Jain Diwali

Jain Perspective on Diwali

Diwali is one of the most popular and colourful festivals in India. Better known as Deepavali or the festival of lights, Diwali is a nocturnal celebration embraced by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains across the country. It unifies every religion, every home, and every heart and India transcends into a land of myriad lamps.

We all know that Hindus celebrate Diwali as a festival as Lord Rama came back to his kingdom on this day and Sikhs celebrate this day as their 5th guru Guru Hargobind was released from prison on the day. But why do Jains celebrate this festival?

In Jainism, Diwali was first referred in Harivamsha Purana (Holy Book of Jains) written by Acharya Jinasena as dipalika (splendour of lamps). In his words, The gods illuminated Pavanagari by lamps to mark the occasion. Since that time, the people celebrate the famous festival of Diwali to worship the Jinendra (i.e. Lord Mahavira) on the occasion of his nirvana.

Also this is the day that marks The New Year day.The first day of the month of Kartik, i.e. the next day after Diwali is known as the New Year Day in Jains and thus every jain draw a swastik sign on their new book of accounts on diwali.

Chopda Diwali

Mythological significance of Diwali in Jainism:

In Jainism, Diwali was first referred in Harivamsha Purana (Holy Book of Jains) written by Acharya Jinasena as dipalika (splendour of lamps). In his words, The gods illuminated Pavanagari by lamps to mark the occasion. Since that time, the people celebrate the famous festival of Diwali to worship the Jinendra (i.e. Lord Mahavira) on the occasion of his nirvana.

Unique way of celebration:

Jains as a religion gives more stress on austerity and simplicity. Unlike other religious practises, who celebrate Diwali with lots of fire crackers, noise, songs and dances, Jainism follows a different form of celebration altogether. To jains, physical triumph and pomp are just worldly emotions of joy and gratification. So they practise penance during the period. The temples are decorated during this period and there is distribution of sweets among the devotees. Jains from India and all over the world visit Pavapuri, the home town of Mahavira.

Jain Diwali

Rituals in the celebration  

Diwali is the occasion to pay tribute to the ardent sacrifice of Mahavira. The Swetambara faction of Jains observes fasting during the three days of Diwali. The festival usually falls in the month of Kartik (October-November). The devotees sing and chant hymns in praise. They recite phrases from the Uttaradhyayan Sutra which contains the last preaching’s of Lord Mahavira.

Also there is one important ritual that we surely do every diwali and that is chanting the mantra

“Mahavir Swami Keval Gyani
Gautam Swami Chaar Gyaani”
till mid night on the day of diwali. And after midnight we chant
“Mahavir Swami pohonche nirvan
Gautam Swami Keval Gyan”

Also according to me Diwali is both a reminder and a chance to practice Lord Mahavir’s teachings. The lighting of the lamps denotes knowledge or the removal of ignorance.

We can all find ways to apply Lord Mahavir’s teachings of respect, generosity, peace and unity this Diwali. As you prepare for new beginnings, I wish you all a year of reflection and celebrating light through knowledge.

Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak!

Diwali

History

Divali is the first referred in Harivansa purana written by Acarya Jinasena as dipalika (splendour of lamps). In his words the gods illuminated Pavagiri by lamps to mark the occasion. Since that time, the people of India celebrate the famous festival of Dipalika to worship the Jinendra (i.e. Lord Mahavira) on the occasion of his Nirvana: As Acarya Sri Pujyapada svami mentioned in the Nirvana bhakti – Tirthanakra Mahavira had break the all karmic bondage and attainted Nirvana from Jala-mandira, Pavapuri nagara, Bihara Pranta.

Dipak is a symbol of light of attainment of enlightens & we’ve to abolition of darkness fascination to get complete knowledge.
On The fifteenth day of the dark half of the month of Kartik,527 BCE, Mahavir was observing a two days fast. He sat in the Samavasaran and gave his last discourse which became famous as Uttaradhyayan Sutra, Vipak Sutra, etc. Just before the hour of midnight he shed all his remaining Karmas and attained ‘Nirvana'(Moksha). For a few moments the whole world was enveloped in darkness. Gods dispelled the darkness with the help of gems and humans lit earthen lamps to have the last glimpse of their savior. In memory of that day people celebrate the festival of lights or Dipawali. Gods and human beings celebrated jointly the events of attainment of Nirvana by Mahavir and omniscience by Ganadhar Gautam. He could conquer his desires and was beyond humanity. Jain scriptures also mention that one of the ardent disciples of Mahavira, Gandhara Gautam Swami attained complete knowledge on this day. Diwali marks the beginning of the year for the Jain community.

mahavir Diwali Jain

Lord Mahavira, the last of the  Jain Tirthankaras, attained Nirvana or Moksha on this day at Pavapuri on Oct. 15, 527 BC, on Chaturdashi of Kartika, as Tilyapannatti of Yativrashaba from the sixth century states:

Mahavira is responsible for establishing the Dharma followed by Jains even today. According to tradition, the chief disciple of Mahavira, Ganadhara Gautam Swami also attained complete knowledge (Kevalgyana) on this day, thus making Diwali one of the most important Jain festivals.

In Uttara-puraana written by Acharya GunBhadra (7th or 8th century) it is mentioned that in the month of Kartika, krashna paksha, svati nakshatra and on the night of the 14th (dawn of the amavasya), lord Mahavira became a Siddha (attained nirvana).

कत्तिय-किण्हे चौदसिपच्चुसे सादिणामनक्खत्ते|
पवाए णयरिये एक्को विरेसरो सिद्धो ||

Mahavira attained his nirvana at the dawn of the amavasya (new moon). According to the Kalpasutra by Acharya Bhadrabahu, 3rd century BC, many gods were present there, illuminating the darkness. The following night was pitch black without the light of the gods or the moon. To symbolically keep the light of their master’s knowledge alive:

16 Gana-kings, 9 Malla and 9 Lichchhavi, of Kasi and Kosal, illuminated their doors. They said: “Since the light of knowledge is gone, we will make light of ordinary matter”

Dipavali was mentioned in Jain books as the date of the nirvana of Mahavira. In fact, the oldest reference to Diwali is a related word, dipalikaya, which occurs in Harivamsha-Purana, written by Acharya Jinasena and composed in the Shaka Samvat era in the year 705.

ततस्तु लोकः प्रतिवर्षमादरात्,
प्रसिद्धदीपालिकयात्र भारते|
समुधतः पूजयितुं जिनेश्वरम्,
जिनेन्द्र निर्वाण विभूतिभक्तिभाक् ||

Translation: The gods illuminated Pavanagari by lamps to mark the occasion. Since that time, the people of Bharat celebrate the famous festival of “Dipalika” to worship the Jinendra (i.e. Lord Mahavira) on the occasion of his nirvana.

Dipalikaya roughly translates as “light leaving the body”. Dipalika, which can be roughly translated as “splendiferous light of lamps”, is used interchangeably with the word “Diwali”.

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