Samvatsari ~ The Forgiveness Day & Michami Dukkadam

by on September 18, 2015

Why is forgiveness such an important ideal and a way of life in Jainism?

 

Forgiveness is deeply connected with and is considered another name for non-violence, which is one of the cardinal principles of Jainism. Forgiveness begets love and benefits the forgiver and the forgiven.

Samvatsari Forgiveness Day & Michami Dukkadam

 

Jains celebrate Paryushan Parva as the Festival of Forgiveness. Paryushan Parva entails a week of spiritual activities and introspection, during which Jains perform a prayer ritual known as Pratkramana on all days. This prayer enumerates all the possible wrongdoings which we may have committed knowingly or unknowingly. Its purpose is also to seek repentance.

 

The eighth day is Samvatsari, the Forgiveness Day: a day for forgiving others and to also seek forgiveness from others. On this day, after the Pratikramana has been done, in the evening, the Jains ask each and every creature for forgiveness by uttering ‘Michami Dukkadam’ which means: May my sins become void.

 

Forgiveness in Jainism displays many facets: Not to wrong or hurt another. Not to see another as an abuser. Not to get hurt by another. Not to see oneself as a victim. Not to hate the abuser. Not to hate oneself if a sin is committed knowingly or unknowingly.

 

How is all of this possible, you may wonder! The answer to all of these lies in forgiveness. To forgive another. To forgive oneself. To forgive is to move on. To forgive is to be free. To forgive is to focus on the self alone. Forgiveness brings us closer to Ahimsa.

 

‘Michami Dukkadam’ is chanted as a form of repentance whenever an act of violence, no matter how small, has been committed, advertently or inadvertently. This phrase is found in the Iryapathiki Sutra.

 

Violence can be committed by body, mind and speech. For instance, the Iryapathiki Sutra enumerates violence committed by bodily movements. After mentioning these violations, the final step is seeking forgiveness by uttering ‘Michami Dukkadam’.

 

This sacred text states:

“In my movements, if I have inflicted pain upon any living being or any creature of one to five senses by the following 10 violations: stopped them in their path (abhihaya), covered them with dust (vattiya), rubbed them (lesiya), gathered them together (sanghaiya), touched (sanghattiya), caused mental pain (pariyaviya), caused tiredness (kilamiya), caused distress (uddhaviya), shifted them from one place to another (thanao thanam sankamiya), or above all, relieved them of life (jiviyao vavaroviya), then by the powers of repentance, may these wrongdoings and sins of mine become void (tassa michami dukkadam).”

The common question asked is: Can the recitation of ‘Michami Dukkadam’ relieve or purify our sins? Is it like a magic wand which can erase sins as soon as it is uttered?

 

Something worth pondering about!

 

Words have power when they are accompanied by feelings. The phrase ‘Michami Dukkadam’ cannot wipe away our sins. Sins can only be removed by the feeling of intense repentance. This is expressed by the utterance of ‘Michami Dukkadam’.

 

In the Samayika Sutra, Upadhyaya Amar Muni says, “The power of repentance is very high. Without falling prey to mundane routines, if one is sincerely repentant for one’s wrongdoings, one can certainly be relieved of one’s sins. The powerful and clear flow of repentance renders the soul pure and crystal-clear.”

 

Lord Mahavira said that we should first forgive our own soul.

 

To forgive others is only a practical application of this concept. The day of Samvatsari also marks absolving the self from the heavy burden of sins and starting life afresh. “Michami Dukkadam” is not just a traditional ritual, it is also the first step on the road to spiritual evolution…

 

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