15.7 C
New York
Monday, May 29, 2023

Buy now

Vardhamana Mahavira

Mahavira was a guy who was regarded as God-like in India. In 599 BCE, he was born to Siddhartha, the king of the Nata or Jnatri tribe. His family was Kshatriya, which, when translated from Sanskrit to English, means warrior, indicating that he was a warrior caste member. Both of his parents were well-established and well-known. His father was a king, and his mother, Trisala, was from a high family. His parents were devotees of Parshva’s teachings. He is said to have first opened his eyes in the vicinity of Patna, Bihar, in north-eastern India.

His name was Vardhamana, but he was frequently referred to as Mahavira, which translates as “great hero” in Sanskrit. He is regarded as the final of the 24 Tirthankaras (saviors of Jainism) and the reformer of the Jain monastic society. Mahavira is credited with giving Jainism its modern shape; nevertheless, this is only true in the broadest sense. He is also incorrectly referred to as “the founder of Jainism.”

Early Life and Renunciation 

Mahavira was around six feet tall, according to Jain tradition. He was the 24th Tirthankara and the youngest. Like the son of a king, he was raised as a prince. According to history, he was a man of great affluence, but, as a young son, he was unable to inherit the clan’s leadership. Due to the two major Jain sects, there is disagreement over Mahavira’s biography, and in some cases, even about her mother. According to the Shvetambara sect, Mahavira married a Kshatriya lady and had a daughter at 30. However, Jain traditions disagree about Mahavira’s marital status. According to Digambara legend, his parents desired that he marry Yashoda, but he rejected. At the same age of 30, shortly after his parents’ deaths, he renounced his regal life and all the pleasures he had become accustomed to realize his spiritual side. Another sect, Digambara, which means “sky-clad or naked,” attests to Mahavira becoming a monk and leading an austere monastic life, eventually achieving kevala, the stage of omniscience or ultimate awareness. He kept lengthy fasts and suffered several physical mortifications, and he liked to meditate under the Ashoka tree. Owing to the lifestyle he chose, he wore only one item of clothing for more than a year, but due to his religion’s beginnings, he later went on nude and without belongings, without even a bowl to eat or drink from. He grew so austere that he permitted insects to climb up his body and bite him, patiently suffering the agony. 

Although he was a pure character and did no harm to anyone, others were still disrespectful towards him and regularly harangued and beat him because of his looks and unappealing body. But due to his spiritual aspirations, he did not reply to the people with the same attitude, but he accepted insults towards him and physical assaults with serenity. He lived a life that met his objective of spiritual awakening; he meditated for days and nights and lived on numerous grounds. Being a king, it did not worry him to sleep in diverse places like burial sites, the foot of the trees, etc. During his life, he attempted to shun any immoral behaviors and pursued a holy and honorable life path.

Vardhamana Mahavira

Mahavira’s Teaching 

Mahavira is generally considered the founder of Jainism, which is an incorrect title, although it is a separate issue and a different argument. Since the age of 30, after abandoning the royalty, Mahavira led a holy life that comprised a considerable time of meditations. Mahavira’s knowledge expanded as he pursued this way. Finally, he grew wise enough to taught the way he had discovered to other searchers. According to the legends, the basic principles he followed for his teachings were of the 23rd Tirthankara, Parshvanatha, which dates back to the 7th-century BCE, belonging to a teacher from Banaras. After 12 years of severe abstinence, he reached kevala, the greatest degree of perception.

He was mostly interested in the Jain religion. The Jain religion’s fundamental tenet is that everything has life, including stones, sand, trees, and everything else. Mahavira believed that everything had life and was also a proponent of non-violence. This was a component of his instruction. He spent almost 30 years preaching Jainism. Jainism’s core principles are as follows:

Ahimsa (non-violence)

Anekantvada (multiplicity of views)

Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)



The five mahavratas aided Mahavira’s followers in their quest for salvation. Mahavira is credited with these great vows, including the renunciation of violence, deception, greed, sexual pleasure, and austerity. Parshvanatha, Mahavira’s predecessor, preached only four vows. This is the emphasis of his vows teaching:

  • He preached austerity. This is demonstrated by the fact that he wore only one garment for an entire year and was frequently naked.
  • He was an apologist for Ahisma (non-violence), as he never struck or abused anyone abusive toward him.
  • Mahavira preached truthfulness, advising that no one should lie and that honesty should be demonstrated in all aspects of life.
  • He condemned stealing, describing it as disgraceful behavior that wreaks havoc on one’s personality. He taught his people to abstain from greed.
  • Mahavira also advocated for his students’ control of sexual desires.

Apart from the five “great vows,” Mahavira concentrated his teachings on the following:

  • Mahavira introduced systematic reforms and provided the Jain doctrine structure and philosophical, mythical, and cosmological beliefs to Jainism. He also created religious regulations for Jain monks, nuns, and laymen.
  • As a proponent of non-violence, he thought humans might be saved from matter pollution by practicing extreme asceticism and non-violence against all sentient creatures. Due to this principle, his followers were encouraged to do good, became strong, adopted vegetarianism, and stopped eating meat.
  • Mahavira was given the title Jina, or “Conqueror,” since his followers regarded him as the conqueror of the soul’s adversaries like attachment and greed. This title later became associated with Tirthankara.

To summarize, Mahavira was regarded as a deity or hero in the Jain religion, which is well-established in India. He devoted his life to spiritual pursuits and committed no acts of violence. He is said to have died around 527 BCE in Pava in Bihar state, leaving behind a group of disciples who founded Jainism. Over the next several centuries, the Jain community expanded and spread over central and western India. However, Jainism began to deteriorate in the early millennium as Hinduism flourished, and by the mid-nineteenth century, it was severely weakened. In the nineteenth century, several Svetambara reformers, most notably Atmaramji, revitalized Jainism (1837-96).

Previous article
Next article

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles