- He was born in 540 B. C. in a village near Vaishali, which is identical with Basarh in the district of Vaishali, in north Bihar.
- His father Siddhnartha was the head of a famous Kshatriya clan, and his mother was named Trishala sister of the Lichchhavi Chief Chetaka whose daughter was married to Bimbisara.
- In the beginning, Mahasta led the life of a householder, but in the search for truth he abandoned the world at the age of 30 and became an ascetic.
- He kept on wandering for 12 years from place to place. During the course of his long journey, it is said he never changed this clothes for 12 years and abandoned them altogether when he attained unniscience (Kaivalya) at the age of 42.
- Through Kaivalya he conquered misery and happeness. Because of this conquest his known as Mahavira or the great hero of Jina- the conqueror and his followers are known as Jainas.
- He propogated his religion for 30 years and his mission took him to Koshala Magadha, Mithila Champa etc. He passed away at the age of 72 in 468 B. C. at a place called Pavapuri mar (modern Rajgir).
- Jainism has great antiquity. The Jainas believed that their most important religion teachers, Mahavira had 23 predecessors who are called Tirthankaras.
- The names of two Jain Tirthankaras, Rishabha Deva and Arishtranemi, are found
- in the Rigveda. There were 22 and 24 Tirthankaras (Prophets or gurus) all Kshatriyas and belonging to the royal family, though not strictly related to one another.
Doctrines of Jainism
Jainism taught five doctrines
- do not commit violence
- do not speak a lie
- do not steal
- do not acquire property
- observe continence (Brahmacharya)
It is said that only the fifth doctrine was added by Mahinsa; the other four being taken over by him from previous teacher.
Although Parshva the predecessor of Mahinsa had asked his followers to cover the upper and lower portion of this body. This implies that Mahavira asked his follows to lead a more austere life.
Five Categories of Siddhas
- Tirthankara – who has attained salvation.
- Arhat – who is about the attain Nirvana.
- Acharyas – The head of the Ascetic group.
- Upadhyaya – teacher or saint.
- Mahavira rejected the authority of the Vedas and the Vedic rituals.
- Did not believe in the existence of God.
- Believed in Karma and the transmigration of soul.
- Laid great emphasis on equality.
Three Ratnas of Jainism
- Right faith – Samyak Vishwas
- Right knowledge – Samyak Gyan
- Right conduct Samyak Karma