23 April 2013

50th Post - Happy Mahavira Jayanthi

This is my 50th post and am happy to post this on the auspicious occasion of Mahavir Jayanthi. 
Mahavira Jayanti, also known as Mahavira Janma Kalyanak, celebrates the birth of Mahavira, the last Thirthankara in JainismHe was born on the thirteenth day of the rising moon of Chaitra maasa(first month of Hindu Calender). Born a prince in 599 BC, Mahavira renounced worldly life at the age of 30 and undertook austere penance until he achieved realization.

Mahavira, also known as Vardhamana was born into royalty as the son of King Siddhartha(king of Kaundinyapura on the outskirts of Vaishali near Patna in Bihar) and Queen Trishala. During pregnancy, Trishala was believed to had a number of auspicious dreams, all signifying the coming of a great leader. 
An Image depicting the auspicious dreams
The astrologers interpreted these dreams claimed that the child would become either an emperor or a Thirthankar. It is said that when Trishala finally gave birth to Mahavira, the god-king Indra bathed the newborn himself with celestial milk, a ritual essentially marking him as a Thirthankar
Mahavira renounced worldly life at the age of 30 and undertook austere penance until he achieved realisation.  Even as a boy, Mahavira came to be associated with many episodes of absolute fearlessness which earned him the name `Mahavira'. He grew up as a prince, excelling in physical prowess and intellectual acumen. He renounced the pleasures and luxuries of the place, as also the power and prestige of kingship and undertook a life of intense penance for more than twelve years. He calmly bore not only the rigors of nature but the torments from the ignorant and mischievous among his own countrymen also. He finally became self-illumined. But not content with his own personal salvation, he chose to become a great human redeemer.

Local statues of Mahavira are given a ceremonial bath called the Abhisheka
Idols of lord Mahavir

Abhisheka with Sandal 
During the day, many Jains engage in some sort of charitable act in the name of Mahavira while others travel to temples to meditate and offer prayers. Lectures are typically held in temples to preach the path of virtue as defined by Jain doctrine. Donations are collected in order to promote charitable missions like saving cows from slaughter or helping to feed poor people. Ancient Jain temples across India typically see an extremely high volume of practitioners come to pay their respects and join in the celebrations.

A procession of a decorated chariot with Lord Mahavira

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