Jai Mahavir ji

   Fundamental Features of Jainism
 .Supreme Forgiveness
"Forgiveness is the key to happiness"

Source religious books written by Upadhaya Munishri Kamakumar Nandi ji in excerpt form.



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The word forgiveness ‘Kshama’ means patience, forbearance and pardon. To pardon an enemy or a friend both is the jewel of Yatis. Forbearance is the ornament of brave.

An eminent English poet writes:

 O man! Forgive thy mortal foe

Do not give him blow for blow

Forgive him seventy times and seven

For all the blessed souls in Heaven

Were both forgivers and forgiven.

Supreme Forgiveness (Uttama Kshama) is the first dharma (first virtue) out of the ten dharmas of Jains. Ordinarily it means not to cause misery to any living beings, or not to get angry on any unpleasant and unwanted happening.

       Forbearance (Kshama or Forgiveness) is the inherent virtue of soul. When the soul degrades from its real attribute to ill nature, such a soul is called attached (raggi i.e. the poison of attachment) or full of malice- ill- will (dwesh  i.e. taking revenge) etc., because soul is simple and forgiving by nature. Rightly it has been said:

          ‘to err is human; to forgive divine.’

 There was a Saint named Aek Nath. He had a vow of bathing un the river Ganges daily. His ideology of forgiveness and renunciation was highly talked of in the city. One Pathan( Normally those belonging to Afghanistan are called Pathan) also used to live in that city. Once he thought to test the saint. His house was on that very road by which the saint used to go for bathing in the Ganga (The famous river in India). The next day when saint Aek nath was returning from after having a bath in the Ganga, the pathan, chewing a betel leaf, spat down from above his roof top. Its shower fell on the body of Aek Nath also; hence the saint went back to have a bath in Ganga again. This process was repeated a hundred times on that one day. Ultimately when the saint was returning after his one hundred and one times bath, the Pathan came down from his house top and falling down at his feet started weeping and begging pardon for his mischief and ill doing. The saint said, “I am grateful to you for your good deed, because daily I used to bathe in Ganga only once, but today I am lucky to bathe a hundred and one times due to you. Great men have great thoughts. They never give up their celestial virtues. Saint Aek Nath who belonged to this noble category, took this ill-deed of pathan as a virtuous deed and pardoned him. On this earth there no other greater virtue than forgiveness. One who is gifted with the virtue of forgiveness is crowned with all other virtues.

         The great poet Reidhu has described the supreme virtue of forgiveness as below:

  1. Supreme Forgiveness is pertinent in all the three worlds; it helps to sail across the ocean of birth and death; it enables us to be endowed with the three jewels i.e., Right Belief, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct and safeguards us from a miserable plight.

  2. Supreme Forgiveness contributes to a horde of virtues; it is dear to the nude Jain monks, Supreme Forgiveness is like the crown jewel for the learned scholars. Only persons with stable minds can acquire the virtue of Supreme Forgiveness.

  3. Supreme Forgiveness is held in high veneration by all the great men.  Forgiveness works like a dazzling jewel to dispel the darkness of wrong belief. The faults of the helpless persons are pardoned by a forgiver and he does not get enraged with them. Freedom from the growth of evil passions in the mind is the forgiveness.

  4. The persons who without finding fault with others bear patiently the harsh words of the rogues accepting them as the outcome of the evil actions of their previous births; who experience their own celestial virtues and are deeply engrossed in their self-realization have been termed by lord Jinendra as gifted Supreme Forgiveness.

  5. Thus persons gifted with the Supreme Forgiveness, worshiped by the Gods (Devas) and Vidhyadhars (divine beings skilled in various arts or sciences); and the innumerable holy saints who vanquish all worldly miseries on attaining the eternal omniscience and getting rid of the blemishes of karmas have become enlightened souls (Siddhas). I bow with reverence a thousand times at the holy feet of those supreme saints who are gifted with the virtue of forgiveness.

             "Forgiveness is the key to happiness".

 Therefore forgiveness is a gift we give to our self. It is not something we do for someone else. It is simple. The last day of Paryushana parva is the most auspicious day for Jains.  On this day traditionally, Jains seek forgiveness from every one and more particularly from whom we have hurt in any way i.e. in thought, word, and deed by asking for forgiveness and also exchanging letters seeking forgiveness /kshama).  It is believed that sincere fasting and prayer on this day can wipe out all the sins committed in our past year, and revitalize us to be more loving, compassionate and charitable in the following year.

Therefore, one is duty-bound to try to befriend an angry man or an enemy with love rather than being angry on him.

                                                                                    The End

Note:-The words shown in italics and green color are from prakart/sanskrit language.

In case any mistake is noticed it may be either informed to us or the contents may be read after correction.


                Sample letter exchanged among Jains asking for forgiveness                           

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