Jainism is one of the world's oldest religions and Mahavira was the the greatest religious teachers of all time.
Mahtma Gandhi said, "I say with conviction that the doctrine for
which the name of Lord Mahavira is glorified nowadays is the doctrine of Ahimsa. If anyone has practiced to the fullest
extent and has propagated most the doctrine of Ahimsa, it was Lord Mahavira." According to
Rabindranath Tagore "Mahavira
proclaimed in India that religion is a reality and not a mere social convention. It is really true that salvation can not be had by
merely observing external ceremonies. Religion cannot make any difference between man and man."
Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated by the Jain community commemorating the birth of Lord Mahavira
This year Mahavir Jayanti being observed on April 13, 2014. It is the most important festival for Jains.
Lord Mahavira is the 24th and the last Tirthankara, who preached the essence of life, virtue and non-violence towards all living beings. According to the
Swetambaras, he was born in 599 BC but Digambar school of Jainsim believe that Mahavira was born in 615 BC.
Mahavir Jayanti is a sacred festival for Jains and followers across the world celebrate it in a grand way by taking out processions that
might include chariot, horses, elephants, drummers and chanters. Silent prayers are also offered and his preaching is recapitulated
in the form of sermons to the followers on this day. Traditional Mahavir Jayanti recipes are also prepared in order to celebrate the festival.
Jains celebrate Mahavir Jayanti in a colourful way by decorating the Jain temples with flags and offering alms to the poor people. Donations are collected to save animals from slaughter.
In the early morning, Jains give a ceremonial bath to the statue of Lord Mahavira called ‘abhishek’. The statue is then placed in a beautifully decorated cradle and carried out in a procession.
The day ends at the shrine, temple or communal area where people meditate and pray.
Life of Lord Mahavira
Lord Mahavir, also referred to Vardhamana, was born in Kundalagrama, Bihar, as a son to king Siddartha and Queen Trishala. He
gave up all his possessions, even his clothes, and lived for the next twelve years a life of great hardship, training himself to
endure the pains and discomforts of the body until he became indifferent to them.
The wandering ascetic, seeking knowledge alone in the wilder places, or in company with fellow seekers for truth,
was an accepted figure on the edge of Indian society. Mahavira persevered with this austere lifestyle, marked by
long spells of fasting and other penances, and by deep meditation.
At last, during one period of meditation by the side of a river, he came to a comprehension of the whole nature and meaning of the universe.and the total knowledge, omni science, kevala
jnana. This total knowledge does not come easily: for Mahavira, as we have seen, it was the result of years of austerity and meditation.
This was the fourth of the five great events of Mahavira's life which are celebrated by Jains today: his conception, birth, renunciation, and now
enlightenment. The fifth great event, nirvana or moksa came thirty years later.
During these thirty years Mahavira, strengthened by his knowledge, spread his message among the people. He spoke in the
language of the region, Ardha Magadhi not in the classical Sanskrit of the scholars, and the oldest Jain scriptures are preserved in that language. Some people,
men and women, were inspired to give up all possessions and become monks and nuns. Others were unable to go that far but followed
Mahavira's teachings without giving up their homes and families and work .
Mahavir Jayanti being observed
on April 13, 2014
Teaching of Lord Mahavira
Mahavira taught a scientific explanation of the nature and meaning of life
and a guide as to how we should behave to draw this real nature and meaning into our own life. We must start with three things. First,
we must have RIGHT FAITH , we must believe in truth. Second, we must have the RIGHT KNOWLEDGE, we must study to
understand what life is all about. Third, we must follow RIGHT CONDUCT, the conduct which our faith and knowledge show us to be
correct. These are the 'three jewels', ratna- traya of. Jainism.
; There are the five rules of conduct which Mahavira taught, non-violence, truthfulness, no stealing, non-acquisition and control
of sexual desires. It is a hard program and not everybody can follow it all at once. So Mahavira set up a society in which some people,
monks and nuns, try to follow his program as far as is humanly possible. Others, ordinary lay people, men and women, do not give up
their homes and jobs and families, but they try as far as possible in the circumstances of daily life to follow the five rules of
conduct. While the monk or nun can take precautions to avoid harm even to the tiniest living
creature, the rule of non-violence must mean something less for ordinary people caught up in the ordinary business of our lives. A
monk or nun can give up all possessions and seek no more: for most of us non-acquisition must mean trying to reduce our craving for
possessions and the pleasures of the world. Monks and nuns can go very much further than married men and
women in subduing their attachment to sex.
Mahavira and Janism
;The essential metaphysical ideas of Jainism are nine cardinal principles. The universe is divided into that which is
alive and conscious (jiva) and matter which is not (ajiva). Jivas (souls) are either caught by karma (action) in the world of
reincarnation (samsara) or liberated (mukta) and perfected (siddha). Though their number is infinite, jivas are individuals and each
potentially infinite in awareness, power, and bliss. Matter (ajiva) is made up of eternal atoms in time and space which can be moved and stopped.
The other seven principles explain the workings of karma and the souls liberation from it. The soul (jiva) is attracted to sense- objects by the principle of ashrava which leads to the
bondage (bandha) of the soul by karma, which covers up and limits the souls natural abilities to know and perceive in its blissful
state, resulting in delusions and a succession of births. The next two principles are virtue (punya) and vice (papa) by which all karma
either works beneficially toward liberation or negatively toward bondage. The seventh principle samvara is how the soul prevents
ashrava (the influx of karma) by watchfulness and self-discipline of mind, speech, and body. This eventually leads to nirjara, the
elimination of karma. Finally moksha or liberation is attained. In ones last life at death, nirvana (literally "being
extinguished") describes the end of worldly existence for the soul, which then rises to the highest heaven.
In Janism there is no total God lifting up souls or punishing them in hell. Rather each individual jiva is responsible for itself
and completely determines its own destiny, although these jivas do have the divine attributes of infinite knowledge, power, and bliss.
This doctrine of individual responsibility makes Jainism a primarily ethical religion, as does the severity of their five vows of
nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, chastity, and non-possession.
Mahavira theory of knowledge (syadvada) is relativistic and tentative to allow for the relativity of this world. Anything may be
or not be or be indescribable or any combination of these to allow for various perspectives.