I remember an interesting incident related to this that happened a few years ago. I was at a temple of Mahavira, and after a Jaina monk had spoken to the worshippers I was invited to speak. I said, “Vardhaman and Mahavira are two separate individuals and only when Vardhaman died was Mahavira born. As long as Vardhaman is there, there is no way that Mahavira can also be there. The man called Vardhaman is not Mahavira, and if you think that Vardhaman’s life is Mahavira’s life, then you are under a great illusion.”
The Jaina monk was very perturbed and agitated. He thought that someone utterly unacquainted with the Jaina scriptures had come to speak. He was so agitated that he stood up and interrupted, shouting, “No, no, what you are saying is utterly wrong. Vardhaman and Mahavira are one and the same person. And it seems that you know nothing of the Jaina scriptures.”
I said, “I may or may not know Jaina scriptures, but I know jina-hood. And in the light of jina-hood, Vardhaman and Mahavira are two separate individuals. You only know what is written in the books, but I know that Vardhaman’s life is not Mahavira’s! Vardhaman went to the jungle specifically to dissolve Vardhaman. And the day the seed of Vardhaman broke – its shell fell off – Mahavira sprouted.”
Even then this Jaina monk could not grasp the point. The intellect stuffed with concepts is incapable of understanding anything. Then he became so angry that I was saying such a topsy-turvy thing that he was completely out of his senses and lost all his awareness. In order to understand, some awareness is a must. Then those who know too much about the scriptures…the dust of the scriptures covers their eyes and it becomes impossible for them to see life as it really is.
I knew as well as he did that the names Vardhaman and Mahavira belonged to the same man, but this is the most superficial level of understanding, and there is an inner discontinuity between the two. On the surface, yes, the names belong to the same man; and it is the man born as Vardhaman who will die as Mahavira. On the outer there is a continuity – but in the inner? In the inner, one chain has ended and a new chain has begun. In the inner, the man who was born has come to an end and a new experience, a new remembrance of the one who is never born and never dies has dawned, and that is Mahavira.
Understand this well. As long as you are, defeat is your destiny. The very notion of fighting is foolish. It is as if one is fighting with oneself: he is bound to lose. It is as if one is fighting with the current: he will lose. The day the understanding dawns: “Who is there to be fought against? There is no one except me! It is only me all over and all around, and it is myself who is in the other too! I and you are not separate and divisible,” the defeat comes to an end – but so do you in the same moment!