In DN 2 and MN 56 we find a description of the so-called “four-fold restraint” (cātuyāmasaṃvarasaṃvut) ascribed to the Jains, in particular their leader, Mahāvīra. The passage does not seem to equate directly with any known Jain teachings. Given that their early texts were lost, it’s unclear if this is a genuine memory of an authentic Jain teaching, or a somewhat garbled, perhaps satirical, teaching ascribed to them by the Buddhists.
I won’t review the various translations, commentarial interpretations, or parallels here; suffice to say that I don’t find any of them hugely compelling. In my interpretation, I will endeavor to find a reading that is gracious to both the Buddhist and Jaina traditions. That is, I will assume that it is a genuine Jaina practice which makes sense in terms of their broader philosophy, and that this is not being misrepresented by the Buddhist texts.
The key term is vāri, which may be a pun with the two senses of “water” and “restraint”. However, given that the dominant sense of the word in Pali is water, that rules regarding water are common in Jainism, and that the terms make sense in a watery context, I will accept that this is the primary meaning.
sabbavārivārito: Here vārita is a causitive, meaning “is held back or obstructed by”. I interpret this as referring to the Jain practice of not swimming in rivers or otherwise crossing water in a way that might harm the life therein.
sabbavāriyutto: A common sense of yutta is “devotion, committment”, and here I suggest it refers to an ascetic’s caring for and dedication to looking after water, due to the life forms it contains.
sabbavāridhuto: Dhuta is well-known as the Pali dhutaṅga, austere practices. It is based on a root “to shake off”. However as a technical term it is not well established in the EBTs, nor, it seems, in the Jain texts. There is a chapter titled dhuyaṁ in the Ācaraṅga, however the term itself only appears in the chapter in a vague sense (“the doctrine of dhuya”). Jacobi titled the text “cleansing” and Pali translators seem to have followed this. However, there is nothing really about cleansing specifically in the chapter. Rather, it concerns letting go, renunciation, or “shaking off” worldly things generally. It may also be related to the Jain practice of not using towels, heat, or other such harmful methods of drying the body (if, by accident, they happen to fall in water). They are just supposed to dry off naturally.
sabbavāriphuṭo: Phuṭa means “spread, pervade”, and in Buddhist texts is used in this sense with water in the jhana similes. But it is also used in the sense of worms or little creatures that devour a corpse (Thag 5.1, Thag 6.4). Perhaps it refers to the fact that the body is pervaded by water containing little creatures, regarding which a Jain ascetic must still practice non-harming.
So my translation is:
Take a Jain ascetic who may be restrained in the fourfold restraint: obstructed by all water, devoted to all water, shaking off all water, pervaded by all water.