MARYADA MAHOTSAVA

The Maryada Mahotsava holds ah important place in the organisation of Terapantha Sangha. It is a unique festival in the religions traditions of the world, and has been celebrated without a break for more than one hundred and forty years. Acharya Bhikshu formulated strict Maryadas (conventions) with the consent of all the ascetics for the proper observance of the monastic conduct, and enacted a complete constitution for the order. The Maryada Mahotsava commemorates this event on the seventh day of the bright half of the lunar month of Magh, according to the Indian calendar (late January-early February).

It was Jayacharya (the fourth Acharya of Terapantha) who started the festival of Maryada Mahotsava in V.S. 1920 (1863 A. D.) to stress the importance of discipline in the order. As we have already discussed neither absolute autocracy nor only democracy prevails in the Terapantha, but there is a system where the guru remains supreme and where the disciples are united with the spirit of of discipline, dedication and humbleness. Proper management and self-discipline are both necessary to make an organisation more powerful and also faithful to pure conduct. At present, there are 153 monks and 550 nuns in the order. They are divided in nearly 140 separate groups, each of which consists of three or four monks and four or five nuns.

At the end of the Caturmas, most of the monks and nuns start their journey on foot usually in the direction in which the Acharya is sojourning, and assemble at one place, as declared by the Acharya. When they reach the place where the Acharya is sojourning, they utter words of dedication after paying obeisance to the Acharya, with folded hands, viz., "I dedicate myself to Your Holiness together with these scriptures (manuscripts), books, my fellow-monks or nuns that are present before Your Holiness. I myself am present before you, I am prepared to stay as and where Your Holiness will order me to be." When a group-leader embarks on his next journey, he or she would travel with his or her fellow ascetics and manuscripts of the scriptures given to him or her by the Achary.

On the occasion of Maryada Mahotsava, monks and nuns apprise the Acharya of the annual report of their activities. The Acharya studies it deeply. He makes inquiry about their mutual behaviour and observance of rules, regulations and conventions. The monks and the nuns ingenuously confess their blemishes and ask for the expiation which the Acharya gives in the form of penance. If their performances have been good, the Acharya would praise and encourage them to develop further social abilities. The monks and nuns exchange their views with the Acharya on different philosophical and ethical topics. During this period, many kinds of seminars are also arranged.

On the auspicious day of Maryada Mahotsava, the rules, regulations and convention laid down in the Constitution of the Order, enacted by Acharya Shri Bhikshu and later Acharyas are read out and the present Acharya inspires the members of the whole order to observe them faithfully. It is on this occasion that the Acharya announces the places of next Caturmas for the monks and nuns. When the Mahotsava is over, the monks and nuns commence on their journey to different and often distant destinations as directed. Everything is arranged and managed so systematically that one cannot but admire their sense of discipline and obedience. The Maryada Mahotsava is undoubtedly a unique celebration for the maintenance of unity and discipline in the organisation.

'Pattotsava 7 and 'Carmotsava' are also days of special attraction in the Terapantha Order. Pattotsava commemorates the day when the Acharyaship was assumed by the present Acharya. The current Pattotsava of Acharya Mahaprajna is Magha Krishna Sasthi. The Pattotsava of the former Acharya (that of Acharya Tulsi) was celebrated on Bhadrapada Shukla Navami in 1994 Acharya Tulsi gave up his post of Acharya and transferred the Acharyaship to his successor Mahaprajna. In turn Acharya Mahaprajna felicitated Acharya Tulsi with the epithet of "Ganadhipati" and declared the day to be observed as Vikash Mahotsva.

The Charmotsava is celebrated as the commemoration day of the passing away of Acharya Bhikshu. It falls on Bhadrapada Shukla Trayodashi. The Acharya and all the monks and nuns eulogise Acharya Bhikshu.