What is Swadhyay?
Great Jain saint Amitagati once said that
one cannot get rid of inner darkness of
ignorance without the bright light of Swädhyäy.
Another great Jain saint Äsädhara
recommended to have Swädhyäy schools
where the monks are not available on a constant
basis. Swädhyäy is one of the
most important aspect for all the schools
of thought. In Jainism, it is considered
as one of the daily necessities (one of
six Ävashyakas). Swädhyäy
like Humility (Vinay), meditation, etc.
is one of the internal Tapas (austerities)
that purify our emotions and consciousness
(soul). Practicing Tapas is considered the
most important process for purification
of the consciousness (for shedding our Karmas).
Fasting, restrain in eating, control of
mind and senses, etc. are external Tapas
that purify our body, mind and senses. Therefore,
Swädhyäy is one of the most important
Tap for spiritual progress. Swädhyäy
is one of the least painful and the most
rewarding Tap. Swädhyäy is for
all human beings regardless of their level
of knowledge, spiritual progress, intelligence,
grasping power or memory power. It is incomparable
and indispensable. It yields immediate rewards.
One of the differences between human beings
and animals is that human beings have the
ability to do Swädhyäy and animals
Its simple meaning is to study.
Swädhyäy word consists of two
words; Sva and Adhyäya. Sva means self,
and soul is the self. Adhyäya means
study. Therefore, Swädhyäy means
self-study. Looking from the absolute point
of view, the fruit of engaging in self-studying
is self-realization. To obtain the benefits
of self-study, association with another
self-realized soul, or following of his
spiritual teachings, is necessary. Where
possible, guidance of Guru (learned saint)
should be obtained.
Pride, anger, ignorance, unhealthy
body and laziness are the five obstacles
in the acquirement of knowledge (Vidya).
Determination, making self-improvement
as a top priority, open mind, strong desire
to know (learn), strong desire to practice
after knowledge is acquired, finding time
and firm faith in Tirthankara’s teachings
can be considered essential elements to
start Swädhyäy. As nutritious
food is necessary to maintain a healthy
body, Swädhyäy and meditation
are necessary to keep our mind and emotions
Swädhyäy is traditionally
divided into five parts: (1) Vächanä:
Studying and explaining the sacred texts
and their meanings; (2) Pruchchhanä:
Asking questions to clarify doubts (3) Paravartana:
Repeating the texts and their meaning. (4)
Anupreksha: Contemplating on the meaning
of the sacred books; (5) Dharmakatha: Listening
and engaging in spiritual discussions, inquiries,
Every day, one should find some time to
carry out Swädhyäy or the study
of the scriptures or religious matter. We
must study, learn and reflect deeply upon
those books which help us to be virtuous
and elevate our life. If it is not possible
to do every day, one should try to do when
he/she finds the spare time.
The following are some important points
to be considered for undertaking Swädhyäy
when guidance of Guru is not available:
Fruits of Swadhyay:
- Guidance from learned person
- Setting up structure and frequency
- Selection of topics / books
- Set up objectives & rules
- Avoid simply reading books or “crammed”
speech. Speak in a simple and “explaining”
style. Avoid difficult words. Look at
everyone and make eye contacts.
- First, develop fundamental concepts
of Jainism. Do not go too deep in a subject
until everyone is ready
- Do not rush to finish a topic and do
not lengthen it unnecessarily. Have a
clear message (what, why & how).
- In the beginning, avoid Jain cosmology,
and the topics that have elements of miracles
and material rewards
- No criticism, open mind, active listening,
confidence. Have a harmonious and joyful
- Use modern techniques for discussion
(brain-storming, prioritizing, introducing
role of a facilitator, etc.), flip charts,
chalk or white board, and audio/video
- Make sure everyone is enjoying and no
one is getting bored or loosing concentration.
Every participant should have the feeling
of learning, involvement and contribution.
Encourage to read, write, think, memorize,
ponder and discuss.
- Include current issues and topics like
Jainism & ecology, comparative study
with other religions, Jainism & modern
- Include oral and written tests, essay
writings, material research and presentation
by every participant
- Minimize socialization, snacks, etc.
- Encourage practicing what is learnt
- Acquires proper knowledge to become
a true life-artist.
- Knows what is good (right) and what
is not good (wrong).
- Resolves doubts, removes blind faith
and eradicates false views
- Removes himself/herself from wasteful
- Is convinced that the best things are
not possible without the utmost efforts.
- Departs from wrong companies and gets
involved with right people.
- Does not praise or fear wrong people.
- Learns the importance of practicing
- Enhances concentration, intelligence
- Improves results of meditation
- Realizes that body and soul are different
- Develops inner vision
- Begins to Develop forbearance (forgiveness),
modesty (humility), straightforwardness
(candor), contentment, truthfulness, self-restraint
(control of senses and mind), etc.
- Commences the purification of conscious
mind and shedding of Karma.
Swädhyäy is one of the internal
tapas that purify our conscious mind by
shedding our Karmas. Swädhyäy
is for getting rid of false views, acquiring
right knowledge about what is right and
what is wrong, understanding the art of
living and getting inspiration to put it