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Saturday, September 19, 2020

Pancha Mantra of Jainism


In Silappadikaram, a Tamizh Classic, there is description of a Jain monk who accompanies the main characters (Kovalan and Kannagi) to the city of Madurai. He is said to have minimum possessions to take with him, namely a begging bowl, a peacock feather and one other item called aiyagai (ஐயகை). I looked up the last item and the great scholar who resurrected this classic, Sri Swaminatha Iyer says that the word aiyagai refers to the Pancha mantra of the Jains. In Tamizh, they are: அ,ஸி,ஆ,உ,ஸா. So I looked up the Pancha mantra and it is referred to in the Jain literature as The Namokar Mantra.

Here it is, the Namokar Mantra from JAINA, the website for the Federation of Jain Associations in North America. (

 Namo Arihantanam - I bow in reverence to Arihants

Namo Siddhanam - I bow in reverence to Siddhas

Namo Ayariyanam - I bow in reverence to Acharyas

Namo Uvajjhayanam - I bow in reverence to Upadhyayas

Namo Loye Savva Sahunam - I bow in reverence to all Sadhus 

Eso Panch Namoyaro - This five-fold salutation

Savva Pavappanasano - Destroys all sins

Mangalanam Cha Savvesim - And amongst all auspicious things 

This part is followed by a section on definitions of Arhat, Siddha, Acharya, Upadhyaya and Sadhu according to Jainism. At the end, there is a description of the five major vows of a sadhu or sadhvi, as follows:

“When householders become detached from the worldly aspects of life and get the desire for spiritual uplift (and not worldly uplift), they give up their worldly lives and become sadhus (monk) or sadhvis (nun). A male person is called sadhu, and a female person is called sadhvi. At the time of Deeksha, the sadhu or sadhvi voluntarily accepts to obey following five major vows for the rest of his/her life:

 1. Commitment of Total Ahimsa (non-violence)-not to commit any type of violence.

 2. Commitment of Total Satya (truth)-not to indulge in any type of lie or falsehood.

 3. Commitment of Total Asteya (non-stealing)-not to take anything unless it is given.

 4. Commitment of Total Brahmacharya (celibacy)-not to indulge in any sensual activities

 5. Commitment of Total Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)-not to acquire more than what is needed to maintain day to day life.”


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