Mahavira – The Founder of Jainism

Mahavira Brief History:

Mahavira original name was Vardhamana, Later called Mahavira, which means the great hero. He is also famous as Vardhamana Mahavira. Mahavira born in 599 B.C in Kundagrama, Vaishali, present in Bihar state. A memorial built at the believed site of Vardhamana born and also set up a center for the study of Jainism and nonviolence. His father belonged to a rich Kshatriya family. He married a prince named Yashoda, who bore him a daughter.

Mahavira Attain Enlightenment:

mahavira

Gautama Buddha, a great thinker and had a strong desire to know salvation for the sorrows. According to the ancient custom, who got 30 years those left home and bondage with the family  in the way of attaining enlightenment. According to the tradition, Mahavira also left his home, wife, and child and went to the forests at the age of 30 to attain enlightenment which means an understanding of ultimate truth. He leads a strong ascetic life and spent 12 years spending his time doing meditation and fasting. He did services to the monks to gain wisdom. Finally, in 13th year he attained enlightenment and became Jina, which means conquered all desires.

As a Preacher:

Then he became a teacher of religion and started preaching and religious concepts to the public. His followers believed that Mahavira is the 24th Tirthankara in a line of great teachers. The first Tirthankara is Rishabha. He mainly preached about non-violence and encouraged his followers to show kindness to all living creatures. He also forced his followers to become vegetarians, so that animals would not be killed for food. His followers came to be called Jinas or Jains. He traveled abruptly in Anga, Vidaha, and Magadha and preached the importance of Non-violence and influenced the devotees to conquest some desires. Rest of his life spent in preaching and enlighting the people to know the real purpose of the birth.

Who Founded Jainism

Mahavira gave his preaches in soft language, which understandable to the common people. So that he succeeded to send his message among the people. Anga, Videha and Magadha rulers patronaged him and followed his speeches. He set up a religious organization to look after the principles and doctrines of Jainism called Sangha. The sangha is the main organization to practice the principles of Jainism. He died in 527 B.C at the age of 72. At that time of his death, 14,000 followers following him. At first, all followed austere life and renunciation of wearing clothes. After his death, the Sangha divided into two groups as Digambaras and Svetambaras. Digambaras are the Orthodox followers of Mahavira and not wear the clothes. They follow the long fasts and lead an extremely austere life. Svetambaras wear the white clothes and kept fasts but they don’t believe in profound penance and austerity.