Accepting a sin/misdeed committed towards someone, and neither being angry nor cursing the offender for it, and instead freeing him from the guilt is forgiveness.
Being truly able to forgive someone, is one of the greatest virtues a human can possess.
On the other hand, one should accept that it is one’s own past bad karma that has come to fruition and brought him misfortune. An offender is just a medium and hence in actuality, does not need to be forgiven, but instead thanked for helping one to shed the past karmas.
Q2. What is Pratikraman? Why is Samvatsari Pratikraman important?
Pratikraman in the literal sense means to backtrack from one’s sins/misdeeds.
It is a penance done, to ask for forgiveness for past wrong doings in the areas of Gyan, Darshan, Charitra and twelve Vrats.
Householder’s (Shravak’s) day to day activities involve unavoidable violence towards air, water, fire, earth, and plants including microorganisms. Often, senses (Indriyas) are used for purposes other than they were intended. For example, eyes are utilized to watch a film instead of reading a book that can impart knowledge and values. Similarly, ears are employed for hearing obscene language instead of listening to discourses. This kind of activities to involve violence.
During a Pratikaman one accepts his misconduct towards any living being and forgiveness is solicited from every macro to microorganism for the harm caused to them, intentionally or unintentionally, through actions, words or even thoughts.
Forgiveness is asked, with a genuine feeling of repentance, with the intent of not repeating the misdeed, or if repeated, then reduced in frequency or intensity.
A devout Jain would do Pratikraman twice daily – once in the morning (Devshi) to forfeit their sins committed during the night; and once at night (Rai) to forfeit the sins committed during the day.
Those that cannot do it daily try to do it fortnightly (Pakhi).
Those that aren’t able to do even fortnightly perform the ritual once every four months. (Chaumasi Pratikraman) and those that aren’t even able to do it once every four months, make sure to perform the ritual annually on the day of Samvatsari to diminish yearly misdeeds.
If forgiveness is not requested through the ritual of Pratikraman, sins get accumulated, and it becomes more and more difficult to forfeit the same.
Q3. Does forgiving help in breaking the karmic bondage between the offender and the one offended? Does asking for forgiveness and being forgiven forfeit the sins committed?
A complete destruction of karmic linkage between offender and victim necessitates a two-step process. Seeking forgiveness by offender and granting forgiveness by victim.
It is really a favour to oneself, as it breaks the infinite loop of karma cycle between offender and the self.
When an offender is genuinely repentant and forgiven by the one offended, the karmic bond between the two is broken and does not carry forward into a new lifetime. The offender must feel a deep sense of regret and accept his wrong doings with the intention of never repeating them again. When an offender accepts and pledges not to repeat the same misdeeds, the sin of the same gets waived off. But until he is forgiven by the victim, they will continue to be bound by the karmas and will continue coming face to face with each other over lifetimes.
Again, when an offender is forgiven by the victim without feeling any remorse within himself, the karmic bondage between the two is carried on over many lifetimes. And each of their encounters may bind fresh karmas.