Jainism Important Facts:

  • The name of two Jain Tirthankaras (prophets or gurus), Rishabha & Arishtanemi, are found in the Rigveda.
  • The Vishnu Purana & the Bhagavat Purana describe Rishabha as incarnation of Narayana.
  • There were 24 tirthankaras, all kshatriyas & belonging to the Royal family.
  • The first was Rishabha, the founder of Jainism & the last twenty fourth was Mahavira.
  • Swami Parshavanath the twenty-third Tirthankara was son of Ashvasena, the king of Kashi. He was born about 250 years before Mahavira.
  • Mahavira adopted prakrit language which was the language of common people. Religious literature was written in Ardh magadhi.

Vardhamana Mahavira:

  • Mahavira was born in village Kundagrama, a suburb of Vaishali in district Muzzaffarpur (Bihar) in a kshatriya family in 540 B.C (according to some historian he was born in 599 B.C. & according to some others in 568 B.C.).
  • His father Siddhartha was the head of the Jnatrika clan & mother Trishala was sister of the renowned Lichchavi king Chetak.
  • Married to Yashoda & had a daughter Anojja (also called as Priyadarshana) whose husband, Jamali, became the first disciple of Mahavira.
  • Became an ascetic at 30 after the death of his parents & attained perfect knowledge at 42 under a sal tree at Jrimbhikagrama on the banks of River Rejupalika.
  • From now on-wards he was called Jaina or Jitendriya (one who has conquered his senses), Nirgrantha (free from all bonds) & Mahavira (the brave) & his followers were named Jain.
  • For the remaining thirty years Mahavira moved from place to place & preached his doctrine in Kosala, Magadh, Mithila & Champa etc.
  • At the age of 72, he attained Kaivalya (death) at Pava, near Patna in 468 B.C.(according to some historians in 527 B.C.).

Teachings of Jainism:

  • He rejected the authority of the Vedas & its associated rituals & advocated an austere & simple life.
  • Believed in dualistic philosophy & held that matter & soul are the only two ever existing elements.
  • Did not believe in the existence of God & for him Universe was a product of nature- the outcome of cause & effect.
  • Did not oppose Caste System & believed in karma & transmigration of soul.
  • Syavada – truth can be approached from different view points & thus can be affirmed only with a degree of probability & is never final.
  • Five cardinal principles of Jainism (Panch Mahavratas) –
  1. Ahimsa – Non-Violence.
  2. Asateya – No Stealing.
  3. Aparigraha – Non-possession.
  4. Satya – Truth.
  5. Brahmacharya – Celibacy.

Other Points:

  • Ratnatraya (Three Jewels)- Right knowledge, Right Faith & Right Action.
  • In Jainism the devotees (siddhas) have been classified in five categories, in the descending order-
  1. Tirthankara– who has attained salvation;
  2. Arhat– Who is about to attain nirvana;
  3. Acharya– the head of the ascetic group;
  4. Upadhyaya– teacher or saint;
  5. Sadhu, class which include the rest.

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