The Life Of Mahavir Bhagwan
Mahavir, who was born in Kundagrama, was the son of Trishala, the queen of King Siddhartha, the renowned ruler of the Vaishali republic. He was born 2600 years ago. The occasion of his birth was celebrated with great rejoicing not only by his parents, kinsfolk and citizens of Vaishali, but as the child was the future Tirthankara, the Indras and the devas (angels from heaven) also came there and observed a great celebration. The life of Bhagwan Mahavir is as plain, simple and straightforward, as the principles propounded by him are subtle, profound and acceptable. The story of his life can be summed up in these words: for the first thirty years he lived unattached in the midst of riches and luxury; for the next twelve years he stayed in the forest absorbed in profound meditation in quest of supreme bliss; and for the last thirty years he preached Jain teachings for the salvation of all beings.
The child Vardhamana had a healthy, handsome and
attractive personality. As a boy, he was by nature thoughtful, discriminating
and courageous. He had never known fear. He was the embodiment of
courage. So he was called Vira (brave), Ativira (very- brave), right
from childhood. He was also called Sanmati, because he possessed
the right knowledge of the self. His five names are well-known. They
are - Vira (brave), Ativira (very brave), Sanmati (possessing right
knowledge), Vardhamana (the growing one) and Mahavir (exceedingly
brave). He could have become a king, had he so desired. However,
what we regard as wealth was in his eyes a calamity and the joy of
kingship was bondage. His quest was for eternal bliss which is to
be found within ourselves. Hence he focused on his inner self. In
a world of violence, it was not possible for Mahavir to live in such
an environment. He wanted to lead everyone along the path of righteousness,
but before preaching it to others he sought to develop his own knowledge
to the level of perfection. He wanted to become Mahavir (exceedingly
brave one) but of non-violence and peace, and not that of violence,
oppression, cruelty and destruction. His parents tried to marry him,
but he was determined that with his ever-free soul as his source
of strength, he would be rid of all worldly bondage.
So, at the age of thirty, he left his home. Casting aside all his clothes and remaining naked, he immersed himself completely in meditation in a lonely forest. He would remain silent all the time, would speak to no one and was always in a meditative state of mind. Mahavir made the caves of mountains his home. He treated friend and foe alike. He remained unruffled by the severity of winter, summer or the rainy season. Wherever he stayed, the atmosphere became peaceful. Twelve years passed in severe penance and meditation - both internal and external. At the age of forty-two, Muniraj Mahavir, in a state of complete self-immersion succeeded in annihilating attachment to anything, and attained the state of being absolutely beyond all attachment. At the same time he attained absolute knowledge. He was called Bhagwan (God) because he was absolutely beyond all attachment and possessed absolute knowledge. Then he began to preach his message of Truth. The congregation before which he preached, is called Samavasharana. Every one including animals could attend it. There was no discrimination based either on rank or caste.
Bhagwan Mahavir taught a system of truth which is eternal. Bhagwan Mahavir has only revealed the truth which has always existed. He did not establish any new religion. But he restored the faith in the eternal values of religion, which had been lost. At last, on the day of Dipavali, Bhagwan Mahavir, the last Tirthankar of this age, left his body and attained Nirvana at the age of seventy-two years. According to Jain belief, Dipavali is celebrated to remember Bhagwan Mahavir attaining Nirvana.