Paryushan, the greatest Festival of India's Jain Community
What is Paryushan?
Paryushan is an Indian festival celebrated by the Jain community as a spiritual occasion to purify soul. Paryushan will be starting from Friday, August 22, 2014 in this year. Shwetambar Jain community will observe eight days of Paryushan between August 22 and 29. Samvatsari will be observed on August 29. Some of the Swetambar sects will observe Paryushan a day later i.e. Aug 23 to Aug 30.
This is a festival of self realization. The Sanskrit word Paryushan means living with yourself. It is called Pajjosavan in Prakrit, another ancient oriental language.Auspicious festivals are called Parva in Sanskrit and Pavva in Prakrit language. Paryushan is the greatest and holiest festival for Jain community.
One has to practice controlling his or her body, speeches and mind to get control over oneself during the days of Paryushan. Paryushan is meant for observing principles of Jainism as told by Lord Mahavira and other Tirthankara. People observe right knowledge (Samyag Gyan), right faith (Samyag Darshan) and right conduct (Samyag Charitra) three gems of Jain spirituality.
Paryushan is also for austerity and penance like other Jain festivals. People go through self realization and purification of themselves. Samvatsari, the last day is forgiveness and universal friendship day. People ask pardon from each other for all misdeeds during the year and spread eternal love.
Das Lakshan- Digambar Paryushan
The word Das Lakshan means ten attributes of Dharma. These are qualities of a soul such as forgiveness, modesty, simplicity, truthfulness, purity etc. These are same or at-least similar to the virtues observed in Paryushan.
Paryushan falls in Bhadrapad or Bhado month of lunar calendar during Chaturmas. Shwetambar sect observe it for eight days and Digambar sect of Jain for ten days. Digambar also call it Das Lakshan Parva. The auspicious festival usually comes in August or September in Gregorian calendar
Ashadh Chaturmas (Four months of monsoon) has special characteristics in Jain faith. Jain ascetics live in one place during this four months. These four months are Sharavan, Bhadra, Ashwin and Kartik of Indian lunar calender. In rest of the eight months they travel regularly barefoot from a place to another.
Uttam Kshama: 1st day of Das Lakshan
Ten attributes of Dharma in Das Lakshan Parva
Digambar Jain celebrates Paryushan as Das Lakshan Parva.There are ten sttirbutes of Dharma according to Jain canons. Especially Tatvarthadhigama Sutra alias Moksha Shastra describes these ten attributes of Dharma (Spirituality) in details. These are
1. Uttam Kshama (Forgiveness)
2. Uttam Mardav (Modesty)
3. Uttam Arjav (Simplicity)
4. Uttam Shauch (Purity)
5. Uttam Satya (Truthfulness)
6. Uttam Sanyam (Self-control)
7. Uttam Tapa (Penance and austerity)
8. Uttam Tyag (Sacrifice)
9. Uttam Aakinchanya (Non-possessiveness)
10. Uttam Bhramcharya (Chastity)
These are eternal and internal qualities of a pure soul. A mundane soul tries to achieve these qualities (Virtues) in order to progress in spiritual path. Digambar Jain community celebrates Das Lakshan Parva to worship these ten attributes.
Das Lakshan Parva in 2014
Date in 2014
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1. 9. 2014
2. 9. 2014
3. 9. 2014
4. 9. 2014
Penance and austerity
5. 9. 2014
6. 9. 2014
7. 9. 2014
8. 9. 2014
What do the Jain do in Paryushan?
Ultimate goal of Jainism is attain liberation, Nirvana. Jain people observe various spiritual things for self realization during these auspicious days. They do Pooja and pray in the Jain temples (to show devotion to God), God in Jainism mean differently. Arhant and Siddh are called God according to Jain texts.They are omniscient and omnipotent but do not interfere to any mundane activities. Jain does not believe in a creator God.
Ashtanhika Pravachan is a sacred Jain text that describes duties of a Jain in holy days of Paryushan. It is a general practice among some sects in Jain that ascetics read out this text in the first two or three days of the eight auspicious days.
Kalpasutra is one of the main Jain canon that describe a lot about Paryushan. It is a normal practice to listen discourses from the Kalpasutra during Paryushan. The canon includes lives of Tirthenkara, Lives of famous ancient ascetics and dos and dont's for the Jain ascetics.
(NB: Old manuscripts of Kalpasutra contain many miniature paintings. These are the oldest miniature paintings in the world. The oldest manuscript is preserved in a museum in Germany. We have displayed few of Kalpasutra miniature paintings with gold pen in this hub below.)
Antagadhdashang Sutra is another Jain canon that describes about the souls who liberated in the same birth. Some sects of Jain ascetics also give discourses from this canon during Paryushan days.
Tatwartha Sutra alias Moksh Shastra by Umaswati is a great Jain text that contains gist of all Jain canons. The holy book contains ten chapters describing complete path of Nirvana (Moksh- liberation) and also substance of the universe. Digambar Jain sect listen to these ten chapters during ten days of Das Lakshan Parva.
Jain rituals in Paryushan Parva
Jain people observe rituals likes of Samayik (an act of practicing equanimity) and Pratikraman (an act of confession), take vows, bow down to ascetics, listen to spiritual teachers, reading sacred canons etc.
Jain Sharavak (layman) and Shravika (laywoman) also observe fast and other acts of austerity and penance. They also chant Mantra especially Navkar Mantra using rosary, sing devotional songs and observe Paushadh (live like ascetics).
Both Jain ascetics and laymen observe these acts rigorously to purify soul with an aim to attain Nirvana, liberation.
Paryushan is also called Ashtanhika that means which last for eight days. The last day is called Samvatsari. Both Jain layman and ascetics to perform Samvatsarik Pratikraman (Annual confession) and ask pardon from all creatures in the universe with pure heart for any misdeeds. This the act that promotes eternal love and universal brotherhood. This also brings peace.
In search of thyself
Jain philosophy says spiritual journey starts with the search of thyself. Mundane souls have attachments with earthly things and crave for earthly and sensual pleasures. They are living with sins likes of anger, conceit, deceit, greed (four astringents) etc. They live violent, speak lie, steal, engage i sexual abuse and possess unnecessarily. These are the main five acts of sins according to Jainism and one has to control over these acts.
Ignorance of thyself is the basic reason of astringent and act of sins. One has to physically and mentally restrict oneself from these and devote oneself to virtues like mercy, brotherhood, forgiveness, modesty, simplicity and satisfaction etc. One has to listen to spiritual Masters and act accordingly to know thyself, the gateway to spirituality. Indian festival Paryushan gives us an opportunity to do so.
Five vows in Jainism (Panch vrata) keeps away from five acts of sins. Rituals likes of Samayika and Pratikramana make us tranquil and purify our mind. Prayer and Jap take us near to Godliness. Reading sacred texts (Canons) and listening spiritual Gurus eradicate ignorance and take us to the kingdom of wisdom.
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Paryushan: The true way to liberation
Nirvana is liberation from all earthly miseries. We, ourselves are responsible for all our miseries. ignorance of thyself is the fundamental reason of all sorrows. Mundane souls, ignorant of thyself act and behave sinfully in search of earthly and sensual pleasure. They act through their body, their senses, their speeches and their minds. They act with astringent and loose peace of mind. Seldom they are virtuous.
These acts and behavior make mundane souls restless and unhappy. The dilemma is that they are ignorant of the causes of their sorrow and unhappiness. Spirituality shows them the true way to get rid of all miseries and sorrows through three Gems (Virtues) as Lord Mahavira taught the path.
Paryushan is the auspicious festival of spirituality and time to practice the virtues Samyag Darshan (Right faith), Samyag Gyan (Right knowledge i.e. wisdom) and Samyag Charitra (Right conduct).
Attaining equanimity through meditation is the apex of all spiritual deeds observed in the Paryushan. Intense degree of meditation liberates mundane souls from all Karmic bondage and help attaining omniscience and Nirvana.
May heaven bless you with these virtues to attain Nirvana free from all Karmik bondage and liberated from all miseries!
Parasnath temple, Bhelupur, Varanasi
Paryushan In Varanasi
Varanasi is a Jain pilgrimage center where 16 Kalyanaka of four Tirthankara took place. Bhelupur is the most prominent place in Varanasi where four Kalyanaka of Lord Parasnath occurred. Bhelupur is also a Jain district in Varanasi where large numbers of Jain community members live in.
I have been observing my Paryushan here in Bhelupur temple and Dharmshala. I give discourse in the morning on Ashtanhika (First two days) and Kalpasutra (Last six days) in the morning among Swetambar Jain community members of Varanasi.
There are daily Pooja, Abhishek, Snatra, Aangi and Pratikraman observed in this premises. Several Jain students studying in IIT at BHU used to come to join us in religious ceremony.
Updated on August 23, 2014.
Paryushan and spirituality
Universal brotherhood and peace
Paryushan promotes universal brotherhood and peace
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