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Bhagavan Mahavira Life and Philosophy : [05.03] Twofold Dharma

Published: 26.08.2005
Updated: 06.08.2008

Chapter 5

Foundation Of Religious Order

hagavan Mahavira propounded two categories of dharma:

  • arjagara dharma - the religion of the monks and nuns.
  • sagara dharma - the religion of the householders.

As a matter of fact religion is indivisible. The twofold religion taught by Bhagavan Mahavira referred to two cate gories of men and women according to their propensities.

One who has the Spiritual strength to renounce his household life would accept the religion of the ascetic, comprising the five major vows.

One who proposes to follow the path of spiritual discipline within the limitations of the household life would follow the religion of the householder comprising the anuvrata or the minor vows.

Men like Indrabhuti Gautama and women like Candanabala accepted the religion of the ascetic, and many others accepted the religion of the householder. We know the names of the first monk and the first nun to be initiated, but not the names of the first sravaka (layman) and the first sravika (laywoman) who accepted the religion of householder.

Bhagavan Mahavira had lived a solitary life during the period of his sadhana. He then had no disciples, no followers. Now he was not alone. He had disciples as well as followers. The tirtha (religious order) had been established. According to the tradition, Bhagavan Mahavira founded a fourfold tirtha comprising of the monks, the nuns, sravakas and sravikas. One may ask as to why Bhagavan Mahavira, even after attaining the omniscience, desired to found a tirtha - religious order.
The Word tirtha also means pravacana i.e., the funda­ mental doctrine (of dharma).

Bhagavan Mahavira is known as a tirthankara, (i.e., propounder of tirtha), because he enunciated the fundamental doctrine of dharma. The teachings propounded by one who has accomplished self-realization never fail. The teachings of Bhagavan Mahavira had the same effect. They got materialized into an organization - a religious order, or tirtha. It kept these teachings intact and is even now preserving them.

The teachings of Bhagavan Mahavira are expression of Truth revealed by self-realization. They are rich in spiritual experience and express explicitly the great doctrine of ane kanta or multifacetedness of Truth. The world pines for light whenever it finds itself engulfed in the colossal darkness gene rated by the ever-existing problems of violence, fanaticism, conflict of opinions, dissensions, wars, imbalance, disquiet, lust and craving. The teachings of Bhagavan Mahavira can serve as a beacon-light to the world. In the context of these ever-existing problems, the teachings of Bhagavan Mahavira are like the eternal, ever new and perennial source of light and guidance.

Title: Bhagavan Mahavira Life and Philosophy
Translated & Edited: Muni Mahendra Kumar


Edition 1995
Publisher: Jain Vishva Bharati, Ladnun, India

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anuvrata
  2. Dharma
  3. Discipline
  4. Gautama
  5. Gene
  6. Indrabhuti
  7. Mahavira
  8. Sadhana
  9. Sravakas
  10. Sravika
  11. Sravikas
  12. Tirtha
  13. Tirthankara
  14. Violence
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