Lord Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara who propagated Jainism, the first and the foremost being Lord Rishabhadev. Hundreds of years ago, Jainism was very much prevalent in the whole of India including Tamil Nadu and other Southern States. The principles of Jainism are more relevant now than they were centuries ago.
Mahavira advocated right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. According to Jain principles a householder should observe five vows non-violence, truth, non-stealing, sexual restraint and curtailing of one's desires and possessions. His three contributions, Ahimsa (non-violence), Syadvada or Anekantavada (logic of probability and relativism) and Aparigraha (non-possession) are of eternal value. Mahavira preached that man was the architect of his destiny. Religion helps all souls to attain the highest type of joy and is concerned in the welfare of all without discrimination of caste, creed, colour, sex, community or class.
His teachings of Ahimsa would have to be taken at the individual level in thought, speech and in action. Ahimsa means reverence for life calling for compassion and service to all living beings. He said, "I renounce my animosity and seek forgiveness from all beings. Let all beings forgive me and give up their animosity. I have friendliness towards all and animosity for none."
Anekantavada propagated by him was not a dogma and simply meant that everything has its own nature and attributes that at times may be opposed to one another. They cannot all be described at the same time. There could be partial truth but for full investigation one has to enquire from all possible angles. Mahavira was well aware of the fact that economic inequality disturbed social life. He pronounced that the remedy for the ills of economic inequality is Aparigraha. This means that one should keep that which is necessary for oneself and the rest should be returned to society for its well-being. Mahavira's teachings followed in right earnest would be a right step towards all-round peace and prosperity.