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Mahavir Jayanti today: know about Jainism

Today is Mahavir Jayanti- celebrated as birth anniversary of Mahavir Swami

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Mahavir Swami: Wikimedia Commons

By Pragya Jha

Mahavir Jayanti is one of the important festivals of Jain community which marks the birth of lord Mahavira and is celebrated every year on the 13th day of Chaitra month. He is regarded as the 24th (last) Tiranthakar(An enlightened soul born as a human being who attains perfection through meditation) of the Jain community. Jainism is a peaceful religion.

A brief on Jainism

Jainism is a religion that aims at the liberation of soul and emphasizes on non-violence toward all living beings. It was originally founded by Rishabha but became a major religion under Vardhman Mahavira who was 24th tirthankar of Jainism. The religion was further split into two sects within Jainism.

  • Swetambars- Swetambars are flexible in their approach, follow the teachings of 23rd tirthankara Parsavanath and clad themselves in white garments.
  • Digambars- Digambars are the folllowers of 24th Thirthankar Mahavira. They believe in rigid penance which can be achieved by punishment to self and body. They stress on the nudity and do not allow the use of cloth to cover the body.
  • Bhagwan Mahavir Swami Temple in Mirpur. Wikimedia Commons
    Source: Wikimedia Commons

Basic teachings of Jainism

  • The entire world is animated-even stone, rocks and water have life.
  • They believe in non-injury to living beings, especially to humans, animals, plants and insects.
  • The cycle of birth and rebirth is shaped through karma.
  • Asceticism and penance are required to free oneself from Karma.
  • Jain monks and nuns take five vows: to abstain from killing, stealing and lying; observe celibacy; and to abstain from possessing property.

Vardhman Mahavira

Vardhman Mahavira was a Kshatriya belonging to the royal family of Magadha. He was born in 599 BC in Bihar,India. Lord Mahavira was the son of King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala. His childhood name was Vardhman. It is believed that when Lord Mahavira was in the womb of her mother she had fourteen dreams of his future son becoming a Tirthankar. Even an astrologer predicted that the prince would either become an emperor or a tirthankar. At the age of 30 years, he gave up all the luxuries and comforts. For 12 long years, he had been under penance. He became 24th tirthankar to receive enlightenment. He attained enlightenment at the age of 42. At the age of 72, he left the world and attained Moksha.

Celebration of Mahavir Jayanti

Mahavir Jayanti is a religious festival celebrated among jains. On this auspicious day, various sects of the community come together and the birth of their 24th Thirthankar.

  • Followers of this community visit the temples and offer ceremonial bath on Lord Mahavir’s idol called as “abhishek”.
  • The temples are decorated with flags to mark the birthday of lord Mahavira.
  • Chariot processions are held with the images and thousands of followers chanting the prayers.
  • Traditional dishes are made and offered to the poor.

Pragya Jha is a student of Journalism in New Delhi. Twitter: @pragya1527

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Jain Humanitarian Organization ‘Veerayatan’ in USA takes Unique Projects to Spread Message of Peace

Jain humanitarian organization- Veerayatan spreads the message in U.S. about Palitana Project and Nepal Project

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Feet prayer by Jains
A Jain Humanitarian Organization in US takes Unique Projects to Spread Message of Peace. Wikimedia
  • The organization, Veerayatan is made up of two words, ‘Veer’ for Lord Mahavir and ‘aayatan’ which means holy place
  • Palitana will be a university with a four-year program of studies, will include a study of Jainism and also science education, a modern curriculum with a spiritual base

New Jersey (U.S.A), July 28, 2017: There is an Indian humanitarian organization by the name Veerayatan, it draws inspiration from the Jain faith and is implementing some unique projects like a university for women aspiring into monkhood, with four years of study and a concerted effort to help Nepal to build a better life for its citizens.

The organization, Veerayatan is made up of two words, ‘Veer’ for Lord Mahavir and ‘aayatan’ which means a holy place. According to its website, it was founded in 1973, by Acharya Shri Chandana ji, and was inspired by the teachings of Tirthankar Mahavir and Rashtrasant Amar Muniji Maharaj. It describes itself as “a non-profit, non-governmental, socio-religious organization,” on its Facebook page.

5,000 Jains in Hyderabad gather to Chant ‘Navkar Manthra’

According to a TOI  report, Acharya Shri Chandanaji said, “the projects had been well received by the approximately 5,000 attendees,” at the JAINA Convention held in Edison, New Jersey, United States, from June 30 to July 4. Veerayatan was recognized as the Best Institution of the Year, by JAINA. It may be noted that Chandana was the first ever female Jain sadhvi  to have received the title of Acharya.

Acharya Shri Chandana Ji’s message at the Convention was that actions should replace talk about compassion and non-violence. “For thousands of years we have spoken on non-violence and compassion, but what is necessary is that- where we live and are surrounded by people who need food, whose eyes are filled with tears.  We should do something about that,” she said.

She added that one does not have to search for God. God will come to those who will do these acts. “Our organization is just a drop in the ocean in what should be a worldwide effort,” she said, noting, “JAINA Convention very patiently listened and our message was well received.”

On the ‘Nepal Project,’ Acharya Chandanaji said that They had been working in that country for the last 2 years and wants people from surrounding countries in the South Asian Subcontinent, the U.S., and around the world, to step forward and the Nepalese will achieve a better life and good governance. She found the people of Nepal, hardworking and gentle, who need and deserve help from people skilled in various areas of endeavor, and shared this message at the JAINA Convention.

“Our vision is that surrounding nations (and others) can help Nepal in the effort for development – both spiritually and to establish a good government,” Acharya Chandanaji said.

A Sadhvi being carried in Jain culture
A Sadhvi being carried in Jain culture. Wikimedia

The organization’s ‘Palitana Project ‘ named after the place where Veerayatan was first formed, seeks to create a center for Jain studies for sadhvis and those wanting to become one. This Project is led by Jainesh Mehta, a Texas-based longstanding IT software professional in the oil industry, and philanthropist whose Mehta Family Foundation is known for its charitable efforts. Mehta said that the vision is for Palitana to be a university with a four-year program of studies, will include a study of Jainism and also science education, a modern curriculum with a spiritual base. It is a place where education and worship go together. The campus would also offer- one day, one week, one month or other duration of courses to those needing them, he added.

Peace and Non-Violence: Inculcation of Jain Philosophies in the Youth for a Better Tomorrow

Last year alone, around 1,000 girls and women took Deeksha in Palitana, a vow by which worldly life is given up for an ascetic life. For this transformation, they have to give up their households to live in poverty but they don’t get an opportunity to have an education. “This project helps them live their life but also get this education. It is a one-of-a-kind campus being built,” to help fill the gap, Mehta indicated.

According to its website, Veerayatan stands on the three pillars-  Seva (service to humanity), Shiksha (education for all), and Sadhana (self-development) to inspire and empower lives.

Its various activities include Seva Mandirs, which include medical camps, eye surgeries, and post-surgery care for the most underserved populace; schools, colleges, hostels, and vocational training; rehabilitation and emergency relief programs in the wake of natural calamities; Brahmi Kala Mandir, an art gallery comprising inventive media to better understand life, culture, and religion; guest houses and libraries; and prayer halls, spiritual retreats, and inspirational programs for all age groups.

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


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Haryana government to observe Mahavir Jayanti on April 9 every year as no-meat and no-liquor Day

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Mahavira, Pixabay

Chandigarh, April 5, 2017: The Haryana government will observe Mahavir Jayanti on April 9 every year as a no-meat and no-liquor day.

“The Haryana government has decided to celebrate Mahavir Jayanti as ‘Ahimsha Divas’ every year on April 9 when slaughterhouses will remain closed in the state, and there would be a complete ban on the sale of meat, eggs, fish and liquor,” Haryana Urban Local Bodies Minister Kavita Jain said on Wednesday.

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“Keeping in view the decision taken by the state government, all deputy commissioners, commissioners of municipal corporations and executive officers and secretaries of municipal councils and committees have been directed to ensure compliance of these instructions in areas under their jurisdiction,” the minister said.

Haryana has a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government since October 2014.

The BJP government had in 2015 imposed a ban on sale of beef in the state. (IANS)

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K. J. Somaiya Centre for Studies in Jainism announces admissions for its courses in Jainology

K. J. Somaiya Centre for Studies in Jainism introduces a course to study India’s sixth largest religion, Jainism

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Jain Mahavir Temple. Image source: www.pagalparrot.com
  • K.J Somaiya Centre for Studies in Jainism has announced opening of admissions to its Mumbai University accredited courses in Jainology
  • Jainism teaches one to believe in non-violence and hence achieve liberation of the soul
  • The courses will be conducted in English, Hindi, and Gujarati

K.J Somaiya part of the esteemed Somaiya Vidyavihar clan is now all set to introduce its Jainism program to students all over India. Jainism is the study of life that believes in harmlessness and renunciation. It teaches one to believe in non-violence and hence achieve the liberation of the soul. Many people confuse Jainism with Buddhism. Though both the ancient religions were originated in India and both of them emphasize on non-violence but unlike Buddhism, Jainism puts non-violence, as it’s very core value.

With about 4,200,000 Jains in India as per the 2001 census, the Jainism program will be popular amongst a large number of the Indian population. The introduction of a course to study India’s sixth largest religion will not only aid the Jain population but also help people understand Jainism in a grander light. The courses being offered are:

  1. Certificate course in Jainology (one year part-time)
  2. Diploma course in Jainology (one year part-time)
  3. Prakrit language courses (one year part-time)
  4. A by research (two years)
  5. H.D philosophy (minimum two years)
  6. Short-term courses (three months part time)

Keeping in mind the varied population of India, coming from different backgrounds and speaking different languages, K.J Somaiya conducts the above courses in English, Hindi, and Gujarati. The courses are made available for the 9-5 working strata of the society too as flexibility in timing is available.

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About Somaiya VidyaVihar:

K.J.SOMAIYA CENTRE FOR BUDDHIST STUDIES Logo Image source: www.somaiya.edu
K.J.Somaiya Centre for Buddhist Studies Logo. Image source: www.somaiya.edu

Somaiya VidyaVihar encompasses 34 institutions, with more than 35,000 students and 1,400 faculties. Its main campus is in Mumbai, but Somaiya Vidyavihar also operates six schools in rural India. It was founded by the Shri Karamshi Jethabhai Somaiya in 1959, to provide quality holistic education.

Somaiya Vidyavihar has always been a place with a purpose – making a positive difference in the quality of life of its students and the community. It is known as much for its science, technology, engineering, management, social sciences and commerce programs, as for its programs for academic studies in various faiths and cultures of India.

You can check out their website at www.somaiya.edu

Jainism in Mumbai:

Jain Temples, Jain trusts and big industries owned by Jains, proves that Jainism is thriving in Mumbai. Adding to that, there are prosperous Jain communities living in many areas in Mumbai. Godiji Parshwanath Temple, one of the oldest temples in Mumbai constructed in 1812 symbolizes the growth of this religion in the metropolitan city. Another example is Dakshin Bharat Jain Sabha, a religious and social service organisation which is headquartered in Maharashtra, India.

-by Karishma Vanjani, an intern with NewsGram. Twitter @BladesnBoots

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