Sep 27, 2022

Dealing with bugs or pest infestation in our homes

Q28. As Jains, how do we deal with bugs or pest infestation in our homes?

We are all faced with this kind of situation in our daily lives. When we encounter infestations like ants, cockroaches, flies, termites, mice, mosquitoes, etc. around us and roaming about in our houses, multiplying every day, infesting our food products, causing health issues, biting children and so on, then we find ourselves in a dilemma and it creates inner conflict within us.  

We do not wish to cause harm to any living being, yet we are faced with situations when our actions could cause harm to bugs and pests, and not taking any action is not an option. Additionally, inaction could end up resulting in bigger infestation and more violence.

Navigating such situations is not easy. But that's when understanding the essence of principle of Ahimsa, especially on how it applies to us as laypeople, and its practical application in real life scenarios becomes very critical. As laypeople, we know that our lives cannot survive without some form of violence, so our goal is to resort to minimum violence for healthy survival.

In this article, we will share some scriptural reference that provides perspectives on the importance Jainism places on non-violence towards all living beings, and we will also share some critical nuances that can help create awareness within us as we arrive at a decision to tackle the situation.

We have addressed many practical questions related on Ahimsa on our blog but for this question we are offering an approach for all of us to share our experience and learn from each other. We have a form towards the end of the article that invites you to share your approach so that others can learn from it and our hope is that this collective wisdom will be of service to our community.


Jain Scriptural Review

In Jainism, we find numerous scriptural references related for Ahimsa. The Acharanga Sutra talks about the conduct and behavior appropriate for ascetic life. The Yoga Sutra explains Ahimsa vow for laypeople, and we have talked about in many of previous Ahimsa articles. The Sutrakritanga Sutra deals with the question of non-violence and Jain metaphysics.

As we think deeply about these scriptures, it continuous to instils values in us to have utmost reverence for all living beings and live our life with that awareness. It is also important to understand that the information is not meant to paralyze us from carrying out our duties or not take appropriate action when faced with a situation that requires action.

Additionally, Tattvarth Sutra provides a very meaningful framework that can help us frame our mindset such that we can be better informed to take appropriate decisions. We will look at the some of the aspects from Tattvartha Sutra like our way of being (bhaav/reflections) and means employed to take an action in this article.

As we can see, there are no commandments or instructions, instead we must know the principles, understand it, and apply it in our current life situation using our wisdom.

Now, let’s talk about the nuances that we need to be mindful of as we try to figure out what to do


So, how do we deal with it?

When our home has been infested then we must act and take necessary steps to prevent such situation in future. When we carry out any action, we need to mindful of the means employed and our inner way of being (bhaav).

What we mean by our inner way of being is introspecting our intention and feeling (bhaav) associated with our action. When we carry out an action with negative energy, intense passion, or feeling of anger, frustration, or revenge then it leads to more Kashayas within us and results in more suffering.

When we are faced with a situation where we are required to take an action then we must do our due diligence and employ the means that causes minimum violence. This requires patience, understanding and willingness to do research.

As you navigate on what action to take, we would like to offer few thoughts for consideration:

Immediate Actions / Reactive

When confronted with a situation where we face presence of ants, mosquitoes, bugs, rats, etc. then consider following aspects as you decide:

-        Try to find alternate non-violent forms of treatment or natural options to remove the infestation

-        If that doesn’t work, then look for options that are least harmful. For example, when considering which chemical to spray do some research on which chemical has least negative implication.

-        Also, consider effect of the option on the ecosystem as a whole. The ecosystem is a fine balance between various life forms, interconnected with each other. Toxic chemicals disturb this balance, by either significantly reducing population of particular species in the chain, or more often causing harm to several species in the chain.


After the situation has been addressed, we want to take time and reflect on what caused this problem. Understand that it could be our ignorance or carelessness that led to this of kind of problem. It could be anything from not maintaining cleanliness, leakage, lose pipes, or leaving food outside.


Once the immediate need has been addressed and we have taken some retrospective time, we must focus on how to proactively prevent such situations in future.

-        We need to determine what actions we need to take to stop the infestation at the source, for example, we must seal the entry points. And as we do that it can help us prevent same or similar situations in future.

-        Additionally, we should also focus on creating awareness about non-violent methods in our community like teach such non-violent methods in our Pathshalas and donate toward collating and distributing research in this area. A part of jeevdaya funds collected in temples can be used for this activity.


Collective Emergence

We have collected some resources below with practical solutions that we feel are well aligned to Jain values that we have shared in the reference below. However, many of us have faced this kind of situations and employed various alternative non-violent solutions. We would like to invite you share your experiences in service to others using this form. You can share the situation you faced, actions that worked for you, proactive/preventive steps that you suggest, region you belong to, and any other recommendations. 

You can click here to view the collective wisdom from community.


The literature review points us to understand, that Bhagwan Mahavir said that all species feel pain, and causing unnecessary pain to any life-form should be avoided. While this may be an ideal state, as travellers on the journey bound by certain attachments, we have to accept that day-to-day life is impossible without some form of violence. Confronting ants, mosquitoes, bugs, insects, etc. in our households is one such situation. Instead of being casual about it and adopting violent means immediately, we should seek information and prefer non-violent alternatives, use violent means as a last resort and to the minimum extent possible, while continuing to educate ourselves on alternatives.

As early animal rights activist, Henry Salt, said: 'We would much rather be inconsistently humane than consistently cruel.'



Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring

John Waddel’s book “But You Kill Ants

Purvi Shah’s video with tips for “Detoxing Your Home in an Eco-Friendly Way

Aug 16, 2022

Understanding and Applying Aparigraha Principle/Vow in our Daily Life

Q27. It appears that, we have missed the mark on understanding and applying the Aparigraha principle in our life choices. Aparigraha is one of the main principles of Jainism and Parigraha Parimana (or Limiting Parigrah) is the vow for laypeople and yet most of us wallow in many forms of material possessions. And to make it worse, more material possessions are equated to the results of good karmas. Why and how can we address it?

This is a deep and insightful question. It is very observant of our youth to notice disparity when it comes to applying the principle of Aparigraha and question it. To a certain extent, the disparity comes from the mental conditioning in our current society such as, the bigger the better, the more you have - the worthier you are. Our modern society easily allures us into the mindset of accumulation and consumption.

And this situation existed during Mahavir time.  Anand Shravak was the first Jain Shravak (under the 4-fold Jain Sangh established by Mahavir) to take Twelve Vow of Laypeople from Mahavir Swami and he was the richest person of the time.  After becoming first Jain Shravak, he limited his possessions and did not expand his business.  Ref- Ang Agam 7 – Upashak Dashang Agam.

Aparigraha is one of the most misunderstood or misinterpreted principles. Our intent of addressing this question is to help deepen the understanding of this principle so that we can use it in our daily lives with proper clarity, wisdom, and confidence.

Now, at the most fundamental level, Aparigraha, teaches us to not consume or accumulate more than what we need to lead a simple and peaceful life. When we accumulate more than our needs then it means that others won’t get it and Jainism considers that as a form of stealing.

Origin of the term

In addition to spiritual aspects, Aparigraha is an ancient Indian economic theory. It has been discussed in both Vedic tradition as well as Sramana tradition.

In Jainism it is one of the five great vows - Non-Violence (Ahimsa), Truth (Satya), Non-Stealing (Asteya), Celibacy (Brahmacharya) and Non-possession  (Aparigraha). These five vows are co-existent and inter-dependent. Theoretically all 5 have equal values. But in practice non-violence is well-known. The slogan - "Ahimsa Parmo Dharma" has been coming from ancient times. It has occupied an important place in Indian thinking. However, Ahimsa cannot be maintained without AparigrahaBefore we talk about Aparigraha, it would be helpful to understand Parigraha and its nuances or implication.

Wait, Know about me first – “Parigraha”

Today, science and technology have done a great service to the mankind by providing amenities of pleasant living. Scientific discoveries have enabled human master the nature. This scientific achievements and mastery over the nature have turned humans into a selfish being open to temptations. Selfishness and temptations have eroded our spiritual, moral and services values.

The limitless desire for power and wealth have caused us to lose the sense of respect for others. This attitude, in turn has created a gulf between haves and have nots, and this has resulted in the loss of mutual faith and sense of brotherhood. This desire to accumulate more power and wealth is called “unlimited or limitless Parigraha”. 

Lord Mahavira regards parigraha as the cause of our bondage to the world.

All desire pollutes our souls; and compelled by our desires, we indulge in several activities which results in kashayas and suffering for us. The desire to acquire and possess several worldly things like land, houses, gold, silver, and cash is natural to all humans. However, this desire should not become insensible.

This truth is stated in Mahabharata too: so far as fulfilment of one’s organic need is concerned everyone has the right to use the gifts of nature; but one who tries to take possession of them and deprives others from them, is a thief.

Jainism is not alone in its belief that the root cause of suffering is attachment towards worldly objects and lust for their enjoyment. All spiritual traditions are agreed on this.

Parigraha is also an obsessive mental attachment to possession.

When attachment to objects of possession becomes uncontrollable or unreasonable, the mind becomes affected by passions of greed and delusion. Such minds then become ignorant to Right faith, Right knowledge, and Right conduct. Obsession or attachment of any kind becomes a source of unhappiness and evil.

Parigraha or attachment to a possession of any object is either external or internal (source). Possession of external things is not possible without internal attachment. Hence, both the internal attachment and the possession of external objects come within the fold of Parigraha.

External Parigraha 

·       External Parigraha further is of two kinds: Living and non-living. Such as Land, house, gold, silver, wealth, grains, servants and maids, domestic animals and vehicles, clothes, and furniture.

·       They are relevant in emphasizing how the purity of the soul becomes affected in various ways in acquisition, possession, enjoyment, and protection of property consisting of both living and non-living objects. 

·       Attachment, which is the source of Parigraha, is of various kinds and intensity.

Internal Parigraha 

·       Internal Parigraha are subdivided into 14 as listed below:

1.      Mithyätva - False Belief

2.      Krodha - Anger

3.      Mäna - Ego

4.      Mäyä - Deceit

5.      Lobha - Greed

6.      Häsya - Laughter for joke or out of contempt (feeling of dislike for and superiority over others)

7.      Rati - Pleasurable indulgence

8.      Arati – Dejection (a sad and depressed state; low spirits)

9.      Bhaya – Fear

10.   Shoka – Sorrow

11.   Jugupsä – Disgust (Hatred or Aversion)

12.   Purusha-ved - Urge to have sensual pleasure with a female

13.   Stree-ved - Urge to have sensual pleasure with a male

14.   Napunsak-ved - Urge to have sensual pleasure with both, male & female


Other mental states referred to as internal attachments are attributable to acquisition and protection of various kinds of objects. While greed, deceit and ego are involved in the uncontrollable desire for accumulation; fear, anger or sorrow are aroused when one has to part with the objects.

Now let’s decode Aparigraha

In Jainism and Patanjali-yoga system the principle of non-possession (Aparigraha) is accepted as fifth vow, but if viewed closely it is the first basic principle. Jain thinkers are of the view that if this very principle is violated all other vows automatically becomes violated because at the root of violence and theft there is lust for power and possession.

According to Uttaradhyayana Sutra the root of all physical and mental sufferings is the desire for worldly enjoyment, therefore only detachment from the worldly enjoyment can put an end to one’s suffering.

·      Materialism does not have an effective means to quench the thirst for  possession of worldly objects.

·      However, the concept of Parigrah Parimana (minimum possession for healthy survival) does not forbid an individual to fulfill his basic needs such as shelter, hunger, thirst, etc.

·      The fundamental message of this principle is to eradicate the desire for power, possessions, and lust for sensuous enjoyments.

·      When we dive in details, we find that the most intense Vaasanaa or desire is called Granthi; which is a deep attachment towards worldly objects and a desire for their enjoyment.

·      The classical term for Jainism is Nigganthadhamma. The term niggantha means one who has unknotted his Hrdaya–granthi, or one who has eradicated his attachments and passions.

·      The term Jina (tirthankar) also conveys the same meaning. A true Jina is one who has  eradicated or removed his passion.

Lord Mahavira teachings about Aparigraha

Jainism as per Lord Mahavira can be summarized in just one word – Ahimsa. And the first step to reach that state is Aparigraha. Non-violence cannot be understood without knowing non-Hoarding or detachment. Hoarding is the cause of violence. Desire, violence, and hoarding are linked, and they support one another, they run together. Lord did not insist on control over the quantities of useful commodities nor to earn less money, but he emphasized on control over desires. Because hoarding and violence run in the same circle.

There are 5 main sins, Violence, Lies, Stealing, Lust and Greed. Defining further, we find that, Greed (wants / hoarding) is the main cause of the remaining 4 sins. (Source). Maybe this is the reason Aparigraha appears multiple times in the path shown by Lord Mahavir.

संग णिमित्तं मारइभणई अलीकंकरेन चोरिक्कं

सेवइ मेहुण-मिच्छंअपरिमाणो कुणदि पावं

समणसुत्तं 140

As per this gatha, Humans do violence out of attachments. Tells lies and steals for hoarding and wants.

Few quotes from Lord Mahavira Scriptures:

In another form they are also similarly described in 12 bhavna’s (contemplations).

·       Wealth cannot give happiness and peace to humans. One who amassed wealth with a view to achieving peace in life makes a terrible mistake. In fact, the more he gains wealth, the more he is bound.

·        All the objects of the world are transitory, and they cannot give real happiness and that one will leave this world without being accompanied by his friends and family or any relatives let alone to think about wealth.

·       Human’s desires are infinite, and so infinite that they can never be quenched even if the whole world’s wealth including all of gold and silver are placed at his disposal.

·       A person who hoards even the slightest amount of an animate or inanimate thing or gives consent to someone for hoarding, will not escape from misery. Source.

·       One who is completely free from all possessiveness, is calm and serene in his mind and attains bliss of emancipation which even an emperor cannot obtain. Source

·       While defining Aparigraha – we need to analyze its 2 aspects. Bhav Paksh and Dravya Paksh.

§  The desire to hoard and possess constitutes what is called the Bhav paksh (motive) of parigraha

§  And the actual possession of things constitutes what is called the Dravya paksh (possessing).

§  Of these 2 material aspects, the first one is the real parigraha.

As we can see different forms of Parigraha can lead to suffering within us and in others around us. Aparigraha is the way for self-realization. Our five senses along with anger, conceit, delusion, and desire are difficult to eliminate, but when the self is realized, all these are completely eliminated.

So, now let's talk about how we can apply this principle in our day-to-day life.

So, how to live by this principle

In the real world, actions are equally important, it plays out and forms the base of ethics. Ethics, for the most part, has a social dimension. Our actions have their consequences in the community we live in. Therefore, only our intentions are not enough. It is our actions which will reflect our intention and character and will be the unfailing and sure yardstick of the purity of our intention.

The way to live by the five principles (Ahimsa, Aparigraha, Satya, Achaurya and Brahamcharya) are explained in two different ways in Jain conduct (achar):

1.    Mahavrats (big vows) – guiding principles for Sadhujis and Sadhvijis (Monks and Nuns)

With regards to Aparigraha vow, Jain ascetics are completely non-possessive irrelevant of size, amount or value. The required food and shelter for ascetic’s survival are provided by local Jain community of Shravak and Shravika.

The monks and nuns follow this vow strictly. Whoever frees himself from the instinct of possessiveness, can renounce his possession. A monk who has nothing of his own, only he, has really seen the path of liberation. Source

2.    Anuvrats (mini vows) – guiding principles for Shravaks and Shravikas (Jain laypeople)

The Aparigraha vow for Jain lay people is “Parigraha Parimana Vrat” meaning they can have limited possessions for their healthy survival, for the survival of monks and nuns, for survival of Jain Dharma.

For the householder, an absolute renunciation of Parigraha is not possible. However, one should voluntarily decide upon the extent of property and wealth that one wants to acquire and refrain from all activities of acquisition after the target is reached.

Any additional possession beyond these survivals, are considered a form of stealing and should not be accumulated by them.  If for some reason they have accumulated more possessions then they should be donated anonymously for the betterment or other human beings, animals, and environment and other like causes.

In Samman Suttam it is mentioned that “The renunciation of attachment is useful for controlling the sense-organs“. Certainly, the control of sense-organs is the same thing as freedom from all possession. Source


There are many nuances that we need to understand when it comes to Aparigraha. We need to understand the nature and the impact of our internal and external possessions and possessive mindset

As absolute renunciation of parigraha is not possible for us laypeople, our spiritual work is to recognize our mindset regarding material possessions, cultural programming, and then breaking out of those barriers such that any form of parigraha doesn’t cause suffering and kashayas within us and in others around us.

Additionally, understanding and practicing Aparigraha lays the foundation for us to practice all the other Jain principles and for our spiritual growth. The mindset of not attaching our sense of self, our worth, our happiness to material possessions or achievements, can free us from comparison, competition and various other kashayas that leads to emotional, mental and physical suffering.

Aparigraha teaches us to not consume or accumulate more than our needs and only get what we need to live right. Our greed and excessive possessions of material is also directly and indirectly exploiting our environment. We can use material possessions but with the awareness of its transient nature and its impact on other living beings and environment. We want to be mindful of our choices and the climate crisis article also talks about ways of practicing Aparigraha to live an environmental friendly life. We need to think about how much do we need? And how much is enough?

Additionally, Patanjali scholar, Dada Sadananda has explained Aparigraha in very good way. Consider watching it:

Now, it is up to us to set our anuvratas / limitation. We all at some levels are aware of our basic needs and the wants / desires that is leading to Kashaya. We should be able to judge our needs from wants. At the end, we are the judge and jury of inner state and have the power to control and direct our life in a way that makes us content and happy, leading onto the path of spiritual progress.

References - Books & Articles with srl no. on

Srl No.


Book Title




Kaisi ho Ekkisvi Sadi

Mahapragna Acharya



Aparigraha the Humane Solution

Kamla Jain



Aprigraha its relevance in Modern Times

Angraj Chaudhary



Adhyatma ke Pariparshwa me





Vina Jain



Aparigraha Ek Anuchintan




Prashnottar Aparigraha




Mahavir ka Aparigraha Ek Darshanik Vivechan

Shrichand Jain



Bhagwan Mahavir ka Aparigraha Siddhant aur Uski Upadeyta

Sagarmal Jain



Aparigraha Anasakti Yog




Aparigraha ki Adhunik Sandarbh Me Prasangikta

Dayanand Bhargav



Saman Suttam

Jinendra Varni

Oct 18, 2021

Disposal of religious books, literature, photos

Q26. What are appropriate methods for disposing religious books, literature, photos of tirthankaras or temples? The method explained in ancient literature to dispose damage our environment and in fact the methods are illegal in USA, Europe, and even in India.  Yet, in general the Jain community continues to use these methods. What can we do in our current environment?


This is a situation that almost every single Jain household encounter in their lifetime. We all have Jain books, literature, murtis, photos, and other religious items. And the question inevitably comes up what can we do about it when they are no longer used?


To address this question, we will first talk about the old methods described in ancient literature and their impact in the current times. 



Old Methods for Disposing

In old times, there were three main methods used for disposing religious manuscript books and other items:

1.     Dry well - dispose the religious literature, photos, and other items in a well that is already dry meaning there is no water in it

2.     Landfill – dig a hole in a dry land, put the items in the hole and cover it up

3.     Water - dispose in flowing water like river or dispose them in sea

These methods might have been suitable in the past, because in the old times no chemicals were used in the production of paper nor ink was used to write manuscripts, religious books, paintings, and scriptures. The number of such items in circulations were also very limited since they had to be hand made one by one.

But in the current environment, when we use any of these methods then we are either polluting the ground or sea water because of the ink and papers use significant amount of chemicals. And polluting the ground or sea water means that we are harming living beings on land and in water. And, such actions directly and indirectly contribute towards climate crisis.

Please refer to the following blog articles to further understand the climate crisis, how various human activities is causing it, why we should care about it and what actions can we take to limit the adverse effects of climate change.

·        Q.19 What is Climate Crisis? And What Causes it?

·        Q.20 Why should we care about the Climate / Environmental Issues?

·        Q. 21 What can we do about Climate Crisis?

Additionally, these methods are illegal to use in USA, Canada, UK, and India. And as a religious person, we must follow the law of the land.

Before we talk what can we do in today’s environment, let’s take some time to think about our perspectives and beliefs.



Investigating our perspectives and belief systems

There are many practices in place today that are rooted from generations of history, and they are performed with the mindset that “this is how it’s always been done” or “it is written in scripture, and we can’t change this because of paap karma (aashatna)”.

And we continue to carry those practices out of ignorance, lack of desire to gain right information, blind following, wrong belief systems, fear of challenging status quo, or lack of knowledge about direct and indirect implications of the actions, and/or the laws of the land.

Whenever we are crossroads with our old ways of doing things in current environment, we need to do some research, deep thinking, and inner work to truly understand what we are doing, why and at what cost. We can’t continue doing things out of ignorance.

Our intent is to create awareness and provide options for those do not wish to continue with practices that are not aligned with our Jain values and principles. It will cause a little discomfort as we are stepping out of our comfort zone and traditional ways.



What should we do in the current times?

To determine our approach in current times, we can think in terms of four R’s, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, the basic tenets of sustainability.


As we talk about four R’s in this context, we want to encourage everyone to keep an open mind and re-think the traditional ways of doing things.




We want to talk about refuse first because it can help stop this problem in the inception phase. This approach reminds us to refuse anything we don’t really need, whether we are buying it, or it is being offered to us. Mindful approach to not impulsively buy or refuse any religious items that are not essential to us, can reduce the production of those items. A simple “No, thank you” can help nip this problem in the bud.

If you think, what harm am I really causing by just accepting one more religious item? Then we need to think deeply and think broadly. By accepting it, we are promoting the culture, supporting the cycle of production at large because it is all about demand and supply, and we are being part of problem.

We understand when someone approaches you at a Jain event and hands you a “Prabhavna”, consisting of an item that you know you have no use for, refusing is not always easy.  In our culture, it is considered paap or aashatna to refuse prabhavna and it is common for gift givers to be insistent that you accept their gift and not accept no for an answer. And of course, none of us wish to appear rude.  At the same time, you don't want the item to be wasted, and you know that if you take it, it will sit on your shelf unused and collecting dust for years to come.  So here are some ideas of things you can say.

·       If it's an item you have, "That's very thoughtful of you, but I already have a katasanu that is quite good and will last me for many years to come."  They may respond by suggesting that you give it to someone else, in which case you can say, "I really don't have anyone else to give it to.  Everyone in my family already has one."

·       If it's a book in a language that you are not as fluent in, "I'm sorry but I can't accept this because I don't read Hindi well enough, and I would hate for this to sit on my shelf unused.  I would rather it go to someone who can make use of it."

·       If someone gives you an idol, you can say, "Thank you, this is very nice.  But I am trying to keep a minimalist look in my home derasar to represent aparigraha and I already have an idol of Mahavir (or whomever)."

·       Another idea would be to take a badha (vow) to not accept any gifts that you know you can't use.  Since badhas are taken quite seriously in our culture, you can then say, "I'm sorry, but I will not be able to use this, and I have a badha to not accepts gifts that I cannot use."  Bear in mind, if you take such a badha, you will need to practice this in all situations where you may receive gifts, not just religious gifts, but that is probably a good idea anyway.

If it is not truly essential, then we can respectfully say no. Also, if we are the ones giving prabhavna then we don't want to be insistent of other person taking it if they have no use for it. Think about the possibilities if enough of us start making this choice. We can create a new culture and become part of the solution.




Next, we would like to focus on Reduce.  This is probably the most fundamental tenet of sustainability, as the more we reduce our production and consumption of material goods in the first place, the less we need to find ways to reuse or recycle them. 

So how does this apply to our Jain books, murtis, photos, and other items?  When we purchase these items ourselves, we believe that in general we tend to be conscientious about it and only purchase what we will realistically use.  However, quite often, we receive these items as gifts or “prabhavana”. 

There are a variety of occasions in which people give such prabhavana.  Sometimes it is given to tapasvis for having done atthais or other tapascharayas.  Other times it is given to the whole community, particularly during special events such as Paryushan, Mahavir Jayanti, or a temple pratistha.  Quite often, multiple members of one household will end up receiving separate prabhavana, as it can be hard to keep track otherwise, and so then there is even more duplication.  While the people who order and give out such items do so as a nice gesture to the community, people often end up with more items than they can use.  These items then end up stored away in a closet and forgotten.

Here is a list of religious items that are often given as prabhavana that can often end up unused:

1.     Murtis and photos of idols – While most Jains probably have an altar in their homes where they keep these, there is a limit as to how many they have room for or how many they want to keep.  And when people receive additional murtis or photos year after year, sometimes more than one per household, it becomes excessive.

2.     Pratikraman items, such as katasanu, muhapatti, charavalo – Just about everyone who does pratikraman already has these items.  These items don’t tend to wear out readily, so for most of us, one set can last pretty much a lifetime.

3.     Incense holders and divo holders – While incense gets used up, the holders last a long time.  Furthermore, most people who burn incense or light divos, already have holders that they use.

4.     Books – The gift of knowledge can be wonderful.  But so many of these books go unread.  When a person purchases a book of their own choosing that they are interested in reading, chances are that they will read it.  But when books are given out in-mass to a whole community, the number of people who are actually interested in reading the book is quite limited.  Not only because the subject matter may not be of everyone’s interest, but also because the language may not be suitable for many.  While most of us who live outside of India speak English in addition to either Gujarati or Hindi, not everyone has enough command over all three languages to be able to adequately read and fully understand material that is in a particular language.

So, then there is the question of what to give.  Before addressing this, we first need to think about why give prabhavana in the first place.  Is it really necessary?  Is there some level of ego involved?  Can we not just give our good wishes and leave it at that?  These may be points to think about. As we give out Prabhavna, we need to understand that we are becoming part (nimitt) of initiating the life cycle of these religious items and how they get disposed.

To move on here, let’s say we have determined that we still want to give some sort of prabhavana to our fellow community members.  So, then what are some items we can give that does not produce unnecessary waste or at least minimizes such waste?  Here are some ideas:

1.     Food items such as dry fruits – You can give as much or as little per person as per your budget, and none will get wasted.

2.     Dollars or coins – This is another option where you can give as much or as little as per your budget, and of course, none will get wasted.  If giving standard dollar bills seems too ordinary, you could give special edition coins.

3.     Incense without stand – This is an item that easily gets used up.  And if someone does not make use of incense, it is typically easy for them to find someone else to pass it on to, Jain or otherwise.

4.     Digital gifts, such as a subscription to a digital media or an app such as a meditation app – Although not everyone will use this, there is no physical waste.

Another point to consider is instead of giving prabhavana to the whole community, just give something useful to the children.



Reuse & Recycle

As we shared earlier, our first focus should always be on,

1.     Refuse (respectfully) to accept any non-essential or non-required religious artifacts, objects.

2.     Reduce the need for excess production / consumption of physical religious artifacts, objects.

In this section, we want to discuss various ideas/ ways we can implement to optimally reuse religious artifacts/objects within our community space.


Create a Reuse Library section in your local religious centers, for all gently used religious books, manuscripts, and other literature artifacts. Local Jain community can contribute to this Reuse Library by:

·       donating their used religious books and other literature artifacts

·       borrowing / buying gently used religious literature artifacts from the Reuse Library instead of buying a new one

·       providing volunteering service to manage such activities for their Jain center

Real Life Example: Jain Study Center of Raleigh, North Carolina have created this Reuse Library for their local center for over 12 years now. During every major religious ceremony, event and/or gathering, they set up a stall for used books exchange for anyone interested to bring their unwanted books or to take them free of cost. This practice has been very effective in Raleigh. We highly recommend all the centers to set up a similar practice to efficiently reuse and eventually recycle books. 

Consider reusing other religious objects, such as, Katasanu, Navkarvali, Sapdo for Guru Sthapan, Tirthankar murti, wall frames etc., within family and friends. Be open to share any excess religious objects you have within your household and equally be open to accept such new or gently used religious objects from your family and friends, before deciding to buy a new one.

Optimal Reuse will help Reduce the need for unnecessary production and potential wastage of religious artifacts.

Recycle and Proper Disposal of Religious Objects

Once any religious object comes to its end of life and cannot be further reused, it should be recycled and/or disposed of in an environment friendly way. This subject has been discussed with Jain Acharyas and several other Jain monks as well. Many agree with the right choice of environment friendly ways to recycle and/or dispose of religious artifacts / objects.


Real Life Examples: 

·       Shri Mahavir Jain Aradhana Kendra Koba near Ahmedabad has one of the largest Jain literature libraries and throughout the year they receive significant number of books and manuscripts from all over India. They continually re-inspect their literature for termite and other insects. Any literature that are infected with termite is recycled under the guidance of Acharya Shri Ajaysagarsuri ji, who is very knowledgeable in this area.

·      The Hutheesing Jain Temple and Library in Ahmedabad, Gujarat contains large numbers of books and manuscripts. Several times a year they check all their books and manuscripts for termite and other similar problems. Any problems observed, they recycle them under the guidance of Acharya Shri Sheelchandrasuri ji, who is one of the Jain Agam and literature authority acharya of Jain Shwetambar Sangh. 

·       At the Jaina Education Committee of North America, we constantly receive inquiries from our patrons about proper disposal of their excess Jain literature artifacts, which they no longer need. To provide a proper Reuse, Recycle and Disposal Avenue, Jain Education Committee launched a pilot program, “Jain Books Resuse and Recycle Project”. Under this pilot project, we have received more than 20,000 books. We have started cataloging these books and we will keep you informed of our progress.

Under this program, team collected any surplus gently used or new Jain books, literatures, magazines etc. from all over USA and gathered in one central location. These collected literature is now being cataloged and the list will be published on in coming months. This list will make all collected books/literature accessible at no cost (except shipping charges) to all organizations (Jain centers, Universities) and/or individuals. Finally, any remaining books, CDs, DVDs, will be shipped to India and will be offered there in universities, libraries, pathshalas, swadhyay groups etc. Information from “Jain Books Recycle” pilot program and any future activities will be communicated by the Jaina Education Committee and on the jainelibrary website.


Remember, proper Recycle and Disposal aligns with our Jain core values of not promoting parigraha of anything that is not required and not creating any harm to environment and earthly living beings by improper disposal of religious objects.




Jain Agam Das-vaikalik sutra states the following:

“Padhamum Jnanm Tao Daya.“

First knowledge (Jnan) / understanding and then achar or conduct or action. This one line provides the essence of Jainism and how our Tirthankars envisioned us to conduct.


With the knowledge and awareness, we need to use our wisdom to determine the best approach for disposing religious books, literature, photos etc. We must examine and shed our belief systems or practices that are not aligned with our values. Disposing religious material in old ways certainly has an impact on the environment and it is against the law.  Also, we can’t just pass the problem onto the next person by leaving books behind at a derasar or our local Jain centers.


As we can see there are several options available for us to fix the current situation. However, along with addressing the current situation, we also need change the way we think and act to avoid same problem in the future. For example, respectfully refuse things that we don’t need or want, and rethink our mindset about gifting religious items. We need to take responsibility and accountability of the complete lifecycle of our actions.

Hence in short, the appropriate methods for disposing religious books, literature, photos of tirthankaras or temples are Reuse and Recycle them.