By Sakchi Srivastva
India is a land of many religions, majority of which have their origins on this land itself. Jainism is one such religion which was given shape by Mahavir Swami. He has been addressed with many names like Vardhaman, Vir, Mahavira, Ativira and Samvati.
Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavir by the Jain community. This day is also known as ‘Mahavir Janma Kalyanak.’ Followers around the globe show their happiness and respect for the monk by fasting and praying. The holiday is especially popular in the eastern state of Bihar, where Mahavira was born near the modern town of Patna. A large celebration is held at the Parasnatha temple, Calcutta.
According to the Jain mythology, Mahavir was born to King Siddharth and Queen Trishala in 540BC. Trishala was the sister of Chetak, King of Lichhavi. Just before Mahavir was born, his mother had sixteen dreams. All these dreams were very auspicious and signified coming of a great soul. Mahavir was born at four in the morning, which is considered very auspicious in Jainism and Hinduism. There was extreme purity on the land when he was born. Several gods and goddesses descended from the heavens to pay homage to the Tirthankara. They bathed him ceremonially . He was married to Yashoda. His daughter’s name was Priyadarshina who married Jamali who was also the first disciple of Mahavir.
But at the age of 30, he left home and till the age of 42 he had attained the Real Knowledge, Kaivalya meaning supreme knowledge at Jimbhika Gram on the banks of Rijupalika River under Sal tree in Bihar. His attainment of Kaivalya gave him the name, Kevlin. His other names include-
Arhat (supreme knowledge)
Veetrag (free from bandhan/ties of family)
Jin (victorious) victory over senses
He delivered his first sermon at Vipulchal mountain in Rajgariha. At Rajgariha he re-organised the Jain Sangha which was divided in 11 parts. “Sudharman” led the jain Sangha after Mahavir Swami. The oldest book of Jainism is Purva. Lectures are typically held in temples to preach the path of virtue as defined by Jainism. At the age of 72 he passed away at Pawapuri in the palace of king Hastipal in 467BC.
Worshiped by over 3.5 million people, he is considered a prophet of Jains. A few of his followers live a simple and nomadic life which includes surrendering all materialistic desires. Some even wear a face mask to prevent the chance of inadvertently killing an insect while breathing. They believe in truth, non violence and Brahmcharya.