plzzz do visit http://www.jainworld.com/jainbooks/tirthankar/indextir.htm
& learn in dept about origin of jainism , all links in this page
gives detail edge study of all 24 tirthankars dat ar available ...
plzzz do study dis page well
page on first tirthankar , first god of earthhttp://www.jainworld.com/jainbooks/tirthankar/first-tir.htm
scholars claim first god of jain & lord shiva ar one
Bhagavan Mahavir was the last and the twenty fourth Tirthankar of this
era in the Jain tradition. He had a highly developed multifaceted
personality. He scintil-lated with the infinitely intense glow of the
pure soul. All the virtues and powers of his soul were completely
awakened and active. He had infinite power but, at the same he also
had infinite compassion. Possessing ultimate powers of the soul, he
was unconquerable, fully developed and absolutely composite human
But the seeds of this grandeur and greatness of Bhagavan Mahavir were
sown in the remote past. He had been doing vigorous penance, indulging
in altruism and practicing deep meditation in many of his past
incarnations. From this angle the incidents from earlier incarnations
of this supreme soul are very important and inspiring. The first
incident in this sequence is known as "the first touch of
righteousness". It is from the 27th birth before the final birth of
the soul of Bhagavan Mahavir. The story of this birth as the village
elder Nayasar, goes like this-
First Glimpse of Right Knowledge: Nayasar
In the twenty seventh birth before being born as Bhagavan Mahavir,
this soul was a village elder and forester working for king
Shatrumardhan for Pratisthan city in the west Mahavideh area. He used
to bring all the wood required for construction purposes from the
forest. One day at noon time all the workers were taking rest after
their lunch. Nayasar also sat under a tree in order to take the food
he had brought along. Before starting to eat he saw some ascetics
wandering at the foot of nearby hills. Nayasar thought that these
ascetics are wandering without food or water in this scorching sun. If
they happen to come this side, I will offer a part of my food to them.
I will be benefited by this simple act of serving guests and my day
will become purposeful.
Innocent Nayasar waited looking at the approaching ascetics. With deep
devotion he offered them this pure food. When they proceeded towards
the town, Nayasar accompanied them for some distance to show the way.
When Nayasar bowed before the ascetics before taking their leave, they
gave him sermons of the true path, the simple code of compassion,
pity, simplicity, humility and equanimity. Devoted and respectful,
Nayasar got enlightened and the seed of righteousness (Samyaktva)
sprouted in his mind. As this is the starting point of the spiritual
evolution, the moment when a soul lost in the darkness of illusion got
the first glimpse of spiritual light, the counting of the earlier
incarnations of the soul that became Bhagavan Mahavir begins here.
The Third Birth: Marichi
After completing his age (the age of being, according to Jainism, is a
fixed period determined by actions in the immediately preceding
birth), the soul of Nayasar was reborn as a god in the Saudharm Kalpa.
He then took birth as Marichi, the son of Chakravarti (sovereign of
six continents) Bharat in the city of Ayodhya. After hearing the first
dicourse of Bhagavan Rishabhdev he became a Shraman. But as he could
not sustain the rigorous ascetic codes, he abandoned the dress of a
Shraman, made desired relaxation's in the harsh code of Shraman
conduct, and became a Tridandi Parivrajak (a class of mendicants). He
started keeping an umbrella and a pair of wooden slippers. He also
used to take bath and apply fragrant pastes like sandal wood pastes.
However, he still believed the path of Rishabhdev to be the best. He
would sit just outside the divine pavilion (Samavasaran) of Rishabhdev
and when asked about his strange dress, he would innocently accept his
weaknesses and preach to the people around, inspiring them to accept
the religion of Shramans.
One day Bharat Chakravarti asked Bhagavan Rishabhdev, "Prabho ! Is
there any great being (soul) present in this congregation who will
become a Tirthankar like you?" Rishabhdev replied, "Bharat ! Outside
this religious congregation sits your son Marichi dressed as a
Parivrajak. After penance's and other practices for many
reincarnations, he will become the last Tirthankar of this cycle of
time. during his passage from Marichi to Mahavir, he will also be born
as Triprishtha Vasudev (the lord of three regions) in one birth and in
another reincarnations Priyamitra Chakravarti."
Hearing about the astoundingly bright future of the soul of his
Marichi, Emperor Bharat burst with joy. He went to Marichi with the
happy news and said, "Marichi ! You are extremely lucky, I greet you
as the future Tirthankar."
Marichi was overjoyed hearing the prophecy of Bhagavan Rishabhdev. His
happiness was boundless. But at the same time, thoughts of the glory
of his clan stirred his conceit. Filled with pride for his clan, he
uttered, "How great is my clan and what a superior family is that to
which I belong! My grandfather is the first Tirthankar, my father is
the first Chakravarti, and I will became a Vasudev, a Chakravarti, and
finally the last Tirthankar of this cycle of time. How great, indeed!"
And thus Marichi almost burst with conceit. Slowly he slid down from
the heights of spiritual excellence, and was drawn into the whirlpool
of the egoism of racial supremacy.
According to the Jain tradition, Marichi was the founder of the
Parivrajak school. Marichi used to say that the Shramans were free of
the distortions of mind, speech, and body, but the Parivrajaks had
these. As such, the Parivrajaks started keeping a trident, there
symbol. In his last days he made prince Kapil his disciple. From that
point on the derivative Parivrajak school gradually distanced itself
from the Shraman school.
The soul of Marichi moved from the human dimension to that of gods and
back again alternatively for twelve incarnations. When born as human
he became Parivrajak many a time and observed numerous austerities. In
his sixteenth reincarnation he was born as prince Vishvabhuti the
nephew of king Vishvanandi of Rajgrih. He became an ascetic and did
harsh penance before breathing his last. In the seventeenth
reincarnation he took birth as a god in the Mahashakra dimension of
gods and in eighteenth as Triprishtha Vasudev.
Queen Mrigavati of king Prajapati of Potanpur gave birth to an
extremely powerful son. He was named Triprishtha.
Prajapati was an ordinary king of subordinate kingdom of the
Prativasudev Ashvagriv. Triprishtha was a very brave and valorous
young man. When the fame of his powers and strength reached Ashvagriv
he became apprehensive. He asked his astrologer about how he would
meet his end. The astrologer said, "The man who would crush your
powerful emissary-Chandamegh and also kill the ferocious lion of Tunga
mountain will be the messenger of death for you." One day Ashvagiv
sent Chanda to Potanpur. When this emissary misbehaved, Triprishtha
threw him out. Then an order was issued to Prajapati, "A ferocious
lion has created havoc in the Shali area. Immediately proceed to that
area and protect the farmers from the lion. " When Prajapati prepared
to go, prince Triprishtha requested, "Father ! When we are available
you need not take the trouble to proceed for this insignificant
venture. Your sons can easily take care of that petty beast."
Triprishtha and his elder brother Baldev Achal Kumar went to that
forest and inquired about the lion from the local populace. As
directed , they proceeded toward the den of the lion. Disturbed by the
noise of the village folk, the lion came out of its den and charged
towards the princes. Looking at the approaching lion Triprishtha
thought, "The creature is alone moving on its feet, why do I need my
bodyguards and the chariot? When it dose not carry any weapon, why
should I ? I will face it alone and bare handed." Triprishtha got down
from the chariot and threw away his weapons. He fought alone and bare
handed with the ferocious men-eater. In the end he caught hold of the
jaws of the lion and tore it apart. The driver of the chariot of the
prince went near the writhing lion, said a few words of sympathy, and
covered its wounds with medicinal hers. The dying moments of the beast
became peaceful. This act infused a feeling of affection for the
driver in the mind of the dying lion.
When the driver reincarnated as the chief disciple of Bhagavan
Mahavir, Indrabhuti Gautam, this lion was born as a farmer. When the
farmer saw Gautam he was infused with a feelings of fear and vengeance
surfaced. Bhagavan Mahavir then revealed the cause of these dormant
feelings by narrating the story of his earlier life.
Prince Triprishtha conquered the evil king, Prativasudev Ashvagriv,
and established his own empire over three continents. He became the
first Vasudev of this cycle of time.
Lead in the Ears
Once the Vasudev was enjoying a musical concert in his assembly. When
his eyelids became heavy with slumber he instructed his bed attendant,
"When I am asleep stop the program?"
After a few minutes Triprishtha closed his eyes and went to sleep.
Everyone present was engrossed in the lilting music. The concert went
on throughout the night. Suddenly Vasudev was awake. When he heard the
music going on, he turned crimson with anger. He shouted angrily at
the attendant, "Why the music has not been stopped yet ?" With folded
hands the bed attendant submitted, "Everyone was lost in the
intoxicating waves of the melodious music. Pardon me, Sire! I too
became lost." The negligence in following his instructions added fuel
to the fire of Triprishtha's anger. Directing all his anger on the
negligent aide, he said, "Pour molten lead in the ears of this music
buff. Let him realize the consequences of ignoring the instructions of
his master for the sake of his live for music." Vasudev's order was
carried out. Writhing with extreme and intolerable agony the bed
attendant died on the spot.
The soul in the form of Triprishtha accumulated the bondage of
tarnishing Karmas due to its extremely cruel attitude. It had to
suffer the excruciating result in the form and life as Mahavir. The
aide reincarnated as a farmer and hammered nails in Mahavir's ears
when he did penance as a Shraman. As a result of the intoxication of
power, passion for grandeur, and cruelty of attitude, Triprishtha
Vasudev, after living his age was reborn in the seventh hell. In his
twenty first incarnation he became a lion; in the twenty second he
again went to the fourth hell, and after that he was born as
Priyamitra Chakravarti in the twenty third birth.
The Right Direction : Priyamitra Chakravarti
After seeing many auspicious dreams, the queen of Dhananjay, the ruler
of Mukanagari, gave birth to a son. He was named as Priyamitra. As a
result of his virtuous Karmas and his bravery he conquered all the six
continents and became a Chakravarti. He enjoyed all these pleasures
and grandeur befitting a Chakravarti. In the end, he got detached and
became a Shraman by taking Diksha (the formal act of renouncing the
mundane life style) from Pottilacharya. For about ten million years he
indulged in serving the guru, studying and pondering over the
scriptures, meditation, and a variety of austere penance's. Though
these he continued to wipe out the tarnishing Karmas acquired during
previous lives. Living his age, he was reborn as a god in the
Mahashukra Kalpa from where, in his next incarnation, he was born as
the son of king Jitshatru of Chhatranagari.
Austere Practices : Nandan Muni
The life of prince Nandan (son of king Jitshatru) was like a lotus
flower in the swamp of passions and mundane indulgences. The
attraction of the beauty and love of beautiful damsels did not divert
him from his spiritual quest. Finally he became a disciple of
Pottilacharya. Becoming an ascetic, he started purifying his soul with
the fire of penance. He undertook the tough practice of the twenty
step penance that includes discipline, penance, devotion for Arihant,
service of the ascetic, and other such purifying acts. As a result of
these practices, he earned the Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma (the
Karma that would make him a Tirthankar if future birth). He spent
about a hundred thousand years as a Shraman with perfect discipline.
During this period he did one hundred and sixty thousand one month
fasts. Living his age with austure Pranat Pushpottar Viman (a specific
dimension of gods). This was the birth preceding his reincarnation as
LIFE AS HOUSEHOLDER
Conditions before the Birth
About 2594 years back (599 BC) in the eastern region of India, a
bright source of spiritual light dawned. He became famous as Vardhaman
During the period of Bhagavan Parshvanath, the feudal system of rule
prevailed in India. However, the beginnings of democratic system had
started appearing on the political scene. It was the dawn of the
localized republics. After his Nirvana the republics started expanding
and Vaishali emerged as the capital of the federation of small
republics. Maharaj Chetak, a staunch follower of the Parshva
Tradition, was the president of the Vaishali republic and the
On the northern shore of the Ganges a large and powerful group of
Lichhavi Kshatriyas favoured democratic system. The six prominent
clans that formed this republic were-Ugra, Bhog, Rajanya, Ikshvaku,
Lichhavi, Jnat, and Kaurav, and nine chiefs represented them.
Another union was named Malla and it was divided into two
parts-northwestern and south-eastern. The capital city of north-west
was Kushinara and that of south-east was Pava. The nine chiefs of the
Federation of Malla republics were also staunch supporters of the
democratic system. Nine Mallas and nine Lichhavis combined to form a
well organized apex union called the Union of Vajji Republics. The
Lichhavis of the Vaishali republic were Suryanvanshi Kshatriyas, the
descendants of Maryada Purushottam Ram. Before the advent of Bhagavan
Mahavir and the Buddha, these were famous as the Videhas, but later,
the name Lichhavi became more popular. Still, as a cultural group they
always retained their identity as the Videhas. In the Jain literature
Maharaj Chetak has been mentioned as Videgraj, his sister, Trishla, as
Videhdinna. Mahavir has also been mentioned as Videh Sukumal. All this
is indicative of the higher religious and cultural status of the state
The Royal Family of Vaishali
To the north of Vaishali, there was a suburb named Kundpur Sannivesh.
There was a colony of Brahmans in the southern parts of Kundpur. The
chief of these Brahamans was Rishabhdatta and his wife was Devananda.
Although a rich Brahman and a scholar of the Vedas and Vedangas,
Rishabhdatta was a devotee of Bhagavan Parshvanath.
In the northern parts of Kundpur there was a colony of Kshatriyas of
the Jnat clan. The colony was known as Kshatriya Kundpur. Siddharth
was the chief here. Because of his great valor and wealth he was
respectfully addressed as Raja or Narendra. He was a highly
influential member of the Vaishali republic.
Trishla, the sister of president Chetak of Vaishali, was married to
Siddharth; she was also known as Videhdinna and Priyakarini, Chetak's
elder son Simhabhadra (commander-in- chief of the army of the Vajji
Republic. Maharaj Chetak had seven daughters-
1. Chelana-Queen of king Bimbsar Shrenik of Magadh.
2. Shiva-Queen of king Chandapradyot of Avanti.
3. Mrigavati-Queen of king Shatanik of Kaushambi.
4. Pradmavati-Queen of king Dhadhivahan of Champa (mother of
5. Prabhavati-Queen of king Udayan (Udayi) of Sindhu-Sauvir.
6. Jyeshtha-Wife of prince Nandivardhan, elder brother of Bhagavan
7. Sujyeshtha-Did not marry. Became ascetic in Mahavir's organization.
Ajatshatru (Kunik), the famous warrior character in Jain and Buddhist
literature, and king Udayan of Vats were own grandsons of Maharaj
Dreams: The Premonition
One night mother Trishla is sleeping in her soft and cozy bed.
Suddenly she dreams of auspicious things and gets up. She is filled
with an hitherto inexperienced joy and ecstasy.
She leaves the bed, sits on a chair and contemplates, "So many divine
and auspicious things together in my dream. I had such astonishing
dream for the first time in my life, what does this indicate, indeed
some benefits in the near future?" She goes to king Siddharth and
tells him about the dreams.
King Siddharth beams with joy and says," Devi! Your dreams are
bounteous. We will gain wealth, pleasures, happiness, and a son. We
shall also have territorial gains. The interpretation of these dreams
indicates that the son born to you will be the embodiment of the
combined of the combined virtues of all the virtuous things and signs
existing on the earth. (In scriptures like Acharang and Kalpasutra, it
is mentioned that the descent of the soul that was to be Mahavir was
originally the womb of Devananda Brahmani. The fetus was then
transplanted into the womb of Trishla Kshatriyani by god
Harinaigamehsi under instructions from Shakrendra.)
After their morning chores, Maharaj Siddharth and Devi Trishla came
and took their seats in the assembly hall. His younger brother
Suparshva, his wife and other members of the royal family also took
their seats nearby.
Famous dream readers of Vaishali arrived into the assembly hall.
Maharaj Siddharth and Devi Trishla greeted the dream readers and
scholars of eight pronged system of augury, and offered them high
seats. The king said to them, "Scholars of augury! Last night in the
early hours of the morning, Priyakarini, Videhdinna Devi Trishla saw
14 auspicious dreams. Kindly interpret these dreams on the basis of
your knowledge and experience of the science of augury and satisfy the
curiosity of all of us."
The augurs listened to the details of the dreams from Devi Trishla and
beamed with joy. Pondering over, they interpreted the dreams as
"O king of kings! Maharaj Siddharth ! According to the science of
dreams there are 72 auspicious dreams. Out of these, 42 indicate of
ordinary benefits and remaining 30 of great benefits. The dreams the
fortunate Devi Trishla has seen are the fourteen great dreams that
indicate extremely auspicious and divine gains in the near future.
According to these dreams Devi Trishla will give birth to a son who
will become a Chakravarti, but.....
Maharaj ! According to the scriptures there already have been 12
Chakravartis, the prescribed number for this cycle of time. However,
one Dharm-Chakravarti (Emperor of religion) is still to be born. As
such, all the signs and circumstances point at the fact that your son,
the benefactor of mankind, will be a Dharm-Chakravarti."
King Siddharth amply rewarded the dream-readers and sent them home
with due honor.
The Auspicious Birth
It was spring time and the nature was in full bloom. The atmosphere
was clean and pure. Cool and fragrant breeze infused joy in every
particle in the nature. In the
soundless quietude of the midnight, the sky was fluorescent with milky
moonlight. The auspicious date was the thirteenth of the bright half
of the month of Chaitra. The moon was in conjunction with the
Uttaraphalguni Nakshatra (lunar mansion), the sign of victory. At that
auspicious moment Mother Trishla gave birth to a divine child.
The child was the embodiment of divine light. As soon as it was born,
the world was filled with radiant light. It appeared as if, to behold
this divine light even the blind were blessed with eyes. This light
penetrated even the oppressive dense darkness of the hell. The hell
beings forgot their pain. Quarrels, fights, and battles stopped. Those
suffering from a life time of hunger and thirst experienced a divine
feeling of fulfillment. All around cool and fragrant breeze started
blowing. Patients of chronic ailments felt cured. Natural enemies too
had a surge of a feeling of mutual goodwill and love. All the three
worlds (heaven, earth and hell) were filled with waves of happiness.
With the birth of the child, the whole atmosphere underwent a strange
change for sometime.
Hearing the news of the birth of Bhagavan Mahavir all the inhabitants
of the dimensions of gods danced with joy. First of all the king of
gods, Shakrendra, came and bowed
before the Bhagavan and then circumambulated mother Trishla three
times. All the gods goddesses and lower gods (Gandharva, Kinner etc.)
sang and danced and celebrated the
birth of the Tirthankar with gaiety.
According to the Kalpasutra, on the night of the birth of the child,
first of all 56 divine maidens from all directions (Disha Kumaris)
performed the first cleaning and other necessary post birth duties.
Shakrendra and other gods, then, took the child to the peak of the
Meru mountain and gave him the first bath and annointment. They sang
songs in honor of the divine birth.
At dawn a maid named Priyamvada rushed to king Siddharth and
announced, "Congratulations Sire! Many congratulations! Queen Trishla
has given birth to a male child."
Filled with joy and ecstasy the king gave away all the ornaments on
his body, save state emblems, to Priyamvada. He also released her from
slavery. Thus, a slave woman was freed of her life long slavery just
because she was the bearer of the good news of the birth of the
King Siddharth called his prime minister and ordered, "Tell the
officer-in-charge of celebrations to organize unique and special birth
After the kings order, all the highways, roads, and lanes in the town
of Kshatriyakund were cleared, perfumed water was sprayed, and
buntings, garlands, and leaves were lavishly put everywhere. Sweets
and gifts were distributed. People danced with joy. The whole town
echoed with felicitous songs and music.
Maharaj Siddharth had an inspiration. He called the prime minister and
said, "The celebrations of child birth in the royal family are part of
the tradition. However, on this
particular occasion I want something new, something unique."
The minister humbly submitted, "Sire ! Express your wish and it will
be carried out like an order."
King Siddharth said, "Today announce a general amnesty. Free all the
prisoners; right off all the debts; distribute money to the needy;
allow fifty per cent subsidy on all
purchases from all traders; open centers for distribution of food and
clothes to the poor, old, and invalid; and liberate old and sick
slaves. Thus let the townsfolk join the
celebrations free from misery, hunger and bondage.
The order of king Siddharth was carried out. The celebrations
continued for ten days with unprecedented enthusiasm. People hailed
the occasion and muttered, " Some divine great soul has descended on
the earth to liberate the world from pain and misery."
When the name giving ceremonies approached, king Siddharth said to
Devi Trishla, "Devi! There has been a continued increase in our
wealth, power and happiness. As such I think we should name the child
as Vardhaman (ever increasing)."
Queen Trishla consented with joy, "Maharaj ! You are absolutely
correct. This child is certainly going to accelerate our all around
Vardhaman : The Name
On the twelfth day after the birth of the child, king Siddharth
organized a great feast and invited all his relatives and friends.
After meals and other state courtesies, king Siddharth addressed the
guests, "Since the day this child was conceived, our family has been
with increasing goodwill, respect, wealth, and mutual affection. Cash,
gold, and gems have increased in our treasury. The public has gained
health, peace, happiness, and goodwill. Thus since the moment this
soul has descended, there has been a continued enhancement in our
glory, wealth, health, and fame. As such I and Devi Trishla have
a befitting name for this child Vardhaman'."
King Siddharth's suggestion was unanimously approved and the child was
formally named Vardhaman.
One day Shakrendra, while talking in the assembly of gods, stated,
"There is no person more brave, courageous and strong than price
Vardhaman." Praising an eight year old
boy's bravery in the assembly of gods was a strange thing. A skeptic
god jokingly said that Shakrendra was exaggerating. And he proceeded
to test prince Vardhaman.
Vardhaman was playing with children of his age in the Jnatkhand
jungle. The game was to race to a target tree, climb up, and come
down. The first one to reach the ground was the winner.
Vardhaman ran the race and was first to climb the tree. Just then the
boys on the ground, saw a ferocious cobra slithering up around the
trunk of the trunk of the tree and
hissing with its raised hood. The boys stated trembling with fear and
ran away. From a safe distance they shouted, "Vardhaman, do not come
down. There is a black serpent of the tree-trunk.
Vardhaman, on his way down saw the snake and also heard the call of
his friends. He shouted back, "Be quiet, and don't be afraid." He
jumped down. The snake followed and, hissing, it leapt a Vardhaman.
With astonishing agility, the prince caught the snake by its hood and
with a jerk threw it away like a piece of rope.
After this, the boys started playing another game called Tindushak.
This game was also a race to a target tree. The winner was to ride
piggy-back on the losers and return to the base. The god who had come
to test Vardhaman also joined the group in the disguise of a boy. In
the game when Vardhaman won, the god got Vardhaman on his back and
back for the base. On way he transformed himself into a giant. With
the prince on his back the god flew in the sky. The boys shouted with
fear. Vardhaman, undaunted, hit the giant with his mighty fist. The
god cried with pain and landed back on the ground. Vardhaman jumped
from his back. The culprit disappeared and in his place appeared a
god, who begged Vardhaman's pardon.
Test by Indra in the School
When Vardhaman entered the ninth year of his age, his parents thought
that it was time to impart martial and formal education befitting a
Kshatriya boy to him. They decided to send him to school.
When he went to the school he offered his respects to the teacher just
like any other ordinary student. In spite of having all worldly
knowledge since his birth, by offering respect to his teacher,
Vardhaman honored the age old traditional ideals. The teacher gave him
the first lesson of the alphabets. Vardhaman listened silently. After
sometime the teacher called him and asked, "Prince! You are just
idling, why don't you repeat the lesson and memorize it ?" In reply,
Vardhaman recited the full alphabets. The teacher was surprised.
While he was trying to fathom the surprising capacity of the little
boy, an old Brahman, with a Tilak on his forehead, entered the school.
The teacher greeted him and offered a
seat. The Brahman asked some complex questions on grammar. The teacher
could not reply and remained silent looking down in disgust. The
Brahman smiled and said, "Acharya! Please do not bother yourself. May
be, This new student of yours
will solve my problem. If you allow me, I may ask him?"
The teacher consented and the old Brahman put the complex questions
before Vardhaman. Little Vardhaman, Without hesitating, gave correct
and appropriate answers. The teacher
stared dumbfounded at the little boy. The Brahman smiled and said,
"Acharya! Please don't feel insulted. You are not aware that the sun
of knowledge of this era is present before you as prince Vardhaman. He
is the future Bhagavan Mahavir,
It is believed that Indra compiled his questions and Vardhaman's
answers into a book named Aindra Vyadaran (the grammar of the Indra).
Jnat clan to which king Siddharth belonged, was same as the Ikshvaku
clan to which belonged Bhagavan Rishabhdev. Siddharth and Rishabhdev
both also belonged to the Kashyap family. It is a matter of pride for
the Ikshvaku clan and Kashyap family that 22 Tirthankars came from the
Devi Trishla was the sister of Chetak, the president of the Vaishali
republic. Because of the paternal connection with Videh area she was
also known as Videhadatta (dinna); her third name was Priyakarini.
Vardhaman's uncle or king Siddharth's younger brother was Suparshva.
Siddhartha's elder son was Nandivardhan. Nandivardhan's wife was
Vardhaman also had a sister named Sudarshana. When and to whom
Sudarshana was married is not mentioned anywhere. However, her son
Jamali was a famous figure.
Although surrounded by unlimited wealth and grandeur, prince
Vardhaman's mind and attitude was completely detached and purified by
the fire of discipline. It was like a lotus
flower in the pond. The power and glory of the kingdom never attracted
him. Even his marriage to Yashoda, daughter of prince Samarvir, was
due to the affectionate persuasion and pressure by and from his
parents. Yashoda gave birth to a daughter, who was named
Priyadarshana. Prince Jamali married Priyadarshana. According to
Acharang Sutra, three names of Vardhaman became very famous:
1. VaddhamaneThis name, Vardhaman, was given by his parents.
2. SamaneSaman or Shraman indicates his natural unblemished
3. MahavirThis indicates his unique bravery, courage, and tolerance.
This name was given by the gods.
Another of his names was Sanmati. Because of his purity of thoughts he
also became famous by his name. Other names of Bhagavan Mahavir, found
in canonical literature are as follows: Jnatputra, Vaishlik, Vir,
Ativir, Antya Kashyap,
Death of Parents
Detached from all mundane activities and desirous of becoming an
ascetic in order to pursue the spiritual goal, Mahavir was keeping the
matter pending due to his earlier
resolution"As long as my parents are alive I shall not think of
When Mahavir became 28 years old his parents took the last vow of
continued meditation without food. They gradually purified their souls
and left their mortal bodies
with a serene mental state. After their death Vardhaman told his elder
brother, now king Nandivardhan, about his decision to become ascetic.
Nandivardhan replied in a choking voice, "Prince! Loss of parents
followed by your renunciation; how will I be able to bear these shocks
at the same time? Honor my desire and postpone your program for two
Vardhaman accepted his elder brother's request and stayed back for two
more years. But during this period he lived like an ascetic. Indulging
in spiritual practices with
due discipline, he prepared himself for his impending renunciation.
Knowing about his resolve for renunciation, gods from the edge of the
universe arrived and put forth the formal request, "O benefactor of
the world! Your resolve is great. Please proceed on the path of
renunciation and propagate religion for the welfare of the world."
Prince Vardhaman gave charity three hours everyday for one year. Rich
or poor, whoever came to Vardhaman was awarded whatever he desired. At
the end of one year Vardhaman was ready for renunciation.
THE LIFE AS AN ASCETIC
The Great Renunciation
It was the tenth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Margshirsh.
Prince Vardhaman had observed a ritual fast of two days. A palanquin
named Chandraprabh was prepared for his great renunciation. Sometime
in the afternoon, Vardhaman came out of the palace and climbed into
the palanquin. The procession with the palanquin proceeded to
Jnatkhand garden in the north-east of Kshatriyakund. The palanquin was
placed near an Ashok tree. Vardhaman got down from the palanquin.
Thousands of eyes were staring at the prince. His golden body was
adorned with a beautiful dress and scintillating ornaments. The next
moment he had removed all the ornaments and his dress. The only cover
on his body was a piece of cloth resting on his shoulders and provided
by Indra. Vardhaman pulled out his hair in five fistfuls. Indra
collected his dress, ornaments, and hair in a golden vessel.
After this he uttered in his deep resonant voice, "Namo Siddhanam," (I
bow to the Siddhas or liberated souls). Then he took the vow of
ascetic life, "I take the vow of practicing equanimity all through my
life and abandon all intentional sinful activities."
Bhagavan Mahavir, accepting the rigorous ascetic vow, resolved, " In
my ascetic life I will remain equanimous in all conditions and
circumstances. I will tolerate every
affliction of predicament caused by man, god, demon or animal equally,
no matter how fearsome it is. As long as I do not attain omniscience,
I will continue to tread the fire
paved path of purity with unflinching and firm steps." A wave of
reverence started and thousands of heads bowed with reverence and
thousands of the throats uttered in
unison, "Victory be to Shraman Mahavir."
The Removal of Poverty
After the austere vow the Mahashraman acquired Manahparyav Jnan which
allowed him to perceive the feelings and thoughts of all beings. His
heart was filled with equanimity and compassion. His face beamed with
a spontaneous smile. He walked with firm and steady steps towards the
jungle without turning around or hesitating.
Suddenly there was a feeble call from behind. The call of a pain
filled heart retards the movement of a Mahashraman also. Next moment a
wiry and weak Brahman, moving briskly with the help of a stick,
arrived and fell at the feet of the Mahashraman. Tears were flowing
from his eyes and there was an expressive pain on his pitiable face.
he uttered humbly, "Prince Vardhaman! Kindly liberate me; give me
remove my poverty."
Shraman Mahavir recognized the old man to be Som Sharma of
Brahmankund. Long back he used to come to king Siddharth's court. The
charitable king extended him all help by giving what he needed. He was
happy then. But he was not seen after the king's death.
Som Sharma said, "Prince, I wandered around from one state to another
after the death of king Siddharth, my mentor. Wherever I went, my bad
luck followed me. After two years of wandering in vain, I have
returned home this morning. On my return my family members informed me
about your year long charity. Everyone got what he desired, but I, the
ill-fated, got nothing from your charitable hands. Prince! As soon as
I reached home I came to know that abandoning everything, you have
become ascetic only today. Prince Vardhaman, have pity on this poor
destitute. Remove my poverty with your kind hands."
Mahavir was filled with compassion, but today he had nothing to give.
He suddenly thought of the divine cloth on his shoulder. He tore it
into two and gave one to the Brahman. The Brahman was filled with joy.
He took this piece of cloth to a mender and inquired about its value.
The mender said, "Brahman! How did you get this divine cloth?
It is just a part of a whole. If you could bring the other part also,
I will mend it back to its original form and you could sell it for a
hundred thousand gold coins."
The greedy Brahman ran back to Mahavir and followed him wherever he
went. After about a year the remaining piece of the divine cloth fell
from Mahavir's shoulder. Som Sharma picked it up, got it mended, and
sold it to king Nandivardhan for a hundred thousand gold coins.
The Period of Practices: The Afflictions Rejection of the Divine Help
The day after his renunciation Mahavir left Jnatkhand garden. At
sunset he arrived near a small village called Kurmargram (identified
as Kaman Chhapra today). He stopped under a tree, and, standing rock
still, started his meditation. After some time a cowherd arrived there
with his oxen. He wanted to go into the village to do his job of
milking cows. He approached the meditating Shraman and said, "Ascetic!
Please look after my oxen while I go into the village to milk cows. I
will return soon." Without waiting for a reply the cowherd went away.
The oxen, untethered and uncared for, strayed into the nearby jungle.
On his return when the cowherd did not find his oxen, he asked,
"Ascetic! Where are my oxen?" Mahavir remained silent. The cowherd
grumbled and started looking around. He searched all around throughout
the night in vain. The oxen, in the mean time, returned and lay down
near Mahavir. When the exhausted cowherd returned in the morning and
beheld this scene, he lost his temper. He took Mahavir to be a thief
in disguise, whom he had caught just before the thief was to flee with
the oxen that he must have hidden during the night. Without a second
thought he started hitting Mahavir with the rope he carried for tying
the oxen. The hard sisal rope left large inflamed welts on Mahavir's
naked body. Even this excruciating pain did not distract Mahavir from
Just then an overpowering divine person appeared and said in his
commanding voice, "Stop it, you ignorant idiot! You are committing a
grave crime. This person is no thief.
He is the son of king Siddharth. He is Shraman Mahavir, a great yogi
and a meditating ascetic." The cowherd fell prostate at the feet of
Mahavir and, repenting for his
ignorance, begged his pardon. The divine person who had interfered was
none else but the king of gods, Indra. He bowed before Mahashraman.
Disturbed by the inflamed marks on the body of Mahavir he said,
"Prabhu! These ignorant people will continue to cause you pain due to
their foolishness. Please allow me to be in your attendance to provide
you protection. Mahavir replied in all humility, "Devraj ! You should
know that an ascetic on the spiritual path reaches the goal of purity
with the help of his own practice, courage, and discipline. It is
never with the help of the king of gods or the king of demons that a
soul sheds all its Karmas and becomes an Arhant or gets liberated."
Full of reverence and praise, the king of gods bowed before Shraman
Mahavir and departed.
The Afflictions by Shulpani
Wandering Mahavir one day arrived near a small forlorn village on the
banks of river Vegvati. Outside the village on a small hillock stood a
temple surrounded by scattered heaps of bones and skeletons.
Considering it to be an appropriate place for his practices, Mahavir
sought permission from the villagers. The villagers informed him that
this forlorn village was once a prosperous town. The ferocious lance
wielding demon, Shulpani Yaksha, who dances and laughs on heaps of
bones, had turned this Vardhaman village into Asthik-gram, the village
of bones. The temple under questions was his temple and he did not
allow any one to stay there. If at all someone stayed he did not come
out alive. The villagers tried to dissuade Mahavir from
staying in the temple.
But Mahavir was determined to root out fear and sow the seeds of
courage. He insisted, and by evening he was standing at a spot within
the temple, completely lost in his meditation. When darkness
descended, the air was filled with eerie sounds. Shulpani, the Demon
with a lance, appeared in the courtyard and started emitting fearful
trumpeting noise. He was surprised to see a human being standing
fearlessly in meditation. He produced thunderous roar that shook the
thick walls of the temple. But the ascetic still did not move, nor did
he show horrifying atrocities. A mad elephant appeared and goaded
Mahavir with its pointed tasks. It lifted him in his trunk and tossed
around. When this had no effect on Mahavir, a horrible ghost appeared
and attacked Mahavir with its large canines and claws. Next appeared a
black serpent that attacked Mahavir with its large venomous fangs and
toxic breath. Finally he caused extreme pain in seven delicate spots
within Mahavir's body (eyes, ears, nose, head, teeth, nails, and the
back). Mahavir had an endless capacity to tolerate pain. Even this
extreme agony failed to pierce the serenity of his composure.
Drained of all his demonic energy, Shulpani became apprehensive. He
thought that he was facing some divine power much stronger then he and
he was heading towards his own destruction. All of a sudden a divine
spiritual light heading towards his own destruction. All of a sudden a
divine spiritual light illuminated his inner self. Slowly his anger
subsided, fear dissolved, and a feeling of goodwill took over. He
touched Mahavir's pardon. Mahavir opened his eyes and, raising his
humility begged Mahavir's pardon. Mahavir opened his eyes and ,
raising his hand, said, "Shulpani ! Anger supplements anger and love
begets love. If you do not cause fear, you will become free of all
fears always. So destroy the poison ivy of anger."
Mahavir spent his first monsoon-stay at Asathik-gram.
The Embodiment of Love
Leaving Asthik-gram Mahavir proceeded in the direction of Shvetambika
town. The trail to this town passed through a dense and desolate
forest. When some shepherds saw Mahavir entering the forest they
shouted, "O Monk, stay put for a minute. This is a dangerous trail.
There is a black serpent with venomous gaze on this trail. His hissing
and gaze burn plant and trees. Even flying birds and standing humans
drop dead. Please leave this trail and take a different route."
Mahavir heard this fear filled call of the shepherds. With a serene
smile he raised a hand as a gesture of assurance. With firm steps
Mahavir went near the snake-hole. All around human and animal
skeletons could be seen. There was not a single green leaf as far as
the eye could see. Close to the snake-hole was a delepidated temple.
Mahavir stood in the shade of this temple and started his meditation.
After some time the giant black serpent came out of its hole hissing
fiercely. It had seen a human being after a long time. The man was
standing firm and fearless with closed eyes. The serpent was
surprised. It looked at Mahavir with its venomous red eyes. Like
flames from a ball of fire, its poisonous eyes emitted waves of venom.
It hissed awesomely. But all this had no effect whatsoever on Mahavir.
The serpent was astonished, "Till today every man I came across has
been consumed by my first venomous hiss and this man stands still,
The serpent glanced at the sun and once again focused its gaze at
Mahavir and hissed at him with renewed anger, but in vain. It
slithered from the line of the expected fall of the body and than with
all its force sank its fangs in Mahavir's toe and injected all its
venom. It drew back and waited expectantly again in vain.
The angry serpent, vexed further by its failure stung Mahavir twice
again. All its three attacks were wasted. Mahavir stood undisturbed.
The serpent was astonished to see milk oozing out instead of blood
from the spots where it has stung on Mahavir's toe .
Bhagavan Mahavir was standing unmoved. His face was glowing and on his
lips was a charming smile, like a blooming rose. His eyes reflected
the inner compassion.
The serpent continued to stare with surprise. Confused by its failure
it was lost in its thoughts.
Involved in his spiritual pursuits, Mahavir uttered din his deep and
tranquil voice, " O Chandakaushik ! Open your inner eyes. Be calm and
remember your past life. do not inject venom of anger in your life.
Rise above the deadly poison of anger.
Mahavir opened his ambrosia filled eyes. When the serpent met his
gaze, it felt as if a wave of peace and tranquillity had engulfed its
inner self. It appeared that its venom was slowly vanishing. It was
lost in deep thoughts. Its dormant memory started unfolding and it
acquired Jatismaran Jnan. Incidents from its past two births surfaced
in its memory. It realized that it had suffered excruciating pain and
degradation due to extreme anger and acute attachment during those
births. The heat of repentance melted its vices.
Its spirit embraced enlightenment and mind became tranquil. It touched
the pious feet of Bhagavan Mahavir and resolved, "O Lord ! Now I will
not look at any one at all throughout my life. I will not eat
anything. I will not drink also. I will just put my mouth in the hole
and lie still in the shadow of your feet. I will now at one for all my
sins committed during the last three births and improve my future."
Knowing that the serpent had become harmless, throngs of people
started arriving from nearby villages. They worshipped the serpent-god
by offering milk and sweets. But the serpent was lying, keeping its
hood in the hole, in meditation without even a trace of movement .
Swarms of ants were attracted by the sweets. They started stinging the
serpent. But the serpent tolerated these afflictions with equanimity.
It silently took the last vow (fast unto death). It tolerated the
agony of hunger, thirst and the stings of ants. Its body became almost
perforated, but it did not react at all. After fifteen days it died
and was reborn as a god in the Sahasrar dimension.
Quashing of the Flames
Once, leaving Shravasti, Shraman Vardhaman was going to Haliddug
village. On the way he saw a large banyan tree. finding it suitable,
he went under it and started his night meditation. It was winter and a
cold wind was blowing. Gaushalak was also following him. As Gaushalak
could not tolerate the piercing wind, he shifted to the other side of
the tree. After some time some wayfarers also stopped under the tree.
They collected dry wood and started a fire to cook food. They spent
the night there and kept the fire burning.
The fire slowly spread and reached the spot where Mahavir was
standing. Gaushalak shouted a warning. But Mahavir had no Early in the
morning they broke camp and went away. The fire was left burning.
Slowly it spread and engulfed the surrounding dry twigs and leaves
gathered under the tree. The wind was blowing in the direction of
meditating Mahavir. The fire slowly spread and reached the spot where
Mahavir was standing. Gaushalak shouted a warning. But Mahavir had no
awareness besides that for his soul. He was unmoved by the heat of the
approaching flames. He was busy quashing the ultimate fire, the fire
of rebirth. The flames reached him and scorched his feet. Even this
acute pain did not reach the depth of his tranquillity. After some
time the fire subsided on its own.
Torture by Kalahasti
Leaving Chorak village Mahavir arrived at the out skirts of Kalambuka
village. This village was ruled by two brother, Megh and Kalahasti.
Although they were landlords and chieftains. they were still involved
in unlawful activities like looting the neighboring kingdom. Tying
them with ropes, he tortured them inhumanely. When he still could
extract no information from them be ordered them, to be taken to his
elder brother, Megh, for further torture and interrogation.
Shackled like criminals, They were produced before Megh, who felt as
if he was looking at a known face. He suddenly recalled that once he
had seen prince Vardhaman at the court of king Siddharth. This
shackled spy seemed to have an uncanny resemblance with the prince. He
came closer and recognized that the person in bondage was none else
but prince Vardhaman who had become a Shraman. He fell at the feet of
Mahavir and, with tears of repentance in his eyes he begged to be
forgiven. When released Mahavir resumed his journey.
Among the Aborigines
It was the fifth year of practices of Bhagavan Mahavir. He moved into
the Radh (or Ladh) country. This area was also known as Vajra Bhumi or
Shubhra Bhumi and was inhabited by scant and scattered population of
rustic aborigines. Gaushalak also followed Mahavir wherever he went.
The people of this area did not know anything about ascetics and their
ways. They stared in astonishment when they saw a naked person
standing like a statue at godforsaken places. When they did not get
any response or even reaction on shouting at him, they would get
irritated and hit him with sticks, lances, bones and stones. Some on
his body. Shraman Mahavir equally tolerated all these tortures and
continued his advance toward purity.
He wandered from one place to another and once in a while came across
small villages. Not so very often he would enter a village to beg food
and mostly got dry and stale food. However, most of the time he went
without any food. People would curiously stare at him and wild dogs
would pounce on him and bite. For their crude entertainment, the
aborigines would pick up Mahavir and throw him on the ground. Mahavir
spent almost five months in that area during his first visit. Once
again, during the ninth year of his practices, Mahavir returned to
this area for about six months.
Once, while moving from Siddharthpur to Kurmar village Mahavir was
passing through a dense forest. All of a sudden Gaushalak saw a Tapas
ascetic in an opening on one side of the trail. On closer observation
he saw that the hermit was busy doing some strange penance. He was
standing facing the sun with his head hanging down and arms straight
up. Long strands of his hair were hanging on the ground like roots of
some old banyan tree. Due to the heat of sun rays, small insects,
falling from his unkempt hair were writhing, and out of compassion, he
was picking them up and putting them back in his dense locks of hair.
Gaushalak could not control his laughter seeing this strange activity.
Jokingly he said, "O abode of insects! What do you think you are
doing? You are gathering insects and considering this act to be a
penance." The hermit remained calm the first time. But when Gaushalak
did not refrain from making biting remarks, the hermit looked at him
with his burning eyes and said, "O vicious person! My name is
Vaisyayan Tapas and I am the doom of ignorant fools like you." Instead
of jolting him to sanity, this scornful comment drew an insulting
laughter from Gaushalak. The hermit now took a few steps back and
angrily started emitting fire from his mouth (this is a mirac...