Shri Mahavir Jayanti
Mahavir Jayanti has a lot of religious significance for people belonging to the Jain religion. It is observed to celebrate the birthday of the great Lord Mahavira, who was born at Kshatriyakund near modern Patna in Bihar in 599 BC. According to the Gregorian calendar, the Mahavir Jayanti festival falls during the period between March and April. As a part of Mahavir Jayanthi celebrations, the Jain temples are beautifully adorned with flags. Mahavir was born to a pious couple, 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 came to be associated with many episodes of absolute fearlessness which earned him the name `Mahavira’.
Mahavir grew up as a prince, excelling in physical prowess as well as intellectual acumen. Mahavir renounced the pleasures and luxuries of the place, as also the power and prestige of kingship, and undertook a life of intense penance for more than twelve years. He calmly bore not only the rigors of nature but the torments from the ignorant and mischievous among his own countrymen also. He finally became self-illumined
Mahavir looked around and found the society corrupted by the distortions of the true concept of Dharma. Violence in the form of animal sacrifice had overshadowed the true spirit of yajna and yaga. Spiritual values had been supplanted by superstitions and lifeless rituals and dogmas. Propitiating various Gods and Goddesses was considered as a means of acquiring religious merit – Punya – to the exclusion of the true spiritual significance of these Vedic practices. Mahavira, with his penetrating insight born out of self-realization, struck mercilessly at these perversions. He simplified the religious procedures and concentrated on righteous conduct.
Mahavira’s emphasis on this `Unity of Life’ forms one of the highest saving principles of human life. The modern civilization, which seeks to exploit and destroy every other kind of living species in order to satiate the never ending cravings of man, is landing the entire human species itself in a deadly peril. As one deeply conversant with the needs, capacities and aptitudes of human being, Mahavira initiated a simple five-fold path for the householders: Ahimsa Non-injury – physical or mental – to others, Asteya non-stealing, Brahmacharya temperance in sexual pleasures and Aparigraha non-acquisition of property
Mahavira’s injunctions 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 were 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 from village to village and town to town, throughout the length and breadth of the country, carrying Mahavira’s gospel of peace, non-injury and brotherhood among people.
Mahavira left his mortal coils at the age of 71 on the Deepavali day. But the lamp of peace which he lit continues to glow through the myriad lights of that Festival of Lights. People come from different parts of the country and throng the ancient temples located at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat on the Jain festival of Mahavir Jayanti.