Article: Āyambil Oḷī

Contributed by M. Whitney Kelting

Religious importance of the fast

Jains believe that the vows of fasting, together with the twice-daily confessions and the worship of the yantra, reduce the flow of karma into the performer’s soul and destroy her existing karma. They are also powerful forces that help protect the health of the performer’s family, especially her husband, through a transfer of merit or through magical agency.

Effects of Āyambil Oḷī

Equipment for performing temple rituals is arranged on a silver-sided chest. The small bell is used by the officiant – pujāri – during rituals or by devotees during their prayers. In front of it are a yellow and a blue prayer book, the blue one of a tiny

Equipment for religious rituals
Image by Ravin Mehta © Ravin Mehta

Traditionally, Jains believe that the āyambil fast and the worship of the siddhacakra, especially during the Āyambil Oḷī festival, promote marital happiness and the healing of skin diseases. The protection of general good health for all the family is another traditional benefit. These claims are drawn directly from the Śrīpāḷ and Mayṇāsundarī story.

Jains’ confidence in the effectiveness of the various āyambil fasts in worldly matters may arise from the siddhacakra worship as presented in the tale of Śrīpāḷ and Mayṇāsundarī and the other rituals associated with the fasts. It is vital to recall that the siddhacakra serves as both a powerful mantra and a yantra. In addition, Jains believe that both the siddhacakra and the Navkar-mantra it illustrates have magical powers. A Jain can harness these powers by reciting the mantra and worshipping the siddhacakra. The mantra is said to have the following powers:

  • to protect the chanter from harm
  • to counteract the negative effects of making contact with inauspiciousness
  • to stand in for all other ritual utterances.

Jains often bless themselves with the water used to bathe religious icons or symbols used in daily or special worship, which they believe can prevent and cure skin diseases. However, Jains do not think that the water has gained its sacred powers from the Jinas because honouring them in rites of worship does not include expecting favours to be granted. Instead, Jains consider that this water has got its powers from flowing over the magical siddhacakra.

Thus there are connections between the tantric powers of mantra and yantra, as expressed in a Jain context through the siddhacakra, and the worldly effectiveness of a fast. The magical power of the yantra allows the fast to work on a worldly level while the fast also works on the level of karma reduction at the same time.

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Related Manuscripts

Related Manuscript Images

  • Double homage and preaching

    Double homage and preaching

    British Library. Or. 13622. Vinaya-vijaya and Yaśo-vijaya. 17th to 18th centuries

  • Siddhacakra

    Siddhacakra

    British Library. Or. 13622. Vinaya-vijaya and Yaśo-vijaya. 17th to 18th centuries

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