Followers of Jainism all over the world recently observed the holy week of Paryushan, a time of study and fasting. Bakersfield's Jain community was fortunate to be blessed by the visit of Manakmuniji,  who gave lectures on the meaning of Paryushan as well as showing the followers a road map to moksha.

Gurudev ShriManek Muniji Maharaj, born in 1947 in India, is a scholar in Jainism studies and also has a profound understanding of the essence of Hinduism and Buddhism. He is also well versed in many regional Indian languages and ancient languages like Sanskrit and Prakrip.

Among what he imparted to us is that every human being is born with kashaii, the Hindi word for desires and passions, that are endless. Different passions are the root cause of our problems and a major hurdle that prevents us from attaining moksha, which is liberation from the cycle of birth and death. As long as we have passions, the cycle of birth and death will continue.

Different kinds of passions fall under two main categories: raag and dwesh (attachment and hatred). Raag also includes maya (deceit) and lobha (greed) while dwesh includes krodh (anger) and mana (ego).

Passions are the greatest internal enemies of the soul and we should protect ourselves from their influences. Passions distort the true nature of the soul and indulging in passions, gives the soul karmas that may be punishable in the present life cycle or be carried forward into the next life. Jain followers believe in reincarnation. Punishment is determined by the intensity of the karmas. To bear the consequences of previously acquired karmas is mandatory. Nobody, not even Mahavirswami, the Jain God, was not pardoned from the punishment of his past karmas.

Our goal, according to Manakmuniji, is to understand and practice the teachings of Jainism and not to create new karmas. Trying to overcome oneself from attachment, anger, deceit, ego and greed is the starting point on the road to moksha.

Gita Doshi is a member of the local Jain community.

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