About Me

I have done a lot of things in my life and have also worked in many different jobs to make a living and to experience life. This blog is just some of my musings, sometimes funny, sometimes inspirational, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes simple but all the time, it's just me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

महावीर அருகன் Mahavir

I am all-knowing and all-seeing,
and possessed of an infinite knowledge.
Whether I am walking or standing still,
whether I sleep or remain awake,
the supreme knowledge and intuition
are present with me---constantly and continuously.
There are, O Nirgranthas, some sinful acts
you have done in the past,
which you must now wear out
by this acute form of austerity.
Now that here you will be living restrained
in regard to your acts, speech and thought,
it will work as the non doing of karma for future.
Thus, by the exhaustion of the force of past deeds
through penance and the non-accumulation of new acts,
(you are assured) of the stoppage of the future course,
of rebirth from such stoppage,
of the destruction of the effect of karma,
from that, of the destruction of pain,
from that, of the destruction of mental feelings,
and from that, of the complete wearing out
of all kinds of pain.
~ Majjhima Nikaya

Mahavir महावीर
Arugan or Arugadevan அருகன்

It is the name most commonly used to refer to the Jain Indian sage Vardhamana who established what are today considered to be the central tenets of Jainism.

According to Jain tradition, he was the 24th and the last Tirthankar.

Many believed and as written in scriptures, he was born on 599 BC and ascended on 527 BC.

He is also sometimes known as Wira or Wiraprabhu, Sanmati, Ativira,and Gnatputra. In the Buddhist Pali Canon, he is referred to as Nigantha Nātaputta.

Yes, so our Proton Wira is technically named after Mahavir.

In a place called Kundalagrama, District Vaishali, Bihar, 27 miles from Patna in modern day Bihar, India, Mahavira was born to King Siddartha and Queen Trishala on the 13th day under the rising moon of Chaitra (April 12, 599BC according to the Gregorian calendar).

I am sure there is some coincidence that he was born in April 12 on a year of a Rooster in the Chinese Zodiac and an Aries in the Western Zodiac. Coincidentally, he also ascended on the year of a Rooster in 527 BC.

I was born on April 6 on a year of a Rooster as well as an Aries.

While still in his mother's womb it is believed he brought wealth and prosperity to the entire kingdom.

Which is why he was named Vardhaman. An increase of all good things, like the abundant bloom of beautiful flowers, was noticed in the kingdom after his conception.

Queen Trishala had a number of auspicious dreams before giving birth to Vardhaman, signs foretelling the advent of a great soul.

Jain tradition states that after his birth, Indra bathed him in celestial milk with rituals befitting a future Tirthankar and he was returned to his mother, Trishala.

Vardhaman's birthday is celebrated as Mahavir Jayanti, the most important religious holiday of Jains around the world.

As King Siddartha's son, he lived as a prince.

At that tender age he exhibited a virtuous nature. He started engaging in meditation and immersed himself in self-contemplation. He was interested in the core beliefs of Jainism and began to distance himself from worldly matters.

However, he did not renounce his kingdom and family at a young age because his parents said they would be sad.

As he did not want to incur further karma of the sadness of his parents, he remained a prince.

After his parents died and his elder brother assumed the kingdom, he assisted his brother for a few years.

Finally, with his brother's blessings, at the age of thirty, Mahavir renounced his kingdom and family, gave up his worldly possessions, and spent twelve years as an ascetic.

During these twelve years he spent most of his time meditating. He gave utmost regard to other living beings, including humans, animals and plants, and avoided harming them. He had given up all worldly possessions including his clothes, and lived an extremely austere life.

He exhibited exemplary control over his senses while enduring the penance during these years. His courage and bravery earned him the name Mahavir.

These were the golden years of his spiritual journey at the end of which he achieved arihant status.

Mahavir devoted the rest of his life to preaching the eternal truth of spiritual freedom to people around India.

He traveled barefoot and without clothes, enduring harshest of climates, meeting people from all walks of life who came to listen to his message.

At one point Mahavira had over 37,000,000 followers.

Mahavira's preaching and efforts to explain Jain philosophy is considered the real catalyst to the spread of this ancient religion throughout India.

At the age of 72 years and 4 and a half months, he attained Nirvana in the area known as Pavapuri, Nalanda, Bihar on the last day of the Indian and Jain calendars, Dewali.

Jains celebrate this as the day he attained liberation or Moksha.

He organized his followers, into a four fold order, namely monk (Sadhu), nun (Sadhvi), layman (Shravak), and laywoman (Shravika). Later on they are known as Jains.

The ultimate objective of his teaching is how one can attain the total freedom from the cycle of birth, life, pain, misery, and death, and achieve the permanent blissful state of one's self. This is also known as liberation, nirvana, absolute freedom, or Moksha.

He explained that from eternity, every living being (soul) is in bondage of karmic atoms, that are accumulated by its own good or bad deeds.

Under the influence of karma, the soul is habituated to seek pleasures in materialistic belongings and possessions. Which are the deep rooted causes of self-centered violent thoughts, deeds, anger, hatred, greed, and such other vices.

These result in accumulating more karma.

According to Jain scholars, Mahavir himself had 27 life including his last life.

Mahavira’s previous births are discussed in many Jain texts like Trisastisalakapurusa Charitra and Uttarapurana.

While a soul undergoes countless reincarnations in transmigratory cycle of samsara, the births of a Tirthankara are reckoned from the time he secures samyaktva or Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma.

His 27 lives were as follows:
  1.  Nayasara – A village headman who secured or partial enlightenment in this birth on account of preaching of true dharma by Jain monks.
  2. Demi-god in First Saudharma (Name of Heaven as per Jain cosmology)
  3. Prince Marichi – Grandson of Rsabha, the first Tirthankara.
  4. Demi-god in Fifth Brahma (Name of heaven as per Jain cosmology)
  5. Kaushika – A Brahmin
  6. Pushyamitra – A Brahmin
  7. Demi-god in First Saudharma
  8. Agnidyota – A Brahmin
  9. Demi-god in Second Ishana (Name of heaven as per Jain cosmology)
  10. Agnibhuti – A Brahmin
  11. Demi-god in Third Saudharma
  12. Bharadwaja – A Brahmin
  13. Demi-god in Fourth Mahendra (Name of Heaven as per Jain cosmology)
  14. Sthavira – A Brahmin
  15. Demi-god in Fifth Brahma
  16. Prince Vishvabhuti
  17. Demi-god in Seventh Mahashukra (Name of heaven as per Jain cosmology)
  18. Triprishtha Vasudeva – First Vasudeva of this half-time-cycle
  19. Naraka in the seventh hell
  20. A lion
  21. Naraka in the fourth hell
  22. A human being (Name unknown)
  23. Priyamitra – A Chakvartin (The universal ruler of seven continents)
  24. Demi-god in Seventh Mahashukra (Name of heaven as per Jain cosmology)
  25. Prince Nandana – Accepted the vow of self control and gained Tirthankara nama karma.
  26. Demi-god in tenth Pranata (Name of heaven as per Jain cosmology)
  27. Vardhamana Mahavira (The final birth)
He preached that right faith (samyak-darshana), right knowledge (samyak-jnana), and right conduct (samyak-charitra) together will help attain the liberation of one's self.

At the heart of right conduct for Jains lie the five great vows:
Nonviolence (Ahimsa) - not to cause harm to any living beings
Truthfulness (Satya) - to speak the harmless truth only
Non-stealing (Asteya) - not to take anything not properly given
Chastity (Brahmacharya) - not to indulge in sensual pleasure
Non-possession/Non-attachment (Aparigraha) - complete detachment

A lot of the information above is taken from various sources from the Internet. There are not many books in English about Mahavir or Janism.

As the Internet goes, there are some truths and some fiction. In my younger days and researching, I concluded that Mahavir was not married. However, some sites have said that he was married and had a daughter and his wife was Yashodhara. The thing is, Yashodhara was actually Siddhartha Buddha's wife.

Some of these confusions come around because both Budha (563-483 BC) and Mahavir (599-527 BC) existed in their last lives and maybe even previous lives together. They may even have met, they may even have been friends - considering both were Princes.

Over the years, when I was younger, my knowledge of Jainism and Mahavir came from my mother.

I would pray to God and the tirthankars especially Mahavir and Mahavir would provide me with guidance and direction.

As I grew up and became "educated", I started dabbling into other guardians and prophets. I read and studied the Bible, the Quran, the Buddhist scriptures and books, the Kabbalah, L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology, Indigenous religions.

Over the years, I have always known there is just one God, one supreme Universal power, one Allah, one and only one.

He sent us many guardians and teachers all over the world to teach us about life and love. Sometimes about pain and suffering. Sometimes about faith and hope.

Mahavir has been prominent in my life. And it could be Jesus in yours, or Mohammad or Buddha. They are all miracles, if you believe in miracles. I do.

They all teach us to be better, to love, to be one with God.

I love you. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.

Take care and be well.

1 comment:

Sneha said...

great post Nil..I read somewhere that our birth cycle stops when we achive our final goal and we reach to stage where our soul is free from all soughts of emotions. After 26 births, Mahavir's soul has achived Nirvana...
Thanks for sharing...