Mahavira. Many great religious leaders have been born in our country. Of these Mahavira is one of the greatest.
Many great religious leaders have been born in our country. Of these Mahavira is one of the greatest.
He lived nearly 2,500 years ago. He was born at Kshatriyakund in Bihar.
His father was a king called Siddhartha. His mother was Trishala Devi. She was the sister of King Chetak of Vaishali.
When Mahavira was in his mother’s womb, the wealth of the family grew. So they named him "Vardhamana". This word means “growing”.
Vardhamana was born on the thirteenth day of the bright half of Chaitra.
Very early in life he learnt all that a king should know.
He became not only learned, but strong of arms, too.
Unlike other young men, Mahavira always thought of the sufferings of his people. He wanted to spend his life in their service.
He wanted to remain a bachelor. But his parents wanted him to marry. So he married Yashoda Devi, daughter of King Samara Vira.
A daughter was born to them. He named her Priyadarshana. She later married a prince named Jamali.
When Mahavira was 28 years old, his parents died.
Mahavira lived for two years more in the palace., When he was 30 years old, Mahavira gave up his kingdom and distributed his riches amongst the needy and the poor.
On the tenth day of the dark half of Margashirsh he left the house to live as a hermit in a forest. For about twelve and a half years, he did tapas. He often, went without food and water.
During tapas, he experienced many troubles.
He bore them all with a smile, for the sake of mankind, whom he wanted to save. God Indra was so struck by his endurance that he called him “Mahavira” or the “very brave one”.
As a result of his tapas, all his weaknesses dropped away and Mahavira got spiritual powers.
He was then called Jina. Jina means conqueror.
He started preaching dharma. Its first principle was ahimsa, or love for all living beings, and no hatred for anyone.
He asked everyone to speak only the truth.
“Do not cast eyes on another man’s property,” he said.
Mahavira made no difference between one caste and another. He took many disciples from the lower castes.
Soon people, learned in the Vedas, kings and nobles became his disciples, and led the life of monks.
Those who follow the religion taught by Mahavira are called Jainas. We have a large number of them in our country. Their religion is called Jainism.
Many Tirthankaras or saints had taught the principles of Jainism before Mahavira. But Mahavira carried his message far and wide. All over the country.
Thus many more people came to follow Jainism. Mahavira died at the age of seventy-two at Pavapuri.