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Peace Through Dialog 2007 - Pravin K. Shah : Pratikraman - Observance Of Self-Reflection

Published: 15.01.2008
Updated: 08.06.2009

Jaina Convention
Federation of Jain Associations In North America

Pratikraman - Observance Of Self-Reflection

Six Avashyak


Pravin K. Shah
education@jaina.org

919-859-4994

Pravin K. Shah is a founding member of Jain Study Center of North Carolina. He is the chairperson of JAINA Education Committee and advisor to YJA and YJP youth organizations.He is also a member of the Harvard University Pluralism Project Advisory Council. He is a Jain scholar and activist against animal cruelty. He has published several articles and books on Jain philosophy, cruelty to animals, and Comparative religions. He offers a two-day workshop on Jainism to prepare Jain Sunday School teachers. JAINA website www.jaina.org contains significant information of Jainism.

Jainism believes that from time immemorial, every soul has assumed a distorted and impure nature. Anger, ego, deceit, and greed arising out of attachment and aversion are the soul's impurities. To remove such impurities, Jainism has prescribed certain practices known as Avashyaka (essential practices) to be performed regularly. These practices free the human mind from negative thoughts of attachment and aversion and enhance the soul's spiritual progress ultimately leading to liberation.
Ancient Jain literature defines six such activities of which Pratikramana is defined as the 4th Avashyak to be performed daily.

The six practices are:

1

Samayika

Equanimity

2

Chaturvimshati-Stava

Devotional Prayer

3

Vandana

Respecting Ascetics

4

Pratikraman

Repentance and Confession of sins

5

Kayotsarga

Non-attachment to the Body

6

Pratyakhyana / Pachchakhana

Religious Vows

Pratikraman

"Prati" means "back" and "kraman" means "to go", i.e. to go back, to reflect and review, to confess and atone for transgressions of mind, body, and speech in one's daily activities. In other words, it means returning to and reaffirming the path of nonviolence, truthfulness, and non-attachment. Pratikraman means sincerely confessing and repenting for our faults, forgiving faults of others, asking for forgiveness from others for one's own transgressions, and extending friendship to all. The Pratikraman ritual is included in many original texts (Sutras) written in Ardha-Magadhi and Sanskrit languages. These Sutras consist of many hymns in praise of Tirthankaras and many verses of repentance, confession, and requests for forgiveness.

Among the two traditions of Jain community, namely; Shvetambar and Digambar, both Murtipujak and Sthanakavasi branches of Shvetambar sect perform six essential practices daily. Monks and nuns of these two branches must perform these rituals in accordance with the tradition. Devoted Jain laypeople staunchly observe these rituals while others practice them occasionally.

It is recommended that Pratikraman be done twice a day, once in the morning called Rai Pratikraman and once in the evening called Devasi Pratikraman. The morning Pratikraman is for the atonement of transgressions incurred during the night and the evening Pratikraman is for the transgressions of the day. There is provision for fortnight (Pakkhi), once every four months (Chaumasi), and yearly (Samvatsari) Pratikraman observances, if one is unable to comply with the daily Pratikramans. The annual Pratikraman that all Jains should strive to observe is called Samvatsari Pratikraman. The Samvatsari Pratikraman is performed on the last day of Paryushan.

During the last few centuries, studies of Jain literature work indicate that the word "Pratikraman" is used as a common noun for all six essential acts (six Avashyaka). This is also meaningful because during the course of time the Pratikraman ritual is enhanced to include all six Avashyaka.

Hence the entire Pratikraman ritual which covers all six Avashyaka or six essential acts, occupies such an important place in the Jain tradition as does Sandhya in the Vedic (Hindu) tradition, Namaj in the Islam, Kharavela Avesta in the Zoroastrian, prayer in the Jew and the Christian traditions.

Pratikraman and Six Essentials:

1.Samayika - Equanimity

To remain in the state of equanimity without yielding to attachment and aversion and treat all living beings equal to one's own self is called Samayika. This procedure is performed to cultivate equal regard towards all living beings, equanimity towards pleasure and pain, and to be free from attachment and aversion. The Sdmdyika is performed at the commencement of the observance of Pratikraman ritual.

2. Chaturvimshati Stava - Prayer

This is the reverential worship of the twenty-four Tirthankars to reflect on their qualities, such as freedom from attachment and aversion (Vitaragatva). This devotional prayer is also of two types; external (dravya) and internal (bhava). To express one's devotion by worshipping themwithgood purifying substances like rice and flower is the external praise (dravya stuti). And to devotionally praise their internal natural qualities is the internal praise (bhava stuti). The prayer inspires an individual to practice these ideals in one's own life. During Pratikraman ritual, this is accomplished through the recitation of Logassa and Namutthunam Sutras.

3. Vandana - Respecting Ascetics

Vandana means offering of respectful salutations to all ascetics such as Acharyas, Upadhyayas, and other Sadhus and Sadhvis. The Suguru Vandana sutra is recited during Pratikraman to pay respect and obeisance to the ascetics and teachers.

4. Pratikraman - Repentance and Confession of Sins

Pratikraman means to repent and confess for past sinful deeds and thoughts, to protect oneself through the process of spiritual discipline from the present sinful acts, and to prevent the future sinful acts through renunciation. Hence Pratikraman means to go back, reflect, review, confess and repent for transgressions of mind, body, and speech in one's daily activities.

Along side the six rites, the Jain ethics system outlines 12 vows of limited nature to be practiced by the lay people that are less intense than those followed by monks and nuns who have totally renounced worldly life. Jainism defines that every one should strive to adopt these vows according to one's individual capacity and circumstances. The ultimate goal is to accept them
as full vows.

During the Pratikraman, a lay person reflects on these vows. One would -repent and ask for forgiveness for one's past minor transgressions that may have occurred knowingly or unknowingly. One would contemplate on each of these vows so that one would be more aware of such circumstances and would avoid such transgressions in the future.

This is accomplished through the recitation of Ascetics Forgiveness Sutra (Abbhutthio Sutra), Atonement of Eighteen Sins (18 Papsthanak), and Vandittu Sutra reflecting on Transgression of the twelve vows of the laypeople.

One should also know that to effectively guard against sinful activities, one should abandon wrong belief (Mithyatva), non-restraint (Avirati), unawareness or lethargy (Pramada), passions (Kashaya) and inauspicious activity (Aprashasta Yoga). To accept right belief after having given up the wrong one, to achieve self-restraint after having shunned non-restraint, to become spiritually vigilant after having abandoned lethargy, to cultivate good qualities like perseverance after having renounced passions and to attain the true nature of soul after having given up worldly activities is Pratikraman.

If one performs the Pratikraman ritual only physically and verbally to confess the past sinful acts and makes an open declaration not to commit them in future, but in real life one continues to commit sinful activities without any Hesitation, then this type of recitation of ritual is called Dravya or external Pratikraman. Such Dravya Pratikraman is not useful; on the contrary is harmful. It deceives one's own self and is meant simply to deceive others.

If after the performance of Pratikraman ritual, one minimizes or eliminates the sinful activities in real life then the Pratikraman is called Bhava or internal Pratikraman, which is very useful for the purification of the soul.

5. Kayotsarga - Non-attachment to the Body

Kaya means body and Utsarga means moving away or rising above. Therefore, Kayotsarga means rising above the bodily activities to focus on the inner self and thus, develop non-attachment (Kayotsarga) towards our body. To perform Kayotsarga in its true definite form one should also give up all the defilements from one's life.

One needs to renounce attachment to one's body to attain proper concentration, which is required for virtuous meditation (Dharma Dhyana) and pure meditation (Shukla Dhyana). During Pratikraman ritual, this is accomplished during meditation after repentance and confession of sins. Also the Pratikraman is performed while sitting or standing in the meditating position, practicing Kayotsarga throughout the ritual.

6. Pratyakhyana / Pachchakhana - Religious Vows

Taking religious vows (Renunciation) and its declaration is called pratyakhyana. It too is of two types - external (Dravya) and internal (Bhava). Renunciation of external things like food, shelter and other possessions is external renunciation (Dravya pratyakhyana). The renunciation of internal impure states of soul, viz, ignorance, anger, greed, ego, deceit, non-restraint, attachment and aversion are all internal renunciation (Bhava Pratyakhyana).

One cannot attain true Bhava Pratyakhyana without performing complete Dravya Pratyakhyana. Hence in the beginning, one needs to renounce for example rich and tasty food, renounce all luxury, and live a simple life. Now the true performance of Bhava pratyakhyana (true renunciation) leads to stoppage of karma (Samvara), which gives rise to ultimate equanimity (Sambhava), which in turn leads to the attainment of liberation.

At the conclusion of the Pratikraman one chooses to observe certain vows (within one's own capacity). This practice fosters spiritual advancement through self-control.

Conclusion

Jain literature clearly indicates that Pratikraman ritual is meant for repenting and requesting forgiveness for "one's past minor transgressions of the vows that may have occurred knowingly or unknowingly". The vows for monks and nuns are the 5 great vows and for laypeople are 12 vows of limited nature. Hence monks, nuns and only those laypeople who follow these vows are eligible for Pratikraman. The logic is that if one does not practice the vows then question of repenting and forgiveness of minor transgression of the vows does not arise.

Many Jain laypeople do no^ practice 12 vows. Hence after understanding the purpose and meaning of our great ritual, every Jain should strive to adopt the 1 2 vows of laypeople according to one's individual capacity and circumstances. They should review them before Samvatsari Pratikramana and improve the limit every year in such a way that ultimately they will reach to practice full vows and live an ascetic life.

Hence by performing Pratikraman one completes all six essential acts which are required by Jain tradition for our spiritual progress.

Sources
JAINA
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  1. Acharyas
  2. Anger
  3. Ardha-Magadhi
  4. Avashyak
  5. Avashyaka
  6. Avirati
  7. Bhava
  8. Body
  9. Concentration
  10. Deceit
  11. Dharma
  12. Dharma Dhyana
  13. Dhyana
  14. Digambar
  15. Discipline
  16. Dravya
  17. Equanimity
  18. Federation of Jain Associations in North America
  19. Greed
  20. Islam
  21. JAINA
  22. JAINA Convention
  23. JAINA Education Committee
  24. Jain Philosophy
  25. Jaina
  26. Jainism
  27. Karma
  28. Kashaya
  29. Kayotsarga
  30. Meditation
  31. Mithyatva
  32. Murtipujak
  33. Nonviolence
  34. Paryushan
  35. Pramada
  36. Pratikraman
  37. Pratikramana
  38. Pratyakhyana
  39. Pravin K. Shah
  40. Sadhus
  41. Sadhvis
  42. Samayika
  43. Sambhava
  44. Samvara
  45. Samvatsari
  46. Samvatsari Pratikraman
  47. Sanskrit
  48. Shukla
  49. Shukla Dhyana
  50. Shvetambar
  51. Soul
  52. Sthanakavasi
  53. Stuti
  54. Sutra
  55. Tirthankaras
  56. Tirthankars
  57. Upadhyayas
  58. Vandana
  59. Vedic
  60. YJA
  61. YJP
  62. Yoga
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