Navapad Oli: Ayambil Oli

April, 2024 by Kishor B. Shah
  • Overview
  • Ayambil Food
  • Health Benefits of Ayambil
  • Spiritual Benefits of Ayambil
  • Ayambil – Relevance Today
  • Navapad
  • Daily Pad Summary
  • Siddhachakra Yantra – Navapad
Ayambil Overview

Ayambil Oli is considered very auspicious, efficacious, and as one of the most important festivals in Jainism. The festival is also considered to be ‘shashwathi’ – meaning the festival is eternal, existing in all time cycles of past, present and future. Ayambil is one of the external or Bahya Tap falling within Rasparityag – giving up attachment for taste. Jains consider the austerity of Ayambil as a way to purify the body and mind, encourage spiritual growth and practice self-restraint. By observing Ayambil, one can experience various health benefits and live in harmony with the environment.

The Festival of Ayambil, which last for nine days, is observed by many Jains twice a year. The first one falls in the bright fortnight of Chaitra month (March/ April) and the second during the bright fortnight of Asso month (September/ October). During the nine days of Ayambil, puja, holy recitation, mediation and other rituals in honour of Navapad take place. ‘Nava’ means nine in Sanskrit and Prakrit languages and ‘Pada’ means post. Hence, the word Navapada means nine supreme posts of the Universe – which are Arihant, Siddha, Acharya, Upadhyaya, Sadhus (Panch Paramesthi), Darshan (faith), Gnan (knowledge), Chaitra (conduct) and Tap (penance).

Ayambil are of three types, each primarily different in terms of number of days the austerity is undertaken.

  • A single Ayambil fast.
  • Ayambil Oli – ‘Oli’ means ‘a line’ and Ayambil Oli indicates a line of nine days of Ayambil fasts, undertaken consecutively during the Ayambil Oli festival. The end of the festival is celebrated on the 10th day when Parna is held.
  • Navapad Oli – If Ayambil is observed every year twice – nine days each time for four and half years (in total eighty one days), then it is said that one has completed Navapad Oli.

The word Ayambil is, actually a colloquial word with its roots in the Sanskrit word – ACHAMALA – ‘Acham’ – soup + ‘amla’ – sour, that is giving up of tangy sour taste is doing Ayambil.

Ayambil is observed by having only one meal a day of plain food which is devout of any special taste and spices, which is boiled or cooked without oil/ghee and also milk, curd, green, raw vegetables and fruits are not consumed.

Ayambil is part of Rasparityag – one of the external tap. Rasparityag means giving up attachment for tastes. The tongue is an organ that looks for tastes. Our attention generally stays drawn towards the tasty foods and drinks. This happens to be a more or less insatiable craze. The hankering for tastes does not allow a person to keep the peace of mind. Some restrain must be applied to it. Ayambil austerity is observed with that end in view.

In the ayambil penance, an important principle is conveyed in the message – “life is not eating, but food is taken to maintain the life.” The festival is observed in an endeavour to achieve victory over taste, to attain spiritual upliftment and shed karma bondage.

Ayambil Food

Jainism, like in Ayurveda, recognises six tastes – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent – each of which has an essential role to play in our physiology, health and well-being, including our overall state of mind and consciousness.

Jains have identified certain foods that give rise to the four passions or kashays – anger, greed, pride(ego) and deceit by changing the natural inherent qualities of the mind, body and soul and pervert them are called Vigai. Vigai are classified as:-

Laghu Vigai – Consisting of Six Types – Sugar(jaggery), milk(dudh), clarified butter(ghee), curds(dahi), oil (tel) and fried items(pakwans).

Maha Vigai – Consisting of Four types – butter (makhan); honey(madh); eggs/meat/fish (maas) and alcohol(madra). Jains are advised to refrain from consuming these at all times.

Ayambil food has to made fresh in the morning– that is food can be boiled, soaked or precooked – on the day of Ayambil only. Precooked items from the previous day are not permitted.

Ayambil food is devoid of the six Vigais – sugar, milk, ghee, oil, curds (yogurt) and fried items. The food is prepared without the use of any spices except dried ginger(soonth), pepper, asafetida (hing), pipramul or ganthoda and roasted salt – salt that is roasted in the oven till it is red hot.

Ordinary salt, spices like chilli powder, haldi power, dry dhaniya or coriander, jeera, as well as vegetables and fruits are not permitted during Ayambil.

Permitted food during Ayambil includes cereals like wheat, rice, chapatis made from bajri flour, boiled pulses like moong dal, chana, rajma etc. Ayambil food is cooked in water which helps the body in absorbing food nutrients which helps in instant energy.

The prepared food is consumed once a day in one sitting, preferably whilst sitting on the floor. Boiled water can be consumed only after sunrise and before sunset.

The overall aim is to eat enough food for the sustenance of the body to survive.

The desire to eat and procreate are thought to be two of the most primal ones. Jainism has asserted that the control of the organ of taste is the most difficult to control, even more then the urge to procreate as we start eating from birth till death, whereas we only indulge in sexual pleasures for a limited period during our lifetime. Control of the tongue leads to control of all the senses.

Eating Ayambil food is the first step in controlling the senses.

Upvas (Fasting) = suppression of the mind
Ayambil = conquering the mind

Health Benefits of Ayambil

Ayambil is scientifically structured to provide benefits to body, mind, and soul.

The Ayambil diet consists of avoiding tasty, rich food devoid of spices, vegetables, and fruits, has many health benefits including: –

  • Helps to detox and cleanse the body.
  • During the month of March – April and Sept – Oct, the weather changes due to which it causes imbalance of 3 forces of the body such as Vata (Gas), Pitta (Acidity), Kafa (Cough). Ayambil diet helps to balance and neutralise the digestive system and body.
  • Elimination of sugar helps in keeping triglycerides proper. Triglycerides are a type of fat, called lipid, that circulate in our blood. They are the most common type of fat in our body.
  • Elimination of sugar aid in the control of diabetes.
  • Avoiding use of ghee and oil improves cholesterol related ailments – heart and cardiac.
  • Most people are aware that excessive use of ordinary salt leads to rise in blood pressure, which in turn can cause kidney, cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases. Avoiding ordinary salt during Ayambil and using roasted salt sparingly aids in lowering blood pressure.
  • No dairy products improve sinusitis and respiratory diseases.
  • Ayambil diet has been known to improve skin health and cure skin aliments such as vitiligo.

(Various Sources including information from videos on health benefits of Ayambil by medical practitioners)

Spiritual Benefits of Ayambil

By restraining the senses – in case of Ayambil our sense of taste – helps one control the mind, specifically negative emotions, and behaviours. In Jainism, it is said that control of the senses means control of the mind, which ultimately leads to attainment of infinite bliss and eternal life.

From a Jain philosophy point of view, the main aim of Ayambil is to partially eliminate Karma – by the process of Nirjara. Jainism suggests that birth as human being is the only route to attain liberation -moksha. Make best of it with continuous process of Karma Nirjara.

Ayambil – Relevance Today

In our daily life, we tend to focus on materialistic concerns regarding work, money, food, home etc which can lead to neglecting the needs of the soul and heart. Jain festivals, like Ayambil and Paryushan, give us an opportunity to step back and refocus on the soul.

Ayambil give us an opportunity not only to practice Jain conduct to a greater degree than normal but also to revitalize and strengthen our faith in Jain Religion.

Ayambil Oli is still relevant in modern times as it helps one to: –

  • Develop inner strength and self – discipline and spiritual awareness.
  • Increase self-control/restraint and mindfulness. By controlling our desires and impulses, aids us to overcome our egos and connect with our inner selves. Practicing self-control is difficult but is necessary for achieving true happiness and inner peace.
  • Gain insight into one’s true nature.
  • Improve patience. Empathise with those in many parts of the world who are living in hunger and poverty.
  • The Ayambil diet is like a detoxification. The diet eaten during Ayambil is beneficial for our health and also helps reduce our own carbon and himsa footprint.
  • Provides an opportunity to review our eating habits and the food we eat and buy.
  • Learn about the Jain faith as The Navpad is the essence of the Jain Philosophy.

Navapad

Bhagwan Mahavir, when explaining the greatness of Navapad to King Srenik, from the Niscaya Naya – absolute point of view, stated: –

“In Navpad, it is our ‘atma tattva’ – the real state of one’s self, which is shown through the mediums of Arihant, Siddha, Acaraya, Upadhyaya, Sadhu, Darshan, Gyan, Charita and Tapa because Navpad is not based on substances but is based on qualities. This means that in Navpad, it is not the worship or veneration of any specified personality from amongst the nine Pads mentioned earlier, but it is the worship of their Virtues. Each and every virtue attributed to each of the ‘Nine Pads’ is in fact the virtues of our soul from the absolute point of view.”

1 – Arihant’s main attribute is that of ‘omniscience’, which is nothing but our soul’s virtue of complete knowledge.

2 – Siddha’s ananta gyan (infinite cognition), ananta darshan (infinite perception), ananta caritra (infinite conduct) and ananta virya (infinite energy) as also his liberated state are in reality a state of our own soul, because there is an eternal rule, no matter how much a soul may be obscured by excessive karmas, yet his central eight space points – rucaka pradesa – located near the naval, are forever and at all times free of karmas, like those of a Siddha. Therefore, even today, when our inner, partially liberated state completely reveals itself outwards, then that itself is the state of a liberated soul.

3 to 9 – Likewise, 3 – Acarya’s, 4 – Upadhyaya’s, 5 – Sadhu’s virtues like self-restraint, knowledge, vigilance along with 6 – right perception, 7 – right knowledge, 8 – right conduct and 9 – austerities are all in our pure inherent nature, virtues of our own pure soul.

Contemplation on Navapad is contemplation on the soul ‘s intrinsic nature and virtues.

(Above section re Navapad extracted and adapted from Sripal Ras by P & S P Kapadia)

Daily Pad Summary

Siddhachakra Yantra – Navapad

About Author

Kishor is resident in UK and a Banker.  He has served the Oshwal Association of UK as Trustee, Area Secretary, Editor of Oshwal News and Web Chairperson developing and successfully launching a new website.
He is very passionate about Jainism and has produced Jain Exhibitions, Jain Calendars in English, Insights Magazines and written various articles on Jainism, for the Jain Community.
Kishor was part of the team that worked for nearly two years on Jainpedia V2.0, which was officially launched in April 2022 and is involved in the continuing development of the site.
He is the Regional Editor of UK for Jain Avenue Magazine (jainavenue.org).

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Shruti Malde
Shruti Malde
1 month ago

Well done Kishorbhai! Interesting article.

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1 month ago

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