The Biography of Mahavira

The Biography of Mahavira, also known as Vardhamana, was a spiritual leader and the founder of Jainism.

Born in the 6th century BCE in Kundagrama, a small town near Vaishali in present-day Bihar, India, Mahavira’s teachings have profoundly impacted Indian religion and philosophy.

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Early Life and Childhood of Mahavira

Mahavira was born into a royal family of the Jnatrika Kshatriya caste. His father, Siddhartha, was the king of Kundagrama, while his mother, Trishala, was the daughter of the Lichchhavi chief.

According to Jain tradition, his mother had a series of 14 dreams interpreted to mean that her son would become a great spiritual leader.

Mahavira was given a good education, which was befitting his royal status. He was taught the scriptures of the Jain tradition and the Vedas, the ancient Hindu texts.

He was also taught military tactics, horse riding, and other skills a prince needs.

Spiritual Journey

At 30, Mahavira renounced his royal life and became an ascetic. He spent the next 12 years wandering across India, seeking spiritual enlightenment.

During this time, he subjected himself to extreme physical and mental hardship, such as fasting, meditation, and self-mortification. He wore only a simple white robe and did not cut his hair or nails.

Mahavira’s spiritual journey culminated in a state of enlightenment known as kevala jnana, which he achieved at the age of 42.

This state of consciousness enabled him to perceive the fundamental truths of existence and attain a total detachment from the material world.

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Teachings of Mahavira

Mahavira’s teachings are based on the concept of ahimsa, or non-violence, central to Jainism.

He believed that all living beings have a soul or jiva and that harming any living being, no matter how small, violates ahimsa.

He also believed in the principle of anekantavada, which means that truth is multifaceted and can be seen from different perspectives.

Mahavira’s teachings also emphasized the importance of self-control and spiritual purity.

He believed one could achieve liberation, or moksha, by overcoming attachment to material possessions and living a life of austerity, meditation, and good deeds.

Spread of Jainism

Mahavira’s teachings were spread by his disciples, known as Jaina monks, who established monasteries and centers of learning across India.

Jainism grew in popularity, particularly in the eastern and southern parts of India, and became one of the major religions of the subcontinent.

Legacy of Mahavira

Mahavira’s teachings continue to be a source of inspiration for millions of people around the world.

Jainism emphasizes non-violence, tolerance, and respect for all living beings and has significantly impacted Indian culture and society.

Mahavira is revered as a great spiritual leader and a symbol of the Jain community’s commitment to non-violence and compassion.

His life and teachings have inspired many to adopt a more peaceful and harmonious way of life.

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Mahavira taught that humans can preserve their souls from the corruption of matter by living a life of great asceticism and practicing nonviolence toward all other creatures.

This nonviolent approach prompted his followers, both monastic and lay, to become strong vegetarians.

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