(Notes) Civil Services (Prelims) Examination : Facts About India - Quick Revision Notes (III)

Civil Services (Prelims) Examination Special
Quick Revision Notes


Facts About India : (Indian History)

Jainism and Buddhism

38. The parents of Mahavira were Siddhartha, a Janatrika chief of Kundapura, and Trishala, a Kshatriya lady related to the ruling families of Vaishali and Magadha.

39. Mahavira married a princess named Yashoda.

40. Mahavira forsookthe world at the age of thirty and roamed as a naked ascetic in several parts of eastern India and practiced severe penance for 12 years. Half of this time was spent with a mendicant (beggar) friar (brother) named Goshala who subsequently left him and became the leader of the Ajivika ect.

41. In the 13th year of penance, Mahavira attained the highest spiritual knowledge called Kevala-jnana, on the northern bank of river Rijupalika, outside Jrimbhikagrama, a little known locality in eastern India. He was now known as a Kevalin (omniscient), a Jina (conqueror) and Mahavira (the great hero).

42. Mahavira became the head of a sect called Nigranthas (free from Fretters), known in later times as Jains or followers of Jina (conqueror).

43. Mahavira died at Pava in south Bihar, after wandering for 35 years as a religious teacher, at the age of 72.

44. The Jains believe that Mahavira was not the founder of a new religious system, but the last of a long succession of 24 Tirthankars or “ford-makers across the stream of existence”.

45. The 23rd teacher, Parsav, the immediate predecessor of Mahavira, was a prince of Benaras and enjoined on his disciples the great four vows of non-injury, truthfulness, abstention from stealing and non-attachment. Mahavira added the vow of Brahamcharya or continence to this.

46. Jainism was atheistic in nature, the existence of God being irrelevant to its doctrine. It believes that universe functions according to an eternal law and is continually passing through a series of cosmic waves of progress and decline. Everything in the universe, material or otherwise, has a soul. The purification of the soul is the purpose of living, for the pure soul is released from the body and then resides in bliss.

47. Jains believe that by following the three-fold path of right Belief, right Knowledge and right Conduct, souls will be released from transmigration and reach the pure and blissful abode or Siddha Sila.

48. Jainism spread rapidly among the trading community. The emphasis on non-violence prevented agriculturists from being Jainas, since cultivation involved killing insects and pests.

49. According to the tradition of the Svetambara Jains, the original doctrine taught by Mahavira was contained in fourteen old texts styled Purvas.

50. Close to 4th century B.C., due to a famine in south Bihar, important sections of Jains, headed by Bhadrabahu, fled to Mysore.

51. To revive the knowledge of sacred texts, which was passing into oblivion following the famine in south Bihar and fleeing of majority of Jains, a council was convoked by those who were left behind in Pataliputra, which resulted in compilation of the 12 Angas which are regarded as the most important part of the Jain canon. Another council was held at Valabhi in Gujarat in 5th or 6th century A.D. which made a final collection of the scriptures and reduced them to writing.

52. The followers of Bhadrabahu, on their return to the north, refused to acknowledge the Angas and came to be known as Svetambaras (clad in white) as they wore white garments notwithstanding the injunctions of Mahavira. The original followers came to be called Digambaras (sky-clad or naked).

53. Gautama Buddha was born as Siddhartha to Suddhodana, a Raja or noble of Kapilvastu (in the Nepal Terai to the north of Basti district of Uttar Pradesh) and Maya, a princess of Devadaha, a small town in the Sakya territory. Maya died while giving birth to Siddhartha and he was brought up by his aunt and step-mother  Prajapati Gautami.


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