Ärati & Mangal Deevo
The practice of ärati and mangal deevo was started around 12th Century AD (almost 900 years ago) by the inspiration of Acharya Hemchandraji. It was a time when a lot of Jains were getting converted into other religions such as Hinduism and the practice of animal slaughter that Mahavir Swami had stopped during his times was getting popular again. Acharya Hemchandraji inspired the then Hindu King Kumarpal of Gujarat with his teaching of non-violence and explaining the true meaning of religion. King Kumarpal became a Jain shäravak and is said to have started the practice of Ärati and Deevo and declared the state of Gujarat as a non-violent state. Thus the mangal deevo we will sing will have the name of Raja Kumarpal in the song.
The Ärati that we say today was written by Sheth Mulchand of Dhudeva (Kesaryaji) in Rajasthan. Kesaryaji is a Jain pilgrimage where the main pratimä is a beautiful idol of Adeshwar Bhagwan in black marble. The story goes like this… Sheth Mulchand was a very pious merchant that ardently worshipped and regularly performed poojä and ärati at the Kesariyaji temple near the village where he lived.
He was so deeply devoted to Adeshwarji that in his old age when he had to move to another village to live with his relatives who could take care of him there, he could not bare the separation. At that time it is said that the devs guarding the temple gave him a small piece of the actual moorti of Adeshwarji that he could take with him to pray.
Thus we honor the extreme Bhakti of Sheth Mulchand by singing the ärati he sang everyday at Dhudeva, Kesariyaji.
Even today the ärati at Kesaryaji is unique and mesmerizing and is sung in a special folk tune that is worth participating in.
There are many meanings of Ärati. One meaning is to experience the spiritual joy from all directions (Ärati = Ä + Rati; Ä means from all sides and Rati means Joy – spiritual joy). When a religious activity is concluded with success, we do Ärati to express our spiritual joy. Ärati also means to seek the end of “Ärt” (misery). This material world (Samsär) is full of misery, and the aspirant is performing Ärati to free himself / herself from the cycle of the misery of the material world, cycle of birth and death. Third meaning is that to fill our inner selves with spiritual joy, and to end the mental unhappiness.
To free from the miserable cycle of the material world (Samsär), one needs to have bright light of five types of knowledge. That’s why we light five Dipaks (which has candle like flame). In front of these five lights, there is a symbol of a snake which indicates that delusion (Moha) is like snake and as snakes are afraid of fire, the delusion is conquered by the true knowledge.
The symbol of These five Dipaks are also symbol of five great vows (Panch Mahä Vrat) through its practice, one attains the salvation. Five Dipaks are also symbolic of practicing five Samitis (Restraints), It is also representative of restraining negative activities of five senses and five characteristics of Samyak Darshan (Right Perception).
Another way to understand the purpose of performing Ärati is that, to free our selves from the miserable cycle of material world, we need to detach our selves from all worldly attachments as five supreme beings (Panch Parmeshthi) have done it. To pay our spiritual tribute to these five Panch Parmeshthi, we light up five Dipaks, and we mentally contemplate that “I want to also give up all worldly attachments, and want to initiate myself (take Dikshä) to become a Sädhu (or Sädhvi) to free my self from four Sämsarik destinies and to attain the fifth destiny, Moksha.
Ärati is for Victorious oldest Tirthankar
Son of Näbhiräya and Marudevi (parents of Rishabhdev, also known as Ädinäth)
First Ärati is for worshipping the supreme soul (Ädinäth)
One can have such auspicious opportunity by having human life
Second Ärati is for the supreme soul (Ädinäth) who helped poor ones like us
by showing the right path to overcome the misery of the material world
Third Ärati is for the supreme soul (Ädinäth) who knows past, present and future of all substances of the universe
To whom king of heavenly beings eager to serve
Fourth Ärati is to get rid of the cycle of four destinies (Human, Heavenly beings, hellish beings and animals)
By doing so the goal of attaining everlasting happiness is succeeded
Fifth Ärati is for manifestation of good karma
that gave Mulchand an opportunity to praise the great qualities of Rishabhdev
Mangal means to eradicate bad karma (päp), to free our selves from Samsär (material world), to remove the darkness of ignorance, to have an auspicious opportunity to practice Right Religion and to practice the path that is beneficial to the Self (soul). Only path of Moksha is beneficial to our Self that is attained by eradicating all karma. By removing the darkness of karma, one enlightens himself / herself with the Absolute Knowledge (Keval Jnäna). One Dipak is used in Mangal Deevo to symbolize the one and only Perfect Knowledge, Keval Jnäna through which the darkness of the ignorance is permanently removed, the miserable cycle of birth and death is permanently ended, the association with the foreign dust of karma is completely terminated, and the true qualities of the souls are forever realized. In other words, one Dipak in Mangal Deevo symbolizes the one and only path of Moksha as expounded by Tirthankars. We should mentally contemplate while performing Mangal Deevo that “I want to enlighten my inner Dipak (self) just like this Mangal Deevo by attaining the perfect knowledge, Keval Jnäna by practicing the path of Moksha as expounded by Tirthankars.”
(A popular arti prayer, wishing bliss for everyone)
This is the auspicious lamp,
may those who perform Ärati live long.
Diwäli the houses are decorated
and gods rejoice in the heavens.
says by this the family is blessed
and obstacles are overcome by worship by devotion.
says that in these our times,
King Kumarpal performed the Ärati.
there be bliss in our house, your house
and in the entire chaturvidh sangh (four folded Jain community)