Jain Teerth

Bhagwan Mahaveer (The 24th Teerthankar)

(At the auspicious occasion of Deepavali – the day of attaining salvation by Bhagwan Mahaveer, the full & final freedom from affection & aversion and from the world.)

Lord Mahaveer According to Jainism, God is not born, but a man can attain Godhood by his own superb spiritual efforts. This fact is also right for Mahaveer. He born at the home of King Siddharth of Kundgram of Vaishali Ganatantra. His mother’s name was Trishala.

One day, during the fourth quarter of night Queen Trishala saw sixteen wonderful dreams and then saw that a white bullock entered her mouth. After seeing dreams she at once waked up, she was very happy but also felt in wonder thinking about the indication of dreams. After reciting the Panch Namaskar Mantra, she engaged in daily routine. After this she went to King Siddharth in his court and described about the dreams seen early morning. As king came to know about her dreams, he felt spiritual joy & happiness and told to his wife about the indication of each dream. He said, “O Rani Trishala! You are great, you are going to be the mother of last Teerthankar Bhagwan Mahaveer.” He ordered to celebrate the holy auspicious occasion with great enthusiasm and glory.

At the same time the lord of heaven, Indra also came to know about the conception of last Teerthankar at the home of King Siddharth & Queen Trishala. So he, with his Shachi Indrani and many Devs & Devies of heaven came to Kundgram.

Then ‘Garbha Kalyanaka ’ was celebrated. Indra & Devs praised King & Queen and presented so many valuable gifts to them. Then Indra after celebrations went to his place, but some Devies were left there to serve the Queen Trishala – the holy mother of last Teerthankar.

After completion of the period of carrying, on the day ‘Chaitra Shukla – 13’, Bhagwan Mahaveer was born, about 2600 years ago.

At the time of birth, huge & magnificent celebrations were organized called ‘Janma-Kalyanaka ’. During Janma-Kalyanaka, firstly new born Teerthankar child was taken to ‘Panduk-Shila’ (a platform) on ‘Sumeru Parvat’ (Mountain) for consecration.

Consecration takes place by 1008 Kalash (big round pots). Before consecration, Indra thought for a moment ‘whether consecration may not cause some problem to new born child!’ Bal (child) Teerthankar just knew the doubt of Indra by ‘Avadhigyan’ (spiritual power of knowledge) and pressed that place by thumb of his foot. The pressure was so high that Sumeru was vibrated. Then getting impressed greatly by the superb power of Teerthankar Indra praised him and named him ‘Veer’.

According to ‘Vardhaman Charitra’, when the consecration was in progress, water entered in the nose of Bal Teerthankar. So he sneezed at once. By the pressure of air Sumeru Parvat (Hill) was vibrated, Indra & many Devs fell down there.

This shows that Teerthankar Bhagwan, even in childhood has the infinite power & spiritual knowing capacity.

After consecration completed, Indra & Shachi clothed & decorated the child with the precious cloths & ornaments brought from heaven and returned back to Kundgram.

At Kundgram getting the Bal(child) Teerthankar in own hands King Siddharth & Mother Trishala were filled with great joy, enthusiasm & spiritual feelings.

Then a huge & magnificent Janma-Kalyanaka was celebrated by whole the kingdom, Indra, Shachi, many Devs & Devies with full devotion and pious heart. According to Jain Ethics, it is said that up to fifteen months, till the birth of Teerthankar, showers of jewels & precious stones took place, three times daily. So there was none suffering from poverty. Keeping in mind the increasing prosperity & cheer of kingdom, King Siddharth & Mother Trishala called their son by name – ‘Vardhaman’.

By time Vardhaman was growing gradually, there was no need of teacher, his intelligence and talent was also growing with age automatically.

Child Vardhaman was just like other children, but he was a genius, conversant with the knowledge of self, prudent, healthy & judicious. He was never afraid of any being what so ever. He possessed immeasurable courage.

Once upon a time, a god of heaven (Dev) came to see the courage of Vardhaman. He turned himself in a dangerous snake and appeared in the garden, where Vardhaman was playing with friends. Snake came out from his place near a tree and started hissing in a dangerous way. All the playmates, as they saw the scene run away here & there, to keep safe themselves. But Vardhaman, without fear saw the snake with calm and came forward to him. As Vardhaman was about to catch him, he turned in his original form – a Dev. Then Dev praised the Vardhaman for his courage & wisdom.

Vardhaman was growing steadily. His wiseful & spiritual talks were pleasing to his parents, playmates & public. One day an elephant became mad, breaking his chains & ropes came out from his place. The elephant started running dangerously on high way, as he came, public started running & crying save-save. As Vardhaman came to know this event, at once he arrived at the same road without any weapon. Vardhaman stood at the mid of road looking in the elephant’s direction. Vardhaman’s face was calm; his eyes were showering peace & love for elephant, such as giving him the message of nonviolence & peace. As the elephant saw Vardhaman standing peacefully without any fear, his anger & violence came down, he at once turned in an obedient & pet animal. Now he was not dangerous to any one. After this occasion, Vardhaman was called ‘Ativeer’.

One story is also popular regarding his name – ‘Sanmati’. One day two munies (Monks) named Sanjay & Vijay were passing through the sky. They were going for the pilgrimage of Sammed Shikhar – the immortal place of salvation. They have a minute question regarding the characteristics of soul. They were feeling unhappy seeing the absence any omniscient personality after salvation of 23rd Teerthankar Bhagwan Parshvanath, who may answer their question. Returning from Sammed Shikhar, while they were passing through the sky of Kundgram, they were happy looking the palace of King Siddharth, thinking about the next Teerthankar Vardhaman – Mahaveer.

At that time Vardhaman was sitting in a window with his mother talking each other. As two munies saw Vardhaman – the last Teerthankar, sitting in the window, they felt a spiritual change in their mind & soul and found that the question of their mind was solved automatically. Both the munies stuck there for a moment, dipped in wonder looking the miraculous beauty & greatness of would be Teerthankar. After getting resolved their question, both munies praised the Vardhaman and called him – ‘Sanmati’. He was called Sanmati by virtue of attaining complete & perfect knowledge too.

By time, Vardhaman grew as a young man, but his mind was never engaged in worldly affairs. He never took interest in the matters of Kingdom. He was always engaged in thinking about the falseness of worldly affairs / joys of senses. Young Vardhaman was busy in searching the truth of world, the nature of soul and to get the path of spiritual bliss (Nirvan or salvation). Vardhaman was well known that only worldly affection & aversion, unawareness about soul, interests in the subjects of senses are the main caused of cycle of birth & death. And self realization / perception will only lead towards the freedom from world.

This was the only reason that Vardhaman refused for marriage. His parents tried their level best to persuade him to marry but they failed utterly in their attempts.

In the age of thirty years, in the full bloom of youth, he renounced this world and became a monk, accepting asceticism. He performed formidable penances up to twelve long years.

During this long period, many Yakshas or heavenly gods came to earth to see / examine the asceticism, the deep penance or his ignorance for worldly affairs.

Once upon a time, Indra praised Muni Vardhaman’s deep penance and stated in his court, “this time absorption of Vardhaman in his soul, during meditation is wonderful, his asceticism is unique; he has totally given up the subjects of senses & far a head of passions/emotions. He is great.” After listening this, a Dev / Yaksha named Sthanu decided to examine Muni Vardhaman’s deep penance. He came to place of penance & saw that Vardhaman was deeply engrossed in self and violent animals too were sitting there peacefully. Then he started his work in dangerous way to disturb the concentration of Muni, he changed his body in the shape of dangerous animals e.g. lion, python etc, he threw stones, created fire and heavy rains. But all in vain, Dev was unable to disturb Muni even trying his best of skill. He knew that Indra was right.

Then the Dev turned himself in his original form and praised Muni Vardhaman by his deep & pure heart calling him ‘Ativeer’.

Thus Vardhaman continued his practice for self welfare / perception without worrying about the external world. His aim was only to get full & final freedom from world, to experience the pure self. So he continued to perform deep penance. He was oftenly absorbed in meditation. At last after 12 years of continuous quest for the soul, he attained omniscience, attained ‘Godhood’. He became Bhagwan.

Here one thing is notable, that at the time of accepting monkhood by a Teerthankar, a celebration called ‘Deeksha-Kalyanaka’ is organized by Devies & Devs and their lords – Indras & full Kingdom. In the same way when a Teerthankar attains omniscience there is also a celebration called ‘Gyan-Kalyanaka ’. Now he was praised as ‘Bhagwan Mahaveer’, because he succeeded in conquering the evils of soul – the affection & aversion – the real enemies of soul. Only worldly affection & aversion is the reason of cycle of birth & death.

This is easier to win a state or to a man or to an enemy, but a warrior too, who wins the enemy easily, gets defeated against evils of soul / subjects of senses. He is unable to win the worldly emotions or passions. So when Muni Vardhaman attained omniscience, he was named Mahaveer and called ‘Arihant’ also (Arihant – one who destroys the enemies of thy self)

After attaining omniscience (Sarvagya – power to know all the subjects of world with their characteristics and all time modifications simultaneously), ‘Gyan-Kalyanaka’ was celebrated. Then a huge & magnificent Samavsharan (Circular auditorium with twelve partitions for all categories of audience) was created by Indra – the Lord of Heaven. His chief disciple was ‘Indrabhuti Gautam’ – called ‘Ganadhar’.

Up to 30 years Bhagwan Mahaveer traversed whole of the country and delivered religious sermons. Bhagwan Mahaveer’s first sermon (called ‘Divya-Dhwani’) was delivered on ‘Vipulachala Hill’ near ‘Rajgrahi’.

Preaches of Bhagwan Mahaveer:- In his preaches Mahaveer gave emphasis on non violence, non attachment and on Anekant and Syadvada. He stated that not only the harm to one’s body or killing is Hinsa / Violence, but intension of harm / killing is also violence. He said that emotions / passions of attachment or aversion are also violence, this is the violence against soul because it harms soul, it causes grief & sorrow to soul. Violence of action as well as violence of dialogue or of thought are harmful to soul. This violence is caused due to affection or aversion and these two are developed in soul due to ignorance of the nature of soul. He said that all the matters in world have infinite characteristics in them, so they are able to perform their modifications without help or interference of others. Being knowledgefull, soul desires to acquire or manage others, but due the freedom of matter regarding modifications, soul fails and feels unhappy. This is great offence of soul to interfere the nature which is the only reason of cycle of death & birth.

To get free from this cycle of world, he said that Ratnatraya (Gems-trio) is the only way. Ratnatraya includes Samyak-Darshan (Right Belief), Samyak-Gyan (Right Knowledge) and Samyak-Charitra (Right Conduct). Ratnatraya is confirmed by self perception. It means that only the correct knowledge and belief of matter’s, soul’s nature, its characteristics and then one’s staying in soul (which is called Samyak Charitra – this only is the meditation or penance) is the correct way for self welfare. When one is engrossed in soul, the evils of soul starts diminishing, purity of soul gets increased. While evils are fully vanished, soul is experienced in his fully pure form, one attains omniscience, attains Godhood.

In all this process of purification of soul, eternal peace & pleasure is experienced, that is unavailable in worldly affairs. He also gave the theory of Karma, theory of Anekant & Syadvada which are unique principals of Jainism.

Bhagwan Mahaveer’s days of Panch Kalyanaka (Days according Indian months)
Garbha Kalyanaka (Day of Conception) Asharha Shukla – 6
Janma Kalyanaka (Day of Birth) Chaitra Shukla – 13
Deeksha Kalyanaka (Day of Accepting Monkhood) Margshirsh Krishna – 10
Gyan Kalyanaka (Day of Attaining Omniscience) Vaishakh Shukla – 10
Nirvan Kalyanaka (Day of Attaining Salvation) Kartik Krishna – 15 (Deepavali)

At last Bhagwan Mahaveer arrived at ‘Pavapur’ where he delivered his last sermon. He attained supreme bliss from Pavapur in morning (Before sunrise) of the day ‘Kartik Krishna – 15’ (the day of Deepavali). At that time ‘Moksha-Kalyanaka’ was celebrated by Devies, Devs, Indra & by all the devotees. In the evening of same day chief Ganadhara of Bhagwan Mahaveer – Indrabhuti Gautam attained omniscience by destroying the eternal cycle of life & death, by winning the evils of soul – affection & aversion and attained Godhood. He also became Bhagwan from that time.

So this day of Bhagwan Mahaveer’s Nirvan is celebrated by whole world as ‘Deepavali’ – the festival of Illumination. These tiny lights inspire a devotee for self enlightenment / self realization and to win the dark of worldly worries / to devoid of all worldly attachments.

Today Bhagwan Mahaveer is not among us, but his preaches are still available and are fully useful in current society and life style too. Main points of his preaching are given below –

Preaching of Bhagwan Mahaveer (Extracts of his sermons): –

  • Every soul is independent. None depends on another.
  • All souls are alike. None is superior or inferior.
  • Every soul is in itself absolutely omniscient and blissful. The bliss does not come from outside.
  • Not only soul, but every object of the universe also, is subject to change by itself, without any external interference, possessing infinite characteristics / properties in itself.
  • All human beings are miserable due to their own faults and they can themselves be happy by rectifying them.
  • The greatest mistake of a soul is non-recognition of its real self and it can only be rectified by recognizing itself.
  • There is no separate existence of God. Every body can attain Godhood by making supreme efforts in the right direction.
  • Know thy self, recognize thy self and be immersed in thy self – you will attain Godhood.
  • God is neither the creator nor the destructor of the universe. He is merely a silent observer and omniscient.
  • One who, even after knowing the whole universe can remain unaffected and unattached, is God.

Preaching of Bhagwan Mahaveer regarding conduct of a man in society –

  • The nature of our soul is knowing, not indulging in passions.
  • Never hurt the feelings of others.
  • Telling lies and intention of telling lies are sins.
  • Theft & intention there of, are evils.
  • Lead a life of self-discipline, never indulge is anger and never have pride of any sort.
  • Deceit and perverseness of feelings should not be indulged in.
  • A greedy person is always unhappy.
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