Jainism is one of the oldest religions known to us, Bhagwan Mahaveer was the apostle of peace, who went into the roots of human sorrow and simplified the understanding of life. The idea of nonviolence however is not unique to Jainism and has always been in the ethos of every religion that came out of India.
Nonviolence was always the key in the roots of all religions if you were to understand them. But it was largely Jainism that brought the practice of non-violence into daily life, living and observing nonviolence in every walk of life was unique to the Jain’s.
Gandhiji was largely influenced by these philosophies and was able to conquer the British who, then thought it was their birthright to rule even the waves of the sea. Gandhiji was a true Jina meaning victor. Violence begets violence and in the end, nobody gains. It is however not nonviolence that has attracted me to writing this but another important virtue of Jainism and that is forgiveness. Sometimes the value of forgiveness is underestimated and I believe the root of every problem is our inability to forgive the transgressions against us however small they are.
I recently happened to come across a practice in Jain faith which is called samvatsari mahaparva, the last day of a week-long pious month were in, you are bound to forgive and ask for forgiveness, what a beautiful idea this is,” one day for forgiveness”.” I forgive all living beings and may all living beings forgive me, I have only friends and no enemies” can this not be a national festival.
Well you must have heard that too err is human but to forgive is Devine and why leave a chance to divinity. Forgiveness is not something inert to humans, it’s acquired, it’s what differentiates humans from most animals, have you ever seen animals forgiving, they can only retaliate or be scared, it’s only we humans who can develop this quality to forgive. The underlying exercise involves reduction of one’s ego, anekantawada meaning many-sidedness , the person who has committed a sin against you may also have his own story, his own explanation and if we need to understand his side of the story we should be open to him, that’s what Jainism teaches.
To ask for forgiveness also needs to have the readiness to agree that you can commit mistakes, a person who thinks he can never make a mistake can never be a Jina.
Micchami dukkadam or khamat khamna takes a lot of guts to say and is not merely a verbal agreement, you need to bend your ego, you need to come to terms with your own self and only then can you forgive or ask for forgiveness. Remember a person who is asking for forgiveness is not a criminal who has done a crime, but a mind that is repenting for his action and if you see him for this you have to forgive him.
Don’t we forgive the small mischief done by our own, we forgive them because we love them, if we love every living being then I am sure we can find it in ourselves to forgive every transgression and this is exactly the philosophy of Bhagwan Mahavir, love every living being so much that you can find it in you to forgive their mistakes, such a noble thought which is so required today.
Forgiveness can remove violence, forgiveness can prevent retribution, forgiveness can make revenge unwanted, forgiveness can bring comfort to your mind. When you keep a grudge your mind always conspires to harm, it is never at peace, and when you have your revenge you get momentary happiness but you chronically suffer from guilt. If you forgive you have peace of mind and will never have any guilt, beautiful isn’t it, something Bhagwan Mahaveer recognized very early and put in his doctrine of practice.
Paryishana or bringing, rather coming together can only be achieved by forgiving.
Forgiveness can bring nations and hearts together and make us a better society. I find it in me today to beg everyone against whom I have sinned to forgive me and I forgive those who sinned against me.