Written by – Ganinee Pramukh Shri Gyanmati Mataji
Translated by – Aryika Swarnmatil
Lord Mahavira is the 24th Thirthankar of Jain Religion. He is a glowing light of knowledge in the lineage of Jainism. Lord Mahavir was born on the thirteenth day of rising moon of Chaitra month (”Chaitra Shukla Trayodashi”), in 599 B.C. in ”Kundalpur” (Nalanda dist.)
Bihar, India. This day falls in the month of March-April as per Gregorian calendar. Though the most well-known figure in Jainism and a great propogator, one should not mistake him for the founder of the Jina Dharma. Jain Dharma is anadhinidhan( Neither formed nor perishable).
Indra formed Ayodha Nagari owing to the ”Punya’‘ of King Nabhiraj and queen Marudevi. ”Kalpavrikshas”(trees which provide any wished article) were almost on the verge of extinction at that time, so Nabhiraj directed the public to eat fruits and drink ”Ikshuras”( Sugarcane juice). That’s why he was also called as “IKSHVAKUVANSHI”. Queen Marudevi gave birth to Tirthankar Vrishabhdeva. Then Devtas and Indras combinedly celebrated the ”Janmabhishek” festival(ceremony of anointment of the newborn infant) by taking the Jin-Child to the ”Sumeru” mountain.
After Rishabhdev became young, he was married to Yashasvati and Sunanda. Yashasvati gave birth to Bharat Chakravarti & 99 sons and also to ”Brahmi” daughter whereas Queen Sunanda gave birth to ”Bahubali kamdev” and ”Sundari” daughter.
”Avadhigyandhari’‘-Bhagwan Rishabhdeva(one who has the knowledge of all the facts going on at different places without actually going to those places) made all his sons and both the daughters expert in all types of Knowledge & Art.
Once Bhagwan Adinath consoled the disturbed public through his ”Avadhigyan” that here also there should be arrangement as in ”Purva Aper Videhkshetra” (Eastern & Western Videh, where Chaturth Kal-satyug always exists).
So, at that time, as per the direction of Bhagwan, Indra came and established ”Kshatriya, Vaishya & Shudra” varnas and also structured cities, towns, villages etc. Lord Rishabhdeva also taught people how to earn livelihood and also preached them about the six basic activities to lead life. They are
Hence, Lord Rishabhdeva was also know bt the names ”Adipurush, Brahma, Yugadipurish, Prajapati” etc.
One day while watching ”Neelanja” Apsara (beautiful angel of heaven) dance, Lord Rishabhdeva developed the feeling of renunciation (Vairagya) and accepted ”Jaineshwari Diksha”. He performed ”Panchmushti Lonch” (plucking of own hairs by own hands- one of the rituals of Jain Saint) under the ”Akshaya Vat Vriksha” in the Siddhartha forest of Prayag (present Allahabad).
At that time BHARAT became ”Chakravarti” (sole ruler & owner of all the six Khandas (divisions) of the Earth) and thus the name ‘BHARAAT‘, attributed to this Earth became realistic.
After becoming an ascetic, Rishabhdev took the vow of total silence and started wandering accompanied by other ascetics. When, after his penance, he went out to beg for food, he did not get anything to eat. The common people of that age were ignorant about the practice of giving food as alms. They did not even appreciate the need to do so.
Whenever Rishabhdev approached them, they offered him respect and valuable gifts as they would to a king. Rishabhdev would then proceed ahead without accepting anything. As time passed the accompanying ascetics conferred among themselves and decided to eat fruits and vegetables naturally available. They slowly drifted away from Rishabhdev and the true ascetic way of life.
After one year of wandering from place to place and doing harsh spiritual practices without touching any food or water Rishabhdev decided to beg food once again. He came to Hastinapur town.
Bahubali’s son, Somprabh, was the king of Hastinapur. His son Shreyans Kumar saw a dream during night that Suvarnagiri, the golden mountain had turned black and he had brought it back its golden color by washing it with pitchers full of milk. He narrated his dream to his father and friends, but no one could interpret its significance.
Shreyans Kumar was sitting in the balcony of his palace and brooding over the dream he saw last night. All of a sudden he heard the noise caused by happy masses who had seen Rishabhdev entering the town. Thousands of citizens of Hastinapur rushed toward Rishabhdev with gifts. Rishabhdev did not even look at these things and continued his graceful walk in the direction of the palace.
When Shreyans saw approaching Rishabhdev, he rushed to welcome his great grandfather. After bowing down at the great ascetics feet when Shreyans looked at Rishabhdev’s face he could not shift his gaze. He went into a state of meditative thoughts and suddenly he acquired Jati-smaran Jnan, the knowledge that opens up memories of the past births.
In his past birth Shreyans was the charioteer of king Vajranabh (the past incarnation of Rishabhdev). This knowledge also made him aware of the duties of laity toward Shramans. He realized that Bhagavan Rishabhdev had been wandering around without food or water due to the prevailing ignorance of the people regarding ascetic norms.
With due reverence he requested Rishabhdev, “Prabhu! I am honored by your presence. I have just received 108 pitchers full of fresh sugar-cane juice that are pure and suitable for you in all respects. Kindly accept the juice and break your fast.” Rishabhdev extended his cupped palms and Shreyans poured the sugar-cane juice from a pitcher.
Rishabhdev broke his fast and the skies reverberated with the sound of divine drums and divine applaud, “Hail the alms giving!” The gods also showered gems, flowers and perfumes.
This was the beginning of the tradition of religious charity and alms giving. In memory of this incident, the third day of the bright half of the month of Vaishakh is celebrated as Akshay Tritiya festival. The Jains specifically celebrate it as the breakfast day after the penance of Varshi Tap (one meal and fast on alternate days for one year).
After the penance of one thousand years, engrossed in meditation, under the ”Akshaya Vat” at Prayag-Allahabad Bhagwan obtained KEVALGYAN (Enlightment) knowing Lok (where life exits) and Alok (surrounding Lok) simultaneously.
At that time Indra worshipped the ARIHANT MUDRA (form) of Bhagwan. In the 12 assemblies of ”Samavsaran”– Munis, Aryikas, Dev-Devis, Humanbeings and Tiryanchs (animals) were showered with the divine preachings of Lord Rishabhdeva.
He went around everywhere and introduced innumerable ”Bhavya Jeevas” (having the capability to be liberated from the worldly migration) with religious principles. Later on he attained MOKSHA/NIRVANA (Liberation) by destroying all his ”Karmas” from ””Kailash Parvat””.
Three years, eight months and fifteen days after the Nirvana of Lord Rishabhdeva, ”Fourth Kal”(age) started. Since then there have been 23 other Thirthankaras last of which is the well known Lord Mahavira. These Thirthanakaras were born with a gap period of crores of years and in the order-
Lord Mahavir was the twenty-fourth and the last Tirthankara of the Jain religion. According to Jain philosophy, all Tirthankaras were born as human beings but they have attained a state of perfection or enlightenment through meditation and self realization. They are the Gods of Jains. Tirthankaras are also known as Arihants or Jinas.
He was born into a royal family in what is now Bihar state of India. At the age of 30 he left his home in pursuit of spiritual awakening. For the next 12 years he practiced intense meditation and severe penance, after which he achieved Kevala or enlightenment.
He travelled all over India for next 30 years to teach his philosophy which is based on Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha. Mahavira attained Nirvana after his physical death at the age of 72. He was one of the most popular propagators of Jainism, and he is regarded as a reformer of Jainism rather than its founder.
Once upon a time a lion was preying on a deer for food on ”Himavaan Parvat”. Suddenly two Chaaran Ridhidhari(with the ability to walk in sky) Munis, Ajitanjay and Amitgun appeared there. They addressed the Lion-
O Mrigraj! You are going to be Tirthankar Mahavira after 10 births. Hey Enlightened! Now you should refrain from the saddening acts of violence and cruelty and proceed on the path of ‘Atmakalyan’.””
Blessed by Muniraj’s teaching the lion remembered his previous births(Jati-Smaran). He started crying and bowed down at the feet of Muniraj.
Being affected by the powerful and edifying words of Muniraj, the lion abandoned his cruelty and accepted ”Samyakdarshan”. He also took the five anuvratas. Becoming a vegetarian, he had nothing to eat and hence took ”Sallekhna”(Fast until death and to die with utmost peace remembering the Jain bhagwans). After his Samadhi, the lion bacame a ”Deva” in Heaven. Ten lifes later this jeev became the 24th Tirthankar Lord Mahavira.
This jeev of Lion due to his good deeds or punya later became Vdyankar, Chakravart & Dev. It also became a King named Nand in Chhtrapur Nagar. He accepted Jaineshwari Deeksha and studied Acharang & did hard penance.
Thinking of sixteen bhavnas as ”Darshan Vishuddhi, Vinayasampannta, Sheelvrateshvantichar etc” and with strong spirit of ”Apaya Vichaya Dharma Dhyan” i.e. how I may introduce (escort) these sorrowful worldly creatures to eternal biss after taking them out from their sorrows, he gained Thirthankar Prakriti. In the end before becoming Thirthankar this jeev became Indra at the Pushpottar Viman of Achyut Swarga (16th heaven).
Lord Mahavir was born on the thirteenth day of rising moon of Chaitra month (”Chaitra Shukla Trayodashi”), in 599 B.C. in ”Kundalpur” (Nalanda dist.) Bihar, India. This day falls in the month of March-April as per Gregorian calendar. His birthday is celebrated as Mahavir Jayanti each year.
Mahavira was born in royal family to King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala. Both of them were follower of ”Parshvnatha”(23rd Thirthankar). Queen Trishala had seen sixteen dreams the night before she conceived Lord Mahavira.
The name Mahavira is a Sanskrit word meaning Great Warrior. During his boyhood Mahavira brought under control a terrifying serpent and it is one of the reasons for his title ‘Mahavira’.Lord Mahavira has many other titles such as- Veer, Sanmati, Vardhaman, Ativeer.
Though Mahavira was born with worldly comforts and luxuries, they never attracted him. He lived a simple life.
At the age of 30, he left his family and royal household, gave up his worldly possessions, including clothing and become a monk i.e. accepted Jaineshwari deeksha and never harmed any creature even if it was an insect.
He spent twelve years of severe penance facing humiliation and hardships including phyisical tortures. But he remained calm and peaceful in the midst of all these torturous events. He never lost his serenity and never developed hatred for anyone.
After twelve years, he attained divine knowledge and self-realization. His perception about everything was crystal clear and he paved the way for spiritual pursuit for future monks. The attainment of Enlightenment is called ”Keval-Gyan”. Lord Mahavira gained his Kevalgyan on”Vaishakh Shukla Dashmi”.
Once he realized this knowledge, he traveled to the remotest places in India preaching whatever he had learnt. All through his wandering, he was barefoot and refrained from eating too often. His simple living and high morals attracted believers from all walks of life, which included kings, paupers, priests and untouchables.
His teachings were based on the concept of self-realization for ultimate attainment of Moksha. He taught people how to gain freedom from misery, pain and the cycle of birth and death. Lord Mahavira was known to be omniscient, which means he knew everything about past and future.
Mahavira taught a scientific explanation of the nature and meaning of life and a guide as to how we should behave to draw this real nature and meaning into our own life. We must start with three things. First, we must have ”Right Faith (Samyak Darshan)”, we must believe in truth.
Second, we must have the ”Right Knowledge (Samyak Gyan)”, we must study to understand what life is all about. Third, we must follow ”Right Conduct (Samyak Charitra)”, the conduct which our faith and knowledge show us to be correct. These are the ‘three jewels’, ratnatraya. of Jainism.
Mahavira’s teachings, if faithfully followed, have two results. Firstly, they produce a better society for every creature to live in, and secondly, they enable the individual to improve his or her own inner feelings and character. AHIMSA or non-violence is the first of five ethical principles. Mahavira taught that every living being has sanctity and dignity of its own and it should be respected just like we expect to respect our own sanctity and dignity.
In simple words, we should show maximum possible kindness to every living being. The second principle is SATYA or truthfullness which leads to good neighborliness in society. One should speak truth and respect right of property of each others in society. One should be true to his own thoughts, words and deeds to create mutual atmosphere of confidence in society.
Third principle is ACHAURYA or non-stealing which state that one should take anything not properly given. Fourth principle is BRAHMACHRYA or chastity which stress steady but determined restraint over yearning for sensual or sexual pleasures. Fifth and final principle is APARIGRAH or non-possession, non-attachment which requires complete detachment from people, places and material property.
For 66 days after Lord Mahavira attained divine enlightenment, he did not preach his knowledge due to the lack of proper disciple. Anxious with Lord’s silence Indra tricked a scholar pandit of that era, Indrabhuti Gautama, to come to Lord’s ”Samavsharan’‘.
Deeply stunned by the beauty of Lord’s Samavsharan, Indrabhuti’s ego melted and he accepted Jaineshwari Diksha. Having found the appropriate disciple Lord Mahavira started preaching(Divya-Dhvani) his Spiritual Knowledge to masses.
This day is celebrated even today as ‘Veer Shasan Divas’. His sermon took place in 718 different languages. Each living being could understand the discourse in their own language. Even animals could understand the Jinavani spoken by the Almighty Mahavira.
Lord Mahavira gained liberation from the cycles of reincarnation at the dawn of ”Kartik Krishna Amavasya” from Pavapuri(Bihar). On that day Devtas came and illuminated innumerable Deepaks(lamps) and celebrated the Nirvanotsava of Bhagwan Mahavira. Since then the tradition of celebrating DEEPAWALI came into practice. Today 2538 years have passed that Mahavira has attained salvation.