Articles

Jainism

The Relevance of Mahavir’s Values in Modern Times

Jainism is a magnificent treasure temple of
Philosophy, Mathematics, Astronomy, Geography, History
and Science it self. There cannot be a need to equate it
with Science. Science is making steppingstone in the fields
of several mysteries the world is keeping secret
However Jainism have probably all the answers to them.

Jainism is a magnificent treasure temple of Philosophy, Mathematics, Astronomy, Geography, History and Science it self. There cannot be a need to equate it with Science. Science is making steppingstone in the fields of several mysteries the world is keeping secret However Jainism have probably all the answers to them. The Jainism is eternal and put on the floor of this earth by Lord Rishabhdev, the first Tirthankara of this Chauvishi. Following Tirthankaras propounded it and Mahavir expounded it to suit the need of that age and modern times.

Mahavir’s values of life can be summarized in only two words “KEEP SILENCE or KEEP MUM.” This can be the only answer of the present scenario of struggle, hatredness, grief, sorrows, unhappiness, atrocities of all kinds and misunderstandings.

One may mistakenly conceive that power and wealth are the ultimate goals of the domain religion. The fact is that once power and wealth enter the domain of religion, they make it narrow and produce an aberration in our thinking. Once rituals become more important than equivalent conduct, religion recedes to background, although it does not exit. (Acharya Mahapragnya)

The values of the life of Lord Mahavir needs more attention to us i.e. we people, as we form the part of individuals, families, societies, the nations and the world.

Lord Mahavir was born to attain salvation in that 27th birth as Vardhman. However he relinquished his worldly wealth and pleasures and at the same time embraced renunciation of everything he possessed, even his body. He had a definite goal set in his mind. To achieve that goal he went for initiation and in wilderness and spent twelve valuable years in the search of SOUL. His life was venerable, estimable and worth imbibing in practice, but we remain imprisoned in the rites and rituals and worship of him. We have forgotten conveniently his teachings and his path of spiritualization. He actually performed in his own life, what he taught us.

At the outset, Mahavir realized that either mere words or sermons or rituals are not sufficient and efficacious to accomplish the desired ambition. Before uttering a single word the preacher must exhibit impeccable conduct. His mind should be pure and conduct must be exemplary.

We only enjoy celebrating Mahavir Jayanti by shouting slogans but we do not pay any attention to his teachings. They are most relevant in modern times. In nutshell he taught us to remain “MAN” as “MAN” and not as animals. His basic principles are:

  • Non-violence (Ahimsa)

  • Aparigraha (non-attachment and non-possessiveness of worldly, wealth, matters and pleasures)

  • Anekant (pluralism-non-absolutism)

These principles are also taught by other Tirthankaras However they become more popular in the recent times.

His principle of non-violence is not a matter related to temple or worship or chanting.

He said, “Everyone likes eternal peace, bliss and happiness. No one likes hue and cry, miseries, grief and unhappiness. All the species like to live and do not wish to surrender to death.” His message to the world is “Live and help to live.”

Neither he forced anyone to become monks nor nuns nor he forced his views on someone. And this created a respect and honor for him in the world over. But what we observe in the world, today, everyone tries to impose in any way either by hook or crook, their will and power on others. This situation generates all kinds of conflicts and converts them into quarrels, unhappiness, atrocities etc.

Non-violence overtakes all concepts, ideologies, traditional and modern, eastern and western, customs and practices, self centered or social, political and economical. It applies equally to every one, the world, nations, society, faiths and individual.

As a matter of fact non-violence does not mean only to kill living species. It has various facets; say mental torture, heated exchanges at meetings, congregations, conferences and debates even in religious functions etc. We are aware that such type of behavior normally culminates into High blood pressure, Heart attack and so many other prominent diseases of today. This ruins our social and family lives too. In other words non-violence means Compassion. Compassion towards all the living beings through Mind, Speech and Body. Further Ahimsa is nothing but universal brotherhood i.e. friendliness, forgiveness and fearlessness.

Another important lesson of Mahavir’s life is Aparigraha (non-possessiveness to worldly pleasures, wealth etc.) He did never say that a layman or woman should not possess wealth, equipments for pleasures, etc; but restrict your requirements to the minimum. This will help us to avoid unnecessary labor to obtain them and thereby restraining ourselves from running here and there. This will save our precious time, which is passing at an unimaginable speed. Such time we can utilize to be with our family, our social activities and other constructive work to help needy people of the society. This will ease the tension of earning more and more, collecting wealth more and more, and enjoying pleasure more and more. However, today we find the car is moving in reverse gear. Isn’t it? Everybody wants to become millionaire overnight, a nation wants to conquer another nation which has natural resources in abundance, those who possess power and wealth, connections at all levels wish to rule over others by using all the tricks and games available at their means. And this is the cause of conflicts, war, either cold or hot. This creates deceits towards someone’s three “W”s.

There is a proverb in Gujarati “Jar, Jamin ane Joru trane kajia na chhoru.” It means Jewelry and wealth, Land and Beautiful woman; these three are the real causes of quarrels. In today’s scenario we notice that these are three principal reasons for the war, conflicts among nations, families, societies etc. Everybody tries to establish own supremacy. If any nation, family or society etc; behave properly with the values and principles formatted by Mahavir there cannot be any hue and cry, no war, no conflict, no unhappiness, no miseries etc. and what else needs to have. Therefore, the lesson is to avoid Greediness at all the costs and remain peaceful and enjoy bliss.

Jainism advocates minimum desire for accumulation of wealth, possessions of all kinds and enjoyment. It is an obligation of individual to donate generously either in cash or kind or time for community projects and welfare of societies, nations and the world.

Mahavir constructed one of the most powerful weapons in Anekantvad, i.e. non-absolutism or relativity or doctrine of multiplicity of viewpoints to annihilate vague debates, wars, conflicts, hatred ness, deceit, anger, pride and greed. It sends a message that try to understand others viewpoints on any matter. Do not look only from one angle any subject. All the matters or subjects have many truths. If we look from one angle it may be wrong, but if we look from all the facets it will seem to be right. Let us understand this from an example: A person who writes after his name all his degrees or awards he has received, one may think he may be proud but other person who sees it, thinks that the person has certified his knowledge to that level only. So both may be true. Very important and popular example is given in the scripture about an elephant and seven blind persons to explain Anekantvad. In differently languages “GRAPE” is expressed in different ways. But its meaning remains the same.

Proper application of Anekantvad halts bad thoughts and speech for violence. It is an intelligent _expression of Ahimsa. In the present ever-changing world, infinite numbers of viewpoints exist. They depend upon various factors such as, nature of individual, time, space and circumstances. _Expression of truth is relative to several viewpoints.

Anekantvad solves many present day problems. In other words think positively about what others have to say and avoid negative thinking. As I mentioned earlier Mahavir never forced his views and principles upon anyone. Because this is nothing but the cause of quarrels, wars, conflicts. He tried to understand the language of the people. He conveyed his messages into simple and understandable language. While in our day in and day out activities, we mix up so many things and do not try to understand what other has to opine for. We just do not listen to others. We do not become good listeners but wish to force our thoughts of variable designs upon others to fulfil our motives. This creates nothing but a conflict. This ultimately results into creation of unhealthy relationships which is neither good for individual nor for families, nor for societies and nor for any nation.

Anekantvad teaches us to become patience and polite in nature. Never run over anything without thinking. It has many characteristics mentioned as under:

  • Never insist for your own ideas

  • Always accept truth to avoid conflicts

  • No interfering, absolutely no use of phrase” in my days.” “if I were in your place.”

  • Remember if you insist on everything to be done your way, this will boomerang.

  • Choose your words very wisely. You have the power…use it well

  • Don’t be proud.

  • Do not allow the protector and the mere threat, to your abundance of joy, turns you into the terminator.

  • Precious time, with your family, society, nation and individuals, flies away so enjoy every moment with all.

  • Create strong necessity to search for truth.

  • Be a trustworthy person and accepts all the truths even from enemies too.

  • Create universal brotherhood, friendship and equanimity towards everyone.

  • Others will pick up your errand behavior, manners and habits very quickly and ultimately results in chaos.

An English proverb teaches us “think twice before you speak” and “an arrow released from bow never returns.” They always hurt and kill.

All these virtues with which Mahavir lived are inter-related. They transpire important guidelines to solve present day problems either at individual level, family level, and society level or at national and international level. These are the core values of avoiding all kinds of vices and promotion towards harmony, peace, universal brotherhood, and faith based communities in the world. Further, these qualities teach us forgiveness. Hence they have to be cultivated and preserved.

To conclude and summarize these three precious core values of the life of Lord Mahavir signify great relevance in modern times. They generate and establish universal friendship, fearlessness, harmony, peace, joy, through non-violence and non-possessiveness. They strengthen the bond of autonomy of life everywhere. They promote ecological conservation through self-restraints and austere life style as well as kindness towards all. Anekantvad promotes and strengthens autonomy of thoughts and speech. They reconcile differences between various Dharmas, Communal and racial frictions, and political vendetta and avoid racial discriminations. These three precious principles if properly placed in action can bring inner happiness, bliss and joy to all. They upgrade everyone to spiritual level of development. Four Bhavnas such as, Maitri, Pramod, Karunya and Madhyastha (Friendship, Joy, Compassion and Neutral respectively) are accommodated in these core values.

Jain Dharma has variety of branches. It caters all the needs of all the living beings. If I introduce here one wonderful quotation, which may be relevant for this type of subject:

“Jainism is a magnificent treasure temple of Philosophy, Mathematics, Astronomy, Geography, History and Science it self. There cannot be a need to equate it with Science. Science is making steppingstone in the fields of several mysteries the world is keeping secret. However Jainism has probably all the answers to them.”

As Acharya Mantungsuri, politely, express himself in the 5th stanza of this versatile story that he is quite ignorant and unable to say and sing about infinite qualities rest in Tirthankar Rishbhdev, however he is trying and prepared to narrate them according to his ability, capacity, honesty and sincerity due to his devotion towards Rishabhdev and Jainism as a deer tries to save its baby from falling a prey to lion though it does not possess strength to fight a lion. I am also trying my level best in the similar way to provide narration for Bhaktamar Stotra.

Bhaktamar stotra is a divine and very auspicious story of nine smarans. Acharya Mantungsuri who was one of the greatest preceptors of that period, and expert in Tantra and Mantra as well as spiritualism, created this Tantrik and Mantrik stotra to increase an importance of Jain Dharma in the kingdom of King Harshdev. He was a spiritual and devoted soul to JINA and Jainism and never showed his accomplishment before anywhere though he possessed them, found an appropriate opportunity to flourish Jainism, on the request of Jain Sangha, went to courtyard of King Harshdev at Dhara town in M.P. He asked the king, “What he wants to examine about Jainism?” The king replied, “ He wants to know is any miracle can happen through Jainism or Jainism possesses any mantra?” Learned and devoted Acharya asked the king to keep him bonded with 48 handcuffs and put him in the 7th room duly locked in the cellar of his palace and under the surveillance of his trusted soldiers. The King did accordingly and sat patiently to watch the miracle to happen.

Shri Mantungsuri went into deep concentration. Tirthankar Rishbhadev was before him as he went into deep meditations. Nothing else he could see except his Rishabhdev. The goddess of knowledge Shri Bhagwati Sarswati, which sits in the lotus mouth of Tirthankaras appeared on the tongue of that devoted preceptor. The flow of chanting of stanzas about the qualities of Tirthankar Rishabhdev started. Each handcuff with the progress of chanting of each stanza started to break. When last stanza arrived, a great propagator of Jainism appeared before King and asked him to ask anyone, who were collected over there to break his last handcuff. But surprisingly none could perform that feat. At last Shri Mantungsuri sang the last stanza and broke the last handcuff. The king was all praise for Acharya and Jina as well as Jainism.