12th Day of Fasting

Posted: 01.09.2008
Updated on: 29.11.2012

http://www.herenow4u.net/fileadmin/v3media/pics/persons/Dr._Rudi_Jansma/Dr._Rudi_Jansma.jpgMany people, initiated as well as lay people take the opportunity of Paryushan for fasting.

Today (September 1, 2008) one lady, Vineeta Bhansali of Jaipur, who is in her 12th day of fasting, was so kind to allow Shivani Bothra and myself to interview her.

She will maintain her fast for 15 days. Vineeta is 30 years old and has two kids, a girl of two and a boy of three years old. Her whole family, including her husband, his parents and her own parents fully support and encourage her effort.

What motivates her and those around her? I asked her what, within the context of Jainism, is the reason for fasting. She said that it is good for health, physically. More important even is the purification of the mind. While she is fasting, her mind is connected with her guru, Acharya Mahaprajna, which gives her direct inspiration. The most important objective is spiritual development of the good within her.

Fasting, in her case and in that of many others (though not all), reduces anger and other negative emotions – whatever they may be, such as jealousy and hate – to zero. Therein sacrifice is very important. After two or three days she had reached a calmness of mind and emotional equanimity which since then has not been disturbed. Fasting also increases the willpower.

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Asked whether she would even be able to remain calm when some very sudden difficult situation would occur, she told us that on the third day her little boy suddenly had to be taken to hospital for an asthmatic attack. She did so herself and maintained complete calm. She hopes that she will be able to maintain that peace of mind after the fast is over; then she has won something of lasting value. And if not, she will fast again.

During the fast she can perform all routine activities as always. The mind becomes clearer and therefore studying and solving problems becomes easier. She spends much of her time meditating. Therefore she makes use of mantras, repeating these holy words while passing the beads of a Mala (chain of beads) through her hand. This is called Samayik. At the same time she calls, with eyes closed, before her mind’s eye a picture of her inspirator, the founder of the Terapanth sect, Acharya Bikshu, or her present preceptor, Acharya Mahaprajna. From visualizing them in this way she feels great inner strength.

The fasting also has a positive influence on everyone around her. She notices a clear change of behavior even in her small children.

In the Jain believe thoughts cling to the soul in the form of Karmas. Pure thinking is therefore very important, more important even than physical cleanliness. She felt that now, after twelve days of fasting, her mind had become purified. Then the objective is also to get rid of some old Karmas which had become attached to the soul (Jiva) earlier. Due to someone’s purer nature the Karmas no longer keep a hold on the soul.

During the 15 days of the fast she only takes boiled water and that only during daylight. No other drinks or food whatsoever. She had prepared the fast by adding purified butter and cloves to her diet starting two weeks in advance. Further she ate normally – which of course always means pure vegetarian.

When she had begun she felt very happy because she had finally done what she had wanted to do for a long time. Physically she soon started to feel much better. She told us she had a headache and gastric problems before, but since the fast these problems had not occurred. Day by day she felt lighter in body and mind.

The fast will be ended by taking a special home-prepared herbal tea. Then the next fifteen days she will eat only small quantities until returning to normal.

She would certainly advice people in the West to do the same, even if they have no Jain or other belief that supports fasting: in any case it is good for body and mind.

 

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