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Mahavira was born on the thirteenth day under the rising moon of Chaitra, in the ancient republic of Vaishali, now a district of Bihar state, India. According to the Gregorian calendar, Mahavira was born in April. His birthday is celebrated as Mahavir Jayanti. He died at Pawapuri. He was known as "Vardhamana" (increasing) because it is said that his family's wealth grew after his conception.

Being the son of King Siddartha and Queen Trisala, he lived the life of a prince; but at the age of thirty, he left his family, gave up his worldly possessions (over the course of a year), and spent twelve years as an ascetic. At one point, it is said that Mahavira had more than 400,000 followers. He died in 527 B.C. at the age of 72. Jains signify Dipavali, the last day of the Hindu and Jain calendars, as the anniversery of his death and, accordingly, the day he attained Moksha.

After he renounced his princehood, he spent the next twelve and half years in deep silence and meditation and took on the discipline of conquering his desires, feelings, and attachments. He carefully avoided harming or annoying other living beings including animals, birds, and plants. He also went without food for long periods. His enduring calm and peaceful character against all unbearable hardships presence the influence of his title, Mahavir (a Sanskrit word, meaning very brave and courageous), given to him by his peers. During this period, Jains believe his that he attained keval-jnana, or perfect enlightenment, in which spiritual powers fully become developed and perfect perception, knowledge, power, and bliss are realized.

Mahavira spent the next thirty years travelling around India preaching to the people the eternal truth he realized. The ultimate objective of his teaching is how one can attain total freedom from the cycle of birth, life, pain, misery, and death, and achieve the permanent blissful state of one's self, or Moksha, Sanskrit for "liberation".

Bhagavan Bhaubali or Gommatesvra colcosol monolithic nude staues at Sravana Belgola is among the wonders of the world. It is undoubtedly the most remarkable of the Jain statues and largest free standing statues in Asia. At Sravana Belgola it stands about 56 feet in height, with a width of 13 feet across the hips, and is cut out of a solid block of gneiss.

Bhagavan Bahubali was the younger son of the first Tirthankar, Rishabhdev. He was the king of Podanpur. His elder brother Bharat tried to attack Bahubali's kingdom. Their ministers negotiated and agreed that instead of war, there would be three contests between the brothers. In all three contests (Drisht Yudha, Jal Yudha, and Wrestling) Bahubaliji defeated his elder brother.

Baghwan Bahubali had been very much hurt by the behavior of his elder brother. He decided to surrender his kingdom to Bharat and left for the path of meditation. He did not want to bow before his other brothers who had already accepted ascetic life. This ego of Bahubaliji deterred him from visiting his father's court. Hence he went on meditating but could not attain the Keval Jnana, the supreme knowledge.

Baghwan Bahubali was so much involved in his Samadhi, that his body got covered by vines, ants, and dust. Finally he was woken up from his ego when his sisters called him to release the false pride he was suffering from. Baghwan Bahubali got enlightened and decided to see his father. His sisters Brahmi and Sundari, Bahubali was now a changed person with more knowledge and better understanding. He was welcomed in his father's court. The world got the benefit of his wisdom.

Baghwan Bahubali is a symbol of learning. For thousands of years it has shown to the world the way of knowledge and austerity.

The Jain religion is one of the oldest religions in the world. The Jain religion was also known as Shraman Dharma, Nirgranth Dharma, etc. It is not an offshoot of any other religion but is an independent religion recognized by these various names during different time periods. It was has been taught by Tirthankaras also called Jina. A follower of a Jina is called a Jain and the religion followed by Jains is called Jainism. Each Tirthankara revitalizes the Jain order. The Jain Order is known as the Jain Sangh. The current Jain Sangh was reestablished by Lord Mah?ira, who was the 24th and last Tirthankar of the current time period. The Jain Sangh is composed of the following four groups.

1) S?hus (Monks)

2) S?hvis (Nuns)

3) Shr?aks (Male Householders)

4) Shr?ik? (Female Householders)

Lord Mahavira's teachings were carried on by his ganadharas to us in the form of scriptures (Agams). They were compiled into twelve separate parts, known as the dwadashangi (twelve parts). These twelve compositions were acceptable to all followers. However, the dwadashangi were not put in writing for a long time. The Jain pupils learned them by memorizing them. About 150 years after the nirvana of Lord Mahavira, there was a drought for 12 years. During this time, some monks along with Bhadrabahuswami migrated to South. After the drought was over, some monks came back to North. They observed that there was some inconsistency in oral recollection of the Jain scriptures by different monks. That made them to compile scriptures. To accomplish that, the first council (conference) of monks was held in Patliputra about 160 years after Lord Mahavira’s nirvana. Monk Bhadrabahu, who had the knowledge of all 12 Angas, could not be present at that meeting. The rest of the monks could compile only the first eleven Angas by recollection and thus, the twelfth Anga was lost. The monks from the South did not agree with this compilation, and the first split in Jainism started. Jains divided into two main groups, Svet?baras and Digambaras. Svet?bara monks wore white clothes. Digambara monks did not wore any clothes at all.

The Digambara sect, in recent centuries, has been divided into the following sub-sects:

Major sub-sects:

1) Bisapantha

2) Terapantha

3) Taranapantha or Samaiyapantha

Minor sub-sects:

1) Gumanapantha

2) Totapantha

Bisapantha

The followers of Bisapantha support the Dharma-gurus, that is, religious authorities known as Bhattarakas who are also the heads of Jaina Mathas, that is. religious monasteries. The Bisapanthas, in their temples, worship the idols of Tirthankaras and also the idols of Ksetrapala, Padmavati and other deities. They worship these idols with saffron, flowers, fruits, sweets, scented 'agara-battis', i.e., incense sticks, etc. While performing these worships. the Bisapanthis sit on the ground and do not stand. They perform Arati, i.e., waving of lights over the idol, in the temple even at night and distribute prasada, i.e., sweet things offered to the idols. The Bisapantha, according to some, is the original form of the Digambara sect and today practically all Digambara Jainas from Maharashtra, Karnataka and South India and a large number of Digambara Jainas from Rajasthan and Gujarat are the followers of Bisapantha.

Terapantha

Terapantha arose in North India in the year 1683 of the Vikram Era as a revolt against the domination and conduct of the Bhattarakas. i.e. religious authorities, of the Digambara Jainas. As a result in this sub-sect, the institution of Bhattarakas lost respect in North India, however in South India the Bhattarakas continue to play an importent role. In their temples, the Terapanthis install the idols of Tirthankaras and not of Ksetrapala, Padmavati and other deities. Further. they worship the idols not with flowers, fruits and other green vegetables (known as sachitta things), but with sacred rice called 'Aksata', cloves, sandal, almonds, dry coconuts, dates, etc. As a rule they do not perform Arah or distribute Prasada in their temples. Again, while worshipping they stand and do not sit.

From these differences with the Bisapanthis it is clear that the Terapanthis appear to be reformers. They are opposed to various religious practices. As according to them. These are not real Jaina practices. The Terapantha had performed a valuable task of rescuing the Digambaras from the clutches of wayward Bhattarakas and hence the Terapanthis occupy a peculiar position in the Digambara Jaina community. The Terapanthis are more numerous in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

It is pertinent to note that even though the name Terapantha sub-sect appears both among the Digambara and the Svetambara sects. Still the two Terapanthis are entirely different from each other. While the Digambara Terapanthis believe in nudity and idol-worship, the Svetambara Terapanthis are quite opposed to both.

Taranapantha or Samaiyapantha

The sub-sect Taranapantha is known after its founder Tarana-Svami or Tarana-tarana-Svami (1448-1515 A.D.). This sub-sect is also called Samaiyapantha because its followers worship Sarnaya, i.e., sacred books and not the idols. Tarana-Svami died at Malharagarh, in former Gwalior State in Madhya Pradesh, and this is the central place of pilgrimage of Taranapanthis.

The Taranapanthis strongly refute idolatry but they have their own temples in which they keep their sacred books for worship. They do not offer articles like fruits and flowers at the time of worship. Besides the sacred books of the Digambaras, they also worship the fourteen sacred books written by their founder Tarana-Svami. Further, Taranapanthis give more importance to spiritual values and the study of sacred literature. That is why we find a complete absence of outward religious practices among them. Moreover, Tarana-Svami; was firmly against the caste-distinctions and in fact threw open the doors of his sub-sect even to Muslims and low-caste people.

These three main traits of the Taranapanthis, namely, (a) the aversion to idol worship, (b) the absence of outward religious practices, and (c) the ban on caste distinctions, were evolved as a revolt against the religious beliefs and practices prevailing in the Digambara Jaina sect, and it appears that Tarana-Svami might have formulated these principles under the direct influence of Islamic doctrines and the teachings of Lonkashaha, the founder of the non-idolatrous Sthanakvasi sub-sect of the Svetambara sect.

The Taranapanthis are few in number and they are mostly confined to Bundelkhand, Malwa area of Madhya Pradesh and Khandesh area of Maharashtra.

Gumanapantha

The Gumanapantha is not so important and in fact very little is known about it. It is stated that this sub-sect was started by Pandit Gumani Rama or Gumani Rai, who was a son of Pandit Todaramal, a resident of Jaipur in Rajasthan.

According to this Pantha, lighting of candles or lamps in the Jaina temples is strictly prohibited, because it regards this as a violation of the fundamental doctrine of Jaina religion, viz., non-violence. They only visit and view the image in the temples and do not make any offerings to them.

This pantha became famous in the name of shuddha amnaya, that is pure or sacred tradition, because its followers always stressed the purity of conduct and self-discipline and strict adherence to the precepts.

Gumanapantha originated in the 18th. Century A.D. and flourished mainly during that century. It was prevalent in several parts of Rajasthan, and it is found now in some areas of Rajasthan around Jaipur.

Totapantha

The Totapantha came into existence as a result of differences between the Bisapantha and Terapantha sub-sects. Many sincere efforts were made to strike a compromise between the Bisa (i.e. twenty) Pantha and the Tera (i.e.. thirteen) pantha and the outcome was sadhesolaha (i.e., sixteen and a half)-Pantha or 'Totapantha'. That is why the followers of Sadheso!aha Pantha or Totapantha believe to some extent in the doctrines of Bisapantha and to some extent in those of Terapantha.

The Totapanthis are extremely few in number and are found in some pockets in Madhya Pradesh.

In connection with the account of the major and minor sub-sects prevailing among the Digambara sect. it is worth while to note that in recent years in the Digambara sect a new major sub-sect known as 'Kanji-pantha', consisting of the followers of Kanji Swami is being formed and is getting popular especially among the educated sections. Saint Kanji Swami (from whom the name ‘Kanji-pantha' is derived), a ‘Svetambara-Sthanakvasi?by birth, largely succeeded in popularizing the old sacred texts of the great Digambara Jaina saint Acharya Kunda-Kunda of South India. But Kanji Swami’s efforts, while interpreting Acharya Kunda kunda's writings, to give more prominence to nischaya-naya, that is, realistic point of view, in preference to vyavahara-naya, that is, practical view point, are not approved by the Digambaras in general as they consider that both the view points are of equal importance. However, the influence of Kanjipantha is steadily increasing and Sonagarh town in Gujarat and Jaipur in Rajasthan have become the centers of varied religious activities of the Kanajipanthis.

Nakedness Of Digambar Jain Saints

Nakedness is a virtue of not only Jainism but in almost every religion of the world. Nakedness is the glowing example of socialism and APRIGRAH (Possession less) of a very high order. Naked Jain saints present an example of socialism and aprigrahvad denouncing the love and possession of worldly wealth and essentials of very high order by discarding gold, silver, money other valuables and even this necessary to protect his body. Not to cover the body with cloths, leather, bark leaves or any other thing and to live naked without any possession and fashion or adornment is known in the word as a worship able virtue by the name of Achailktav. AchailKtav means Nirgranth or Digamber. Digamber means whose clothe all are all direction (East, west, north, south, earth & sky) only. Here word Digamber is only symbolic other wise one does not become Digamber only by being naked. When one is very soft and calm in nature by heart and thoughts as well as in behavior towards others then it is called Digamber.

Its other name is Nirgranth. Nirgranth means one who has no room or link for wrath, pride, wickedness, greed, sexual thoughts, greed sexual thoughts, bad customs etc. in his inner self and cloths, wealth, wife, son, money and other things of comfort for his body worldly attachments.The importance of uncommon, of very high order, simple, natural, innocence, nirgranth form and omnipresence as character of Jainandra Bhagwan (Conqueror of desires) is recognized in all religions and every cycle of time in one form or the other. Lord Buddha himself says that first he lived naked, Nirgranth, roamed indefinite, ate his meals in his palms, He did hard meditations (Tapasya). These statements prove that Buddha himself was a Nirgranth, but later on he left the Digamber path (sharaman marg) due to its recourse and he adopted middle path. (Ref. from Tripitk)

It is stated in the story of (TISHAKH VASHAR DHMM PADTH) that in the house of a wealthy man five hundred jain saints took their food. It appears from Mahavagg that jain saints is used to visit Vaishali Kingdom, reference of Digamber saints is found in Mahapari Nirvana Sutra and also about their movements in Vinay Patak. Oldest scripture RIGVEDA of Vedic Literature refers naked saints by the word 'VATRASHNA'. Another authentic holy scripture of vedic religion 'YAJURVED' says that Bhagwan Mahavira was naked and his worshipers removed darkness of doubt, uncertainty and false knowledge, and also finished the pride of wealth and body etc.

Sharman (Nirgranth Saints) are expert par excellence in the knowledge of Soul. Muni are naked having (Peechee) bunch of Peacock feathers and practicing Mahavrat (observance of extreme degree of Ahimsa, truth, non stealing, celibacy, aprigrah). Jagat guru Shankracharya has written in 'Vive Chudamani' that saint who keeps only all the directions as his clothes are, he lives Digamber he in his exalted state by becoming absolutely free from worries is capable to enjoy the pleasure of knowing the soul.

It is written in RamKrishan Katha Amrit that RamKrishan attained the state of highest Virtue. On awaking from sleep his follower say it is day break. RamKrishan is naked like a child and there is not a single thread on his body Swamiji said to his follower Ashwani Kumar Dutt. "When I forget all physical attachments then clothes are also off." This proves that Nirgranth form is favorable and beneficial sign-Nakedness is the original form, to cover the body with clothes is to hide the evil instinct. When man is born he is naked, in childhood he remains mostly naked, people are pleased by seeing him so child never feels shy over his nakedness.

Nirgranth muni due to being simple and devoid of sexual desires needs no clothes. Due to their unshaken belief that body is the main cause of all evils and is different from soul, so they do not love their body and therefore they do not wear clothes to protect it. They are far off from attachment love, sexual desires and physical beauty so do not adorn cloths. They think when we took birth naked and will go naked after death then where is the necessity to adorn cloths and perform evil acts in between the two. Nirgranth Muni due to discarding internal as well as external attachments discard cloths also. Therefore all of us see with reverence those who are actual image of Ahimsa, truth, celibacy (brahmchary) and Aprigrah. we must not hate or criticize by seeing them.

Digambar Jain Organisations (INDIA)

Rajasthan Jain Yuva Mahasabha

Shri Ahinsha Prachar Samiti (Kolkata)

Pushpanjali (Kolkata)

Bharatvarshiya Digamber Jain Mahasabha

Fedration Of Jain Educational Institutes

Digambar Jain Mahasamiti

Digambar Jain Websites

http://www.digambarjainonline.com

http://www.jaindharmonline.com

http://www.jainteerth.com

http://www.mahaveerschool.org

http://www.jainworld.com

http://www.jainjagat.com

http://www.shrimahaveerji.org

http://www.digambarjainonline.com

http://www.jainpanchang.com

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