Mahavir is the exponent of one of the popular religions in India - Jainism. Born in 599 BC in a village called Kunda in Bihar, his father Siddhartha was an important nobleman
from the Kshatriya dynasty. His mother's name was Trishala. Mahavir was
named Vardhaman by his parents, and showed signs of spiritualism from his
early days. At the age of 5, he was sent to a Gurukul to study Sanskrit
and became a great scholar.
A Spiritual Search
As an obedient son he married the
girl of his parent's choice - Yashodhara who consequently gave birth to
a daughter. But marital ties could not bind him, as he thirsted for something
more. His search compelled him to leave home, with his elder brother's
permission, to understand the true purpose and meaning of life.
He traveled far and wide, expanding
his knowledge and subsequently his perceptions of the world at large. And
then, one day he attained 'Kaivalya' or enlightenment while sitting under
a tree on the banks of a river. Henceforth he was to be known as Mahavir,
as he was freed from the boundaries of sadness and joy, pain and pleasure.
His teachings were greatly appreciated
in North India for 30 years, and had in its following, the King of Magadha.
He preached that truth and clean living were the priorities in life, as
was non-violence. Till today, Jains do not even harm a fly or a mosquito.
True Jains tie a cloth around their nose, so as not to breathe in or destroy
living organisms in the atmosphere.
He died in 527 BC at Parapuri in
Bihar, and left behind a legacy of thought and some beautiful temples like
the Dilwara in Mt. Abu, Rajasthan and Shravanbelagola in Karnataka. These
temples are popular today, not only as famous pilgrim spots, but also as
works of great architecture