8.32 Mahavira

Mahavira lived and taught in the 6th century BC in India.

It is said that after being raised in a royal family, he abandoned all possessions and lived an ascetic lifestyle of severe austerity and intense mediation for 12.5 years.  After obtaining Enlightenment, he traveled and taught for 30 years, focusing on an inner circle of 11 Disciples who verbally transmitted his teachings after his death.

Followers were initiated with five vows: Ahimsa (Non-Violence), satya (Truth), Asteya (Non-Stealing); Brahmacharya (Chastity), and Aparigraha (Non-Possession).

The 5 Sins of injury, falsehood, stealing, unchastity, and attachment were to be avoided on the various dimensions of body, speech, and thought.

A contemporary of Buddha, Mahavira taught a more elaborated belief in the Soul, which could be continually cleansed, developed, and enlightened through Self Discipline and Self Cultivation in order to obtain Liberation.

He taught that ahimsa was the supreme moral virtue and applied to all living beings.

Mahavira also acknowledged the complexity and many-sidedness of Truth and Reality, and taught that while Truth and Reality could be approached and experienced, they could not be fully expressed through language. Thus, all human efforts at communication are only partial expressions of the ultimate underlying Truth and Reality.

Mahavira’s teachings stressed the pragmatic necessity of religious Practice to the Enlightenment of the Soul and Right Relationship among living beings, in contrast to religion as external ceremony or social custom.

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