Jaina comes from the word Jina, which means to become victorious and to live. The Ascetic religious teachers in Jainism are called Tirthankaras. According to Jain philosophy, all Tirthankaras were born as human beings. Later in life, they achieved enlightenment through meditation and self realization.’ The word ‘Tirthankara’ loosely translated means: “one who helps, in crossing the river”. The sage who renounces the world is called ‘the maker of the end’, as the sage has jumped off the wheel of the World (Samsara), which makes humanity, bound to constant lives and deaths.

The founder of Jainism was Rishabha. It is believed that Rishabha invented pottery, painting, sculpture… The twenty-second Tirthankara, Arishtanemi, is believed to have been a cousin of Krishna. Parshva was the 23rd Tirthankara. He married a princess and lived an affluent life until he was 30 years of age. He then, renounced his life as a householder. He underwent 84 days of intense meditation. After he became enlightened, he spread the spiritual message for 70 years.

Parshva’s disciples included women. His disciples were allowed to wear garments. Dear Readers, you will notice that lately, I have been writing to you about various Spiritual Masters with the intention of bringing to your notice, the similarities of their message.

Let us look at what were the main teachings of Parshva, the 23rd Tirthankara:

  1. Abstaining from harming and killing of living beings.
  2. Truthfulness. The truth must be uttered, after renouncing anger, greed, and fear. However, silence was preferable. But if one must speak, then it should be ‘not insulting’.
  3. Not to steal. Begging is practiced adhering to strict rules. Even staying under someone’s roof, should be done after deliberation. 
  4. Not to own possessions. Also. sensual pleasures, liquor, attachments of any kind, must be renounced by the chaste. 
  5. Not to own possessions. Sensual pleasures, liquor, attachments of any kind, must be renounced by the chaste. 

It was taught that there is a kind of glue in pleasure. Wetted clay will stick to the wall, while dry clay will fall off! One must rise above, attachments to ‘likes’ and aversion to ‘dislikes’. Pain will then, fall off, like the snake casts off its skin, and sins will vanish like the tarnish from silver, in the fire.

Jainism advocates right attitude, right knowledge, and right conduct. Jain householders tried their best to revere life, by refraining from harming living creatures. It is recorded, that one of their major arguments was whether monks ought to wear or discard garments.