By Ms. Anupama Jain
Paryushan Parv - Day One - Uttam Kshama or Forgivness Day : It was a humid September afternoon. September is the month of various religious festivals like Ramadan, Ganesh Chaturthy and Jain Paryushan parva etc. but in spite of this, an uneasy calm prevailed in the atmosphere. My car was passing through the busy street and my hands carefully moving on the wheels, I was also listening to the radio news, a news reader with concerned voice was giving a sad account of a hostage drama where terrorists took hostage of a mother and her three kids My heart went for poor mother and her innocent kids.. It saddened me more. Nowadays everybody talks about earth being a global village but are we getting devoid of sentiments of non-violence, compassion and peaceful co -existence?. They are totally forgotten in this global village. Where are we heading for?. Suddenly I heard the sound of temple bells and devotional songs .Amidst that sound and chanting of Namo Kar Mantra, I saw images of some serene looking jain monks slowly descending from temple steps followed by the stream of devotees. I got down from the car, bowed before revered monks and whispered Namostu. I was told that Muni Maharaj Ji were going for pravachans( Sermons) Yes, this is the period of auspicious paryushan parv - A jain festival of self upliftment, self purification and forgiveness I prayed to god- give those terrorists sadbudhee" and free those poor souls from their clutches. And gradually pious aura of monks overshadowed those thoughts of sadness and despair, with a ray of hope positive thinking took the front seat as if a message has been delivered from the protector almighty- Dont worry- Be good and do good karmas and everything will be ofine Like all other religions of the world, Jainism very strongly propagates principles of non-violence, peace, love, compassion and peaceful coexistence it would be more appropriate to say that these tenets are the basis or the mool mantra of Jainism. It preaches that we should not harm not only humans but any living being by our thoughts and words let alone by our deeds.( Man - Wachan - Kaya ).
Fasting is the important part of this process of self upliftment. According to jain scriptures, it is necessary for spiritual growth as well as it purifies the body and mind and bring freshness and agility but before we share some wonderful pious or satvik recipes for this special period of enlightenment, let us first concentrate on A B C of Paryushan Parva for a while.
The Jain community, whether they are in living in downtown of Delhi- Chandni Chowk or Manhattan -New York, Australia or Dubai, they celebrate this religious function with same fervor everywhere annually. This festival popularly known as Paryushan Parva celebrated every year in the auspicious month of Bhadrapad of the calendar extends from the fifth day to fourteenth day (Panchmi to Chaturdashi) of the bright fortnight. The festival ordains the Jains to observe the ten universal supreme virtues in daily practical life. Besides assuring a blissful existence in this world and the other world for every living being, it aims at the ultimate that is- attainment of salvation - the supreme ideal for mundane soul. The non-Jains also express high respect for this Jain festival. All members of Jain community- high and small, young and old, and males and females, participate with full enthusiasm in the various religious rituas and cultural programs. In these days Temples are filled with devotees, even small kids are encouraged to visit the temples daily. In the early hours devotees perform poojas and Abhishekam and in the evenings listen the holy sermons of the saints and learned Jain scholars during the ten-day festival. During this festival all activities, that pollutes the world with social discord or bitterness are specially declared taboo. It will be more appropriate to describe this festival Celebration of Human values -brotherhood, compassion and peace. These celebrations harbinger social harmony and amity and propagate the essence of Jainism that is Live and let Live and Ahimsa.
The word Paryushan is derived from par-means- all kinds, and ushan-means- to burn hence to burn or shed all types of karmas, Jains celebrate these holy days by practicing renunciation, austerities, donation, meditation and scripture reading. In nutshell it is a holy festival of self introspection self enlightenment with a ultimate desire for salvation or moksha.
Function is celebrated in Chaturmas or the four months of rainy season it is the only period for jain monks to settle in one place for a longer duration who otherwise are always on move, it is time for the householders- sharavak to have an annual renewal of the faith by listening to the sermons of the Dharma and by meditation and vratas (self-control).
The real purpose of the Paryushan is to purify our soul by staying closer to our own soul from all ten directions and to stay absorbed in our own-self (soul), to look at our own faults, to ask for forgiveness for the mistakes we have committed, and take vows to minimize our faults. At least for these ten days We try to minimize our worldly comforts, needs of our body (like food) and our business so that we can concentrate on our-self and try to move toward self upliftment.
These ten days one by one is dedicated to ten best characteristics of the soul called Ten universal virtues ( 10 components of the dharma): Uttam Ksham (noble forgiveness), Uttam Mrdav (Humility or gentleness), Uttamrjav (straightforwardness or uprightness), Uttam Shauch (content - absence of greed or purity), Uttam Satya (truth), Uttam Sanyam (restraint of all senses), Uttam Tapa (austerities), Uttam Tyga (renunciation, charity), Uttam kinchan (non-possessiveness or lack of possession ) and Uttam Brahmachrya (celibacy or chastity). From these ten virtues first three i.e uttam kshama, uttam mardav and uttam arjav are called emotions and sentiments. Next five i.e uttam satya, uttam shauch, uttam sanyam, uttam tap and uttam tyaag are called solutions and remedies for these emotions and last two virtues i.e uttam aakinchan and uttam brahmacharya are called essence of ten supreme virtues.
The ten day celebration starts from Uttam Ksham (noble forgiveness), by asking forgiveness from all living begins including human beings. animals, birds, insects even from plants for any mistake committed by own self, knowingly or unknowingly, with the unity of the mind, speech body (man, vachan, kaya) It also include bestowing forgiveness to all living beings for their deeds.
And finally, let us talk about the simple satvik food which we are supposed to take in this holy period Satvik food is prepared with ingredients which cause least amount of violence. This type of food is said to have the qualities of filling the body and soul with the feelings of compassion, bliss spirituality and morality. This is a pure vegetarian food and it includes grains, lentils, fruits some vegetables and dry fruits. Most of jains doesnt take onion, garlic and root vegetables. So specially these days one should take pious food which nourishes the body so that we can remain healthy and communicate more effectively with god and dedicate our self to the almighty as they say jaisa khaye anna, waisa hoi man so, specially in these day jains are very particular about the food that they eat it should be simple satvik or pious food It should not contain even fresh vegetables and fruits. only dried pulses, lentils, dried spices, dry fruits, milk, curd and pure desi ghee can be eaten. any chewable eatable after sun set is absolutely no-no. According to Jain scriptures, fasting is necessary for spiritual growth. It purifies the body and the mind and brings freshness and agility. Fasting does not mean skipping the food. It is done with a clear goal that of practicing an austerity to purify the body, to lessen karmic bondage, to attain spiritual growth - while skipping a meal, happens because one is having hectic day or has overeaten at the earlier meal. The feeling on days of upavas is one of power, resolve and spiritual growth, while the feeling on days when a meal is skipped is of deep hunger, exhaustion and so on. Though the acts are the same, different objectives produce profoundly different physical, psychological and spiritual outcomes. Hence the sages have ver clearly defined the types of fasting and the need to take on them in a pre-meditated approach.
Paryushan Parv - Day Two - Uttam Mardav or Humility Day - Humility Is Sign Of Strength, Confidence And Courage : It Is Not Me But God, Just Say Thank You To God - although these words on telephone were uttered three years ago, but an expression filled with utmost humility, still echoes in my mind. Theses words came from a person who was quite high on social ladder, I requested him to help a friend for a genuine task, that seemed quite impossible at that time but that gentlemans words did the wonder and made that task possible. When I thanked that gentleman he absolutely, was not willing to take the credit himself but owed it to God. The way he disowned the credit, it forced me to think about real hunmility. On the second day of Paryushan Parv i.e. Mardav divas or humility day that gentleman became synonymous for humility for me. When a humble person does something that is good or praiseworthy he does not want to take credit for goodness but owes it to god, he very truthfully acknowledge the fact that what he did came from god and that was possible only because god wanted it to be and the humble person that he is, he is willing to admit it or we can put in this way- Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying and as they say very truly God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Arrogance diminishes wisdom- Today we are celebrating Uttam Mardav divas. Mardav-means Tenderness or Humility (To observe the virtue of humility subduing vanity and passions.) It refers to the complete absence of self-conceit. Such self-conceit or pride may be due to ones own superior caste, ones family prestige, ones own bodily beauty, learning, wealth, courage and bodily strength. Due to these various reasons, a person may entertain the feeling of self-importance and arrogance whenever a man with such arrogance is insulted by other persons, he may lose his temper and start abusing with disrespectful words or conduct. Even an ascetic may get offended and lose his control of mind in such circumstances. But he will become a victim of pride and self-conceit. Total avoidance of this feeling of pride is called Mardav or humility.
Paryushan Parv - Day Three - Uttam Aarjav or Honesty : The trouble with the world, "said the Master with a sigh "is that human beings refuse to grow up." "When can a person be said to have grown up?" asked a disciple. "On the day he does not need to be lied to about anything and he is upright and honest. Today on the day of Supreme Arjava or uprightness, let us ponder over this virtue.
Wealth makes something easy - honesty most of all "and remember to be honest, to own self and towards task always earns trust respect - so said a sage. All of us have grown with this preaching that Honesty is best policy and it should apply in daily life but what is honesty? In a plain meaning, honesty is to admit, to say or to give inference according to the fact and the truth. In honesty there are no contradictions or discrepancies in thoughts words and deeds Honesty and uprightness are virtues that should be celebrated and practiced at all levels.
In these challenging times when ethics are more important than ever before, we should set a good example for everyone, we work and live with.
Aarjava: Aarjava means uprightness, straight-forwardness, unfussiness, frank-speaking, candor, sincerity, large-heartedness and liberty from treachery. means straightforwardness or Honesty (To practice a deceit-free conduct in life by vanquishing the passion of deception.) in conduct. Ones own conduct may be crooked. His bodily action, speech and mind may be lacking in straightforwardness. Avoiding this crookedness in thought, word and deed, is called Aarjav or uprightness.
Paryushan Parv- Day Four - Uttam Satya or Noble Truth - There is no god higher than truth. Mahatma Gandhi : On the fourth day of paryushan parva Uttam Satya Day or the day of truthfulness we dedicate this day to the invincible force of truth .Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of satyagrah has once said I have nothing new to teach the world .Truth and Non -Violence are as old as the hills. All I have done is to try experiments in both on as vast scale as I could. And truly With the power of satyagrah, not only he overthrew the almighty British empire but he described his entire life as experiments with truth. Mahatma installed power of non violence and truthfulness i.e. the basic principles of Jain doctrine and this force made a frail, half clad man Father of our nation. The philosophy of Jainism specially, doctrine of non violence- Ahimsa and satyagrah - truthfullness had a significant influence on mahatma, as we all know that mahatma put these principles in practice in his fight for Indias freedom.
Satya literally means Sat, which means existence. Existence is a quality of the soul. Recognizing the soul's true nature as it really exists and taking shelter in the soul is practicing Nischay Satya Dharma .As elderly has said- absence of truth or Lying leads to an influx of paap karma. If talking is not required, then one must not talk but If it is really required then only use the minimum of words, and all must be absolutely true. One should always observe restrained in speech or vaanee and always follow the path of truth, so said the learned persons.
In the Indian philosophy truth also means the concept of ever pure and ever free soul it flows naturally into the practice of non hurting any ones sentiments Practice of truthfulness means truthfulness not only in words but also in thoughts and deeds and it purifies us. Truthfulness of heart begets of course, a state of the sensibility which we call the love of truth. It is a feeling of spontaneity, arises in the sensibilities of one whose heart is truthful in contemplating truth this feeling is not virtue. It is rather a part of the reward of truthfulness of heart. And practice of truthfulness in daily life definitely makes our life simple, tension free and contended.
Paryushan Parv - Day Five - Uttam Shauch or Contentment and purity of mind : Jahan hai sabhi ko bhar pet bhojan, Man hai paak saaf, Aur azad hai parinda bhee jahan - He mere prabhu bana mujhe us lok ka wasee This is a simple prayer of a human being but in these challenging times it looks like we are asking for heaven. Today- on the fifth day of paryushan parva, today we will discuss evil of greed or contentment and virtue of purity of mind. Even Chanakya the master of worldly affairs or gyata of neetee shashtra has advocated for purity of mind He said.
Purity of speech, of the minds, of the senses and of compassionate heart is needed by one who desires to rise to the divine platform. But in the heart he knew it very well that purity is not needed only for getting oneself on divine platform bit it is the essence of human mind and basic of human civilization. As we grow, we always long for purity of a child when our mind was not polluted with worldly practicalities, greed and desires and such is the force of purity that it attracts good person as well as bad person. Good person makes purity and contentment his companion whereas bad person tries to run away from its charm.
Be it Macbeth, shylock or Hindu demon god Ravana, all were victims of trap of uncontrolled desires and greed and got corrupted and were doomed. Actually greed is the selfish desire for more than one need or desires it can turn honest man dishonest and countries and nations as expansionists. Some times people defend greed but it can never be justified. The utopian society proves that greed is a bi product of the society you live in. Everybody has the same style house .food, clothes and work required of them. it is true that in society, every citizen should help each other but it is also true that most evils are developed by the bad habits among human.
Generally we do actions because we like, which means based on greed. In this trap, main greed is our guide, desire is our guide, we like this, that and the other all the time, all the time wanting, wishing; and why? Because of ignorance we fall in this trap- not understanding the result of greed, without knowing the influence or destructive power of greed.
According to jain scriptures (aagams) :- Shauch: Contentment or Purity (To keep the body, mind and speech pure by discarding greed and abstaining from possessive longing is called Shaucha or purity of soul. The longings that should be get rid off are of 1. Jivana Lobha longing to sustain ones living. 2. Aroygaya Lobha longing to sustain ones health. 3.Upabhoga Lobha - longing to enjoy things, which will be useful to contribute to general happiness. Each object will be of two kinds; one pertaining to the self and the one pertains to others. Getting rid of these types of longing is called Shauch or purity.
Paryushan Parv - Day Six - Uttam Sanyam or Supreme Self-restraint : There are limits to self-indulgence, none to restraint Mahatma Gandhi.
When we defend all living beings with highest power in a cosmopolitan fortitude refraining from all the pleasures provided by the five senses - touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing; and the sixth mind it is called Sanyam or self restrain. Our soul in a condition of mithya gyaan or false belief presume that it consists of the body, the Karmas and the sentiments, likes, dislikes, fury, conceit, etc. As a result of this wrong conviction, it imposes pain upon itself and is this the reason of its own desolation These need to be eradicated by contemplating on the true nature of the soul.
Paryushan Parv - Day Seven-Uttam Tap or Supreme Penance : Tapa Penance or Austerities (To practice austerities putting a check on all worldly allurements The purpose of penance is to keep longings and fervors in control. Over-indulgence inevitably leads to unhappiness. Penance leads to an incursion of positive Karmas .Penance are austerity. This is self control by way of fasting, meditation, study, etc. The control is aimed to elevate the soul above the pleasures and aches of our life. Penance or Austerities have a special place in the Jain code of conduct. There are twelve types of austerities or penance. The first six are considered exterior penances because they are mainly corporeal austerities. The remaining six are inner as the majority of them are connected with the intellect and our feelings towards others.
The twelve austerities are as follows :
The first six are termed as external types and the remaining six are internal types.
1) Fasting - carried out according to the firm regulations laid down by Jain religious teachers.
2) Eating in restraint- this is for good health too.
3) discarding feelings of voracity. (having limitation in the number of items one consumes)
4) Eating without feelings of affection to food.
5) Self-imposed hardships to train one's mind.
6) Control of the body and senses.
The six internal types of austerities are :
1) The repentance of transgressions.
2) Showing modesty and reverence for spiritual leaders.
3) Serving sacred leaders
4) Studying good books.
6) Observing cerebral kausagga ( i.e. feeling the separation of the body and soul through Jain-yoga practices
Paryushan Parv - Day Eight - Uttam Tyaag or Supreme Renunciation : 'Renunciation of all possessions is Ahinsa; and appropriation Of all possessions is Hinsa The word renunciation means to cast aside, to give up, to get rid of, to abandon and to depart. A number of wise men have said: 'In this world it is not what we take up but what we give up, that makes us rich. Truly has it been said; "A munificent mind never enjoys its possessions so much as when others are made partakers of them. Renunciation provides greatness to a man. Lord Bahubali followed the path of renunciation and accomplished his cherished objective. He triumphs over the kingdom of the sovereign king Bharat and returned it to him subsequently without a snag. Even Lord Ram also won over Lanka after defeating Ravan, and then he renounced it by crowning Vibhishan the ruler of Lanka.
Lord Jinendra has stated, "A living being. who discarding attachment to things, non-self maintains an indifferent outlook for physical body and worldly pleasures, is endowed with the virtue of renunciation very living creature is aspirant for happiness. This happiness is an outcome of renunciation.
Paryushan Parv-Day Nine-Uttam Akinchanya or Supreme Non Attachment : "He, who abandons the evil thought of attachment to worldly objects, can alone give up possessions" To give up the belief that this thing belongs to me is virtue of non-attachment so non attachment means to put a limit to ambitions, to put a check on desires 1Internal Attachment-The feeling of love, hatred, affection deciet, laughter, lamenation, fear, disgust and ill-will for living beings; and wrong belief are internal attachments. External Attachment-The greed for wealth and property is external attachment. Greed for worldly possession consists in desiring more than what is needed by an individual. Historically, ten possessions are listed in scriptures: land, house, silver, gold, wealth, grain, female servants, male servants, garments and utensils Remaining unattached from these helps control ourdesires and leads to an influx of punya Karma so Assuredly, the non-appearance of attachment and other passions is Ahinsa (non-voilence), and their appearance is Hinsa (voilence),
Paryushan Parv - Day Ten - Uttam Brahmcharya or Supreme Celibacy : The ills of life are cured, if you root out lust from your heart.
Brahma means soul, which is chaste, enlightened, eternal and blissful and Charya means conduct. To become fully engrossed in soul is Brahmacharya-celibacy. In other words The code of conduct that leads to self-realization of Soul (or Atma) would, therefore, be the general meaning of Brahma-charya or celibacy. On Chaturdashi devotees generally dont take cereals, instead they take only sweet water mix with crushed black pepper and soaked raisins along with soaked almond only once a day that too in evening before sunset
Paryushan Parv - Concluding Day - Kshama Vaani or Forgiveness Day : A friends special forgiveness card is lying in front of me.
I cant change past misdeeds, But can learn from them, Making amends and starting anew For whatever mistakes I might have made Knowingly or unknowingly with thoughts, words or deeds That caused you hurt and pain, Please forgive me and let us start on, afresh. She was a dear friend, due to some misunderstanding we parted ways but this little card brought tears in my eyes, all bitterness washed away with tears. Card was sent on the forgiveness day - The concluding day of Paryushan Parv or Das Lakshan Dharm Parv- Most auspicious jain festival, observed for ten days in Chaturmas. It celebrates human values - forgiveness, non violence, truthfulness etc that harbinger social harmony, amity and propagates the essence of Jainism - Live and let live! According to jain scriptures forgiveness or kshama is termed as veerasya abhushanm - a strength, not weakness. We just cannot reverse the past, and if we have to march ahead in life with positivity, why not practice forgiveness? Practicing forgiveness is greatest boon to mankind from god - said seers.
On this auspicious day of Kshamavani Parva, Jain devotees come up to their relatives and, friends and beg pardon of them for all faults or mistakes committed knowingly or unknowingly whether they have hurt them from their words, deeds and thoughts.. Devotees bestow themselves from heart and soul to submit to eternal message 'Live and Let Live', for peace and happiness. Bhagwan Mahaveera said forgiveness is spiritual purification, it is upliftment of soul. Forgiveness reveals high morale. It is a jewel worn by noble souls. Bhagwan said: "The one whom you hurt or kill is you. All souls are equal and alike and have the similar nature and qualities. Anger begets more anger and forgiveness and love lead to more forgiveness and love . Forgiveness is boon for both the forgiver and the forgiven. Forgiveness has been regarded the basis of all types of penance and meditation, but in the material world also from the scientific and psychological viewpoint forgiveness has been called bestowal of bodily vitality. It is a panacea for all diseases and instrumental to mental development. According to Jain philosophy -forgiveness is: gifted by the one who forgives, earned by the one seeking it, and natural as a part of our celestial nature. Forgiveness can be earned by request or prayer, pratikramana or confession and repentance, and prayashchitta- or willingness to suffer consequences. In fact we could also call it mantra for healthy life style the ill feelings of anger, gloom, worry and hatred leave a deep effect on human body.
Forgiveness is part of ahimsa; it helps us triumph over anger and hatred and makes us more contented and healthier Mahatma Gandhi forgave his assassin even as he was dying. Jesus Christ, when being crucified prayed to God to pardon his tormentors as they "know not what they do". In Buddhism, forgiveness is seen as a practice to avert harmful emotions from causing havoc on one's mental well-being. In Islam, Allah is described as "the most forgiving". In Hindu religion forgiveness is described as highest virtue. and Jains celebrates this as ritual, an integral part of life style. In nutshell all religions sermonize to take on the spirit of forgiveness, it gives us strength and definitely it should not be treated as a sign of weakness. So if they say To err is human, than to forgive is divine .
And at last a prayer - Lord Almighty, forgive us for all our transgressions and mistakes and may all Jeev, Jantu and Vansapati on the earth be in peace, harmony and live with the spirit of coexistence.
Author : Anupma Jain, New Delhi, Tele : 9990848238
Ms. Anupma Jain, E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org