Paryushan in Jainism

Paryushan is most important Jain festival which is celebrated in the months of August-September. It is also known as Pajjosavana. It means “abiding, coming together”. The followers take vows and observe fasts with intensity at par with monasticism.

The date for the festival is assigned to be the Bhadra shukla chaturthi. It must be initiated by the fifth day (panchami) of the shukla paksha phase of Bhadra. The festival comes to a close on Samvatsari which is short for Pratikramana. Basically it comes at a time when the wondering monks stopover for shelter during monsoon season for four months (chaturmasa).

The two sects of Jains refer to it by different names:

  • Svetambaras call it Paryushana. They observe it for 8 days. Recite Kalpa sutra on fifth day (this is recitation describing the birth of Lord Mahavira).
  • Digambaras call it Das Lakshana. They observe it for 10 days. Recite Tattvartha sutra on fifth day (this is compendium of Jain principles).

Rituals and Observances

  • Fasting:
    • It is observed during the festival of Paryushana
    • It can last from a duration of 1-30 days
    • Digambar sravakas or laymen take food and water only once a day
    • Svetambars only take boiled water between sunrise and sunset.
    • Fasting is not encouraged among diabetics, pregnant women and other people suffering from any ailments.
  • Pratikramana Samayika :Meditation
    • Pratikramana stands for turning back in which the devotee reflects on his spiritual journey and thus reinforces his faith.
    • During festival, the day is begun at 5:45 am with Jain meditation
    • This is then followed by prayers for universal peace and brotherhood.
    • It is a regular meditation for both the sects. The period can be either morning or evening, after every lunar month or can be after every four months.
    • The annual pratikramana is known as Samvatsari Pratikramana which overlaps with the end of Paryushana.
    • There are six essential elements of the meditation:
      • Samayika: Union with self
      • Chauvisantho: Praying to Five Supremes, 2 jinas, 4 mangalas
      • Vandana: Prayer to the Master
      • Pratikramana: Reflections on past
      • Kayotsarga:Detachment from body
      • Pratyakhyana: Resolutions and vows
    • Asking for Forgiveness
    • On the end of festival Jains ask for forgiveness from each-other for any offences committed in the past year.
    • It is asked by telling Micchami Dukkadam or Uttam Kshama to each other which means “if I have hurt you knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word or deed , then I seek your forgiveness”.
    • It is usually done on Paryusha Day for Svetambaras and on Pratipada Day for Ashwin Krashna for Digambaras.

Dashlakshana or the ten righteous virtues which find mention in Jain texts are :

  1. Uttam Kshama(forbearance):
  2. Uttam Mardava(supreme modesty)
  3. Uttam Aarjava(straightforwardness)
  4. Uttam Satya(truth)
  5. Uttam Shauch(purity)
  6. Uttam Sanyam(supreme restraint)
  7. Uttam Tap(austerity)
  8. Uttam Tyaga(renunciation)
  9. Uttam Aakinchanya(non-attachment) and
  10. Uttam Brahmcharya(supreme celibacy)

These are usually observed as a 10-day vrata every year during Shukla Panchami to Chaturdashi of Bhadrapada. The word Uttam signifies that all the virtues are strictly practiced by the Jain monks while the commoners only practice subtle versions of the same for ten days-each day for one virtue.

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