Jain Fasting

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 Jainism CustomsFastingFasting is very common in Jain spirituality.Most Jains will fast at special times during the year. Although a Jain may take it upon him or herself to fast at anytime, most Jains will fast at special times during the year, at festivals and holy days.The monsoon period (in India) is a time of fasting, and fasting is a feature of Jain festivals.Fasting is more often done by Jain women than men.The aim of fastingJain fasts may be done as a penance, especially for monks and nuns. Fasting also purifies body and mind, and reminds the practitioner of Mahavira's emphasis on renunciation and asceticism, because Mahavira spent a great deal of time fasting.Fasting in mind as well as bodyIt is not sufficient for a Jain simply to not eat when fasting.
They must also stop wanting to eat. If they continue to desire food the fast is pointless.Types of fastThere are several types of fasting:Complete fasting: giving up food and water completely for a period Partial fasting: eating less than you need to avoid hunger Vruti Sankshepa: limiting the number of items of food eaten Rasa Parityaga: giving up favourite foods Great fastsSome Jain monks fast for months at a time, following the example of Mahavira, who is said to have fasted for over 6 months.
Fasting to deathSanthara or Sallenkhana is a procedure in which a Jain stops eating with the intention of preparing for death.
This is different from suicide as it is not taken in passionate mood of anger, deceit etc but it is undertaken only when the body is no more capable of serving it's owner as a instrument of sprituality and when inevitability of death is a matter of undisputed certainty. The intention is to purify the body, and remove all thought of the physical things from the mind.
As well as giving up food and water, the ascetic abandons all desires and dislikes so that they can concentrate exclusively on the spiritual as they approach death.One of the most famous and holy sites of pilgrimage for Jains is in Shatrunjaya in Gujarat. PilgrimagePilgrimage plays an important part in Jain life for Digambaras and some Svetambaras, although there are no compulsory pilgrimages (as the Haj is, for example, in Islam).
When lay Jains go on a pilgrimage they take on some of the lifestyle and attitudes of a Jain ascetic (a monk or nun).Jains may visit any number of temples or other locations that are associated with the lives and deeds of the Tirthankaras.One of the most famous and holy sites of pilgrimage for Jains is in Shatrunjaya in Gujarat.
It is one of 5 holy mountains and contains many temples.PrayersJain prayers aren't like the God-focussed prayers found in Christianity. Instead Jain prayers tend to recall the great qualities of the tirthankaras and remind the individual of various teachings.

Jain fasting

Fasting is very common among Jains and a part of Jain festivals.One of the most prominent festivals of Jains is called Paryushan. Its a festival of 8 days which come during the moonsoon. Most Jains fast at special times during the year, during festivals and on holy days. The monsoon period (in India) is a time of fasting. However, a Jain may fast at any time, sometimes if s/he feels some error has been committed. Variations in fasts are to encourage Jains to do whatever they can, to maintain whatever self control is possible for an individual.


The aim of fasting

Monks, nuns and laity fast as penance, to control desires. Fasting purifies the body and the mind, reminding one of Mahavir's emphasis on renunciation and asceticism. Mahavir spent months fasting and in contemplation. It is not sufficient for a Jain simply to stop eating when fasting, s/he must also stop wanting to eat. Control over one's mind is a major goal. If one continue to desire food, the fast is pointless.


Types of fast

There are several types of fasts:

  • Complete fasting: No food or water for a period.
  • Partial fasting: Eating less than you desire and to simply avoid hunger.
  • Vruti Sankshep: Limiting the number of food items eaten.
  • Rasa Parityag: Giving up favourite foods.
  • Great fasts: Some monks fast for months at a time, following Mahavir, who fasted for over 6 months.

Different types of fast

  • Choviyharo Upavas - To give up food and water for the whole day.
  • Upavas - To give up only food for the whole day.
  • Digamber Upvas - One may drink water only once a day, before sunset.
  • Shwetamber Upvas - One may drink water, provided this is done before sunset.
  • Ekasan - To eat one meal a day at one sitting and drink water as desired between sunrise and sunset.
  • Beasan - To eat two meals a day, (one meal per sitting) and drink water any times between sunrise and sunset.
  • Ayambil: Eating food once in one sitting. The food is spice free and boiled or cooked, without milk, curds, ghee, oil, or green/raw vegetables.
  • Chaththa - To give up both food and water or only food continuously for two days.
  • Aththama - To give up food and water or only food continuously for three days.
  • Aththai - To give up food and water or only food continuously for eight days.
  • Masaksamana - To give up food and water or only food continuously for a whole month.

 -        Santara -       To give up food and water entirely as voluntary death.

  • Navkarsi: Food and water is consumed forty-eight (48) minutes after sunrise. The orthodox brush teeth and rinse mouths only after sunrise.
  • Porsi: Taking food and water three hours after sunrise.
  • Sadh-porsi: Taking food and water four hours and thirty minutes after sunrise.
  • Purimuddh: Taking food and water six hours after sunrise.
  • Avadhdh: Taking food and water eight hours after sunrise.
  • Tivihar: After sunset no food or juice shall be taken, but one may drink water. Many Jains practise this daily.
  • Navapad oli - During every year for 9 days starting from the 6/7th day in the bright fortnight until the full moon day in Ashwin and Chaitra months, one does Ayambil. This is repeated for the next four and half years. Ayambils may be restricted to one kind of grain per day.



Jainism Beliefs


GodJains do not believe in a God or gods in the way that many other religions do, but they do believe in divine (or at least perfect) beings who are worthy of devotion.
This makes it difficult to give a straight answer to the question "is Jainism atheistic?" The scholar Heinrich Zimmer suggested that a new word was needed - transtheistic - meaning "inaccessible by arguments as to whether or not a God exists".
God and the problem of evilThe Jain view of God enables Jainism to explain the evil and suffering that exists in the world without the intellectual difficulties faced by religions that have an omnipotent, wholly good, creator God at their heart.
Where religions such as Christianity find the problem of evil one of their toughest tests, Jains use the existence of evil as a reason for denying the existence of an omnipotent, wholly good, Creator.
Jainism and God - the theistic side Some writers regard the jinas as "gods" because the jinas are venerated by Jains in the way that other faiths worship gods or God.
Jains venerate them because they have achieved perfection, and become liberated from from the cycle of birth and death.
The jinas are the ideal state of an individual soul's existence, and are worshipped as a perfect example for Jains to aspire to. So the only "gods" that exist for Jains are pure souls that are omniscient, perfectly happy and eternal.All of us could become such a "god" because every being has the potential to become such a perfect soul.
In many ways the Jain attitude to perfect beings is both intelligible and satisfying, and sufficient to demolish the claim that Jainism is an atheistic religion. If one wants to argue that Jainism is atheistic then one must do so from a specific, limited, idea of what it means to be divine.Jainism and God - the atheistic side There is no God the CreatorJains do not believe that the universe was created by God or by any other creative spirit. Jain writings are scornful of the very idea:
"If God created the world, where was he before creation? If you say he was transcendent then, and needed no support, where is he now?""No single being had the skill to make this world -- For how can an immaterial god create that which is material?""If God is ever perfect and complete, how could the will to create have arisen in him? If, on the other hand, he is not perfect, he could no more create the universe than a potter could.
"There is no God to maintain the universeJains do not believe that any form of god is necessary to keep the universe in existence.Jains do not believe that any form of god has any power over the universe.There is no God of JudgementJains do not believe that any god will judge souls at any future time.Jains do not believe in that sort of judgement.
Jains believe that the goodness or quality of a being's life are determined by karma.Jains believe that karma is a physical process, and nothing to do with spiritual beings.There is no God the rulerJains do not believe that there is a god who must be obeyed.There is no God who helps peopleJains do not believe in any god who will respond to prayer or intervene in the world.The beings that Jains worship have no interest in human beings.The beings that Jains worship are beyond human contact.The beings that Jains worship cannot intervene in the world.There is no God who demands worshipJains do not believe in a god who wants us to worship him.The perfect beings that Jains worship have no interest in human beings.Any being that desired anything would not be perfect and thus not a god.
There is no God compared to whom each of us will always be inferiorEvery soul has the potential to become perfect.All perfect souls are equal.The heavenly beings are not godsThe beings that live in the heavenly kingdoms are not gods since they are still subject to karma and reincarnation.These beings are called devas.