Jainism and Vardhmana Mahavira

Jainismjainism and Vardhmana Mahavira

There were 24 tirthankars, all belonging to the Kshatriya family.

  • Rishabhanath (Emblem: Bull)→ First tirtankara and founder of Jainism.

  • Parshwanath (Emblem: Snake) → 23rd Tirthankara.

  • Vardhman Mahavira (Emblem: Lion) →24th Tirthankara.

Vardhmana Mahavira:

  • Born in 540 BC in Kundagrama near Vaishali.

  • Parents → Siddhartha (Jnatrika clan) & Trishla.

  • Spouse →Yashoda

  • Daughter → Priyadarsena, whose husband Jamali became his first disciple.

  • At 30, after the death of his parents, he became an ascetic.

  • In the 13th year of his asceticism (on the 10th of Vaishakha), outside the town of Jrimbhikgrama, he attained Kaivalya.

  • From now on he was called Jaina or Jitendriya and Mahavira, and his followers were named Jains.

  • At the age of 72, he attained death at Pava, near Patna, in 527 BC.

  • Mahavira preached almost the same message as Parshvanath and added one more, Brahmcharya (celibacy) to it.

  • Sthulabhadra, the leader of the monks who remained in the north, allowed his followers to wear white garments → Svetambaras (white-clad) and others followers renounced clothes → Digambaras (sky-clad).

Spread Of Jainism:
  • Jains built stupas with railing, pillars and gateways. The Hathi Gumpha, Udaigiri and Khandagiri caves of Orisa contain Jain relics

  • Mathura became a Centre of Jain art during the Kushan period.

  • Jainism reached the highest point in Chandragupta Maurya’s time. In Kalinga, it was greatly patronized by Kharavela in the first century AD.

  • The statue of Gomatesawara and Karkala attest to the excellence of jain architecture.

  • Dilwara temple at Mt Abu and temples a Ranakpur are example of craftsmanship.

Teachings of Mahavira:
  • Rejected the authority of the Vedas and do not attach any importance to the performance of sacrifices.

  • He believed that every object, even the smallest particle, possesses a soul and is endowed with consciousness.

  • Jains also reject the concept of a Universal Soul as the creator of the universe.

  • Jainism refuses to give any importance to god.

  • Attainment of salvation (moksha) by believing in penance and dying of starvation.

  • Universal brotherhood (non-belief in caste system).

Tri ratnas of Jainism:
  1. Right faith

  2. Right Knowledge

  3. Right conduct (5 vows)



iii.Asteya (Not to steal)

iv.Parigraha (Not to acquire property) &

v.Brahamcharya (added by Mahavira)

Note: Sacred books of Jains Angas.

Jain Councils:

First Council: Held at Pataliputra by Sthulabahu in the beginning of the 3rd century BC and resulted in the compilation of 12 Angas to replace the lost 14 Purvas.

Second Council: Held at Valabhi in the 5th century A.D. under the leadership of Devaradhi Kshmasramana and resulted in the final compilation of 12Angas and 12 Upangas.

Impact Of Jainism:
  • Jain literature is in Ardh-Magadhi and Prakrit dialects.

  • Jainism made the first serious attempt to justify the evils of varna order and ritualistic vedic religion

  • Discarded the Sanskrit language mainly patronized by Brahmans and adopted Prakit language.

  • Jains composed the earliest important works in Apabhramsha and prepared its first grammar.

  • Due to the influence of Jainism, many regional languages emerged out, like Sauraseni, out of which grew the Marathi, Gujarati, Rajasthani and Kannada.

Decline of Jainism:
  • It had to compete with both Hinduism and Buddhism.

  • Absence of popular preacher and rulers and the revival of Hinduism all contributed to the decline of this religion.

  • Besides, it also was unable to spread to any considerable extent behind the limits of India.

  • They took the concept of non-violence too far i.e.., one should not take medicine when one fell sick because the medicine killed germs.

  • They believed that there was life in trees and vegetables and so refrained from harming them.

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