Michchhami Dukkadam ~ Meaning & Implication

by on August 26, 2017

Wonderful surprise seeing so many of our non-Jain friends celebrating Forgiveness Day by sharing this powerful phrase – “Michchhami Dukkadam.” It leads me to wonder how many actually understand the meaning behind this catchphrase. This question is what prompted me to write this post.

 
Just uttering Michchhami Dukkadam is like saying ‘sorry’ to someone out of the blue. Sorry for what? What should they forgive you for? If you know, and can explain to others what you are apologizing for, the deliverance of the ‘sorry’ makes a lot more sense.

 

Nullifying one’s wrongdoings

The phrase “Michchhami Dukkadam” translates as “May my sins become fruitless,” a powerful and most humble of repentance wishes.

dukkaḍam = wrongdoings (प्राकृत-दुक्कड़म । हिंदी-दुष्कृत)
michchha = become void or fruitless (प्राकृत-मिच्छा । हिंदी-मिथ्या)
mi = my / for me ((प्राकृत-मि । हिंदी-मेरे)

Hence, by uttering Michchhami Dukkadam to someone, the speaker is first apologizing, then seeking forgiveness by saying, “May my wrongdoings (towards you) be forgiven (become fruitless).”

 

This phrase is popularly associated with Samvatsari, the Jain festival of forgiveness. On this holy day, we give and receive forgiveness, from one and all, to cleanse ourselves of all wrongdoings. It is our most fervent hope that our wrongdoings will be nullified through a series of confessions and repentances.

 

All of us are aware that actions lead to consequences. Good actions beget sweet fruits, while wrong actions beget bitter fruits. In order to release ourselves from the burden of such bitter fruits, we atone for our wrong actions, and aspire to repent, apologize, confess, and redress the damage done to whatever extent possible. This is reflected in the phrase “Michchhami Dukkadam.”

forgiveness michchhami dukkadam

Confession of intentional and unintentional

The most comprehensive confession made on Samvatsari is: “If I have hurt you, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word or deed, I seek your forgiveness. May this act of repentance make my sins void.” This is an all-encompassing statement deliberately used to refer to three ways we commit any wrongdoing – through mind, body and speech. This confession also refers to actions committed intentionally or unintentionally, knowingly or unknowingly, and by omission or commission.

 

Ending repentance with Michchhami Dukkadam

Saying “Michchhami Dukkadam” forms an integral part of many of the verses of the “Pratikraman”, a detailed prayer of confession and repentance. Once the actions for which one is seeking repentance are stated in minute detail, the spiritual seeker ends with “Tassa Michchhami Dukkadam.” The word “tassa” roughly translates to “for these,” refers to the particular incidents that have just been declared.

 

Moving from ignorance to mindfulness

Most of the time, we cannot understand why we experience pain and suffering. At times, we even feel that we have done nothing to deserve it. This thought occurs simply because most of our actions are committed unintentionally, without our knowledge or awareness, and we are not living with deliberate mindfulness. Because inadvertent actions still bear fruit, however, we need to admit to all of these wrongdoings in our prayer of forgiveness as well. Only then do we start becoming mindful of the possibilities of transgressions. Only then can we truly repent and not be held back by our sins.

 

The popular way of uttering Michchhami Dukkadam

Ever since I can remember, my parents and elders have taught me to say this sentence to one and all on Samvatsari: “If I have hurt you, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word or deed, I seek your forgiveness. Tassa Michchhami Dukkadam.”

 

जानते-अजानते यदि मैंने मन, वचन, काया से आपको किसी प्रकार का कष्ट पहुँचाया है, तो मैं आपसे क्षमा मांगता हूँ / मांगती हूँ – तस्स मिच्छामि दुक्कड़म – मेरे द्वारा किए गए पाप निष्फल हो!

 

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