Ack: Atit Shah! (Received this forward, This is not a comprehensive draft but throws many apt points. Read and follow the ones you think are rational.)

Paryushan… A festival of 8 days which is one of the greatest festivals in Jainism!

Unfortunately, this festival has been reduced to food by today’s generation … What to eat ..What not to eat .. what should be eaten and how many fasts can be done!!

However, food is only a part and a path to achieve the actual focus of Paryushan!

So what is the focus of Paryushan? Why is Paryushan called the greatest of festivals and why is it so important?

The answer is in a two-pronged approach and like 2 sides of a coin both are equally important and cannot exist independently without the other

The first is

1. Disconnect to connect.
We observe in todays generation that they are constantly on their smartphones and disconnected from the real world .. conversations have been reduced to emojis, lol and # … Relationships have become virtual, temporary and based on wants rather than meaningful long lasting ones

But perhaps the most important relationship, The one with your soul has been completely forgotten so much so that we aren’t even aware that we are the soul and not the body. For us our outward appearance and comforts have become the daily driving factor of our lives … What did you eat today? Which movie did you see? Have you seen that new dress? In all this drama The soul is simply lost and forgotten or relegated to 5 mins of superficial prayer at a temple because everyone in the house seems to be doing it.

Paryushan is a festival which tells you to truly disconnect from all outwardly distractions to connect to your self to connect to who you really are. Do we know who we are or are we now defined by Our Rolexs Guccis and Armanis?

Notice there are 2 words .. DISCONNECT and Connect .. you absolutely need to disconnect from your current form of thinking and distractions to truly connect to your soul. It needs a radical shift in thought.

And so all the types of tapas (there are 12 to be exact) and vyakhans are designed to do just that … Help you on the path of disconnecting and dive deep within to an unexplained unexplored world so amazing that it has has the power to not only shake your current misguided foundation which is a just an illusion but to cement another foundation so strong that you will be unshakable by anyone all at the same time.

Infact the very word Upvas does not mean to go hungry but real or literal meaning is to abstain from ALL DISTRACTIONS which hinder you from going within. A form of self control if you will.

It is ABSOLUTELY NOT OK to fast and watch television or just sleep and laze around because then it completely negates the purpose of the fast. A Fast if done correctly may not be the cause but it definitely is the catalyst and the first step to going within.

So again I will iterate here that Upvas/other forms of Tapa is a catalayst to help you disconnect from the outside world and go within which is the real focus of Paryushan is to initiate a process which will ultimately let you know yourself and then be at peace with yourself.

The second and more important focus of Paryushan is summed up by this statement

2. We are so desperate to be understood that we forget to be understanding.

This statement works on the Givers gain philosophy and if you are truly understanding and sensitive to each and everyone around you; you will be understood. You must give what you want to recieve! Sounds easy right? Well it’s definitely easier said than done… However the beauty of Jainism is that it takes this philosophy multiple steps ahead and asks you to be understanding and sensitive to each every living being or every soul you encounter and not just humans.

To make it easy I recommend starting at the core … Your family and colleagues you interact with everyday and then slowly widening that circle. Try and be understanding to a handful of people for 8 days atleast .. be patient with them, try not to get angry and then slowly widen the time frame and your net when ultimately your at peace with the whole world all the time! A Jain tirthankar is at peace with every single soul every single second.

Again this philosophy is not only to be practiced for these 8 days but rather every moment of your conscious state ..However for all of us who don’t implement it all the time or have frequent lapses Paryushan is the time to kickstart it with new renewed fervour.

So what about forgiveness then? Where does that feature in all of this as it is preached by all our sadhus? What is Pratikraman and why is it so important (much more important than fasting alone)

When self realisation dawns you will know that your not the perfect being and there are many actions by us which causes hurt and harm to other souls. So the next logical step after being understanding is to set things right for all the wrong we have done.

As it is said a good apology has 3 parts to it …

I accept what I have done wrong
I am sorry for what i have done
How can I set things right.

Once we accept that we are wrong and take suitable corrective action only then can we be at peace with the other soul.

A Pratikraman if understood is the most amazing tool given to us by the tirthankars and is designed in such a way so as so make you remember all the wrong things you have done and ask for forgiveness. It can be summed up in 2 words Micchami Dukkadam!

However it is in no way to be understood that it’s ok to continue doing wrong and then doing a Pratikraman or simply saying Micchami Dukkadam to amend those things because the Pratikraman covers only the first 2 parts of the apology. You still have to goto the concerened person and make things right and more importantly try not to repeat the same mistake.
It would be completely moot to say Micchami Dukkadam to a friend when you haven’t been talking to your cousin for the last 10 months.

Lastly think of Paryushan just like a marathon, which is held annually but you train for it every single day and with each marathon you try and up your game… 8 Kms 21kms and 42kms.
Similarly create personal specific goals for each Paryushan, (i will not hurt X amount of people, I will try to disconnect atleast for 20
Minutes a day, I will understand and learn more about Jainism, I will do atleast 1 type of fast atleast once a month) practice some of it every day and progress further every single year. Make these the 8 days of reckoning till you are the best human you have ever encountered in your own eyes because your conscience never lies to you, even if you may!

Jai Jinendra!

P.S : So a few of you might ask why no vegetables for these 8’days … Well the simple answer to that is that it’s scientifically proven that certain foods creates certain reactions in the body and mind which are suitable for different tasks. Ideally one should fast so it detoxes the body but spiritually and more importantly it detoxes your mind of all negative emotions. A must to lead a healthy lifestyle. This is also been proven by science and is recommended once a month. If you can’t completely abstain from food then the diet given in Paryushan is the most optimal for the same detoxification process which helps you in your dive into the infinte wisdom stored within.