Shh…..Today we are Celebrating Silence, Today is one of the important Jain Festival “Maun Ekadashi”

We remember Thanksgiving and Christmas easily. But one that is extremely important festival in Jainism, we are at a loss. Yes, it’s “Maun Ekadashi” (also known as Maun Agyaras). The festival of Maun Ekadashi is an auspicious Jain festival which falls on the 11th day of the month Magshar (Magshar Sud 11). According to the English calendar, this year it falls on the Dec 8th 2019 (Today).

Maun Ekadashi most people take a vow of silence to reflect on their thoughts and to prevent themselves from hurting anyone, even accidentally, through speech.

It celebrates the 5 kalyanaks (auspicious events) of a tirthankar’s life -conception, birth, renunciation of worldly life, omniscience, and nirvana. However, this day is particularly special because a total of 150 kalyanaks from tirthankaras of the past, present, and future, all fall on this day of maun ekadashi. This results in the day being so auspicious that any thought, word, or action is multiplied by 150 times. As this day is so noteworthy and has so much power, some ways to observe the holiday include going to the temple or spending time at home praying to the tirthankaras.

As a result, many people celebrate maun ekadashi by fasting, going to the temple to perform puja, and observing silence to restrict their speech in order to lessen their accumulation of bad karma. It is even said that if one observes Paushada (living the life of an ascetic) and takes the vow of complete silence (maun) on this day for 11 years and 11 months, he or she will gain salvation in an upcoming life. Keep in mind that everything on this day is multiplied by 150 fold, so even one fast achieves the fruits of 150 fasts.

Here is a short story depicting this

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God Shri Neminath and Krishnavasudeva :

Once, when Shri Neminath came to the city of Dwarka, King Krishnavasudeva on hearing the news of his arrival decided to go and give his humble salutations to Him. After listening to his sermons, he rose and bowed before Shri Neminath and asked him “Hey Lord, being a King with loads of responsibilities of the kingdom how can I continuously do my religious rites (Dharma)? Please tell me a prominent day in the whole year on which one can take less vows but achieve maximum results?” To this Shri Neminath replied, “Hey Krishna, if you have a wish of this kind then on the 11th day (Ekadashi) of the bright half of Magshirsh month (Magshar Sud 11) you should conduct all the rites related to this day.” He also explained the significance of this day.

Significance of Maun Ekadashi :

On this day of Ekadashi -

1) Shri Aranath (18th Tirthankar of the Jains) renounced the world and became a monk.

2) Shri Mallinath (19th Tirthankar of the Jains) was born, renounced the world and attained Kevalgyan (Liberation).

3) Shri Neminath (22nd Tirthankar of the Jains) attained Kevalgyan.

Thus, 5 Kalyanaks of the three Tirthankars are celebrated on this day. There are also Chauvishis in other kshetras, namely Bharatkshetra and Airavatkshetra which also had 5 Kalyanaks. So, 5 kalyanaks in 5 Bharatkshetras comes up to 25 Kalyanaks (5 X 5) and 25 Kaylanaks in the 5 Airavtkshetras. Hence, 50 Kalyanaks in all the kshetras for the past, present and future chauvishis gives us 150 Kalyanaks.

Listening to this he raised a query “Lord, please tell me in the past who has worshiped this day and has achieved its fruits?” Lord Neminath, then, gave an example of Suvrat Sheth who had followed the vow with complete devotion and had achieved salvation.

Story of Suvrat Sheth :

In the province of Ghatkikhand, in the town of Vijaypatan lived a merchant named Sur. The King of that state respected Sur and regarded him as a very intelligent man. One night, sleeping peacefully, he woke with a start in the midnight and it dawned upon him that because of the good deeds done in his previous life, he is living happily and lavishly in his present life. So, in order to live with prosperity in the next life he will have to do something fruitful in the present, as without this everything is meaningless. Soon after sunrise, he went to meet his Guru and listening to his sermons, he got inspired by his teachings and asked him that “Hey Guru, due to the kind of work I do, it is not possible for me to continuously worship and practice my religious rites. If you could please tell me one day on which I can follow my religious rites and achieve maximum results (punya)?” At that time his Guru replied “On 11th of the Magshar month (Magshar Sud 11) which is an Ekadashi, you should fast in the Paushada form with silence for 11 years and 11 months continuously on that particular day. After completing this vow you should celebrate it grandly.” Listening to this, he alongwith his family members commenced the Ekadashi fast for the said period with complete devotion. 15 days after the completion of his penance he died and went to the 11th heaven (Devlok).

After spending 21 Sagaropam in the 11th Devlok, he took birth in the Bharatkshetra, in a town named Sauripur, as the son of Sheth Samruddhidat. He was named Suvrat by his father. When he realized that he had got this beautiful life and had been to the 11th Devlok because of worshipping the day of Ekadashi, he, alongwith his 11 wives took the vow of Ekadashi. All his wives attained Kevalgyan and acquired Moksha (Salvation). After a while even King Suvrat while doing his penance achieved Kevalgyan. All the Devas from the Devlok celebrated his day of liberation. He then sat on a lotus and gave sermons to his deities. After a few years he acquired Moksha too.

In this way , Lord Neminath narrated this story to King Krishnavasudeva and after that he and his entire kingdom decided to follow this righteous path.

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Here are some rituals that need to be followed in order to worship on the day of Maun Ekadashi:

A fast is observed in Paushadha with keeping silence

  • Kayotsarga of 12 Logassa
  • 12 Khamasanas
  • 12 Swastikas and 20 Navakarvalis of the Jap Pad

Be sure to reflect upon your thoughts and actions for the day and keep in mind the sheer significance of maun ekadashi. And of course, don’t forget that although maun ekadashi is only officially observed for a single day each year, we should continue carrying out the same practices throughout our daily lives.