Article: Mendicant lifestyle

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Writing and copying

Mendicants do not necessarily write and copy texts. This activity is connected with monastic education, which depends on the individual mendicant order. Writing in minute script or copying are almost artistic activities.

Recitation and singing

Learning by heart is an important activity for monks and nuns, even today.

All activities that favour memorisation are encouraged but using electricity or even a lamp is not allowed. Memorising keeps the mind busy even in these conditions.

Public preaching

This illustration from an 18th-century Ādityavāra-kathā manuscript shows Digambara monks preaching to lay men. Sitting on low platforms above their listeners, the monks hold up scriptures. The bookstands in front underline their role as religious teachers

Monks preach to lay men
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

Mendicants who preach generally do this in the morning.

But not all mendicants are allowed or able to preach. In some monastic orders only the monks teach in public.

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