Lord Mahavira was born in 599 BC in Bihar. His birthday, which is celebrated as Mahavir Jayanti falls in April every year. He was born as a prince and had all worldly pleasures at his disposal. However, he chose to renounce the world at the age of 30, to search for an answer to all the sorrows, pain, and sufferings in the world.
The legend says, he spent nearly twelve and a half years in meditation to attain spiritual knowledge and to be free from all desires, feelings, and attachments. He learned to be equal towards everyone including animals. He avoided hurting anyone with or without any intention. After serving the severe penance, his powers were fully developed. Hence, he was given the name ‘Mahavir’ meaning brave and courageous.
Once attaining the knowledge, Lord Mahavir traveled on foot across India, spreading his teachings and enlightened spiritual wisdom to fellow people. He was the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankara in Jainism. The five vows, which he laid and are strictly followed within Jains are:
• Nonviolence (Ahimsa)
• Truthfulness (Satya)
• Non-stealing (Asetya)
• Chastity (Brahmacharya)
• Non-possession/Non-attachment (Aparigraha)
Some of the significant teaching Lord Mahavir gave to the world are:
• He made religion-free, natural, and ruled out the complex and unwanted rituals. He focused more on the internal beauty and harmony of the soul than outer extravagant rites.
• He taught that a positive attitude can be very effective and helpful in dealing with all kinds of stress and tension in one’s life.
• The five vows on which Jainism is laid, teach us to be free and celebrate compassion.
• He projected freedom and spiritual joy of the living being by saying, “A living body is not merely an integration of limbs and flesh but it is the abode of the soul which potentially has perfect perception (Anant-Darshana), perfect knowledge (Anant-jnana), perfect power (Anant-virya), and perfect bliss (Anant-sukha).”
• He said that everyone is equal irrespective of their background, how evolved they are, in which size, shape, or form they come from.
• He opposed the idea of worshiping the gods and goddesses or the idols as it holds personal gains and benefits. Instead, he focused on spiritual evolution.
Though the Jains are considered the followers of Lord Mahavir, it is his teachings and messages that compel the whole of mankind to respect and bow ahead to him.