|GUIDLINES OF JAINISM||
SOME SPECIAL AND IMPORTANT AUSTERITIES
means fasting for three continuous days during which no food is taken. Some may drink boiled water during day time and some may not. During such time one should perform recitation and meditation. This austerity has been considered extremely auspicious and efficacious.
This means fasting for eight continuous days during which no food is taken. Some may take boild water during daytime and others may not. During this austeritiy, some perform such activites as recitation, meditation, carrying out scriptural studies and worshipping the Paramatma with devotion and concentrating on the soul. Many pious and devout people in hundreds and thousands perform this austerity during the days of the festival called Paryushan which occurs in the Bhadrapada month, during the Chaturmas every year.
It means one must fast for one month continuously. This austerity is a very rigorous during which some may or may not take boiled water. Many people perform this austerity during the Chaturmas.
One who wants to perform the Vardhaman Tap must lay the foundation for it by performing this austerity, in the beginning, without a break, for twenty days in the following manner. One must perform:
Ayambil on the first day and then fasting for one day, Ayambil for two days and then fasting for one day,
Ayambil for three days; and fasting for one day
Ayambil for four days and fasting for one day, and
Ayambil for five days and fasting for one day.
This comes to twenty days. At this point, it may be broken but when it is resumed the same consecutive order of Ayambils must be continued ( Ayambil for six days and fasting for one day, and so on till Ayambil for 100 days and fasting for one day. After this there can be breaks in this process or the process may be continued in the form of Ayambils for 101 dyas and fasting for one day or the process may be repeated from one to one hundred Ayambils. Thus, this austerity can be completed. Even today there are many people who perform Vardhaman tap for more than a hundred days or going back and performing it one to one hundred days. The practice or the observance of the Vardhaman tap is also called Oli. This has been called Vardhaman tap because, it leads daily, step by step, towards progress and Vardhaman means developing or progressing. The stories of Chandrarshi Kevali and Saddhvi Krishna are connected with this austerity.
Every year for nine days in the bright fortnight of Ashvin month from the seventh day upto the full moon day and for nine days in the bright fortnight of the Chaitra month 7th day to the full moon day this austerity is observed with a special kind of worship, holy recitation, meditation and other rituals in honor of the Navapad (Nine kinds of great positions) such as Arihant. This austerity can be completed by observing Ayambil every year twice, 9 days each time or going on for 4 and 1/2 years; that means eighty one days in all. The stories of Sripal and Mayanasundari are connected with this observance
This austerity must be observed from the 8th day of the Krishna Paksh the black fortnight of Chaitra to the Akshay Tritiya the 3rd day of the bright fortnight of the Vaishak of the next year, in the form of fasting for one day; and observing Biyasan for one day. Sometimes, between such days, fasting also can be done for two days continuously. This austerity Is continued for the whole year and hence it Is called Varshi-tap. The austerity is to be broken on the day called Akshay Tritiya by taking sugar-cane juice. A grand fair takes place on this day, at palitana, a famous Jain pilgrim centre. Moreover, arrangement is made there for the mass completion ceremony. The stories of Lord Rishabha Dev, the first Tirthankar and his follower Shreyans Kumar (his great grand son) are connected with this austerity.
This austerity is not only excellent but efficacious. To perform it, one must worship twenty Padas or positions (Twenty pads prescribed for an important worship) fasting twenty times each, separately. In the middle, for the worship of one special Pad one should perform Chhatth fasting for two days continuously twenty times. Every Tirtankar should have performed this austerity with great penance and a high level of Sadhana in his earlier life. Apart from this, one hundred other minor and major austeries are prescribed in the Jain Granthas. Even today some of them are in vogue and established among the Jain society. One can perform any of those austerities according to his ability and convenience, because each austerity is accompained with devavandan (salutation of the Lord) holy recitation, meditation, Kayotsarga and worship, in different ways. But there is the need for guidance from spiritual superiors.