Āyambil Pachkhān

The penance Āyambil has a particular dietary specification which is meant to restrain the sense of taste. It is a form of external penance (Bahiya tapa). The aim is to attain spiritual upliftment by achieving victory over the sense of taste (not food!) and shed karmas. Thus the body consumes food without involvement of the senses and mind. Eating food without taste results in Niddhat karmas (low intensity or loose karmas).

Comparison between Āyambil and Upvas (no food whatsoever):
* Upvas is no food, whilst Āyambil is no taste.
* Upvas is a method of suppression of mind while Āyambil is a challenge to conquer the mind.

The word Ayambil comes from the combination of Sanskrit words Ācāma (आचाम → water, scum or froth of boiled rice) + Amla (अम्ल → sour / acidic). Thus it is a fast to give up tangy froth/soup.

It is similar to Ekāsana (1 meal during the day), however, certain food items (vigai – food that cause perversity i.e. foods that alter the natural tendencies of the mind, body and soul and make them pervert). Vigāi comes from the Sanskrit word Vikritti (विकृति) which means foodstuff that has changed its nature owing to a process of cooking or fermentation and are not permissible such as: sugar, dairy products, oil, fried food, fruits, vegetables and many spices. Vigāis tend to arouse passions (anger, ego, deceit, greed) which lead to the influx of karmas. The māhā (great) vigāis are butter, honey, eggs, non-vegetarian food and alcohol which all Jains should not consume life-long.

The essence is to exercise control over taste. Food is meant to curb the pain of hunger. Often people eat food they like though it is not conducive for their good health.

Āyambil food is prepared without oil, butter / ghee, milk or sugar. Some use salt whilst preparing meals, but not as a condiment. Strict followers do not consume salt. Typical menu is boiled pulses, lentils and rice along with ragi / bajri rotis. See the references below for links to few websites providing ayambil menu.

Āyambil meal is generally consumed a certain duration after sunrise. Until such time all four types of food and liquids are not consumed notwithstanding the agār (exceptions). Then there is the vow of Āyambil along with its exceptions and then finally the vow to consume only water along with its exceptions until sunset. Boiled, cooled and sieved water is permitted anytime 48 minutes after sunsrise (or after porisi {~3 hours after sunrise}, saddh-porisi {~4.5 hours after sunrise}, purimaddha {~6 hours after sunrise}, addha {~9 hours after sunrise}) and before sunset.

It is reassuring to note that there under specific, extraordinary conditions which are stipulated, if one committed any transgressions, then the vow is not violated. Some of the exceptions are applicable only for the ascetics, but in order to preserve the sanctity of the prayer, they are kept and recited even by the householders.

One perspective of the significance of 48 minutes is that during this time period various micro organisms that appear during the night time disappear. Modern science also advocates intermittent fasting and extending the length between meals. It is ideal for detoxification and cleansing the digestive system.

Upon completion of the Āyambil tapa, the next day the following sutra can be recited to end the vow of Āyambil. Click here for the pachkhān completion sutra.

Condensed Pachkhan by Samani Punya Pragyaji

Uggae sure namukkāra-sahiam, porisim, saddhaporisim,
sure uggae purimaddha avaddha mutthi-sahiam pachakkhāi (pachkkhāmi)
uggae sure chauvvihampi, āhāram – asanam, pāṇam, khāimam, sāimam
anatthaṇā-bhogeṇam, sahasā-gāreṇam, pacchanna-kāleṇam,
disā-moheṇam, sāhu-vayaneṇam, mahattarā-gāreṇam,

āyambilam / nivvi vigaio pachakkhāi (pachkkhāmi)
anatthaṇā-bhogeṇam, sahasā-gāreṇam, levā-leveṇam,
gihattha-sansattheṇam, ukhitta-vivegeṇam, pāritthāvaiyā-gāreṇam,
mahattarā-gāreṇam, savva-samāhi-vattiyā-gāreṇam,

egāsaam pachakkhāi (pachkkhāmi),
tivihampi āhāram – asaṇam, khāimam, sāimam, anatthaṇā-bhogeṇam,
sahasā-gāreṇam, sāgariyā-gareṇam, āuntaa-pasāreṇam,
guru-abbhutthāṇeṇam, pāritthāvaiyā-gāreṇam, mahattarā-gāreṇam,
savva-samāhi-vattiyā-gāreṇam, pāṇassa levea vā, alevea vā
acchea vā, bahalea vā, sasitthea vā, asitthea vā, vosirai (vosirami)

You shall observe (I take) the vow to avoid from sunrise four types of food comprising eatables, liquids, refreshments (fruits / nuts) and mouth refreshers. To break the fast you should (I will) fold the fist, recite Namaskar Mahamantra and then consume any food / liquids after 1 porisi, 1.5 porisi, 2 porisi or 3 porisi EXCEPT through forgetfulness, sudden or extraordinary circumstances requiring intake of food, difficulty in judging the time, uncertainty about the directions to determine time, insistance by ascetics, sangh or Acharya or for the sake of maintaining peace, well-being and equanimity.

You shall oberve (I take) the vow of doing Ayambil food from all vigais (“stimulants”) EXCEPT out of forgetfulness, sudden or extraordinary circumstances requiring intake of food, impact of vigai, presence of laity (this except pertains ascetics who are not supposed to consume food in the presence of householders), nominal impact of vigai, for sake of disposal (generally ascetics are not supposed to move while eating or drinking; however if they need to dispose of something that cannot be eaten or drunk then this agar (relaxation) permits to make movement, to consume food / water upon insistance from sangh or Acharya or for the sake of maintaining overall peace and equanimity.

You shall observe (I take) the vow to observe the austerity of taking one meal and thereafter to avoid three types of intake comprising eatables, light refreshments including fruits/nuts & mouth refreshers EXCEPT out of forgetfulness, due to sudden / exceptional circumstances, on arrival of someone in whose presence it is not respectful to eat, if necessary to stretch or contract limbs, get up on arrival of preceptor or elders, for disposing, upon command of Sangh or Acharya, to maintain peace and equanimity during times of intense pain/suffering; provided that water to be taken is pure, subject to impact of sour materials (e.g. tamarind), supernatant buttermilk, rice water, supernatant rice water with or without particles of rice.

1. Prabodh Tika by Param Pujya Panyas BhadrankarVijayji Maharaj & Param Pujya Munishree Kalyanprabhavijayji Maharaj
2. Pratikramana Sutra With Explanation (Part 2) by Muni Nirvana Sagar
3. Pachchakkhans by Manubhai Doshi, USA.
4. Ayambil Aradhna
5. Samvatsari Pratikraman English by Ila Mehta
6. Internet
7. Ayambil Menu, Jain University Ayambil Menu
8. What is Ayambil and How to do

I apologise and seek pardon for any unintentional errors in translation of the verses. Click here for any feedback/comments