Jainism is an ancient religious sect, which propagates the path of Ahimsa, that is non- violence. According to Jain philosophy, everyone, who has won over all the six ripu s or inner instincts, has attained Nirvana, or the eternal knowledge is called a Jina or the conqueror.
Now the Jain communities most of the festivals that are observed starts on the note of renunciation. Navpad Oli too is not an exception.
The Jains celebrate two Navpads in a year, one in the shuklapaksha or the bright fortnight of Ashwina according to the traditional Hindu month or September October according to the Gregorian calendar. The other one is celebrated in the in the shukla paksh of the Hindu traditional month of Chaitra or March April as per Gregorian calendar.
- What is Navpad Oli?
The Navpad Oli, as mentioned earlier is one of the most important festivals for the Jains, observed for a period of nine days. The Navapad Oli, begins in the middle of navaratri, the Hindu festival. Jains perform the Ayambil Tapa for nine day of this Navpad Oli. Ayambil Tapa is a specific kind of fasting and penance where one can only consume boiled grains once a day. Nothing, not even salt is permitted to be added to this boiled grains. Thus, observing this Ayambil Tapa for the entire Navpad is an extremely difficult thing to maintain. The Ayambil Tapas are performed to pay homage to the supreme nine that rules the universe. These nine supreme ruling posts are – Arihant, Siddha, Acharya, Upadhyaya, Sadhu, Samyag Darshan, Samyag Gyan, Samyag Charitra and Samyag Tapa. Nava in Sanskrit means nine and the Pada or Pad means posts. Thus the salutation to the Nine supreme powers of the universe in known as Navpad Oli.
- What is the relationship of Navpad Oli with Siddha Chakra?
The siddha Chakra is a yantra or a kind of mechanism that features the position of the nine supreme posts of the Nav Pad. These nine ultimate posts are also categorized in to two sections- the panch Parameshthi containing the first five pads, and the Dharma Tatva, containing the remaining four.
Let us now take a look at the Nava Pads as they are placed in the Siddha Chakra
- Arihant pada – Arihant Pada occupies the central sphere in this Siddha Chakra. Arihant etymologically means the Hunter of enemies, as Ari means enemies, and Hant means to destroy. Arihant is also known as Veetaraga. He is the one who had won against the internal enemies or ripu s such as Kama, Krodha,Dwesha, Mada and Matsharjya, and is thus free from all such worldly attachments. He is the universal observer or the Kevala Jnan that is omniscience and from his position, sitting in a position of Samavasharan has established the 4 tirthas or the Chaturvidha Sangha, consisting of the sadhu meaning monks, the sadhwi meaning the nuns, the Sharavaka meaning the householder men and the shravika meaning the women householders. Because he lives in equilibrium despite having a physical body and as he has established the 4 tirthas, he is also known as the tirthankaras. Arihant Pada is celebrated on the shukla saptami or the 7th day of the bright phase of moon and is represented by the color white. Ayambil is observed by eating boiled rice. Prayers are done throughout the day.
- Siddha Pada – Siddha Pada is also Deva Tatva and like the Arihant is the Universal Observer. He does not preach, has no physical manifestation, is free from the shackles of life and has no incarnations and thus he is placed on top of Arihant in the Siddha Chakra.pletely free from all karmic cycles and shackles. He is com His aura is the color red and his ayambil can be observed on the shukla ashtami by eating only boiled wheat. Prayers and worships are also done during the day time.
- Acharya Pada – Acharya Pada is Guru tatva and being a descendent of Arihant is placed on the right of Arihant. He is the one who propagates and influences the Chaturvidha Sangha to practice Jainism. He is considered to be the next best authority in the absence of Arihant. As the name suggests of being the principal, Acharya Pada had played a pivotal role in translating or interpreting the true meaning of the religious book of Jain Agam, which is the Holy Book of jains. He also conducts for the sangha these four activities of Jnanchara, Darshanachara, Charitrachara, Tapachara and Veerachara. He has 36 attributes. His aura is golden yellow and ayambil is observed on the Shukla navami or the 9th day by eating boiled gram which is of yellow color.
- Upadhyaya pada – this is placed on a little lower side of the Atihant. He ranks number second in the Guru tatva and is the pioneer in educating the sanghas. He is knowledgable of all the Jain agams and according to some Janin scriptures; he is the prince in the kingdom of the acharyas. He is supposed to be versed in all Jain Agams, all eleven anga etc. His color is green and his ayambil is observed on the shukla dashami or the 10th day of the Navpad Oli by eating boiled moong which is green in color. He is also worshipped during the day.
- Sadhu Pada – the Sadhu pada is a follower of the Arihant and is placed in the left lower side of the Arihant. He is the one who is tutored by the acharya. He abides by the 5 supreme vows which are as follows – Truth, Non Stealing, Non-Violence , Celibacy and non possession of material objects. He does not cook and depends on the food given in alms by other households his only object is to attain salvation and in the pursuit of those practices 4 sacred virtues. He has no material assets, walks barefoot and lives under the guidance of the Acharya and the Upadhyaya. His aura is the color black. Ayambil Is observed by eating boiled Urad dal on the Shukla Ekadashi. He is also woeshiped during the day.
Now let us have a look at the Dharma Tatva –
- Samyag Darshan – etymologically Samyag in Sanskrit means right and Darshan means view. Thus Samyag Darshan truly means to have the right view. This is the base and the root of all Dharma with a strong faith in the preachings of the Arihant. According to him only with a right perspective, will dharma be able to be attained.
- Samyag Jnan – Samyag Gyan is the second key to attain salvation. The scriptures say that every action should be preceded by the correct knowledge. Samyag Gyan is that correct or right knowledge which precedes an action. This has five main divisions followed by 51 attributes, is represented by the color white and the Ayambil is observed on Shukla Troyodashii and only boiled rice can be eaten on that day.
- Samyag Charitra – Etymologically chatitra means conduct or character in Sanskrit. This is the third key to the path of salvation and has 70 attributes. This essentially means having the right conduct or character to attain salvation. This is among the Ratna Trayee or three gems of salvation. The color of its aura is white and the Ayambil is observed on the Shukla Chaturdashi and boiled rice is allowed on this day.
- Samyag Tapa – Again etymologically, Tapa means penance. Thus Samyag Tapa means paying penance or maintaining austerity in the correct perspective.Samyag Tapa aims to lead a life of equilibrium, which again can be of two types- Internal and external, Meditation, Modesty, nursing are a couple of examples of internal equilibrium which can be achieved. This is symbolized again by the color white and the Ayambil is observed on the last day of the Navpad Oli, which is on the Shukla Poornima, and only boiled rice can be eaten.
- Navapad Oli and the seasonal Changes
Earth is at an angle where the day-night equation is almost similar twice a year. These are known as solstice. Navapad Oli is also celebrated during times when the duration of a day and night are the same. Thus the weather remains moderate and not extreme. According to the Jains Tirthankars, moderate seasons are the best of times to invoke the supreme powers. Thus the Ayambil at these times help us to remain healthy and prayers keep us mentally agile.
Navpad Oli is celebrated with the deserving austerity and devotion every year resulting in festivities during the last day. The Jain communities organize the Siddhachakra Mahapujan in many parts of India on the last day, which is the Sharad Purnima. Azimganj Jain Sangh in Murshidabad is one such place, which organizes and carries out the Navpad Oli every year with fitting devotion and gorgeous celebration on the last day of these nine days.