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Mahavira | 24th Tirthankara of Jainism his teachings and essence

By Vijay Kumar

Vardhamana Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism was the last of the series of 24th Tirthankars in Jainism Dharma. Jainism as we understand today is primarily focused on the teachings and essence of Bhagwan Mahavira. Why?

Right from the Times of the first Tirthankara Rishabdeva (aka Adinatha) nothing and up till the 23rd Tirthankara... the tenets and the teachings of Jainism did not exist in the society as in the Times of Mahavira. It was only in the Times of Mahavira that Jainism took its roots.

The precipitation of all the teachings right from the first Tirthankara Rishabdeva (aka Adinatha) and up till the 23rd Tirthankara Parshvanath occurred only when Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara arrived on the scene.

If we are to mix hydrogen and oxygen gas to make drinking water then most of us would be least concerned with the process itself. It is only when the two gases meet and the water is formed... we recognize the process. It was not the process but the end result we are after!

In life it is the goal and not the journey which matters most. Once we have a goal in sight... to be able to traverse the journey would not be difficult! What use is of the journey where there is no goal?

Mahavira came about 1000 years after the advent of Lord Krishna who gave to the humanity the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. If Bhagavad Gita comprises of 18 fundamentals of life then... Jainism as propounded by Mahavira may contain only 15 fundamentals.

In the Times of Mahavira even these 15 fundamentals were difficult to assimilate. The society had started degenerating from the Times of Lord Krishna.

In the present times one can often find people quoting that it is difficult to reach the level of Swami Vivekananda... what to talk of becoming Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa or reaching the stage of Bhagwan Mahavira himself.

As the society loses its value... people tend to become more and more materialistic. Mahavira gave to the society the fundamentals of Ahimsa and the doctrine of Anekantavada. These two realities of life imbibed in the general masses a feeling of compassion and also Vairagya (Asceticism).

It is Mahavira and Mahavira alone who taught us the real meaning of unity in diversity. It was Mahavira who taught us that even Lions and the buffaloes can live together in harmony. Whether we believe in the teachings of Mahavira or not... it is a confirmed fact of life that without the practice of Ahimsa in real life... the life itself loses its meaning!

Mahavira also taught us that the total humanity including the various other forms of life can always live-in harmony. It was the fundamentals of Anekantavada which made it possible for mankind to live a harmonious life. Now, what is Anekantavada?

If I were standing on the first floor of the house and someone in the house on the ground floor called for me then, what would one say "call him down from above". Now a person standing on the second floor of the house would call for me as "call him above".

How is it possible that both the narrations are correct? As per Mahavira it is the fundamental of Anekantavada which confirms that both the statements are correct. The perspectives may be different but the doctrine of Anekantavada by Mahavira relies upon the principle of logistical conclusions.

In the present society where Religions are numerous... as per the doctrine of Anekantavada preached by Mahavira... all can live-in harmony for it is only the viewpoint that may be different but the goals of all the Religions is always the same. All man Gods like Mahavira, Gautama Buddha, Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed preached the same.

Mahavira was instrumental in precipitating what we know as Jainism. Mahavira was the one who bared it all in the end. Mahavira was able to prove to the society that every human being can reach the ultimate goal of life... become an enlightened soul (self realized atman).

Mahavira contrary to Jesus Christ never stated that normal human beings can not reach the level of Jesus Christ himself. Mahavira always stated that it is within the means of every human being to become Mahavira in one's lifetime.

According to Mahavira, the essence of Jainism is one who has won himself... one who transcends all the barriers of the physical mundane life and crosses over to the spiritual end of life! The word Jainism is derived from the root word "Jina"... meaning one who has realized his real self and merges his identity with the bigger whole, God the Almighty himself.

Jainism is not a religion and the followers of Mahavira and Jainism beliefs are never referred to as following Mahavirism. Jainism has always been preached and considered as "a way of life". It is a Dharma following which one can become enlightened like Mahavira in one's lifetime.

It is only Jainism which believes in the fact that the body of a human being is a garb for the soul (atman) within. The Tirthankars in Jainism wore no clothes as they had realized that before reaching the state of enlightenment it was necessary for won to discard the physical manifestations in life.

Jainism as preached by Mahavira is a Dharma which believes and practices true renunciation... getting free of all the attachments and the karma in the physical mode of life. Mahavira made it absolutely clear that before one can hope to reach the highest pedestal of spiritual life... we need to free ourselves of all the attachments and bondages of physical life.

In the present times... compared to Buddhism the teachings of Mahavira do not find many takers. While talking to a publisher friend of mine... the gory fact was put together... it was in the ratio of 1:10 that the Jainism literature was being published. The reason... it was very difficult to follow the doctrine of Mahavira in the present times.

As it was easier to follow Buddhism... we have massive literature on Buddhism available today. No denying the fact that following the dictates of Mahavira in the present times is a really difficult task but not unachievable for the ultimate goal of life of every human being is becoming a Mahavira in the end.

Becoming a Mahavira is the cosmic goal of every Jiva (living being)! Whether we follow the teachings of Mahavira and become a Mahavira in the present life or in the next manifestation is totally dependent upon our karma in the present life.

About The Author
Vijay Kumar... The Man who Realized God in 1993 summarises teachings of Mahavira in Jainism. Subscribe free Newsletter "Spiritual Secrets Unveiled" - Explore hidden cosmic truths - Read Glossary of Words in Hinduism at


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