Bishwa Nath Singh:
A careful study of Jainism verses Buddhism and Gandhism by Bishwa Nath Singh.
.The parents of Lord Mahavira were Siddhartha, a Janatrika chief of Kundapura, and Trishala, a Kshatriya lady related to the ruling families of Vaishali and Magadha. He had married a princess named Yashoda. He forsook the world at the age of thirty and roamed as a naked ascetic in several parts of eastern India and practiced severe penance for twelve years. Half of this time was spent with a beggar brother named Goshala who subsequently left him and became the leader of the Ajivika sect. In the thirteenth year of penance, Mahavira attained the highest spiritual knowledge called Kevala-jnana, on the northern bank of river Rijupalika, outside Jrimbhikagrama, a little known locality in eastern India. He was now known as a omniscient, conqueror and Mahavira -the great hero. He became the head of a sect called Nigranthas (free from Fretters), known in later times as Jains or followers of Jina (conqueror). He had died at Pavapuri in south Bihar, after wandering for thirty five years as a religious teacher, at the age of seventy two.The Jains believe that Mahavira was not the founder of a new religious system, but the last of a long succession of twenty four Tirthankars or “ford-makers across the stream of existence”. The twenty third teacher, Parsav, the immediate predecessor of Mahavira, was a prince of Benaras and enjoined on his disciples the great four vows of non-injury, truthfulness, abstention from stealing and non-attachment whereas Mahavira added the vow of Brahamcharya ( free from sexual allurements )to them. Jainism was atheistic in nature, the existence of God being irrelevant to its doctrine. It believes that universe functions according to an eternal law and is continually passing through a series of cosmic waves of progress and decline. Everything in the universe, material or otherwise, has a soul. The purification of the soul is the purpose of living, for the pure soul is released from the body and then resides in bliss. Jains believe that by following the three-fold path of right Belief, right Knowledge and right Conduct, souls will be released from transmigration and reach the pure and blissful abode .Jainism spread rapidly among the trading community. The emphasis on non-violence prevented agriculturists from being Jainas, since cultivation involved killing insects and pests. According to the tradition of the Svetambara Jains, the original doctrine taught by Mahavira was contained in fourteen old texts styled Purvas. Close to the fourth century B.C., due to a famine in south Bihar, important sections of Jains, headed by Bhadrabahu, fled to Mysore. Just to revive the knowledge of sacred texts, which was passing into oblivion following the famine in south Bihar and fleeing of majority of Jains, a council was convoked by those who were left behind in Pataliputra, which resulted in compilation of the twelve Angas which are regarded as the most important part of the Jain canon. Another council was held at Valabhi in Gujarat in about sixth century A.D. which made a final collection of the scriptures and reduced them to writing. The followers of Bhadrabahu, on their return to the north, refused to acknowledge the Angas and came to be known as Svetambaras (clad in white) as they wore white garments not withstanding the injunctions of Mahavira. The original followers came to be called Digambaras (sky-clad or naked).
Gautama Buddha was born as Siddhartha to Suddhodana, a Raja or noble of Kapilvastu (in the Nepal Terai to the north of Basti district of Uttar Pradesh) and Maya, a princess of Devadaha, a small town in the Sakya territory. Maya died while giving birth to Siddhartha and he was brought up by his aunt and step-mother Prajapati Gautami. The site of nativity of Gautama Buddha is marked by the celebrated Rummindei Pillar of Ashoka. Siddhartha was married to Yashodara at the age of sixteen. Yashodara was also known as Bhadda Kachchana, Subhadraka, Bimba or Gopa. The great renunciation took place when Sidhartha reached the age of twenty nine. For six years he lived as a homeless ascetic. At Uruvila he practiced the most rigid austerities only to find that they were of no help to him to achieve his goal. Sidhartha finally sat under a pipal or Banyan tree at Bodh Gaya in Gaya Distrct of Bihar State of India after taking a bath in the stream of river Nairanjana, modern Lilajan. Here he attained the supreme knowledge and insight and became known as Buddha or the Enlightened One, Tathagata (“he who attained the truth”) and Sakya-muni or the sage of the Sakya clan. The first sermon by Buddha was given in the Deer Park near Sarnath, in the neighborhood of Benaras. This sermon was called the Turning of the Wheel of Law, and was the nucleus of the Buddhist teachings. Among Buddha’s early converts was his cousin Devadatta who, subsequently broke away and founded a rival sect that survived in parts of Oudh and western Bengal till the Gupta period. The Buddha is said to have died at the age of eighty at Kusinagar in Deoria district of Uttar Prades State of India.He taught his followers the four “Noble Truths” (Arya Satya) concerning suffering, the cause of suffering, the destruction of suffering and the way that leads to the destruction of sorrow. As per Buddhist teachings, salvation is possible through the Eightfold Path, which consisted of eight principles of action, leading to a balanced, moderate life (right views, resolves, speech conduct, livelihood, effort, recollection and meditation, the combination of which was described as Middle Way). The doctrine of karma was essential to the Buddhist way of salvation. Unlike the brahmanical idea, karma was not used to explain away caste status, since Buddha rejected caste. Buddhism was atheistic, in as much as God was not essential to the Universe, there being a natural cosmic rise and decline. The acceptance of nuns in the Buddhist monasteries was a revolutionary step from the point of view of the status of women. The earliest surviving form of Buddhism, called Theravada, is still predominant in Sri Lanka and South-East Asian countries. Shortly after the death of Buddha a great Council (Sangiti) was held at Rajagriha in Nalana District of Bihar State of India to compile the religious doctrine (Dharma) and the monastic code (Vinaya). A second council was convoked a century later at Vaishali which condemned the rules in respect of the ten points and revised the scriptures. A fresh condemnation of heresay took place during the reign of Ashoka, under whose patronage a third council was summoned at Pataliputra by a learned monk, Tisaa Moggaliputta, two hundred thirty six years after Buddha’s death. The fourth council was held under Kanishka which prepared elaborate commentaries (Upadesh Shastras and Vibhasha Shastras) on the sacred texts. As per Sri Lankan tradition, the sacred texts and commentaries were written down in books in first century B.C. during the reign of King Vattagamani Abhaya. Later, the texts, as distinguished from the commentaries, came to be known as Pali.
The struggle for India’s independence will always remember Jawahar Lal Nehru, Gopal Krishan Gokhale, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Lala Lajpat Rai, etc whose contribution our grateful nation can never forget. But if one were asked to name a leader who undisputedly contributed the most, the name of Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi would undoubtedly be at the top. Before he came to the Indian scene in 1915-16, the nationalist movement was progressing very slowly. There was no leader with the mass appeal and the nationalists were sharply divided in two groups i.e. the moderates and the extremists. The methods adopted by the pre-Gandhi nationalists were too democratic to have any material effect on the colonial power ruling the country. The advent of Gandhi changed the very complexion of the nationalist movement. His methods included the involvement of people in a big way and adoption of non-violent methods of agitation. Mahatma Gandhi’s role was primarily that of a leader who identified himself with the Indian masses. He gradually emerged as a natural leader of the masses and took complete control of the movement against the imperialist force. It was mainly after the British became aware of the strong character of Gandhi and complete involvement of the masses in the Movement that they finally decided to quit India in the year 1947. The methods used by Gandhi can be broadly classified into the following categories:(a) Involvement of Masses: Prior to Gandhi, the nationalist movement was being run by a handful of intellectuals and the masses were neither involved nor adequately informed of the developments of the nationalist movement. This trend was reversed after Gandhi came on the national scene. (b) Non-Violence: One of the important Gandhian methods was the adoption of complete non-violence during all his satyagrahas and movements. He knew that the poor Indians could not match the might of the British government and adoption of any violent means would only result in more casualties on the Indian side. (c) Truthfulness: Just like non-violence, truthfulness was the hallmark of Gandhi’s personality and methods. He not only preached it but also practiced absolute truthfulness and sincerity. Truthfulness not only gave him the inner strength to fight the mighty British but also convinced the masses of his honest and sincere intentions and (d) Non-cooperation and Satyagraha: One of the most common methods used by Gandhi was non-cooperation with the civil authorities and Satyagraha. Satyagraha, as explained by Gandhi himself, was different from the passive resistance and was fearless agitation based on the principles of non-cooperation, fearlessness and truthfulness. These three methods were employed by Gandhi to bend the civil authorities more than once and to accept the genuine demands of the Indian people. Though, he believed firmly in Hinduism but had a great fascination for Jainism and Buddhism. He was not averse to the Christianity as Mahatma Gandhi use to admire Jesus Sermon on the Mount. He was highly impressed to see drama of Satya Harishchandra during his childhood that had left indelible mark in his mind where Raja Harishchandra had left with no other option than to sacrifice everything for the sake of truth and had to go under severe physical penance but he preferred to remain truthful and non-violent all throughout his long life.
( Three Photo of Lord Mahavir, Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi)
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Bishwa Nath Singh:
Let us join to pay our humble obeisance to the lotus feet of Lord Mahavir, Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi who will be remembered for their doctrine of truth, non-voilence and simplicity!