Aras of Avasarpini Kala (Descending Cycle of Time)
The 6 Aras of Avasarpini Kala (Descending Cycle of time) are:
1. Susama Susama - An era of Absolute Happiness
2. Susama - An era of Some Happiness
3. Susama Dusama - An era of Tremendous Joy mingled with Slight Sorrow
4. Dusama Susama - An era of Extreme Sorrow and Very Little Happiness
5. Dusama - An era of Sorrow
6. Dusama Dusama - An era of Absolute (complete) Sorrow
1st Ara - Susama Susama
This Ara is the best of all. During this period, earth was full of beautiful trees and plants. The air was filled with beautiful fragrances and happiness prevailed everywhere. The human beings were having excellent form and 32 marks of beauty. There were no diseases and dissatisfaction among them, nor were there any king and castes. People spent their days in play and enjoyment. For, when people had a wish, they went to the "Wish-fulfilling Trees" known as 'Kalpavriksha' and they got everything they wanted.
2nd Ara - Susama
The conditions in Susama Ara were the same as those in Susama-Susama, but there was a considerable decline in happiness and virtue. The wish-giving trees still continue to provide for the peoples needs, but the people are not as tall and do not live as long.
3rd Ara - Susama Dusama
In this Ara, the happiness declines further, but there were more happiness than misery. The Kalpavrikshas did not consistently provide what was desired. Towards the end of this Ara, 1st Tirthankara, Adinath was born in royalty and was committed to uplift mankind. He taught skills for survival, 64 arts to women and 72 arts to men. He renounced the world, gave charity, performed severe penance and austerities and finally attained Kevaljnana (Omniscience). He preached Jainism far and wide, inspiring others towards Omniscience and attained Nirvana. First Tirthankaras son Bharata became king in his young age, vigorously did 13 Attham Tapa (133 days of fasting), thus attained the status of Chakravarti. At the end of this Ara, first Tirthankara and first Chakravarti i.e. 2 Shalaka Purusas were born.
4th Ara - Dusama Susama
This is a phase of more misery, sorrow and suffering than happiness. The 4th Ara was the age of religion, where the renunciation, austerities and liberation was possible. The 63 Shalaka Purusas, or the illustrious persons who promote the Jain religion, regularly appear in this Ara. The other 23 Tirthankaras and 11 Chakravartis were born during this era. The 4th Ara came to an end 3 years and 8 months after Lord Mahaviras Nirvana.
5th Ara - Dusama (Present Time)
In this period, bliss of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara prevails for 21,000 years. It is an age of sorrow and misery and is characterized by many ups and downs. There will be chaos, fights, wrest and ego clashes. People will deteriorate in conduct. Big cities will appear like villages and villages will become like burial grounds. There will be deterioration in values, principles, disciplines; good people will become victims of taunts and indecent remarks and false idea of religion will spread. There will be gross injustice, natural disasters, man-made disasters, decline in influence of knowledge and corrupt will be worshiped. Sadhu-Sadhvis will have to be brave for tough obstacles in their lives. Devas will not give darshana daily. Despite these odds, Tirthankaras influence still persists, so the intensity of sins will be less. Hence, there will be no 7th hell for beings. At the end of this Ara, even the Jain religion will disappear, only to appear again with the advent of first Tirthankara in the next cycle.
6th Ara - Dusama Dusama
The 6th Ara will be the age of intense misery and sorrow, making it impossible to practice religion in any form. This Ara is characterized by severe weather conditions like extreme heat at daytime and severe cold at night. There will be unlimited desire for food. Internal conflicts will increase, women will not be respected, people will be poor, weak and starving diseased. Sins and hardships will increase and people born in this period will go to Hell and reborn as Tiryanca. It is said to avoid birth in this Ara, one should eat meals before sunset and strictly follow vegetarianism and principles of Jainism.
At the end of this Ara, a period of Utsarpini will start and the time wheel will take an upward swing. Miseries will gradually diminish and happiness will increase to absolute happiness.
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