Mahavir Jayanti

Jainism is one of the oldest religion in India which was founded by Lord Mahavir several thousand years ago. This religion follows the path of Ahimsa (abstinence from inflicting any kind of physical or mental injuries), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (Celibacy), and Aparigraha (Austerity). The birthday of this great teacher and messenger of peace is remembered as Mahavir Jayanti.

Bhagwan Mahavir was born to King Siddhartha and Trisala Devi in 559 or 615 BC in Vaishali, presently in Bihar. He was born on the 13th day of the Chairtra month. The Swetambara sect believed that the former period of his birth is the exact whereas the Digambara sect consider the latter date to be the most precise. The legend believes that the embryo of Mahavir was transferred by God into the womb of Trisala Devi from the womb of a Brahmin's wife. Her name was Devnanda and she was the wife of a Brahmin named Rishabhadeva.

Mahavir Jayanti Festival

When Mahavir was in her mother's womb, she had 14 different types of dreams. Here also, the Digambara sect believes that the number of dreams she had was 16. The royal astrologer draws a conclusion from those dreams that the child would either become an emperor or a great Teerthankar. In Jainism, Teerthankar is a word assigned to the one who receives enlightenment. Mahavir is the last, i.e. 24th among all the Teerthankars in Jainism.

Significance of Mahavir Jayanti

Mahavir Jayanti is important festivals for Jains in India. This day is worshipped to commemorate the birth anniversary of one of the finest preachers of peace, and humanity. Born in a royal family of Kaundinyapura, Mahavir was blessed with all the qualities that any particular kingdom would want her king to be. He was bestowed with all types of happiness and richness. His parents named him 'Vardhaman' which means one who brings prosperity. Though he had all the pleasures and comforts within his reach, he finally renounced these at a young age of 30 and became a monk. His only aim behind renouncing all the royal comforts was to find a solution that could help in eradicating miseries in human lives.

He subjected himself to lots of pain and suffering that include starving, walking great distances and meditating for several hours. During the time of penance, he carefully avoided harming or inflicting injuries to humans, animals, plants and every creation of the creator. He suffered unbearable hardships. Enduring all the difficulties faced in leading a life as an austere, he finally received enlightenment or self-realization.

He then travelled extensively throughout India and spread the message of eternal truth. His teachings include all the practical things one has to face in his/her life. According to him, if one cannot bear the pain or suffering inflicted by someone, he/she has no right do bring the same type of treatment to others. He claimed that in order to embark the right path, one has to be ready to give up all materialistic pleasures and replenish his/her heart with good deeds, thought and action.

Mahavir Jayanti Celebration

For showing the world the path of righteousness and self-realization, the birth date of Mahavir is celebrated as Mahavir Jayanti by the entire Jain community in India and the world over. On this auspicious day, devotees visit temples. Prior of this sacred day, people decorate temples with colourful flags as a reminder and a celebration of the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Mahavir. Devotees and the temple trustees carry a majestic procession by placing Idol of Mahavir in a nicely decorated chariot. Throughout the religious parade, devotees keep chanting prayers. The temple and shrines hold sermons on spiritual subjects. Priests read important topics to devotees from the episode of Mahavir's life. His aim of simplifying religion and overcoming personal greed, and cruelties towards nature and humankind are emphasized through lectures and meetings. Devotees learn that by adopting or following Mahavir's philosophy, it is easy to attend self realization. It is here they come to know that the human body is much than simply an integration of bones and flesh. The real will power lies in one's soul. To capture one's grief and win over materialistic pleasure, one has to make his/her soul pure and strong. Because it has the power, knowledge and the foresight to attain the perfect bliss. However, to achieve the highest state of bliss, one has to inculcate spiritual discipline and good ethics.

Bhagwan Mahavir has preached non-violence and salvation through meditation and total abstinence from outside pleasure and going through lots of penance. Reliving his message, devotees on this day donate clothes, money and food-grains to poor. Devotees offer a bath to the statue of Mahavir with milk and meditate for hours in the temples and offer prayers.

Mahavir Jayanti is an important day for the Jain community in the country. The government of India declares this day as a national holiday. Each year, the date keeps changing from March to April.