Why is the Loggas Kausagg only till Chandesu Nimma Layra?

(Please read this post only if you follow the Jain religion. Specifically, the Shvetambar Murtipujak sect.)


We have just completed the Paryushan Mahaparv, the high point of which was the Samvatsari Pratikraman, where we asked for forgiveness for all the sins committed in the past year and before which, we asked those whom we might have hurt, knowingly or unknowingly, by thought, word or deed for forgiveness.

Kshamapana, or forgiveness is one of the cores of Jain Dharm. Every Jain, even if they do not do anything else related to the religion during the entire year, would definitely participate in the Samvatsari Pratikraman. No one can find fault with a ritual where you are not asked for money or sacrifice, you are not asked to believe in anyone's supernatural powers, where there is no display of miracles. All that is there to it is an honest admission (to yourself, not in public) of your faults and your sins and asking for forgiveness for them.

As part of the atonement ritual is a meditation (called kausagg in Jain parlance) where we are asked to meditate on a particular sutra called Loggas. We are asked to count the loggas 40 times followed by one Navkar (one of the most basic sutras in Jain Dharm). The loggas is only to be counted till the first line of the 7th verse of the sutra, each verse of which has 4 lines. I have always wondered why the sutra is to be counted only till there.

Further, there are instances where during the rest of the Pratikraman, you count the full loggas. And during the morning pratikraman, there is one kausagg where you count it till the 3rd line of the 7th verse. Why different kausaggs have different places till which you count?

I found the answer while I was studying a Jain Dharm related book. I am attempting to explain the answer here. I hope you find this useful as I couldn't find this information anywhere else on the internet.

For the regular Iriyavahi kausagg, the Jain Shastras state that the atonement for sins related to walking is a kausagg of 25 shvaasochhvaas (in-breath and out-breath). This means that the original procedure was to meditate to a count of 25 breaths. Several centuries ago, people probably did it this way. They focussed on their breaths and counted to 25 breaths during the kausagg before ending it. 

After several years, maybe people found it difficult to count. So, the Great Sages may have come up with this workaround where they said, say the Loggas sutra during your kausagg. Say one line per breath. That way, till the 25th line, which happens to be "Chandesu Nimma Layra", you would have completed 25 breaths! 

Anyone who practises meditation can relate to how difficult it is to focus on one's breath for long.

Similarly, the atonement for certain sins is prescribed as 108 breaths, for others as 112 breaths. So the number of times to count the loggas and the lines of each loggas is adjusted as per these numbers. For 108, count Loggas 4 times but each time only till the 3rd line of the 7th verse (Sagara Vara Gambhira) and for 112, do the whole loggas 4 times.  

Over the years, some people who did not know the Loggas sutra probably asked their gurus how they can benefit from this technique. They were asked to count navkars - 4 for every 1 loggas. Now, the navkar is counted in 8 breaths. So if they did 4 for every one loggas, then that would come to 32 breaths! But to even adjust the navkar lengths according to the loggas would have made the pratikraman vidhi too complicated. So, considering the small number of people (at the time) who did not know the loggas, they kept it simple and just said 4 navkars per loggas.

The atonement for the sins of a fortnight is prescribed as 300 breaths and that for a year's sins as 1008 breaths. That is why the kausagg for the pakkhi pratikraman is 12 loggas while the kausagg for the Samvatsari Pratikraman is 40 loggas followed by 1 navkar (Loggas only till Chandesu Nimma Layra for both).

Gradually, extremely unfortunately however, people probably forgot the reason behind this. People started counting the loggas fast. They did not do one line per breath. The focus was on finishing the loggas as soon as possible. These days, we have folks (yours truly included) who finish the loggas in hardly any breaths. I probably take 7-8 breaths. I know people who do it in 3-4! Even the sadhus and sadhvis, unfortunately, seem to have forgotten the real meaning behind the kausagg.

There are probably several such inconsistencies that have creeped into Jain Dharm (as in all religions) where the original meaning of a ritual has been completely forgotten. People are encouraged not to question but blindly follow. Any questioning is treated as blasphemy. 

This dangerous trend can have disastrous consequences. Just take this one simple aspect of kausagg. Imagine the lakhs of Jains around the world who are not counting the loggas as it was originally intended but doing it in a completely wrong way, thus rendering their kausagg wholly inadequate. If someone would have questioned this and people would have corrected this centuries ago, wouldn't it have been much more in keeping with the teachings of the Bhagwan Mahavir?

Bhagwan Mahavir never encouraged dogmatic thinking. In the second last gatha of the first chapter of the Tattvarth sutra (one of the earliest sutras written after Bhagwan Mahavir's passing and that which can be considered modified the least), Umaswati ji says:

सदसतोरवि शेषाद् -यदृच्छोप लब्धेरुन्मतवत्

This translates to - Those who blindly follow certain things without differentiating between truth and untruth are akin to lunatics.

Learning to question and following after understanding the principle and the concept should be encouraged.

However, not following something because we don't understand and not even making an attempt to understand is even more dangerous. That takes you away from the path and there is no hope of redemption. A genuine attempt has to be made to understand. We are only fooling ourselves in the process. And fooling ourselves is more dangerous than fooling your Guru, family or friends.

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