In some religions whether the person praying is going through their menstrual cycle or not is irrelevant. In other faith, the lady concerned isn’t permitted to pray, attend the place of worship and so on. I asked some knowledgeable people if they know why.

My question: –

Do you know or can you find out if and why women shouldn’t go to the derasar (Jain place of worship) when we’re going through our menstrual cycle?

Some say you can.
Others say you can’t
Others say you can’t go a week before, during or a week after!
Others say it’s from the days when women did the bulk of all the housework etc. so it was a way to let them rest.

Any ideas?

One of the responses I got was: –

ALL CRAP! Menstrual cycles and everything else are a bodily cycle and we go to the derasar to uplift our soul …The 2 are disconnected & IMHO there’s no harm in visiting the derasar any time for a lady.

The reason ladies were probably prevented from going to derasar before was because their emotions during these days were supposed to be ‘sensual’ and ‘full of desire’ and thus their vibrations could distract the munis!!! But for Bhagwan everyone is the same no matter what they’re going through.

However it’s best to check with each indivudial derasar and if they do not appreciate it then there’s no harm done obeying the rule. Just pray at home those days!

Another person said: –

There are various opinions about the way in which the situation is treated.

In the old days there was very little hygiene aid and so the person involved was treated like an UNTOUCHABLE. She had to sit in one corner for the few days, was not allowed to cook or touch anything or anybody.  Not even allowed to take a bath.  Your mum may remember this in the life of your granny.

This situation has been translated to mean that since the young lady had to do all the chores of the household whilst her mother-in-law enjoyed total freedom, this period was so treated to give her a time to rest.

The time period cannot be a week before as it is not always predictable.  From what I know, it was from the actual time to the day of return to absolute normality.  In the old days, she then had to wash her hair and take a bath which she missed for a few days!

From the religious point of view, Hindu and Jain, it is from the old days of missing hygiene and the risk of soiling clothes, floor, or floor covering, that there is no entry to the temple.

My personal view is that the period of menstruation is full of ‘life’ and hence there is a continuous situation of HIMSA going on.

ALL output from the body is considered to be an impurity (from any part of the body) and if this is out of control one cannot enter the Derasar:

For example, people who have been fitted with catheters or other artificial outlets for waste cannot go in the derasar as their external bag is full of impurity.

In case of menstruation period, the output is impurity as well as the cause of violence to infinite number of ‘living elements’ in that blood.

Hence it is not allowed for the women in this state to enter the derasar.

Do any of you guys who are reading have any opinions on this?

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1 Comment

Heena Modi · July 24, 2008 at 5:32 pm

Chirag says: –

What is up with a Jain female not being allowed to go into temple when it is that time of month?

The historically acknowledged “reasons” for menstruating women being prohibited from temples come from the Vaishnav faith in which it is important to observe “prayatatmanah” or physical purity; thus preventing bleeding persons (of either gender) from engaging in temple worship: specifically with regard to touching the deity. As a zealous method to uphold this requirement, Vaishnav women do not attend the temple during menstruation. Through association, Jains and Vaishnavs commonly assume the same rules apply; in fact they do not.

The “Atma” (soul) is the true form of a Jain, not the body; therefore in identifying ourselves with our bodies and aspects of this material realm we only bind karma. When we attend a temple, or “derasar”, we consciously seek to focus our minds on shedding karma through meditation and introspection because the temple is designed and maintained for that purpose. Why should an educated Jain woman embodying progressive thinking and seeking freedom from bodily attachment (particularly during her period!) be kept out of the gates of Palitana, in 15 different languages no less?

A woman in menstruation experiences changes in body and brain chemistry as well as energy. These changes disturb the meditation of others in proximity and therefore such an act is considered contrary to the concept of “ahimsa”, thus negating the benefit of being there. The implication is that if a menstruating woman does not cause harm to others in this way, she is free to worship wherever appropriate to do so.

What does this mean practically during a time where men and women are educated enough to question so called “traditional” beliefs and viewpoints? Jainism teaches us to be considerate toward others; in this light, the sign at Palitana is neither a barrier to entry nor an act of sexual discrimination: in fact it is a reminder to us all that the road to self-realisation becomes shorter if we consider and accommodate the other beings walking the same road alongside us.

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