The Sanskrit term for Paccakkhāna is Pratyākhyāna (प्रत्याख्यान) which means to renounce evil deeds. In general terms it means to reject or to refute. It is therefore a प्रतिज्ञा (promise or vow) to renounce (परित्याग).

The efficacy of the vow depends on the category of the person providing the vow and the person accepting the vow:
(i) Both the person giving the vow and the person accepting the vow are totally knowledgeable of the vow being taken.
(ii) The person giving the vow is knowledgeable but the person accepting the vow is ignorant.
(iii) The person giving the vow is ignorant, but the person accepting the vow is knowledgeble.
(iv) Both the person imparting the vow and the person accepting the vow are ignorant of the vow.

There are 6 essential duties of a Shravaka called Āvashyakas and pratyākhyāna is one of them.

The essence of pratyākhyāna is to प्रतिषेध (renounce, avoid or restrain) from undesirable objects of enjoyment (अनिष्ट) by mind, speech and body.

Synonyms of pratyākhyāna are नियम (niyama), अभिग्रह (abhigraha), विरमण (viramana), व्रत (vrata), विरति (virti). It is a means to stop the influx of karmas (āsrava).

Various types of pratyākhyāna are as follows:

  1. Anāgat pratyākhyāna: To perform austerities ahead of time (e.g. ahead of Paryushan period) in order to look after elders, Gurus, etc
  2. Atikrānt pratyākhyāna: To perform austerities later (e.g. after Paryushan period) in order to look after elders, Gurus, etc
  3. Kotisahit pratyākhyāna: After certain austerity is over, to repeat the same again
  4. Niyantrit pratyākhyāna: To complete the austerity that was decided some time in the past inspite of obstacles such as sickness, etc. In this day and age this may not be possible.
  5. Sākār pratyākhyāna: Keeping essential exceptions of transgressions that could be committed whilst taking the vow
  6. Anākar pratyākhyāna: To take vows without any exceptions of transgressions
  7. Parimānkrit pratyākhyāna: This provides extra boundaries to observe which are particularly relevant for ascetics. (e.g. limiting how many people who will give alms, limiting the number of morsels one will eat, limiting how many houses ascetics will go for gochari)
  8. Niravshesh pratyākhyāna: To refrain from 4 types of consumables including tobacco, drugs such as opium
  9. Sanketik pratyākhyāna: Vow until certain conditions or signs are met. e.g. holding the thumb, fist, knot of your cloth, until house arrives, perspiration dries out, holding breath, until the water evaporates and the utensil is dry, the divo (candle) blows out, etc
  10. Addha pratyākhyāna: Vow keeping the limitations of time in consideration e.g. until 48 minutes after sunrise, 1 porisi, 2 porisi, 3 porisi, 1 meal (ekasana), ayambil, upvas (no food all day), refain from vigai, etc.

It is advisable to take any vows in the presence of a Guru as it imparts determination to follow it resolutely.