Sāmāyika is the vow of periodic concentration observed by the Jains. It is one of the essential duties prescribed for both the Śrāvaka (householders) and ascetics. The preposition sam means one state of being. To become one is samaya. That, which has oneness as its object, is sāmāyikam. Sāmāyika is aimed at developing equanimity and to refrain from injury.
According to the Jain text, Purushartha Siddhyupaya:
After renouncing all attachments and aversions, and adopting a sense of equanimity in all objects, one should practise, many times, periodic concentration (sāmāyika), the principal means to realize the true nature of the Self.— Puruşārthasiddhyupāya (95)
Sāmāyika is also one of the five kinds of conduct (cāritra) other kinds being reinitiation, purity of non-injury, slight passion and perfect conduct. It is of two kinds — with and without time limit.
The sāmāyika is performed for an antara-muhurta (about 48 minutes) every day. Champat Rai Jain in his book The Key of Knowledge writes:
Sāmāyika aims at the attainment of divinity through perfection in conduct, which, consisting, as it does, in the purest and most complete form of renunciation, is the sole and the immediate cause of salvation, that is of wholeness and freedom from the pain and misery of saṃsāra (births and deaths). The layman who has just entered the path observes the sāmāyika meditation but once daily in the morning, for he is not able to tear himself away from business and pleasure at that early stage in his spiritual career to be able to perform it more often; but as he progresses onwards, he takes to its observance three times – morning, noon and evening – every day, gradually extending its duration also from one antaramuhurta to three times as much at each sitting. The ascetic who has successfully passed through the preliminary stages of renunciation, as a householder, is expected to be an embodiment of desirelessness itself, so that his whole life is, as it were, a continuous sāmāyika from one end to the other.
In performing sāmāyika, the śrāvaka has to stand facing north or east and bow to the Pañca-Parameṣṭhi. He then sit down and recites the Namokara mantra a certain number of times, and finally devotes himself to holy meditation. This consists in:
- pratikramana, recounting the sins committed and repenting for them,
- pratyākhyanā, resolving to avoid particular sins in future,
- sāmāyika karma, renunciation of personal attachments, and the cultivation of a feeling of regarding every body and thing alike,
- stuti, praising the four and twenty Tīrthankaras,
- vandanā, devotion to a particular Tirthankara, and
- kāyotsarga, withdrawal of attention from the body (physical personality) and becoming absorbed in the contemplation of the spiritual Self.
According to Jain text, Puruşārthasiddhyupāya: For the sake of strengthening the performance of daily meditation (sāmāyika), one must undertake fasting twice each lunar fortnight (proşadhopavāsa).
The posture for sāmāyika may be either —
- padma āsana, the sitting posture, with inter-locked legs (the right one placed on the left thigh and the left on the right), the hands placed in the lap with the palms facing upwards (the right one being on the top), and with attention fixed on the foremost point of the nose;
- khadga āsana, the standing posture, with feet at a distance of about two inches from each other, the hands resting naturally by the sides, but not so as to touch the body; and attention fixed on the point of the nose as in the padma āsana; or
- ardha padma āsana or the semi-padma posture, which differs from the padma in respect of the position of the left leg, which is placed under the right thigh.
The householders, due to the absence of all sinful activities during the period of meditation (sāmāyika), observe great vows, although the conduct-deluding karmas remain in operation. According to Achārya Pujyapada's Sarvārthasiddhi:
The preposition ‘sam’ means one state of being. For instance, ghee becomes one with the thing mixed. To become one is samaya. That, which has oneness as its object, is sāmāyikam. One attains the great vows when one practises sāmāyika (concentration) at a particular place and time, since one is free from minute and gross injury and so on. It is argued that it would be perfect restraint and discipline (sanyan). But it is untenable, as there is the presence of karmas or passions which arrest complete restraint. In that case these should not be called great vows. No. These are called great vows figuratively.
Jain texts list down five transgressions of the vow of sāmāyika. These are- Misdirected activity of the speech, mind, and body, lack of earnestness, and absent mindedness.
In performing the samayika meditation the following points are prescribed for the monk:
- he should not perform it disrespectfully,
- nor filled with pride of learning,
- nor to be considered pious by his fellow-men,
- nor in a manner to cause disturbance to any other living being,
- he should not move the body about at the time,
- nor force it into a crooked position, e.g. bending the fingers.
- not contract or gather together the bodily limbs,
- not raise himself up and down like a fish on the top of a wave;
- he should rid his mind of all cruel thoughts;
- he should not encircle his knees with his hands;
- he should not become engaged in its performance imbued with fear,
- or with disgust, or without understanding its aim,
- or filled with conceit at his supernatural acquisitions (if any),
- nor with pride of birth;
- he should not take to it (samayika) sneakingly, that is as a thief, i.e., behind the back of the (preceptor),
- nor neglect its proper time,
- he should not allow the mind to be filled with unholy thoughts of hatred and the like for others;
- he should not excite fear in any one’s heart,
- not talk to any one at the time,
- nor think evil of any one,
- nor suffer himself to frown,
- nor entertain ungenerous sentiments in his heart,
- nor allow his gaze to wander about in different directions,
- nor sit down without carefully inspecting the ground, to avoid causing injury to insect life,
- nor lose interest in the middle of the process.
- nor should he neglect it altogether for the want of any of the necessary accessories,
- he shouldn't allow his heart to be assailed by desire for sense-gratification,
- nor omit to recite the whole of the recitation, nor get up in the middle (that is, before the end of the text appointed for the purpose),
- nor blur over his words, nor hurry over some parts and linger unnecessarily over others;
- nor mumble, like a dumb person, nor make faces or signs,
- nor vociferate in a croaky voice, like a frog; and,
- he should not allow his mind to play the truant at the time, that is, to run after the good things of the world.
- Jain, Champat Rai (1929). The Practical Dharma. The Indian Press Ltd. p. 52.
- Jain 2012, p. 95.
- S.A. Jain 1960, p. 261.
- Jain, Champat Rai (1975). The Key Of Knowledge (Third ed.). New Delhi: Today and Tomorrow's Printers. p. 254–255.
- Jain 1917, p. 44, 61.
- Jain 1917, p. 45.
- Jain 2012, p. 98.
- Jain 1926, p. 39-40.
- S.A. Jain 1960, p. 203.
- Jain 1926, p. 41-43.
- Jain 1926, p. 41.
- Jain 1926, p. 42.
- Jain 1926, p. 43.
- Jain, Vijay K. (2012), Acharya Amritchandra's Purushartha Siddhyupaya, ISBN 9788190363945
- Jain, S.A. (1960), Reality (Second ed.), Jwalamalini Trust,
- Jain, Champat Rai (1926), Sannyasa Dharma, Allahabad: Belveders Palace
- Jain, Champat Rai (1917), The Householder's Dharma: English Translation of The Ratna Karanda Sravakachara, The Central Jaina Publishing House