Paryushan Mahaparva Festival of soul purification And Self Search

August, 2021 by

PARYUSHAN means: Festival of self-friendship and realisation of soul, festival of sacrifice, penance, and endurance. Festival of soul purification and self-search, time to keep aside the post, wealth and prestige and be with God. The time to forget and forgive, make the enemy a friend and increase the love and kindness.

1st Day of Paryushan:  The day of making the mind and soul pure and concentrate in vitrag
2nd Day of Paryushan:  On this day with the help of our sweet and kind speech spread the fragrance of inspiring virtues and constructive activities. Donate with free hand and become a king.
3rd Day of Paryushan:  To make the Mind (soul) and Body Pure and pious with the self of sacrifice and penance. Self-control and self-friendship are also practiced. Meditation for enlightenment.
4th Day of Paryushan:  Rare occasion of gaining Aatma Laxmi.
5th Day of Paryushan:  The day of “KALPASUTRA” sacred document of Jainism. On this day Bhagwan Mahavira’s birth is celebrated with special celebrations, a part of which is the auction of 14 items, dreams seen by the Lord’s mother Trishala Devi, while she was carrying him.
6th Day of Paryushan:  ‘SWAN’ floating in the MANSAROVAR of Jain Empire (Religion SASAN)
7th Day of Paryushan:  Day of Divine message of Tolerance and power of endurance.
8th Day of Paryushan:  ‘SAMVATSARI’: The Day of the grand ‘GATE WAY’ of ‘SALVATION’ (Moksha).

Paryushana is a time of reflection on actions and meditation on the past year. Paryushana is marked by strict observance of the ten cardinal virtues: Forgiveness, Charity, Simplicity, Contentment, Truthfulness, Self-restraint, Fasting, Detachment, Humility and Continence. During the eight-day Paryushan festival, the Swetambaras recite the religious text, the Kalpa Sutra (including a section on the birth of Lord Mahavira), on the fifth day. During this festival, Jains of all ages visit the divine Temples/Derasar or Upashray to listen to the discourses and readings of Kalpa Sutra. In the evenings, Jains perform a kriya called Pratikraman, a form of meditation to reflect on spiritual journey.

Most Jains fast in some form or the other on these days. It is not an uncommon sight to see 8-day fasters, who do not consume anything in these eight days. Even water must be boiled and can be drunk only between 9-10 a.m. to 5- 6 p.m. (approx.) Every now and then one does come across a person who has not eaten for a whole month too!!! Penance and fasting are the key words in these days. Many Jains abstain from onions, garlic, potatoes, fermented food, root vegetables and green vegetables.
In the Shwetambar sect, an 8-day festival is celebrated that ends either on Bhadrapada Shukla 4 or Bhadrapada Shukla 5. The last day is called Samvatsari, short for Samvatsari Pratikramana. Seven days are days of attainment, and the eighth day is one of fulfilment or achievement. It is at this time that Jains embark on their respective annual pratikraman – a reflection on their spiritual journey for the past year.

On this day they also observe a unique custom, where they ask every individual, they may have offended during the year for forgiveness. Old quarrels are forgotten, and friendships and relationships renewed, as they fold their hands and ask for “Michhami Dukkadam” or forgiveness. 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).

The soul, in its pure form, has infinite perception, infinite knowledge, infinite vigor, and is non-attached. These attributes are not seen in a worldly soul because it is soiled with karmas. By following religious principles and activities, we overcome our karmas and uplift our souls to liberation. There are various kinds of religious activities, sometimes called rituals, and among them Pratikraman is the most important ritual. During pratikraman we repent for our non-meritorious activities on a daily basis. We realize our mistakes and ask for forgiveness which helps us to minimize the intensity of the karma. Pratikraman is a combination of six avashyaks (essential rituals). The six Avashyaks are:

1) Samayik – a state of total equanimity
2) Chauvisantho – worshipping the twenty-four Tirthankaras
3) Vandana- offering salutations to sadhus (monks) and sadhvis (nuns)
4) Pratikraman – realizing what we have done wrong and annotating on it
5) Kayotsarga – meditation of the soul
6) Pratyakhyan – renunciation

In samayik, we stay in equanimity for forty-eight minutes. During samayik not only do we give up all worldly affairs, but we also stay away from attachment and aversion. This activity helps us to purify our passions and desires. To perform samayik, we put on simple, white clothes, and occupy a quiet place. While in samayik, we recite the Navkar Mantra, read scriptures, perform meditation, etc. Our samayik gives us a glimpse at the life of sadhus [28] who live in samayik all of their life. It directly encourages us to lead the life of a sadhu or sadhvi.

Chauvisantho means adoration of the twenty-four Tirthankaras. By reciting it, we show our respect for the twenty-four Tirthankaras. While reciting this, we are reminded of how victorious these Jinas, who overcome inner enemies like anger, ego, greed, deceit, etc., were and such activity also encourages us to be like them. It is also called Chaturvinshatistava.

During vandana, we bow down to monks and nuns and express our reverence to them. They are our current religious guides, and preceptors. While bowing down, we become humble, and thus, help ourselves to overcome ego and anger. It also inspires us to become like them. If there is no monk or nun then we bow down in the North-East direction to Arihantas who are currently living far away from here.

Pratikraman is the combination of two words, Pra meaning return and atikraman meaning violation. Literally, it means returning from violations. As Jain householders, we are supposed to observe twelve minor vows. During Pratikraman we review our activities for any violations that may have occurred among these vows. In this way, we ask for forgiveness for our actions, purify our souls, and improve our future activities. If we have not taken these vows, then we should wish that there will come a day when we can take those vows. Pratikraman is usually done twice a day; once in the morning, Raisi (morning) Pratikraman and once in the late evening Devasi (evening) Pratikraman. Those who are unable to perform daily pratikraman should do a Pakshik (fortnightly) Pratikraman. There are some who somehow cannot find even that much time, they should do a Chaumasi (quarterly) Pratikraman, every four months. However, if someone cannot even do that, then they should do Samvatsari (yearly) Pratikraman, considered a must for every Jain. By repenting during the pratikraman, you lessen the bondage of karma to your soul and avoid committing the same sins in the future. If we do not repent for our deeds at least once a year, then the bondage of karmas to the soul becomes severe and even harder to shed off. In all truth, one should perform pratikraman as soon as one realizes he or she has committed a sin.

The word kayotsarga is made up of two words Kaya meaning body and utsarga meaning to give up. Kayotsarga means to give up one’s physical comfort and body movements, thus staying steady, either in a standing or other posture, and concentrating upon the true nature of the soul as being separate from the body. This is a form of meditation and by practicing pure kayotsarga we slowly gain control over our mental, verbal, and physical activities.

This is a formal renunciation of certain activities, which reduces to stopping the inflow of karmas. This activity helps us to learn to control our desires and prepares us for a much bigger renunciation.
Let’s celebrate Paryushan by embracing and understanding its rituals.

Curtesy –
co-edited – Rishwa Doshi

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments