Why Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated? Mahavir Jayanti 2018 – Mahavir Janma Kalyanak – Birth of “Vardhamana Mahavira” – 24th and last Tirthankara of Jainism.
Mahavira is probably the most popular Jain Tirthankara around the world. In Jainism, Tirthankara is an individual who has conquered the samsara, the cycle of birth and death.
Bhagavan Mahavira gave the world, the five great vows of Jainism, namely
- Ahimsa or Ahinsa (Non-Violence)
- Satya (Truth)
- Asteya or Achaurya (Not stealing)
- Brahmacharya (Celibacy)
- Aparigraha (Non-possessiveness)
He is not the founder of Jainism but a reformer. He is the one who gave the principle of Anekantavada (many-sided reality).
MUST READ: Five Great Vows (Maha-vratas) of Jainism
Why Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated?
The day he was born is celebrated as Mahavir Jayanti or Mahavir Janma Kalyanak.
In 2018, Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated on Thursday, 29 March
Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated on the 13th day of bright half of Chaitra month of Jain calendar. According to Gregorian Calendar, it usually occurs in the month of March/April.
Birth of Mahavir:
The birth name of Mahavira is “Vardhamana” which literally means “the one who grows” as during his birth the kingdom became more prosperous.
He was born to King Siddhartha of Kundagrama and Queen Trishala.
He was born in Ikshvaku dynasty.
- Rama, seventh avatar of the Lord Vishnu also belongs to Ikshvaku dynasty.
- 22 out of 24 Tirthankaras of Jainism belong to this dynasty.
- Gautama Buddha, as per Buddhist texts also belongs to this legendary dynasty.
Differences among Svetambara and Digambara on the birth of Lord Mahavira:
Now Svetambara and Digambara, the major sects of Jainism have a different set of beliefs over the birth of Mahavira.
Birth of Mahavira according to:
- Digambara Jains – 582 BC
- Svetambara Jains – 599 BC
Svetambara Jains believe that Mahavira’s embryo was first formed in Brahmin lady, Devanand. But the change of embryo happens because of God Indra’s army commander, Hari-Naigamesin (also known as Kartikeya) on the 83rd day after conception.
The embryo is transferred to a Kshatriya lady, Trishala. She is the wife of King Siddhartha.
Digambara Jains do not accept this story.
It is believed that mother Trishala saw 14 (or 16) auspicious dreams before the birth of Lord Mahavira.
Svetambara Jains believe that Mahavira’s mother has 14 auspicious dreams before his birth. However, Digambara Jains believe that she has 16 dreams instead of 14.
All Auspicious Dreams in Jainism are:
- Airavata – Elephant
- Vrishabha – Bull
- Sinha – Lion
- Laxmi – Shri or Laxmi
- Phulmala – Pair of garlands
- Purnima Chandra – Full moon
- Surya – Sun
- Dhvaja – Flag (not considered by Digambaras)
- Meenyugma – Pair of fishes (not considered by Svetambaras)
- Purna Kalasha – Full jug
- Padma Sarovar – Lotus pond / celestial lake
- Ratnakar – Ocean
- Sinhasana – Throne (not considered by Svetambaras)
- Dev Vimana – Celestial palace
- Palace (not considered by Svetambaras)
- Ratnadhag – Heap of jewels
- Nirdhumra Agni – Smokeless fire
Mahavir Jayanti also known as Mahavir Janma Kalyanak:
It is also believed that after the birth of Mahavir, Indra (king of devas) performed abhisheka on Mahavira on Mount Meru.
It is one of the Panch Kalyanaka (or five auspicious events) that occur in the life of a Tirthankara.
Panch Kalyanaka (or five auspicious events) are:
- Cyavana Kalyanaka (Conception)
- Janma Kalyanaka (Birth)
- Diksha Kalyanaka (Initiation)
- Kevalajnana Kalyanaka (Attainment of omniscience)
- Nirvana Kalyanaka (Attaining liberation)
That’s why Mahavir Jayanti is also known as Mahavir Janma Kalyanak (2nd of the five auspicious events) because it is the day when Mahavira was born.