Veer Naam Ati Mitha…” – this melodious tune is reverberating across the hall and everyone is mesmerised! The crowd is rapturous and singing along the lyrics and simultaneously awe-struck with the surroundings and the imposing structure in front of them! It seems that the clock has turned back, thousands of years, and everyone is transfixed in a bygone peaceful era! The atmosphere is spiritually uplifting and everyone seem to be caught up in the moment! It needs a pinch in the arm, a rubbing of the eyes, to wake up to the reality that this is London 2015!

On Friday 6th November 2015, SCVP had its eagerly anticipated annual Diwali event and though we had been told beforehand that this was not going to be the usual Chopda Pujan, what awaited us absolutely blew our expectations: Mahavir swami’s Samvosaran had been brought to Kingsbury!
The evening unfolded with a fully vegan dinner, and it was lovely to see children as well as adults helping with the serving!

After dinner, the previously closed doors from which a lot of hustle and bustle had been heard beforehand, opened, and we were presented with a beautifully engraved and decorated three-tiered Samvosaran, an unparalleled assembly at which Tirthankar Mahavir gave his last sermon to the thousands who come for his blessings, including animals, shravaks, shravikas, sadhus, sadhvis and devs and devis. As Jains we celebrate Diwali as that is the day that Mahavir Swami, attained Moksha, and gave his last sermon known as the Uttaradhyan Sutra. The Samvosharan, built for the Diwali event, was impressive in height at around 8ft and made even taller with a 2ft statue of Mahavir Bhagwan at the top of the Samvosharan. It was beautifully engraved and decorated with in-built lighting and created an absolutely magical atmosphere as the centre-piece in the hall. It sat on a customised stage specifically bought in for this programme.

During the programme four stories were acted out by different families on this stage and in front of the beautiful Samvosharan:
Jitendrabhai as Anand Shravak
Shaileenbhai as King Shrenik, accompanied by Meerav, Harshnaben and Ritaben
Savan, Shreya, Aaryan, Nishaben, Shefalikaben, Rajbhai and Chiragbhai acting out the story of Thief Rohinya

1. Anand Shravak
This story was about a wealthy man named Anand Shravak, who was questioning Mahavir Swami about how he could follow the path outlined by Mahavir Swami, while still living as a layman. To this Mahavir Swami replied that all aspects of life, including business, should be conducted with compassion and love for all living beings and with awareness. As Anand Shravak was a farmer, Mahavir Swami gave the example of how he should ensure that the animals working on his farm are looked after properly and are given the freedom to move around as they wish. As a general
rule, Bhagwan said to treat anyone who comes for help with humility and honour.

2. Prasannachandra
This story focused on how important a balanced state of mind is. Prassanachandra was formerly the King of a huge empire and when he decided to take diksha he handed the kingdom over to his son. King Shrenik, on his way to the Samvosaran passed by Prasannachandra meditating in the cold, and he asked Bhagwan Mahavir where Prasannachandra’s soul would go if he were to die at that moment in time. Shockingly Mahavir Swami’s response was that he would go to hell, despite the intense meditation he was doing. Mahavir Swami explained this was because, though externally
Prasannachandra looked calm, internally his mind was restless as he had overheard news that his son was facing
several enemies on the battlefield. This clearly shows that it’s not just our actions that have effects, but our
thoughts too. For anyone to develop spiritually it is vital that they become mindful of their negative thoughts and
change them to auspicious thoughts at every single moment.

Shaileenbhai as King Shrenik, accompanied by Meerav, Harshnaben and Ritaben

3. Thief Rohinya
This story was about how the infamous thief Rohinya ended up seeking forgiveness from King Shrenik simply due to the words of Lord Mahavir. This incredulous event took place because before Rohinya’s father died, he warned him that he should never listen to Mahavir Swami, but once while Rohinya was passing by Bhagwan’s Samvosaran, he stepped on a thorn causing him to clutch his foot in pain and release his ears which he was holding shut. This resulted in him hearing a very short description of the state of heaven before he quickly ran away from the vicinity. However brief the words were that he heard, they saved him from being tricked into revealing himself when he was caught by the King’s guards as he was able to recognise that he was not in heaven, but in fact still on Earth.

Realising that he was mistaken all along, Rohinya resolved to ask for forgiveness in front of the entire assembly and then take diksha from Mahavir Swami. This story, quite comically, illustrated the power of the words of Mahavir Swami and also the Neetuben and the musicians and Sandipbhai the Narrator importance of forgiveness.

4. Gautam Swami
In this story, the chief ganadhar, Gautam Swami was asking Bhagwan why he hadn’t attained salvation despite his spiritual development and utter devotion to Bhagwan. The answer to this was that even though he had got rid of passions such as anger, greed, ego and deceit, his love of Mahavir Swami, a form of attachment, was holding him back from achieving his true goal.

Gautam Swami, was adamant in not giving up his love for his guru, and to that Mahavir Swami replied that in due course this feeling would pass and then nothing would stop Gautam Swami from going to Moksha. It is well known that we celebrate New Year on the day after Diwali as it is the day Gautam Swami attains Keval Gnan. Through deep contemplation and meditation, Gautam Swami was able to relinquish his attachment to Mahavir Swami.

This programme was narrated superbly in a clear and apt manner by Sandipbhai with the spiritual objective coming through and had beautiful musical interludes of well-known stavans, sung by Neetuben in a divine, melodious voice that captivated the audience and she was accompanied by a range of musicians.

The atmosphere created during this event was something extraordinary and everyone felt as if they were indeed in the presence of Mahavir Bhagwan and had heard powerful messages which had the objective of inspiring and transforming lives!