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LORD MAHAVIRA

 

LORD MAHAVIRA

 

PUBLISHER�S NOTE

 

THE RELEVANCE OF THE TEACHING OF LORD MAHAVIRA IN THE PRESENT WORLD (INTRODUCTION)

  CONTENTS
 

THE AGE OF MAHAVIRA

  EARLY LIFE OF MAHAVIRA
  ASCETIC LIFE OF MAHAVIRA
  ENLIGHTENMENT
  JAINA ATHEISM
  PROPAGATION OF THE DOCTRINE
  RIVAL SECTS
  CONCLUSION
  Jain Books
  Catalog of Books in English
  Catalog of Books in Hindi
  Catalog of Books in Gujarati
  List of Books, Topics & Sub-topics and Authors

PROPAGATION OF THE DOCTRINE


 

 

LICCHAVIS AND OTHER REPUBLICAN CLANS

 

From this brief account of the several ruling houses of Eastern India, it will be clear that Mahavira obtained good support everywhere. His personal connections with the various rulers reached through his mother Trisala, the Licchavi Princess, and his maternal uncle Cetaka, the king of Vaisali. The Licchavis were recognized all round as high born Ksatriyas, with whom the highest born princes of Eastern India, and not only Eastern India but also as far west as Sindhu-Sauvira, considered it an honor to enter into matrimonial alliance. We have already seen that out of the seven daughters of Cetaka, Padmavati, Mrgavati, Shiva and Cellana were married respectively to the lords of Anga, Vatsa, Avanti and Magadha. The eldest Prabhavati was married to King Udayana of Vitabhaya, which has been identified at various places in the Jaina literature with a town of Sindhu-Sauvira desa. As to what part of the country is Sindhu-Sauvira-desa, whether it is �the province of Badari or Eder, at the head of the Gulf of Cambay� ) Cunningham), or �to the north of Kathiawar and along the Gulf of Cutch� (Rhys Davids) or �the

province of Multan and Jahravar� (Alberuni), or �in Sindhu or Sindh� (Satrunjaya-Mahatmya), historians are not quite in agreement about; but according to Jaina sources Udayana was the overlord of three hundred and sixty three other towns. Through his relationship Licchavis, Mahavira�s religion was greatly helped in the course of its spread over Sauvira, Anga, Vatsa, Avanti, Videha and Magadha, all of which were the most powerful kingdoms of the time. It is significant that Buddhist books do not mention Cetaka at all, though they tell us about the constitutional government of Vaisali used to be a stronghold of Jainism, while being looked upon by the Buddhists as a seminary of heresies and dissent.�

 

The Licchavis were naturally favorable to Mahavira�s order. There are many stray references in the Jaina Sutras which confirm the fact that the Licchavis were followers of the Jaina faith. The capital of the Licchavis formed one of the headquarters of the Jaina community during the days of Mahavira. Out of forty-two rainy seasons spent as a missionary during his later ascetic life, twelve were passed at Vaisali. Like the Licchavis, the Vajji, who in fact cannot be strictly differentiated from the Licchavis, came under the influence of Lord Mahavira, for Vaisali seems to have been regarded also as the metropolis of the entire Vajji confederacy. These republics in Eastern India had a type of Government which was senatorial, like the government in the city-state of Rome. The Jnatrkas, whose most noble scion was Mahavira, also formed one of the most important clans included in the Vajjian confederacy. The several clans of the Vajjian confederacy must have been naturally affected by the doctrines of the Nataputta. The canonical literature of his bitter antagonists, the Buddhists, does not fail to make this admission, and preached his faith of unbounded charity to all living beings, the number of his followers among the Licchavis appears to have been large and some men of the highest position appear to have been among them.�

 

The Mallakins also seen to have cherished a feeling of respect and sympathy for the great prophet and his doctrines. Both the Buddhist and the Jaina texts agree that the country of the Mallas formed one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas. At the time of Mahavira the Mallas appear to have been divided into two confederacies one with its capital Pava and the other at Kusinara the two places being respectively the cities where the Jaina prophet Mahavira and the Buddha reached their final liberation. With the Mallas, Jainism seems to have established almost a good connections as with the Licchavis. According to Dr. B.C. Law, we get ample proof for this even from the Buddhist literature,

 

Geographically Kosala roughly corresponds to modern dern Oudh, and it seems to have contained three great cities namely Ayodhya, Saketa and Sravasti- the first two sometimes being often supposed to be one and the same. When one remembers that Sravasti was visited by Mahavira more than once and that he was always well received there one cannot but admit that the Kosalas also came under the influence of Mahavira.

 

 

MAP OF MAHAVIRA�S TRAVELS:

 

From this analysis of the various kingdoms and republics of Eastern India, it would appear that Mahavira�s reformed church gained followers practically all over the vast stretches of the country. The references in the Jaina texts enable us to draw a complete map of Lord Mahavira�s travels and to recount the names of some of his prominent followers during the period of his propagation of the faith. The following is the list of the places where he stayed for the successive rainy seasons after the attainment of Kevala-Jnana.

 

It has been stated above that Mahavira attained the Kevala while sitting in meditation in a field outside the town Jrmbhikagrama and that he made his first converts and established the Sangha at a Samavasarana near the place of Somilacarya�s Yajna. From there the Lord proceeded to Rajgrha, the capital of Magadha, where he initiated the princes Meghakumar and Nandisena into the order of monks, gained numerous lay followers including Sulsa, Abhayakumar, and the King Srenika (Bimbisara) himself. The first rainy season he spent at Rajgrha.

 

After the rains were over, the Lord turned towards Videha, and passing through many villages ultimately reached Kundagrama, his birth place. The town of Kundagrama seems to have been divided into two settlements, a Ksatriyakunda where Mahavira�s father had lived and a Brahmanakund where lived Devananda, Mahavira�s Brahman foster-mother and her husband by name Rsabhadatta. Mahavira made his stay in Brahmanakund and there converted to his order the Brahman Rsabhadatta and his wife Devananda. It was on this occasion that on the sight of Mahavira Devananda had that sight of Mahavira Devananda had that sudden material emotion to which reference has been made earlier in this book. Another important convert at Kundagrama was the Ksatriya Jamali who joined the order with his five hundred companions. This Jamali later on organized a schism in the Jaina church. From Kundagrama Mahavira proceeded to Vaisali, where he passed the second rainy season.

  

On the completion of the 2nd rainy season the Lord proceeded towards the Vatsa country. The ruler of Vatsa, Satanika, had died and the kingdom was administered by the widow, Queen Mrgavati, on behalf of her minor son Udayana. At Kausambi, the capital of Vatsa, Mahavira held a public audience and converted to his order the Queen Mrgavati and an aunt of the King, by name Jayanti. From there, he proceeded further to Kosala, where at Sravasti a number of sympathizers and followers were gained for the Jaina faith. The rainy season was passed at Vanijyagrama in Videha, to which Mahavira returned from Kosala. At Vanijyagrama in Videha, to which Mahavira returned from Kosala. At Vanijyagrama, the merchant Ananda and his wife Sivananda accepted the Sramanopasak vows. Ananda became one of the loyal and highly trusted followers of the Lord.

 

From Vanijyagrama Mahavira repaired at the end of the rainy season to Magadha, where after roaming about the kingdom for several moths he settled down for the rainy Season at Rajgrha. Among the new converts this year there were the merchants Dhanya and Salibhadra.

 

 Campa was the next place, which the Lord visited on the completion of the rainy season. Here he converted the prince Mahacandra Kumar. From Campa he proceeded to the province of Sindhu Sauvira, where Udayana was ruling over Vitabhaya. It has been already explained how this Udayana was related to Mahavira through his wife Prabhavati. The journey to Sindhu Sauvira was very difficult, involving travel in desert areas and hard country; but Mahavira went to the place in order to give to King Udayana Diksa as a �Sramanopasaka�. Returning from Sindhu-Sauvira, he spent the rainy season at Vanijyagrama.

  

After the rainy season, a visit was paid to Benares and certain other places in the kingdom of Kasi, where numerous followers were gained for the Jaina church. For the rainy season, the Lord returned to Rajgrha. At Rajgrha he spent a highly fruitful season King Srenika had proclaimed that he would personally undertake to feed and otherwise overlook the dependents of anybody who desired to join Mahavira�s order of monks. As a result of this proclamation, thousands of people joined the order and Mahavira stayed on at Rajgrha giving Diksa to the comers for sometime even after the finishing of the rainy season. Enraged, probably at the success of Lord Mahavira�s ministry, Gosala Mankhaliputra, of whom mention has been made already, began his public criticism of Mahavira�s faith, although unsuccessfully, in the course of an argument with Ardraka, a monk of Mahavira�s order. The rainy season was spent by Mahavira again at Rajgrha.

 

Having spent two rainy seasons at Rajgrha, Mahavira proceeded towards Vatsa country, visiting on the way Alabhiya in the kingdom of Kasi. At Kausambi he converted queen Mrgavati and several queens of Canda Pradyota. From here he proceeded towards Videha, and spent the rainy season at Vaisali.

  

On the completion of the rainy season he went to Mithila, thence to Kakandi, Sravasti, and the republics of the west, and made numerous conversations. The rainy season was passed at Vanijyagrama.

 

 From here Mahavira proceeded after the rainy season to Magadha, where there was the famous meeting between his followers and the monks of Prasva�s order. As a result of discussion of the several points of difference between the practices of the two orders, Mahavira�s leadership of the Jaina community was accepted by all. The rainy season was spent at Rajgrha.

 

From Rajgrha, Mahavira repaired at the end of the season to the Western kingdoms, but returned to Vanijyagrama for spending the next rainy season.

 

The next year was marked by the occurrence of the first schism in the community, when Jamali separated from the Lord with a small band of his companions. Mahavira himself repaired to Kausambi, then to Rajgrha, where he spent the next rainy season; then after the end of the rains to Campa, where after the death of Srenika, his son, Kunik, had transferred his capital. From Campa he turned towards Mithila and spent the next rainy season there.

 

It was when Mahavira proceeded to Sravasti after the rainy season that he had his famous encounter with Gosala, who after separating from Mahavira had continued to hang about the city claiming among his followers the potter-woman Halahala and the minstrel Ayampul. Gosala had of course, claimed for himself the status of a Tirthankara, so that arose the anomaly of two Tirthankaras staying at the same town. When questioned about it, Mahavira denounced Gosala and stated in a public audience that he was not a Tirthankara nor a true believer, whereupon got enraged, and visited Mahavira for a religious discussion. The discussion was, of course, inconclusive, but two disciples of Mahavira who intervened were burnt up by his fiery power. Gosala attempted to burn Mahavira himself, but was unsuccessful. The after-effects of Gosala�s fiery attack were, however, felt by Mahavira and he suffered great pain later on. The rainy season was passed at Mithila.

 

From Mithila, Mahavira went towards Kosala-Pancala, visiting Sravasti, Ahicchatra, Hastinapur and other towns, and returned for the next rainy season to Vanijyagrama. The last few rainy seasons were spent at Rajgrha, Vanijyagrama, Vaisali, Vaisali again, Rajgrha Nalanda, Vaisali, Mithila, Rajgrha, Nalanda, Mithila, Mithila again, Rajgrha, until at the age of 72 he attained Nirvana on Kartika Amavasya at Pavapuri.

 

Mahavira�s Community of Followers:

 

Mahavira succeeded in attracting a large number of disciples, both men and women, and organized his community into four orders. Chief among his followers were fourteen thousand monks, at the head of whom stood the eleven Ganadharas, and thirty-six thousand nuns, at the head of whom was Candana. These included �three hundred sages who knew the fourteen Purvas, who though not Jinas came very near them, thirteen hundred sages who were possessed of the Avadhi-knowledge and superior qualities; seven hundred Kevalins; seven hundred who could transform themselves; five hundred sages of mighty intellect; four hundred professors who were never vanquished in disputes; seven hundred male and fourteen hundred female disciples who reached perfection; and eight hundred sages in their last birth,� During Mahavira�s own lifetime nine of the Ganadharas attained Kevalajnana. Two survived him, Gautama and Sudharma, and as Gautama attained Kevala-jnana just as Mahavira breathed his last and obtained Nirvana, Sudharma became the head of the Order. From Sudharma it is possible to trace a whole of succession of the leaders of the order right up to the present time.

 

Mahavira�s third order consisted of laymen. They were householders who did not actually renounce the world but who could and did keep his rules in a modified form, while their alms supported the professed monks. As Mrs. Stevenson says, the genius for organization which Mahavira possessed is shown in nothing more clearly than in the formation of this and the order of laywomen. The laymen are said to have numbered during Mahavira�s lifetime one hundred and fifty-nine thousand men; according to the Digambara version the number given is one hundred thousand; the laywomen numbered three hundred and fifty-eight thousands.

 

In one of the well-known Jaina Agamas, Uvasagadasao, the names of ten of the more important lay followers of Mahavira are given. Vanijyagrama, Campa, Baranasi, Alabhiya (or Alai), Kampilyapura, Polasapura, Rajagrha and Sravasti are mentioned as the important ones along the places that were visited by the Venerable Ascetic Mahavira. The town of Campa had near it the shrine of Purnabhadra, Vanijyagrama, the shrine called Dutipalasa;

 

 

Baranasi the Kosthaka shrine; Alabhiya, the garden called Sankhavana; Kampilyapura, the garden Sahasramravana: Polaspura, a garden known by the name of Sahasramravana; Rajgrha, a shrine called Gunasil; and Sravasti, the Moshthaka shrine. In Vanijyagrama the great lay disciples of Mahavira and the lay supporters of his order were Ananda and his wife Sivananda; in Campa; Kamadeva and his wife Bhadra; in Baranasi. Culanipiya and his wife Syama, and Suradeva and his wife Dhanya; in Alabhiya, Cullasataka and his wife Bahula; in Kampilyapura, Kundakolita and his wife Pusya; in Polasapura, Sakadalaputra and his wife Agnimltra; in Rajgrha, Mahasataka; and in Sravasti, Nandinipriya and his wife Asvini, and Salatipiya and his wife Phalaguni. These lay disciples are all mentioned as persons of opulence and influence, and as those noted for their piety and devotion. Ananda of Vanijyagrama is described as householder who �possessed a treasure of four kror measures of gold deposited in a safe place, a capital of four kror measures of gold put out on interest, a well stocked estate of the value of four kror measures of gold, and four herds, each herd consisting of ten thousand herds of cattle.� He �was a person whom many kings and princes and merchants made it a point to refer to, and to consult, on many affairs and matters needing advice,............in short, on all sorts of business. He was also the main pillar, as it were, of his own family, their authority, support, mainstay and guide. In short, he was a cause of prosperity to whatever business he was concerned with.� Even the Buddhist texts bear testimony to numerous rich householders being among he lay disciples of Mahavira.

 

Nirvana

 

Mahavira attained nirvana at Pava in 527 B.C. at the age of 72. The Licchavis and Mallas were two peoples to whom the rise of Mahavira was an object of national pride, and accordingly, it is said in the Kalpasutra that when Mahavira died, the eighteen confederate kings of Kasi and Kosala, the nine Mallakis and the nine Licchavis, instituted an illumination saying �Since the light of intelligence is gone, let us make an illumination of material matter!�