Chapter 6: Truth Knows No Fifty-Fifty
The same has happened with Jainism in India, which was a contemporary religion to Buddha. Jainas are still in existence in India. It is also a strange fact that Mahavira, their greatest teacher, and Buddha were contemporaries. In the presence of Gautam Buddha, Mahavira could not make any impact on the country. Yes, he had a small following, but Buddha loomed so large, he was such a huge tree that for three hundred years British scholars, historians, philosophers, thought that Mahavira was not separate from Gautam Buddha, that Mahavira was another name of Gautam Buddha. Because it is a title, just as buddha is a title.
Buddha means the awakened one; Mahavira means one who has conquered. And they both had the same title of Jaina - Jaina also means one who has conquered. Because the same title belonged to both, it was thought that Mahavira was not somebody separate. It was just recently that scholars started feeling that this was not right, that these were two different people.
Buddha created so much impact, he overshadowed everybody - but within five hundred years he disappeared. Mahavira’s followers are still in existence because they compromised with the Hindus. They were not burned; they were not killed. They compromised so much that you cannot find much difference. And they had to compromise because they are dependent on the Hindus for everything. They are not a whole culture. If they need shoes - they cannot make shoes and certainly they need shoes - they will have to depend on the Hindus. They need their toilets to be cleaned; they cannot do that, they have to depend on Hindus.
It is a strange phenomenon that Jainism and Buddhism both arose as a revolt against Hinduism. Mahavira is very strongly against Hinduism, but Jainas compromised on every point - because from where are you going to get your clothes? The weavers are either Hindu or Mohammedan. Who is going to make your houses? Who is going to cultivate food for you? - because Jainas cannot even cultivate. It is against their religion, because plants have life, and if you cultivate you will have to cut plants and you will be doing violence.
So all the violence has to be done by Hindus; then naturally you have to be dependent on them, and you cannot argue, and you cannot insist that you have the truth. You have to say that everybody has the truth; just the languages are different, paths are different, ways are different, but the basic experience is the same. Jainism survived. The same is true about Mohammedanism, Christianity - they have all compromised with the existing people.
Just a few months ago, the present pope visited India. The Indian Christians are the low caste Hindus, converted to Christianity because of poverty. There is no other reason for their conversion - they are poor, uneducated, and Christianity promises them.