Part V — Lord Mahavira and Lord Buddha

The paths of Lord Mahavira and Lord Buddha

Lord Mahavira and Lord Buddha were contemporaries, although Lord Mahavira was a little older. Lord Mahavira lived from 599 to 527 BC and Lord Buddha lived from 567 to 487 BC. It seems that the Buddha took birth in a Jaina family. Both Lord Mahavira and the Buddha were born in the state of Bihar in northern India. Bihar is considered to be the cradle of both Jainism and Buddhism.

Sometimes the mendicant life of Lord Mahavira and the Buddha brought them into the same vicinity. On at least three occasions, they were preaching in the same village at the same time, but destiny did not allow them to meet personally.

Because of their tremendous respect for each other, Lord Mahavira and Lord Buddha were both interested in each other's philosophies. They used intermediaries to send and receive messages from one to another.

There are more than sixty references to Lord Mahavira in Buddhist literature. This has added considerably to our knowledge of Mahavira's life.

Now, thousands of years after these two immortal spiritual lions lived on earth, their light has spread in different ways. Buddhism is found mostly outside India, in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, Cambodia, Myanmar and other places. But Jainism is found only within our Indian subcontinent.

We can say that Buddhism has gone out of India to spread India's lofty message of spirituality, whereas, Jainism has remained within the boundaries of India to proclaim India's spirituality.