Mahavir Jayanti 2017: History & Significance of the Jain Festival, Teachings & Stories of Mahavir Swami

Aishwarya Krishnan
Mahavir Jayanti marks the birth of the last Tirthankara of Kalyuga, Mahavir and falls on April 9, 2017.

Mahavir Jayanti, one of the most important and auspicious religious festival for the Jains, falls on April 9, 2017. The festival marks the birth of the last Tirthankara of Kalyuga, Mahavir. Mahavir Jayanti 2017 or Mahavir Janma Kalyanak falls in the month of Chaitra according to the Hindu calendar. The festival is widely celebrated by Jains all over the world and teachings and stories of the great sage. The spiritual teachings of Mahavir hold a lot of significance and importance in the Jain religious history. The birth of Mahavir Swami, the last saviour and spiritual teacher of the righteous path in Jainism is commemorated with great enthusiasm and zeal by the people.

According to the religious history of Jains, a Tirthankara is the guide who shows the right way to live life. Mahavir was an advocate of non-violence and peace and his birthday is marked by various glorious celebrations. Jains are known to carry out a chariot procession and sing Bhajans and Shlokas, praising the great sage. The Jain temples in the country and around the world are visited by the devotees of Sant Mahavir. As we all come together and celebrate Mahavir Jayanti 2017, here is everything you need to know about the history of Mahavir Janma Kalyanak, the teachings and stories of Mahavir Swami and the significance of this day.

1. History of Mahavir Jayanti

Mahavir Jayanti commemorates the birth anniversary of the great philosopher, Mahavir. Mahavir Swami is said to hail from the Ikshvaku dynasty and was born to King Siddhartha of Kundagrama and Queen Trishala in the year 599 BCE. The great scholar is believed to be born in Vasokund on the thirteenth day of the bright cycle of the moon in Chaitra. Born in a democratic kingdom, Vajji, Mahavir was called as Vardhamana. A place called as Ahalya Bhumi has not been ploughed for centuries as it is considered to be the place where Mahavir was born. Mahavir is considered as one of the greatest sages of his time as he gave up his entire umpire at the young age of 30 to walk the path of the ascetic.

2. Significance of Mahavir Jayanti

Mahavir Jayanti is one of the most important festivals for Jains as is celebrated in the most religious manner. The day which marks the birth of Lord Mahavir is celebrated by reliving his teachings of humility, non-violence and simplicity. Mahavir is considered to be one of the most honourable saints in the planet and Jains all over the world remember him by taking part in peaceful processions. Lord Mahavir was one of the revolutionary philosophers who took to science to explain the true meaning of life as well as various causes of nature. This day is of immense importance as Mahavir was considered as a blessed child whose birth was preceded by his mother getting various auspicious dreams before his birth. Mahavir and his teachings play an important role in not just Jainism but are also followed by other communities as well.

3. Teachings of Mahavir Swami

Mahavir Swami is considered to be as one of the greatest saints of all time. The great philosopher who was born in a royal household taught his followers the importance and significance of salvage and non-violence. A propagator of Jainism, Mahavir followed the footsteps of his predecessor Teerthankara Parshvanatha. Mahavir was one of the few saints who chose to make specific explanations for his lessons on life and values. Lord Mahavir created the fivefold path of ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence), ‘Asteya’ (non-stealing), ‘Brahmacharya’ (virtue of celibacy), ‘Satya’ (truth) and ‘Aparigraha’ (non-possessiveness).

4. Stories of Lord Mahavir

There are various inspiring stories about Lord Mahavir that have been told over time. The most famous story about Mahavir is the tale of his birth. According to the Jain scholars, Mahavir’s birth is considered to be an important affair. Mahavir’s mother, Queen Trishala, had many auspicious dreams during her pregnancy which led people to believe that a great soul was to be born. Jain books also state that Indra, the god of heavenly beings, performed an abhisheka when baby Mahavir was born.

5.Mahavir Jayanti celebrations

Mahavir Jayanti celebrations are accustomed by a few rituals. Jains make it a point to visit the Jain temples in their vicinity and seek the blessings of the last Tirthankara of Jainism. The idol of Mahavir is bathed with milk, honey and water in an auspicious ritual called as the abhisheka. After this the idol of Lord Mahavir is worshiped, and a Puja is conducted by the priests. Community meals are prepared and distributed among the needy and prasad are offered to devotees. Mahavir Jayanti is also celebrated by organising various peaceful processions which have a beautiful chariot with the image or Lord Mahavir embedded. Here is wishing all of you a Happy Mahavir Jayanti!