Mahavira, also known as Vardhamana, was an ancient Indian philosopher and spiritual leader who founded Jainism, one of the major religions of India. He was born in 599 BCE in the city of Vaishali, which is now part of modern-day Bihar, India.
Mahavira was born into a royal family but renounced his luxurious lifestyle at the age of 30 to become an ascetic and dedicate himself to spiritual pursuits. He practiced meditation, self-discipline, and austerity for 12 years, during which he attained enlightenment and became known as a Jina, which means “conqueror” in Sanskrit.
Mahavira’s teachings emphasized non-violence, self-control, and the importance of leading a simple and virtuous life. He preached that all living beings have a soul and that one must avoid causing harm to others in order to achieve spiritual liberation.
Mahavira’s teachings continue to be a major influence on Jainism and have also had a significant impact on other Indian religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism. He is considered a highly revered figure in Indian history and culture.
Achievements of Mahavira
Mahavira is primarily known for his role as the founder of Jainism, one of the major religions of India. His teachings and philosophy have had a lasting impact on Indian culture and society. Some of his key achievements include:
- Establishment of Jainism: Mahavira founded Jainism and established its core principles, including the emphasis on non-violence, self-control, and the importance of leading a simple and virtuous life.
- Spreading the message of Jainism: Mahavira traveled extensively throughout India, spreading the teachings of Jainism and gaining many followers. He preached to people from all walks of life and is believed to have converted a significant number of people to the Jain faith.
- Promotion of non-violence: Mahavira emphasized the importance of non-violence towards all living beings, including animals and plants. This principle has had a significant impact on Indian culture and has influenced other religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism.
- Influence on Indian philosophy: Mahavira’s teachings and philosophy have had a significant impact on Indian philosophy, particularly in the areas of ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology.
- Inspiration to millions: Mahavira’s life and teachings continue to inspire millions of people around the world. His emphasis on non-violence, simplicity, and self-discipline have made him a highly revered figure in Indian culture and society.
Mahavira’s teachings and philosophy were primarily transmitted orally, and so there are no written records of his actual quotes. However, there are many sayings attributed to him in Jain scriptures and texts. Here are a few examples:
“All living beings long to live without fear. See yourself in others, and then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?”
“A man is seated on top of a tree in the midst of a burning forest. He sees all living beings perish. But he doesn’t realize that the same fate is soon to overtake him also. That man is foolish who thinks himself immortal.”
“Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being.”
“The greatest weapon against evil is non-violence.”
“The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it; not having it, to confess your ignorance.”
“Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Live a life of self-control, discipline, and moderation.”
“The greatest prayer is patience.”
“The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.”
“Happiness and suffering are the result of our own actions.”
“One who conquers the self, conquers the world.”
“The only way to escape the misery of life is through detachment.”
“Anger begets more anger, and forgiveness and love lead to more forgiveness and love.”
“The universe is not something separate from us. We are in it and it is in us.”
“To know yourself, you must first observe yourself.”
“We should never harm our enemies. Rather, we should try to make them our friends.”
“The essence of nonviolence is love.”
“Do not be attached to anything, for attachment brings pain.”
“Desire is the cause of all suffering.”
“The more we give, the more we receive.”
“Do not believe anything simply because you have heard it. Test it by your own experience.”
“The root of all suffering is ignorance.”
“True knowledge is that which liberates.”
“The key to happiness is contentment.”
“Our true nature is pure consciousness, free from all limitations.”
“True meditation is not the concentration of the mind, but the expansion of the soul.”
“The greatest wealth is contentment with little.”
“Truth is the highest religion.”
“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”
“One who is kind to all creatures is kind to oneself.”
“The path to enlightenment is open to all who seek it.”
These quotes reflect Mahavira’s emphasis on non-violence, compassion, and the importance of leading a simple and virtuous life.
Inspiring Stories of Mahavira
Mahavira’s life was filled with inspiring stories that have been passed down through generations in Jain literature and folklore. Here are a few examples:
- The story of his renunciation: Mahavira was born into a royal family, but at the age of 30, he decided to renounce his luxurious lifestyle and dedicate himself to spiritual pursuits. He gave away his wealth and possessions and became an ascetic, practicing meditation, self-discipline, and austerity for 12 years.
- The story of his enlightenment: After 12 years of intense practice, Mahavira attained enlightenment while meditating under a tree. He realized the true nature of the universe and the cycle of birth and death, and became known as a Jina or “conqueror” of the cycle of rebirth.
- The story of his compassion: Mahavira was known for his compassion towards all living beings, including animals and plants. Once, while meditating, he accidentally stepped on some insects, and he felt so much remorse that he refused to move from that spot until the insects had recovered.
- The story of his teachings: Mahavira traveled extensively throughout India, preaching his message of non-violence, self-control, and the importance of leading a simple and virtuous life. He gained many followers and inspired a movement that would go on to become one of the major religions of India.
- The story of his death: According to Jain tradition, Mahavira died at the age of 72, having achieved complete liberation from the cycle of rebirth. His followers continue to venerate him as a highly revered figure in Jainism.
These stories illustrate Mahavira’s commitment to his spiritual path, his compassion towards all living beings, and his influence on the development of Jainism as a major religion in India.
Mahavira (599 BCE – 527 BCE) was an ascetic and spiritual leader who founded the Jain religion in ancient India. His teachings emphasize the importance of non-violence, self-control, and the pursuit of spiritual liberation. Here are some of Mahavira’s key teachings:
- Ahimsa: Non-violence is the foundation of Mahavira’s teachings. He believed in the inherent worth of all living beings and encouraged his followers to abstain from harming any living creature, including animals and insects.
- Karma: Mahavira taught that every action has consequences, and that individuals are responsible for the consequences of their actions. He believed that the accumulation of good karma was necessary for spiritual liberation.
- Non-attachment: Mahavira emphasized the importance of non-attachment to material possessions, status, and relationships. He believed that attachment leads to suffering, and that true freedom and happiness can only be attained by detachment.
- Self-control: Mahavira taught that self-control was essential to spiritual growth. He encouraged his followers to cultivate control over their thoughts, words, and actions, and to overcome negative emotions like anger, greed, and jealousy.
- Equality: Mahavira believed in the fundamental equality of all living beings, regardless of caste, gender, or social status. He encouraged his followers to treat everyone with respect and compassion.
- Anekantavada: Mahavira taught that truth is complex and multifaceted, and that different perspectives can be equally valid. He believed in the importance of tolerance, and encouraged his followers to be open-minded and respectful of differing viewpoints.
Mahavira’s teachings emphasize the importance of compassion, non-violence, self-control, and spiritual growth. His philosophy has had a profound influence on Jainism and continues to inspire people around the world today.
….Information Integrated by Palguni G T and Dr. Thyagaraju G S