Jain Ascetic Concept of Penance

I am happy to interact with the CAF. I was interested to come across came across Sagefrakrobatik’s comment about a verse in the Uttaradhyayana that was remarkably similar to the Catholic idea of penance.

As the Secretary-General of the All India Jain Minority Forum I am an activist for the Jain religious minority right in India under the Indian Constitution on par with other national minorities, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zoroastrian (Parsi).

Yes I quite agree with Sagefractobatik"s comment that there is similarity to the Jain ascetic concept of penance. In fact Jainism has elevated the practice of ascetic penance as a medium to attain the final liberation Nirvana, when one becomes free from the cycle of births and deaths.

There is also a daily religious confessional practice to oneself known as Pratikramana meaning Repentance which says according to the Jain ethical doctrine in Niyamasara-Compendium of Ascetic Discipline as follows:


REPENTANCE (Pratikramana)

  1. I am neither hellish, nor sub-human, nor human, nor am I in the celestial condition. I am neither the doer, nor do I make others do I make others do,nor am I the approver of the approver of the doers.

  2. I am neither in any of the soul-quests, nor I am in any of the spiritual stages nor do I belong to any of the soul classes. I am neither the doer, nor do I make others do, nor am I the approver of the doers.

  3. I am neither a child, nor young, nor old, nor the cause of them. I am neither the doer nor do I make others do, nor am I the approver of the doers.

  4. I am neither attachment, nor aversion, nor delusion, nor the cause of any of them. I am neither the doer, nor do I make others do, nor am I the approver of the doers.

  5. I am neither anger, nor pride, nor deceit, nor greed. I am neither the doer, nor do I make others do, nor am I the approver of the doers.

  6. By practising self-analysis, (a soul) becomes equanimous and thus (gains) Right Conduct. In order to fortify this (conduct) I shall speak of repentance, etc.

  7. He, who leaving aside (all) forms of speech and getting rid of (impure) thought-activities, such as attachment, etc., meditates upon his own soul (is said from the real point of view) to have repentance (Pratikramana).

  8. He, who avoiding (all sorts of) transgressions particularly, is absorbed in self-contemplation is said to have repentance; because he himself is the embodiment of repentance. "*

Permit me to give a few links to my articles on Jainism, Jain minority right and religious pluralism:


The Rise, Decline And Renewals Of Sramanic Religious Traditions Within Indic Civilisation
With Particular Reference To The Evolution Of Jain Sramanic Culture
And Its Impact On The Indic Civilization
(A Paper presented in the Conference on Religions in Indic Civilisation in New Delhi, December, 18-21, 2003, Organised by the Centre for theStudy of Developing Societies in collaboration with International Association for the History of Religions and India International Centre.)

-Bal Patil,

Ex-Member, Media Expert Committee, Govt. of India, researcher, journalist, social worker Mr.Bal Patil has been active for five decades striving for the constitutional religious minority right for Jains. He endeavours to be a global activist for peace, human rights, media freedom and abolition of capital punishment .He is the Co-Author: JAINISM (Macmillan Co 1974). with Colette Caillat, (Member Institut de France, Paris,) & A.N.Upadhye. Author: SUPREME COURT’S VOLTE FACE ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT (Published by Govt. of Maharashtra, 1980) His translation of the renowned German Indologist, Dr.L. Alsdorf’s German Beitraege zur Geschichte von Vegetarismus und Rinderverehrung in Indien is being edited for publication by Dr. Bollee, Indologist. His translation of Dr.Asdorf’s French Les Etudes Jaina, Etat Present et Taches Futures is published by Hindi Granth Karyalay, (2005) Mumbai as The Jaina Studies Present State and Future Tasks, edited by Dr.Willem Bollee. He was participant and speaker in the 7th Jaina Studies Workshop on Jaina Law and Jaina Community, Centre for Jaina Studies, SOAS, University of London. He presented a paper on the Evolution of Sramanic Jain Tradition and Religious Fundamentalism in the XIXth World Congress of the IAHR, Tokyo, Japan, 2005.

The links you provided clearly show what Buddhists also beleive.

  1. The Buddha most likely did study under a Jain esthetic.
  2. The Buddha worked against both animal sacrifice and the caste system of the Vedic religion.
  3. Both Jainism and Buddhism predate Hinduism

From your link:

It is a well-attested historical Indological fact that Buddha was a junior contemporary of Mahavira (the 24th Jain prophet erroneously called the founder of Jainism) during the sixth century BC. Moreover, no less a person than Indian Buddhist, Bhikshu Dharmanand Kosambi (father of the eminent scholar-historian-archaeologist, DD Kosambi) has written, on the basis of Buddhist scriptures, that Buddha was for some time a disciple of Mahavira in the initial stages of his search for an ascetic/renunciatory discipline. But finding the Jain renunciatory practice too severe, Buddha left to search for his own Middle Path.
Hermann Jacobi also believes that "Jainism goes back to a very early period and to primitive currents of religious and metaphysical speculation which gave rise to the oldest Indian philosophies. They (the Jains) seem to have worked out their system from the most primitive notions about matter."
In the Buddhist scripture, Majjima Nikaya, Buddha himself tells us about his ascetic life and its ordinances, which are in conformity with the Jain monk’s code of conduct. He says: “Thus far, Sariputta, did I go in my penance. I went without clothes. I licked my food from my hands. I took no food that was brought or meant especially for me. I accepted no invitation to a meal.” Buddhism scholar, CAF Rhys Davids has observed that Buddha found his two teachers, Alara and Uddaka, at Vaishali and started his religious life as a Jain….

Thank you for your post. So many people are confused and think that Buddhism and Jainism are off shoots of Hinduism. It is nice to see this cleared up. :slight_smile:

If by “Hinduism” you mean “post-Vedic Puranic Dharma”, then you would clearly be correct. But if one defines Hinduism as “Vaidik Dharma” to include both the Vedic and post-Vedic periods, then it would be a different story: the Buddha, of course, comes after the Vedic period; but the Jain Tirthankaras are mentioned in the Vedas themselves, so one could argue that the earliest Arihants of Jainism predate the Vedas.

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