Thursday, May 30, 2024

Mahavir Jayanti- Why is it a significant festival for Jains?

Ayushi Dassani

Mahavir Jayanti is one of the pivotal religious festivals of Jainism. This auspicious day brings extreme exhilaration to Jain devotees, as it is the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Mahavir. This fortunate day marks a turnaround in a world filled with violence and falsehood.

Jainism came into existence long before Buddha’s time. The supreme principle of Jainism is non-violence. Jainism traces its history through the succession of 24 tirthankaras. As per Jain theology, killing or harming any living being causes terrible karmic consequences.

Tirthankara Mahavir was the twenty-fourth Tirthankara of Jainism. He is remembered for his preaching of non-violence and truthfulness, among several other teachings.

Bhagwan Mahavir was born in Kshatriya Kundagram, an eastern Bihar city under the control of his father Siddharta, a Kshatriya king, about 2600 years ago. He was a prince of extraordinary fortitude. He was given the name Vardhamana because, after his mother Trisala conceived him, their prosperity increased day by day. After his childhood, he detached himself from all worldly pleasures and luxuries. He possessed a harmonious combination of both wisdom and energy in equal proportion. The royal family was plunged into sorrow when they heard the news of King Siddhartha and Trishla’s deaths. The spiritual heights he had attained made him averse to pleasure and pain. There then arose in him the great desire to renounce the world. He decided to live in order to liberate his soul from materialistic bondage. He decided to walk the path of renunciation, which means abstaining from sin and attachment to the world.

During his spiritual practice, he bore numerous hardships, but he tolerated everything with tranquility. He extirpated the karmas, and by doing meditation, he eventually attained omniscience. After attaining omniscience, he explained the principle of equalitarianism. He asked people to observe minor vows like renunciation of gross violence, untruth, and theft. Bhagwan Mahavir demonstrated his sharp indignation against the frivolous principle of caste-based discrimination. He tried to free mankind from the shackles of greed and nepotism.                                 `

Bhagwan Mahavir was a fervent adherent of ahimsa (non-violence). He proffered the path of emancipation, but it is free from all kinds of regimentation. Bhagawan Mahavir, through his preachings, shed light on disarmament, non-violence, celibacy, vegetarianism, renunciation of all wrong deeds, honest dealings, etc.

Bhagwan Mahavira breathed his last in B.C. 527 at Pawapuri in Bihar, where a shrine has been erected and is maintained even to this day.

Mahavir Jayanti, a glorious day bringing light over darkness, is celebrated by Jain devotees in the form of “Prabhat Feri”. Prayers are conducted in religious places, and the Jain monks and nuns give sermons about Bhagwan Mahavira and his extraordinary works on this day.

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