Mahaveer Jayanti marks the birthday of Mahaveer, founder of the modern Jain religion and the last in the galaxy of 24 Teerthankaras. He was born on the 13th day of the rising moon of Chaitra, in either 599 BC or 615 BC .
The term Jain has been derived from Jina, which means The Conqueror, of Self. Jainism rests on the three-fold path of right conduct, right faith and right knowledge. It does not believe in a single God who absolves the worshippers of their sins. It teaches the practitioners to take complete responsibility for their actions, thereby underlying the Karma theory. It teaches the followers to live a very austere life, in an attempt to clear their debt to mankind and also attain the highest form of salvation.
The devout followers of this religion do not even harm a fly. Some followers cover their mouths with a tiny cloth, in order to avoid the slightest possibility of killing of germs during breathing. It was this doctrine of non-violence (Ahimsa) that was adopted and popularized by Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom struggle.
To liberate one's self, Mahaveer taught the necessity of right faith (samyak-darshana), right knowledge (samyak-gyana), and right conduct (samyak-charitra'). At the heart of right conduct for Jains lie the five great vows:
- Nonviolence (Ahimsa) - to cause no harm to any living being;
- Truthfulness (Satya) - to speak the truth only;
- Non-stealing (Asteya) - to take nothing not properly given;
- Chastity (Brahmacharya) - to indulge in no sensual pleasure;
- Non-possession/Non-attachment (Aparigraha) - to detach completely from people, places, and material things.
"Jiyo aur Jeene do" or Live & Let Live were the Golden Words of Mahaveer. Let us hope they last through the centuries & help humans build a peaceful world.