Vardhaman Mahavir : The Smart Marketing Strategist
Vardhaman Mahavir was born in 540 B. C. in a village called kundagram in north Bihar. He abandoned worldly life at the age of 30 and became an ascetic. When he reached the age of 42, he attained the Kaivalya or knowledge.
Jainism mainly aims at the attainment of freedom from worldly bonds. No ritual is required for acquiring such liberation. It can be obtained through right knowledge, the right faith, and the right action. These three are considered to be the three Jewels or Triratna of Jainism.
Now the question is raised. Why did Vardhaman Mahavir give three Jewels or Triratna to his followers? It can be explained in the following way. Vardhaman Mahavir was a contemporary of Gautam Buddha. Gautam Buddha was born in 563 B. C. in Lumbini in Nepal. At the age of 29, like Mahavir, Gautam Buddha left home.
He kept on wandering for about seven years and then attained knowledge at the age of 35. He said that the world is full of sorrows and people suffer on account of desires. If desires are conquered, nirvana will be attained, that is, man will be freed from the cycle of birth and death. Gautam Buddha recommended an Eight Fold Path ( ashtangika marg ) for the elimination of human misery. Eight Fold Path or ashtangika marg means the eight actions or observations to be followed by a layman to achieve nirvana.
Gautam Buddha and Vardhaman Mahavir both belonged to the Kshatriya family. Gautam Buddha was older than Vardhaman Mahavir. He had started to preach his doctrine in the Gangetic region 30 years before the Vardhaman Mahavir started preaching. So, when Vardhaman Mahavir started to preach his doctrine in the Gangetic region, there was little scope for him because Gautam Buddha had already succeeded to convert the region to a large extent in his favour.
So, to convert the people to Jainism, Mahavir propagated that if one professed Buddhism, one had to follow the eightfold path to achieve nirvana. On the other hand, if one professed Jainism, one had to follow only 3 Jewels or 3 Ratna. It would be very easy to follow 3 actions instead of 8 actions.
To conclude Vardhaman Mahavir appears to be a very smart marketing strategist to popularise his doctrine against his rival Gautam Buddha.