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Significance of Jainism
From the social history of India it is evident that Tirthankara Mahavira, in order to solve the pressing problems of the time, made several important salient contributions from a social point of view. It has been recorded that Tirthankara Mahavira, after the attainment of omniscience at the age of forty two, toured different parts of India for a continuous period of thirty years, met people from various urban, rural and tribal societies, and preached the principles and rules of conduct as laid down by Jainism. The personality and preachings of Tirthankara Mahavira created a tremendous impact on the minds of all sections of people and especially on the down-trodden sections of the population. He not only revealed to them the path of liberation, i.e., the path to attain the eternal happiness, which was the main object of the people, but also showed the actual means through which all people, irrespective of any distinction of class or status, can achieve this objective. His sincerity of purpose, way of approach, method of explanation, divine speech and distinctive philosophical and ethical doctrines appealed to the people to such an extent that with a firm conviction of mind and great determination people began to adopt Jaina religion as lay followers or as ascetics.
In this way Tirthankara Mahavira ushered in a new era of hope and aspirations for the common people and succeeded in considerably other arrangements for the perpetuation of his social order. Obviously new concepts and ideas revolutionized the entire course of life of the people. The significance of Tirthankara Mahavira lies in successfully effecting a social change and in making institutional and other arrangements for the perpetuation of his social order. Obviously, the Jaina Acharyas, thinkers and preceptors continued to advocate this new social policy. Thus the Jainas made remarkable contributions in the social field, and the significance of Jainism. from a social point of view, lies in these contributions which are briefly outlined here.
ESTABLISHMENT OF SOCIAL EQUALITY
The most significant contribution of Jainism in the social field was the establishment of social equality among the four varanas. i.e.. classes, prevalent in the society. Tirthankara Mahavira succeeded in organizing his large number of followers into a compact social order quite distinct from that of the Brahmanic social order of his time.
The Vedic society was composed of four classes, viz., Brahman, Rajanya (i.e. Ksatriya), Vaisya and Sudra. They were said to have come from the mouth, the arms, the thighs, and the feet of the Creator, Brahman. The particular limbs ascribed as the origins of these divisions and the order in which they were mentioned indicated their status in the society of the time. The fact that the four classes were described as of divine origin could be taken as sufficient indication that they were of long duration and also very well defined. Not only the four classes were distinct and separate, but they were also later on affected by the spirit of rivalry among themselves. Even in the early Rgvedic times the Brahmanical profession had begun to set up claims of superiority or grandness for itself and accordingly we find that different rules were prescribed for different classes. Obviously the prerogatives of the sacerdotal class created cleavages in the society. The Ksatriyas were assigned a position next to Brahmans and Vaisyas and Sudras were comparatively neglected. Thus the society at that time was completely class-ridden in the sense that unusual importance was given to the Brahmin class to the detriment of other classes and that nobody was allowed to change his class which he had got on the basis of his birth in that class.
Against these glaring practices based on the acceptance of social inequality and on the wide observance of social discrimination, Tirthankara Mahavira and later on Jaina Acharyas forged their opposition. Tirthankara Mahavira recognized the division of society into four classes but based them on the nature of activities carried out by the people and not on the basis of their birth. He gave full freedom to one and all, including women and the Sudras, to observe common religious practices prescribed for all and admitted them into his religious order. In this way Tirthankara Mahavira threw open the doors of Jainism to all and gave an equal opportunity to everybody, irrespective, of his, class or birth, to practice religion according to his capacity. Those who followed religion as householders (male and female) were known as sravakas and sravikas and those who observed the religion fully by leaving their houses and becoming ascetics (male and female) were called as sadhus and sadhvis.
In this way the society as envisaged by Tirthankara Mahavira and other Jaina Acharyas, was a society where classes were not hereditary like water-tight compartments and where complete freedom was granted to the people to change to the class of their own aptitude. All classes were considered as different ways of life and utmost importance was attached to individual character and mode of behavior. There was no room for anybody to feel that he was neglected or degraded as he was free enough to follow any profession he liked and he could observe all religious rites and practices with others.
Thus Tirthankara Mahavira's conception of Varna system produced social impact of great significance. The principle of social equality among the classes was finally established and the social mobility among the classes was considerably increased as the criterion of birth for the membership of a class was straightway removed. This had a very wholesome effect on the conditions of the Sudras which were very deplorable in the sense that the Sudras were deprived of education, denied all rights, subjected to inhuman treatment, and assigned the lowest position in society. Formerly the Sudras were completely disregarded in religious matters and several binding restrictions were placed on their movements and ways of living. Obviously, Tirthankara Mahavira's teachings proved a great solace to the Sudras. This resulted in the rise of social status of the down-trodden people, and similarly there was a distinct change in the social attitude towards the non-Aryans and the common masses. Slowly there arose a strong opposition to the continuation of the practice of slavery in any form.
INDEPENDENCE FROM PRIESTLY DOMINATION
Along with the establishment of social equality the teachings of Tirthankara Mahavira and the Jaina Acharyas affected to a very great extent the privileged position enjoyed by the Brahmans belonging to the priestly profession. From the Vedic times such Brahman priests enjoyed high social status, political facilities, economic concessions, educational opportunities, and religious privileges to the exclusion of other classes. In view of this monopolistic condition the Brahman priests used to hold the positions of prominence in society, and freely made use of that position for the exploitation of the masses in different fields and especially in religious matters which were of highest importance to the people.
In these circumstances Tirthankar Mahavira launched an open and forceful attack on the priestly class and on their ingenious practices used for the excessive exploitation of the common masses. At the same time Tirthankara Mahavira made his religion easily accessible to the common masses, gave equal opportunities in the practice of religion to one and all irrespective of their class affiliations, and held out a sure promise to achieve salvation, the highest goal of their life, by observing the rules of conduct laid down by the religion and not by merely getting the different kinds of sacrifices performed by the priests. This practical and ethical approach to religion vigorously and effectively enunciated by Tirthankara Mahavira made people independent of the priestly domination, created a feeling of self-reliance and appealed to the common masses. Thus Tirthankara Mahavira's opposition was to the priestly class of Brahmans and to the several tactics employed by them, for the exploitation of the common masses, by managing to keep the masses virtually ignorant and entirely dependent on the favors of the priests. This strong opposition considerably reduced the influence and domination wielded by the priestly class over the other people.
But it is significant that the opposition of Tirthankara Mahavira was confined to the priestly class of the Brahmans and not to the Brahman varna as such. In fact, Tirthankara Mahavira always appreciated the intellectual capacities of the Brahmans, initiated many learned Brahmans to Jaina religion, admitted several scholars from among the Brahmans to his ascetic order and even appointed Indrabhuti Gautama, the most learned Brahman teacher, as his first Ganadhara, i.e., the apostle or the chief disciple. In this connection it may be mentioned that Tirthankara Mahavira delivered his first upadesa, i.e., sermon, after 66 days of attainment of omniscience, and that too only when he got the collaboration of the most talented Brahman teacher, viz., Indrabhuti Gautama, for the proper interpretation of his preachings to the people. In this way Tirthankara Mahavira always showed regard to the learning and education of the Brahmans, but invariably led a strong and consistent attack against the priestly domination of the Brahmans.
RELIGIOUS EMANCIPATION OF WOMEN
Another contribution of a distinctive nature made by Tirthankara Mahavira and Jaina Acharyas in the social field was in the direction of raising the status of women. In the latter part of the Vedic period women had practically been reduced to the status of Sudras. Like the Sudras, women were debarred from the right of initiation and investment with the sacred thread. They were considered to have no business with the sacred religious texts. In many passages we find that women was considered as inauspicious and people were asked to avoid seeing women, Sudras, dead bodies, etc. Thus women had practically no place in the religious life of the society and as such they were neglected and degraded by the people.
Since the days of Rsabha the low position of women was definitely changed by Tirthankara Mahavira in many ways. He removed various restrictions imposed on women especially in the practice of religion. In fact Tirthankara Mahavira did not make any distinction between the males and the females in the observance of religion. The rules of conduct prescribed for the males and females were exactly the same. Both the sexes were given equal opportunities in different matters of religion like the study of sacred texts, observance of necessary duties, practice of vratas, i.e. vows, entrance into the ascetic order, practice of penance, making spiritual progress, etc. In the religious order of Tirthankara Mahavira the male householders were called sravakas and the female householders were termed sravikas, and both were quite free to observe their common religious duties and to prepare themselves for adopting ascetic life in due course. Similarly, complete freedom was given to women, like men, to enter the ascetic order. The female sex was not barred to the practice of asceticism. Tirthankara Mahavira always showed this attitude of equality towards women and admitted them freely into his ascetic order, no matter whether the candidates for admission were royal consorts, members of the aristocracy, and those belonging to the common run of society. Naturally many ladies availed themselves of this opportunity of achieving their salvation in due course by entering into the ascetic order. That is why in Tirthankara Mahavira's religious organization there were two orders of ascetics, like those of householders, namely, sadhus, i.e. male ascetics and sadhvis, i.e. female ascetics. It is stated that in Tirthankara Mahavira's fourfold religious order there were about 14000 sadhus, 36000 sadhus, 1,00,000 Sravaks and 3,00,000 Sravikas. This shows that the female members outnumbered the male members in both the categories of householders and ascetics. It is a clear indication that the females were very eager to take full advantage of the opportunity offered to them by Tirthankara Mahavira. In fact, many females from royal families and close relatives of Tirthankara Mahavira joined his ascetic order along with the other ordinary members. For example, Chandana and Jydesta, the two younger sisters of queen Trisaladevi, the mother of Mahavira, and Yasasvati, the wife of their maternal uncle entered the ascetic order of Tirthankara Mahavira; and eventually Chandana assumed the position of the head of the sadhvis, i.e. the female ascetics. In this way Tirthankara Mahavira effected emancipation of women by giving them similar opportunities like men to achieve their highest objective in life, viz. liberation. Females made best of these opportunities and many of them distinguished themselves as teachers and preachers.
IMPETUS TO FEMALE EDUCATION
Further the religious independence given to women had its repercussions in other fields also. Equality of opportunity was accorded to women in several social spheres of action. In education they were given equal treatment with the males. The utmost importance of imparting education to females, along with males, was realized even in the ancient past by Rsabhadeva, the first Tirthankara, who had advised his two young daughters, Brahmi and Sundari. That "only when you would adorn yourself with education your life would be fruitful because just as a learned man is held in high esteem by educated persons, a learned lady also occupies the highest position in the female world." According to Jaina tradition women are expected to know 64 arts which include dancing, painting, music, aesthetics, medicine, domestic science etc. As a result of this high type of education received by women, we find, in Jaina tradition, that many women used to enter the teaching profession and to remain unmarried throughout their life, in order to carry on their spiritual experiments unhampered. It is recorded in Jaina tradition that Jayanti, a daughter of king Sahasranika of Kausambi, remained unmarried out of her love for religion and philosophy. When Mahavira first visited Kausambi, she discussed with him several abstruse metaphysical questions and eventually became a nun. Similarly, in later periods of history also Jaina women not only kept up the pace of female education but at ties made original contributions to literature. For example, along with men Jaina women also added to Kannada literature. The greatest name among them was Kanti, who along with the great poet Abhinava Pampa, was one of the gems that adorned the court of Hoyasala king Balla I (A.D. 1100-1106) in Karnatak. She was a redoubtable orator and poet who completed the unfinished poems of Abhivana Pampa in the open court of that ruler. Similarly, Jaina lady Avvaiyara. the Venerable Matron, was one of the most admired amongst the poets in Tamil language.
INCULCATION OF SELF-RELIANCE
The contribution of Tirathnkara Mahavira and Jaina Acharyas of a revolutionary nature consisted in completely changing the attitude of the people towards God and thereby inculcating the spirit of self-reliance among the minds of the people. The common belief, held by the people according to the prevalent ideology, was that this world has been created by God and the work of controlling the events in this world in also carried out by God. This popular belief engendered a feeling of divine dispensation in the kinds of the people because it was firmly held by the people that God can do and undo anything in this world in accordance with his wishes. Naturally this feeling created a sense of complete dependence on God by the people in the conduct of their daily activities and in securing happiness in this world as well as in the next world. Obviously this sense of dependence on God urged people to find out ways and means so as to obtain in abundant measure the favors of God in mundane and spiritual matters and also to avoid the displeasure or wrath of God which, it was thought, would not only bring several difficulties in the normal course of life but also would lead to complete disaster. As a result of this attitude, people began to place entirely blind faith on the omnipotent God and to secure his favors by practicing certain rites and rituals laid down for the purposes. These prescribed rituals are so elaborate that they did require the services of priests who were supposed to have the special knowledge about these rites and who were also specifically authorized to perform these rituals in a proper manner. In this way the entire code of conduct of the people was fully dominated by the practice of various rituals throughout the course of life and by the priests whose help and assistance were considered most essential to work as intermediary between people and God for securing desired favors from God.
Tirthankara Mahavira and Jaina Acharyas launched an intensive attack on this attitude of complete submission to God by the people for attaining their final objective in life. viz. liberation. In this regard Tirthankara Mahavira firmly asserted that this world is eternal and has not been created by any power like God and that the happenings in this world are not controlled by God. He clearly proclaimed that nothing here or elsewhere depends on the favors of God but everything depends on the actions of the people. He confidently stated that all persons, irrespective of their ultimate objective in life, by relying on themselves and through the observance of an ethical code of conduct and not by merely performing some rituals with the help of others. For this purpose he laid down a path to liberation which consisted of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct and appealed to the people to follow this path on their individual initiative and efforts and not with the help of any intermediary.
Further, he impressed on the people the theory of karma which is based on the principle of self-reliance. This doctrine explains the reasons lying behind or causes leading to effects. It maintains that every happening in this world is the result of some antecedent causes. Since the individual soul is the doer of actions, it must bear the consequences of these actions sooner or later. The is no way out of it. The responsibility of consequences cannot be shifted nor exemption from the consequences of these actions sooner or later. There is no way out of it. The responsibility of consequent cannot be shifted nor exemption from the consequences be given by anybody. The soul has to enjoy the fruits of the karmas in this life or in subsequent lives. There is no salvation until the soul stops the influx of karmas and gets rid of existing karmas and this it will have to do by its own deliberate efforts without expecting any help form an outside agency like God. There is no use in asking the favor of God or his representative because they do not have the power of determining the consequence of the karmas and have no authority to forgive people form future consequences of past actions.
This theory of karmas has been an original and integral part of the Jaina ideology, and Tirthankara Mahavira convinced the people of the necessity of adopting this doctrine and of molding their entire life on the foundation of this theory. Naturally Tirthankara Mahavira laid full stress on individual action and completely denied the existence of divine dispensation. He emphasized that man is the architect of his destiny and that there is no external power which can come in the way of getting the fruits of ones actions, whether good or bad. He assured the people that the attainment of liberation, the ultimate object in life, is within their reach and it depends entirely on ones own efforts in the march on the path liberation. In this way Tirthankara Mahavira wanted every individual to become a true hero on the battlefield of self-conquest. Thus Tirthankara Mahavira inculcated a spirit of reliance among the people in place of the feelings of utter dependence on God. This basic change in attitude brought an over-all change in the course of life of the people who began of lay stress more on the ethical aspects than on the ritualistic aspects of their conduct.
EMPHASIS ON NON-VIOLENCE
The most distinctive contribution of Tirthankara Mahavira and Jaina acharyas consists in their great emphasis on the observance of ahimsa, i.e. non-injury to living beings, by all persons to the maximum extent possible. Ahimsa in its full significance was realized and preached by twenty-three Tirthankaras preceeding Tirthankara Mahavira. In fact, the philosophy and rules of conduct laid down in Jaina religion have been based on the solid foundation of ahimsa which has throughout and consistently, been followed to its logical conclusion. That is why Jainism has become synonymous with ahimsa and Jaina religion is considered as the religion of ahimsa. The significance of this basic principle of ahimsa was very powerfully reiterated by Tirthankara Mahavira as the practices of committing violence on different pretexts had become rampant at that time.
During the later Vedic period utmost importance was attached to the performance of sacrifices with a view to secure the favors of God and to avert His anger. The sacrifices were very elaborate, complicated and hedged with various restrictions. The sacrifices became a regular feature of the religious life of the people. The peculiar characteristic of these sacrifices was that they were usually accompanied by the slaughter of animals. As the sacrifices were mainly animal sacrifices they involved the practice of himsa to a considerable extent. Along with this practice, the flesh-eating or non-vegetarian diet was extremely popular among the different sections of the people. The people in those days were fond of meat-eating and practically all the important ceremonies were attended with the slaughter of animals. Offerings of flesh were frequently made to the Gods by worshippers.
Tirthankara Mahavira and Jaina Acharyas launched a vigorous attack against meat-eating and the performance sacrificial rites by propagating the principle of ahimsa, i.e. non-injury to living beings. In fact in all his preachings Tirthankara Mahavira invariably laid great stress on the observance of ahimsa because the principle of ahimsa is the logical outcome of the basic Jaina metaphysical theory that all the souls are potentially equal. He therefore asserted that as no one likes pain, one should not do unto others what one does not want others to do unto oneself. Since all living beings possessed a soul, the principle of non-injury was obviously extended to cover all living beings. He explained the doctrine of ahimsa systematically and to the minutest detail. He considered injury or violence of three kinds: (i) physical violence, which covered killing, wounding and causing any physical pain, (ii) violence in words consisted in using harsh words, and (iii) mental violence, which implied bearing ill-feeling towards others. Further, he made it clear that violence or injury should be avoided in three ways, that is, it should not be committed, commissioned or consented to. Moreover, among the five main vratas, i.e. vows, the first place was given to the observance of ahimsa. In addition, ahimsa was regarded as the principal vow, and the other four vows were considered to be merely details of the principal vow.
All these preachings of Jaina religion regarding the strict observance of the principle of ahimsa to the maximum extent possible by every individual in society produced far-reaching effects in social fields. The practice performing sacrificial rites and especially the slaughter of animals at the time of sacrifices considerably fell into disuse. Similarly killing of animals for hunting, sports and decoration purposes was greatly reduced. Further, the slaughter of animals and birds with a view to use their flesh as a form of diet slowly became unpopular. In this way injury to living beings was greatly reduced and the practice of vegetarian diet was adopted by large sections of population in different regions of the country. In this connection Dr. N.K. Dutt (in his book Origin and Growth of Caste in India) observes that "Animal sacrifice had been so long standing among the Aryans and such was the respect for the authority of the Vedas, which made it obligatory to sacrifice with flesh offerings, that the abolition of sacrifices, even of cows, became a very slow process effecting only a very small minority, the intellectual section of he people; and might not have succeeded at all, if Jainism and Buddhism had not overwhelmed the country and the mass of the people with the teachings of ahimsa and inefficacy of sacrificial rites."
Thus Tirthankara Mahavira emphasized the basic fact that every living being has a sanctity and a dignity of its own and therefore one must respect it as one expects ones own dignity to be respected by others. He also firmly emphasized that life is sacred irrespective of species, caste, color, creed or nationality. On this basis he advocated the principle of Live and let live. In this way Tirthankara Mahavira convinced the people that the practice of ahimsa is both an individual and a collective virtue and showed that ahimsa has a positive force and a universal appeal.
INSISTENCE ON TOLERANCE
Advocacy of the principle of religious tolerance has been the characteristic contribution of Tirthankara Mahavira and the Jaina Acharyas. When Tirthankara Mahavira promulgated Jaina religion, he never deprecated other religions and never tried to prove that other religions are false. In fact he propounded the doctrine of Anekantavada, i.e., many-sidedness, and showed that a thing can be considered from many points of view. That is why he always advised the people to find out the truth in anything after taking into account several sides or aspects of that thing. This obviously broadens the outlook of the persons as they are made to look at a thing from different angles. At the same time the principle of Anekantavada does not engender the feelings of enmity or hatred towards the other religionists because it believes that other religions also would be having some truth from their points of view. Hence by enunciating the principle of Anekantavada, Tirthankara Mahavira and the Jaina acharyas advocated the principle of tolerance and asserted that it could be applied to intellectual, social, religious and other fields of activities. As a result we find that Anekantavada has definitely a bearrng on man's psychological and spiritual life and that it is not confined to solve a mere ontological problem. It has supplied the philosopher with catholicity of thought, convincing him that truth is not anybody's monopoly with tariff walls of denominational religion. It also furnished the religious aspirant with the virtue of intellectual toleration which is a part of ahimsa.
Human beings have limited knowledge and inadequate expression. That is why different doctrines are inadequate, at the most they are one-sided views of Truth which cannot be duly enclosed in words and concepts. Jainism has always held that it is wrong, if not dangerous, to presume that one's own creed alone represents the truth. Toleration is, therefore, the characteristic of Jaina ideology as propounded by Tirthankara Mahavira. Even the Jaina monarchs and generals have a clean and commendable record to their credit in this regard. The political history of India knows no cases of persecution by Jaina kings, even when Jaina monks and laymen have suffered at the hands of other religionists of fanatical temper. Dr. B.A. Saletore has rightly observed in this regard that "The principle of ahimsa was partly responsible for the greatest contribution of the Jainas to Hindu culture--that relating to toleration. Whatever may he said concerning the rigidity with which they maintained their religious tenets and the tenacity and skill with which they met and defeated their opponents in religious disputations, yet it cannot be denied that the Jainas fostered the principle of toleration more sincerely and at the same time more successfully than any other community in India".
ENCOURAGEMENT TO SOCIAL WELFARE.
Along with the maximum emphasis on the actual observance of ahimsa, Tirthankara Mahavira and the Jaina acharyas greatly extended the implications of ahimsa. They invariably stressed both the negative and the positive aspects of ahimsa . They strongly advocated that the concept of ahimsa should not be confined only to the negative side of it, that is, the avoidance of injury to the living beings of different categories, but should be consistently applied in the positive way, that is, in the direction of increasing the welfare of all living beings. They always appealed to the people to bear good intentions about the prosperity of others, to show active interest in the welfare of the needy persons, and to take practical steps to ameliorate the miserable conditions of afflicted living beings including insects, birds, animals and men. This positive encouragement to social welfare activities has been the most useful and noteworthy contribution of Jainism to Indian Culture.
This humanitarian approach to lessen the miseries of living beings was included in the vrata, i.e. vow, of aparigraha, i.e. abstention from greed of worldly possessions. The vow of aparigraha is the fifth of the five main vows which must be consistently followed by all persons. Aparigraha involves avoiding the fault of parigraha which consists in desiring more than what is needed by an individual. Accumulating even necessary articles in large numbers, expressing wonder at the prosperity of others, excessive greed and changing the proportions of existing possessions are all forms of parigraha i.e. worldly attachments. This vow aims at putting a limit on the worldly possessions by individuals according to their needs and desires. That is why this vow of aparigraha is many times termed as parigraha-parimana-vrata, i.e. the vow to limit one's worldly possessions.
This vow of parigraha-parimana is very noteworthy as it indirectly aims at economic equalization by peacefully preventing under accumulation of capital in individual hands. It recommends that a householder should fix, beforehand, the limit of his maximum belongings, and should, in no case, exceed it. If he ever happens to earn more than that he must spend it away in dana, i.e. charities. The best forms of charities prescribed by religion are ahara-abhaya-bhaisajya-sastra-dana, i.e. giving food to the hungry and the poor, saving the lives of people in danger, distribution of medicines and spreading knowledge. These charities are called the chaturvidha-dana i.e. the fourfold gifts, by Jaina religion and it has been enjoined on the householders that they should make special efforts to give these charities to the needy irrespective of caste or creed.
From the beginning the Jaina householders made it one of their cardinal principles to give these four gifts to all persons who are in need of such help. In fact this help was extended to the protection and well-being of insects, birds and animals also. For this the Jainas established alm-houses, rest-houses, dispensaries and educational institutions wherever they were concentrated in good numbers. The annachhatralayas, i.e. alm-houses, were conducted at pilgrim and other centers for the benefit of poor people. In the dharmasalas, i.e. rest houses, lodging arrangements were provided without any charges or at nominal charges at important towns, cities and pilgrim places. The ausadhalayas, i.e. dispensaries, provided free medicines to the afflicted persons. Along with the dispensaries for men, the Jainas conducted special institutions known as Pinjarapolas for the protection and care of helpless and decrepit animals and birds. In unusual times of flood and famine these pinjarapolas carry out various activities for animal protection. There is hardly any town or village of Gujarat or Rajasthan, where a pinjarapola is not present in some form or other. the spread of education the Jainas took a leading part in the education of the masses. Various relics show that formerly Jaina ascetics took a great share in teaching children in the southern countries, viz. Andhra, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra. In this connection Dr. A.S. Altekar rightly observes (in his book Rastrakutas and Their Times) that before the beginning of the alphabet proper the children should be required to pay homage to the deity Ganesha, by reciting the formula Sri Ganesaya namah, it is natural in Hindu society, but that in the Deccan even today it should be followed by the Jaina formula 'Om namah siddham', it shows that the Jaina leaders of medieval age had so completely controlled the mass education that the Hindus continued to teach their children this originally-Jaina formula even after the decline of Jainism. Even now the Jainas have rigorously maintained the tradition by giving freely these Chaturvidha-danas, i.e. four types of gifts, in all parts of India. In this manner the legacy of Mahavira has been continued to the present day.
Thus there is an immense value attached to this vow of aparigraha or parigraha-parimana from social point of view. At the same time this vow has got a great significance in preparing a proper mental attitude towards material possessions, in forming a true scale of values, and in developing a right sense of proportion for individual possessions. This vow emphasizes that one should not feel too much attachment towards his own possessions and should resist all temptations. It teaches that one may keep wealth and commodities to satisfy one's requirements but one should not lose oneself in the pursuit of material gain. In this manner it appeals that one should rise above greed, vanity, lust, etc. Thus the vow of aparigraha inculcates a particular mental attitude of self-restraint in the face of pleasures, of stoicism before temptations and of detachment from superfluities and super-abundances. This attitude of mind is perhaps more necessary today than ever before.