Mahavir Jayanti or Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, the birth of Lord Mahavira, is a religious holiday observed by those who follow the Jain faith. As per the Gregorian calendar, the day falls either in March or April.
Lord Mahavira was the son of Nayas and born to a royal couple in India in 599 B.C. He was the last and 24th tirthankara of Jainism. Though he was born in a royal family and had a comfortable life, he maintained a distance from all worldly possessions from an early age. By the age of thirty, Mahavira gave up his family and kingdom. He lived a tremendously strict life for 12 years as an ascetic. During this period, he even gave up his clothes along with all other worldly possessions. He spent most of this time meditating and achieving self control. He attained omniscience by the age of forty-two, thereby knowing everything about the past, present and future.
Philosophy of Lord Mahavira
Three metaphysical and five ethical principles are the foundation of Mahavira’s philosophy. Like the philosophies of other great saints in India, the objective of Mahavira’s philosophy was to raise the quality of life. Also, while attaining spiritual excellence one should maintain ethical behavior. Most of his teachings were based on those of his predecessors.
- Your good and bad deeds are attached to your soul.
- Materialistic possessions give temporary pleasure. These sorts of attachments result in anger, hatred and other such bad deeds. One must renounce all these for eventual happiness.
- Right faith (samyak-darshana), right knowledge (samyak-gyana), and right conduct (samyak-charitra’) is absolutely necessary for liberation.
- At a spiritual level there is no difference between men and women who search for moksha.
- Religion was made very simple by Mahavira and he believed in harmony of the soul.
- Positive attitude in life is very important.
- The living body is an abode of the soul.
- Mahavira said that there is no God as a creator, a destroyer and a protector of the universe.
- Adherence to these philosophies brings in peace and ultimate satisfaction. Mahavira’s teachings help in elevating the soul and help in achieving enlightenment.
A person following Jainism must take five promises:
- They will not cause any harm to any living being – Nonviolence (Ahimsa)
- They will speak harmless truth – Truthfulness (Satya)
- They won’t take anything which is not properly given – Non Stealing (Asteya)
- They won’t indulge in any kind of sensual pleasure – Chastity (Brahmacharya, added by Mahavira)
- They will have to detach themselves from people, materialistic things and places – Non-attachment (Aparigraha)
Lord Mahavira devoted his entire life in preaching spiritual freedom. At the age of seventy-two, Lord Mahavira attained Nirvana in 527 B.C which means he became free from the cycles of birth and death.