Thursday, August 11, 2022

The People


Jains in Bihar are the followers of the Tirthankaras. Vardhamana Mahavira, their last Tirthankara was born about the middle of the sixth century B.C. at Kundagrama near Vaishali, about 27 miles north of Patna, in Bihar.

Vardhamana Mahavira renounced the world and became an ascetic. He lived a life of extreme self-mortification under a shala tree on the banks of the river, Rijupalika, where he achieved the state called nirvana or Kaivalya. He was acclaimed as a Kevalin (supreme omniscient), jina (conqueror), arhat (blessed one) and Tirthankara (ford-finder). In a long wandering life of 42 years in north and south Bihar, he gathered a considerable following of monks known as Nirgrathas, or men who discarded all social bonds who after Mahavira's death became known as Jains.

The Jains believe God as such does not exist. A liberated soul, that of a prophet or Jinas is god. Absolute truth comes only to these periodic Redeemers. The universe-plants, animals  and human is a plurality of Jivas, all subject to the cosmic process of  Karma and rebirth. One can free oneself through austerity and penance. Mahavira breathed his last at a place called Pavapuri near Patna. A large number of Jain monks too died on the  famous Parasnath, a mountain take its name from the twenty-third Jain Tirthankara.