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Navratri is a combination of two words. 'Nav' means nine while 'ratri' means night. Therefore, this celebration is literally translated as 'nine nights'. The celebrations begin on the first day of the month of Ashvin according to the Hindu calendar. They culminate in the festival of Dassera, on the tenth day of the month. As per the Gregorian calendar, Navratri always falls in the month of October. The exact date differs from year to year though.

Why Navratri is Celebrated The festival of Dassera is celebrated to worship the goddess Durga. She is the embodiment of Devi, or the supreme goddess. The form of the goddess Durga is said to symbolise creative energy and the feminine body. This form of the goddess has nine aspects. Navratri therefore is dedicated to the worship of these aspects. Each form or aspect of the goddess has its own day dedicated to it. The Navratri celebrations are devoted to the worship of the Eternal mother, which has its origins in the Vedas. Maa Durga is also considered to be a combination of the Trinity of goddesses. During Navratri, these three main goddesses are worshipped as well. The central theme of Navratri though is the triumph of good over evil.On the first day of the Navaratras, a small bed of mud is prepared in the puja room of the house and barley seeds are sown on it. On this Bed a Kalash made of Copper is kept and filled with water. Above the pot a bowl filled with rice is kept. A dry Cococunt wrapped with mango leaves is then kept over this kalash. This Kalash is believed to be a symbolic form of Goddess Durga. By keeping kalash one invocates the goddess in the Kalash.On the tenth day, the shoots are about 3 - 5 inches in length. After the puja, these seedlings are pulled out and given to devotees as a blessing from god. This Kalash must not be touched during the nine days . One diya is lit close to this Kalash which is supposed to burn endlessly for nine days. This is known as Akhand Jyoti.Many people believe that the length of the Shoots determines the Quantum of income that they will have in coming six months. This belief could have been because India was basically an agrarian economy wherein the productivity of the Land determined one's income.Significance of Navratri The First Three Days of NavratriThe first three days of Navratri are devoted to the worship of the Goddess Durga. This is the period, when her energy and power are worshipped. Each day is dedicated to a different appearance of Durga. Kumari, which signifies the girl child, is worshipped on the first day of the festival. Parvati, who is the embodiment of a young woman, is worshipped on the second day. The destructive aspects of Goddess Durga symbolize the commitment to acquire triumph over all the evil tendencies. Hence, on the third day of Navratri, Goddess Kali is worshipped, who represents the woman who has reached the stage of maturity. Fourth to Sixth Days of NavratriWhen a person acquires triumph over evil tendencies of ego, anger, lust and other animal instincts, he/she experiences a void. This void is filled with spiritual wealth. For the purpose, the person approaches Goddess Lakshmi, to acquire all the materialistic, spiritual wealth and prosperity. This is the reason why the fourth, fifth and sixth day of Navratri are dedicated to the worship of Lakshmi - the goddess of prosperity and peace. Although the individual has acquired victory over evil tendencies and wealth, he is still deprived of true knowledge. Knowledge is required to live the life of a humane, even though he/she is prospered with power and wealth. Therefore, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped on the fifth day of Navratri. All the books and other literature materials are gathered in one place and a 'diya' (earthen lamp) is lit in front of the deity, to invoke the goddess and seek her blessings. Till the time the books are kept at the puja room, the students would not study. Seventh and Eighth Day of NavratriThe seventh day is dedicated to worshipping Saraswati, the goddess of art and knowledge. Prayers are offered with an aim to seek spiritual knowledge. Ninth Day of NavratriThe ninth day is the final day of Navratri celebrations. It is also known as 'Mahanavami'. On the day, Kanya puja is performed to worship nine young girls, who have not yet reached the stage of puberty. These nine girls symbolize one of the nine forms of goddess Durga. The feet of girls are washed to welcome the goddess and show respect to her. The girls are offered a set of new clothes as a gift from the devotees at the end of the puja.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Garba (dance)Garba (ગરબા in Gujarati) is an Indian form of dance that originated in the Gujarat region. The name is derived from the Sanskrit term Garbha ("womb") and Deep ("a small earthenware lamp"). Many traditional garbas are performed around a central lit lamp or picture/statues of different avatars of Goddess Shakti. The circular and spiral figures of Garba have similarities to other spiritual dances, such as those of Sufi culture. Traditionally it is performed during the nine-day Hindu festival Navarātrī (Gujarātī નવરાત્રી Nava = 9, rātrī = nights). Either the lamp (the Garba Deep) or an image of the Goddess Durga (also called Amba) is placed in the middle of concentric rings as an object of veneration. During Navratri, Vadodara, the cultural capital of Gujarat is the best place to perform or witness Garba.Garba is a Gujarati folk dance celebrated in navratri, a celebration lasting nine nights. People celebrate this festival in crowds, e.g. clubs, societies, or schools. Garba songs are usually on the topics of Lord Krishna or the nine goddesses. Sanedo is the most wanted song in the crowd. Kids dance on the songs like mumbai thi gadi aavi re..... To begin with, they start with 3 taali and then at the last, all the fast songs are played. There are many forms of garba like- dandiya Raas, garbi, Heench, 3 taali and Dodhiyu. Garba varies from place to place in Gujarat. The traditional costumes the garba dancers wear is pink, yellow orange and such bright coloured Chanya choli or ghagra choli; odhni with bandhani (tie and die), Abla (Big mirrors) or with thick Gujarati borders; They also wear heavy ornaments like- 2-3 necklaces, sparkling bangles or kadas, janjhars or payals, kandoro or waist belts, long oxidised earrings and bajubandh.
Dandiya RaasEtymologyThe word "Raas" comes from Sanskrit word "Ras". The origins of Raas can be traced to ancient times. Lord Krishna performed Rasa lila" (Lila means Lord Krishna's playful dance. The word "Lila" also refers to things that God does that we do not fully understand).Forms of RaasThere are several forms of Raas, but "Dandiya Raas", performed during Navaratri in Gujarat is the most popular form. Other forms of Raas include Dang Lila from Rajasthan where only one large stick is used, and "Rasa lila" from North India. Raas Lila and Dandiya Raas are similar. Some even consider "Garba" as a form of Raas, namely "Raas Garba".In Dandiya Raas men and women dance in two circles, with sticks in their hands. In the old times Raas did not involve much singing, just the beat of Dhol was enough. "Dandiya" or sticks, are about 18" long. Each dancer holds two, although some times when they are short on Dandiya they will use just one in right hand. Generally, in a four beat rhythm, opposite sides hit the sticks at the same time, creating a nice sound. One circle goes clockwise and another counter clockwise. In the west, people don't form full circles, but instead often form rows.Origin of Dandiya RaasOriginating as devotional Garba dances, which were always performed in Durga's honour, this dance form is actually the staging of a mock-fight between the Goddess and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king, and is nicknamed "The Sword Dance". During the dance, dancers energetically whirl and move their feet and arms in a complicated,choreographed manner to the tune of the music with various rhythms. The dhol is used as well as complementary percussion instruments such as the dholak, tabla and others.The sticks (dandiyas) of the dance represent the swords of Durga. The women wear traditional dresses such as colorful embroidered choli, ghagra and bandhani dupattas (traditional attire) dazzling with mirror work and heavy jewellery. The men wear special turbans and kedias, but this varies regionally.Garba is performed before Aarti (worshipping ritual) as devotional performances in the honor of the Goddess, while Dandiya is performed after it, as a part of merriment. Men and women join in for Raas Dandiya, and also for the Garba. The circular movements of Dandiya Raas are much more complex than those of Garba. The origin of these dance performances or Raas is Krishna. Today, Raas is not only an important part of Navratri in Gujarat, but extends itself to other festivals related to harvest and crops as well. The Mers of Saurastra are noted to perform Raas with extreme energy and vigor.HistoryThe Dandiya Raas dance originated as devotional Garba dances, which were performed in Goddess Durga’s honor. This dance form is actually the staging of a mock-fight between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king. This dance is also nicknamed ‘The Sword Dance’. The sticks of the dance represent the sword of Goddess Durga.The origin of these dances can be traced back to the life of Lord Krishna.[1] Today, Raas is not only an important part of Navaratri in Gujarat but extends itself to other festivals related to harvest and crops as well.HAPPY NAVRATRI..
Jainism "The Four
Loguttamas – (Supremes in the world)

The four Loguttamas are -
1. Arihanta Loguttama - The Arihantas are supreme in the world
2. Siddhha Loguttama – The Siddhas are supreme in the world
3. Sahu Loguttama - The Sadhus are supreme in the world
4. Kevalipannatto dhammo loguttamo - The religion promulgated by Kevali is supreme in the world
Following all this, man surrenders himself to the four with this prayer : -
1. Arihante Saranam Pavajjami - I seek shelter of Arihantas
2. Siddhanam Saranam Pavajjami - I seek shelter of Siddhas
3. Sahu Saranam Pavajjami - I seek shelter of Sadhus
4. Kevali pannattam dhammam - I seek shelter of the religion premulgated by Kvali

"Five Means Of Knowledge According To Jainism
According to Jainism there are five ways in which the jivas obtain knowledge of the things and the world in which they live. Of them the first three are imperfect means of knowledge and  prone to error, while the last two are perfect means of knowledge and convey the truth without error. These five means or instruments of knowledge are explained below:

Mati : Mati is mind Mati is the knowledge of the mind, gained usually through your senses, your memory, your membrance, your cognition, and your deductive reasoning. It  is something which you know with the help of your mind and its various faculties. From a soul’s perspective, this is indirect knowledge because it derived through the external agent of mind and its faculties.

Sruthi : When you learn something from other sources, other people or beings, through your observation of signs, symbols or words, we call it sruthignana or the knowledge of sruthi or hearing. This type of knowledge is gained through association, attention, understanding and naya or varied interpretations of the meaning of things. This is also indirect knowledge because of the external agents involved in btaining knowledge.

Avadhi : You gain this type of knowledge not through any physical means such as the senses or the mind, but through your psychic bilities, or through your intuitive awareness, by overcoming the limitations of time and space.  It is beyond the boundaries of your ordinary awareness and faculties and is not generally available to every one. This is direct knowledge.

Mahaparyaya :This knowledge is gained through the reading of others’ minds and thoughts. It is the knowledge of others that you gain through some extraordinary process like telepathy or mind reading.

Kevala : It is the highest knowledge that you gain when you transcend your ordinary self and become a Jina or Kevalin. It is knowledge itself that does not require any outward means for its awareness. It is always there, unattached, unlimited, and without any constraint, in the consciousness of the enlightened Jina. It cannot be described to others satisfaction, but can be experienced when the soul becomes liberated from earthly bondage.

As we can see, the first two are indirect means of knowledge since we have to depend upon some external source such as the senses or the mind to know things, while the other three are direct, where you do not have to depend upon some external source to know about things.

The essential nature of jiva is consciousness or chaitanya, which has both perception (darsana) and intelligence (jnana). The former is more general (samanya) and superficial and the latter more specific and detailed (visesa) in providing the souls with knowledge. According to Jain beliefs, a jiva does not have to depend upon senses only for perception. Even in a liberated state a jiva has the ability of perception, which it does intuitively without sense organs. There are also several stages in perception. Knowledge is both perfect and imperfect. Liberated souls possess perfect knowledge, which is free from doubt (samsaya), delusion (vimoha) and wrong perception (vibhrama). Knowledge is also both standard (pramana) and relative (naya). The former is based on a fact and the latter upon a perspective or stand point."

18 Sources of Sin : Jainism "We are always busy doing something good that may be helping others or being bad and causing trouble to others. When we help someone, not only does it bring comfort to that someone, but it also brings us comfort by punya. But when we cause trouble for others, it causes us to suffer too due to pap (sins). The kinds of activities that cause others to suffer are called sinful activities and they can range in various levels from a simple tale-telling to the killing. In Jainism such activities are divided into 18 categories and they are considered the sources of the sins that lead to bad karmas or pap. These pap cause trouble in our current lives as well as future lives, too. Therefore, we should be careful not to carry out any of thefollowing 18 sinful activities, which are interconnected with one another.

1. Pranatipata (Violence)

2. Mrushavada (Untruth)

3. Adattadan (Theft)

4. Maithun (Unchaste)

5. Parigraha (Possessiveness)

6. Krodh (Anger)

7. Mana (Arrogance)

8. Maya (Deceit)

9. Lobh (Greed)

10. Rag (Attachment)

11. Dwesh (Hatred)

12. Kalah (Quarreling)

13. Abhyakhyan (Accusation)

14. Paishunya (Gossip)

15. Parparivada (Criticism)

16. Rati-Arati (Liking and Disliking)

17. Maya-mrushavada (Malice)

18. Mithya-darshan-shalya (Wrong beliefs)"

Namo Arihantanam  

 "The word Arihanta is made up of two words:

1) Ari, meaning enemies, and

2) hanta, meaning destroyer.

Therefore, Arihanta means a destroyer of the enemies. These enemies are inner desires known as passions.

These include anger, ego, deception, and greed. These are the internal enemies within us. Until we control our passions, the real nature or the power of our soul will not be realized or manifested. Some passions are called as ghati karmas because they directly affect the true nature of the soul. Ghati karmas are categorized into four.

They are as following:

1. Gyanavarniya (knowledge blocking)

2. Karma Darshanavarniya (perception blocking)

3. Karma Mohniya (passion causing)

4. Karma Antaraya (obstacle causing) Karma

When a person wins over these four ghati karmas he/she is called Arihanta. Arihanta attains:

1. Kevalgyan, perfect knowledge due to the destruction of all Gyanavarniya Karmas.

2. Kevaldarshan, perfect perception due to the destruction of all Darshanavarniya Karmas.

3. Becomes passionless due to the destruction of all Mohniya Karmas.

4. Gains infinite power due to the destruction of all Antaraya Karmas.

Complete knowledge and perception means they know and see everything everywhere that is happening now, that has happened in the past, and that will happen in the future.

Arihantas are divided into two categories:

1. Tirthankar

2. Ordinary

Tirthankaras are special Arihants because they revitalize the Jain Sangh (four-fold Jain Order) consisting of Sadhus (male saints), Sadhvis (female saints), Shravaks (male householders), and Shravikas (female householders). During every half time cycle, twenty-four persons like us rise to the level of Tirthankar. The first Tirthankar of our time period was Lord Rishabhdev, and the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankar was Lord Mahaveera, who lived from 599 BCE to 527 BCE. A Tirthankar is also called a Jina. Jina means conqueror of passions. At the time of nirvana (liberated from the worldly existence), Arihanta sheds off the remaining four aghati karmas namely:

1. Nam (physical structure forming) Karma

2. Gotra (status forming) Karma

3. Vedniya (pain and pleasure causing) Karma

4. Ayushya (life span determining) Karma

These four karmas do not affect the true nature of the soul; therefore, they are called Aghati karmas. After attaining salvation these Arihants are called Siddhas. It is very interesting to note that in Namokar Mantra we pray to the Arihants first and then to the Siddhas, even though the Siddhas are perfected souls who have destroyed all (both Ghati and Aghati) Karmas, and at a higher spiritual stage than Arihants. Since Siddhas have attained ultimate liberation, we do not have access to them. On the other hand, Arihants are still human beings and offer us spiritual guidance during their lifetime. It would not have been possible for us to know about Siddhas or liberation without them. In order to show our special reverence for their teachings, we salute Arihants first and then Siddhas."

 Namo Siddhanam "Siddha is that soul which has achieved complete fulfilment of all its desires; also remembering it and thinking and meditating about this supreme soul fulfils all desires.

The Arihanta, who has already destroyed the four ghatl (vitiating) karmas, when destroys the remaining four aghati (non-vitiating or resultant) karmas namely:

1. Vedaniya (emotion evoking),

2. Nama (form determining),

3. Gotra (status determining), and

4. Ayusya (age determining), becomes a Siddha.

Illustration : Concentrate on the illustration and observe : The soul attains the Siddha state that is free of all karmas by burning and reducing to ash all the eight karmas, shown as pieces of wood, in the fire of penance, meditation etc. As a lotus flower blooms when sunlight falls on it, eight natural attributes of the soul spontaneously appear with the destruction of eight karmas.

The eight natural attributes or the inherent powers are shown as petals of a blooming lotus. These are :

1. Infinite knowledge,

2. Limitless perception,

3. Un-ending happiness,

4. Flawless conduct,

5. Supreme power,

6. Formlessness (a form without name, dimension and shape),

7. Masslessness (equanimity), and

8. Indestructible constitution.

After liberation the Siddha soul exists at the crescent shaped Siddha loka (abode) situated at the edge of the universe.

In this Siddha loka (abode) innumerable souls exist in aural form. As a flame fuses into another, innumerable souls in there eternal aural form fuse and occupy the same space but still maintain their individual existence.

While concentrating on the Siddha if one meditates about its complete healthy, blissful, all-endowing and eternally happy form, the same attributes start appearing within one’s own soul.

The visualization of this line Namo Siddhdanam is done in red colour."

Namo Ayariyanam           "Arihanta and Siddha are the gods of gods.

The Acharayas are said to be the leader of dharma (religion).

(Read with reference to the illustration) The duty of the Acharaya is to preach the religion of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct to the four-fold religion-social organisation comprising of saddhu (monk), saddhvi (nun), sravaka (lay-man) and sravika (lay-woman). He is also supposed to ensure that he and his organisation follows the prescribed norms of good conduct, restraints, rules and discipline.

Illustration : Like the peg in the barn around which the ox moves, the Acharaya is the axis around which the religious organisation moves. The Acharaya is the captain and navigator of the ship of religious organisation.

The religious life of an Acharaya is supposed to have the following thirty six qualities :

• (1-5) Discipline of the five physical senses,

• (6-14) Observation of celibacy with nine guptis (restraints),

• (15-18) Routing of the four passions like anger etc.,

• (19-23) Complete observation of the five great vows like ahimsd etc.,

• (24-28) Pursuance of the five conducts (knowledge) etc.,

• (29-33) Observation of the five rules of vigilance like Iryd samiti (vigilance of movement),

• (34-36) Observation of three guptis (restraints) like manogupti or restraint of thought etc.

Besides these, an acharya has many more qualities like adaptability, impressive oration, hold over the Jain organisation etc.

As we meditate over ‘Namo Ayariyanam’ we get determination for good conduct and inner strength for following lofty ideals. Concentrating over this line gives rise to pious feelings, purifies attitudes and disciplines intense passions.

The colour attributed to this line is golden yellow."

Namo Uvajjhayanam     "This title is given to those Sadhus who have acquired a special knowledge of the Agams and philosophical systems. They teach Jain scriptures to sadhus and sadhvis.They are like torches of knowledge.

Illustration : Upddhyaya is like a burning lamp that lights other lamps with the touch of its flame of knowledge. As donating eye to a blind is a magnanimous deed, giving knowledge to an ignorant is a great virtue. This pious work is done by upddhyayas.

The eleven volumes of Anga Sruta (preachings of Tirthankara Mahavlra and scribed by ganadharas and twelve Updhga Sruta (subordinate scriptures to the Anga sruta but scribed by deary as other than ganadharas) (on the table to the right of the Upddhyaya) are jointly called the Ganipitaka. These canons form the foundation of the knowledge in the Jain religion. To do deep study of these, to guide others openly in proper study and to answer queries and clear doubts of disciples is the work of the Upddhyaya.

The twenty five qualities of Upddhyaya are :

• (1-11) The eleven Angas,

• (12-23) The twelve Upanga,

• (24) Carana sattari (seventy general rules of monks), and

• (25) Karana sattari (seventy special rules observed by monks).

To meditate over the Namo Uvajjhayanam line as the flame of knowledge is helpful in attaining knowledge and education.

This line is visualized with a blue glow. The blue colour imparts peace and tranquility and helps in concentration."

Namo Lo e Savva Sahunam    
 "The Saddhu is the symbol of austere spiritual practice. The Saddhu is a live combination of penance and tolerance. The Saddhu is a flowing stream of compassion, good-will, equanimity and purity.

The twenty seven qualities of a Saddhu, mentioned in the canons, are as follows:

• (1-5) Observer of five great vows,

• (6-10) Controller and discipliner of the five senses,

• (11-14), Victor of the four passions,

• (15) Truth of feeling-truth continues to resonate in his feelings and thoughts,

• (16) Truth of conduct-his behaviour and conduct are truthful,

• (17) Truth of speech-there is uniformity in his speech and action,

• (18) Tranquility of mind-he is a tranquil and contented in mind,

• (19) Tranquility of speech-he is disciplined and ethical in speech,

• (20) Tranquility of body-he is disciplined in physical activity,

• (21) He is forgiving,

   (22) He has feelings of detachment,

• (23-25) He is deeply engrossed in practices leading to purity of faith, knowledge and conduct,

• (26) He is equanimously tolerant to pain and sorrow, and

• (27) He is free of the fear of death.

” Illustration : A Saddhu carries the five mountains of great vows (non-violence, truth, non-stealing, celibacy and detachment) on his strong shoulders. He disciplines the five senses depicted by eyes, ears, nose, tongue and limbs (body). He is equanimous towards both, who bow and respect him, as well as who, driven by anger, hurt his body and feelings. A Saddhu is not afraid of a snake or a lion and as such the ideal example of the definition-Samayae Samano Hoi (he who is equanimous is a sramana).

The meditation over the line ‘Namo loe savva Sahunam’ is done in sparkling black colour and it enhances the feelings of patience, forgiveness, pity, tolerance, discipline and compassion."

Five Means Of Knowledge According To Jainism          

      "According to Jainism there are five ways in which the jivas obtain knowledge of the things and the world in which they live. Of them the first three are imperfect means of knowledge and  prone to error, while the last two are perfect means of knowledge and convey the truth without error. These five means or instruments of knowledge are explained below:

Mati : Mati is mind Mati is the knowledge of the mind, gained usually through your senses, your memory, your membrance, your cognition, and your deductive reasoning. It  is something which you know with the help of your mind and its various faculties. From a soul’s perspective, this is indirect knowledge because it derived through the external agent of mind and its faculties.

Sruthi : When you learn something from other sources, other people or beings, through your observation of signs, symbols or words, we call it sruthignana or the knowledge of sruthi or hearing. This type of knowledge is gained through association, attention, understanding and naya or varied interpretations of the meaning of things. This is also indirect knowledge because of the external agents involved in btaining knowledge.

Avadhi : You gain this type of knowledge not through any physical means such as the senses or the mind, but through your psychic bilities, or through your intuitive awareness, by overcoming the limitations of time and space.  It is beyond the boundaries of your ordinary awareness and faculties and is not generally available to every one. This is direct knowledge.

Mahaparyaya :This knowledge is gained through the reading of others’ minds and thoughts. It is the knowledge of others that you gain through some extraordinary process like telepathy or mind reading.

Kevala : It is the highest knowledge that you gain when you transcend your ordinary self and become a Jina or Kevalin. It is knowledge itself that does not require any outward means for its awareness. It is always there, unattached, unlimited, and without any constraint, in the consciousness of the enlightened Jina. It cannot be described to others satisfaction, but can be experienced when the soul becomes liberated from earthly bondage.

As we can see, the first two are indirect means of knowledge since we have to depend upon some external source such as the senses or the mind to know things, while the other three are direct, where you do not have to depend upon some external source to know about things.

The essential nature of jiva is consciousness or chaitanya, which has both perception (darsana) and intelligence (jnana). The former is more general (samanya) and superficial and the latter more specific and detailed (visesa) in providing the souls with knowledge. According to Jain beliefs, a jiva does not have to depend upon senses only for perception. Even in a liberated state a jiva has the ability of perception, which it does intuitively without sense organs. There are also several stages in perception. Knowledge is both perfect and imperfect. Liberated souls possess perfect knowledge, which is free from doubt (samsaya), delusion (vimoha) and wrong perception (vibhrama). Knowledge is also both standard (pramana) and relative (naya). The former is based on a fact and the latter upon a perspective or stand point."

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