The Jain philosophy considers Lord Vardhamana Mahavira as the twenty-fourth enlightened soul of their religion. In Jainism, a teaching God who is believed to know everything is popularly known as a Tiranthakara. Tiranthakara takes birth as a human and later attains liberation from life through intense meditation. He acts as a link for others to follow him and attain Moksha (freedom from the circle of birth and rebirth) the real goal of human life. He is also known as Mahavir Swami.
Lord Mahavira was born in 599 BC to the royal family in the kingdom of Bihar. As a young boy, he was famous by the name of Vardhamana Mahavira. Many people are disguised by the fact that Jainism was founded by Lord Mahavira, though that is not the case. Jainism as religion existed before Lord Mahavira. He reformed the nuances of the religion and propagated the teachings of his predecessor Lord Parshvanath.
Mahavir swami’s journey towards enlightenment
As a prince, Vardhamana Mahavira had everything a man wants to possess materialistically. A royal household, fame, worldly possessions at his disposal but nothing could satisfy his soul. After attaining the age of thirty, Lord Mahavira abandoned everything in search of the ultimate truth of life. He embarked upon a journey of spiritual awakening for the next twelve years of his life. He practised meditation to subjugate his desires and attachments from the physical world. He practised non-violence by not harming other living beings, birds, animals and plants. He survived without food for long durations of time. As the twelfth year was coming to an end, Lord Mahavira experienced the true bliss with crystal clear perceptions of life to liberation.
Lord Mahavir’s teachings
After Lord Mahavira had been blessed with the blissful knowledge, he spent the next thirty years of his life imparting the eternal truth to the people of India. He traveled to various places on barefoot. His simplicity attracted people from all strata of life. The sole objectives of his teachings were to make people aware of the freedom from the vicious cycle of the miseries of life. According to him, the life bestowed on every human being is the result of the karma performed by them. They determine the quality of your life. The liberation from the cycle of birth and death should be the ultimate objective of every human being. Mahavira preached that the moksha or liberation can be achieved by practising the right knowledge, right faith and right conduct.
The moral grandeur of Lord Mahavira’s teachings popularized Jainism as a religion. Free from the shackles of ritual complexities, Mahavira made the religion a lot simpler to follow and practice. The four prominent teachings Jains practice is Satya or truth, Ahimsa or non-violence, Celibacy or Brahmacharya and Achaurya or non-stealing. Lord Mahavira emphasised on universal love and equality of every human being.
Mahavir Jayanti 2017 (9th April 2017 (Sunday)
Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated across the country to commemorate the birth of Vardhamana Mahavira. Processions are carried out for the common public with the idol of Mahavira on a chariot. Devotees recite bhajans. Monks and nuns give lectures to preach the teachings of Jainism. The Government of India observes a nationwide holiday on Mahavir Jayanti. It will be 2615th Birth Anniversary of Mahavir Swami.