Mahavir Jayanti

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Mahavir Janma Kalyanak
Mahavira's birth.jpg
Art depicting Mahavira's birth
Also called Translation: Birth Anniversary of Mahavira; Mahavir Janma Kalyanak
Observed by Jains
Type Religious, India (National holiday)
Significance Birth Anniversary of Mahavira
Celebrations Going to the Jain Temple
Observances Prayers, Religious rituals
Date Decided by the Jain calendar (Vira Nirvana Samvat)
2014 date 13 April, Sunday
2015 date 2 April, Thursday
Frequency annual

Mahavir Jayanti, also known as Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, is the most important religious holiday for Jains. It celebrates the birth of Mahavira, twenty fourth and the last Tirthankara of present time cycle. On the Gregorian calendar, the holiday occurs either in March or April.[1]

Birth[edit]

Most modern historians considered Vasokund as Mahavira's birthplace.[2] According to Jain texts, Mahavira was born on the thirteenth day of the bright half of the moon in the month of Chaitra in the year 599 BCE.[3] Mahavira was born in a democratic kingdom (Ganarajya), Vajji, where king was chosen by votes. Vaishali was it's capital.[4]

Name[edit]

As a child, Mahavira was called with the name 'Vardhamana', which means "One who grows", because of the increased prosperity in the kingdom at the time of his birth.[5]

Vasokund[edit]

Today, though jain families are not present at Vasokund. Mahavira is still much revered by the villagers . A place called Ahalya bhumi has not been ploughed, for hundreds of years by the family that owns it, as it is considered to be the birth place of Mahavira.[4]

Birth Legend[edit]

Sixteen auspicious dreams seen by the mother of all Tirthankaras

Mahavira was born into royalty as the son of King Siddartha of Kundgraam and Queen Trishala. During pregnancy, mother Trishala was believed to have had a number of auspicious dreams, all signifying the coming of a great soul. The exact number of dreams differs according to the school of Jainism; Svetambaras generally believe that the actual number is fourteen while Digambaras claim sixteen instead. Regardless, the astrologers that interpreted these dreams claimed that the child would become either a Chakravarti or a Tirthankara. It is said that when queen Trishala finally gave birth to Mahavira, the god-king Indra bathed the newborn himself with celestial milk, a ritual essentially marking him as a Tirthankara.

Celebrations[edit]

Antique Mahavira Sculpture, Thirakoil

The idol of Mahavira is carried out on a chariot, in a procession named 'Rath yatra'.[6] On the way bhajans (religious rhymes) are recited. [7] Local statues of Mahavira are given a ceremonial bath called the abhisheka. During the day, most members of the Jain community engage in some sort of charitable act. Many devotees visit temples dedicated to Mahavira to meditate and offer prayers. Lectures by monks and nuns are held in temples to preach the path of virtue as defined by Jainism. Donations are collected in order to promote charitable missions like saving cows from slaughter or helping to feed poor people. Ancient Jain temples across India typically see an extremely high volume of practitioners come to pay their respects and join in the celebrations.

Ahimsa run and rallies[edit]

Ahimsa runs [8] and rallies preaching the Mahavira's message of Ahiṃsā are taken out on this day.[9][10]

Greetings[edit]

On April 1, 2015, President of India extended his greeting on the occasion of Mahavir Jayanti.[11]

Many political leaders & government officials extend their greetings on this occasion.[12] [13]

See Also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]