Introduction to Shrut Panchami
What is Shrut Pancham?
Shrut Panchami word is made of two Sanskrit words, ‘Shrut’ and ‘Panchami’. Here ‘Shrut’ means ‘heard’ or ‘famous’ and ‘Panchami’ means ‘fifth’. As the name suggests, it is celebrated on the fifth date of Jyeshtha month.
Earlier the Jain knowledge was preached, heard, and passed on in oral or verbal form as per the Acharya tradition. Later on, the Jain knowledge was preserved and defended in the written form. The day, when it was being done, is honored and celebrated as Shrut Panchami.
Date of Shrut Panchami
When is Shrut Pancham Observed?
The day when the Jain scripture was written and worshipped the first time, it was Jyeshtha Shukla Panchami as per the Panchang. Here, Jyeshtha is one of the twelve Hindi months; Shukla Paksha is the bright period of the month when the moon grows towards becoming the fuller, completely round. Panchami or Pancham is the Sanskrit word for ‘fifth’ day.
The Man behind Shrut Pancham
Shrut Panchami History and Stories
Shrut: A Tradition of Passing on the Spiritual Knowledge Verbally
About 2000 years ago, Acharya Dharsen inspired two monks- Pushpdant Maharaj and Bhootbali Maharaj to write the scripture which was in the oral form among them. They both went in the caves of Girnar Mountain in Gujarat and completed the first scripture of the Jain religion ‘Kshatkhandagam’ on Jyeshtha Panchami. This historical event is celebrated every year on the same tithi (date of Hindu calendar) as Shrutpancham Parv (festival).
Jain religion is not based on the scriptures. The Tirthankara that is religious teachers used to preach and the Gandhar that is the disciples used to understand and learn that all, for enhancing their knowledge and later teaching others. Whatever they used to preach, the messages used to be in extremely simple and easy language, and for the welfare of the mass. This whole practice of transferring the scriptural information from one to another is called the tradition of Shrut.
Splendid Content of Knowledge by Tirthankar Mahavir
Shrut was preserved and kept alive by the Acharya(s) for about 500 years after the Lord Mahavir’s Moksha (Nirvana or Salvation). The content was so magnificent that whosoever used to hear it, he used to find it in his own language and it used to touch his heart.
Guru-Shishya Parampara: Oral Pass On of Knowledge
Teerthankar Bhagwan Mahavir transferred the knowledge with the same Guru-Shishya Parampara (Tradition of teacher and disciples) to his eleven Ganadhar or Shrutkevali(s) (Hearers or disciples or students).
Acharya Dharsen: The Last Fully Comprehended Person of Ang Parampara
The Shrut Parampara and transfer of knowledge kept going for about 614 years from Bhagwan Mahaveer to Maghnandi’s disciple Acharya Dharsen.
Maharaj Dharsen used to live in Chandragufa (Chandra caves) of Girinar Parvat (Girinar Mountain), which was situated in Kathiawar, Gujarat. He was a well-versed, proficient, and knowledgeable Acharya who was very sensitive, humble, and concerned about the Shrut.
The Pain of Acharya Dharsen and Efforts to Defend Jain Knowledge
He started concerning knowledge of Jain philosophy and principles as they were limited to his tongue. He thought that when he will be in Samadhi (An ultimate state in the meditation of oneness with the universe), the complete knowledge might remain limited to him only. He didn’t want the others or upcoming generations to live deprived of the knowledge which was preserved with Shrut from years ago after Bhagwan Mahavir.
He wrote a letter to Muni Sammelan (Monk Sammelan) of Mahima Nagari (city) towards the south way. His letter in order to preserve and defend the complete knowledge, which he had earned, overwhelmed the heart of Ahardbaliva-Tasalya. He ordered his community’s two sharp men to go to Girinar Mountains near Dharsen and write scripture. So both of them, very learned and intelligent monks, Muni Shri Pushpdandt and Muni Shri Bhootbali proceeded to reach Dharsen.
The Dream of Dharsenacharya
Dharsen Acharya saw a divine dream that two bright bullock-shaped beings came and humbly greeted him. Acharya Pragyashra Mantheve understood the indication of the dream that two bright monks are coming towards him from the Southside.
The Blissful Acharya’s Words became the Golden Slogan
Knowing and believing that the scripture writing work would be possible after that, Acharya got so overwhelmed that he said-“Jayadu Suya Devda”The above means- regards to Jinavni or Shrut. Such blessings became the traditionally followed words later on.
Test of Scripture Writing Monks by the Learned Acharya(s)
The next day, both of the monks reached there and greeted the Acharya(s) in honor of them. After two days, Shri Dharsenacharya took their test.
He gave both of them two mantras respectively, which were, “Adhikakshari” and “Heenakshari”, and told them for Mantra siddhi (Mantra Saadhana or practicing the verses or hymns).
When they did as expected, there appeared two goddesses in front of each of them. One was with Deergha-Dandta (long tooth) and another was with Ekakshichera.
As soon as they saw them, they understood that the test-taking Acharya(s) had erred in writing the verses (Mantra) intentionally and that is why the goddesses were not in their proper forms.
So they practiced those Mantra(s) again and the goddesses manifested them in their proper forms.
The Journey from Shrut Practice to Presenting the Complete Scriptures in Written Form
When both of the monks passed their tests, the Acharya(s) got confident that they are competent enough to write the scriptures. So they made them their Shishya(s) (disciples) and made them learn the basic concepts and foundation. The Shrut practice got finished on Ashadha Shukla Ekadashi (Eleventh tithi or date of Ashadha month’s bright side).
Acharya Bhootbali and Pushpdant presented the complete written scripture to Acharya Dharsena in the form of a great Jain Parmagam, called, “Shatkhandagam” on Jyeshtha Shukla Panchami. On this great event, many Devi(s) and devata(s) worshipped the Teerthankars’ (teachers’) Jain Parmagam Shatkhandagam that had the great verse ‘Namokar’.
The Shrut Parampara (tradition) turned into a well-written scriptural tradition since that day. So from the view of scriptural enhancement, this day is remembered, revered, and celebrated as Shrutpanchami. The day is also known as scripture day.
Today, in the Jain community and religion, the significance and importance of Maa Jinvani are the highest, which is considered as the way to overcome the worldly sea.
Acharya Pushpdant Called Acharya Bhootbali
It is believed that Digambar Jain Acharya Bhootbali and Acharya Pushpdant belonged to the first century.
Acharya Pushpdant created the Veesadi Sutra and when he realized that he had a short time left in this world, he sent his disciple Palit to Acharya Bhootbali to finish the scripture writing work. Then Acharya Bhootbali came and completed the creation of the principle scripture ‘Kshatkhandagam’ which is observed as the holy Jain Granth (scripture).
Shrut Pancham Events
This is the day when all the temples and storehouses of Jain scriptures are dusted and cleaned.
People from the Jain community also clean the scriptures kept in their homes.
All the scriptures are embellished with the new covers.
All the scriptures of temples, storehouses, and homes are worshipped with great devotions, realizing their importance and value.
People practice getting the Siddha (a spiritual level of meditation) and read scriptures for this.
The followers of the Jain religion put on the yellow dress and participate in the procession (Shobha-yatra) of the Holy Scriptures in mass. In many places, silver Paalki (palanquin, also spelled as palki) is used for the procession. People shower flowers on scriptures.
Jain people also worship Maa Jinvani.
Significance of Shrut Panchami
Jyeshtha Shukla Panchami was the day when the Jain religion’s scripture was completed in written form and was read the first time ever.
The written scripture ‘Kshatkhandagam’ incorporates many important facts, aspects, truths, and knowledgeable information related to the Jain religion. It includes Jain literature, history, principles, and rules to follow, which make the base or foundation of any religion.
As per the Jain monks, Shrut Panchami is a great Parv (fest, AKA Parva) of appreciating and rejoicing the knowledge with immense reverence and devotion.
The annual celebration and observances inspire the Jain community’s people for hearing the preaching of monks and spreading them around.