Hiral's Blog

November 15, 2010

What is Jain Pratikraman

Anger, ego, deceit, and greed arising from attachment and aversion are the soul‟s impurities. To remove such impurities, Jainism has prescribed six essential practices known as Ävashyaka to be performed daily of which Pratikramana is defined as the 4th Ävashyak.

The six practices are:

Equanimity 

Sämäyika 

Devotional Prayer 

Chaturvimshati-stava 

Respecting Ascetics 

Vandanä 

Repentance and Confession of sins 

Pratikraman 

Non-attachment to the Body 

Käyotsarga 

Religious Vows 

Pratyäkhyäna / Pachchakhäna 

Both Murtipujak and Sthänakaväsi branches of the Shvetämbar sect perform the six essential practices daily. Monks and nuns and devoted Jain laymen (Shrävaks and Shrävikäs) staunchly observe these rituals while others practice them to the best of their ability. The annual Pratikraman that all Jains should strive to participate in is called Samvatsari Pratikraman, which is performed on the last day of Paryushan. During the last few centuries, studies of Jain literature indicate that the word “Pratikraman” is used as a common noun for all six essential acts (six Ävashyaka).

This is also meaningful because during the course of time, the Pratikraman ritual has been enhanced to include all six Ävashyaka. Hence the present Pratikraman ritual which covers all six Ävashyaka or six essential acts, occupies such an important place in the Jain tradition as does Sandhyä in the Vedic (Hindu) tradition, Namäj in Islam, Kharavela Avesta in the Zoroastrian faith, and confessional prayer in the Jewish & Christian traditions. 

 All rituals are various forms of Yoga. In general Yoga is defined as that which connects the soul with or leads to absolute emancipation. There are two forms of Yoga, namely: 

1) Kriyä (activity and physical posture) Yoga

2) Jnäna (knowledge and reflection) Yoga

1.1 Kriyä Yoga includes all physical movements and recitations of Sutras. It is of two kinds:

i) Äsana Yoga (physical posture): The proper physical postures and Mudräs nurture and strengthen the different thoughts and feelings in our pursuit for Emancipation.

ii) Varna Yoga (pronunciation of Sutra): The proper pronunciation of the aphorisms, such words which lend strength and fortify the feelings and thoughts to achieve absolute Emancipation.

Äsana Yoga and Varna Yoga combine together express the positive energy and smooth vibrations of a soul (Atma) in external form. They become the source or the basis of destruction of Karma and generating pious merits. These two states of physical postures also known as Käya Yoga.

1.2 Jnäna Yoga is of three kinds: Artha Yoga, Anälambana Yoga and Nirälambana Yoga.

These are, in fact, the three states of Mano Yoga or activities of mind.

Artha Yoga: This means, to imbibe the meaning of the aphorisms properly in consciousness, while pronouncing it. Älambana Yoga: This stand for generating and inculcating the feelings and thoughts based solely on the aphorisms and their meaning. For example: when offering salutations; to utter the word Namo combined with the salutation posture and deeply feeling the thought of complete surrender to the Lord with the “help” of the word and its meaning.

Nirälambana Yoga: To elevate the mental conscious condition of Älambana yoga into such a mental stance, where in even the external awareness of the word and its meaning merges in to the consciousness. In other words, no external reliance remains.

All these five Yogic forms of Kriyä Yoga and Jnäna Yoga together, form Anushthän in true sense. These lead to the purification of the soul and manifest its unlimited powers, bestowing immense fruits. The results of correctly following all these Six Ävashyaka rituals have been elaborately explained in detail in the scriptures like Uttarädhyayan Sutra Chapter- 29.

“There’s no knowledge without right conviction, No conduct is possible without knowledge, Without conduct, there’s no liberation, And without liberation, no deliverance.” Uttarädhyayan Sutra, Ch. 27, Verse 30

Source: Jaina e-library. http://www.jainlibrary.org

The primary source of this ritual is the English Pratikraman book compiled by Dr. Surendra Singhvi blessed by Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanuji and the late Ächärya Shri Sushil Muniji in 1989.

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