The Miracle Is You: [03.04] The Teachings Of Mahavira (4) - Many-Sidedness And The Divinity Within

Published: 30.07.2006
Updated: 06.08.2008

Another principle Mahavir gave mankind is Anekantavada: Multi-dimension of the truth. Human mind is limited and it cannot have comprehensive understanding of all aspects in life. What you understand is partial and what somebody speaks is also partial. In these two partial aspects, sometimes the whole may not be perceived totally. You think you are fighting for the whole, but you are fighting for one part without understanding another part. And life is not made of only one part. It is connected with many parts. The Sanskrit word for that is Anekant. Anekant means many aspects. As the diamond has many facets, so our experience, our truth, our reality has many facets. Practicing Anekantavada, you try to understand another point of view instead of fighting or taking a stand on your half-truth.

Mahavira taught that if we want to stop karmas, we have to have understanding of someone else's point of view. We have to put ourself in that position, we have to be there. That is why we do not deny anything unless we have listened and understood the other aspects of expressions. We have a tendency to deny or disbelieve, we limit ourselves, denying before we have experienced.

Language and expressions often create much confusion. We are riding in a car and we say, "The campus has come". But the campus did not go or come, we arrived at the campus. Or somebody says, "See! The sun is rising." Would you quarrel with him that neither the sun rises nor sets but it is the earth that revolves around the sun? So, language is relative, and Anekantavada teaches us to appreciate many aspects of thoughts and expressions.

In the principle of divinity within us, Mahavira said, "Paramatma - Atma purified becomes Paramatma. Go in and see that you are God and seeing God within, you perceive God within all."

In meditation we see God in us and then we see God outside.

We want to see God but how can we see light unless we have light in our eyes? How can we love others without having love in our self? The mind is nothing but atoms and molecules, and accumulation of thoughts, and unbroken series of desires. With this mind will we be able to see God? Mahavira said, "Egam jane savvam jane: " when you know yourself, you will know all other self."

The first principle, Ahimsa or Reverence for life, has penetrated one way or another into all Indian philosophies. The three main Indian religions are Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, like the three beautiful rivers of India: the Ganga, Jamna and Saraswati. Because of these three rivers, the soil is rich and pulsating with life. So there are no absolute compartments of the three main religions in India. Sometimes they are sweetly mingled with each other, and they join together at the ocean: But each has its own pathway or direction to reach the ocean of consciousness. Jain way emphasizes non-violence and reverence for all life, which is revered by all religions. War is not the answer for anything in the world. Even Mahatma Gandhi implemented this principle in his political movement to free India, and he proved that this weapon of non-violence is the greatest weapon-it made all the military weapons outdated and obsolete. With this weapon, India became free from the tyranny of colonialism. This Ahimsa is the answer for today.

Jain way is a path of thinking and practice in living and so I hesitate to call it a religion. But if we look at the original meaning of religion, we find "re" means back and "ligere" means to join. To join back to ourself; that is the purpose and meaning of religion. We join back to our self in reverence. And this is the essential meaning of the Jain teaching-to experience that wholeness and oneness with all life.

  • The Miracle Is You by Chitrabhanu © 1980
  • Published by Devine Knowledge Society, Bombay
  • 3rd Edition 1996 Jain Meditation International Center, New York
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. 24. Tirthankara Mahavira
  2. Ahimsa
  3. Anekant
  4. Anekantavada
  5. Atma
  6. Buddhism
  7. Consciousness
  8. Hinduism
  9. Jainism
  10. Karmas
  11. Mahatma
  12. Mahatma Gandhi
  13. Mahavir
  14. Meditation
  15. Non-violence
  16. Paramatma
  17. Sanskrit
  18. Saraswati
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