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The eleven stages of the house holder
In the fifth scale of the spiritual development
(Source: - Tatwagyan Pathmala-Part-1)
Famous both in the
fields of poetry and spiritualism, Pandit Banarsidas was a great
poet and spiritual scholar of the seventeenth century.
He was born on
Sunday, the eleventh day of the second half of Magh month, in the
Shrimal dynasty at Laia Kharagsen's house. He was then named Vikramjeet.
When he was on a pilgrimage of Banaras. he was named Banarsidas, after
the birth place of Bhagwan Parshwanath. He was the only son of his
He saw many ups and
downs in his life. He had to face financial difficulties many a time and
his family life was also not very happy. He married thrice and had nine
children, seven sons and two daughters, but none remained alive. He did
not lose his patience even in such difficult circumstances, because he
used to be absorbed in spiritual thinking.
He was a born poet.
At the age of fourteen he began to compose verses of a high order, but
in his early life he wrote verses on love and sex. His first work 'Navras'
was ready when he was barely fourteen. This has poems of a corporeal
nature. It was an important work on corporeal subjects. However, the
poet threw it in the river Gomati, when spiritual wisdom dawned upon
After that all his
life was full of spiritualism. Four works written after that are
available e.g. Banarsi Vilas, Nam Mala, Ardha-Kathanak and Natak
Banarsi Vilas is a
collection of different writings and Nam Mala is a poetic
Ardha-Kathanak is the first autobiography of the Hindi language and is a fully
developed work of art. The fifty-five years of the life of the poet have
been described in it, as in a looking glass.
Natak Samaysar is, in a way, a poetic translation of the verses of Amritchandracharya.
However, due to the keen insight of the poet, the study of this book
gives delight as that of an independent work. This book is full of
This lesson has
been prepared on the basis of the chapter 'Fourteen Gunasthans' of the Natak
Samaysar. For detailed study one should read the original text.
The poet is unmatched
both in his poetic art and the pursuit of truth.
Stages of the Householder in the Fifth Scale of the Spiritual
Acharya Uma Swami has said that the combination of Right faith, Right knowledge and
Right conduct is the path of liberation. The man having Right faith has
developed correct belief and accordingly his knowledge has also become
correct. Since he has developed partial stability of the soul, the path
to liberation has begun, but this partial stability does not acquire the
name of conduct as such. On this account such a being is in the fourth
stage of development and is called Avirati householder.
householder of the fourth scale by dint of his effort develops endurance
of the soul and reaches the fifth scale of his pursuit. That endurance
is the partial conduct and one having that is the householder in the
fifth scale. Thus, the stability that grows and the failing degrees of
attachment are the real conduct of this scale. That stability has
automatic softness of passions and that is the conventional scale or
partial conduct of the fifth scale. The outward manifestation is in
accordance with the real conduct. In fact that is not even conventional
conduct, but it is called as such due to accompaniment of softness of
experience of the eternal sentient soul, the softness of passions alone
and the outward activities are not the stage of development. The
householder having the purity of the fifth scale alone can have these
With Right faith and
the matching stability of the fifth scale one has the partial conduct
and intrinsically that is the stage of spiritual growth, which is not
possible without self-experience.
Pandit Banarsidas has
described the nature of the householder of the fourth scale in his Natak
Samaysar. One who has developed faith in the correct nature of
the soul, whose faith grows with time and who has developed partial
detachment, is the householder of the fifth scale i.e. Avirati
development of the spiritual experience in the absence of the second
kind of passions i.e. Aprityakhyanavaran is the state of the
The householder of
the fourth scale has the spiritual experience of the bliss associated
with it, but the effort of being one with it has been weak. As such the
experience does not appear oft and on and stays only for a short while.
In this state he does not have leanings for the observance of the
conduct rules. However, the person in the fifth scale has by his strong
effort at stability in the absence of Aprityakhyanavaran passion,
got such experience again and again and with swiftness and it stays for
a longer period and detachment in the behaviour pattern increases. It is
due to this that his attachment towards this world, his body, and the
pleasures of senses decreases and he develops a natural indifference
towards these. He has also got a tendency to abjure demerits and observe
certain rules of conduct, by which a change in his external behavior is
have divided the state of this internal and external purity in the
different stages into eleven Pratimas, and have named the
internal state of purity as the wave of consciousness and the
accompanying merits and demerits as the karmawave.
The traveler on the
path to liberation tries to increase the stability of the soul.
Accordingly detachment increases and some attachment remains. The
external manifestations of such a state is called the conventional
conduct. He understands and measures the stability realising his
background and recognising the rise and decrease of passions. He is not
disturbed by the presence of the element of attachment and aversion, but
tries .his best to minimise and control them and thus develop the
desired stability: He knows that attachments and aversions are present
and that such a state is due to his own weakness. These are the
blemishes of his scale of development and he tries to remove them by his
It is possible for a
person to have softness of passions and consequent external activities,
without real faith, consciousness and stability; but it is not possible
for a man following the path of development to have acquired the
spiritual experience of that stage and yet to have such attachments and
aversions and outside activities as are not befitting in these stages.
This is the real and the conventional viewpoint of these stages.
Now we take up the
nature of these different stages
1. Darshan Pratima
Observance of the
eight fundamental rules and renunciation of the seven addictions, as a
matter of course, with internal purity and softness of passions are the
characteristics of this Pratima. The eight fundamental rules are
renunciation of wine, meat and honey and the five udambar fruit.
The seven addictions are gambling, meat eating, drinking, prostitution,
hunting, theft and indulgence in other women. These addictions have to
be shunned totally. Right faith without any blemish is the purity of the
attribute of faith. The purity of behaviour with the background of right
faith is real Darshan Pratima and the concurrent natural softness
of passions and external behaviour is conventional Darshan Pratima.
According to Acharya
Samant Bhadra five Anuvartas are also observed in Darshan
Pratima. Pandit Jaichandji Chhabra clarifies this as below :-
books hold that eight fundamentals are the observance of five Anuvartas
and abjuring wine, meat and honey. This does not mean any contradiction.
The difference is only relative. Abjuring wine, meat and honey and the
five udamber fruits means that the person holding this Pratima
does not eat those things, which have moving creatures and does not kill
or injure moving creatures for offerings to gods or for purposes of
medicine. This covers the Anuvarat of non-violence and renouncing
untruth, theft and indulgence in women cover seven addictions.
Abjurement of strong greed has been covered by limiting possessions.
Thus all the five Anuvarats are covered. Since the mistakes in
observance of these are not avoided, the person does not hold the title
of Anuvarat. However, considering his observances he is an Anuvarati,
as it is included in partial householder's conduct."
2. Vrat Pratima
The purity and
detachment of the first Pratima increase in intensity in the
second Pratima, where lower type of attachments are not found and
so the follower treats these as rules of life. The purity and behaviour
befitting the second Pratima is the real Pratima and the
twelve observances by way of softness of passions are conventional Pratima.
3. Samayak Pratima
By virtue of greater
steadiness in spiritual inclinations, the person of the third Pratima
holds equanimity of mind and body, leaning towards one's soul,
contemplates on the soul supreme thrice a day for forty eight minutes,
at least, each time, and treats friends and foes as equal, leaving
inauspicious reflections and retaining all the attention in the supreme
glory of the spirit. This householder having greater experience of the
bliss of the spirit, externally develops greater detachment.
Only sitting in
loneliness for forty-eight minutes and reciting certain verses does not
mean real contemplation, which, in fact, is the developed equilibrium
and sentience qualities.
When the state of
contemplation continues at least for twelve hours and may last for
twenty-four hours, the person is said to be observing the fourth Prashadhopvas
Pratima. The person in this stage is one with the soul for a greater
period than that of the previous one and consequently he observes fast
at least on every eighth and fourteenth day of the month abjuring all
sinful activities. His attachment towards world, body and pleasures has
become less and as such he resolves to fast abandoning food etc.
The fast on these
four days does not suffice for the growth of this stage and fast is not
abjuring food only. The real fast is abandoning passion, pleasures of
senses and food; the rest is starvation.
5. Sachitta Tyaga
Leanings towards the
soul in the fifth stage are stronger than in the fourth stage.
Attachments are decreasing gradually. He does need food to keep the body
and soul together, but abandons food that means injury or destruction of
living creatures, and takes boiled water. The intrinsic purity of the
fifth stage is the real Pratima, while the merit and softness of
passions associated with it and abandoning food entailing killing of
creatures is the conventional observance thereof.
Vegetables having the
capacity to grow again are included in Sachitta (having life).
6. Diva Maithun Tyaga
The purity necessary
for the development in this stage is the real sixth Pratima,
while external renunciation is the conventional one. In the second Pratima
the follower had resolved to be satisfied in his spouse only. Now the
attachment grows still less and he observes celibacy on all the days and
nights of the eighth and fourteenth days of the month and resolves not
to entertain such evil thoughts. Acharya Samant Bhadra has called this Pratima
as Ratribhukti Tyaga Pratima also. Even an ordinary
householder does not take his meals during the night, but the follower
in this stage stops taking all the four kinds of food himself, does not
ask others to do so, and does not give his assent for such indulgence.
His assimilation of
the soul having been increased, the holder of the seventh stage has
developed more detachment and he follows celibacy throughout day and
night with nine enforcements and does not allow his mind to run away
from the resolution. Such a householder is called a great
8. Arambha Tyaga
The natural purity of
this stage is the real Pratima, while indifference towards this
world, body, and the pleasures of senses that come, by way of lessening
of the fury of attachments and the abandoning of external indulgence in
householders' affairs, is the conventional following thereof. More
devoted to the pursuit of the soul, he abandons all trade and commerce
and other sinful occupations e.g. doing written work, fighting,
agriculture and trade of all kinds.
9. Parigraha Tyaga
The real growth of
this stage lies in the consequent purity of the soul, and the abandoning
of all the ten kinds of possessions, retaining a few necessary articles
only, is conventional Pratima. The holder of this Pratima
is full of detachments, satisfaction and equilibrium and other
10. Anurnati Tyaga
The purity of
demeanour has again developed to a very great extent in the tenth stage,
which is real following of the same, while withholding assent in the
matter of marriage, trade and other household entanglements of his own
family and friends is the conventional observance. This householder is
held in great esteem.
11. Uddishta Tyaga
This is the last
stage of the householder's development on the path of the spirit. Such a
householder is of two kinds e.g. Chullak and Etak, the
last one being the higher stage, after which the householder accepts
The spirit of
detachment here is greater than in previous stages and the state of
detachment comes off and on and lasts for a longer period. This internal
purity and behaviour are the real observance, while the external merit
and softness of passions are the conventional; following which induce
the follower to abandon food etc. prepared for his sake.
The follower here
develops greater indifference towards the world and the physical aspects
of life. The householder just like a monk, at this stage abjures food
prepared for his sake and does so with all his mind, body and speech and
does not encourage anyone else also to do so for his sake. He moves
freely leaving his home and family connections.
leaves all worldly possessions except a loin-cloth and water-can, while
the Chullak still having more attachment retains a piece of cloth
for covering his body partially, gets himself shaved by the barber and
keeps some sort of utensil for taking meals.
The monk experiences
the bliss of his soul at least within forty-eight minutes, which is the
emblem of his spiritual development and the observance of the
twenty-eight rules of conduct and the physical activities associated
with it are the conventional observance of the monkhood. Likewise the
householder of the fifth grade has concurrent detachment and spiritual
experience, though not so often as in the case of a monk and that is the
real following of the Pratima, while softness of passion as
prescribed in the spiritual texts for such a. holder is the conventional
fifth Pratima. Being associated with real growth of the soul,
these physical activities are also called conventional Pratimas.
Persons having the
external acceptance of the conditions of these Pratimas only,
will call for bondage due to wrong faith. Along with, the softness of
passion, that is there, he will invite merit bondage also, by which he
becomes entitled to heavenly lives but cannot end the worldly existence.
This development of
the eleven Pratimas is according to the rule of the retention of
purity of the first in the next stage. The purity in the higher stage
increases invariably without discarding that achieved in the previous
stage. Holders of the first to the sixth Pratimas are the lowest,
those in the seventh, eighth and the ninth stage are the medium stage,
while the holders of the tenth and the eleventh Pratimas are the
best holders of these.
By Dr. H. C. Bharill
Note:- The contents of this article are from the book TATWAGYAN PATHMALA- (Part-I)
Editor:-Dr. Hukamchand Bharil
" Truth is an experience not a substance"
" Every soul is capable of achieving Godhood."
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