Jai Mahavir ji
Fundamental Features of Jainism
Source: -Religious books written by upadhyaya Munishri Kamakumar Nandi ji.in excerpts form.
The Festival of Self-Upliftment By The Holy Observation
Of Ten Universal Virtue
The Jain community like other communities throughout the world celebrates many social and religious functions annually. The superb Jain festival popularly known as ‘Paryushan Parva’ organized every year in the auspicious month ‘Bhadrapad’ of the Hindu calendar extends from the 5th day to the 14th day of the bright fortnight. The Festival ordains the Jains to observe the ten universal supreme virtues in daily practical life. Besides assuring a blissful existence in this world and the other world for every living being, it aims at the attainment of salvation-the supreme ideal for a mundane soul. The non-Jains also express high reverence for this Jain festival. All members of Jain community- high and low, young and old, and males and females-participate with full vigor and zeal in the various religious ritual and cultural programs; and listen with rapt attention to the holy sermons of the saints and learned Jain scholars arranged during the ten days festival because in these celebrations lie dormant the seeds of the well being, peace and happiness of the common man. On the eve of this festival all activities which add to social discord or bitter-ness are declared taboo from the temple pulpits. The celebrations harbinger social harmony and amity preach the lofty Jain motto:
“Live and let live”
The ‘Paryushan Parva’ celebrated annually for self-purification and upliftment is meant to adhere to the ten universal virtues in practical life; and leads us on the right path, far from the mad strife for material prosperity, which ultimately leads us to our destination i.e., salvation. Two popular titles of this festival, viz. (i) Paryusshan Parva and (ii) Dash lakshan Parva are in vogue; but the mode of performance and aim of the festival is one and the same. According to Sanskrit grammar the underlying idea of the festival and interpretation is given below:
The celebration through which the karmic matter attached to the soul is totally burnt or vanished (both internally and externally) is known as, self-purification; various meaningful and sublime titles have been assigned to this festival in different Jain scriptures;
Parva Raj- The festival which carries a special and greater significance; its celebrations spread over a longer duration and it is more soul-stirring than any other Jain festival.
Maha Parva- It is an ancient and chief of all Jain festivals.
Dash Lakshan Parva -The festival for the observance of ten universal virtues; viz., forgiveness, contentment and celibacy, those aims at the uplift-ment of the soul and are vividly preached and practiced specially during the festival.
Paryushan Parva – The festival through which an attempt is made to put an end to all vices, passions and lustful desires in thought, speech and action.
Paryushana Parva – The festival in which ten universal virtues like forgiveness, contentment and self-restraint, are venerated and worshipped for self-purification.
Paryu –Prasa – The festival in which one mediates upon the inherent virtues of the soul in thought, speech and action; or one attains peace of soul i.e., celestial peace.
Paryupshamn or Pajjusvana -The festival in which an attempt is made to obtain peace discarding passions and lustful desires through various means; and observe harmony in the soul through the study of scriptures.
Pajjushana –The word of Prakrat language carries the same meaning as explained in Paryushan Parva.
Samvatsari Parva- The festival which is celebrated annually to subdue all passions and lustful desires. This title is popular among the Swaitambera Sect of Jainism.
Paryushan Parva gives expression to the perfectly purified trait of the soul, through which one gets rid of worldly disorders and allurements and one gets fully absorbed in the eternal truth on experiencing and realizing the true nature of soul. In other words, we can say the natural realization of the trio ‘The True, the God and the beautiful’ is fully possible only through Paryushan. This festival puts an end to all evils in man; gives him realization of the eternal bliss, and spiritualism becomes alive by the celebration of this festival.
Since times immemorial the living beings have fallen a prey to bewitching worldly allurements and are involved day and night in such a poisonous environment of lustful desires and sensuous pleasures that despite being cautioned time and again, they fail to rid themselves from the bondage of the network of the worldly illusions. Jain Acharyas have, through their sermons and ideal moral code of conduct inspired the mundane souls to keep aloof from the blemishes of the world, which breed nothing but sorrow and misery for the mankind. But the insatiable ambition of man for sensuous pleasure, material comforts and luxurious life has always allured him since antiquity. Consequently man has bitterly failed to make distinction between self and non-self, and to understand the real nature of soul.
The festival has its own age-old history, but nothing definite can be said about its origin and since when it is being celebrated. In fact, the celebration of this festival is beyond the scope of known history. The truth is that spiritual matters like self-purification and renunciation can not be measured by time scale. When the auspicious month of ‘Bhadrapad’ comes every year, the whole Jain community celebrates this festival without any difference of high and low, rich and poor. The Digamberas and Swaitamberas, both sects of Jain community celebrate the self uplifting festival with great enthusiasm. The 5th day of the bright fortnight of the holy month of ‘Bhadrapad’ is auspicious for both. The Digamberas celebrate this festival annually for ten days from the 5thday to the 14th day of the bright half of the month; whereas the Swaitamberas celebrate it only for eight days, and the 5thday is the main day of their celebrations held under the title ‘samvatsari Parva’.
References about the celebration of ‘Paryushan Parva’ or ‘Dash Lakshan Parva’ are available here and there in ancient literary books as well; which show that it has been a popular festival for ages. The house-holders celebrate it jointly suspending all their business agricultural and commercial activities for the time being. A fine description of the closing ceremony of this festival is available in the ‘Bhattarak era’ extending from 1350A.D. to 1450A.D. In that age the house holders got manuscript copies of the prominent holy books prepared by the scholars, and offered these to the Bhattaraks and their disciples with due devotion at the end of the ceremonies. Even today ‘Dash Lakshan Parva’ is the most suitable occasion for giving donations and charities; and on the last day of the festival the house-holders observe full day fast and make every attempt to donate to religious and social installations in cash or kind within their capacity. Very often the Jain scholars viz poets and writers get their literary works initiated during the festival day and thus pay their homage to this grand festival.
‘Jin Datt Charit’ is an epic poem of Hindi Language. The author of this literary work, the great poet Raj Singh finished this book on the holy 5th day of the bright moon of ‘Bhadrapad’ in Samvat 1354. The learned poet Raj Singh chose this day for the initiation ceremony of his great book simply to immortalize the glory and significance of this day. The following verse of poem throws ample light on the special significance of ‘Dash Lakshan Parva’ in the 14th century.
Similar to the modern age, the ‘Dash Lakshan Parva’ was celebrated with great zeal and joy thousands of years ago as well; and austerities viz. self-meditation, doing penance, fasting and study of Holy Scriptures were performed during that period. The house-holders purged their soul by keeping fast on the last day of the ceremonies and celebrated the closing ceremony with great pump and show. When the ten day celebrations are over, this festival leaves behind its deep impress on the mind and heart of every Jain-young or old.
This sacred festival will be celebrated for ever throughout India and abroad by all Jains- Digambers and Swaitambers. The former appear to have the best pretensions to antiquity and cultural heritage and to have been most widely diffused; the latter have only as yet been traced as far back as 5th century A.D. The former are almost certainly the same as nirgranthas, who are referred to in numerous passages of Buddhist Pail Pitakas and must therefore be as old as 6th century B.C. rather earlier. The Swaitamberas’ ideas of exclusiveness appear to be one of the recent growths. In fact, Jainism is a prehistoric religion propounded by the first Tirthankara, Lord Aadi Nath. Upon all these grounds we think that the celebration of ‘Paryushan Parva’ is a holy tradition coming down from the ancient past to the modern times.
To sum up, ‘Paryushan Parva’ is a grand Jain festival of self-introspection, self-realization, self-enlightenment and self-achievement, which ultimately lead to one and only one final goal, i.e. liberation or salvation.
Note:-The words shown in italics and green color are from prakart/sanskrit language.
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