DOCTRINES OF MAHAVIRA
1. The Philosophical Doctrines:
Since Tirthankara Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara in the uniterrupted succession of Tirthankaras of the Jaina tradition beginning from the lst Tirthankara Rishabhadeva, he preached the doctrines which were already propounded by his 23 predecessors. Parshvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara flourished 250 years before Tirthankara Mahavira and during his lifetime Parshvanatha did propagate the basic doctrines of Jainism to the benefit of mankind. But after Parshvanath the condi tions of life considerably changed and common people were found holding various beliefs and observing several practices. which were completely opposed to the beliefs and practices laid down by Jaina religion. Hence there was a dire necessity to bring back the common masses to the right path advocated by the Jaina Tirthankaras. This urgent need was met by ‘f irthankara Mahavira during the sixth century B. C. by emphasising the age-old principles of Jainism to all categories of persons scattered over different parts of India. Tirthanhara Mahavira continued his preaching tour for 30 years till he attained Parinirvana. In this mission of propagation of his doctrines and of conversion of people to the Jaina way of life, ‘firthankara Mahavira was highly successful because people were greatly impressed by his divine voice, oratorical powers, sublime personality, and sincerity of purpose and were firmly convinced about the utility of adopting the Jaina way of life. Thus the doctrines preached by Tirthankara Mahavira were sentially the doctrines of Jainism.
The basic principle in the philosophical doctrines of ‘I’i:rthankara Mahavira is that ‘Sat’ i. e. reality is uncreated and ulcoanal and that it is characterised by `Utpada’ i. e. origination or appearance, `Vyaya’ i. e. destruction or disappearance and. alhrrcrrr.ya’ i. c. permanence. Further, every object of reality is found possessed of infinite characters, both with respect to hat it is and what it is not. It has its `paryayas’, i.e. modes and `gunas’, i, e. qualities, through which persists the essential substratum through all the times. The basic substance with its qualities is something that is permanent, while the modes or accidental characters appear and disappear: In this way both change and permanence are facts of experience.’ For example, the soul or spirit is eternal with its inseparable character- of consciousness, but at the same time it is subjected to accidental characters like pleasure and pain and super-imposed modes such as body, etc. both of which are changing constantly. The gold, for instance, with its colour and density is something that is permanent though it is subjected to different shapes at different times.
Further, the philosophical doctrines assert that in this world `dravyas’ i. e. the substances, are real as they are characterized by existence. The substances are six in number and they can be broadly divided into two major categories , viz. Viva’, i. e. living and `ajiva’, i. e. non-living.
(A) The Viva Dravya : The jiva means Atman i. e. soul or spirit. The jiva is essentially a unit of consciousness and there is an infinity of them. The whole world is literally filled with them. The souls are substances and as such they are eternal. Their characteristic mark is intelligence, which can never be destroyed. The soul is ever all perfect and all power ful. But by ignorance it identifies itself with matter and hence all its troubles and degradations start.
The souls are of two kinds, viz. (a) `samsarin’, i. e. mundane or :baddha’, i.e. those in bondage, and (b) `siddha’, i.e. liberated or `mukta’ i.e. those that are free. Mundane souls are the embodied souls of living beings in the world and are still subject to the cycle of Birth. On the other hand, the liberated souls are those who have reached Nirvana or `Mukti’ i. e. freedom from being em bodied. It means that the liberated souls will be embodied no more. Such liberated souls dwell in the state of perfection at the top of the universe and they have no more to do with worldly affairs. The liberated souls also accomplish absolute purity and in their pure condition they possess four attributes
known as `Ananta-Chatushtaya’, Infinite Quaternary, viz.
ananta-darslaana’ i.e. infinite perception,
`ananta- a’, i. e. infinite knowledge,
ananta-virya’, i.e. infinite power and
`ananta-sukha’, i.e. infinite bliss.
Thus the most significant difference between the mundane and the liberated soul consists in the fact that the former is permeated with subtle matter known as `Karma’; while the latter is absolutely pure and free from any material alloy.
The mundane souls are of two kinds,-_viz: (l) Sthavara, i.e.. the immobile or one-sensed souls, that is, having only the sense of touch; and (2) Trasa, i.e. the mobiles or many-sensed souls, that is, having bodies with more than one sense organ. The former are associated with earth, water, fire, wind and plants, and the latter differ among themselves according to the number of sense-organs.
(B) The Ajiva Drayas : The non-living substances are of five kinds, namely,
(i) Pudgala, i.e. matter,
(ii) Dharma, i.e. medium of motion,
(iii) Adharma. i.e. medium of rest,
(i) Akasha, i.e. space and
(ii) (v) Kala, i.e. time.
Though all these are characterized by existence, the constitution of time is slightly different : it -has no existence in space, but is made up of partite units. The matter is the non-living stuff possessed of sense-qualities with varied functions and forms; the principles of motion and rest facilitate all movements and static states in this physical universe; all these substances are accommodated in space; and it is the principle of time that marks continuity or change.
The doctrines of Jainism emphasise that these six jiva and ajiva dravyas, i.e. living and non-living substances, are externally existing, uncreated and with no beginning in time. As substances they are eternal and unchanging, but their modifications are passing through a flux of changes. Their mutual co-operation and interaction explain all that we imply by the term `creation’. Hence the doctrines of Jainism do not admit any intelligent `Creator’ who can be credited with the making of this universe.
Further, the doctrines of Jainism not only state that the whole universe can be divided into jiva and ajivadravyas, i.e. the living and the non-living substances, but also explain the nature and interaction of these two elements. It is asserted, in short, that the living and the non-living, by coming into contact with each other, forge certain energies which bring about birth, death and various experiences of life; this process could be stopped, and the energies already forged destroyed, by a course of discipline leading to salvation. A close analysis of this brief statement shows that it involves the following seven propositions :
(i) that there is something called the living;
(ii) that there is something called the non-living;
(iii) that the two come into contact with each other;
(iv) that the contact leads to the production of some energies;
(v) that the process of contact could be stopped;
(vi) that the existing energies could also be exhausted; and
(vii) that the salvation could be achieved.
These seven propositions are called the seven tattvas or realities in Jaina philosophy. These tattvas are termed as follows :
(i) Jiva, i.e. living substance.
(ii) Ajiva, i.e. matter or non-living substance,
(iii) Ashrava, i.e. the influx of Karmic matter into the soul,
(iv) Bandha, i. e. bondage of soul by Karmic matter,
(v) Samvara, i. e. the stopping of Ashrava,
(vi) Nirjara, i.e the gradual removal of Karmic matter, and
(vii) Moksha, i.e. the attainment of perfect freedom.