TEXT OF PRATIKRAMAN
First, we recite the Navkar Mantra, the most important of all the Mantras, consisting of nine lines. Then we bow to our Guru. Then, we ask for freeing ourselves from the sins of hurting living beings while walking. Next, we recite the vow of adopting Kayotsarga, the motionless posture, until completion. It is such a motionless state of body, that even though the soul is there, the body behaves as if the soul left the body. Then, comes Prayer to 24 Tirthankars and all Siddhas, in which we list, bow, and praise the 24 Tirthankars for their great virtues. They are also known as Arihants, implying victors over enemies such as anger, pride, deceit, greed, hatred, jealously, etc. After that, we recite the vow of Samayik, the equianimous state of mind, speech, and body for the next 48 minutes. Then, we express our respect for the virtues of our great Arihants, Siddhas, and Gurus. Then, we express our desire for forgiveness from our lapses.
Next, we affirm the importance of knowledge and how we should treat the scriptures. We also affirm the importance of true faith and need of staying away from the hypocrites.
All this has taken approximately 10 minutes. Then for next 20 minutes, we talk about The 12 vows of householders, which is probably the most important part of the Pratikraman. These 12 vows have been broken down into 3 categories: 5 Anuvrats, 3 Gunavrats, and 4 Shikshavrats. Vrat means vow, Anu means small, Guna means enhancement and Shiksha means learning or training. Because while living a household life, we can not observe complete vows like Munis, we take lesser (minor) vows that we can abide by.
The five Anuvrats are about non-violence, truth, non-stealing, self-control, and non-accumulation. In the first Anuvrat, we define up to what extent we will observe the vow of non-violence. In the second Anuvrat, we list what kind of lies we would not commit. In the third Anuvrat, we iterate our non-stealing stance. In the fourth Anuvrat, we abide to refrain from sensuality. The fifth Anuvrat is for putting limits to our desires for material wealth, and not exceeding them.
The three Gunavrats are for enhancing in certain matters the above Anuvrats by setting geographic boundaries, restrictions on consumption of avocations, etc. In the first Gunavrat, we set geographic limits beyond which we would not go. In the second Gunavrat, we accept restrictions on the gross number of articles of consumption. We also decide to stay away from all trades which may contribute to violence, directly or indirectly. In the third Gunavrat, we resolve to refrain from meaningless violence.
The four Shikshavrats are about practices that slowly, but steadily lead towards our eventual goal of Moksha. Though it may seem difficult, it is possible to do so in gradual steps. The first Shikshavrat is to take Samayik (48 minutes of equianimosity) as often as possible. The second Shikshavrat is to put further restrictions on geographic limits beyond which we would not go. The third Shikshavrat is to live occasionally like a Muni for one day, which is also known as Poshadhvrat. The word Muni implies a vow of only observing, without praising or complaining; only keeping silence (Maun). The fourth Shikshavrat is to take care of the needs of the Munis and others in need. This is known as Atithi Samvibhagvrat. Atithi means someone who may come unexpectedly, without invitation (such as a Sadhu), and Samvibhag means sharing, with love and respect.
After these 12 vows, we express our desire for Santharo, the peaceful, voluntary and planned religious death. Next, we remind ourselves to stay away from the eighteen types of sinful acts. After that, we remind ourselves about the twenty five types of wrong beliefs, which we should stay away from.
After that, we recite “Auspicious Fours”, in which we accept the supremacy and shelter of Arihants, Siddhas, Sadhus and the religion taught by Kevalis. Now we have finished 2/3 of the Pratikraman.
Before proceeding further, let us pause for a moment, to recall the areas where other living beings exist. The world where we live is a part of Bharat Kshetra. Kshetra means area. The other Kshetras are Mahavideh and Airavat. These Kshetras are located in two and a half Dweeps. A Dweep is a large isolated area. The names of these Dweeps are Jambu Dweep, Dhatakikhand Dweep and Pushakarvar Dweep, of which in the last one only half area is used for living. Each Kshetra has four similar counterparts. That means, there are five Bharat Kshetras, five Mahavideh Kshetras, and five Airavat Kshetras. Bharat Kshetra is located in the southern Jambu Dweep.
In our Bharat Kshetra, only 24 Tirthankars are born in each Kaal. They re-establish religion and a fourfold society system, consisting of Sadhus, Sadhvis, Shravaks and Shravikas. A Kaal is a very, very long period of time, more than billions of years long. So the existence of a Tirthankar is a rare event here in Bharat Kshetra. But it is not so for the Mahavideh Kshetra. On each Mahavideh Kshetra, at any given time, there are at least four Tirthankars in existence. At some times there are as many as thirty two! This means that totally on all the five Mahavideh Kshetras, at any given time, there are at least twenty Tirthankars! That is how Mahavideh Kshetra is more sacred than other Kshetras.
Kevalgnan is obtained by Tirthankars, and can be obtained by other souls too. Kevalgnan is perfect knowledge. After acquiring it, and after that life is over, there is no rebirth for them. For them, the cycle of births and deaths ends forever. Any soul can attain Moksha, the state of liberation. They do not necessarily get liberated immediately after attaining the Kevalgnan. They finish their life, preaching religion to others. They are known as Kevali Lords. In our Bharat Kshetra, each Kaal is divided into six sections, each one known as an Ara. Kevalgnan is possible only during the 3rd and 4th Ara (during the same time when the 24 Tirthankars are born) of a Kaal. Now the 5th Ara has already started some 2500 years ago, so there are no Kevalis here. But at any given time, in the five Mahavideh Kshetras, there are 30 to 90 million Kevali Lords. Kevalis are omniscient, but have no attachment or hatred for any living being.
Now, a few words here about rest of the Universe. We learn in science about the earth, sun, stars, galaxies, etc. The science based on telescopic knowledge does not go far beyond that, but Jainism does. (For thousands of years, before microscopes were invented, science did not know about micro bacteria life, but Jainism did.) The Universe is in the shape of a human standing with both of his hands on his waist, and the legs spread out. Our Bharat Kshetra is near the area where the navel would be, heaven is above it, and hell is below it. Above all, at the top, there is Muktishila (the area for liberated souls), where the souls ascend to and reside upon liberation from the human body. They never come back to live another life. (The distances are also given in the scriptures, the unit being Yojan, but nobody can meaningfully define it.)
So now, for next 15 minutes, we pay our homages to the Tirthankars and Kevali Lords in the Mahavideh Kshetra. We read a list of all the twenty Tirthankars’ names. We read about their virtues. Then we pay our homages to the Siddha Lords, along with all the 24 Tirthankars of this Kaal, from our Bharat Kshetra, who have already attained Moksha. They have gotten rid of all their Karmas, and have broken the cycle of misery, poverty, sickness, etc. Then, we bow to the Sadhus and Sadhvis (female Sadhu) in all the Kshetras. They have given up their family lives, their wealth, house, jewelry, etc. with the intention of uplifting their souls. We then pay our respects to fellow Shravaks and Shravikas (male and female householders), who live here and in the other Kshetras, and follow the principles of Jainism. And last, but not least, we remember the non-human souls, even though they are at a lower level than ours. There are 8 million and 400 thousand species living in various broad categories such as human beings, heavenly and hellish beings, animal and vegetable beings, amoebas, etc. To all of them, we request for forgiveness.
In the end, we ask for forgiveness for any improprieties that we may have committed during the Pratikraman. Also, we take a symbolic vow. This is to remind us of self-control. If the Pratikraman is done in evening, as usually the case is, the vow is for Chauvihar, that is, not eating or drinking anything for rest of the day and night, until the next day morning. If it is not possible, we take the vow of Tivihar, which means the same as Chauvihar, except that we allow ourselves water. If the Pratikraman is done in morning, not eating or drinking is for only one or two hours.