The significance of forgiveness
It is not possible to seek, solicit or ask others to forgive us unless we renounce our pride.india Updated: Sep 08, 2006 15:50 IST
Jains celebrate Forgiveness Day (kshamavani parv) at the end Paryushan or Daslakshan Parv lasting for ten days in the month of bhadrapada (August-September months).
During these days, the Jains are lectured and reminded to practise ten (das) characteristics or features (lakshan) of dharma, the foremost of these being forgiveness.
The ideal of forgiveness is best expressed in these words: Khamemi savve jiva, savve jiva khamantu me, mitti me savva bhuyeshu (bhuteshu), vairam majjham na kenvi, i.e. "I forgive all living beings; all living beings forgive me; I have friendship towards all beings, and enmity towards none."
Of the four parts of this verse, the first signifies the renunciation of anger because one cannot forgive any person or being if he is nursing passion of anger inside him. It is not necessary that one forgives others only when someone asks for our forgiveness because the virtue of forgiveness is not dependent on others.
In the second part of the above verse, we are required to give up our passion of pride, i.e. the ego-infected sense of I-ness (aham bhav) and adopt an attitude of humility. It is not possible to seek, solicit or ask others to forgive us unless we renounce our pride. In forgiving others, we do not wait for others to ask our forgiveness; likewise, we seek other's forgiveness irrespective of any thought of whether or not he will forgive us. Forgiving others or seeking forgiveness from others is a personal and independent act of the individual himself. Moreover, in seeking forgiveness our past misdeeds, we also resolve not to repeat those mistakes or misdeeds in future.
The affirmation of friendship towards all beings signifies renunciation of the passion of deceit, jealousy, etc. and adoption of an attitude of straightforwardness. One does and is not expected to indulge in deceit, fraud, trickery, dishonesty, etc. with a friend. In the fourth part, one gives up enmity, hatred, aversion etc. towards all beings and adopts an attitude of compassion, kindness, service, charity, sharing, contentment, equanimity, etc. so as to cater to the well-being of others.
One can perform these kinds of other referential activities beneficial to others only when there is renunciation of excessive attachment (mamatva) to material objects, subsidence of the passion of greed, i.e. acquisitiveness and exploitation of others, which are often the cause of enmity and hatred on the part of others. Thus, the virtues of humility, honesty or straightforwardness and purity of mind, including freedom from greed, are dovetailed into forgiveness. One is asked to renounce or minimise the four passions of anger, pride, deceit and greed, which are the real enemies of the purity of the soul.