Digambara Monks and Nuns: A Closer Look at Their Lifestyle and Attire

Digambara Monks, selective focus photography of boy sitting in round

Digambara Monks and Nuns: A Closer Look at Their Lifestyle and Attire

When exploring different religious practices and traditions, one may come across the Digambara sect of Jainism, known for its distinctive way of life and attire. Digambara monks and nuns are recognized for their choice to live naked or semi-naked. In this article, we will delve into the details of who Digambara monks and nuns are and explore the reasons behind their unique clothing choices.

Who are Digambara Monks and Nuns?

The Digambara sect is one of the two major sects of Jainism, the other being the Shvetambara sect. The word “Digambara” translates to “sky-clad” or “clothed in the elements.” Digambara monks and nuns follow a strict code of conduct and renounce all worldly possessions, including clothing.

Monks and nuns belonging to the Digambara sect lead an ascetic life, focusing on spiritual pursuits and detachment from material desires. They dedicate their lives to the pursuit of liberation and enlightenment, striving to attain moksha, or liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Why are they Naked or Semi-Naked?

The decision of Digambara monks and nuns to be naked or semi-naked is rooted in their belief in absolute non-attachment to material possessions, including clothing. By shedding all external trappings, they aim to eliminate the distractions that may arise from attachment to worldly possessions.

According to Digambara’s philosophy, true detachment involves shedding not only physical possessions but also the ego and the identification with the body. By renouncing clothing, Digambara monks and nuns symbolize their commitment to living a life free from material attachments and dedicating themselves fully to spiritual pursuits. Digambara monks and nuns lead austere lives, engaging in practices such as long periods of meditation, fasting, and walking barefoot. They avoid worldly luxuries and comforts.

It is important to note that the choice to be naked or semi-naked is not meant to be an exhibitionistic act or a means of seeking attention. Rather, it is a deeply personal and spiritual choice made by individuals who have chosen the path of renunciation.

Practical Considerations

While the decision to be naked or semi-naked is primarily driven by spiritual and philosophical reasons, there are practical considerations as well. Digambara monks and nuns live a nomadic life, often wandering from place to place. By not wearing clothes, they reduce their dependency on external factors and simplify their lives.

It is important to note that Digambara monks and nuns do not strive to be completely naked in all situations. They are allowed to wear minimal clothing, such as a piece of cloth or a loincloth, when necessary for practical reasons, such as protection from extreme weather conditions.

Respect and Understanding

It is crucial to approach the practices and beliefs of different religious sects with respect and understanding. The choice of Digambara monks and nuns to be naked or semi-naked is deeply rooted in their spiritual journey and should be viewed within the context of their religious beliefs.

While it may be challenging for individuals from different cultural backgrounds to comprehend or relate to this way of life, it is important to recognize and respect the diversity of religious practices that exist in the world.


Digambara monks and nuns are an integral part of the Jain community, following a path of renunciation and spiritual enlightenment. Their choice to be naked or semi-naked stems from their commitment to non-attachment and the pursuit of liberation. By understanding and respecting their beliefs and practices, we can foster a more inclusive and tolerant society.

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