The soul, in its pure form, has infinite perception, infinite knowledge, infinite vigor, and is non-attached. These attributes are not seen in a worldly soul because it is soiled with karmas. By following religious principles and pious activities, we overcome our karmas and uplift our souls to the liberation. There are various kinds of religious activities, sometimes called the rituals, and among them the pratikraman is one of the most important ritual. During pratikraman we repent for our non-meritorious activities on a daily basis. We realize our mistakes and ask for the forgiveness, which helps us to minimize the intensity of the karmas as well as it helps to get rid of the karmic bondage. Pratikraman is a combination of six avshyakas (essential rituals). They are:
Samayik – a state of equanimity
Chauvisantho – worshipping the twenty-four Tirthankars
Vandana – offering salutations to the sadhus (monks) and the sadhvis (nuns)
Pratikraman – realizing what we have done wrong and annotating on it
Kayotsagga – meditation of the soul
Pratyakhyan – renunciation
In the samayik, we stay in equanimity for forty-eight minutes. During samayik not only we give up all the worldly affairs, but we also stay away from attachment and aversion. This activity helps us to pacify our passions and desires. To get ready for the samayik, we put on simple, clean white clothes, and occupy a quiet place. While in the samayik, we recite the Navkar Mantra, read scriptures, perform meditation, etc. The samayik gives us a glimpse of the life of the sadhus who live in samayik through out their whole life. It directly encourages us to lead to the life of a sadhu or sadhvi.
Chauvisantho means adoration of the twenty-four Tirthankaras. By reciting it, we show our respect for the twenty-four Tirthankaras. While reciting this we are reminded of how victorious were these Jinas, who overcame the inner enemies like anger, ego, greed, and deceit, etc., and this encourages us to be like them. It is also called Chaturvinshatistava.
During vandana, we bow down to the monks and the nuns and express our reverence to them. They are our current religious guides, and preceptors. While bowing down, we become humble, and thus, this helps us to overcome the ego and the anger. It also inspires us to become like them. (If there is no monk or nun then we bow down in the North-East direction to Arihantas who are currently living far away from here.)
Pratikraman is the combination of two words, Pra meaning return and atikraman meaning violation. Literally, it means returning from the violations. As Jain householders, we are supposed to observe the twelve minor vows to minimize the violence towards other living beings which in turn minimizes the damage to our own souls. During Pratikraman we review our activities for any violations that might have occurred during these vows. In this way, we ask for the forgiveness for our actions and purify our souls, and improve our future activities. If we have not taken these vows, then we should wish for such a day to come when we could take those vows.
Pratikraman is usually done twice a day: once in the morning, Raisi (morning) Pratikraman, to repent for the things we might have done during the night time and once in the late evening Devasi (evening) Pratikraman to repent for the things we might have done during the day time. Those who are unable to perform daily pratikraman should do a Pakshik (fortnightly) Pratikraman, which is done once every fifteen days. There are some that can not find even time for that; they should do a Choumasi (quarterly) Pratikraman, once every four months. However, if someone can not find time for that, then they should do Samvatsari (yearly) Pratikraman, once a year which is considered a must for every Jain. By repenting during the pratikraman, we lessen the bondage of karma to our soul and avoid committing the same sins in the future. If we do not repent for our deeds at least once a year, then the bondage of karmas to the soul becomes severe and even harder to shed off. In all reality, one should perform pratikraman as soon as one realizes he or she has committed a sin.
The word kayotsargga is made up of two words Kaya meaning body and utsarga meaning to give up. Kayotsargga means to give up one’s physical comfort and body movements, thus staying steady, either in a standing or other posture, and concentrating upon the true nature of the soul as being separate from the body or recite navakar mantra or Chauvisantho. This is a form of meditation and by practicing pure kayotsargga we slowly gain control on our mental, verbal, and physical activities.
This is a formal renunciation of certain activities, which reduces or stops the inflow of the karmas. Pratyakhyan helps us to learn to control our desires and prepares us for the bigger renunciation.
Thus, the pratikraman helps us to restrain, appreciate others who have done a good job and lead us to their paths.