Rites and Rituals

150. As we have seen, the rules of lay conduct are very strict. The rites and rituals make them charming and attractive. Jainism in the strictest terms does not prescribe invocation, propitiation, offerings, prayers and the like. But in popular practice a devotee expresses his or her devotional attachment to idols which symbolize the glorification of the spiritual state and he attributes manifested in the idol Jonahed itself.

151. There are six obligatory duties (Sadavasyakas) in Jain tradition, which are prescribed for both laity and mendicant order as well. They are: 1) Samayika, the practice of equanimity or meditation, 2) Caturvimsaatistava, praise of the twenty-four Tirthankaras, 3) Vandana, veneration, 4) Pratikramana, expiation for transgressions, 5) Kayotsarga, abandonment of the body in standing or sitting poses, and 6) Pratyakhyana, renunciation of certain foods or activities for certain times. Jinasena and Somadeva make them more popular for laities by replacing them with 1) Devapuja, 2) Guru- upasana, 3) Svadhyaya, 4) Samyama, Tapas, and 6) Dana.

152. A Jain devotee worships the Jain image with two ways, the first is the abstract worship (Bhavapuja), which needs neither idol nor ritual, and the second one is formal worship (Dravyapuja), which needs the idol and some ritual performances. The mendicants usually perform the abstract worship. It is also performed by those laities who do not have the sufficient facilities for accomplishing formal worship. There is a certain method prescribed for formal worship. After taking a bath and wearing clean clothes, the devotee goes to the temple and recites Namokaramantra (the Mahamantra) with devotional songs and hymns, puts down a few grains of rice, bows and goes around a circumambulatory (Pradaksina) path three times, and repeats Arihanta-Siddha etc. Then on a rosary of 108 beads, he starts performing Astadravyapuja, which is eight-fold worship. First of all, he bathes the image with pure water, which is a kind of reminiscence of the post-birth illustration of the bathing of the Tirthankara by Indra, the Lord of Gods (not of Jinas). Then he recites the verses, drops one after another the water, sandal wood paste, cleaned rice-grains, flowers or saffron colored Astadravyas (rice, coconut, lamp, incense, fruits like cloves and almonds and the last one mixed offerings Argha) in a platter placed on the table in front of him. This procedure of paying homage to the Jina or Tirthankara, the ideal Guru and the Sastras or Scriptures may be done individually or in a congregation. After this the devotee concludes his worships with the recitation of Santipatha expressing his wish for universal peace: “May Lord Jinendradeva, bestow peace on the land, the nation, the city and the state and welfare on all the citizens, may the rulers and the administrators be strong, law- abiding and righteous, the rains be timely and adequate, all the diseases and ailments disappear, no one in the world be afflicted with famine or scarcity because of theft, loot, plunder and devastation, nor with epidemics, even for a moment: Peace be to all”.

153. Among other Jain rituals, idol installation includes Jinabimbapratistha or Pancakalyanakapratistha (five auspicious events) with devotional songs and hymns, which initiates the image for worship in a Jain temple. It is preformed with a great ceremony under the leadership of a learned priest through depicting the five auspicious events of a Tirthankara’s life, namely, conception, birth, renunciation, enlightenment and Nirvana. The Pancakalyanaka Mahotsava continues for several days with great sprit and devotion.

154. There are some social ceremonies like Samskaras, which are somehow connected with spiritual and with physical purity. They are of three types viz. I) 53 kriyas (rites) which cover the entire life of a person from conception to death (Garbhanvayakriyas), ii) 48 rites which are related to new converts and their spiritual development (Diksanvayakriyas), and iii) 7 rites which are meant for personality development of meritorious souls (Kartranvyayakriyas). It may be noted here that prior to Acarya Jinasena, the lay conduct was dealt only with the Vratas and Pratimas. Jinasena then borrowed the Sanskaras from Vedic sides and introduced them into Jain society. Jinasena adopted this policy to protect Jain society from outside dangers. This was the need of the day to avoid the dangerous situation from Brahmanical society. The history confirms the successful endeavor of Jinasena to reduce intercommunity friction and raise the status of Jain society in the eyes of Brahmanical counterparts. Looking to the surface similarity over rites and rituals between Jainas and Hindus, some scholars express the view that Jainas are indistinguishable from Hindus and should not be considered an independent group at all. But this is not correct. As has already been discussed and explained earlier, Jainsim is an independent religion. It is not and has never been the branch of Hindus

155. Among festivals celebrated by Jainas are: Paryusana, or Dasalaksana Parva held during the rainy season for eight or ten days in Jain temples where the sermons on the Dasadharmas, which are the ten virtues of the soul described in the Tattvarthsutra and Kalpasutra Scriptures are regularly read to an audience. At its end, Ksamavaniparva or Samvatsariparva is celebrated, which is the day of universal forgiveness, when every Jain asks for forgiveness from everyone else and he himself forgives others for wrongs done towards him during the past year. Other festivals such as Raksabandhana, Sodasakaranvrata, Aksayatrtiya, Mastakabhiseka, Srutapancami, Dipavali, Mahaviranirvana Jayanti, Siddhacakravidhana, Astanhikaparva, Nandisvaravidhana, etc. should also be mentioned which are social festivals of the community. Worship is the form of Dharmadhyana. It is an act of selfless devotion done with joy, cheerfulness and due humanity and as the result, the worshipper earns Punya (merit) and destroys demerit. It is transcendent attachment (Prasastaraga) and devotion to the Vitaragi Jina with the view to get inspiration and guidance from him for achieving purified stage of mind and soul. In the eye of Jainism, the Paramatman or Vitaragi God cannot be an instrument for construction, destruction and protection of the universe.

156. Every morning the lay aspirant is expected after taking bath and donning the clean dress to pay homage to the Jina to temple for his Darsana and devotion. He usually takes with him the few grains of rice or coconut etc. by way of token offering. On entering temple, he recites Nisei, Panca namokaramanta and some verses from scripture in praise of the Jina.

157. There are some other rituals also to be observed by the householder, which are known as Siddhacakra Vidhana, Indradhvaja and other Vidhanas, Jinabimbapratistha, Pancakalyanaka Mahotsava, Vedipratistha, Mahavira Jayanti, Rsabhadeva Jayanti, Dipavali, Raksabandhana, Samadhimarana etc., which are celebrated with the great zeal.

158. There are some Samskaras or ceremonies, which cover the entire life of a person from conception to Nirvana. But these rites do not include the offering of the funeral cake (Mratyubhoja) and propitiation (Tarpana) to the spirit of the departed. Likewise, to take the bath in the sacred water of the Ganga is not treated as the merit or Punya.

159. There is also an importance given to the Mantras in Jainism. But these Mantras are prescribed only for spiritual attainment and not for worldly affairs. Jainism does not believe in violent sacrifices. It also does not worship to such Gods and Goddesses who are violent. Om, Sri, Svastika, Triratna, Mangala Kalasa etc. are the important mystic symbols and signs, which are used at the auspicious times.

160. Fasting is also a sort of rite and ritual. It is of two types: I) Itvarika – to give up food for the specified period up to six months, and 2) Yavatkathika- fasting till death. It is called Santhara or Smadhimarana or Sallekhana, which has already been discussed earlier. The second fast is Unodary, which means to eat less than usually required. Rasaparityaga (abstinence from delicacies), Bhiksacarita (to take alms through begging with its code of conduct), Kayaklesa (enduring physical hardships) are other types of penances prescribed for householders and mendicants

161. Spiritual pilgrimage to places is also associated with the rites. It is the pious longing which one tries to accomplish in the span of life. It is called Tirthayatra. There are numerous places of Jain pilgrimage throughout India. Vaisali, Rajagrah, Varanasi, Ayodhya, Sravasti, Kausambi, Prayag, Sammeda Sikhara, Pavapur, Girinar, Nakodha, Satrunjaya, Resandigiri, Dronagiri, Ahicchatra, Kesariya, Kunthalagiri, Kakandi, Bhadravati, Campapur, Kampilya, Hastinapur, Mathura, Sauripur, Kundalapur, Gunava, Udayagiri, – Khandagiri, Sonagiri, and so on. There are so many Atisayaksetras, Siddhaksetras, kalaksetras and Sastrabhandaras for taking the pilgrimage.

162. Despite the attitude of peaceful coexistence, Jainism could not have continued its existence without struggle. Right from seventh to thirteenth century and onwards, the Jain community had to face so many violent opposition from Brahmanic and Muslim societies. They destructed their thousands of temples and converted them into Hindu temples and mosques. Likewise, the rich Shastrabhandaras were also perished and reduced to ashes. For instance, the mosque Adhai dina ka jhopada of Ajmer and the Kutub Minar of Delhi were originally Jain temples, which were converted into Mosques. by Muslims. Likewise, the Saiva Lingayatas and Alavarapanthis committed mass killing of Jain community in South and converted Jain temples into Saiva temples. However, Jainism could survive through its nonviolent approach, moral and spiritual attitude and compromising policy with Hindu society. The internal reform movements in Jain community, though not much like Buddhism, have also assisted in keeping cohesive atmosphere in the societies.