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Paryushana Celebrations at Jain Temple

October 2004
Paryushana Celebrations at Jain Temple

The Jain Society of Greater Atlanta's (JSGA) Paryushana Maha Parva celebrations took place at the Jain Temple in Atlanta on September 12.

Over 450 devotees were graced by the presence of Gurudev Chitrabhanuji. The devotees gathered in the temple hall to listen to the erudite discourse by Gurudev. A calm and composed man of 82 with a spiritual aura about him, he has an excellent command over English, Hindi, Gujarati and other languages. A leader of over 20 million Jains, he is known the world over.

Gurudev began by reciting "Namokar Mantra". He said he was happy to participate in the auspicious Mahavir Jayanti celebrations as well as Paryushana Parva, the Festival of Forgiveness. During Paryushana, the devotees fast from eight to eleven days. It is a period of admission of, and atonement for sins by seeking forgiveness. Gurudev spoke about "aparigraha" (detachment or non-attachment). "God is within us but we keep on searching Him outside. What lies behind you, what lies around you and what lies in front of you is nothing compared to what lies within you. Man is a creature of habits and clings to material things. He must learn to conquer his ego and cultivate detachment by living a frugal life ? kam khao, gum khao and nam jao (eat light, speak less and be humble and respectful). The sacred Srimad Bhagwad Gita stresses renunciation of attachment to the fruits of one's actions. So perform good deeds without expecting fruits in return." He went on to speak about Lord Mahavir's life and how he had forsaken everything in his spiritual quest.

He encouraged everyone to take charge of their own spiritual journey and to use their energies for the benefit of all through an awareness of ahimsa, and reverence for all life. Finally, he spoke about the "Sapna ceremony". Lord Mahavira's mother Trishala had 14 dreams in which each symbol signified noble virtues of her son. Gurudev said that it was important to have a dream and realize it.

Gurudev divides his time between India and other Jain centers spread across the world. He has been instrumental in bringing the Jain philosophy to the West. A world-renowned speaker of Jainism, he has also authored over 25 books which have helped spread his message of ahimsa and anekantvaad (reality is multifaceted). He founded the Jain Meditation International Center in New York and was instrumental in founding JAINA ? the Jain Associations in North America, an umbrella organization of over 62 Jain centers and 30 temples in the country. In a world torn by violence and suffering, his message of ahimsa (nonviolence) assumes greater urgency and relevance.

Raju Shah, president of JSGA-2004, said that he felt very happy and proud that Gurudev's visit coincided with Jain Derasar. Gurudev blessed the proposed building of the adjoining Jain Derasar and the Jain scholarship program to be implemented this year. Shah further informed that the Derasar Committee, spearheaded by Madhu Sheth, had unveiled a unique design. The two-story temple building will comprise of approximately 3,900 square feet on each floor. The main temple will have three sections, each with a shikhar. The foyer will have two idols. The Rang-mandap will be a place for chaitya vandan or meditation. The third section will include idols of 24 "Thirthankars" in the Bhomati area. The construction is due to commence once the permits are acquired. ? Mahadev Desai

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