Every year, in the months of November, December and January, the followers of Jainism, visit Palitana, the City of Temples. In the 50 day time span, we aspire to accomplish the task of completing 108 yatras of the divine Shatrunjay hills. This is called Navanu – meaning 99 in Gujarati. Sounds strenuous right? It quite is. I had myself never thought of taking up this and neither did I understand the reasoning behind it. I still don’t. What then made consider this activity?
A little back story –
Since many years I have had queries about Jain beliefs and practices. I have many a times followed practices without knowing the reason behind it because I know they hold some truth. Now it is time to know and understand the truth. Worshiping the idols, giving pradakshinas at the Mandir, non-consumption of root vegetables and more – While for some of the practices, I had acquired a satisfactory understanding as I grew up, for a lot of queries, I’m to still gain clarity.
While I firmly believe that all the rituals and practices have some strong and logical reason behind it, knowing and understanding them is a dire need that I have been realizing off late. I know whatever has been preached has truth and if we gain an understanding there will be no scope of any having any doubts. And to gain this absolute understanding, I wish to dedicate these 1.5 months. I look forward to speaking with our knowledgeable sadhvijis, spend time in the inspiring environment where I can discover the intensity of my faith and find answers on a real-time basis before the misconception can influence me to a point where I start believing it to be the truth. Navanu will allow me to reflect on the conflicting thoughts and finally gain a better understanding of the truth behind the beliefs.
Moreover, I want to experience the divinity once in my lifetime, I wish to feel the positive vibes and to learn about Adishwar Dada’s teachings and thank him for showing us the path of righteousness. I wish to re-instill my faith.
Before developing an aversion to a certain ritual or practice without any understanding about it, I believe it is better to gain a fair amount of clarity.
Taking up this task may make me come across as somebody who is spiritual or inclined towards religious activities but that’s not exactly how I see it. I don’t do even half of the religious activities that ought to be done and I do have a short-temper at times, I do get jealous and I do have the fallacies that a normal human has.
I’m just a girl looking for ways to improve her faith in her religion, to gain understanding about the rituals.
The primary inspiration for me to take this up has been my cousin who went to Palitana last year for Navanu. Until then I had not even given this a thought. I’m thankful to the people at office for allowing me a leave for these many days.
I’m sure on the completion of the journey, apart from having more knowledge, I will be someone with a calmer mind and a richer heart with compassion for people around. If that happens even by 5%, the ordeal will be a successful one because I know once I’m back it will all be back to square one with all the various influences and distractions around . However, the memory of this experience will guide me when there happens to be a situation of not knowing what to believe and what not to believe. 🙂
Wish me luck!
The journey begins on the 21st of November. Will try to keep you posted.