Ajivika is one of earliest schools of Indian philosophy in the 5th century BCE by Makkhali Gosala. Gosala is described in ancient texts as a contemporary of Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism, and of Buddha. It was a Sramaṇa movement (Madhumati Brahmi script at temple of Ghantakarna and king Tungabhadra). Original Ajivika had a fully elaborate philosophy, produced by its scholars and logicians, but those texts are lost. Everything that is known is from secondary sources (Jain, Buddhist and Hindu texts). Ajivika metaphysics included a theory of atoms similar to the Vaisheshika school, and believed that in every living being is an ātman. Ājīvika reached the height of its popularity during the rule of the Maurya. Along with the Cārvāka philosophy, appealed most to the warrior, industrial and mercantile classes of ancient Indian society.
The first teacher of the sankhya school is said to be kapila. Sankhya text and its commentaries enumerate 24 fundamental principles, which constitute the universe. 22 of these are evolutes of one more basic principle, called prakRti. The other principle is purusha, the individual soul, whose liberation consists of isolation from prakRti. Thus, the basic scheme is one of duality, based on two fundamental principles, prakRti and purusha, although this school also allows for an infinite number of purushas.
The yoga sUtras of patanjali form the basis for the yoga school of thought. Generally, the principles of sankhya are accepted in the texts on yoga, so that these two schools are usually paired together. However, ISvara, an Omniscient God, as a 25th principle, is an important feature of the yoga school.
Sramanism (includes Buddhism and Jainism) is as old as Brahmanism. Place a high value on dharma and moksha, but deny vedas as final authority.
The word "Jain" comes from jina, the "conqueror." Jains are followers of the Conqueror, the first teacher, Adinath. There is a line of twenty-four great teachers, calledtirthankaras or "finders of the path." Vardhamma, who was known as Mahavir (599-526 BC) was the twenty-fourth teacher.
The universe and its constituents - soul, matter, space, time, and principles of motion have always existed. All the constituents and actions are governed by universal natural laws. It is not possible to create anything out of nothing (similar to law of conservation of mass). Similarly, the soul of each living being is unique and uncreated and has existed since beginningless time. The Jain theory of causation holds that a cause and its effect are always identical in nature. Any soul who destroys its karmas and desires, achieves liberation. A self-regulating mechanism whereby the individual reaps the fruits of his own actions through the workings of the karmas.
Jains believe in ahimsa (nonviolence). They believe that every living entity, even insects and plants, has an eternal and indestructible soul (jiva) within it. Orthodox Jains are strict vegetarians. Jains are prohibited from lying or stealing, must avoid useless actions, talk, or thoughts, and must eat only pure food. Ideally, they should practice celibacy.
The Jains are divided into two sects, the Digambaras ("sky-clad") and the Svetambaras ("white-robed"), who are more numerous. Jain temples are dedicated to one of the tirthankaras. The Sravanabelagola, a Digambara temple has 18m high sculpture of Gomateswarabuilt around 938 AD. Jains have constructed some of the most impressively carved temples in India and the sculptures on the temples can be spectacular.
Parsva was the son of king Visvasena of Kashi, a descendant of the Ikshvaku family, and queen Bama Devi, daughter of King Mahipala. He was the twenty-third Tirthankara. He was born on the eleventh day of the dark fortnight in the month of Pousha in the year 872 B.C. Parsvanatha began to practice the twelve vows of a householder when he was only eight years old.
Prince Parsva was now sixteen years old. He was sitting on the throne. His father Visvasena said, “My son, in order to continue our celebrated royal dynasty, you must marry now. Parsvanatha was very much frightened when he heard the words of his father. He said, “My life-period will not be so extensive as that of Rishabha. I am to live only a few score years. I have already wasted sixteen years in boyish sports. I must enter the order in my thirtieth year. Should I then have a married life for so short a period in the hope of getting pleasures which are, after all, only imperfect, transient and illusory?’
Parsvanatha’s heart was filled with a spirit of renunciation. He reflected within himself: “For long years I enjoyed the status of Indra and yet the lust for pleasures did not decrease. Enjoyment of pleasures only increases the lust for pleasures, just as the addition of fuel only increases the virulence of fire. Pleasures at the time of enjoyment are pleasant, but their consequences are surely disastrous.
“The soul experiences from beginning less time the sufferings of birth, old age, etc., on account of its attachment to the objects of this world. To satisfy the cravings of his senses, man wanders in the realm of pain. So that he may have sensual gratification, he does not heed the moral injunctions and he commits the worst vices. He kills living animals to enjoy the pleasures of the senses. Lust is at the roof of theft, greed, adultery and all vices and crimes.
“As a consequence of sinful acts, the soul is forced to migrate from birth to birth in the kingdom of the lower animals etc., and to suffer the torments of hell. This lust for pleasures must be shunned ruthlessly. So long I have wasted my life. I am not going to spend any more time in the vain pursuit of pleasures. I shall be serious and practice right conduct.”
Prince Parsva had the twelve Anuprekshas or meditations. He resolved to abandon the world. He took leave of his parents and them left his house. He retired into the forest. He became absolutely naked. He turned towards the north and bowed to the great Emancipated Siddhas. He plucked five tufts of hair from his head and became a monk.
Parsva practised fasting. He observed with scrupulous care the twenty-eight primary and the ninety-four secondary rules of the order of monks. He was found lost in meditation. He attained the pure omniscience. He attained the final liberation in the Sammeda Hill, which is known today as the Parsvanatha Hill. Parsvanatha preached in Kashi, Kosi, Kosala, Panchala, Maharashtra, Magadha, Avanti, Malava, Anga and Vanga. Many joined the Jain faith. Parsvanatha spent seventy years in preaching.
Mahavira modified and enlarged what had already been taught by Parsvanatha.
Mahavira was born in 599 B.C. He lived for 72 years. He abandoned home in 569 B.C. He attained omniscience in 557 B.C. and entered into Nirvana in 527 B.C. He was the last Tirthankara.
Mahavira lived a life of absolute truthfulness, a life of perfect honesty and a life of absolute chastity. He lived without possessing any property at all. Mahavira was born of Sidhatha, Raja of Kundalpura, and Queen Trisala, who was known by the name Priya Karni. He revised the Jain doctrines. He was more a reformer. Mahavira was also known by the names Vardhamana (i.e., ever advancing) and Sanmati.
Mahavira was immersed in Self-contemplation. He knew that the pleasures of this world were transitory and that they strengthened the fetters of Karma. He knew that renunciation would lead to the attainment of eternal bliss.
Mahavira distributed all his wealth to the poor with his own hands. He went to the forest. He took off even the piece of cloth, which he was wearing.
Mahavira practised rigorous austerities. He fasted for many days. He meditated on the pure nature of the Soul. He attained omniscience. He preached his message of peace for thirty years after the attainment of omniscience. He wandered in Magadha, Mithila, etc Many kings became his disciples.