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Home > Religious Festivals > Jain Festivals > Mahavir Jayanti
Mahavir Jayanti
Mahavir JayantiMahavir Jayanti, is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Mahavira, the 24th tirthankar (world teacher).

Mahavira, also known as Vardhamana. He was born to Siddhartha and Priyakarani or popularly Trishala Devi - who were deeply permeated with the philosophy of Jainism preached by Parswanatha, the 23rd Teerthankara. Siddhartha was the king of Kaundinyapura on the outskirts of Vaishali (near Patna in Bihar).

Mahavira demonstrated absolute fearlessness, which earned him the name `Mahavira`. He grew up as a prince, excelling in physical prowess as well as intellectual acumen. When Mahavira left his family at the age of 30, he also gave up all property, wealth, and pleasures. He undertook a life of intense penance for more than twelve years. He meditated, fasted, and went without water. After all this, Mahavira tore out his hair and wandered naked with a piece of cloth on his shoulder. He finally became self-illumined. But, not content with his own personal salvation, he chose to become a great human redeemer. He taught Jain Religion. Vardhamma Mahavira became the 24th Tirthankara or "ford-maker" of the Jain or Jaina Religion.

Mahavira`s simple and convincing method of appealing to the highest and noblest impulses won him a large following. Mahavira put forward a simple five-fold path for the householders: Ahimsa (Non-injury - physical or mental - to others), Satya (truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (temperance in sexual pleasures) and Aparigraha (non-acquisition of property).

The Jains have two sects- the Digambaras, sky-clad as they go about naked and Shwetambaras, who wear white clothes. There is a dispute between Digambaras and Shwetambaras about the exact date of Mahavira`s birth. But, the holiday declared by Government of India falls in March- April. Digambara tradition states 615B.C. as the birth year of Mahavira while Shwetambaras hold 599B.C. as the birth year. Digambaras believe Trisala, Mahavira`s mother, had 16 dreams while Shwetambaras assert , she had 14 dreams.

Mahavir Jayanti - ChandigadhMahavira was born of Siddharth and Trisala. But a legend says, he was actually conceived by Devananda, wife of a Brahmin named Rishabhadeva. But the gods, to prevent the birth of the baby in a niggardly Brahmin household, transferred the embryo to womb of the Kshatriya lady Trisala.

It is observed in quiet manner with prayers, visiting of sacred places and by worship of Tirthankars as befitting the memory of great ascetic of India. Jains will gather in temples to hear readings of the teachings of Mahavira. The event holds special significance in Gujarat and Rajasthan due to the ancient shrines at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat. Mahavir Jayanti is also celebrated at Parasnath Temple in Kolkata and at Pavapuri in Bihar.

Mahavira`s order for the monks and nuns were however very exacting. Abstinence from every kind of physical comfort and material possession and absolute dedication to the highest ethical and spiritual discipline was enforced. Even to this day, 2500 years after the passing away of that great master, this pure and upright tradition of the monks has been maintained. Thousands of white clad Sanyasins and Sanyasinis and also nude monks move on foot carrying Mahavira`s message of peace, non-injury and brotherhood among people. .
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