Daslakshan – Paryushan Festival
Daslakshan Parva (Festival of the Ten Virtues) is the Paryushan festival as celebrated by the Digambara Jains. Normally, Eating, drinking and being merry are associated with festivals but Paryushan is the opposite. During Paryushan Jains practise penances, vows, fast and study. If not fasting, they refrain from eating root vegetables. There are two categories of festivals: eternal and non-eternal. The non-eternal festivals are further divided as those that relate to people and those that relate to historical events. Dipawali, Mahavir Jayanti, which celebrate the liberation and birth of Lord Mahavir respectively, are people related festivals.
Paryushan, on the other hand, is an eternal festival relating neither to people nor to any historical event. It is the time to celebrate the natural qualities of the soul. Just as the soul does not have a beginning or an end, Paryushan does not have a beginning or an end. It falls three times a year but is only celebrated once around August/ September because at this time, business being quiet, businessman can take time off for spiritual pursuit. Also it is the time of the monsoon retreat when insects flourish, causing the monks to stay in one place.
In the Digamber, The ten cardinal virtues, Dashlakshan Dharma, are celebrated during Paryushan to remind jains of the characteristics of the soul. The ten dharmas or the virtues of the soul are forgiveness, humility, straightforwardness, contentment, truth, sensual restraint, austerities, charity, non-possessiveness, and celibacy.
The real purpose of Paryushan is to purify our soul by staying closer to our own soul, to look at our own faults, to ask for forgiveness for the mistakes we have committed knowingly or unknowingly, and apply vows to destroy karmas. The main cause of all sorrows and sufferings is impurity of soul. In this period each and every individual tries to purify his soul through different spiritual practices. We try to forget about the needs of our body and our business so that we can concentrate on our-self. Some main objectives to celebrating this festival are.
- To observe tolerance whole-heartedly,shunning anger.
- To observe the virtue of humility subduing vanity and passions.
- To practice a deceit-free conduct in life by vanquishing the passion of deception.
- To keep the body, mind and speech pure by discarding greed.
- To speak affectionate and just words with a holy intention causing no injury to any living being.
- To abstain from all the pleasures provided by the five
- To practice austerities putting a check on all worldly allurements.
- To give four fold charities
- To enhance faith in the real self as against non-self i.e., material objects
- To observe the great vow of celibacy; to have devotion for the inner soul and the omniscient Lord
Before we discuss the ten Dharmas, it is important to understand two common viewpoints found in our scriptures. The Vyavahar view, in crude terms, helps you to live more easily and peacefully with the outside world. It also builds up your reserve of good deeds (punya karmas). The Nischay view helps to enhance and blossom the soul’s natural qualities. In Jainism the Vyavahar view is always considered the ‘by the by’. The Nischay view is considered to be the most important as it leads to contemplation and understanding of the true nature of the soul with the aim of its purification, the ultimate goal of practicing Paryushan. Merely practising the Vyavahar Dharmas may bind punya karmas, leading to material gain in this life and the next.
The Dharmas are all prefixed by the word ‘Uttam’ (Supreme) to signify that they are practiced at the highest level by the Jain monks. The householder practises them to a lesser extent. It lasts over a period of ten days, each day being dedicated to one of the ten Dharmas. In the sections below a) stands for the Vyavahar view and b) for the Nischay view.
a) We forgive those who have wronged us and seek forgiveness from those we have wronged. Forgiveness is sought not just from human colleagues, but from all living beings ranging from one sensed to five sensed. If we do not forgive or seek forgiveness but instead harbor resentment, we bring misery and unhappiness on ourselves and in the process shatter our peace of mind and make enemies. Forgiving and seeking forgiveness oils the wheel of life allowing us to live in harmony with our fellow beings. It also attracts punya karma.
b) Forgiveness here is directed to oneself. The soul, in a state of mistaken identity or false belief, assumes that it consists of the body, the karmas and the emotions – likes, dislikes, anger, pride etc. As a result of this incorrect belief it inflicts pain upon itself and is thus the cause of its own misery. Nischay Kshama Dharma teaches the soul to correctly identify itself by encouraging it to contemplate in its true nature and hence achieve the state of correct belief or Samyak Dharshan. It is only by achieving Samyak Dharshan that the soul ceases to inflict pain on itself and attains supreme happiness.
a) Wealth, good looks, reputable family or intelligence often lead to pride. Pride means to believe one to be superior to others and to look down on others. By being proud you are measuring your worth by temporary material objects. These objects will either leave you or you will be forced to leave them when you die. These eventualities will cause you unhappiness as a result of the ‘dent’ caused to your self-worth. Being humble will prevent this. Pride also leads to the influx of the bad deed or paap karmas.
b) All souls are equal, none being superior or inferior to another. In the words of Srimad Rajchandra: “Sarva Jeev Che Sidh Sum, Je Samje Te Thai – All souls are akin to the Sidh; those who understand this principle will achieve that state”. The Nischay view encourages you to understand your true nature. All souls have the potential to be liberated souls (Sidh Bhagvan). The only difference between the liberated souls and those in bondage is that the former have attained liberation as a result of their ‘effort’. With effort, even the latter can achieve liberation.
a) The action of a deceitful person is to think one thing, speak something else and do something entirely different. There is no harmony in his thought, speech and actions. Such a person loses credibility very quickly and lives in constant anxiety and fear of his deception being exposed. Being straight-forward or honest oils the wheel of life. You will be seen to be reliable and trustworthy. Deceitful actions lead to the influx of paap karmas.
b) Delusion about one’s identity is the root cause of unhappiness. Be straightforward to yourself and recognize your true nature. The soul is made up of countless qualities like knowledge, happiness, effort, faith, and conduct. It has the potential to achieve omniscience (Keval Gnan) and reach a state of supreme bliss. Again, the body, the karmas, the thoughts and all the emotions are separate from the true nature of the soul. Only by practicing Nischay Arjav Dharma will one taste the true happiness that comes from within.
a) Be content with the material gains that you have accomplished thus far. Contrary to popular belief, striving for greater material wealth and pleasure will not lead to happiness. Desire for more is a sign that we do not have all that we want. Reducing this desire and being content with what we have leads to satisfaction. Accumulating material objects merely fuels the fire of desire.
b) Contentment or happiness, derived from material objects, is only perceived to be so by a soul in a state of false belief. The fact is that material objects do not have a quality of happiness and therefore happiness cannot be obtained from them! The perception of ‘enjoying’ material objects is indeed only that – a perception! This perception rewards the soul with only misery and nothing else. Real happiness comes from within, as it is the soul that possesses the quality of happiness.
a) If talking is not required, then do not talk. If it is required then only use the minimum of words, and all must all be absolutely true. Talking disturbs the stillness of the mind. Consider the person who lies and lives in fear of being exposed. To support one lie he has to utter a hundred more. He becomes caught up in a tangled web of lies and is seen as untrustworthy and unreliable. Lying leads to an influx of paap karma.
b) Satya comes from the word Sat, which means existence. Existence is a quality of the soul. Recognising the soul’s true nature as it really exists and taking shelter in the soul is practising Nischay Satya Dharma.
a) i)Restraining from injury to life – Jains go to great lengths, compared to other world religions, to protect life. This encompasses all living beings, from one-sensed onwards. The purpose of not eating root vegetables is that they contain countless one-sensed beings termed ‘nigod’. During Paryushan the Jains also do not eat green vegetables to reduce harm to the lower sensed beings.
ii) Self-restraint from desires or passions – These lead to pain and are therefore to be avoided.
b) i) Restraining injury to the self – This has been elaborated upon in Nischay Kshma Dharma.
ii) Self restraint from desires or passions – Emotions, e.g. likes, dislikes or anger lead to misery and need to be eradicated. They are not part of the true nature of the soul and only arise when the soul is in a state of false belief. The only method to free oneself from these is to contemplate on the true nature of the soul and in the process commence the journey to liberation or moksha.
a) This does not only mean fasting but also includes a reduced diet, restriction of certain types of foods, avoiding tasty foods, etc. The purpose of penance is to keep desires and passions in control. Over-indulgence inevitably leads to misery. Penance leads to an influx of punya karmas.
b) Meditation prevents the rise of desires and passions in the soul. In a deep state of meditation the desire to intake food does not arise. Our first Tirthankara, Adinath Bhagwan was in such a meditative state for six months, during which he observed Nischay Uttam Tap. The only food he consumed during these six months was the happiness from within.
a) Contrary to popular belief, renouncing worldly possessions leads to a life of contentment and assists in keeping desires in check. Controlling desires lead to an influx of punya karma. Renunciation is done at the highest level by our monks who renounce not only the household but also their clothes. A person’s strength is measured not by the amount of wealth he accumulates but by the amount of wealth he renounces. By this measure our monks are the richest.
b) Renouncing the emotions, the root cause of misery, is Nischay Uttam Tyag, which is only possible by contemplating on the true nature of the soul.
a) This assists us in detaching from external possessions. Historically ten possessions are listed in our scriptures: ‘land, house, silver, gold, wealth, grain, female servants, male servants, garments and utensils’. Remaining unattached from these helps control our desires and leads to an influx of punya karmas.
b) This assists us in being unattached from our internal attachments: false belief, anger, pride, deceit, greed, laughter, liking, disliking, lamentation, fear, disgust, male sexual desire, female sexual desire and hybrid sexual desire. Ridding the soul of these leads to its purification.
a) This means not only refraining from sexual intercourse but also includes all pleasures associated with the sense of touch, e.g. a cool breeze on a hot summers day or using a cushion for a hard surface. Again this dharma is practised to keep our desires in check. The monks practice this to the highest degree with all their body, speech and mind. The householder refrains from sexual intercourse with anyone except his or her spouse.
b) Brahmacharya is derived from the word Brahma – Soul and charya – to dwell. Nischay Brahmacharya means to dwell in your soul. Only by residing in the soul are you the master of the Universe. Residing outside your soul makes you a slave to desires.
Das Lakshan Parva (Daslakshna Parva) 2014
Das Lakshan Parva is a festival of ten virtues observed by all digambar Jains in 10 days (This year from August 30, 2014 to September 8, 2014). During these 10 days they strictly observe the following; 10 dharma as written in Tattvarthdhigama Sutra ch. IX, sloka 6 by Acharya Umaswami
The ten noble virtues of Dasa Dharma are :-
1. Uttama Kshama – the noble virtue of supreme forbearance.
2. Mardavam – humility or modesty
3. Aarjavam – straight forwardness
4. Soucham – purity of thought and freedom from greed
5. Satyam – speaking the truth
6. Samyaham – Self-restraint or self-control
7. Tapas – the practice of austerity
8. Tyaga – renunciation
9. Akinchinya – without even slight attachment and
10.Brahmacharya – Chastity. The word Dharma is used here in the sense of getting rid of all the gross emotions such as anger, hatred etc.
Kshama or forbearance: In the life of an ascetic, he may find himself in circumstances, likely to arouse his wrath. Inspite of such provocation, he must avoid emotional disturbance and maintain peace of mind. This maintaining patience in the midst of provocation is called Kashama or forbearance. Provocation circumstances may occur in this way. Homeless saint must his body for the achievement of his spiritual goal. For this, he must obtain food from the householders. Therefore he must come out of his solitude and enter a town or a village where he may get food. He may have to pass through streets where he may come across with an unsympathetic crowd. At the sight of an ascetic, the mischievous crowd may indulge in ridicule and abuse. They may even assault him. In spite of all these insults and ill treatment, the saint should not exhibit any unfavorable reaction. He should maintain patience. He should consider all these insults and ill treatment as a result of ignorance. With the nobility of thought, he should forgive the mischief-makers. Such a mental attitude of the saint is called the noble forbearance or Uttama Kshama.
Mardavam: This refers to the complete absence of self-conceit. Such self-conceit or pride may be due to one’s own superior caste, one’s family prestige, one’s own bodily beauty, learining, wealth, courage and bodily strength. Due to these various reasons, a person may entertain the feeling of self-importance and pride. Whenever a man with such pride is insulted by other persons, he may lose his temper and start abusing with disrespectful words or conduct. Even an ascetic may get offended and lose his control of mind in such circumstances. But he will become a victim of pride and self-conceit. Complete avoidance of this feeling of pride is called Mardhavam or humility.
Aarjava: Aarjava means straightforwardness in conduct. One’s own conduct may be crooked. His bodily action, speech and mind may be lacking in straightforwardness. Avoiding this crookedness in thought, word and deed, is called Aarjavam or uprightness in conduct
Soucham: Accoding greed and abstaining from possessive longing is called Soucham or purity of thought. The longings that should be got rid off are of 4 different kinds. They are:
1.Jivana Lobha – longing to sustain one’s living.
2. Aroygaya Lobha – longing to sustain one’s health.
3.Upabhoga Lobha - longing to enjoy things, which will be useful to contribute to general happiness.
Each objects will be of two kinds; one pertaining to the self and the one pertains to others. Getting rid of these 8 different types of longing is called Soucham or purity.
Satyam: means telling the truth in the company of elders.
Samyaham: Samyaham means to the control of breathing and the six Indiriyas. For the purpose of destroying the Karmas, kindling the spiritual flame by practice of austerity is called Thapas. This is of 12 different kinds.
Tyaga means sacrifice. For the benefit of the initiate and the ascetic, the master should give him the instruction to promote his knowledge to maintain his health etc. For this purpose he must be given a copy of the book to promote his learning. Such sacrifice of one’s own possession for the benefit of the other, constitute Tyaga or sacrifice.
Aakinchinya: The thing that this is mine relating to one’s own body and other articles for maintains the body, results in developing attachment to these things. Getting rid of the feeling of attachment is Askinchinya. The thought or action expressing this feeling " that there is nothing in these things relevant to me" is the meaning of Askinchinya.
Brahmacharya means complete chastity. Remembering the past sex experiences, listening to sex-stories, sleeping in a bad or sitting in a chair which are likely to stimulate sex thoughts, must completely avoided. In order to completely abstain from such thoughts and feelings; one should live in association with saintly masters. Observance of chastity keeps the body healthy and free from sickness; and it develops the mind i.e., sharpens the intelligence.
Dash Lakshan Parva 2014 August 30 Dash Lakshan Begins
Sept. 4 : Sugandh Dasmi
Sept. 8: Ananta Chaturdasi
Sept 8. Dash Lakshan Parva Ends
Sept. 9: Kashma Vani
The Festival of Self-Uplift by the Holy Observation of Ten Universal Virtues
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 fifth day to fourteenth 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 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 rituals and cultural programs. They listen with rapt attention to the holy sermons of the saints and learned Jain scholars arranged during the ten-day festival. 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 bitterness are declared taboo from the temple pulpits. These celebrations harbinger social harmony and amity and preach the lofty Jain motto ‘Live and Let live’.
The ‘Paryushan Parva’ celebrated annually for self-purification and uplift 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 true destination i.e., salvation. Two popular titles of this festival, viz. (i) Paryushan Parva and (ii) Dash Lakshan Parva are in vogue; but the mode of performance and aim of the festival is same. According to Sanskrit grammar the underlying idea of the festival and its interpretation is given below:
“Parismantadushayante dhante karmani yasimannasau paryushnm”
I.e., The celebration through which the karmic matter attached to the soul is totally burnt or vanquished (both internally and externally) is known Paryushan i.e., self-purification.
Various meaningful and sublime titles have been assigned to this festival in different Jain scripture; e.g.,
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 festival.
Dash Lakshan Parva - The festival for the observance of ten universal virtues; viz., forgiveness, contentment, and celibacy, which aim at the uplift of the soul and are vividly preached and practiced 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 deeds.
Paryu-Prasa - The festival in which one meditates 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 all passions and lustful desires through various means; and observe harmony in the soul through the study of scriptures.
Pajjushana - This word of Prakrit 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 to the Swaitamber sect of Jainism.
Paryushan Parva gives expression to the perfectly purified trait of the soul, through which one gets rid of worldly discords 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 that the natural realization of the trio ‘the True, the Good and the Beautiful’ is fully possible only through Paryushan. In fact the other name of the Jainism, which is universal religion, is 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 prey to the bewitching worldly allurements. They 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 net work of worldly illusions. Jain Acaryas 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 pleasures, 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.
This 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 cannot be measured by Time scale. When the auspicious month of Bhadrapad comes every year, the whole Jain community celebrates this festival unitedly without any difference of high and low, rich and poor. The Digambaras and the Swaitamberas, both sects of Jain community celebrate the self-uplifting festival with great enthusiasm. The fifth day of the bright fortnight of the holy month of ‘Bhadrapad’ is auspicious for both. The Digambaras celebrate this festival annually for ten days, from the fifth day to the fourteenth day of the bright half of the month. Whereas the Swaitamberas celebrate it only for eight days, and the fifth day is the main day of their celebrations held under the title ‘Samvatsari Parva’.
References about the celebrations of ‘Paryushan Parva’ or Dash Lakhan Parva are available here and there in ancient literary books as well; which show that it has been a popular festival since ages. The householders 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 1350 AD to 1450 AD. 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 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 institutions in cash or kind some thing within their capacity. Very often the Jain scholars viz. poets and writers get their literary works initiated during the festival days 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 day of 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 the poem throws ample light on the special significance of ‘Dash Lakshan Parva’ in the 14th century.
‘Samvat terven chauvane bhadav shudi panchami guru dine’
· Jin Datt Charit
Similar to the modern age, the Dash Lakshan Parva was celebrated with great zeal and joy thousands of years ago as well; austerities viz. self-meditation, doing penance, fasting and study of holy scriptures were performed during that period. The householders purged their soul by keeping fast on the last day of the ceremonies and celebrated the closing ceremony with great pomp and show. When the ten day celebration are over, this festival leaves behind deep impress on the mind and heart of every Jain - young and old.
All Jains - Digambers and Swaitambers, will celebrate this sacred festival forever throughout India and abroad. The former appear to have the best pretensions to antiquity and cultural heritage and to have been most widely diffused; the later have only as yet been traced as far back as 5th century AD. The former are almost certainly the same as Nirgrantha, who are referred to in numerous passages of Buddhist Pal Pitakas and must therefore be as old as 6th century B.C. rather earlier. The Swaitamberas’ idea of exclusiveness appears to be one of recent growth. 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 present times.
To sum up, Paryushan Parva is a grand Jain festival of self-introspection, self-enlightenment and self-achievement, which ultimately leads to the one and only one final goal, i.e., liberation or salvation.
Do not minimize the value of ideals. They appeal to the imagination, stir the heart, stimulate the noblest springs of action, but ideal and practical must be blended into one harmonious whole. There must be no divorce between the real and ideal.