Lord Mahavira is one of the most revered and respected spiritual leaders in India. He was the founder of Jainism, an ancient Indian religion that emphasizes non-violence, self-control, and compassion for all living beings. Lord Mahavira is considered to be the last Tirthankara (enlightened teacher) of Jainism, who is believed to have attained Nirvana or liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Lord Mahavira Biography : Life History, Enlightenment, Teachings, Legacy
Lord Mahavira Early Life
Lord Mahavira was born in 599 BCE in a royal family in the city of Vaishali, in present-day Bihar, India. His birth name was Vardhamana, which means “the one who grows.” His father, King Siddhartha, was the ruler of the kingdom of Kundagrama, while his mother, Queen Trishala, was a devout follower of Jainism. She had a dream during her pregnancy that her son would be a great spiritual leader who would bring enlightenment to the world.
As a child, Lord Mahavira was educated in various subjects, including science, mathematics, and philosophy. He was known for his intelligence, charisma, and compassion towards all living beings. However, despite his privileged upbringing, he was deeply troubled by the suffering and inequality he saw in the world around him. He was particularly disturbed by the treatment of animals and the violence that was often used to settle disputes between humans.
Lord Mahavira was intelligent and compassionate. He had a deep sense of empathy towards all living beings, and he often spent his time in meditation and contemplation. His parents gave him the best education, and he learned various subjects, including philosophy, ethics, and politics. However, as he grew older, he became increasingly disillusioned with the materialistic and violent nature of his society.
Lord Mahavira Renunciation and Spiritual Quest
At the age of 30, Lord Mahavira renounced his royal lifestyle and became an ascetic, leaving behind his wealth, family, and worldly possessions. He gave up his clothing and wandered as a naked mendicant, practicing severe austerities and meditation to attain spiritual enlightenment. He endured great physical hardship, including fasting, prolonged periods of meditation, and exposure to harsh weather conditions.
After 12 years of intense spiritual practice, Lord Mahavira finally attained enlightenment (Kevala Jnana) at the age of 42. He became the last Tirthankara of Jainism and began to preach his teachings to people, emphasizing the principles of non-violence, self-control, and detachment from material possessions. He believed that the ultimate goal of human life is to attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death and achieve spiritual enlightenment.
During this time, Lord Mahavira studied under various spiritual teachers and gurus, including Parsva, the 23rd Tirthankara of Jainism. He learned the principles of Jainism, including the importance of non-violence, truthfulness, and self-control. He also studied the ancient Indian texts, including the Vedas and the Upanishads, to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of reality and the purpose of life.
Lord Mahavira Enlightenment and Teachings
After 12 years of intense spiritual practice, Lord Mahavira finally attained enlightenment. He became free from all desires and attachments and realized the true nature of the self and the universe. He spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Jainism and helping others achieve enlightenment.
Mahavira’s life before enlightenment was that of a prince, living a life of luxury and comfort. However, at the age of 30, he renounced his worldly possessions and set out on a spiritual quest for self-realization. He practiced intense meditation and self-discipline for 12 years, during which he endured great physical and mental hardships.
Finally, at the age of 42, Lord Mahavira achieved enlightenment, or Kevala Jnana, which means supreme knowledge or omniscience. He gained a deep understanding of the nature of reality and the workings of the universe. He was now a Jina, which means conqueror of the self, and became known as Mahavira, meaning “great hero”.
Lord Mahavira’s Teachings
Lord Mahavira’s teachings are based on the principles of Ahimsa (non-violence), Anekantavada (many-sidedness), and Syadvada (relativity).
Ahimsa : Non-violence
Ahimsa is the cornerstone of Jainism, and Mahavira emphasized its importance in all aspects of life. He believed that every living being has a soul, and that every soul is equal and worthy of respect. Therefore, harming any living being, whether human or animal, is considered a grave sin in Jainism.
Mahavira’s teachings on non-violence go beyond physical harm, encompassing mental and emotional harm as well. He encouraged his followers to practice compassion and kindness towards all living beings.
Anekantavada : Many-sidedness
Anekantavada is the concept of many-sidedness, which acknowledges that truth is multifaceted and can be perceived in different ways. Mahavira believed that there are multiple paths to spiritual enlightenment and that one must have an open mind and be willing to accept different viewpoints.
Syadvada : Relativity
Syadvada is the doctrine of relativity, which recognizes that everything is relative and that there are many perspectives on reality. Mahavira believed that truth is subjective and can only be perceived through personal experience.
Mahavira’s teachings also emphasized the importance of self-control and detachment from material possessions. He believed that attachment to material possessions and desires is the cause of suffering, and that true happiness can only be attained through detachment and inner peace.
Lord Mahavira’s teachings emphasized the importance of non-violence towards all living beings, including animals and insects. He believed that every living being had a soul, and that every soul was equal and deserving of respect and compassion. He also taught that the ultimate goal of human life was to attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death and to achieve Nirvana, or ultimate enlightenment.
Lord Mahavira’s teachings had a profound impact on Indian society. Many people were attracted to his message of peace, compassion, and self-discipline, and Jainism soon became one of the major religions in India. Lord Mahavira’s teachings also influenced other spiritual traditions, including Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Five Basic Vows Of Lord Mahavira
Ahimsa (Non-violence) : The first and foremost vow of Jainism is Ahimsa, which means non-violence or non-injury to any living being. It is the foundation of Jainism and the basis of all the other vows.
Satya (Truthfulness) : Satya means truthfulness in thoughts, words, and deeds. A Jain must always speak the truth and avoid deception, falsehood, or any form of dishonesty.
Asteya (Non-stealing) : Asteya means not taking anything that is not given willingly or without permission. A Jain must avoid stealing, cheating, or taking anything that does not belong to them.
Brahmacharya (Chastity) : Brahmacharya means celibacy or abstinence from sexual activity. It is not just limited to physical purity but also includes purity of thoughts and emotions.
Aparigraha (Non-possession) : Aparigraha means non-possessiveness or non-attachment to material possessions. A Jain must avoid greed, possessiveness, and attachment to material things, and lead a simple and minimalist lifestyle.
Lord Mahavira Later Years
After attaining enlightenment, Lord Mahavira traveled extensively throughout India, spreading his teachings and establishing a large following. He spent the next thirty years of his life preaching and teaching his philosophy, which became the foundation of Jainism. During this time, Lord Mahavira was accompanied by his disciples, who helped him spread his message and establish his teachings.
In the later years of his life, Lord Mahavira continued to travel and teach, but he also spent more time in meditation and introspection. He was known for his asceticism and detachment from worldly pleasures, and his followers respected him greatly for his spiritual insights and wisdom.
Lord Mahavira Death
Lord Mahavira passed away at the age of 72, in the city of Pava, which is now located in modern-day Bihar, India. According to Jain tradition, Lord Mahavira achieved Nirvana or Moksha, the ultimate liberation from the cycle of birth and death. He is believed to have attained this state of enlightenment in his final moments, while he was meditating in a pose known as the Kayotsarga posture.
The circumstances surrounding Lord Mahavira’s death are described in great detail in Jain texts. According to these texts, Lord Mahavira had been fasting for several days before his death, and he had asked his disciples to prepare him a special drink known as sugarcane juice. However, due to a misunderstanding, he was given a poisonous drink instead, which caused him great pain and suffering.
Despite his suffering, Lord Mahavira remained calm and composed, and he continued to meditate until he finally achieved Nirvana. His disciples were grief-stricken by his death, but they were also filled with a sense of awe and reverence for their spiritual leader, who had achieved the ultimate goal of Jainism.
Lord Mahavira Legacy
Lord Mahavira’s teachings continue to influence millions of people around the world today. Jainism is known for its emphasis on non-violence, compassion, and respect for all living beings, and these values are reflected in the way that Jains live their lives. Jains are known for their strict vegetarian diets, their commitment to environmentalism and sustainability, and their belief in the importance of self-control and self-discipline.
In addition to his spiritual legacy, Lord Mahavira is also remembered for his contributions to Indian culture and philosophy. He was a great philosopher and thinker, and his ideas about karma, rebirth, and the nature of the soul have had a profound impact on Indian thought and spirituality. Today, Lord Mahavira is revered as a great spiritual leader and a symbol of the enduring power of Jainism.
Lord Mahavira’s teachings had a profound impact on Indian philosophy and religion. Jainism became a major religion in India, with millions of followers across the country.
Mahavira’s legacy also extends beyond India, with Jain communities in other parts of the world, including the United States and Europe. His teachings of non-violence and compassion have also influenced other religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism.
In conclusion, Lord Mahavira was a great spiritual leader whose teachings continue to inspire people around the world. His emphasis on non-violence, many-sidedness, and relativity are relevant today more than ever, and his message of compassion and kindness towards all living beings is a powerful reminder of our interconnectedness with the world around us.
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