Religions And Their Teachings
With non-violence and non-attachment being the main premises, Jainism is one of the youngest and popular religions of the world. Started by the Jain Teerthankaras (Jain monks), it is followed by millions across the world today.
There are various principles which a religion and its teachings are based on. For example, Jainism mentions the principles named as Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha, etc. These principles and their meanings can be known very easily today, as they are available for us in the written form.
When in the ancient ages, the religions were in their initial stages of evolution, there was no written material available for the followers. Whatever the saints experienced after hard years of penance, they would communicate it by word of mouth to the people around. But as the years passed, the verbal method of transferring the teachings seemed to become a not-so-reliable way, because of minor changes that would be inevitable due to poor memory of a preacher or that of the students.
This became a reason for the need of compilation of all the material for the better propagation of the religion. A written text also meant the teachings and the experiences quoted in those books were those of the original experience.
Following the same history of compiling the teachings and principles of a religion, there is a festival known as Shruti Panchami, in this religion. Read on to know what it is actually about.
Shruti is a Hindi word which means "which is heard". In early Jainism, there was a belief that the words and the teachings of the religious teachers must be transferred to the coming generations verbally alone. It was the fifth day during the brighter phase of the month of Jyeshtha that the teachings were presented in a written form. So, it is the day when Jainism texts got compiled.
Around 2000 years ago, in the first century, Acharya Dharasena, worried at the dwindling importance of the Jain teachings and beliefs, decided to compile all of the teachings in a written form. He, along with the two other monks, Pushpadanta and Bhutabali, sat in a cave which is today known as Chandra Cave or Moon Cave and is situated in the region of Gujarat. So, Shruti Panchami is the day when Jainism texts got compiled.
Compilation Of Shatkhandagam
While he would narrate all the teachings given until then, the other two sages would put them into writing. This way, the first book on Jainism, Shatkhandagam, was made. It was the first written scripture for Jainism.
Thus, the Jain learnings which were present in a verbal form alone, and were made available for the readers as well. The book contains religious teachings on beliefs and spiritual awareness as per Jainism. It also details about the various teachers and their sayings. It is a scripture in six parts namely, Jeeva Sthana, Ksudraka Bandh, Bandhavamitva, Vedana, Vagana and Mahabandha. It deals mainly with the Karma theory from various perspectives.
Shruti Panchami In 2018
Every year, this day is remembered as the Shruti Panchami day, as per Jainism. It falls on the fifth day of the fortnight during the month of Jyeshtha. It corresponds to May-June, according to the Gregorian calender. This year, Shruti Panchami falls on June 18th.
On the day of Shruti Panchami, all the books of sacred texts on Jainism are cleared on this day or are replaced with new ones in temples. The aim is that the source of learning about Jainism is not lost because of ignorance. Cleaning the cupboards symbolizes removing ignorance.
The books are covered in new pieces of cloth. If in the temple, there are some works yet to be published, the people of the locality contribute for the publication of the new books. The aim being propagation of Jainism.
Since the first books were worshipped as Jain Shastras on this day, these books are worshipped until today, on the day of Shruti Panchami. Followers of Jainism wear yellow-coloured clothes on this day and also perform a Shobha Yatra.
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