The path to this spiritual evolution,
as practiced and propagated by lord Mahavira, consists in a harmonious
combination of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. The last
chiefly consists in 'ahimsa' or non-violence, truthfulness, honesty,
celibacy and non-covetousness or possession. Without the other four,
ahimsa is meaningless. Everyone is at liberty to follow this noble path
according to his or her capacity and circumstances. An aversion to
covetousness, in other words, an ever-present wakefulness to keep down
one's requirements and possessions, is a primary condition of the 'ahimsic'
Thus gave Lord Mahavira to the suffering
world his noble message of salvation, physical, moral and spiritual, about
two thousand and five hundred years ago, and it is still true and
Mahavira had become poignantly aware of
the fact that those in power always try to rob the weak of their happiness
as well as of their means to become happy, and that this tendency to
exploit is the outcome of a love of one's supposed notions of happiness
resulting from bodily enjoyments. Everybody considers his own pleasures
and convenience so important that he attaches no value to the happiness
and convenience of others. He ever tries to believe and prove that in the
struggle for existence it is only the fittest who survives, in other
words, the weak should justify their existence by sacrificing their all in
order to make the powerful the more so. According to this way of thinking,
the weak has no right to live and the strong must necessarily feed upon
him. These false and narrow notions of happiness create a gulf between man
and man and between different classes of men. They give rise to class
antagonism leading to violence and counter-violence and vitiate the whole
atmosphere, which no longer remains congenial to liberty, equality,
fraternity, peace and happiness.
This terrible aspect of 'Himsa' led
Mahavira to perceive in Ahimsa the root of all piety, religiosity, duty
and universal peace. He clearly saw that it is only through a perfectly 'Ahimsic'
way of living that lasting peace in the world can be achieved. And in
order to be able to follow the path of Ahimsa it was found necessary that
one should exercise a perfect and rational control over his senses, curb
his desires and do unto others what he would have others do unto him.
The most characteristic features of
Mahavira's teachings are, therefore, firstly, that every human being
irrespective of color, caste or sex is fully entitled to follow the path
of liberation. Birth is no criterion for nobility but it is one's virtues
by which he should be judged great or noble and only by those qualities,
which tend to make life nobler or purer. To this end he initiated into his
order persons from all castes and classes and from both the sexes and
delivered his sermon in the common dialect of the masses.
Secondly, he laid the greatest emphasis
on Ahimsa, which implied that one must abstain from injuring others by
thought, word or deed and follow the golden rule of 'live and help others
Thirdly, one should try to be catholic
in outlook and try to judge a thing from all possible view-points. One
should always try to understand and appreciate the other man's point of
view. Such a highly tolerant attitude can alone end all differences which
otherwise might lead to terrible bloodshed.
Fourthly, a person reaps what he has
sown. Everybody is fully responsible for his own actions and it is he who
will enjoy the fruits of his good actions and suffer for his bad actions.
He is the maker of his own destiny.
An intrinsic belief in the equality of
men and a catholicity of outlook are the two great needs of modern world.
Only by actively striving to live in a spirit of true co-existence resting
on correct behavior and non-violence, can we perpetuate the memory of
benefactors of mankind like Mahavira and bring peace and happiness to the
suffering and erring humanity.