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Paryushana (Magadhi Prakrit: पज्जोसणPajjosavana) is a Jain festival celebrated in the month of August or September. Normally Śvētāmbaras refer to it as Paryushana, while Digambaras refer it as Das Lakshana. Paryushana means “abiding, coming together”. The duration of Paryusana is for eight days for Swetambar jains and ten days for jains belonging to the Digambara sect.
Paryusana is a time when the laity take on vows of study and fasting with a spiritual intensity similar to temporary monasticism. It comes at the time when the wandering monks take up temporary residence for themonsoon period or “cāturmāsa” “four-month”. For this minimum duration, Paryushana must be initiated by panchami (the fifth day) of the shuklapaksha phase of Bhadra. The last day is called Samvatsari, short for Samvatsari Pratikramana.
The date for the Paryushana festival is Bhadra shukla chaturthi. Because of computational and other differences, there can be some minor differences among various subsects. Recently there has been an attempt to standardize the date. Because at this time the monks have settled in the town for a longer duration, it is time for the householders to have an annual renewal of the faith by listening to the statement of the Dharma and by meditation and vratas (self-control). Digambara Jains starting a 10-day period from Bhadra shukla panchami, during which the dashalakshana vrata is undertaken. Śvētāmbara celebrate an eight-day festival that ends with Bhadrapada shukla chaturthi.
It is believed that the devas (heavenly beings) do an eight-part puja (worship) of the tirthankaras, which takes eight days. Śvētāmbara Jains celebrate this period as Paryushana. During the 8-day festival, the Śvētāmbaras Murtipujaki recite the Kalpa Sūtra, which includes a recitation of the section on birth of Mahavira on the fifth day. Some Śvētāmbara Sthanakvasis recite the Antagada Sutra, which details the life of great men and women who attained moksha during the eras of Neminatha and Mahavira.
The Digambara Jains recite the Tattvartha Sutra (compendium of Jain principles). On dashami, a sugandha-dashami vrata is made. Digambaras celebrate Ananta chaturdashi on which a special worship is done. Many towns have a procession leading to the main Jain temple.
Das Dharma of Daslakshan Parva
The dharmas (Righteous deeds) are all prefixed by the word ‘Uttam’ (Supreme) to signify that they are practiced at the highest level by the Jain monks. The householder practises them to a lesser extent. It lasts over a period of ten days, each day being dedicated to one of the ten Dharmas. In the sections below a) stands for the Vyavahar view and b) for the Nischay view.
- Forgiveness (Uttam Kshama)
a) We forgive those who have wronged us and seek forgiveness from those we have wronged. Forgiveness is sought not just from human colleagues, but from all living beings ranging from one sensed to five sensed. If we do not forgive or seek forgiveness but instead harbor resentment, we bring misery and unhappiness on ourselves and in the process shatter our peace of mind and make enemies. Forgiving and seeking forgiveness oils the wheel of life allowing us to live in harmony with our fellow beings. It also attracts meritorious karma.
b) Forgiveness here is directed to oneself. The soul, in a state of mistaken identity or false belief, assumes that it consists of the body, the karmas and the emotions – likes, dislikes, anger, pride etc. As a result of this incorrect belief, it inflicts pain upon itself and is thus the cause of its own misery. Nischay Kshama Dharma teaches the soul to correctly identify itself by encouraging it to contemplate in its true nature and hence achieve the state of Correct Belief (Samyak Darshan). It is only by achieving Samyak Darshan that the soul ceases to inflict pain on itself and attains supreme happiness.
a) Wealth, good looks, reputable family or intelligence often lead to pride. Pride means to believe one to be superior to others and to look down on others. By being proud you are measuring your worth by temporary material objects. These objects will either leave you or you will be forced to leave them when you die. These eventualities will cause you unhappiness as a result of the ‘dent’ caused to your self-worth. Being humble will prevent this. Pride also leads to the influx of the bad karmas.
b) All the souls are equal, none being superior or inferior to another. In the words of Srimad Rajchandra:
“Sarva Jeev Che Sidh Sum, Je Samje Te Thai” (सर्व जीव छे सिद्ध सम, जे समजे ते थाई) – All souls are akin to the Siddha; those who understand this (principle), tend to achieve that state.
The Nischay view encourages one to understand his true nature. All souls have the potential to be liberated souls. The only difference between the liberated souls and those in bondage is that the former have attained liberation as a result of their ‘effort’. With effort, even the latter can achieve liberation.
- Straightforwardness (Uttam Aarjav)
a) The action of a deceitful person is to think one thing, speak something else and do something entirely different. There is no harmony in his thought, speech and actions. Such a person loses credibility very quickly and lives in constant anxiety and fear of his deception being exposed. Being straight-forward or honest, oils the wheel of life. You will be seen to be reliable and trustworthy. Deceitful actions lead to the influx of karmas.
b) Delusion about one’s identity is the root cause of unhappiness. The soul is made up of countless qualities like knowledge, happiness, effort, faith, and conduct. It has the potential to achieve omniscience (Keval Gnan केवल ज्ञान) and reach a state of supreme bliss. Again, the body, the karmas, the thoughts and all the emotions are separate from the true nature of the soul. Only by practicing Nischay Arjav Dharma will one taste the true happiness that comes from within.
- Contentment/Purity (Uttam Shauch)
a) Be content with the material gains that you have accomplished thus far. Contrary to popular belief, striving for greater material wealth and pleasure will not lead to happiness. Desire for more is a sign that we do not have all that we want. Reducing this desire and being content with what we have leads to satisfaction. Accumulating material objects merely fuels the fire of desire.
b) Contentment or happiness, derived from material objects, is only perceived to be so by a soul in a state of false belief. The fact is that material objects do not have a quality of happiness and therefore happiness cannot be obtained from them! The perception of ‘enjoying’ material objects is indeed only that – a perception! This perception rewards the soul with only misery and nothing else. Real happiness comes from within, as it is the soul that possesses the quality of happiness.
- Truth (Uttam Satya)
a) If talking is not required, then do not talk. If it is required then only use the minimum of words, and all must all be absolutely true. Talking disturbs the stillness of the mind. Consider the person who lies and lives in fear of being exposed. To support one lie he has to utter a hundred more. He becomes caught up in a tangled web of lies and is seen as untrustworthy and unreliable. Lying leads to an influx of karma.
b) Satya comes from the word Sat, whose one of the meaning is “existence”. Existence is a quality of the soul. Recognising the soul’s true nature as it really exists and taking shelter in the soul is practising Nischay Satya Dharma.
- Self-Restraint (Uttam Sanyam)
a) i)Restraining from injury to life – Jains go to great lengths, compared to other world religions, to protect life. This encompasses all living beings, from one-sensed onwards. The purpose of not eating root vegetables is that they contain countless one-sensed beings termed ‘nigod’. During Paryushan the Jains also do not eat green vegetables to reduce harm to the lower sensed beings.
ii) Self-restraint from desires or passions – These lead to pain and are therefore to be avoided.
b) i) Restraining injury to the self – This has been elaborated upon in Nischay Kshma Dharma.
ii) Self restraint from desires or passions – Emotions, e.g. likes, dislikes or anger lead to misery and need to be eradicated. They are not part of the true nature of the soul and only arise when the soul is in a state of false belief. The only method to free oneself from these is to contemplate on the true nature of the soul and in the process commence the journey to liberation or moksha.
- Penance (Uttam Tap)
a) This does not only mean fasting but also includes a reduced diet, restriction of certain types of foods, avoiding tasty foods, etc. The purpose of penance is to keep desires and passions in control. Over-indulgence inevitably leads to misery. Penance leads to an influx of meritorious karmas.
b) Meditation prevents the rise of desires and passions in the soul. In a deep state of meditation the desire to intake food does not arise. The first Tirthankara, Rishabha is said to have meditative in such a state for six months, during which he observed Nischay Uttam Tap. The only food he consumed during these six months was the happiness from within.
- Renunciation (Uttam Tyaag)
a) Contrary to popular belief, renouncing worldly possessions leads to a life of contentment and assists in keeping desires in check. Controlling desires not only leads to an influx of meritorious karma, but also absolving oneself from bad karma. Renunciation is done at the highest level by Jain monks who renounce not only the household but also their clothes. A person’s strength is measured not by the amount of wealth he accumulates but by the amount of wealth he renounces. By this measure our monks are the richest.
b) Renouncing the emotions, the root cause of misery, is Nischay Uttam Tyag, which is only possible by contemplating on the true nature of the soul.
- Non-attachment (Uttam Aakinchan)
a) This assists us in detaching from external possessions. Historically ten possessions are listed in Jain scriptures: ‘land, house, silver, gold, wealth, grain, female servants, male servants, garments and utensils’. Being unattached from these, helps control our desires and leads to an influx of meritorious karmas.
b) This assists us in being unattached from our internal attachments: false belief, anger, pride, deceit, greed, laughter, liking, disliking, lamentation, fear, disgust, male sexual desire, female sexual desire and hybrid sexual desire. Ridding the soul of these leads to its purification.
- Supreme Celibacy (Uttam Brahmacharya)
a) This means not only refraining from sexual intercourse but also includes all pleasures associated with the sense of touch, e.g. a cool breeze on a hot summers day or using a cushion for a hard surface. Again this dharma (righteousness) is practised to keep our desires in check. The monks practice this to the highest degree with all their body, speech and mind. The householder refrains from sexual intercourse with anyone except his or her spouse.
b) Brahmacharya is derived from the word Brahma – Soul and Charya – to dwell. Nischay Brahmacharya means to dwell in your soul. Only by residing in the soul are you the master of the Universe. Residing outside your soul makes you a slave to desires.
During Paryushana, Jains observe a fast. The span of the fast can last from a day to 30 days or even more. In the Digambara sect, Sravakas (laymen) do not take food and/or water (boiled) more than once in a day when observing fasts, while those of the Swetambar sect observing a fast survive on boiled water, which is consumed only between sunrise and sunset.
Jainism discourages fasting in diabetics, pregnant women, other patients taking medications. Before any fasting, consulting a doctor is recommended as fasting can interfere with health in aforementioned cases.
Pratikramana Samayika: Renewal meditation
On all the eight or ten days, Jains begin their day with pratikramana, or Jain meditation, at 5.45 in the morning, followed by prayers for promoting universal peace and brotherhood. Pratikramana means turning back; also called samayika, the practitioner reflects on their spiritual journey and renews their faith. For both Śvētāmbaras and Digambaras it takes the form of periodic meditation. The period can be twice daily (morning and evening), once every lunar phase, every four months or every year. The annual Pratikramana in some form is the minimum for the Śrāvaka and Śrāvikās.
The annual pratikramana is called Samvatsari Pratikramana. Since it coincides with the end of Paryushana, the terms “Samvatsari” and “Paryushana” are sometimes used interchangeably.
Pratikramana includes six avasyakas or essentials:
- samayika: to stay in equanimity by withdrawing to the self.
- Chauvisantho or Prayers to the Five Supremes, 24 jinas and the four mangalas, including the Dharma as presented by the ancient Masters.
- Vandana or Prayer to the Master or the deity.
- Pratikramana or reflections on vratas and past transgressions.
- Kayotsarga: detachment from the body by controlling it.
- Pratyakhyana: making resolutions or vows.
The detailed recommended procedure can be found in the handbooks. Detailed Pratikramana takes about three hours; however, the essentials can be done in a much shorter time if needed.
At the conclusion of the festival, the Sravakas request each other for forgiveness for all offenses committed during the last year. This occurs on the Paryusha day for the Swetambara and on Pratipada (first) of Ashwin Krashna for the Digambara. Forgiveness is asked by telling “Micchami Dukkadam” or “Uttam Kshama” to each other. It means “If I have caused you offence in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought word or deed, then I seek your forgiveness”.
These are the ten Lakshan of Dharma: Uttam Kshama (forbearance), Uttam Mardava (gentleness), Uttam Aarjava (uprightness), Uttam Satya (truth), Uttam Shauch (purity), Uttam Sanyam (restraint), Uttam Tap (austerity), Uttam Tyaga (renunciation), Uttam Aakinchanya (lack of possession) and Uttam Brahmcharya (chastity), as described by Umaswati in Tattvartha Sutra.
In the full form, it is a 10 day vrata that comes every year. It may be undertaken during Shukla Panchami to Chaturdashi of Bhadrapada, Magh or Chaitra months. However it is common to do it during Bhadrapada.
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