Lord Mahavira

Jain Tirthankars

Lord Mahavira is the twenty-fourth Tirthankar. He was born in 599 B.C. at Kshatriyakund which was a part of the well known Vaishäli republic. His father's name was King Siddhärtha and his mother's name was Queen Trishalä. They were very religious people and were followers of Lord Pärshvanäth. Queen Trishalä had fourteen dreams (some believe sixteen dreams) when she conceived Lord Mahavira. While she was pregnant, the prosperity of King Siddhärtha grew. The parents attributed their success to the baby. So when the baby was born, he was named Vardhaman, which means continuously increasing.

He was very bold and while playing he once saved his friends from a snake. Another time, a heavenly angel joined them in the disguise of a young boy. According to the rules of the game, Vardhaman had a chance to ride on the boys back. While he was riding, the boy turned into a monster in order to scare him. Vardhaman however overcame the monster. The heavenly angel then appeared in his true form. He praised Vardhaman for his boldness and called him "Mahavira" meaning very brave.

Though Mahavira was born with worldly comforts and luxuries, they never attracted him. He lived a simple life. So when his parents died, he decided to be a monk. He asked for permission from his brother. His brother was still mourning the loss of their parents. He therefore requested Mahavira to wait for a couple of years before leaving. Mahavira waited for two years, during which he led a totally detached life. After realizing this, his brother gave him permission to become a monk. Mahavira was thirty years old when he gave up his worldly life and all worldly activities. He spent most of his time in austerity and in meditation. He suffered a great deal of physical pain and torture from various sources. Among them, the most severe was the biting by the highly poisonous snake Chandakaushik. Lord Mahavira remained calm and peaceful in the midst of all these torturous events. He never lost his serenity and never developed hatred for anyone. He magnanimously forgave all of them. He led such a highly austere life for twelve and a half years. At the age of forty-two he attained omniscience, Kevaljnan. He became Jina, the twenty-forth Tirthankar of the present era. As omniscient he knew everything of the past present and future.