A Peep into Jainism by Late Shri Khub Chand Jain

NUDITY

It is folly to imagine that by wrapping oneself in cloth one covered one’s indecency when the greater indecency of a bad character is still exposed.

(Teruvalluvar).

Nudity is the natural garb of man. Adam and Eve lived naked and were ashamed of it so long as they ate not the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Nudity is a primitive way of life of human race and a symbol of the highest pitch of renunciation and divinity of men. There is no gainsaying the fact that wearing of clothes goes with a higher state of arts and civilization, but it is attended with a lower standard of health morality and the travellers fully bear out the superior morality of the races that do not wear clothes.

Jain Nudity. In the Jain Community house-holders put on clothes and only those who aspire to sainthood are enjoined gradually to discard them retaining only the loin-cloth at a very late stage, but eventually giving up even this. Nuns certainly do not at any stage of sainthood remain naked they keep as few articles of dress as absolutely necessary.

Indecency. Nudity becomes indecent objectionable only when it assails virtue and modesty. An anecdote is related in a Hindu Purana of one stark naked Shukhdeva who passed by a pond where in certain damsels were taking bath but who took no notice of young man and remained engaged in fun and frolic. A little later when they saw this man’s aged father Vyasji coming that side immediately rushed out of water and resumed their apparels. The explanation offered is that though the younger men also passed by the same way, yet he had no eyes for their beauties while the extreme old age of the father did not prevent him from feasting his eyes on the charms and the fairly faces of the damsels. Nudity is indecency Yes, particularly so far as the females. But do you say when you see the images of men and women in all possible poses of actual inter-course at the so-called temple of Jagan-Nath Puri. You don’t find any such thing in any Jain temple.


In our own time Gandhi it once commended nakedness when in a letter addressed to the then Prime Minister of England Mr. Churchill, he considering it an in direct praise for himself to be called “a half naked faqir”, directly or indirectly, defended Jain nudity.

Natural wants of both sexes are attended to by parents—males and females. Female nurses attend on sick males and vice-versa. The vow chastity and celibacy of a Jain saint have in the past or even in the detoriating present never been heard of keeping their spouses with them in the Jungles or on the heights of hills or conveying marriage parties to the doors of brides and indulging in all sources of pleasures. Nay a Jain saint has no spouse at all. He goes about naked not because highly prized nirvana cannot possibly be attained without renunciation of all paraphernalia of the so-called Civilization, including the cloth, easuring a few inches by a few inches.

Nudity a virtue. Nudity in itself is not a thing of abhorance, rather it is a virtue much prized of in the past by religious men, who went about naked or half naked, Alexander the great took with him, when he returned after attacking India, a naked saint Kalyana, mentioned in Greek literature as Kalanavas. The Great philosopher Diogenes his contemporary, also lived naked, while the ancient Greeks made nude images.


The Greek scholars used the term Gymosophists to denote the naked saints of the Digambara sect of Jainism. The word was used by Magasthenese in the above sense. Jain nudity has however nothing in common with nudists’ moment prevails in the European countries. While in Europe nudism is practised for health of body, in Jainism the primary concern is health of spirit.

Nudity in the other religion. Among the Hindus naked saint-hood was widely recognised. The well-known Hindu saint Bharati Hari thus adores Jain nudity in the Vairag Shatak

( oSjkX; 'krd )--
if.k ik=ka ifo=ka Hkze.k ifjxra HkS{k Hk=k;~;eUua A
foLrh.kZ oÐ e'kk lqn'k deya rYie LoYieqohZ AA
;s"kkfu% lƒrkƒhdj.k ihj.kfr% LokRelUrksf"k.kLrs A
/U;k% lU;LrnaU;O;fr djfudkjk% deZfuefueZqy;fUr AA

Translation : They alone are praiswarthy among saints, they alone are to be adored; they alone have destroyed the roots of their karmas, who do not eat only what is affered when they go out for it, whose clothing consists of space, who have no associates or companions, who do not stoop to begging and who are content to seek joy in the innerself alone.

In the Bible we read:

And he stripped his clothes also and lay down naked all that night wherefore they said, “Is soul also among the prophets?” At the same time spake the Lord, “ Go and loose the sack cloth from off thy lions, and put off thy shoes from your feet, and he did so walking naked and bare foot.”

In the Jewish work known as ‘The Ascension of Isaih’ it is said,

‘Who behaves in ascesion into heaven withdrew and they settled on the mountain. They were all prophets and had nothing with them and were naked.’


Jallaudin Rumi, one of the greatest of the philosopher-saints of Islam says in his masnavi:

‘War nami keh kul uryan shavi
Jama kam kun ta rahi ausat ravi.’


If thou be not able to discard all clothes at least reduce their number and follow the middle course.

Sarmad, a notable muslim saint of India, who moved about naked, was once offered a robe by the then Emperor Aurangazeb,Sarmed replied:

Ankas ke tura kulah-sultan dad
Mara o hama asbab-i-prashanidad
Poshanid har kira kea be dad
Beahan ra libas-i-uryani dad


Translation: To you the diadem looks as a rare symbol of emperorship, while to me all this kingly paraphernalia is an embarrassment. God dressed the evil doer in robes, but granted nakedness to one, who is above evil.

False asceticism: a false ascetic who puts on the outward garb and rubs asehs without achieving spiritual purity is no less than an ass who puts on the skin of a tiger. Such a man is in fact a swadhu a pleasure saker, and the use of the revered Sadhu is a mis-nomer. The personal appearance of an asectic is irrelevant he may appear clear shaven or may have Jata. His appreance will not make him a true sanayasi ( lU;klh ) it is inner self that must be purified. True renunciation does not stop with mere mental detachment from external things-things living and non-living , which we are accustomed to call our own- they must actually be set aside as utterly irrelevant to our spiritual life. Not only this even the body of a yogi will be felt by him as an unnecessary encumbrance.

Official recognition: Nudity of saints had been officially recognised by the various Government orders.

The Nawab of Hyderabad had a general rule prohibited walking naked in a state. The Jain Sadhus were however allowed to move naked under his order dated 9th Ramzan 2357 Hizri Vide Sader Azam Nisham Majarya 163.

I have seen them walk naked through a large town, women and girls looking at them without any more emotions than may be created when a hermit passes through our streets. Females often bring them alms with devotion.

(Dr. Bener's travels in Mughal empire P.317)