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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Paryushan - a Jain festival of forgiveness

Michami Dukkadam (We ask for your forgiveness)

(Note to my Jewish friends; what appears to be the hateful swastika symbol here is not that symbol, this symbol has been in use in India for over a millennium, it symbolizes four directions, four seasosn of life )

Paryushan is an annual festival that Jains*** celebrate all around the Globe, it is either seven or nine days celebration depending on the sect; Swetambra or Digambra, they observe fasting for seven days or 9 days and conclude it on dus laxan. Through out the days the observe the fast, they abstain from ill-will, ill-thought and ill-actions, just as Muslims do for a month in Ramadan. It is a beautiful way of refreshing our souls on an annual basis.

There is a beauty and joy in forgiving and be forgiven. It brings Moksha, Mukti, Nirvana, Nijaat, salvation and true freedom to every soul. Indeed, the idea of forgiveness is central to every religion; that was Jesus's focus, the dearest person to God is one who forgives, says Mohammad the prophet and Sri Krishan reiterates that thought in Bhagvad Gita. If all the psychologists in the world were asked, what will bring the most freedom to the mankind, they may be tempted to say "Michami Dukkadam".

In the Jain tradition of humility and forgiveness; SAVVE JIVA KHAMANTU MEMETTI ME SAVVE BHUYESU,VERAM MAJAHAM NA KENAI"

"I forgive (without any reservation) all living beings (who may have caused me any pain and suffering either in this or previous lives), and I beg for the forgiveness from all living beings (no matter how small or big) to whom I may have, knowingly or unknowingly, caused pain and suffering (in thoughts, speech or action, in this or previous lives, or if I have asked, or encouraged someone else, to carry out such activities). (Let all creatures know that) I have friendship with everybody and have no revenge (animosity or enmity) toward anybody."

Michhami Dukkadam
(We ask for your forgiveness)

Indeed, that phrase resonates with me. I had talked about the meaning of Michami Dukadam in several congregations, including the one celebrating Najma's eternal journey and again at the funeral prayer at the mosque in Richardson. It was a perfect Michami Dukadam between me and my late wife Najma. Thanks to the Jain tradition.

The Jains have been practicing this tradition for thousands of years and I join them in the Jain tradition of humility and forgiveness I say Michami Dukadam. I am pleased to share the perfect message from Dr. Vastupal Parikh.

I just wrote an article about Ramadan - which is similar in meaning at:
http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2009/08/ramadans_spiritual_discipline.html
Please mark your calendars for the 5th Annual Unity Day on Sunday, september 6th at 5:00 PM - Details at www.UnitydayUSA.com

***** Jainism is a full fledged religion like Hinduism and Buddhism and none is an offshoot of the other as it is often mis-understood. Jainism is contemporary of Buddhism. Both the faiths are life centered where one's deeds (Karma) determine his or her spiritual, physical and mental well being. Although Mahavira is referred to as God in common parlance, in the system, he is the 24th tirthankara- the enlightened one, ( an equivalent of a messenger or a prophet in the abrahimic traditions) who wrapped up the entire philosophy of the 23 earlier tirthankaras. Jainism dates back to the Mohenjadaro civilization some 5000 years ago. In Dallas, oops, it is in Fort Worth, we had an exhibition of the artifacts from that period at Kimbell Art Museum several years ago, it was a fascinating experience.

Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence approach emanates from Jainism and the idea of validity of multiple paths of the foundation for pluralism ( www.foundationforPluralism.com) has its origin in the idea of Anekant Vaad from Jainism. We have a Jain Temple in Richardson, a suburb of Dallas, and if you want to enjoy the best vegetarian food, go to the temple on Sunday Mornings!

Thank you.

Mike Ghouse
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