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599-527 BC  (72 years)     See also     Jain Dharm

Mahaaveer Jee was the contemporary of Gautam Buddha who is supposed to be the 9th incarnation of Vishnu (according to Bhaagvat Puran), from among His 10 incarnations. His 8th incarnation was Krishn and the 10th incarnation will be Kalki Avataar at the end of the Kali Yug. It is mistaken to think that Mahaaveer was the one who started Jain religion. In fact he was the last Teerthankar, the 24th one, of Jain religion. After him there will be nobody.

Mahaaveer's story is similar to Buddha's story. His real name was Vardhamaan. He was a prince. He was born to the King Siddhaarth and Queen Trishalaa (Priyakarnee) in Bihaar on Chaitra Shukla 13 (12 April according to Gregorian calendar). It is believed that when he was still in womb he brought prosperity to the kingdom, that is why they named him Vardhamaan. Surprisingly Trishalaa had 14 auspicious dreams, which were the signs that she was going to give birth a great soul, before giving birth to Vardhamaan.

From his childhood he was interested in meditation, and at the age of 30 he renounced his kingdom, family, worldly possessions (including his clothes) and started living in austere life. At the end of his austerities, he obtained Kaivalya Gyaan and then he was a person of infinite harmony. Later he started preaching, at one time he had 400,000 followers. At the age of 72 years, and 4.5 months he attained Nirvaan in the area known as Paavaapooree on the last day of Indian and Jain calendars - Deepaavalee. Jain believe that Mahaaveer lived from 599 BC to 527 BC; though some say that he lived from 549 BC to 477 BC.

Some Beliefs of Jains

He told that every soul is bound to Karm, good or bad. In this delusion, the human being seeks pleasure in momentary worldly things, which in turn accumulated more Karm and eventually he collects Karm bondage through greed, anger, hatred etc vices. To be from Karm bondage, one must withdraw his attachment from the worldly things through Right Faith (Samyak Darshan), Right Knowledge (Samyak Gyaan, and Right Conduct (Samyak Charitra). To develop Right Conduct one must follow these five principles -
(1) Ahinsaa (Non-violence) - to cause no harm to any living being
(2) Satya (Truthfulness) - to speak only harmless truths
(3) Asteya (No Stealing) - do not steal
(4) Brahmcharya (Chastity) do not indulge in any kind of sensual pleasure
(5) A-parigraha (Non-possession or Non-attachment) - to detach completely from peoples, places and things

This could happen only when people follow the theory of Anekaant-vaad (Theory of non-Absolutism), and the Syaadvaad (Theory of Relativity). He also told that both sexes can equally seek their spiritual development and thus renounce the world. There are two sects in Jain - Digambar who live naked and Shwetaambar who wear white clothes.

Jainism existed before Mahaaveer and his teachings were based on his predecessors' teachings only. A few centuries after Mahaaveer's Nirvaan, his Sangh grew more and more complex. His life description is given in Kalp Sootra by Aachaarya Bhadrabaahu I. His first Sanskrit biography is Vardhman Charit by Asaga in 853 AD.

Trishalaa, Mahaaveer's mother, was the eldest daughter of Chetak, the king of Vaishaalee. She had seven sisters, among whom six were married to famous kings (including King Bimbisaar of Magadh and Mahaaveer's own brother, Nandivardhan). Trishalaa and her husband were the followers of Paarshwanaath (the 23rd Teerthankar, Mahaaveer was the 24th one). According to Jain texts, Mahaaveer was in her womb for 9 months, 7 and a 1/2 days during the 6th century BC.

Trishalaa is said to have 14 dreams, which she told to her husband Siddhaarth and when the King told them in his court, his courtiers told him that they showed that the child would be very courageous, strong and virtuous. Thos dreams were about - elephant, bull, lion, Lakshmee, flowers, Full Moon, Sun, Banner, Silver Urn, lake filled with lotus flowers, milky white sea, celestial vehicle, heap of gems, fire without smoke, (Digambar say they were 16 - the above 14 and a pair of fish and a throne).


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 10/20/12