What is Paryushan ?
- Samvatsari is the last day of Paryushana —the eight or ten day festival of Jainism.
- It is the holiest day of the Jain calendar.
- Many Jains observe a complete fast on this day.
- The whole day is spent in prayers and contemplation.
- A yearly, elaborate penitential retreat called samvatsati pratikramana is performed on this day.
- After the pratikramana Jains seek forgiveness from all the creatures of the world whom they may have harmed knowingly or unknowingly by uttering the phrase— Micchami Dukkadam or “Khamau Sa”. As a matter of ritual, they personally greet their friends and relatives Micchami Dukkadam.
- No private quarrel or dispute may be carried beyond Samvatsari and letters and telephone calls are made to the outstation friends and relatives asking their forgiveness.
- Generally, festivals are celebrations and jubilations characterized by excitement, enthusiasm, enjoyments and entertainments;But the Jain festivals are characterized by renunciation, austerities, study of the scriptures, repetition of holy hymns, meditation, and expressing devotion for the Paramatma.
- Even those people who are caught in the meshes of mundane life, according to their ability and conveniences, get free from the worldly entanglements to the extent possible and become immersed in worship and meditation Renunciation and austerity constitute the very foundation of the Jain Dharma.
- The Paryushan is the most important festival among the Jain festivals; and it is observed during every Chaturmas commencing on the twelfth day of the fortnight of the waning moon, in Bhadrapad and ending on the fourth day of the fortnight of the waxing moon in the Bhadrapad. During these eight days, the entire Jain Society becomes spellbound in an atmosphere of enthusiasm and felicity.
- All Jains, the young and the old perform Atthai Tap – fasting for eight days at a time. Some men and women; and even children take the vow of Paushadh Vrat also for eight days During these days,the spiritual preceptors read out and explain in detail the Kalpasutra, the most sacred scripture of the Jains.
- All the members of the congregation listen to that explanation, overwhelmed with the emotion of devotion. Seven days are days of attainment and the eighth day is one of fulfillment or achievement In this manner,the Samvatsari Mahaparva the annual festival is celebrated.
- Listening to the holy voice of the spiritual preceptors when they explain the 1250 fundamental Sutras; performing the Samvatsarik Pratikraman, (the annual atonement) for seeking the forgiveness of those people whom one hates or against whom one nurses a grudge; forgetting all hatred and spite-these, constitute the Samvatsarik aradhana -the annual atonement.
History and Ideals of Paryushan Parva
- In these 14 purvas the nineth Purva named ‘Pratyakhyan pravad Purva” from which Fourteen Purvadhar Shree Bhadrabahu Swami has prepared a Chhedsutra named “Dashashrutskandh”in which there are ten chapters and the chapter No. 8 is this “KALPASUTRA” and is called by original name as ‘Pajjusana Kappo’ in PRAKRIT ie., in the then popular language. In the sakal sangh (entire community) it is very well known as ‘Kalpasutra’ or “Barsa Sutra’.
- In this mul sutra (main texts) there are 1215 shlokas and hence it is called as ‘Barsa Sutra”, which is the only granth hearing of which and that too once in a year during the days of Parva Paryushan festival for controlling problems of the mind is carried out with varied meanings and angles and also with relation to modern present life of the people ie., touching every aspect of the life amongst the ‘Chaturvidh Sangh”. In this granth in all there are 291 Sutras (1215 shlokas) consisting 200 sutras on the life of 24 Jineshwars, 23 Sutras on regular succession of pupils of Bhagavan Mahavir with great wellknown Guru Bhagavanto (Sthaviravali) and the remaining 68 sutras on the Achar Jivan (Samachari) of Shraman Bhagavanto.
- The author of this Kalpasutra is Shri Bhadrabahu Swami who was born on Vir Nirvan Sanvat 94 at Pratinsthanpur, the diksha at the age of 45 in Vir samvat 139, in Vir Samvat 148 the spiritual master was given a status of Acharya along with Shri Sambhuti Vijaya maharaj and in Vir samvat 156 he was become Pattadhar pad after Kaldharma of Shree Sambhuti Vijay who also after preparing Niryukti on 4 Chhed Sutra and 10 Agam and in Vir Samvat 170 aboded to heaven (Swargvas). This is the introduction in brief of the author (Karta) of Kalpasutra Agamgranth.
- The oral lessons (Mukhpath) of Agamgranth were continued for long in the regular succession (Parampara) of Bhagavan Mahavir, for which only monks (shramans) are authorized.But with the passage of time the rise of faulty empirical knowledge ( matidosh), what if the agamagranths were caused to disrememberance (Vismrut) ? then ? But before they could start disremembering Shree Devarshigani Shrama Shraman had got the same in writing ( Granthlekhan) accompanied with 500 Acharya parivar , for the first time in Vallabhipur Nagarafter in Vikram Samvat 510 ie. After a period of 980 years of the liberation ( Nirvan) of Prabhu Mahavir. Because of this even today we the people at large are benefiting to hear the discourses (Vachan Varso ) of prabhu Mahavir. The entire credit for this goes to this great saint ( mahapurush).
- In the beginning the hearing and learning (shravan pathan) of the sacred Agams were carried out only amongst sadhu. Then in Vikram Samvat 523 there was a king of Anandpur (at present Vadnagar) a capital of Gujarat named Dhruvsen . His son was died all of a sudden due to snake bite and all remedies/ treatments were remained unsuccessfull. There is a deep grief in the king family. Of that time Acharya Shri Kalaksuriji Maharaj Saheb was requested for the purpose of the remedy to relieve the king from his grief. The days of Paryushana Mahaparva were nearer. And for the first time and before Shri Sangh in public, there was an oration (Shrimukhe) from him about the importance and power (Prabhav) of Paryushana and Shravan Pathan of Kalpasutra.
- The king felt great relief and his grief was vanished. Again, the next year a request was made to Maharaj sahib to be kind to give his oration of Agamgranth before the the jain community consisting Sadhu, Sadhvi, Shravak and Shravika (Sakal Chaturvidh Shri Sangh). Since then this luminous regular sequence (Ujali parampara) is continued amongst jains. Various subsequent Acharya Gurubhagavant have constructed many commentaries (Tika) separately individualy in the guide form namely Kirnavali,Sukhbodhika, Subodhika etc. to understand the sense of this Kalpasutra. And then on theday of Jeth Sud 2 of Vikram Samvat 1696 Upadhyay Shri Vinay Vijay Maharaj Saheb had prepared a commentary named Subodhika in Sanskrit, on the bais of which there are there are dis’courses (khas vyakhyan) in public during the period of Paryushan parva for the last 370 years. On this Sanskrit commentary Shri Khimavijayaji Maharaj Saheb had prepared lectures in Gujarati on the day of Vaishakh sud 10 of Vikram samvat 1707 in Amdavad itself, the commencement of the same took place before the Sangh of Amdavad in the presence of NagarsethShri Hemabhai Premabhai.
- In the present time the scholarly (Vidhvatapurna) compilation was done by German Scholar Riyu. J Stevenson and has taken first print out in Vikram Samvat 1849 and in 1879 it was published in Germany. Its translation in English was done by Dr. Herman Jecoby. In the preface of his English book he has written that the Jain religion is not at all a branch or a sub branch of Vaidic religion or Boudhdha religion. Beside Jain religion is of very ancient time, independent and chief 9maulik) philosophy. He has proved, established and justified with inferences and historical citations.
- We have thus provided an enlightens few and thin information of sacred Agamgranth Kalpasutra of this great religion. With the best noble ideals, their influences, its measures and its bright respects – possibilities of life and with the help of revolution of heart and thinking carrying to the revolution of life we take our journey of knowledge ahead.
- During this time, most individuals lived in modest and confined villages. Many regions of India can experience heavy rainfall during the monsoon season, and farmers and workers would often be compelled to refrain from their agricultural work at this time. The poor weather would make it challenging to travel on roads. The main principle in Jainism is ahimsa, which means non-violence towards all living creatures. The added moisture caused an increase in the number of insects and bugs in the environment, making it extremely difficult to travel without harming them.
- During this time, sadhus and sadhvis tended to stay in their villages and spend their extra time celebrating their religion. The monsoon marked a period when these monks would focus on themselves internally by cleansing their souls and advancing their knowledge. Originally, Jain monks practiced this tradition during the full chatursma time period which lasted 70 days. They would spend their days meditating and practicing vrats (acts of self-control). In today’s age most followers have moved away from the small ancient villages of their ancestors yet Jain practices are still valued and practiced in modern society. As life became more urbanized, Jains worldwide found it increasingly difficult to practice the main principles of Jainism to their fullest everyday.
- The word “Jainism” is derived from the word “conquer,” which refers to fighting against one’s passions and pleasures using self-restraint and control. The main principles of Jainism are non-violence, non-absolutism, and non-possessiveness. As the world became more advanced, lifestyles changed from simple to more complex. People moved away from their remote villages to cities where they would be presented with numerous temptations and added luxuries. Due to new conveniences, individuals found that the main doctrines of Jainism were beginning to fade away. Thus, the religious ritual Jain monks practiced during chatursma evolved into a festival that started being celebrated by Jain followers.
- This eight-day festival inspires Jains worldwide to remember the roots and philosophies of Jainism. Celebrating paryushan also brings a social purpose as well. During the festival family and friends all come together for a cause. Though the ritual of paryushan pushes followers to abide by the main doctrines of Jainism, it specifically targets five required principles. These essentials separate and make paryushan unique from other Jain holidays.
- The first principle is called sadharmik vatsalya, which means that all individuals should show love and gratitude not only to all Jains but to all living beings. This concept is often shown through actions that assist others. By conducting such actions, individuals can do their part and lead others on the proper pathway. The next principle touched upon is ahimsa, also called amari pravatan, which means to be non-violent in all aspects of one’s daily life. This includes thinking and speaking with pure intentions. Third, is atthama taap, which asks followers to practice self-control by fasting for three days or eating simple tasteless foods. This is meant to strengthen one’s willpower as he is forced to face a bit of discomfort. Chaitya paripati translates to pilgrimage to holy places.
- This principle should be completed by followers as it shows devotion and respect to the faith. Lastly, kshamapana, means to ask for forgiveness from all the beings that may have suffered as a result of one’s actions. Jains believe strongly that it is important to forgive those who may have hurt us for their shortcomings and weaknesses. These five principles have provided the basis and foundation for this festival throughout history. Jains follow a set of rules in order to fulfill the five target principles of Jainism. Sunlight is a natural disinfectant and thus the level of bacteria in the atmosphere is less during the daytime than at night; therefore, Jains avoid eating between dusk and dawn. Jains avoid root vegetables like onions and garlic, as in order to eat these vegetables, one must destroy the entire plant.
- By eating before sunset and avoiding vegetables that grow underground, Jains practice amari pravartan as they are non-violent. During this holy period, monks and individuals spend their evenings at their local temples, as chaitya paripati is one of the main principles. However, since the underlying
purpose of paryushan is to show one’s self control, during the day they do not have to go to a place of worship for the ritual. They can simply pray and reflect in the peace of their own homes.
- Throughout history, the main goals of paryushan have remained the same as those of the tirthankars who started practicing this tradition. However, since the external environment has changed overtime the way individuals go about the festival is different. In the past, people would avoid their “greed for gold” or be more mindful of their water consumption. Now, in modern society, people practice taap by avoiding modern conveniences such as cellphones, televisions, and laptops. These are just a few actions Jains are asked to follow in order to stay focused on the purpose of paryushan . Though the entire festival is dedicated to soul purification and self-searching, each of the eight days of the annual ritual has its own specific dedication.
- The first day of paryushan is known as the day when individuals focus on clearing their minds of daily worldly thoughts. This day is important because it puts followers on the right step by clarifying their thoughts.
- The second day inspires people to donate to their local places of worship or to important worldwide causes. With each person conducting small acts of kindness, the world becomes a better place. The third day focuses on connecting the mind to the soul by practicing meditation for enlightenment. On the fourth day, Jains believe they receive well wishes and protection from the Goddess Laxmi by conducting a puja and offering her sweets. The fifth day is also known as “The Day of the Kalpasutra.” This is the day when people celebrate the Mahavir’s birth by organizing a boli (religious auctions) of the 14 silver statues of the dreams of Mahavir’s mother, Trishla Devi, when she was pregnant with him. The money from the boli is given and donated to the religious institution. The sixth and seventh days are the days of tolerance and endurance. Since many fast for the entire festival, these days are supposed to instill them with the strength to keep going on their spiritual journey.
- The eighth and final day is titled, samvatsari, which translates to the “Gateway of Salvation”. It is the holiest day of the entire Jain calendar and also International Forgiveness Day. On this day, Jains observe a unique custom, when they utter the words micchammi dukkadam. This day marks the start of the Jain New Year, with Jains striving to start on a clean slate. On samvatsari, Shwetambar Jains also practice pratikraman in the evening where they continuously pray for four hours. During this time period, they honor the tirthankars and their gurus.
- The rituals ends with a prayer called moti shanti, which hopes for global peace. Overall, it is apparent that the religious holiday of paryushan is highly important for Jain followers as many Jain beliefs are incorporated and woven through the festival. In early Jain history, individuals were unable to travel without harming living beings, which sparked the beginning of the festival. In modern times, many followers find themselves filled with many daily commitments which may cause them to drift away from their spirituality.
- The festival of paryushan allows individuals to slow down and think about their righteousness. From researching this practice to visualizing it with my own eyes, I realized how important this festival is to followers since it only comes one a year. In a fast paced, highly technological world, I believe the need for paryushan is greater. We are consistently wanting more and more. These historical Jain traditions used by the tirthankars is a great way for individuals in today’s world to rid of their bad karma and sins they accumulate over the year. This is very significant, as many religions do not end the year with a tradition such as this one. I look forward to seeing how this festival continues to flourish over the years and see how itdevelops over ongoing generations.
Why we say “Michchhami Dukkadam”
- Let us understand what is meant by “Michchhami Dukkadam” and why do we say it?
- Michchhami means to be fruitless (forgiven) and Dukkadam (Dushkrut) means bad deeds. Therefore the meaning of Michchhami Dukkadam is my bad deeds (with you) be fruitless. So concept behind saying or writing someone “Michchhami Dukkadam” is that if I have done any harm to you then those bad deeds to be forgiven (be fruitless).
- Those who did traditional Samvatsari (yearly) Pratikrman would remember saying “Tassa Michchhami Dukkadam” at the end of many of sutras. There it meant that if I have committed any violations or transgressions related to those minor vows or so then those violations be forgiven (be fruitless).
- The following is the prayer we say while doing Pratikraman:
- “KHAMEMI SAVVE JIVE,
- SAVVE JIVA KHAMANTU ME
- METTI ME SAVVE BHUYESU,
- VERAM MAJAHAM N KENAI”
- Which has been read by readers of this list many times. Those who are born in Jain families are familiar with the meaning and theme behind it. But when it is read or heard by those who are unfamiliar with it, then it may loose some concept in it though there was good discussion in this list. So as per my understanding by including some more words I have tried to expand its meaning and the scope which would make it more meaningful.
- “I forgive (from the bottom of my heart without any reservation) all living beings (who may have caused me any pain and suffering either in this life or previous lives), and I beg (again from the bottom of my heart without any reservation) for the forgiveness from all living beings (no matter how small or big to whom I may have caused pain and suffering in this life or previous lives, knowingly or unknowingly, mentally, verbally or physically, or if I have asked or encouraged someone else to carry out such activities). (Let all creatures know that) I have a friendship with everybody and I have no revenge (animosity or enmity) toward anybody.”
- If we reflect back on ourselves we would realize that our mind is continuously busy either thinking on something which may be near to us or could even be as far away as the other end of the world, talking or doing physical activities. This thinking, our words or our physical activities would be reflection of our happiness, sorrow, anger, greed, jealousy, and egoism, etc. And, depending upon how we react to those, we attract various types of new karmas to our souls. No prudent person would like to attract bad karma and at certain stages any karma at all. It is not as easy as turning off a light switch but we have a choice to minimize our damage so that things would be more conducive for our social and spiritual uplift which should ultimately lead to salvation or liberation from this worldly life of any kind.
- Buzz word is “minimizing the damage to our soul”. Jinas had explained that along with other karmas we should be careful that the bondage of Mohniya karma. Among all the subtypes of Mohniya karma we should be very still more careful about bondage of Anantanubadhi kashay Mohniya karmas (this does not means that other subtypes are acceptable.).
- Anantanubadhi kashay Mohniya karmas are accumulated not only when our passions (anger, ego, deceit, and greed) are sever while carrying out our actions but if we donM-^Rt repent for our other actions within one year of them. This Anantanubadhi kashay Mohniya karmas obstruct right belief and right conduct which are necessary ingredients to start the beginning of spiritual uplift which would ultimately lead to liberation. As a human we are able to recognize this factor better than other living beings and therefore we shall take continue to take advantage of knowing this secret to put us to advantageous level.
- Earlier discussion explained how “Michchhami Dukkadam” can affect the type of nature of karmas, but there is also another reason to say “Michchhami Dukkadam”. The physical bondage of karmas can be loose (sithil), tight (gadha), tighter(nidhatta), and tightest (nikachit). The loose, tight bondage can easily be shed off by repenting and apologizing for our deeds which caused them. The moderate bondage can be shed off by austerity while sever bondage can be only shed off by suffering the results of those karmas. Now going back to realize before we say “Michchhami Dukkadam”, first we realize to that me have or might have done some harms to others and regret for doing so and then we feel sorry for doing so and want to apologize for the same. So these repenting and expressing apology by saying “Michchhami Dukkadam” would help us to get rid off some of our karmas ahead of time which can change our future for a better.
- While we are in mood to be a better person we can do a little more contemplation and it would put on a different path. So I am taking an opportunity to add a few more words which should go along with friendship. Those contemplation including freidship are:
- Maitri Bhavana (Thinking of being a Friend)
- Pramod Bhavana (Thinking of Appreciation)
- Karuna Bhavana (Thinking of Compassion)
- Madhyastha Bhavana (Think to staying neutral or uninvolved)
- Let us understand how these bhavanas play important roles in our lives, how they can keep us away from bad karmas, and ultimately how they can improve our overall chances to uplift our souls.
- Maitri Bhavana (Thinking of a Friendship)
Jinas had taught us, “We must be a friend to all living beings.” The feeling of friendship brings love and respect for others. It, also, initiates a feeling of brotherhood among all and in turn leaves no room for harm, deceit or quarrelsomeness with anybody. If we contemplate on Maitri Bhavana our thoughts, words, and actions will not be harsh, and we will not hurt anybody. On the contrary, we will support and protect everybody. Friendship will lead us to be tolerant, forgiving, and caring for one another. Therefore by developing a friendship with all living beings, we will avoid bad karma.
- Pramod Bhavana (Thinking of Appreciation)
In this bhavana, we admire the success of our friends, spiritual leaders and Arihants. One of the most destructive forces in our lives is jealousy. However, friendship combined by admiration, destroys jealousy . As jealousy subsides, negative impulses are turned into positive ones, and in time, you will be at peace.
- Karuna Bhavana (Thinking of Compassion)
Instead of succeeding, many of our friends may be getting into trouble for things they should not be doing, and even those who are successful may be accumulating vices such as greed and ego. If such is the case then, they are not on the right path, and may they are weak, helpless, and in distress. At a time like this, you should contemplate on the karuna Bhavana and show compassion towards them instead of being disgusted towards them or hating them. Show them a right path with patience, tolerance, and forgiveness and offer them the needed support. In this way, not only will you be avoiding bad karma, but so will your friends.
- Madhyastha Bhavana (Think of staying neutral or uninvolved)
Life appears to be nothing but involvement. Sometimes life works out favorable and sometimes it does not. So when the things dont workout, instead of getting disappointed, angry, or more involved, you should contemplate on Madhyastha Bhavana which leads to feeling that MQI did my best to resolve the situation.If someone does not want to understand, then leave him/her alone without getting further involved. You should simply hope that one of these days, he/she may understand and change. By observing Madhyastha Bhavana, you will remain in equanimity, instead of provoking turmoil in your mind. When your mind stays neutral and uninvolved it keeps karma away.
- In short, you can avoid influx of bad karma and stay in peace while living in worldly life by developing a friendship towards all living beings, admiring their success, holding their hands when they are in distress, and leaving them alone at times when they do not understand what is right or wrong.So, until it becomes the natural way of life to observe the above
bhavanas, one should contemplate on:
“KHAMEMI SAVVE JIVE, SAVVE JIVA KHAMANTU ME METTI ME SAVVE BHUYESU, VERAM MAJAHAM N KENAI”
As many times as needed. If there is a goal, then there will be an achievement.