Vardhaman Mahaveer and His Life

Life Story of Bhagwan Mahaveer

--Mahaveer Sanglikar

Vardhaman Mahaveer, also known as Bhagwan Mahaveer, was one of the greatest philosophers of ancient India. He was a contemporary of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Vardhaman Mahaveer was the most famous and senior amongst religious reformers of that era.

It is a common misconception that Vardhaman Mahaveer was the founder of Jainism. In fact he was a reformer of teachings of Parshwanath, the 23 rd Jain Teerthankar (Ford Maker).

For short biography, see Bhagwan Mahavir in Brief

Birth and Childhood

Vardhman Mahaveer was born in 599 BC in Kundgram near Vaishali of Bihar in India. He was born to Siddharth and Trishala. Siddharth belonged to a high-ranked Warrior family of Nath Clan. Vardhman Mahaveer's mother Trishala was daughter of Chetak, the mighty and famous Lichchhavi king of Vaishali. Vardhman Mahaveer had an elder brother named Nandivardhan. and 6 maternal aunts, who were married to various kings of Eastern India. Thus Vardhman Mahaveer was related to various royal families and it helped him to promote his reformed Jainism.

He got all the education required for a prince. He was a fast learner and easily learned about literature, art, philosophy, military and administrative sciences. But he was not interested in worldly things and wanted to renounce them. But his parents didn't permit him to do so.

In Search of True Knowledge

When he was 28, his parents passed away. Now he was free to leave the palace, but his brother Nandivardhan asked him not to leave suddenly and requested to stay with him for some more days. To respect brother Nandivardhan, Vardhman Mahaveer stayed with Nandivardhan until the age of 30. In those two years, Vardhman Mahaveer practiced self-discipline and an ascetic's life.

At the age of 30, he donated all his personal belongings to needy and poor people and left the palace. He wandered on his bare feet in jungles and strange places. He meditated there. He rarely took food and fasting was a common thing for him. He never spoke to anybody in this period. Some tribal people harassed him for a long time, but he never reacted.

After 12 years of his search for the truth, Vardhman Mahaveer became a naked monk. He took his first meal after becoming a monk from a Slave woman Chandana who was bought by a merchant from the slave market and persecuted by his wife.

Vardhman Mahaveer traveled to the various parts of northern India, on his bare feet, without using any vehicle. These parts included today's Bihar, Jharkhand, western Bengal, Orissa, and eastern Uttar Pradesh of India. He taught and preached the way of life that one should adopt. He announced a silent war against animal sacrifices. All kinds of people, including kings and queens, rich and poor, men and women were attracted towards his teachings. Many scholarly Vedic Bramhins like Indrabhuti Goutam, Agnibhuti, Vayubhuti and others joined Vardhman Mahaveer's mission with their thousands of pupils. Indrabhuti Goutam and others compiled all the teachings of Vardhman Mahaveer. Shrenik Bimbisar, who was a famous and mighty king of Rajgrahi also became a disciple of Vardhman Mahaveer. Shrenik asked thousands of questions about soul, rebirths, meditation, Shraman tradition and history etc. to Vardhman Mahaveer and got answers from him. These questions and answers were written down by Indrabhuti Goutam which are preserved till today in the Jain literature.

A Miniature painting of Vardhaman Mahaveer
A Miniature painting of Vardhaman Mahaveer | Source

Teachings

Vardhman Mahaveer's teachings belonged to the ancient and pre-Vedic Shraman tradition. He did not believe in the creation theory and the mighty God. According to him no one has created the universe and it existed from infinitive past and will remain there forever. Only changes will take place. It was almost a scientific approach by Vardhman Mahaveer. According to his philosophy God was the highest position of human being and anybody could become a God by destroying his Karmas. He told: instead of finding out an imaginary God, try to become a God, the highest stage of mankind.

One of his famous doctrine is Anekantvad i.e. pluralism. According to it, every truth has many angles or viewpoints. Every observer observes some truth and he is not totally wrong. But the whole truth could be told only after considering all the viewpoints.

He never believed in classes and castes. According to him, a person becomes great by his own deeds and it has nothing to do with in which community, class, or caste he is born. One of his famous quotes is: Eko Manuss Jaai which means that all mankind is one. Even a outcasted could join as a monk in Vardhman Mahaveer's order. Chandana, the slave woman also became a nun and eventually she became the head of all nuns in Vardhman Mahaveer's sangh.

Vardhman Mahaveer's teachings were based on the Right Knowledge, Right Faith, and Right Conduct, which are called as Three Jewels of Jainism. Some of his teachings include:

Ahimsa (Non Violence): Not to kill any living creature, nor to cause for killings and avoid all types of violence, even hurting others by words. Vegetarianism became a must thing for the disciples. However, he was not against the unavoidable unknowingly killings in routine works by layman like farming etc. He was not against the violence by layman in protection of oneself, his family, village, or the nation.

Truth: To speak truth only, not to lie. But one should not speak a bitter truth, which will hurt others.

Non Stealing: One should not steal anything, which belongs to others. One should not take the things, which are not given by the possessor.

Non possession: One should not possess things more than his requirements. Excess money should be donated for noble cause.

Celibacy: One should control his sexual desires. One should not involve in extra marital relations.

Nirvana, the Salvation

For Vardhman Mahaveer the final goal of life for everybody was to reach nirvana (Moksh) or salvation. Nirvana was nothing but breaking the cycle of birth, life and death. Vardhman Mahaveer attained nirvana at the dawn of a no moon day at Pavapuri in Bihar when he was 72 years old (527 B.C). On the same day, his chief disciple Indrabhuti Goutam attained Keval Gyan, i.e. omniscience or ultimate knowledge.

The news of Vardhman Mahaveer's nirvan spread all over and the chieftains of the 14 kingdoms gathered at Pavapuri. They took part in the funeral of Vardhman Mahaveer. As this was not an occasion of sorrow but of joy as now Vardhman Mahaveer was free from birth and death, the kings decided to celebrate this day every year as a festival of lights, which is celebrated even today all over India.

Bhagwan Mahaveer Idol

Bhagwan Mahaveer's famous idol at Mahavirji Jain Temple, Rajasthan.
Bhagwan Mahaveer's famous idol at Mahavirji Jain Temple, Rajasthan.

Jainism and Buddhism: A Comparative Study

More by this Author


Comments 21 comments

howlermunkey profile image

howlermunkey 8 months ago from Tampa, FL

Fascinating Story! (Thanks for sharing). What a life this man must have lived. So this is truly where the festival of lights originated?


Brad2001 profile image

Brad2001 3 years ago from Lewiston, New York

Very informative article. I am now studying further and further into Eastern Philosophies. This was definitely informative! Please check out my hubs on Jean-Paul Sartre and the Buddhist Diamond Sutra. I would love to hear your comments on my writings, as someone who has just begun the path of meditation, I would love to hear how Buddhism differs from Jainism. Warm Wishes!


Aishwarya.B 3 years ago

amazing,fantastic.........:-D,i Knew so many things about Mahaveer Vardhaman his life,teachings,birth and childhood..........:-D!!!!!!!!!!


sahil 3 years ago

Mahavir was very great person


shagufta 3 years ago

the information is clear and easy to understand


sohan jain 4 years ago

Please compose your books in Hindi language.

If you have material on Loord Mahaveera ,please e mail me .

My e mail id is

jaijinwani@yahoo.com.

With regards.

Sohan Kalawat.


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India Author

sadhuvedantmuni,

You are right.

Thanks for the comments.


sadhuvedantmuni profile image

sadhuvedantmuni 4 years ago from BHOPAL MP

quite informative and full descriptions about LORD MAMAVEER . today it is the need of hour to adopt/ follow the teachings to establish peace, harmony, honesty,character, and mutual understandings.


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India Author

There are different version of biography of Vardhaman Mahaveer with sectarian views. As I have nothing to do with sectarian views, I have omitted some of the details, which are of not much importance, or which are disputed.


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India Author

Kundpur,a part of Vaishali, (not Kundalpur near Nalanda)is the real place of birth of Vardhaman Mahaveer, which is proven by archeologists and historians. In ancient Jain literature, you will find the name Kundpur, and not Kundalpur.


Major Ajit Ranka 4 years ago

I have a doubt about birth place mentioned in this article. When we visited Kundalpur near Nalanda, it is written that he was born there. Kindly clarify.

Also some details are omitted, some are incorrect. E.g. Vardhman gave promise to his mother that he will leave the palace only after her death. So to make him stay in the he was married off by his mother. His achieving the complete knowledge made him Mahaveer.


mansi 4 years ago

You can add lots of other information as there are a million means of it.


kareena 4 years ago

very good.


Madhavadasa Das profile image

Madhavadasa Das 4 years ago from New Orleans, Louisiana

I sincerelt believe that Mahaveer supports Ahimsa Milk.

CERTIFIED AHIMSA MILK

A Business Angel Presentation

A decade ago, organic milk was available only in select health food stores. Now it is in the cooler of every major American supermarket and around the world. We are predicting that we can inaugurate another trend that will quickly prove to be far more beneficial and lucrative than organic milk from grass fed cows.

There are many millions of vegetarians and animal lovers in America and around the world who would prefer milk from happier, healthier, and more productive cows that are allowed to keep and nurse their calves within herds that will never be subject to slaughter. We call this milk Ahimsa Milk, ahimsa being the well known term for non-violence to man or beast. As experienced dairymen have demonstrated, Ahimsa Milk presently costs twice as much to produce in industrialized economies than what is popularly available. However, there are millions of consumers who will be happy to pay the extra cost to make Ahimsa Milk a reality once they grasp the vision of the health, social and ecological benefits for trending in this direction. And it is our job to create that vision, the technology, and the economic system to make it a reality. Moreover, there are already in place many cow protection organizations that will promote and distribute Ahimsa Milk.

Ahimsa Milk is healthier and happier for cows and humans, as well as the earth we all share. Those for whom the costs might appear to be too high can learn how to consume less milk and appreciate it more. And as we develop new technologies to gainfully employ oxen, the cost of Ahimsa Milk will come down. There are also many humanitarian individuals and organizations that will help to make Ahimsa Milk affordable for all.

There is nothing more pleasant, peaceful, and natural than draft animal agriculture, and no system can be more sustainable, because it is perfectly in accord with natural law. The by products of cows nourish crops, which in turn nourish people and animals. Cows, bulls, calves, and working oxen provide milk, power, manure, and peace of mind, as well as jobs, companionship and natural beauty, and their increasing use will create new industries and technologies such as oxen electric, transportation, tourism, and harnessing. The earth, man, and cows are perfectly designed for one another.

We are asking investors, agriculturalists and inventors to develop traditional cow, bull and oxen agriculture alongside modern industrial models to compliment one another, each serving as a back up for the other and maximizing the effectiveness of the other. To do so is to invoke the blessings of our God given creative intelligence as well as the genius of the natural world.

Fairfield, Iowa, home of the Maharishi University of Management, The International Government of World Peace* and Vedic City, is certainly the best place in America to do this, and quite possibly the best hope for integrating the blessings of the eternal Vedic principles of totally sustainable agriculture within the modern world.

WHY PROTECT COWS AND THEIR OFFSPIRING

Quotes from Cows Are Cool, Love ‘Em, by Dr. Sahadeva Das, PhD (cowism.com)

“According to organic farmer Rosamund Young, author of The Secret Life of Cows, cows ‘can be highly intelligent, moderately so, or slow to understand; friendly, considerate, aggressive, docile, inventive, dull, proud or shy.’

“According to recent research, in addition to having distinct personalities, cows are generally very intelligent animals who can remember things for a long time. Animal behaviorists have found that cows interact in socially complex ways, developing friendships over time, sometimes holding grudges against cows or men who treat them badly, forming social hierarchies within their herds, and choosing leaders based upon intelligence. They are emotionally complex as well and even have the capacity to worry about the future.

“For meat eaters, once they were a byword for mindless docility. But modern research is finding out that cows have a complex mental life. Of course, even a child in traditional cultures knew this all along.”

A FEW WAYS TO ENGAGE OXEN

1. Oxen have traditional uses such as plowing, turning grist mills, and hauling loads.

2. They are now being used to turn generators attached to mills and can power generators attached to ox carts to charge and distribute batteries.

3. Their manure is used to fertilize fields, dry and burn for fuel, make incense, and produce smoke for mosquito repellent.

4. Manure can also be used in flooring.

5. Manure has antiseptic qualities.

6. Placed in anaerobic digesters, manure produces heat, as well as methane and carbon dioxide that can be bubbled at high pressure through water to free up the methane by absorbing the carbon dioxide, thus producing CO2 enriched water to grow algae for food and bio-fuel. The solid residue has also been used as a replacement for sawdust providing bedding for cows.

7. Cow urine is used medicinally in traditional cultures, especially India.

8. Oxen give happiness to their mothers and fathers as well as their human handlers to increase health and productivity.

9. They provide therapeutic companionship (or cowpanionship) for humans and even across animal species.

10. They aerate and fertilize grass meadows with their hooves, manure, and urine, thus facilitating the rapid development of rich, fresh meadows when grazed rotationally.

11. They can haul loads and equipment in terrain not accessible to machinery.

12. Grazing cows and oxen restore fields compacted by tractors and poisoned by chemical fertilizers.

13. Cows and oxen have an uncanny gift for creating safe, easy to climb cow trails up hills and mountains, as every hiker knows.

14. Oxen create tourist appeal simply by their presence as well as use in transportation.

15. Oxen evoke love from their mothers that results in high quality milk and longer lactation periods.

16. Oxen are used in Vedic ceremonies to promote happiness and auspiciousness.

17. After their natural death, their bodies provide leather, meat for pets, and calcium rich bones, and so forth.

A SIMPLE ECCONOMIC CONSIDERATION

Charging twice as much for Ahimsa Milk should easily cover the maintenance costs for twice the number of members of the herd. Grazing oxen do not require the expense of milking parlors, milking machines, milk processing, storage and refrigeration, packaging and handling. Moreover, they can be an economic asset as described above.

HerdShare Community Supported Agriculture is already in use in the United States, and provides a model for funding the production of Ahimsa Milk. It also provides small producers with a vehicle for avoiding government regulations on commercial dairies which would stifle small producers and communities.

Please click LIKE at www.CertifiedAhimsaMilk.org


Amit 4 years ago

Great work


mansi 5 years ago

iI AM PROUD TO BE A JAIN PERSON AND I PRAY TO GOD TO IN ALL BIRTH I BE JAIN PERSON, AND NOT KILLING ANIMALS.


dr prakash b katariya 5 years ago

what was the first name of chetak?


Vishal.Naik 5 years ago

Information should be given about why there two sects in Jains , Shwetamber and Digamber.

What is the difference between them.


RAVIRAJ GINNI 6 years ago

NEED MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MAHVEER AND AFTER MAHAVEER.


JAIN R.C 8 years ago

IT IS SAID THAT AFTER NIRVAN THEFOLLOWERS WERE FIGHTING AMONG THEMSELVES.ALSO WHEN SWETAMBER SECT STARTED.IT IS ONLY AN ANXIETY.THANKS


anita jain 8 years ago

A very informative article such type of efforts are really very much appreciated and needed for the benefit of the society.

More such type of informative writings will be awaited

thanks

anijain23

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working