Annual Forbearance Function
The ten-day celebrations pertaining to the ten universal supreme virtues culminate in the practical observance of the Annual Forbearance function. During these celebrations every Jain daily devotes most of his time in prayer and worship getting rid of the mundane duties of practical life. The celebrations extend from the 5th day of the bright half of the holy month of 'Bhadrapad' to the 14th day, which is the last day and fast day.
On this sacred day every member of Jain community approaches his or her kith and kin, neighbor, colleague and co-worker in office, business and industry irrespective of his/her caste, creed and clan. He/she begs pardon of them for all faults or mistakes committed knowingly or unknowingly. He or she confesses his/her errors and apologizes for these to every compatriot and every follower of his own religion or other religions. Thus he/she feels relieved of the heavy burden hanging on his/her head of the sins of previous years. Henceforth the person starts social life afresh living together in love and peace with all, following the noble principle of peaceful co-existence. In truth, on this auspicious day, the Jains dedicate themselves heart and soul to submit to their popular slogan 'Live and Let Live'. Thus, they give expression to their feeling that all creatures in the world are equal, endowed with the same soul and aspire for peace and happiness. Indeed, this annual function is not merely a traditional ritual, but also a first step on the path to attain liberation or salvation - the final goal of every man's life.
Kshma bhushan gunri jan ka , man ka svasthya ka
I.e., Forgiveness is an ornament of the learned; it bestows charm to life and gives perfect health.
From the spiritual viewpoint forgiveness is regarded synonymous with sobriety, nobility and generosity. Forgiveness is supposed to be the first and foremost virtue of ascetics and scholars. In the holy books of all religions anger has been pronounced to be the root cause of all sins and the downfall of man. The persons given to anger are generally found unrighteous, tyrants, immoral, quarrelsome, murderous and depraved by nature. Anger has been looked down upon and forgiveness adorned by one and all. The great Acharyas have also said:
Koho miti vinrasanram
I.e., Anger puts an end to friendship; or,
I.e., People given to anger are the meanest persons.
Various sermons, discourses, fables and legends all sing glories of forgiveness, which affords emotional sustenance, moral inspiration and mental power to a man.
Ksma Dharma kshma yagya, kshma vaida kshma shrutam
Ye aitdaivam janati sa sarva kshutrmhati
- Mahabharat 2nd parva
Adruha daivo vardyentai - Rigveda 5/68/4
I.e., The gods (or true friends), who do not indulge in revolt and create stir, alone raise us high in the world.
Sugorvam ashryam dharni datai khanitarmapi dhuruvam, tatha Tama badhkanityam kshmsvasman - Kural Kavya Pari 16
Not only from the spiritual point of view, forgiveness has been regarded the basis of all types of penance and meditation, but in the material world also from the scientific and psychological viewpoint forgiveness has been called bestowal of bodily vitality. It is a panacea for all diseases and instrumental to mental development. Forgiveness helps not only in pacifying anger and making us religious minded by removing all sins, but is also capable in keeping us hale and hearty
Scientists have also proved that a poisonous chemical fluid known as 'Adrenaline' automatically begins to be extracted from an angry man's bile duct, which effects his whole nervous system together with the veins and arteries. As a result of the extraction of this poisonous fluid, fatal and incurable diseases like muscular weakness, weaker memory, loss of appetite, generation of acidity and rise in blood pressure take birth in human body.
Scientists are unanimous in their opinion that anger gives rise to many types of mental disorders. The psychiatrists state that cure of diseases like emotional tension, blood pressure, ulcer, TB, and mental madness is possible only by rooting out anger.
Anger invites to untimely, premature old age. The ill feelings of anger, gloom, worry and hatred leave a deep effect on human body. In the state of rage, a chemical change takes place in a man's body, which obstructs blood supply to the face. As a result the facial skin turns either pale or extremely ruddy. An occasional outburst of anger creates wrinkles on the face. On the contrary the face looks full of luster and bloom in a peaceful and happy state of mind. Thus, anger causes not only physical loss but the internal system of the body also becomes deranged. Consequently, it leaves an adverse effect on the digestive system as well, and many heart troubles are born. In this way the vicious feeling of anger leaves a highly demolishing effect on the human body, mind, heart and soul. Therefore, not only from the point of view of heavenly bliss and a virtuous life, but also for worldly health and happiness, and to promote the feeling of universal brotherhood, anger must be discarded at all costs.
To celebrate forgiveness as a festival is a symbol of the growth of spiritual purity. It is said - 'A forgiver sleeps soundly and peacefully; but the night of an unforgiving person passes in mental tension and uneasiness. It seems as if his bed was strewn with thorns.'
Forgiveness is not merely a matter of oratory, it is treasure of the inner soul as well. The sweet taste of sucrose can be felt only by the tongue. But the sweetness of forgiveness lies dormant in the inner self. Forgiveness breeds peace and harmony.
The 24th Tirthanker, Lord Mahavira, states:
Khramami savjivanram, savai jiva khamantu mai
Miti mai savbhudaisu , vairam majham nr kainr vi
The beauty of a man's eyes lies not in 'kajul', but it lies in applying the (aniana) of friendship to our sight. '0 sarva asha mam mitram bhavantu - said the great Vedic sages - May we attain friendship everywhere. The same feeling finds expression in a line of the verse 'mairi bhavna’ (My Ambition in life)-
Metri bhav jagat mai maira sab jivon sai nit rahe
Indeed, friendship is the happy outcome of forgiveness, and the nectar of forgiveness lies at the root of noble virtues like gratitude, humility and friendship.
Non-violence derives a new life from forgiveness. Forgiveness thy name is non-violence. The letter 'ksh' in the word 'Kshma' has a knot at its root. In Sanskrit language the word 'ma' means negation. Hence, the message of forgiveness is not to maintain in the mind any knot like the letter 'ksh'
Forgiveness does not denote cowardice rather it symbolizes bravery. The unwilling submissiveness shown by a weaker person is helplessness; it is called cowardice. But the forbearance shown by a valiant and brave person is true forgiveness. The former is surrender; the latter is victory. The former type of forgiveness is like that of a dead bodies wrapped in coffin, which is passive submission, not active self-willed pardon.
Forgiveness is life. It is a normal process of peaceful co-existence in daily practical life. The rules of walking to the left on the road and stopping at the red signal which are strictly followed in big cities, denote forbearance for one another. Forgiveness puts a check on road accidents. It shows the right path of 'Live and Let Live' to one and all.
In the absence of forgiveness the wild axiom, 'The bigger fish swallows the smaller fish' will hold sway in the world. If the weaker and stronger beings coexist in human society, it is simply an outcome and unique gift of forgiveness alone.
Do not give mere vocal expression to this inherent virtue of soul through outbursts on loudspeakers by organizing grand functions in support of forgiveness simply for public show. Let forbearance become a practical aspect of your daily life bringing peace and harmony in human society. You will then realize that the good results which you cannot achieve by the use of brute force i.e., subduing an enemy by wielding the sword; the same thing you succeed in doing by the use of the invincible peaceful weapon of forgiveness. Forgiveness turns a foe into a friend forever. It is a common saying, 'The victories of peace are more renowned than the victories won by war.'
The sword is a harbinger of enmity and bitterness. It is a weapon of violence. On the contrary, forgiveness is a blissful message of friendship and love. It is a part and parcel of non-violence. The sword creates discord, while forgiveness brings concord. Such is the unique power and miracle of spiritual force achieved through forgiveness.
Forgiveness reveals high morale. It is a jewel worn by noble souls. Forgiveness promotes the feeling of harmony and amity. Anger is subdued by forgiveness. The ill feeling of bitterness persists in the heart of a person devoid of forgiveness like non-washable marks carved on a stone slab. But forgiveness blots out bitterness from human heart like transitory ripples on water.
Forgiveness is a virtue of humility. It is an ornament of social courtesy. Forgiveness is sinless. It is chaste. Forgiveness is woodland of peace, where perfect calm prevails and austerities are performed.
Forgiveness teaches us non-violence and through non-violence we should learn to practice forbearance. The axiom - 'prasparograho’ can be proclaimed only by a devotee of non-violence, who is anti to the law of the jungle 'Tit for Tat'. The slogan 'Live and Let Live' is as much an expression of non-violence as that of forgiveness. Forgiveness aims at prolonged happiness and long life for others and freedom from mental tension for self.
Forgiveness and Forgiving
The 'Paryushan Parva' - the observance of the ten universal supreme virtues -commences with the first virtue forgiveness. It culminates in the forgiving ceremony; as if forgiveness works as a coherent link between the beginning and the end of 'The Festival of Self-Uplift'. Water is to drink, not to fill pitchers. Its coolness is needed for the throat, not for the pond. Likewise, the soothing drink of forgiveness is meant for the soul. It is not a trick meant for social manipulation and exploitation of injured feelings. So far you have learnt lessons in forgiveness and cried slogans in support of forgiveness times without number. Now put to practice in daily existence, what you have learnt; so that the ever growing crowd of criminal cases in the law courts may lessen, and conferences preaching universal brotherhood may replace the army battalions posted on the borders.
Only the enlightened souls can convey the message of forgiveness. The ill-bred wretched fellows whose hearts are palpitating with rancor fail to understand the significance of this celestial virtue. One given to forgiveness resides forever in the Garden of Eden, whereas a man bereft of the virtue of forgiveness always burns in the dry forest fire of ever simmering rage. In truth, 'Forgiveness' is a superb word found in' the spiritual dictionary of some highly cultured societies alone.
Miriam savbhudaisu vairam majham nr kainr vi
Lord Mahavira preached and professed in black and white through the scriptures, the message of universal brotherhood. The prophet laid stress on the well being of all men, birds and beasts. The holy soul counseled mankind to sustain no ill will for any living being in thought, speech and action.
The U.N.O. observes a day for universal brotherhood. Does it not signify that we live in an environment of racial hatred and territorial discord between nations throughout the year? The message of Jainism is that we should observe not days, but years and centuries of universal brotherhood and mutual love among all human beings i.e., practice forgiveness for all creatures including the 'mute' beings of the animal kingdom. To limit the feeling of fraternity, which is a perennial spring of humanity to certain days, is to limit the joys of human life.
Love begets love; hatred begets hatred. Friendship enhances fellow feeling. A true friend stands by his friend both in weal and woe. He shares both his joys and sorrows. Mutual distrust, ill will, jealousy, malice and bitterness today dominate the world. Terrorism has become the order of the day. By our sincere dedication to forbearance we should try to reverse the present barbaric social order of the world and turn the human society into a model homeland for all living beings -'Where the head is held high; where the mind is free.'
The panacea for all ills of mankind lies in the motto 'Forgive and Forget' i.e., disarmament, not in the arms race and accumulation of more and more deadly weapons or manufacturing atom bombs and hydrogen bombs, which can annihilate the whole mankind in the twinkling of an eye. If the whole world has to survive under one roof of the blue sky, it must get rid of the brute and mad craze for war and narrow nationalism.
Ne hi verainr vera shamyati
I.e., Enmity cannot put an end to enmity. Violence cannot root out violence. Forgiveness is a cry of the day.
To sum up, the contrary of revenge is forgiveness, which makes a man brave, fearless, virtuous, courteous, happy and prosperous. It has been said:
Yadi kamysai satyam hridayen sugirvam
Karysthim samam sarvaivyvahar kshmame
I.e., If you want to win eternal glory, treat all with forgiveness.
Paksha vyo yathopari vyasm sharm yachhta
I.e., Just as the birds spread wings over their young ones to provide them safety and happiness, you should also rear in your heart the feeling of happiness, joy and affection for all men, birds and beasts.
Hence, O Mortal Man! Ask forgiveness, ask forgiveness and ask forgiveness from all with a feeling - 'Welfare of all living beings, and peace and happiness for all creatures'. Forgiveness makes a man not only meek and tolerant in nature by overpowering wrath and purging the soul of all other passions, but it also works as a tonic to promote good physique and mental health.
Dharmstshramytram karnrsydrog prshantai sehkaripuram
Bahye vidhanam pratipdyate ut, chikitstam sarvasihobhyatma
I.e., Religion is an internal and main remedy to cure diseases. All external treatments are mere subsidiary causes. In short, 'To err is human, to forgive divine.'