Diwali is perhaps the most important of all Indian festivals. There are many stores which make Diwali a significant day.
For most, Diwali is the celebration of King Rama’s return to Ayodhya after his victory over Ravana. Others trace the origin of the festival to the Mahabharata, where Diwali is marked by the return of the five Pandavas from their exile in the forest. Diwali is also the last day of Hindu calendar.
Like Hindus, Diwali is also a very significant day for Jains. On the day of Diwali, 24th Jain Tirthankara Mahavira attained Moksha in Pavapuri, Jharkhand.
Moksha means extinguishment of all karmas and liberation o a soul from the cycles of life and death.
There is a myth that Mahavira was the founder of Jainism. However, the fact is Mahavira is the 24th Tirthankara of Jains. The 1st Tirthankara is Rishabhdev also known as Adinath. But even Adinath is not the founder of Jainism. Jain religion was in existence even before Adinath.
Adinath and Mahavira are the 1st and 24th Tirthankars respectively of the present set of Tirthankars. There were many such sets existed before them.
Who are Tirthankars?
Tirthankars are teaching Gods. They preach and propagate the religion. They are Arihants who have attained Kaiwal Gyan (Omniscient). When they die they attain Moksha.
According to the Jainism, every soul when attained Moksha is known as Siddha. They are called Siddha as they have extinguished all their Karmas and attained the highest achievement human beings are expected to achieve.
The Significance of Mahavira:
In the present time, Jainism was propagated by Mahavira. This is why Mahavira is also known as Sasandev.
Mahavira laid the greatest emphasis on the theory of Karma. According to him, the three absolute conditions for good life were the Right Faith, the Right Knowledge, and the Right Action. These principles of life were described as the Tri-Ratna.
Mahavira preached the sole purpose of human being is to know the difference between the self i.e. the Soul and the body.
He believed that the worship of God or gods, the use of Mantras or prayers, the sacrifices of animals or the performance of many rituals were unnecessary for knowing the soul.
Knowing the self as a Soul is an inner journey. External ritualistic conduct cannot help to know the truth i.e. Soul.
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Mahavira was a great reformer of his time.
Mahavira did not bring God into his religious faith. While the universe was eternal, he did not find a creator behind it. Nor did he find the role of a creator to control and regulate the universe.
Every Soul is independent. It can extinguish its own Karma by knowing the self as a soul. This way a Soul can attain Moksha.
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He believed the entire universe is operating according to the science of Karma. No one can interfere with these natural laws.
Mahavira did not give any importance to God. His religion kept no place for the priests to work between God and man. He faced an opposition to the Brahminical supremacy in the spheres of religion.
As the worship of Gods, the offering of prayers, the value of mantras, and the need of priestly class were denied, the Vedas and the Upanishads were also not given importance in the Jain thoughts.
Mahavira did not believe in the caste system. He believed in equality of all human beings. He denounced many blind superstitious prevailed in the name of religion. He believed in extreme Ahimsa (non Violence) and rejected the idea of animal sacrifice.
“I say with conviction that the doctrine for which the name of Lord Mahavira is glorified nowadays is the doctrine of Ahimsa. If anyone has practised to the fullest extent and has propagated most the doctrine of Ahimsa, it was Lord Mahavira. ” Mahatma Gandhi
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His contribution to metaphysics is immense. He introduced the idea of Anekantavada. Know more about Anekantavada.
“Jainism is of very high order. Its important teachings are based on science. The more the scientific knowledge advances the more those Jain teachings will be proven.” L. P. Tessitore, Italy
The following 3 minutes video explains in brief about the Jainism.
Mahavira was born in the 6th century BC in Bihar. He left home at the age of 30 for spiritual pursuit. He did meditation and penance for continues 12 years.
He attained Kaiwal Gyan at the age of 42. He then preached and propagated the Jainism for about 30 years. At the age of 72, he attained Moksha on the day of Diwali.
“Live and allow others to live; hurt no one; life is dear to all living beings.” Lord Mahavira
This is the doctrine of Mahavira. This is what Jains believe.
Mahavira was a great religious reformer. He extinguished all his Karma and attained Moksha on the day of Diwali.
This is how Diwali is significant to Jains.
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