Mahavir, the last tirthankara of Jainism was ten and a half feet tall.
Born in a royal family, he renounced his all and accepted sanyasa.
His father Siddhartha and mother Trishala Devi followed the precepts of Parshvanatha.
According to the Gregorian calendar, Mahavir appeared in March-April in the Kashyapa gotra, in Kundalpura.
Finally, at the age of 43, Mahavir attained Kevala jnana (omniscience), near the banks of the river rijupalika, under the sal tree.
Besides, he widely preached Jainism in India.
5 Vows of Jainism
1) Ahimsa (Non-violence)- Mahavir’s very first teaching was non-violence. As we know, lord Mahavir always thought of universal well-being.
Indeed, Jainism’s explanation on non-violence sets it distinct
It says- “Do your duties selflessly. All souls have the right to life and happiness.
Hence, don’t harm even the smallest of creatures.”
“Live and let others live”.Mahavir’s message
This is the one and only solution for world-peace.
Mahavir says- Dharma doesn’t mean outward show.
It means purity of mind, renouncing attachment and aversion, and recognizing the soul.
2) Satya (Truth)- Always follow the truth and stay away from deceit.
Falsity brings problems.
Hence follow the path of truth at all costs.
3) Asteya- Do not covet others belongings.
Commonly, people usurp other’s property including bad karma.
This is the greatest roadblock to spiritual upliftment.
4) Aparigraha (Non-possession)– Discard all material attachment.
Indeed, Attachment causes violence.
Hence lead a simple life without hoarding possessions.
5) Brahmacharya- Follow the vow of celibacy.
This applies for both householders and renunciants.
He further said- “Lying, stealing and hoarding are serious forms of violence.
Hence, Jains abstain from violence at all levels and possess a strong character.
They are even fearless of death.
Teachings of Vardhaman Mahavir
Vardhaman Mahivir preached equality
Besides, he opposed the caste system and claimed “The one atman resides within all. Hence, all should be given equal rights.
In addition, Mahavir greatly stressed women empowerment. He placed men and women at an equal pedestal, having equal rights and duties. Thus Jainism respects every living entity.
Mahavir’s three-fold path
To lead an ideal life, you must compulsorily follow the three-fold path-
1) Right belief
2) Right knowledge
3) Right conduct.
These are succinctly called Tri-ratna (or three jewels)
Food-restriction of Jains
Jains oppose all forms of violence. Hence they avoid eating root vegetables like carrots, ginger, potatoes, onion and garlic.
Mahavir leaves his body
After acquiring knowledge Mahavir preached non-violence for 30 whole years.
Finally, at the age of 70, he attained Nirvana while meditating in Pavapur in Krishna Paksha at sunrise.
Though absent, his teachings, achievements and sacrifice, continue to guide aspirants.
Difference between Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism?
Many times people consider Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism are similar. However, this is not true. Their goal may be one, Moksha but their philosophies differ.
Today, let us explore some blaring differences that sets them apart.
1) Worship of tirthankaras
According to Hinduism, we should approach a bonafide guru and study the Vedas.
However, Jainsim advises us to approach the Tirthankaras as guides.
In Jain Dharma, tirthanthankaras form a bridge between rebirth.
Who are Tirthankaras?
Tirthankaras are self-realized masters who have subdued their senses.
They are enlightened beings who can carry the burden of the living entities.
Hence, they are an epitome of renunciation.
Mandatorily, tirthankaras attain kevala-Jnana or the command over material forces. Also, They follow the five vows of Jainism.
There are a total of 24 tirthankaras.
Mahavir was the last tirthankara and the successor of Parashvanath.
Jainsim clearly considers Kaivalya Prapti (attaining knowledge) as the ultimate aim.
Energy was always there and will always remain.
We don’t attain moksha by worshipping god but we worship tirthankaras, the source of purity.
2) Opposed the Vedas
Jainism speaks against the Vedas and falls under the Shraman Parampara.
What is Shramana tradition?
Shramana traditions speak against the vedas.
Hence, they negate the authenticity of vedic tradition.
Some examples are- Buddhism, Jainism, Ajivika and Charvaka.
3) Defied God’s existence
Jains disdain the existence of god.
They simply follow the Tirthankaras and their instructions.
According to them, man creates his own destiny.
You must attain Moskha without entangling yourself in Samsara.
This is the ultimate aim of jainism.
The soul and body are different.
4) Body Torture
Jains stress on destroying bad karmas with rigorous austerities.
Hence this involves lots of physical strain.
5) The existence of Atma or individual soul
Mahavir and Siddhartha Gautama’s early life are similar to a great extent.
Gautama Buddha introduced a middle-path. However, Jainism promoted torturing the body.
Hinduism promoted the upper path.
Buddhism doesn’t believe in the soul. Instead, it accepts the concept of Annata (or non self). Buddhism and Jainism believe in karma.
Hinduism stresses on Brahman, and the diligent study of vedas.
Both Jains and Hindu believe in the soul or Atma.
Concept of Karma in Jainism
The memory cells of your performed actions stick to your soul.
On performing good actions, good karmic particles build and release you from the cycle of rebirth.
However, bad actions pollute the soul making liberation difficult.
Hinduism promotes meditation of Sach-chit-ananda (Brahma). Jainism focuses on building good karmas.
How Jainism declined?
Mahavir’s followers increased, yet Jainism declined with time.
Since, influential kings like Ashoka, Harshavardhan and Kanishka adopted Buddhism founded by Siddhartha Gautama.
Another cause could be the bodily strain.
Jainism involved physical torture, not appealing for the masses.
Division of Jainism
The sect of Jainism eventually separated into Digamvara and Shwetamvara.
Here, the Digamvaras strictly followed Mahavir’s teachings and roamed in the naked state.
However, the Shwetamvaras opposed Mahavir and wore white garments.
Subsequently Gosal, his close disciple for 6 years, separated from him in a dispute.
Gosal abused Mahavir and started his own Shramana tradition named Ajivika.
This unexpectant rift loosened the grip of jainism.
Thanks for reading!