We, Indians are in celebration mode since the Independence Day. All the major festivals are following one after the other. We had Onam, Raksha Bandhan, Parsi New Year, and Eid earlier last month, then Janmashtami this month followed by Paryushana and Ganesh festival thereafter. October and November bring Navratri and Diwali. The year will end with Christmas. In the new year January we will celebrate Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Republic Day and finally in March Holi.
Today I will talk about one of the revered festivals of Jains i.e. Paryushana. While most of the festivals are about good foods and new clothes, Paryushana differs in these aspects from the other festivals.
Paryushana is about simplicity, fasting, penance, studying religious texts and listening to religious lectures and seeking forgiveness from others whom we might have hurt.
The most striking thing about this festival is seeking forgiveness from others and forgiving others on the last day i.e. Samvatsari. This purification process is magnanimous.
We take people for granted. We hardly introspect about own conduct with others. We mostly blame others for their conduct. Paryushana is an opportunity to introspect.
We do need reminders, perhaps a bit of gentle nudging sometimes, to acknowledge the fact that often we deliberately or unwittingly hurt the people dearest to us.
Paryushana is about looking within. Jains do Pratikamana during Paryushana.
Pratikraman is the combination of two words, Pra meaning return, and Atikraman meaning violation. Literally, it means returning from violations.
It is a ritual during which Jains repent (prayaschit) for their sins and non-meritorious activities committed knowingly or inadvertently during their daily life through thought, speech or action.
“Life is too short for long-term grudges.” Elon Musk
Seeking forgiveness and forgiving others is a courageous act. I am sorry is perhaps the hardest phrases to say.
Let’s learn the art and science of forgiveness.
1) Forgiveness is about you, not others. It immediately enhances your mood and feelings. You are not doing any favours to others by forgiving, you are doing favour on you.
2) When you seek forgiveness from others, which is a very courageous act, two things happen. You feel better and the other person is most likely to forgive you so he also feels better. Your courageous act can do wonder for both of you.
“It is much more agreeable to offend and later ask forgiveness than to be offended and grant forgiveness.” Friedrich Nietzsche
Forgiving others is a magnanimous act of courage.
3) Forgiveness is necessary because it is your inability to handle the situation. You can’t control others’ conduct. If their conduct disturbed you it is your problem. Forgiving frees you from your problem.
4) Take control of your life. Grudges take away control from you to the other person. Forgiveness gives back you the control.
Remember forgives is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.
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Health Benefits of Forgiveness:
The research studies are finding connections between forgiveness and physical, mental, and spiritual health and evidence that it plays a key role in the health of families, communities, and nations.
The researcher found that forgiveness will not only move us past negative emotions, but move us toward a net positive feeling.
Unforgiveness, by contrast, seems to be a negative emotional state where an offended person maintains feelings of resentment, hostility, anger, and hatred toward the person who offended him.
Forgiveness benefits increase with the age. People over 45 years of age who had forgiven others reported greater satisfaction with their lives and were less likely to report symptoms of psychological distress, such as feelings of nervousness, restlessness, and sadness.
It probably isn’t just hostility and stress that link unforgiveness and poor health. According to a recent review of the literature on forgiveness and health, unforgiveness might compromise the immune system at many levels. For instance, the review suggests that unforgiveness might throw off the production of important hormones and even disrupt the way our cells fight off infections, bacteria, and other physical insults, such as mild periodontal disease.
Spiritual Benefits of Forgiveness:
Forgiveness has spiritual benefits too. Keeping grudge is like keeping mud on the Soul. The act of forgiveness cleanses the Soul.
Jains seek forgiveness by saying Michhami Dukkadam to others on the last day of Paryushana. This is a Prakrit phrase. The exact phrase and its meaning are as under:
|khāmemi savva jīve||I forgive all living beings.|
|savve jīvā khamaṃtu me||May all souls forgive me,|
|mittī me savva-bhūesu||I am on friendly terms with all,|
|veraṃ majjha na keṇa:i||I have no animosity toward any soul.|
|micchāmi dukkaḍaṃ||Please forgive my bad deeds done knowingly or unknowingly|
Here is a video by Dr. Huzaifa Khorakiwala, CEO of Wockhardt Foundation is talking about the importance of Micchami Dukkadam in human life.
According to the Hindu and the Jain way of life, the ultimate objective of the human life is to achieve Moksha.
The precondition for Moksha is shedding of all Karmas.
Unless we forgive others and seek their forgiveness, we die with this grudges. Unless the Soul is pure it can’t achieve Moksha. A Soul with grudges and complains is not pure.
Unforgiveness is an impediment in our road to Moksha.
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“…..We should be careful of each other, we should be kind, while there is still time.” Philip Larkin
Here is a stanza from Bhaj Govindam:
लोकं शोकहतं च समस्तम् ॥ ४॥
The life of a person is as uncertain as raindrops trembling on a lotus leaf.
Know that the whole world remains a prey to disease, ego, and grief.
Yes, before it’s too late and this human life ends, do the act of Forgiveness. Without this noble act, you are stuck in your spiritual journey. Without this noble act, you are suffering from various mental and physical disorders.
“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” Bernard Meltzer
Change your future and live in peace. Live in the spirit of Michami Dukakdam now and always.
You may also like to read: “Mind-blowing” Book, “Deep dive” in Jainism