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Friday, April 6, 2012

Mahavir and his ways

Devendra K Kaushik

Mahavir Jayanti is an important religious day for Jains. On this day in 599 B.C. a boy was born in a royal family in Vaisali district, near Patna.  He was named Vardhman. Because of his display of extra-ordinary courage during his childhood, he was known as Mahavir.

At 30, he renounced his kingdom, family and all material possessions. He wandered in jungles like an ascetic, meditating for most of the time for over 12 years, and received enlightenment.

Thereafter, he was on the move to different parts of the country, preaching and spreading his message of peace and harmony. Though, he was the 24thand the last ‘tiranthkar’ (saint of highest order), he was a social reformer and propagator of an already existing religion.  He said, “There is nothing so small and subtle as the atom; nor any element so vast as space. Likewise, there is no quality of soul more subtle than ‘ahimsa’ and no virtue of spirit greater than reverence of life.” Thus, ahimsa or non-injury to other living beings including animals and plants was emphasized.

Mahavir said there is no knowledge without right path; no conduct is possible without proper knowledge; without conduct there is no liberation of the soul; and without liberation, no deliverance can be accomplished.

Similarly, a strong desire for happiness is the root cause of unhappiness and hence, the rejection of material desires and comforts is the only way to get rid of human suffering. His other teachings include refraining from speaking untruth, stealing, material acquisition and adultery.

Bhagwan Mahavir said one should always set reasonable limits to one’s needs and whatever surplus remains should be disposed to the needy. That is why on this day his followers collect donations for charity purposes. Food is distributed to the poor and the destitute.

Mahavir, though born into a royal family, had adopted a simple life of destitute, not possessing even clothes. He taught us to lead a most-purposeful life of dedication to society. Let us come together to emulate his teachings for a healthy society.

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