Paryushan Maha Parva

The word “Parva” means auspicious day. There are three types of auspicious days - 1. Ordinary (Sämänya) like every third day -beej (2nd), päncham (5th), etc., 2. Incidental (Naimitik) like Mahävir Jayanti (Birthday) and 3. Natural (Naisargik) like Paryushan. The word “Paryushan” has several different meanings: 1. Pari + ushan = all kinds + to burn = to burn (shed) our all types of karmäs[1]. To shed our karmäs, we do twelve different types of austerities including fasting.  2. Another meaning of “ushan” is to stay closer. To stay closer to our own soul from all directions and to stay absorbed in our own-self (soul), we do Svädhyäya[2] (self-study), meditation, austerities, etc., and 3. Pari + upshamanä = upshamanä means to suppress, to suppress our passions (kashäyas - anger, ego, deceit and greed) from all directions.


Therefore, the real purpose of the 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, and take vows to minimize our faults. We try to forget about the needs of our body (like food) and our business so that we can concentrate on our-self.


To ask for forgiveness is the toughest thing to do. Therefore, our great Ächäryas[3] have said: “Kshamä Viram Bhushanam, Kshamäväni Michchhä Mi Dukkadam” - To ask for forgiveness is a great quality of the brave ones and if I have committed any mistake, knowingly or unknowingly, I ask for your forgiveness.


There are several great aphorisms (Sutras) to ask for forgiveness with the unity of the body, speech and mind, and one of them is as follows:


Khämemi Savve Jivä, Savve Jivä Khamantu Mi

Mitti Me Savva bhuesu, Veram majjham na Kenai.


Meaning: I forgive all the living beings of the universe, and may all the living-beings forgive me for my faults. I do not have any animosity towards anybody, and I have friendship for all living beings.


The process of shedding our karmäs really begins by asking for forgiveness with true feelings, and to take some vows not to repeat mistakes. The quality of the forgiveness requires humility (vinay - absence of ego) and suppression of anger.


Svetämbars[4] (one of the major two Jain sects) celebrate eight days of Paryushan and the last day is called Samvatsari. Digambars[5] celebrate Dash-Lakshanä Parva for ten days starting on the last day of Shvetämbar Paryushan. They celebrate ten best characteristics of the soul: Kshamä (forgiveness), Märdav (Humility),  Ärjav (straightforwardness), Shauch (content - absence of greed), Satya (truth), Samyam (restraint of all senses), Tapa (austerities), Tyäga  (charity), Äkinchan  (non-possessiveness) and Brahmachärya (celibacy).


[1] Karman particles (non-living, very subtle substance) are attracted to the soul because of  false belief (Mithyättva), vowlessness (non-abstinence) (Avirati), negligence (Pramäda), passions (Kashäya) and Activities (Yogäs). These Karman particles that are attached to the soul are called karma. Karma is the hindrance (obstacle) that does not allow us to realize the true qualities of ätmä


[2] Svädhyäya is one of the six internal tapas and one of the six daily activities of the householder. Svädhyäya is consisted of five elements. (i) vächanä- reading of the Jain canonical books; (ii) pruchhanä- asking the guru questions about them; (iii) parivartanä- repetition of what was learned previously so one does not forget; (iv) anuprekshä- deep contemplation of what was learned (with the meaning); (v) dharma-kathä- inspiring others about Jainism and listening to the exposition of religious parables. Great Ächärya Amitgati says, one cannot get rid off the darkness of his/her ignorance without the brightness of svädhyäya. Another great Ächärya Vamadeva says, svädhyäya is one of the four anuyogas propounded by the Jina. Ächärya Asadhara recommends the construction of svädhyäya-shäläs (schools) where there is no frequent visits by Jain monks and scholars.

[3] The message of Jina, Lord Mahdvira the last Tirthankara, is carried by  Ächäryas, our spiritual leaders. They have 36 attributes, (see the meaning of Panchindiya Sutra, Lesson 2 of Sämäyik). The responsibility of the spiritual welfare of the entire Jain Sangh (community) rests on the shoulders of Ächäryas. Before reaching this state, one has to do an in-depth study and have a thorough mastery of the Jain Ägams.  In addition to acquiring a high level of spiritual excellence, they also have the ability to lead the monastic communion. They should also know the various languages of the country and have acquired a sound knowledge of other philosophies, ideologies, and religions of the region and the world.


[4] Svetämbar means white [cotton]-clad; name of Jain sect whose mendicants wear white garments


[5] Digambar means sky-clad; name of the Jain sect whose mendicants practice ascetic nudity