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Mahavirswami - Parshwanath


:: Mahavir Swami

Lord Mahavir is the twenty-fourth and the last Tithankar of the Jain religion of this era. According to Jain philosophy, all Thirthankars were human beings but they attained a state of perfect enlightenment through meditation and self-realization.

Mahavir was born in the month of Chaitra on the 13th day in 599 BC as per Indian calendar in the state of Kshatriyakund, Bihar, India. His father’s name was King Siddhartha and mother‘s name was Queen Trishala. From his early childhood, he was found to be unusually intelligent, fearless, affectionate, and compassionate. At a mature age, he firmly realized that worldly happiness and pleasure do not last and are based mostly on the inconvenience, miseries, and unhappiness of others. He therefore planned to renounce the worldly life in search of a solution to eliminate pain, sorrow, and sufferings of life and to find true happiness. Hence, at the age of 30 he renounced the worldly life and became a monk. Mahavir spent the next twelve and half years in deep silence and meditation to conquer his desires, feelings, and attachments. He carefully avoided harming or annoying other living beings including animals, birds, and plants. Also during this time he observed severe austerity, fasting most of the time, moving from place to place on foot, and peacefully faced all types of hardships. During this period, he progressed spiritually and ultimately he attained Kevaljnan (omniscience) or perfect enlightenment at the age of 42 at Pavapuri, Bihar, India. Thus, Mahavir became Lord Mahavir or Bhagawan Mahavir or Mahavir Swami.

Lord Mahavir spent the next thirty years traveling bare feet all over India preaching the eternal truth he had realized, to the people. The ultimate objective of his teaching is how one can attain total freedom from the cycle of birth, life, pain, misery, and death, and achieve the permanent blissful state of one’s self. This blissful state is also known as liberation, nirvan, absolute freedom, or Moksha.

Lord Mahavir preached that right faith (Samyag-darshan), right knowledge ( Samyag Jnan), and right conduct (Samyag-charitra) together are the real paths to attain the liberation from karmic matter of one’s life. At the heart of right conduct for Jains lie the five great vows: (1) Nonviolence (Ahimsa) – not to cause harm to any living beings by thoughts, speech or actions (2) Truthfulness (Satya) – to speak only the harmless truth (3) Non-stealing (Asteya) – not to take anything that is not properly given (4) Celibacy (Brahmcharya) – not to indulge in sensual pleasures (5) Non-possession / Non-attachment (Aparigraha) – complete detachment from people, places and material things.

At the age of seventy-two (527 B. C.), lord Mahavir attained Nirvan and his purified soul left his body and achieved complete liberation on the day of Deepavali. This is the last day of the Hindu and Jain calendar year.

:: Parshwanath

Jainism existed long before Lord Mahavir, and his teachings were based on those of his predecessors. Thus Mahavir was more of a reformer and propagator of an existing religious order than the founder of a new faith. He followed the well-established creed of his predecessor Tithankar Parshwanath.

About 3000 years ago, Parshwa-kumar was born on the 10th day of the dark half of the month of Margashirsh (which usually falls in December) in the city of Varanasi also known as Banaras in India. His father’s name was King Asvasen and mother‘s name was Queen Vamadevi.

Observing the miseries that living beings had to experience in their worldly life, Parshwa-kumar developed a high degree of detachment towards worldly possessions and relationships. At the age of 30, he renounced all his possessions and his family and became a monk. Later, he became known as Parshwanath. He spent most of his time meditating in search of the ultimate truth. Developing a higher purity of consciousness, he ultimately attained Kevaljnan (omniscience) or perfect enlightenment on the 84th day of his renunciation. Parshwanath then began preaching true religion. He reinstated the Tirtha or religious four-fold order, namely monk (Sadhu), nun (Sadhvi), layman (Shravak), and laywoman (Shravika). This order is known as Jain Sangha. He attained Nirvan and his purified soul left his body and achieved complete liberation at the age of 100 at Mountain Sametsikhar in Bihar, India. He became the 23rd Tithankar of the Jain religion.