Paryushana Parva / Dashalakshna Parva in Jainism, the time frame of its celebration, scriptural references, its history and a brief of each of the ten dharmas.
Jainism has immensely contributed for the idealistic and pluralistic patron of leading life. Non-violence remains its locus in all its tenements as the main principle. Its principles remain incessantly and eternally in their modus operandi of religions of the world. It strives to make one’s life sublime and celestial in the vision for all the time to come it impounds that one’s birth should be meaningful and useful. The gems of Jainism, Samyakdarshan, Samyakgnana, and Samyakcharitra, Anekantavada defining the various facets of matter and Syadvada the means to logically comprehend the qualities and anagara signifying the greatness of asceticism constitute the very core of Jainism in the form of glittering gems paving the way for attaining salvation.
Paryushana Parva or Dashlakshana parva occupies a unique place in the complexity and vivacity of many religious celebrations and observations in Jainism. Furthermore, the doctrines of Jainism are not merely confined to Jains and instead may be followed and enticed by non-Jains also. It embodies in itself all religious principles followed by various ethnic groups hence Dashlakshanaparva is regarded as the king of parvas and is considered as the most sacred amongst all the religious celebrations. It is devoid of the materialistic look at life enthralled with fine arts and ostentatious celebrations. It is observed with high reverence without giving importance to the superfluous pomp and glory. It lays down the path of comprehensive thinking and fastening the thoughts to high heights. It stresses on the social welfare and morality of an individual and thus attaining the state of spirituality. It stands as a measure of relief for the day to day intricacies and reliefs.
Time Frame – Dashalakshana parva is conducted as an annual feature in August – September i.e. from Bhadrapada Shuddha Panchami to Chaturdashi by Digambar’s and Paryushana Parva from Bhadrapada Bahula Dwadashi to Bhadrapada Shuddha Chaturti by Swethambar’s. Dashalakshana parva start on the second day after concluding Paryushana Parva. It is observed around this period as the period is blessed with sumptuous rain and crops. The land is found well flourished and beaming with bounty. The ascetics will hold discussions and discourses among the Shravakas. Syadvada is observed to the core by extended study of the religious methods.
Jain Scriptural References of Dashalakshana Parva – Besides, the month has gained greater importance as Sri Rishabanatha the first prophet undertook to preach his principles and doctrines at the closure of Utsarpini and the third phase of Avasrpini. Around the beginning of Hundavasarpini (A period of ‘avasarpini’ i.e., a period of downfall in which extraordinary events may take place) period there were heavy rains for seven consecutive weeks on earth. It was around this time that life started evolving again. The Gods and Goddesses during the beginning of heavy rains had protected 72 Shravaka-Shravaki (Jain householders are called as ‘Shravaka-for men’ and ‘Shravaki-for women’) couples who were leading a pious religious life as per the Jain tradition. When life started evolving again they decided to release them back to earth. While they were released the Shravakas and Shravakis felt that they have been able to survive and were protected by the Gods and Goddesses due to their religious way of life. Hence decided to start their life again by following the religious way of life and decided to have a celebration for ten days. This day on which they thought about a religious way of life is the first day of Dashalakshana Parva i.e. Bhadrapada Shukla Panchami and ends on Chaturdashi.
Dashalakshana among the Digambar Jains – Every day people gather in temples and offer special poojas. After completing the poojas to mark the event the ascetics or Jain scholars will offer discourses from the ten chapters of Tatvatra Sutra popularly called the Bible for Jains. Discussions and discourses are spread out for ten days with one chapter every day. They are conducted in the chronology mentioned below – Utttama Kshama (Clemency), Uttama Mardhava (Humility), Uttama Arjava (Devoid of Deceit), Uttama Shoucha (Purity), Uttama Satya (Truth), Uttama Samyama (Self Restraint), Uttama Tapa (Penence), Uttama Tyaga (Sacrifice), Uttama Akinchanya (Selflessness) and Uttama Brahmacharya (Celibacy).
Uttama Kshama: One should lead a life that is devoid of hatred ness and possessiveness, as these elements precipitate in animosity among the individual. Exercising patience indeed takes one a long way to lead a happy and contentful life.
Uttama Mardhava: Humility and courtesy are the progressive stones of success. Egoism is a sign of weakness of an individual. Expressing love and affection towards an individual should be observed. This quality makes an individual sober and calm in his behavior.
Uttama Arjava: There should exist a coherence between word and deed. Honesty is the sheet anchor for leading an ideal life. One should be cautious and conscious regarding the heinous elements.
Uttama Shoucha: It denotes purity in mind and thought and thus paving the way for healthy thinking and performance. It emphasises on the need of being chaste in day to day life.
UIttama Satya: Truthfulness is the scaffold of leading a serene life of an individual. One should be in a position to measure and distinguish between good and bad and thus gaining name and fame in deed.
Uttama Samyama: One should have restrain over his mind. This makes an individual to avoid the ill effects and tragical consequences. One should forbid violence in any of its form.
Uttama Tapa: Meditation is a means to gain tranquility of mind. There is a vent for repentance for one’s misdeeds.
Uttama Tyaga: Sacrifice for self and not-self should be distinguished. Bhagawan Bahubali, Danushura Karna, emperor Shibi and Dadichi stand as testimony to sacrifice.
Uttama Akinchanya: Relinquishing an article or a position to its bare extent is plausible. One should be in a position to distinguish truth and non-truth. Self possessiveness should be forbidden.
Uttama Brahmacharya: Celibacy is a sign signifying the perfectness of an individual and an individual should be devoid of worldly pleasures as evident in the life of Mahatma Gandhi and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
It is instructed that each hymn cited below should be uttered 108 times in the form of chanting every day as part of the ritual of the day:
Om Hrim Uttama Kshama Dharmangaya Namaha||
Om Hrim Uttama Mardhava Dharmangaya Namaha||
Om Hrim Uttama Arjava Dharmangaya Namaha||
Om Hrim Uttama Shoucha Dharmangaya Namaha||
Om Hrim Uttama Satya Dharmangaya Namaha||
Om Hrim Uttama Samyama Dharmangaya Namaha||
Om Hrim Uttama Tapo Dharmangaya Namaha||
Om Hrim Uttama Tyaga Dharmangaya Namaha||
Om Hrim Uttama Akinchanya Dharmangaya Namaha||
Om Hrim Uttama Brahmacharya Dharmangaya Namaha||
Like their Swethambara counterparts Digambara Jains also under take fast around this period.
Paryushana among the Swethambar Jains – This festival is called as the Paryushana among the Swethambar Jains. In Swethambar temple chapters from Kalpasutra are read out to the audience. The Swetambara Jainas drink boiled water at home and abstain from eating or drinking in a restaurant or in the houses of non-Jainas. After a bath and change of clothes people go to the temple. Those who do not fast come back home after worship for lunch and those who fast remain in the temple the whole day meditating or participating in the reading of scriptures or religious discourses. During Paryushana, the Swetambaras also take out a copy of Kalpasutra in procession. A young girl after worship in the temple carries the Kalpasutra in a large metal plate over her head in a procession. A man walks in front of the girl, sprinkling water from a pot on the street, symbolically cleaning the city. The scripture is brought to the house of a wealthy Jaina who makes a donation to a temple. There the holy book is installed on a high pedestal and worshipped the whole night to the accompaniment of devotional songs. The next day it is brought back to the temple in a procession. On the fifth day of the festival, a skylight is opened in the ceiling and silver replicas of the dream images seen by the mother of Mahavira are lowered on a string to the crowd gathered below. On the eighth day a copy of Barsasutra is presented to a monk or a nun who reads it out to the people with such rapidity that the whole text is finished in half an hour. The worshippers hold a page of the Surta in their ands for a few seconds and place it back, symbolizing the reading of the text themselves.
Kahamavani(among Digambars)/Samvatsari (among Swethambars) – On the last day, members of the community (among Digambar’s as well as Swethambar’s) greet each other and ask forgiveness for any pain that might have been caused knowingly or unknowingly by any of their actions during the past year. Usually, this is done by speaking out the words Michhami Dukkadham. Off late with the advent of technology people have started speaking the word Michhami Dukkadham while they speak on phones. Additionally, people have started sending out SMS, emails and have typed out Kshamavani messages in the social networking forums. Those members of the community who undertake complete fast during the festival days are taken to the temple in a procession on the last day after which they break the fast. Dashalakshanaparva has paved the divine way soliciting the sanctified life as preached by Tirthankaras in the religious doctrine of India.
Paryushana/Dashalakshana Celebrations by Mughal Rulers – Historical references indicate that Paryushana/Dashalakshana was well respected and celebrated at the times of Mughal rulers. One of the references says that – King Akbar impressed by the preaching’s of the Jain Acharya Hiravijaysuriji ordered for complete ahimsa around this period in his kingdom.
Other Religious Rituals Observed around this Period – The other religious rituals observed during this auspicious period included Suganda Dashami, Karmanirjara, Pushpanjali Vrata, Chandana Shashti, Ananthana Vrata, Labdi Vidhana and Nirdosha Sapthami. Let’s try to understand some of those here.
On the day of Uttama Tyaga many people make it a point to donate some amount or some articles to philanthropic organizations so as to serve the needy.
Anantha Chaturdashi – The day of Bhadra Pada Shudda Chaturdashi is called as Antana Chaturdashi. Ananthanatha Vrata (Vrata means vow) is observed on this day. Special poojas will be arranged on this particular day at all the temples. On that day Ananathana Nompi/Aradhana will be organised at temples. Men and women gather at temples and take part in these celebrations. Offering poojas on this day is considered to be very auspicious. At some places special processions will be organised on this day. Some people enact themselves as Devendra and carry a pot of water in a procession and finally end up offering abhisheka to the Tirthankara idols. Post this a special gathering will be organised where the scholars will give discourse and tell a story related to this. Many people who could not undertake fast around this period make it a point to fast at least on this day and consume food only after hearing the story.
Published in 'Jaina Voice' in August 2004 - http://www.jainheritagecentres.com/jainavoice/jainavoice28.htm
References - 1. Jaina Dharma - Prof. A.N.Upadhye & Hiralal Jain (Kannada translation by K.Bhujabali Shastri & B.Devakumar Jain)