Paryushana is one of the most important Jain festivals. Paryushana is what the occasion is referred to by the Svetamvaras.

The Digamvara sects of the Jains call it as Das Lakshana. Paryushana literally means coming together or abiding. According to the scriptures, Lord Mahavira used to follow Paryushana on the Shukla Panchami of the Bhadrapada month as per traditional Hindu calendar.

According to the Gregorian calendar, the Paryushana is observed on the 5th day of the bright phase of the moon in the month of August. In 2019 the Paryushana starts from August 27th, Tuesday.

Origin of the Paryushana

The origin of the practice of the Paryushana can be traced back to the custom of the monks staying in one place during the rainy season, which was called the Chaturmasa, as the rainy season was clubbed together as 4 consecutive months. If not the 4 months, the minimum duration of the Paryushana is at least of 70 days. To do an observance of the 70 days, the Paryushana must be started on the 5 th day of the Bhadrapada month.

Duration of the festival

The date for the Paryushana is generally the chaturthis of the Shukla paksha of the Bhadrapada month, but for the minimum duration it is observed from the Panchami of the Bhadrapada month. The last day of this observance is called the Somvatsari, which is an abbreviated version of Somvatsari Pratikramana.  It is between these periods, the Chaturmasa that the monks settle down at a place and there is an annual renewal of faith of the devotees by listening to the statements of the Dharma and Vratas. It is also believed that the heavenly being or the devas do an eight part worship or puja of the Tirthankaras, which are the 8 days that the Sweatamvaras take to observe the Paryushana.

Observance of the Paryushana

During the Paryushana, the Jains observe a fast. Devotees can fast for 30 days or more. The disciples of the Digamvara sect doesn’t not partake food more than once during the fasting period. The Swetamvara followers just consume boiled water between sunrise and sunset.

During all the 8 or 10 days of the Paryushana, the devotees start their days with pratikramana, which is a Jain meditation. They wake up early in the morning and pray for peace and universal brotherhood. Pratikramana literally means turning back, so it means this is an exercise which should make one reflect on his spiritual journey and also renew one’s faith in the almighty. The pratikramana includes or lays down rules for 6 avasyakas or essentials. These are as follows –

  • The samayika – withdrawing to oneself to seek the inner bliss
  • The Chauvisantho – prayers addressed to the Five Supremes, four mangalas and the 24 jinas. This also includes praying to the Dharma.
  • The Vandana – praying to the supreme deity
  • The Pratikramana – is a reflection of the past transgressions and the vrat
  • The Kayotsarga – is the complete detachment of the body by controlling it
  • The Pratyakhyana – is making strict resolutions or vows to be abided to

During these 8 days of festival, the Swetamvaras recite the Kalpa Sutra which has a portion on the birth of Mahavira on the 5th day. Some Swetamvaras devotees also recite the Antagada Sutra, which talks about all the venerable ancestors who had achieved moksha or salvation. The Digamvaras recite the Tattvartha Sutra, a compilation of the Jain principles. Anant Chaturdashi is the day when the day when the great Lord Vasupujya had attained Nirvana or moksha or salvation.

At the end of the observance the devotees ask forgiveness of each other for their past misdemeanors. It happens on the Paryusha day for the Swetambara and on the Pratipada day for the Digambara. The devotees tell each other Micchami Dukkadam” or “Uttam Kshama”; meaning I have hurt you unknowingly or I seek you divine forgiveness.

The Dasalakshana

  • The dasalakshana or the 10 virtuous ways as directed in the scriptures are as follows –
  • The Uttam Kshama or forbearance
  • The Uttam Mardava or the supreme modesty
  • The Uttam Aarjava or straightforwardness
  • The Uttam Satya or the truth
  • The Uttam Shauch or purity
  • The Uttam Sanyam or the supreme restraint
  • The Uttam Tap or an observance of austerity
  • The Uttam Tyaga or renunciation
  • The Uttam Aakinchanya or the non-attachment and
  • The Uttam Brahmcharya or the supreme celibacy

These are all pre fixed by the word Uttam meaning superb or the best indicating that these are the Japas of the highest order as decided by the scriptures.

Let us take a look at the following –

The Uttam Kshama is the power to forgive all those who wronged us and also seek forgiveness from all those whom we had wronged. As per Jainism, forgiveness is sought not only from human beings, but from all the living things we may have abused. There is also a forgiveness which is directed to the self. Because of various karmas and emotions, we cause our own misery. Thus it is also prudent to seek forgiveness from one’s own self for having inflicted such pain.

The Uttam Mardava is the practice of supreme modesty. Modesty from the unnecessary pride of money, intelligence, appearance etc.all the things which makes one inordinately proud are the ones which are going to desert us at the end of the day. All of human beings are created equal and all the souls have a potential of attaining nirvana. With effort every soul can attain nirvana. Thus practice modesty.

The Uttam Aarjavais the trait of being straightforward and truthful. Itt seeks to have a harmony between one’s thoughts and actions. Every sould has the potential to achieve Kevalya Gyan, but only by the true practice of the Nischay Arjav Dharma.

The Uttam Shauch  or the contentment or purity of thought is derived when one is freed from the thoughts of attaining material gains. Material objects are causes of misery only thus the freedom from such practices are the uttam thought process leading to bliss.

The Uttam Satya or the ultimate truth is the basic meaning of existance.talking causes disruption when it is unnecessary. Thus speak only when there is a meaningful discussion to be corroborates one lie uttered, a man becomes entangled in a wev of deception. Thus recorgnise the truth of the soul and speak only when required to speak truth.

The Uttam Sanyammeans practising extreme self restraint. The Jains take great care not to cause any injury to any lives.during the Paryushan the Jains also refrain from eating green vegetables so as to not hurt the lower sensory beings. Self restraint also indicates restraining self from causing injury to oneself by being desirous or passionate about something. The only way to free oneself from such is to think about salvation or nirvana.

The Uttam Tap means doing penance by not only fasting, but by also reducing the normal also indicates giving up on favoured and tasty foods for doing that penance. The first Tirthankara Rishavadeva is said to have fasted for 6 monthssss, thereby having achieved Uttam Tap.

The Uttam Tyaga is the renouncement of all worldly and materialistic possession. by renouncing these the soul get rid of the bad karma and earns the good karma. Also by renouncing emotions, which gives rise to misery is the supreme renunciation or Uttama Ttyaga.

The Uttam Aakinchanyameans complete detachment from all external possessions. Historically there are 10 possessions mentioned in the Jain scriptures, these are – male servants, garments, grain, female servants, land, house, silver, gold, wealth and utensils. These are the things which creates false attachments in us and is also the cause for internal attachments of false beliefs, pride, deceit, anger, sexual desires, disgust, greed etc.

The Uttam Brahmcharya means practicing supreme celibacy.this not only means abstainance from all sexual pleasures but alsotrfraining form all the pleasures such as cool breeze on a hot day etc. Btahmacharya means place for the soul to dwell, thus by residing in oneself to dwell on ones sould to attain salvation is what The Uttam Brahmcharya is all about. Residing outside your soul, your abode makes one a slave of the various desires.