Vedniya (Feeling producing) Karma and
Ayushya (Age span determining) Karma, are destroyed. Ordinary Arihants
are those souls who attain salvation, but do not possess Tirthankar
Nama Karma and hence, do not establish the Jain Order. After attaining
salvation they are called Siddhas. Since Siddhas have attained ultimate
liberation, we do not have access to them. However, Arihantas offer us
spiritual guidance during their lifetime. In order to show our special
reverence for their teachings, we bow to them first, hence the first
verse of the Navkar Mantra. Currently, as per scriptures except at
Mahavideh kshetra, there are no Arihantas. The last Arihant was
Jambuswami. According to the Agams (Jain scriptures) there will be no
more Arihantas during the remaining period of the current half-time
Siddhas are liberated souls. They have reached the highest state,
salvation, and have attained Moksha. They have eradicated all their
karmas, and therefore do not accumulate any more new karmas, thus
freeing themselves forever from the cycle of birth and death (Akshaya
Sthiti). This state of freedom is called Moksha. They are experiencing
ultimate, unobstructed bliss (Aksha Sukh) and are not subjected to any
kind of suffering. They possess perfect and total knowledge (Anatjnan,
Kevaljnana, omniscience) and perception (Anat Darshan, Kevaldarshana,
omniperception), that means they know and perceive everything in total
that is happening now, that has happened in the past, and that which
will happen in the future all at the same time and they also possess
infinite vigor (Anant-Virya). They have no desires and are completely
detached thus making them immune from any sense of craving or aversion
(Anant Charitra, Vitragatva). Despite the fact that all Siddhas retain
a unique identity, they are equal (Aguru-laghutva) and
The message of Jina, Lord Mahävira the last Tirthankara, is carried by
the Acharya, our spiritual leaders. The responsibility of the spiritual
welfare of the entire Jain Sangh rests on the shoulders of the
Acharyas. Before reaching this state, one has to do an in-depth study
and have a thorough mastery of the Jain Agams. In addition to
acquiring a high level of spiritual excellence, they also have the
ability to lead the monastic communion. They should also know the
various languages of the country and have acquired a sound knowledge of
other philosophies, ideologies, and religions of the region and the
This title is given to those Sädhus who have acquired a special
knowledge of the Agams (Jain scriptures) and philosophical systems.
They teach Jain scriptures to deserving aspirants, including sädhus and
5) SADHUS AND SADHVIS
A male person who renounces the worldly life is called a monk or
sädhu, and a female is called a nun or sadhvi. When householders
become detached from the worldly aspects of life and aspire for
spiritual uplift, they renounce their worldly lives and become Sädhus
or Sädhvis, by accepting Deekshä. Before such initiation, they must
stay with Sädhus or Sädhvis for a period of time to understand
religious studies and to observe the code of conduct for renounced
life. When they feel confident, they request an Ächärya to initiate
them into the renounced order. If the Ächärya feels that they have the
desire and capability to face the rigors of renounced life, then he
gives them Deekshä. At the time of Deekshä, the newly initiated sadhu
or sadhvi adopts five major vows:
1) Observance of Ahimsa (non-violence)-not to commit any type of
violence (Savvao Panaivayao Virman Vrat)
2) Observance of Satya (truth)-not to indulge in any type of lie or
falsehood (Savvao Musavayao Virman Vrat)
3) Observance of Asteya (non-stealing)-not to take anything unless it
is given by the owner (Savvao Aadinnadanao Virman Vrat)
4) Observance of Brahamcharya (celibacy)-not to indulge in any sensual
pleasure (Savvao Mehunao Virman Vrat)
5) Observance of Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)-not to acquire more
than what is needed to maintain day to day life (Savvao Pariggrahao
Some of the special things they observe are they do not accept the food
cooked for them. They do not eat before sunrise or after sunset. They
drink only boiled water. They walk bare feet. They do not stay in one
place for a longer time. They do not touch any person of opposite sex.
They do not get involved in social affairs there by meaning they are
not a social workers. Some monks wear no clothes while others wear
white clothes. All nuns wear white clothes. They offer spiritual
guidance to us. Their goal to become a monk or nun is to be liberated
from this worldly life and that is why their activities are directed
towards uplift of their souls to Paramätman (the state of liberation).
Self-discipline and purity is the main part of their daily lives. That
is why Jain monks and nuns are unique.
Back to Chapters List.
Back to the Home Page.