Lord Mahavir was the twenty fourth and last Tirthankara of the Jain religion of this era. According to Jain philosophy, all Tirthankaras were human beings but they have attained a state of perfection or enlightenment through meditation and self-realization. They are the Gods of Jains. The concept of God as a creator, protector, and destroyer of the universe does not exist in Jainism. Also the idea of God's reincarnation as a human being to destroy the demons is not accepted in Jainism. Lord Mahavir was born on the thirteenth day of rising moon of Chaitra month, 599 B.C. in the state of Bihar, India. This day falls in the month of April as per English calendar. His birthday is celebrated as Mahavir Jayanti day.
Mahavir was a prince and was given the name Vardhaman by his parents. Being son of a king, he had many worldly pleasures, comforts, and services at his command. But at the age of thirty, he left his family and royal household, gave up his worldly possessions, and become a monk in search of a solution to eliminate pain, sorrow, and sufferings.
Mahavir preached that right faith (samyak darshana), right knowledge (samyak jnana), and right conduct (samyak charitra) together is the real path to attain the liberation from karmic matter of one's self. At the age of 72 (527 B.C.), Mahavir Swami attained nirvana or enlightenment and his purified soul left his body and achieved complete liberation. He became a Siddha, a pure consciousness, a liberated soul, living forever in a state of complete bliss. On the night of his nirvan, people celebrated the Festival of Lights (Dipavali) in his honor. This is the last day of Hindu and Jain calendar year known as Dipavali Day.
Significant points of Teachings of Lord Mahavir:
- Mahavir made religion simple and natural, free from elaborate ritual complexities. His teachings reflected the internal beauty and harmony of the soul.
- Mahavir taught the idea of supremacy of human life and stressed the importance of the positive attitude of life.
- Mahavir's message of nonviolence (Ahimsa), truth (Satya), non stealing (Achaurya), celibacy (Brahma charya), and non possession (Aparigraha) is full of universal compassion.
- Mahavir said that, "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). Mahavir's message reflects freedom and spiritual joy of the living being.
- Mahavir emphasized that all living beings, irrespective of their size, shape, and form how spiritually developed or undeveloped, are equal and we should love and respect them. This way he preached the gospel of universal love.
- Mahavir rejected the concept of God as a creator, a protector, and a destroyer of the universe. He also denounced the worshiping of gods and goddesses as a means of material gains and personal benefits.