- 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.
- 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.
- 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.