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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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ENLIGHTENMENT


 

 

The distinguishing mark of the fourth stages is that the soul has belief in the path of liberation but is unable to observe the rules of conduct for attaining liberation; the thought-activity characterizing this stage is that the soul has destroyed excessive anger, pride and greed but not entirely escaped from their influence. In this stage, the Jiva however develops the power of curbing anger (Prasam), the realization that the world is evil (sanvaig), the capacity for non-attachment (nirvaid), compassion (anucampa) and true faith (astikya). In the fifth stage (Daishvarti) the desire to realize the objective by the proper regulation of conduct first manifests itself, and the individual takes partial vows, e.g., the vow not to drink intoxicant or eat flesh (madyamanstyag) or to keep all twelve vows of a householder (Shremanropasek) or to maintain absolute chastity etc. The sixth stage (Premet) can be ascended by a professed ascetic, who renounces all worldly objects, and who controls even the slight passions. But as yet the jiva remains slack in concentration. By further effort the soul mounts to the seventh stage (Apremat) when renouncing all carelessness, it becomes fully absorbed in spiritual contemplation. From the seventh stage onwards the path of ascent follows two different routes, (1) the route in which the several right-conduct-deluding karmas become quiescent and controlled, and (2) the route in which they get actually destroyed. Thus the eighth stage (Apoorvkerenr) marked by an absolute control or conquest of pride and consequently by an unusual intensification of the power of meditation and concentration. That is the beginning of the first Sukla-dhyana pure concentration and gives a joy to the jiva the like of which he has never experienced before. The ninth stage is marked by an absolute control or conquest of deceit and consequently, by a special thought activity of still greater purity. The tenth stage (Sookshemsampraye) is marked by an absolute control or conquest of greed the last of the great passions. From the tenth stage the soul that has followed the route of actual destruction of the karmas directly mounts to the twelfth stage which is characterized by complete freedom from all the Ghati-karmas and which inevitably leads to the attainment of Kevala-jnana; but the ascetic who has followed the route of merely controlling the karmas instead of destroying them has to pass through the eleventh stage (Upshantmoh) which is a really critical experience. The subsided karma may at any time �like a flood burst its dam, and force of its current may carry the soul far down the slope he has been climbing, depositing him on either the sixth or the seventh step, or even on the lowest.�

 

There is no falling back from the twelfth stage, because the Ghati-karmas have already been destroyed; and although the Aghati-karmas still persist, they have little power to bind the soul and �can be snapped as easily as piece of burnt string.� So limited the fact is the power of the Aghati-karma that at death a soul passes at once through the two remaining stages and enters Moksa without delay. The thirteenth stage (Senyogikaiveli) is that of a vibrating perfect soul, that is to say, when the soul has after the destruction of the obstructive karmas, obtained the Kevala but continues to retain its human body; and the fourteenth and last stage (Ayogi kevali) is that of the vibration-less perfect soul, that is to say, when the perfect soul is leaving its human body in order to proceed to Moksa there to reside for ever in perpetual peace and bliss above the land called Siddhasila.

 

Tirthankara:

 

Mahavira was now in the Thirteenth stage of his spiritual career. He had purged away all his Ghati-karmas and had consequently attained Kevala-jnana and Kevala-darsana. Now he devoted himself to the noble task of the active propagation of the truth and for this purpose of organizing the community or Tirtha, he assumed the role of the Tirthankara.

 

The difference between a Tirthankara and any other Kevalin consists in just this, that the Tirthankara is master of a special Nama-Karma, which gives him a position of peculiar respect and eminence and makes him responsible for the organization and establishment of a Sangha. Most Kevalins in the Sayogikevali stage go about preaching truth; but it is-only a Tirthankara who forms the Tirthas (or fords) by means of which a jiva can cross this samsara over to the other side (i.e., Moksa). It was in the organization of the Jaina sangha that the Tirthankara Mahavira showed his real abilities. He welded together into the Sangha the ascetic as well as the layman, and men as well as women, prescribed for all their respective duties, and provided for a rigid discipline and rigorous form off control. In the Buddhist Sangha laymen were not originally connected with the clergy: Buddha�s church was a church of monks and nuns only and no attempt was ever made to organize a quasi-church of lay-brothers and lay-sisters, or to establish an organic relationship between the clergy and the laity. But Mahavira welded together the two sections of the Order, the clergy and the laity, and accorded to the latter a definite and honorable place in the ecclesiastical scheme and made it incumbent upon them, both as a duty and as an act of merit, to support the clergy by giving alms liberally. As there was a de jure relationship involved in the concept of the clergy, so was a de jure relationship involved in the concept of the laity; as there was definite procedure for the initiation of the monks and nuns, so a special procedure was prescribed for the initiation of lay disciples of the Sramanopasaka variety. Above all, the laity was enjoying to be exclusive in their loyalty and patronage. Intercourse with adherents of a rival creed was disapproved, as is clear from the following declaration made by Ananda, a newly converted disciple of Mahavira: �Truly, Reverend sir, it does not befit me from this day forward to praise and worship any man of a heretic community or any of the Devas or objects of reverence of heretic community or without being first addressed by them to address them or converse with them; or to give them or supply them with food and drink or delicacies or dainties except it be by the command of the King or the community or any powerful man or a deva or by the orders of one�s elders or by the exigencies of living.�

 

For initiation into the Sangha, a layman was required first to renounce five faults ((atichar), first, doubt, secondly, the desire to belong to another faith, thirdly, misgivings about the reality of the fruits of Karma (Vichikitsa), fourthly, praise of hypocrites (Parprshansa) and fifthly, all association with them (Sansatvan). That done, he was to take the twelve lay vows. (1) The vow never intentionally to destroy a jiva that has more than one sense. This vow would not prevent a king leading any army in defense of his kingdom; but it forbids the killing of weak creatures and of acting as agent provocateur. It forbids animal sacrifice. (2) The vow never to indulge in falsehood or exaggeration (sthooolmrishavadviremenrh). This vow enjoins commercial honesty and forbids rash speech, of secrets relating to one�s wife, giving false evidence, forgery etc. (3) The vow never to steal (Sthooladetadanviremanr), the vow including stealth from a house, highway-robbery, misappropriation of funds, etc., (4) the vow of chastity (Savdaranstosh) by which a man promises to be absolutely faithful to his own wife at all times and never to allow any evil thoughts in his own mind about other women. The vows may be infringed by such activity as evil talk, excessive sexual indulgence, match- making and match-brokerage, unfaithfulness before marriage, and consummating marriage with a girl before she has attained her puberty. (5) The vow of limitation of possessions (parigreh parimanr), by which a man promises that he will never allow himself to retain more than a certain fixed quantity of houses and fields, gold and silver, cash and corn, servants and cattle, furniture and plenishing. These five vows are called the five Anuvratas and they resemble in their subject matter the five great vows a monk takes. If layman keeps all these five vows and also abandons the use of intoxicants, animal food, and honey, he is entitled to be called a Sravaka.

 

The next three vows are called the Gunavratas, for they help the keeping of the first five vows. (6) (Digviriti) which sets bounds to one�s travels and thus helps to curtail sin by restricting the area in which one can sin. (7) (Bhogopbhogenriman) which imposes a limit on the number of things a man may use and is intended thus to help people to keep their vows against lying, covetousness and stealing. (8) (Anarthdandvirti) by which a man vows not to think evil of others, nor to persuade people to do evil, nor to be careless about keeping or using weapons. The keeping of these vows which need not to be taken by ascetics but only laymen, would help the curtailment of sin by limiting the motive for sinning.      

 

The remaining four vows are called Siksavratas, for they tend to encourage the laity in the performance if their religious duties. By the 9th vow samayik a man promises to perform Samayika, that is to say, to spend at least forty eight minutes every day in meditation, thinking no evil of anyone, but being at peace with all the world, to meditate on what heights one�s soul may reach. By the tenth vow (daishviramanr) he promises for one particular day to still further contract the limits he has undertaken not to transgress, possibly binding himself during that day not to go outside the village or the house, to have only one meal or to drink nothing but water. The eleventh vow (poshdopvas) is of special significance as connecting the laity closely with the ascetics; it compels the layman to spend at least twenty-four hours every month as a monk, observing celibacy, and committing no sort of sin, touching neither food, water, fruit, betelnut, ornaments, scents, nor any sort of weapon. The twelfth vow (Atithisanvibhag) encourages the laity to support the ascetic community by giving food, water, etc.

 

A definite procedure for initiation was also prescribed. The person who is desirous of being initiated tells a Guru of his wish. The guru reads out he vows and gives him an instruction on each one and its infringements. The layman assents to the instruction and fixes the limits under various vows for himself. Every year he must confess to the ascetic who happens to be available the infractions of the vows and accept the penance given. The vows may be taken for the whole life or for a limited period of time, on the expiry of which they may be taken afresh.

 

As in the case of a Sravaka, so for an ascetic there is a definitely prescribed procedure for initiation (prvrjya) An ascetic is usually initiated into the order with the permission of his guardians after a certain period of probation, during which he receives preliminary training at the hands if a guru, which may last from several days to one or two years. At the end of the probationary period, the novice is initiated into monkhood, the ceremony of initiation being fairly elaborate and highly solemn. After being led in a great procession, the candidate takes off his jewels and clothes, plucks his hair by the hand, and solemnly takes up the five great vows and the life of a homeless wanderer. The five great vows of the ascetic are. (1) Ahimsa, never to destroy any living thing. In order to keep this vow, the ascetic is expected to be careful in walking, watchful in speech so as to not give rise to quarrels or murders, and cautious in his whole daily conduct. He must be careful as to the alms he receives that they can contain no living insects etc. (2) Asatya -tyaga, never to indulge in untruthfulness. The five bhavanas, or strengthening clauses to this vow supply a remarkable psychological analysis of the causes which lead to untruthfulness. They condemn speech without deliberation, speech in anger, speech when moved by avarice, or by fear, and speech in fun. One should respect the vow of truthfulness by always avoiding jesting, greed, cowardice, and anger and by thinking before speaking. (3) Asteya vrata, never to steal. A monk must ask permission of owner before occupying any one�s house; he must repeat such a request from time to time. A junior monk must always show to his guru whatever he has received in alms and then eat it after receiving his permission. (4) Brahmacaryavrata, to remain chaste always. A monk is enjoined not to talk about a woman, or look at the form of a woman, or live in the same building as a woman lives in. He must not recall to mind, the former amusement and pleasure woman afforded him when he lived in the world; nor must he eat or drink to excess, or partake of too highly spiced dishes. (5) Aparigraha vrata, never to have attachment for anything or any person. �Renouncing liking for pleasant touch, taste, smell, from or word, and for all the objects of the five senses, renouncing hatred for unpleasant things, these are the ways to maintain the vow of Aparigraha.�

 

Apart from the maintenance of these five great vows the discipline of the ascetic�s daily life is very rigid. Getting up at about four o�clock, before sunrise, he performs the daily pratikrmanr which is a form of confession of the sins of the past night, then carries out pratilaikhan a daily search for any insect life that may be sheltering in his clothing etc., and after that attends to the list of his morning duties, which include, preaching, begging for alms, auricular confession to the Guru, study of the scriptures and mediation. There are innumerable rules that should be observed when begging, and they differ from sect to sect but all sects agree in only taking what may be reasonably considered to be left over after the needs of the household have been satisfied, and in refusing things specially prepared for the ascetic, In the afternoon pratilaikhan is performed again and so the evening pratikarmanr which now is a confession of sins for the day.