Meaning of ‘Uttama Kshama Dharma – Supreme Forgiveness’, the 1st among the 10 virtues of Jainism – Dashalakshan Dharma with quotes from the Jain Shastras and real-life instances.
– Muni Sri Kamkumarnandi Maharaj
The word ‘Kshama‘ is derived from the root by the addition of the suffix ang and tap.
The word ‘Kshama‘ means patience, forbearance and pardon. “Kshama shatro ch mitre ch yatinamev bhushanam” (Hito) To pardon an enemy or a friend both, is the jewel of Yatis. “Kshama virasey bhushanam” – Forbearance is the ornament of the brave.
An eminent English poet writes:
O Man! forgive thy mortal foe
Do not give him blow for blow
Forgive him seventy times and seven
For all the souls in Heaven
Were both forgivers and forgiven.
Uttama Kshama Dharma – Supreme Forgiveness – is the first Dharma out of the ten Dharma of Jains. Ordinarily, it means not to cause misery to any living being, or not to get angry on any unpleasant and unwanted happening. Forbearance (Kshama) is the inherent virtue of soul. When the soul degrades from its real attributes to ill-nature, such a soul is called attached (raagi) or full of malice – ill-will (dwaish), etc., because the soul is simple and forgiving by nature. Rightly has it been said: “To err is human; to forgive divine”.
Anger makes a man blind and maddens him, for ‘when eyes are bloodshot, vision is limited’. Overpowered by anger, a man may commit anything right or wrong and fails to make a distinction between proper and improper, truth or untruth, and good or bad. In short, the Jain Acharyas have proclaimed anger as leading to degradation.
Discarding anger and getting stable in one’s real nature, is Kshama. Kshama is soul’s inherent wealth. Being endowed with this real wealth, this living being (Jeeva) is called forbearing in disposition. Narendra, Devendra and Amrendra in this world (Lok) and heaven (Parlok) worship a living being crowned with forgiveness after salvation. In ‘Baras – Anupaikkha‘ this very Kshama has been described as below:
Kahupatis puno, bahurangam jadi havedi sakhadam,
kundi kinchivi koham, tas Kshama hodi thamoti.
The conduct of a man, who does not get the least enraged even on finding obvious reasons for exciting anger, is in keeping with Uttama Kshama Dharma. To forgive one with evil perception (Mithya-Drasthi), or him who utters unpleasant words and makes efforts to cause anguish and torture without any reason, is the first category of Kshama. To pardon one who nourishes thoughts of oppressing and killing with no reason is the second category of Kshama. “Kshamti iti Kshama” – one who practices forgiveness (Kshama) under all odds is entitled as possessor of the virtue of supreme forgiveness (Uttama Kshama Dharma).
Krodhotpatinimita visimakroshadisambhave kalushyoparam Kshama.
Not to develop malice or ill-will despite confronting with unbearable causes of anger like defiance, chiding and bodily torture is Uttama Kshama Dharma. It has been well said; “The easiest and cheapest way of avenging an offence is to slight it, ignore it, forbear it, forgive it, or, if possible, to forget it.”
While describing the true nature of Kshama in his book ‘Sarvarth Siddhi‘ Acharya Pujya Pad Swamy has stated:
Shrirsithitihetumargarth parkulanyugachhti bhikshordushtjnakroshprhstavgyatadnShrir
vyapadnadinan snnidhane kalushyanutpti kshma
Even when ill-natured persons heap abuses, ridicules, disgrace and beatings on the monks, who enter other regions to discover the cause of the real state of the body and indulge in twisting and torturing their body, the non-appearance of ill-will in these monksï¿½ minds is Kshama. This very thing has been said in this commenting remark of ‘Niam-Saar‘:
Vadhe satmurtsya parambrahmrupni mamapkarhaniriti paramsamrasi vsthitirutmkshma
To remain stable in supreme equanimitous thoughts on getting threat of being killed by persons given to evil perception (Mithya-Drasthi) for no reason, considering oneself formless Parma Brahma is Uttama Kshama Dharma. The following example reveals this very thing.
There was a saint named Aek Nath. He had a vow of bathing in the Ganga daily. His ideology of forgiveness and renunciation was highly talked of in the city. One Pathan also used to live in that city. Once he thought to test the saint. His house was on that very road by which the saint used to go for bathing in the Ganga. The next day when Aek Nath was returning after having a bath in the Ganga, the Pathan chewing a betel leaf, spit down from above his rooftop. Its shower fell on the body of Aek Nath also; hence the saint went back to have a bath in the Ganga again. This process was repeated a hundred times on that one day. Ultimately when the saint was returning after his one hundred and one time bath, the Pathan came down from his house top and falling down at his feet, started weeping and begging pardon, for his mischief and ill-doing. The saint said, ï¿½I am grateful to you for your good deed, because daily I used to bathe in the Ganga only once, but today I am lucky to bathe a hundred and one times due to you.ï¿½ Great men have great thoughts. They never give up their celestial virtues. Saint Aek Nath, who belonged to this noble category, took this ill deed of the Pathan as a virtuous deed and pardoned him. On this earth there is no other greater virtue than Kshama. One, who is crowned with all the virtues, Kshama has been stated the embodiment of ascetics (Tapasvi); such as –
Kokilanam swarorupam, narirupam pativrata
Vidyarupam kuruparan, Kshama rupam tapasvinam
The emblem of a nightingale is her own melody; the emblem of a lady is her chastity, the emblem of the wretched is their ignorance and the emblem of ascetics is forgiveness. The following memorable words are worth noting: ï¿½Humanity is never more beautiful than when praying for forgiveness, or else forgiving another.ï¿½
Pt. Ashadharji has stated about Kshama:
Ya kshamyati kshamopyasu pratikatum kritagasa
Kritagasam tamichhanti kshantipyushsanjush
The persons who observe Uttama Kshama Dharma towards those, who commit crimes against them, even on being capable of quick retaliation, are regarded by saints drinking the nectar of forbearance (Kshama-amrit) to be the destroyers of sins.
Noble persons think thus: ‘Though I have committed no crime against him, even then this man is showering his anger over me, abusing me; I am innocent. Considering this I must pardon him. He has accused me, yet no harm comes out of it to me. On the contrary, I must take pity on him, in spite of his being angry; because this poor fellow is reaping sins by falsely accusing me. This sin will bring him innumerable sufferings. He has only abused me and not beaten. Even if he had beaten me, then it must be thought that he has not wounded me; on being wounded it must be thought that he has not parted body from life; even if he had parted body, then one must understand that he has not harmed my Kshama virtue’. One who thinks in this or bears the miseries befallen on him with forbearance (Kshama), no troubles and misfortunes will visit him again. ‘Just as at the time of repaying debts one has to return the money of the money lender; similarly I had committed sins in my previous birth and now I am reaping their fruits in the form of sorrow, which is proper. If I suffer it with a spirit of forbearance, I shall become happy on getting rid of the debt of my sins.’ Thinking this no anger should be displayed.
A being gifted with forbearance (Kshama) never feels the prick of sorrow. Abuse him, as much as you can, have ill will against him as much as you like, even then he does not give up his Kshama virtue. In this respect the following remark of a great scholar is noteworthy: “If you are wronged, be bravely revenged. Slight it, and the work is begun; forgive it and it is finished. He is below himself who is not above injury.”
Once it so happened that when saint Tuka Ram had distributed all his belongings amongst the poor, one day the state of starvation arose in his home. His wife said, “What are you doing sitting idle here? Go and fetch a bundle of sugarcanes from the fields. We shall be able to pass the day anyhow by sucking them.” Consequently, when Tuka Ram set out for home with a bundle of sugarcanes from the field; on the way beggars enveloped him and begged for sugarcanes. Tuka Ram gave one sugarcane each to every beggar. When he reached home, only one sugarcane was left with him. Seeing one sugarcane the hungry wife was enraged. She snatched the sugarcane from Tuka Ramï hands and started beating him with it. As a result, the sugarcane broke down into two equal parts. Now her anger subsided. In spite of getting beatings from his wife, the calm and forgiving Tuka Ram spoke with a smile. “What a good wife! You have divided the sugarcane in two equal pieces. You suck one and I will suck the other.”
Seeing the infinite ocean of forgiveness and love in the midst of furiously raging fire of anger, tears rolled down from the eyes of the lady. Tuka Ram wiped off her tears with the fold of his turban, fed her whole of the sugarcane after peeling it. Howsoever cruel and angry a being may be, he becomes calm in the presence of a forgiver. Jain Acharyas have termed anger as the greatest enemy of human beings. If this enemy (anger) takes possession of a living being, it ruins all his virtues. It has been rightly said:
Krodho he shatru prathamo naranam, dehsthito dehvinashnae.
Yatha stith kashtgato hi vahi, sa aiv vahivardahte ch kashtam.
Anger concealed in the body of a man becomes the cause of his own ruin, just as fire hidden in wood destroys itself. Likewise anger on getting enraged kills the angered one. In this universe there is no such devil as will devour his mother. But this devil anger first eats up that very heart which breeds it as a mother and later on it eats up others as well.
On suppressing anger and enriching the soul through religion in the garb of Kshama is to ensure the path of Moksha i.e., salvation. It must be the goal of every living being. It alone is blissful.
Krodhanalsmutpano mahadaha shaririram
Nirdahati tapovritam, dharm dwepaynadiwat
The heating effect of the fire of anger ruins penance. It becomes the cause of a man’s self-destruction, as that of Muni Depayan.
In Soratha land there is a famous city named Dwarka, which had been rendered highly sacred by the birth of His Holiness Lord Nemi Nath, worshipped in all the three worlds. The rulers of that city were the ninth Narayana, Shri Krishna, and Balbhadra – sons of Vasudeva and cousins of Neminatha. One day Narayana and Balbhadra visited the religious conference (Samavsharan) of Lord Nemi Nath to pay their homage to the Lord. They were overwhelmed at heart on seeing the Lord. Their voice was exalted. Their whole body was thrilled, tears of joy burst out of their eyes. They paid due homage at the lotus feet of the Lord with great reverence and listened to His holy sermon sitting in the enclosure assigned to human beings. Balbhadra asked the Lord, “O Lord! How long will this Dwarka City founded under the holy guidance of Vasudeva and its wealth exist?”
The Lord replied, “After twelve years Dwarka will be burnt to ashes. Intoxicated by drinking the Yaduvanshis will cause terrible calamity to Depayan Muni; as a result, on getting enraged Depayan Muni will become the cause for the destruction of Dwarka.” On hearing this prediction from the holy mouth of the world teacher (Jagat Guru), Balbhadra came to Dwarka and got all the wine pots thrown in the forest of the Girnar Mountain. Depayan also went away to some other place leaving Dwarka. But who can shut out fate? Despite making numerous efforts, the words of Lord Jinendra cannot be proved wrong or falsified. A little time prior to the completion of twelve years Depayan Muni had the misconception that twelve years had lapsed. Therefore, he returned to Dwarka and sat down in meditation near the Girnar Mountain. At that very time, the Yaduvanshi Princes were returning after merry-making in the Girnar Mountain. Due to scorching summer heat, rendered restless with thirst they started searching for water all around. Meanwhile, they glanced water of the rainy season collected in a pond. Seeing this, the thirsty Princes began to drink the pond water. After some time they got intoxicated and started running and frisking to and fro. for the water in the pond was mixed with wine thrown by Balbhadra. While they were strolling they caught sight of the meditating Muni. Seeing him their anger knew no bounds for any reason, as if butter had been poured into fire. They started talking among themselves, “Oh! He is that very Depayan due to whom Dwarka will be burnt to ashes one day. He is a devil.” Saying this, they started hurling stones on him. Taking it a calamity befallen on him, the holy saint sat unperturbed in a calm posture. Later on when the royal princes started causing still greater torture, the holy saint lost his temper. Sparks of anger started emitting from his eyes. When Balbhadra got this information, he at once rushed to Depayan Muni and apologized. But the anger of the Muni could not be subsided. Overpowered by unbearable anger, the Muni died with a malicious feeling and was reborn as Vayanter Deva as a result his penance. Recollecting this incident of his previous birth through ill-begotten knowledge (Ku-vadhi Gyan), he put Dwarka city aflame out of anger and due to fierce flames Dwarka city was burnt to ashes.
From the above example, it is established that the person who indulges in anger destroys himself and others as well. Therefore, it is wise to keep away from anger or shun anger. Anger instigates bitterness, shatters friendship, disfigures our composure, converts wisdom into folly, and destroys fame and glory. This anger is a mental excitement. As soon as one gets excited, one becomes bereft of right thoughts due to which the power of reasoning and thinking is lost. Therefore, to live as a human being, it is essential for a man to be forbearing. No enemy can win over the man who is armed with the weapon of forbearance. If someone inflicts pain to a person practicing forbearance, in the end, he suffers defeat.
A wealthy person named Daya Chand used to live in Ujjain City. He was forbearing, benevolent and a very light-hearted man. His wife was named Akshama, but she was Akshama by name only. There was not even a bit of forbearance (Kshama) in her heart. In truth, she was a highly callous and ill-tempered lady. Right from dawn to dusk it was her inevitable routine to quarrel with every member of her family. She used to speak ill of her parents-in-law in presence of her husband Daya Chand, and would say, “I will not live with your mother as she abuses and insults me.” Addressing her the learned and well bread Daya Chand said, “My parents are your parents as well; serving them is your uppermost duty. The anger of elderly persons subsides on remaining humble. All become subordinate to a humble person. Everyone can be overpowered through forbearance (Kshama) and politeness. Therefore, be forgiving and justify your name Akshama.” On hearing these words of advice from her husband, the fire of anger of Akshma got all the more inflamed. She started hurling filthy abuses on her husband too. But the forgiving Setha did not utter a single word. At mid-day when Setha Daya Chand came home for meals, his wife started murmuring in anger. Daya Chand took meals calmly and then set out for his shop. As soon as he came down from his house and began to walk on the road, the wife Sethani threw garbage over him from above. Going upstairs, the Setha said to his wife with usual smile, “Oh, dear! Daily you simply thundered but today you have rained as well.” Seeing the calm and quiet nature of her husband, her anger vanished, and lying down at his feet she apologized for her fault. This example shows that an angry person can be made calm, polite, and full of reverence only by the weapon of forgiveness (Kshama). Therefore, one is duty-bound, to try to befriend an angry man or an enemy with love rather than being angry on him.
The ornament of a man is his nature; the ornament of nature is a virtue; the ornament of virtue is knowledge, the ornament of knowledge is forgiveness (Kshama). It has been said,
Narasyabharan rupam, rupasyabharan guna,
Gunrsyabharan gyanam, gyanasyabharan Kshama.
Whenever the saints endowed with forbearance perform repentance (pratikraman) and meditation (Samayika), they read the following couplet:
Khamami savjivarnam, save jiva khamantu me,
miti me sav bhuteshu, veram majham na kenvi.
The saints beg pardon of all living beings right from the one sensed (Aikendriya) i.e. having only one sense of touch, to the five sensed beings (Panchindriya), and pray, “All living beings may forgive me; I should cherish friendly feelings for all; I bear no ill-will for anyone.” The example of Kamatha and Marubhuti is well known in this context.
Kamatha and Marabhuti both were brothers. One day Kamatha had sexual intercourse with Marubhuti’s wife in his absence. As a result the king exiled Kamatha from his Kingdom. Kamatha reached the hermitage of a sinful ascetic and started performing vicious penance. When Marbhuti, out of love for his brother, went to bring Kamatha back, the wretched fellow hurled a stone slab on his brother Marubhuti; consequently he died then and there and was reborn as an elephant. In the long run the elephant observed Anuvratas under the influence of the preachments of a religious teacher. Meanwhile, the spirit of Kamatha after death was reborn as a dragon and bit the elephant out of ill will of his previous birth. Likewise, up to ten births Kamatha’s spirit suffered the many-fold miseries of hell (nark) by nourishing uncalled for enmity with Marubhuti and by bringing tortures on him; but the spirit (Jeeva) of Marubhuti went on forgiving the spirit of Kamatha. Therefore, due to his forgiveness (Kshama) he was blessed to become Lord Parashvnath. In the end the spirit (Jeeva) of Kamatha came to the holy feet of Lord Parashvnath and asked for his forgiveness shedding all his bitterness and ill will towards him.
While describing the virtue of supreme forgiveness, the great poet Reidhu writes:
Utam karam tili yeh sari, utam kham jammi dahitari
Utam karam ryantriya-dhari, utam kham dugayi duh hari.
Utam karam gun sehyari, utam khand munhivind payari
Utam karam bahuyan chintamani, utam khand sampjan thir mani.
Utam karam mhnij syal janri, utam khand michhat tamo manri
Jahim asmtham dosu khamijayi, jahim asamathahm rn u rusijayi.
Jahim akosanr vayanr sahijayi, jahim par dos nrjanri bhasijyi
Jahim cheyanrgunr chitdharijayi, tahim uttamkaram jjinekehjeyi.
Iye utam karam juy nrr sur karag nruy kevalnranru lehvithuru
Huye siddnrirnjnru bhavduh bhajnru aganriyrisi pundgavjchiru.
1. Supreme forgiveness is pertinent in all the three worlds. It helps to sail across the ocean of birth and death; it enables us to be endowed with the three jewels i.e., Right Belief, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct and safeguards us from a miserable plight.
2. Supreme forgiveness contributes to horde of virtues; it is dear to the nude Jain monks. Supreme forgiveness is like the crown jewel (Chintamani) for the learned scholars. Only persons with stable minds can acquire the virtue of supreme forgiveness.
3. Supreme forgiveness is held in high veneration by all great men. Forgiveness works like a dazzling jewel to dispel the darkness of wrong belief. The faults of the helpless persons are pardoned by a forgiver and he does not get enraged with them. Freedom from the growth of evil passions in the mind is forgiveness.
4. The persons, who without finding fault with others bear patiently the harsh words of the rogues, accepting them as the outcome of the evil actions of their previous births. They experience their own celestial virtues and are deeply engrossed in their self-realization have been termed by Lord Jinendra as gifted with supreme forgiveness.
5. Thus the persons gifted with supreme forgiveness, worshipped by Gods (Devas) and Vidyadharas (Divine beings skilled in various arts and sciences); and the innumerable holy saints who vanquish all worldly miseries on attaining the eternal omniscience and getting rid of the blemishes of karma have become enlightened souls (Siddha). I bow with reverence a thousand times at the holy feet of those supreme saints who are gifted with the virtue of forgiveness.
It has been said;
Kshama kharang kare yaseya durjana kim karishayti
Atrinre patito vahri swaymevopashamyati.
What harm can an ill-natured person do to one who holds the dagger of forgiveness in his hand? For ultimately one day fire is automatically extinguished on a grassless, barren ground.
To sum up, “It is good to have a giant’s power, but bad to use it like a giant.”
Only devil mind will try to follow this rule of the jungle;
‘Shathe shatayam samacharet’
‘Tit for tat –
You killed my dog,
I killed your cat.’
There is a wise and saintly saying; “Revenge is a wild justice”. Hence, O Mortal Man! Pardon! Pardon! Pardon all thy oppressors and enemies.
O aspirants for mental peace! Always remember:
Mere vanity is sufficient to bring downfall,
Mere passions are sufficient for bondage of soul,
Hence I counsel you to shun these,
Forgiveness alone is enough to attain Godhood.