Who is a Jain?
The devotee of vishnu is called a Vaishnav; the devotee of Shiva is called a Shaiva; the follower of the Buddha is called a Buddhist: the follower of Christ is called a Christain. In the same manner, the follower of Jineshwer is known as a Jain. Hence, this dharma has become current, established and reowned under the name of the Jain dharma. One who follows the path shown by Jineshwer is a Jain.
Such a man is a Jain to whatever nation he may belong; to whatever sect or creed he may belong; in whatever philosophical context he might have been born or brought up. The Jain dharma is not a religious sect or creed. Anyone can adore and follow this dharma irrespective of his caste and creed. This living dharma is meant for all.
Fasting is very common among Jains and as a part of Jain festivals. Most Jains fast at special times, during festivals, and on holy days.Paryushan is the most prominent festival, lasting eight days in Svetambara Jain tradition and ten days in Digambar Jain tradition during themonsoon. The monsoon is a time of fasting. However, a Jain may fast at any time, especially if he or she feels some error has been committed. Variations in fasts encourage Jains to do whatever they can to maintain whatever self control is possible for the individual
Purpose of fasting
Monks, nuns and laity fast as penance and to control desires. Jains believe fasting purifies the body and the mind, reminding one of Mahavir's emphasis on renunciation and asceticism. Mahavir spent months fasting and in contemplation. It is not sufficient simply to stop eating when fasting; the person must also stop wanting to eat. Control over one's mind is a major goal. If one continues to desire food, the fast is fruitless..
Why is fasting essential ?
The body experiences weakness by fasting and hunger but that weakness is not caused by the absence of food but because the unclean stuff is cast off. After the body is purified strength returns to the body. It acquires freshness and agility. In this, there is no wonder. After the foreign, unwanted substances are removed from the body, health naturally appears in it.
Normally, in the body heat is always being produced. hence, there is always a certain degree of heat in the body. In the Jain terminolgy, this process may be given the, Taijas Sharir or Taijas Namkarma. To keep this process of the production of heat continuing, fuel is necessary. Most of the fuel is obtained from the carbohydrates and fats in our food. But during the period of Upavas fasting when the consumption of food has been stopped, the remaining oart of the food gets urnt and assimilated. Hence, during Upavas (fasing period) the fats soon decreases; and like fats the strength of the liver, the spleen and muscless also gets reduced but the brain never grows weak and never sustains even the slightest loss; so we get sound sleep. The thoughts become wholesome and pure. In the begining, the foul stuff found in the body may appear on the tongue; may come out in form of spittle; may cause giddiness etc., but gradually, everything gets all right.
Upavas is useful in getting rid of such diseases as fever, smallpox, measles, asthma, blood pressure, eczema etc. By means of Upavas the children of a doctor in America by name, Edward David, were saved from the dreadful disease of Diphtheria. In his book, The Non-breakfast plan and Fasting Cure, the doctor has written that during illness, it is far better to fast than to take fod or medicines because by that means, health can be soon recovered.
We are all human beings and as human buings the problems,humanity is facing today are our own.As a matter of fact,we ourselves are responsible for their consequences also.It is our earnest duty to ponder over their roots and causes, to suggest their solutions and to make their eradiction..Today we are celebrating SAMVATSARI, and each and every Jain according to his capacity does something towards fasting,swadhyay,samayik,jain readings & pratikraman..By pratikraman he or she asks or begs pardon for the carelessness in his or her movements and for the violence he or she caused to any creature,knowing pretty well that the fruit of non-violence is happiness and well being and that of violence is pain,grief and misery..
Fasting from one fast to 3,8.30& more fasting have been done by many and one of our Jain saint is going to do 95 shortly at Bangalore..If you feel like meeting her ,you can meet or contact who have dofasting for their good for their good..
I AM FORWARDING THIS ARTICLE FOR YOUR REFERENCE..HOPE & TRUST THAT YOU WILL TRY UR BEST TO HIGH-LIGHT IN OUR ESTTEEMED DAILY SO THAT OTHERS GET BENEFITED.
Sajjan Raj Mehta
PRESIDENT..JAIN YUVA SANGATHAN