Jainism is an ancient religion from India that teaches the way to liberation and bliss, is to live a life of harmlessness and renunciation. The aim of Jain life is to achieve liberation of the soul.
Jainism also prescribes a path of ahimsa, which means nonviolence towards all living beings, and emphasizes spiritual interdependence and equality between all forms of life.
Practitioners believe that nonviolence and self-control are the means by which they can obtain liberation. Thus, asceticism (scribes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals) is the major focus of the Jain faith.
Believing that all life forms are equal, a Jain Sadhu (religious ascetic or holy person) performs Anshan (fasting till death) to stop the slaughter of cows in India.
According to DNA India, he flow of devotees seeking blessings has not stopped lately. There’s a story about Jain sadhu Panyas Hansratna Vijayji Maharaj, who has been giving blessings throughout the day, does not show any sign of fatigue. Already, it’s been 174 days into fasting of cha masi upvas tap (six months of fast and penance).
The 47-year-old Hansratna, a thin figure, will soon achieve what few in the community have. He will be one of 12 people in Jain history to have fasted for 180 days. A fast that is observed by surviving only on boiled water that can be consumed between 9am and 6pm.
It was Lord Mahavir who started this soul-testing fast and did it twice in his lifetime while preaching to his disciples. The last person in the community to achieve this feat was Ahmedabad-based Kinjal Shah, three years ago. She was felicitated in Mumbai because she had achieved the feat after over three centuries by someone else in the community.
Now, Vijayji’s achievement is being seen in high esteem by members of the community because he has been continuously travelling in the city even as he fasts. Since he started the fast, the monk has moved to a different Jain temple each day, travelling up to Borivili in the city. Tomorrow, he will be at the Godiji Jain temple in Pydhonie from where a procession will be taken out to celebrate the nearing of the completion of 180 days of his fast which goes on till February 27. A fast-breaking ceremony (Parna) will be held on February 28 at Wilson College grounds at Marine Drive.
For the last five days, he will be at the Jain temple from where he started the fast,” said Panyas Padmamodi Vijayji Maharaj, guru-bhai (a brother out of teacher-student relation) of Hansratna. The community will celebrate the last five days in a open park. This will have the sadhu blessing people by sprinkling Vaskshep (spiritual sandalwood powder) on their heads.
On the last day, we will have at least 10,000 Jains coming to witness Parna at Wilson College grounds. The event will start around 6.30am and Jains of all sects will attend it,” said Sudhir Patani, trustee of Matunga Jain Sangh which is among the many other Jain Sanghs of the city, participating in the celebration under the banner of Shri Samast Mumbai Shwetambar Murti Pujak Jain Sangh.
According to Padmamodi Maharaj and Hansratna Maharaj,
Fasting among Jains is not just about not eating. It is about not feeling hungry at all. It is reaching that state. The idea behind fasting was to purify the soul and attain internal peace. It was to ensure that good things prevail in life.”
via DNA India