Today is the birthday of a great saint called Mahavir, who propagated Jainism. He is one of the most adored enlightened saints of India and the 24thTirthankara (the name given to an enlightened and realized soul in the Jain tradition).

Mahavir’s Teachings

Mahavir’s main principle is non-violence – ahimsa. He said that one has no right to be violent toward anything in the world.

He spoke of Anekantvada, which means that there are so many possibilities. The world is full of possibilities. There isn’t just one way. This knowledge is really needed today. If people understand this, there will be no terrorism or fanaticism in the world.

He also spoke of Syadvada, which is one of the most scientific approaches of dealing with the intellect. It says, “Perhaps there is something that I do not know.”
If someone says, “This is it, I know everything”, it is not correct.’
That is why he spoke of Syadvada – perhaps it could be some other way too. Everything is possible. That is a sign of a mature intellect; otherwise, it is an immature intellect.
He would always add perhaps in every one of his expressions to indicate that there is always room for exploration. If you say, this is like this, you are making it so definite. In this world, nothing is definite, there is always a possibility.

He spoke of Swadhyaya – observing and studying of our emotions, mind, and consciousness. Kayothsarga – rising above the body and realizing that we are not the body. Tapa – forbearance. Kshama – seeking forgiveness. “Knowingly or unknowingly, if I have done anything wrong through my action or inaction, I ask for your forgiveness.” This is the highest principle.

Mahavir Was a Contemporary of Buddha

I believe Buddha and Mahavir were from the same town. They knew about each other, but they never met.  Someone asked them, “Why you didn’t meet?”
They replied, “There is no need, as we are already connected.”
You know, in the state of enlightenment, even though the ways are different, the soul is the same. There is no distance.

There is another version in history that they did meet, but did not speak to each other at all. They just met and went their separate ways. Here too, it is said that there was no need for verbal communication. When heart meets heart, and soul meets soul, there is no need to keep talking. When hearts meet, there is no language barrier, no words, nothing comes in between.

Buddha spoke about emptiness, Mahavir spoke about the self. Buddha said there is no self, Mahavir said all that is, is self. Repose in the self; the nature of the soul is happiness.