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Mahavir Jayanti

  • 26 Apr 2021
  • 4 min read

Why in News

The Prime Minister of India greeted the people on occasion of ‘Mahavir Jayanti’ (25th April 2021).

  • Mahavir Jayanti is one of the most auspicious festivals in the Jain community.

Key Points

  • About Mahavir Jayanti:
    • This day marks the birth of Vardhamana Mahavira, who was the 24th and the last Tirthankara and who succeeded the 23rd Tirthankara, Parshvanatha.
    • According to Jain texts, Lord Mahavira was born on the 13th day of the bright half of the moon in the month of Chaitra.
      • As per the Gregorian calendar, it is usually celebrated in the month of March or April.
    • Celebration: Usually, a procession is called with the idol of Lord Mahavira called the Rath Yatra. Reciting stavans or Jain prayers, statues of the lord are given a ceremonial bath called abhisheka.
  • About Lord Mahavira:
    • Mahavira was born to King Siddhartha of Kundagrama and Queen Trishala, a Lichchhavi princess in the year 540 BC in the Vajji kingdom, identical with modern day Vaishali in Bihar.
    • Mahavira belonged to the Ikshvaku dynasty.
    • Lord Mahavir was named Vardhamana, which means “one who grows”.
    • He abandoned worldly life at the age of 30 and attained ‘kaivalya’ or omniscience at the age of 42.
    • Mahavira taught ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (chastity) and aparigraha (non-attachment) to his disciples and his teachings were called Jain Agamas.
    • Ordinary people were able to understand the teachings of Mahavira and his followers because they used Prakrit.
    • It is believed that the Mahavira passed away and attained moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death) at the age of 72 in 468 BC at a place called Pavapuri near modern Rajgir in Bihar.

Jainism

  • The word Jaina comes from the term Jina, meaning conqueror.
  • Tirthankara is a Sanskrit word meaning 'Ford maker', i.e., one who is able to ford the river, to cross beyond the perpetual flow of earthly life.
  • Jainism attaches utmost importance to ahimsa or non-violence.
  • It preaches 5 mahavratas (the 5 great vows):
    • Ahimsa (Non-violence)
    • Satya (Truth)
    • Asteya or Acharya (Non-stealing)
    • Aparigraha (Non-attachment/Non-possession)
    • Brahmacharya (Celibacy/Chastity)
  • Among these 5 teachings, the Brahmacharya (Celibacy/Chastity) was added by Mahavira.
  • The three jewels or Triratna of Jainism include:
    • Samyak Darshana (right faith).
    • Samyak Gyana (right knowledge).
    • Samyak Charitra (right conduct).
  • Jainism is a religion of self-help.
    • There are no gods or spiritual beings that will help human beings.
    • It does not condemn the varna system.
  • In later times, it got divided into two sects:
    • Shvetambaras (white-clad) under Sthalabahu.
    • Digambaras (sky-clad) under the leadership of Bhadrabahu.
  • The important idea in Jainism is that the entire world is animated: even stones, rocks, and water have life.
  • Non-injury to living beings, especially to humans, animals, plants, and insects, is central to Jaina philosophy.
  • According to Jain teachings, the cycle of birth and rebirth is shaped through karma.
  • Asceticism and penance are required to free oneself from the cycle of karma and achieve the liberation of the soul.
  • The practice of Santhara is also a part of Jainism.
    • It is the ritual of fasting unto death. Swetambara Jains call it Santhara whereas Digambars call it Sallekhana.

Source: PIB

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