A large number of religious upheavals were witnessed in the 6th century BC of Indian Ancient History. A large number of people were opposing Vedic culture due to orthodox (strict) rituals and other weaknesses. As a result, many new sects started growing like Jainism(teachings of Mahavira), Buddhism, and Ajivikas.
The growth of these new sects was due to complications, ritualism, sacrifices and expensive ceremonies which were practiced in Hinduism. Holding of sacrifices, Yajnas and Havanas were very expensive and ordinary people could not afford to hold these rituals.
Moreover, These sacrifices and rituals were conducted in Sanskrit but Sanskrit was not the language of the masses so it was difficult for people to understand.
Origin of Jainism
It is generally believed that Mahavira was the founder of Jainism. But the followers of Jainism consider him as 24th Tirthankar(spiritual teacher of Dharma) of Jainism and last one.
Rishab was the first Tirthankara and founder of Jainism. He was the father of 1st Chakravartin king of India named Bharat.
It is believed that 23rd Tirthankara Parshav lived in about 8th century BC and was the son of Kshatriya king Ashavsen of Benaras. He left household at the age of 30 years and became ascetic. After that Mahavira rigorously meditated for 84 days and finally achieved enlightenment or ultimate knowledge. Then he decided to preach the ultimate knowledge among his followers for the next 70 years. Mahavira died about 250 years before the death of Mahavira. Parshavnath asked his followers to take four vows as follows:
1) Non-violence (not to injure anyone)
2)Satya (not to tell a lie)
3 )Asatya (not to steal anything)
4)Aparigraha (not to possess any property)
We have the reference that Parshav permitted his followers to lead married life and to wear clothes to cover their bodies.
Real Name: Vardhamana
Birth Year: 599 Bc
Birth Place: Kshrtiyakund, Vaishali (now in Bihar)
Father: Siddharth(Chief of Jnatrika clan)
Mother: Trishla(sister of prince Chetaka)
Daughter: Priya Darshana
Age of attaining Kevalya: 42yrs
Age of attaining Moksha:72 yrs
Death: 527 BC
When Vardhaman was 30 years old, he renounced the royal life and became a monk. For the next 12 years, he used to roam from one place to another doing all sorts of penances. During these years he subdued his senses. Many times he was cursed and attacked by people but he never lost his patience and remained cool and calm. Finally, in the 13th year of his renouncing the household life, Vardhaman attained the Kevalya ( supreme knowledge). Now he possesses infinite knowledge, power, and joy.
Thus, Vardhamana became Jina(conqueror) at the age of 42 years and was named as Mahavira(Great Hero). Now he decided to teach people about his new doctrine and founded a new sect Jainism and his followers were known by name Jaina. Mahavira died in 468 BC at Pawa near Rajgriha (Present day Patna) after preaching Jainism for 30 years.
Teachings Of Mahavira
The teachings advocated by Lord Mahavira were as follows:
1)Mahavira rejected the belief that this world is created by God. And believed that this world and human being consists of two elements:
He says that soul born again and again and us indestructible.
2)He also rejected the authority of Vedas.
3)He advocated and preached that only aim of life should be to attain Nirvana (salvation).
4)He believed in Karma and transmigration of the soul. And advocated that the present and future of a person is the result of their past Karma or deeds.
5)He believed that a soul undergoes countless incarnations in the transmigratory cycle.
Five Categories of Jaina Soul
¡)Tirthankars (those who has attained salvation)
¡¡)Arhat (one who is about to attain salvation)
¡¡¡)Acharya (one who is head of an ascetic group)
¡v)Upadhyaya (teacher or saint)
According to Mahavira, every Jaina household should observe the following five ethical principles:-
1)Ahimsa (non-violence):- There should be no violence at all. The dignity of every individual should be respected. We should be kind and sympathetic to all living beings.
2)Satya (truthfulness):- One should be true to his words and deeds. We should always speak the truth and never lie in any situation.
3)Asatya (Non-Stealing):-One should not steal anything from anyone. It is a crime and you do not have any right on someone else’s property.
4)Aparigraha (not to possess any property):- Mahavir stresses upon non-possession and non-attachment to material property. One should be satisfied with the limited property required only for the living.
5)Brahmacharya (celibacy): This principle was an addition by Mahavira to existing four vows advocated by Parshav Nath. Celibacy in action, words and thoughts are expected from those who follow the path of Jaina monk. For lay Jains who are married, the virtue of brahmacharya requires remaining sexually faithful to one’s chosen partner. For lay Jains who are unmarried, chaste living requires Jains to avoid sex before marriage.
This was all about Early life and teachings of Mahavira.
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