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LORD MAHAVIRA

 

LORD MAHAVIRA

 

PUBLISHER�S NOTE

 

THE RELEVANCE OF THE TEACHING OF LORD MAHAVIRA IN THE PRESENT WORLD (INTRODUCTION)

  CONTENTS
 

THE AGE OF MAHAVIRA

  EARLY LIFE OF MAHAVIRA
  ASCETIC LIFE OF MAHAVIRA
  ENLIGHTENMENT
  JAINA ATHEISM
  PROPAGATION OF THE DOCTRINE
  RIVAL SECTS
  CONCLUSION
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THE RELEVANCE OF THE TEACHING OF LORD MAHAVIRA
IN THE PRESENT WORLD (INTRODUCTION)


 

 

Non-violence is nothing but to treat all living beings as equal. The concept of equality is the core of the theory of non-violence. The preaching of non-violence is to honor the each and every form of life. Jainism does to discriminate the human beings on the basis of their caste, creed and color. According to Jaina point of view, all the barriers of caste, creed and color are artificial. All the human beings have an equal right to lead a peaceful life. Though violence is unavoidable, yet it can not be the directive principle of our living, because it goes against the judgments of faculty of reasoning and the concept of natural law. If I think that nobody has any right to take my life then on the ground of same reasoning I have also no right to take another�s life; the principle �live on others� or �living by killing� but �Living with others� or �Live for others� (parasparopagrahaojivanam).12 Though in our world complete non-violence is not possible, yet our motto should be �lesser killing is better living�.

 

Further we must be aware of the fact that in Jainism non-violence is not merely a negative concept i.e. not to kill; but it has positive side also as service to mankind. Once a question was raised to Mahavira: �O Lord, one person is rendering his services to the needy persons while other is offering puja to you, between these two, who is the real follower of yours!� Mahavira answered �First one is the real follower of mine, because he is following my teachings�.13

 

Through some one or other form of violence is inevitable in our life, yet on this basis we can not conclude that the non-violence is not necessary at all. Just as violence is inevitable for living, non-violence is also inevitable for social living. So far the existence of human society is concerned it depends on mutual co-operation, sacrifice of our interest for the sake of our fellow-beings and regard for others life. If above mentioned elements are essential for our social life, how can we say that the non-violence is an inevitable principle of the existence for human society. At present we are living in an age of nuclear weapons and due to this the existence of human race is in danger. It is only the firm faith in observance of non-violence, which can survive the human race. It is mutual credibility and the belief in the equality of human beings which can restore the peace and harmony in human society.

 

Regard for Other�s Ideologies and Faiths

 

Jainism holds that the reality is complex. It can be looked and understood from various view points or angles. For example we can have hundreds of photographs of the same and one tree from different angles. Though all of them give a true picture of it from certain angles, yet they differ from each other. Not only this, but neither each of them, nor the individually as well as jointly will give us a complete picture of that tree. They individually as well as jointly will give only a partial picture of it. So is the case with human knowledge and understanding : we can have only a partial and relative picture of reality, we can know and describe the reality only from certain angle or view-point. Though every angle or viewpoint can claim that it gives a true picture of reality, yet it gives only a partial and relative picture of reality. In fact we can not challenge its validity or truth value, but at the same time we must be aware of the fact that it is only a partial truth or one sided view. One, who knows only partial truth or has a one-sided picture of reality, has no right to discard the views of his opponents may also be true from some other angles. Jaina theory of anekantavada emphasizes that all the approaches to understand the reality give partial but true picture of reality and due to their truth-value from certain angle, we should have a regard for other ideologies and faiths. Thus anekanatvada forbids us to be dogmatic and one-sided in our approach. It preaches us a broader outlook and open-mindedness, which is more essential to solve the conflicts due to the differences in ideologies and faiths. Prof. T.G. Kalghatgi rightly observes �The spirit of anekanta is very much necessary in society, specially in the present day, when conflicting ideologies are trying to assert supremacy aggressively. Anekanta brings the spirit of intellectual and social tolerance.�14

 

For present day society what is awfully needed is the virtue of tolerance. This virtue of tolerance i.e. regard for others ideologies and faiths is maintained in Jainism from its earlier times to the present days. Mahavira mentions in Sutrakrtanga �those who praise their own faiths and ideologies and blame that of their opponents and thus distort the truth will remain confined tot he cycle of birth and death.�15 Jaina philosophers all the time maintain that all the view-points are true in respect of what they have themselves to say, but they are false in so far as they refute totally others view-points. In one famous Jaina text of 3rd century B.C. namely Isibhasiyaim, the views of different teachers of Sramanic and Brahmanic trends like Narada, Bharadvaja, Gautam Buddha, Mankhali Gosala and many others, have been presented with regards. They are called as Arhatrsis and their preaching are regarded as Agamas. Here I would like to quote two beautiful verses of Haribhadra (8th century A.C.) and Hema Candra (12th Century A.C.) respectively which are the best examples of religious tolerance. Haribhadra says:

 

�I bear no bias towards Lord Mahavira and no disregard to Kapila and other saints and thinkers, whatsoever is rational and logical ought to be accepted.�

 

Hemacandra says:

�I bow all those who have overcome the attachment and hatred, which are the cause of worldly existence, be they Brahma, Vishnu, Siva or Jina.�

 

Jaina saints tried all the times to maintain the harmony in different religious faiths and to avoid religious conflicts. That is why Jainism can survive through the ages.

 

The basic problems of present society are mental tensions, violence and the conflicts of ideologies and faiths. Jainism tried to solve these problems of mankind through the three basic tenets of non-attachment, (aparigraha), non-violence (ahimsa) and non absolutism (anekanta), If mankind observes these three principles, peace and harmony can certainly be established in the world.

 

 

 

Reference:

 

1.   Quoted in Dharma-darsana, p. 28.

2.   Ibid., p. 39

3.   Kartikeyanupreksa , 478

4.   Acaranga, 1/1/8/3.

5.   Bhagavati-sutra, 1/9.

6.   Samayasra.

7.   Uttaradhyayana-sutra

8.   Ibid., 32/7-8

9.   Acaranga, 2/4/127

10.  Prasanavyakaran-sutra, 2/1/21

11.  Dasavaikalika-sutra, 6/10

12.  Tattvartha-sutra, 5/21

13.  Avasyaka-vrtti, pp. 661-662

14.  Vaisali Institute Research Bulletin, No. 4. P. 31.

15.  Sutrakrtanga, 1/1/2/23