Jai Mahavir ji
TIRTHANKAR BHAGWAN MAHAVEER
(Source- Tatwagyan Pathmala-Part-2)
Tirthankar Mahaveer was the last and the
twenty-fourth Tirthankar of this epoch. There were twenty-three
Tirthankaras before him e.g.
Rishabhdeo and others.
Bhagwan is not born, he grows to be one. Nobody is a Bhagwan since his birth. Mahaveer also was not a Bhagwan since his birth. He became a God, when he conquered himself. To conquer delusion, attachment and aversion is to conquer oneself.
Though the principles enunciated by Bhagwan
Mahaveer are very deep, intricate, impressive and acceptable, his life
is very easy, straight and eventless; there is no place for varieties in
it. The story of his life, in brief is that he spent the first thirty
years of life in the midst of wealth and splendor indifferently as a
lotus in water. For the next twelve years he was engaged in the pursuit
of the supreme soul and lived in jungles in deep meditation and during
the fast thirty years, he expounded Sarvodaya i.e. the welfare of all
living beings, propagated it and spread it throughout the four corners
of the land, The life of Mahaveer is not eventful. It is vain to
search for his personality in the course of events. However, there can
be no event that did not happen in the infinite previous lives through
which he had passed.
Mahaveer was born in Kundgram from the womb of
queen Trishala, the wife of the Lichhavi King Siddhartha, the famous
leader of the Vaishali Republic. His mother was the daughter of King
Chetak, the President of the Vaishali Republic. He was born in the Nath
family of Kshatriya clan, 2600 years back, on the thirteenth day of the
second fortnight of Chaitra month. Looking at his constant growth, his
parents named him Vardhman.
The festival of his birth was, celebrated with
great zeal not only by his parents, relations and subjects of the
kingdom, but also by gods and their lords, since he was going to be a
Tirthankar. This festival is called Janma Kalyanak Mahotsava. The lord
of the Gods, Indra seated him on the elephant Erawat and performed the
anointing ceremony with great pomp and show. The Jain epic texts give a
vivid description of this event.
Even before his coming in the womb of his
mother, it was known that a Tirthankar was to be born. One night, in the
last hours, mother Priyakarini Trishla in her quiet sleep saw the
following sixteen dreams
indicative of a very auspicious happening. -
1. An elephant mad with intoxication.
2. A white ox with high shoulders.
3. A thundering lion.
4. Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, seated on the
5. Two fragrant garlands.
6. Moon in the assembly of stars.
7. Rising sun.
8. Two gold pitchers covered with lotus leaves.
9. Two fish playing in the tank.
10. A tank full to the brim with clean water.
11. The roaring ocean.
12. A throne inwrought with jewels.
13. A chariot of gods illuminated with gems.
14. The spacious sky touching the abode of
15. A pile of gems, and
16. Fire without smoke.
Free from the morning engagements, mother
Trishla to King Siddhartha and so a went to King Siddhartha and told him
of the sixteen dreams. She wanted to know their effect. The king was
well versed in Nimitta Shastra (scripture of instrumental causes). He
was very happy to know of the dreams. The auspicious effect of the very
happy dreams was conveyed to mother Trishla by his very happy facial
expressions. He told her that she was going to be blessed with a son,
who would become a Tirthankar and rule over the hearts of the creatures
of the three worlds, would propagate the principles of emancipation and
would be very fortunate. The womb of Trishla became as holy as that of
Marudevi who gave birth to the first Tirthankar Adinath or Rishabhdeo.
All in all, these dreams indicate that the son
to be born to Trishla would be as soft as leaves of flowers, as cold as
the moon, as illustrious as the sun, a destroyer of the darkness of
ignorance, powerful as an elephant, active as a bull, deep as an ocean,
pure as the pile of jewels and bright as the flame of a smokeless fire.
Boy Vardhman entered his mother's womb on the
sixth day of the second half of Ashad month.
Boy Vardhman was healthy, handsome and possessed
of an attractive personality, since birth. He justified the name
Vardhman given to him, growing like the digit of the moon on the second
day of the bright fortnight. His gold like physique attracted all and
sundry. The lord of gods himself assumed a thousand eyes to drink deep
the beauty of the frame of the Lord.
He was a sentient, thoughtful, discriminate and
fearless boy. He did not know any fear. He was an embodiment of courage.
He was, therefore, known as Veer and Ativeer since his childhood. Five
of his names are famous -Veer, Ativeer, Sanmati, Vardhman and Mahaveer.
He was prompt and ready-witted and never lost
his balance in difficulties. One day, boy Vardhman delighting his
parents and citizens by his childlike playfulness, was playing in the
garden with other princes. He climbed a tree in his playful spirit.
Meanwhile a terrible black snake encircled the trunk of the tree and
began to emit fumes out of a fit of anger that would shake even the very
strong. Finding themselves in adverse circumstances, the children began
to shiver with fear, but that terrible snake could not disturb patient
and strong child Mahaveer. Seeimg Mahaveer fearlessly and without
hesitation coming near it, the furious snake left the fury and went his
In the same way, once, an elephant became made
and began to spread havoc in the city, breaking away from the pillar of
the building in which elephants are kept. The whole city was agog and
people began to run from one place to the other in panic. Prince
Vardhman, however, did not lose his presence of mind and controlled the
elephant with his power and cleverness. The bravery and patience of the
Prince became a talk of the common men in the city.
He was a genius and could solve great problems
easily. He was quiet by nature; the seriousness grew with his entry into
youth. He loved loneliness. He was always busy pondering over the
fundamentals of life and death and indulged in deep discussions. Those
eager to get to truth, placed their misgivings before him and he solved
them in no time. Most of the doubts and misgivings were resolved by the
sight of his calm posture. The big doubts about the fundamentals of
religion of the big monks were removed by just having a look at his
physical frame. He was himself a solution of these misgivings.
One day he was sitting in the fourth story of
his palace deeply engrossed in contemplation. His comrades came and
asked mother Trishla where Vardhman was. Busy in her household, the
mother just pointed to the upper story. The boys ran to the seventh story,
but did not find Vardhman there. When they asked King Siddhartha, who
was studying religious texts, where Vardhman was, he just pointed to the
lower stories. Hearing the contradictory statements of the father and
the mother, the boys were confused. They searched every story and found
Vardhman in the fourth one, studying. The boys complained that they had
searched all the stories of the palace and Mahaveer was hiding there as
a philosopher. Vardhman asked them why they did not ask the mother to
tell them where he was. The boys said that the whole trouble arose out
of the asking. The mother told them that he was up, while the father
told them that he was downstairs. The problem was where to find and
where the truth lay. Vardhman told them that both were correct; that he
was on the fourth storey, up from the point of view of the mother and
down from the point of view of the father. The mother was on the first
storey, while the father on the seventh. The positions downwards and
upwards are relative. Without relativity there is no question of
downwards or upwards. Though the nature of the substance is without any
relation with any other substance, the description is relative. Thus boy
Vardhman used to explain lofty principles to the boys easily.
The world tried to persuade him to follow their
path but Mahaveer was engrossed deep in the depths of his soul and so
the world could not entangle him to follow their path. Youth threw its
die on him, but in vain. The parental affections tried to block his way,
but he did not float on the flood of his mother's tears.
Accordingly he left his home in the thirtieth
year of his youth, on the tenth day of the first half of Magsir. He
became naked and engaged himself in the pursuit of his self in that
solitary forest. The Laukantik gods came from the heavens and praised
him for his resolve with great reverence. Monk Vardhman used to remain
silent and did not talk to anybody. He was always engrossed in the
contemplation of his soul. He did not even remember that he needed a
bath or the cleaning of his teeth. He used to rest in the caves of the
mountains, holding friends and foes alike, and was not disturbed by the
fury of the in clemencies of weather.
The cruel animals of the forest saw is calm
posture, natural ease and non-violent life and forgot their natural
enmity and became friends. Snakes and mongooses, tigers and cows used to
drink water from the same wharf. Wherever he stayed, the whole
atmosphere was full of peace and quiet.
If sometimes he happened to have a liking for
food, he would go to the nearest town with strange mental reservations.
If some householder gave him pure food according to the scriptures'
command and with nine types of rituals, he would take his meals and soon
return to the forests. He also accepted food once at the hands of
grief-ridden Sati Chandanbala.
Thus engaged in external and internal penances,
he spent twelve years. At the age of forty-two in this state of deep
self-absorption he annihilated subtle attachment and attained the
completely detached state of his being. With this state of spiritual
development he attained omniscience also. He became real Mahaveer having
conquered the enemies of delusion, attachment and aversion completely.
He became a Bhagwan being an omniscient and a completely detached being.
In theite fruition of Tirthankar Namkaram, he got that status and was
known as Bhagwan Mahaveer. His divine message was delivered first on the
first day of the. month of Shravan, on account of which this day has
been celebrated in the whole of India as Veer Shasan Jayanti.
Kuber was ordered by the Lord of the gods to
construct a huge meeting-hall called the Samavsharan for the worldly
creatures to meet and hear the divine message of Lord Mahaveer. Every
being was entitled to go there and hear the message. There was no
distinction of big or small. One whose conduct is non-violent, who has
touched the intrinsic nature of substances, who has dived deep in his
own self, is greater than not only human beings but also gods, though he
may be born in a low family.
In his religious congregation kings and the
commons, rich and poor, black and white, all sat together and listened
to his message. Animals along with gods and humans also sat there and
listened to the divine teachings of the Lord. Such equality amongst the
creatures of this world is difficult elsewhere. In the fourfold
federation of the Lord, there were monks, she-monks, male and female
Many learned scholars opposed to him, became his
disciples shunning their own wrong conceptions, after being influenced
by his message of universal love and goodwill. The chief amongst them
was his chief disciple Indrabhuti Gautam. He was accepted as the first
preceptor of the Lord and became famous as Gautam Swami. The story of
how he was initiated into Digamber Jain monkhood is quite interesting.
Indrabhuti Gautam was well versed in the Vedas
and Vedangas. He had five hundred disciples. When the Indra realised
that Indrabhuti Gautam alone could become the chief preceptor of the
Lord, he went to his abode in disguise of an old Brahmin, Indra
introduced himself as a disciple of Mahaveer and asked Gautam the
meaning of a Sanskrit verse.
Indrabhuti became thoughtful. "What are
these six substances, nine matters, five Astikayas etc. ?" He
concealed his ignorance in his pride and told Indra that he would like
to discuss these with his master i. e., Lord Mahaveer. He
expressed his desire to accompany lndra to the place where the Lord was
delivering his sermons. The time was ripe for the reception of real
spiritualism in the case of Gautam and for the Lord to start delivering
his long awaited message of religion. As Indrabhuti Gautam came near the
Samavsharan his rigidity suddenly turned into softness. His pride
disappeared at the sight of the Manstambha, (a pillar just in front of
the Samavsharan) and he approached the Lord with a request for his own
initiation into monkshood. By his own ability and the magnanimity of
Mahaveer, he became the first Gandhar of the Lord. There were ten other
Gandharas whose names were; (1) Agnibhuti, (2)Vayubhuti, (3) Aryavyakta,
(4) Sudharma, (5) Mandit, (6)Mauryaputra, (7) Akampit, (8) Achaibhrata,
(9) Metarya and (10) Prabhas.
Amongst his householder disciples Maharaj
Shrenik (Bimbsar), the king of Magadh, was the chief.
He traversed the length and breadth of India
continuously for thirty years. Different beings understood his teachings
in their own languages. His sermons were called Divya Dhwani. He has
upheld the independence of the soul and all other substances. He
declared that every soul is independent; none depends upon the other;
self-reliance is the way to achieve complete independence. Self-reliance
is nothing but centralisation of one's vision on one's soul only,
different from colour, attachment and division. Independence can only be
achieved on one's own strength; you can't get infinite bliss and
independence in charity or achieve them on others' strength.
All souls are separate and independent, not one,
but like one, similar, none big or small. He, therefore, ordained :-
1. Regard other souls as your own.
2. All souls are equal, but not one.
3. If our efforts are directed towards right
direction, every soul can attain godhood.
4. Every creature is unhappy on account of his
own mistakes, and can become happy by removing the mistakes.
Mahaveer did not propagate any new truth; there
is nothing like old or new in truth. Whatever he said is true and
eternal. He did not establish truth; he only inaugurated it. He did not
found any new religion. Religion is the nature of substances. The nature
of substances cannot be built. How can that which can be built be called
nature ? It can only be known. Remaining away from the pride of doing
and detaching himself from non-self entities one who knows the self and
the non-self, without in any way being influenced by others, and in all
their perspectives, is God. Tirthankar Bhagwan knows and exposes the
nature of things, does not create them.
He was a Tirthankar. He propounded the Tirtha
i.e., the way to the liberation of the soul. Acharya Samant Bhadra has
called his teachings Sarvodaya Tirtha (religion that preaches the
welfare of all living beings).
Oh Lord Mahaveer - Your religion is for the
welfare of one and all. There is no contradiction in your teachings,
only whatever you say is relative i.e. described from different
perspectives, one predominating the other according to contexts; the
assertions of other preachers, not being relative, are not able to
propound the nature of things, as they are. Your exposition of the truth
of life is capable of destroying all the miseries and misfortunes of
this world and of leading worldly beings to their supreme happiness and
as such it is Sarvodaya Tirtha i.e., religion for the welfare of all
That which leads to the welfare of all is
Sarvodya. The religion for the welfare of all as propounded by Lord
Mahaveer and his exposition of truths of life and immortality, have no
narrowness or limits. The religion of the soul is for all creatures. It
is a kind of narrowness to associate religion with human beings only. It
is a religion of all the living beings. The term "religion of
man" is also not liberal enough. It limits the scope of religion to
the community of human beings only, while religion extends to all the
sentient world, for all the creatures want to live in peace and
Tirthankar Bhagwan Mahaveer has expounded the
complete independent existence of every substance and that every
substance changes its modifications itself. No other substance can
interfere in this natural procedure. Even God, the almighty, is not the
creator or the destroyer of, this existence of the things. The preaching
of Mahaveer upheld the independence not only of the living beings, but
of all the atoms, which are the smallest (indivisible) particles or
units of matter substance and which cannot be further divided. The
desire to interfere in the activity of others is false, of no avail and
causing unhappiness, for it is sheer ignorance to regard others as the
creator or destroyer of happiness and misery, life and death, of other
It has been well said that our own merits and
demerits will be meaningless if one being is regarded as the creator of
others' happiness and misery, life and death. The question is - can
anybody, however strong, make us happy, even, if we indulge in demerits
? Likewise can anybody, be it God himself, harm us, if we keep ourselves
busy in meritorious engagements ? If yes, it would be worthless to do
good and be afraid of the bad, because it is not necessary to reap the
consequences of one's actions. If it is true that we have to reap the
consequences of our own actions, good and bad, the concept of any
interference is meaningless. The same truth has been expressed by
Acharya Amitgati in Slokas 30-31 of Bhawna Dwatrinshatika.
In the end, at the age of seventy-two, on the
Dipawali day, the last Tirthankar of this epoch Bhagwan Mahaveer,
abandoned this physical frame and attained Nirwan (complete liberation).
The same day, his chief disciple Indrabhuti Gautam achieved omniscience.
According to Jain tradition, the great festival of Deepawali is
celebrated in honour of the liberation of Bhagwan Mahaveer and
attainment of complete sentience by his chief disciple Gautam.
Thus we see that the story of the life of
Mahaveer is the story
of the orderly development of the soul to
Dr. H.C. Bharill
Note:- All the words in italic are from PRAKRTA, SANSKRTA language.
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