Mahavira, also known as Vardhamana, was the twenty-fourth and last tirthankara.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.Buddhist texts refer to Mahavira as Nigaṇṭha Jnataputta. Nigaṇṭha means "without knot, tie, or string" and Jnataputta (son of Natas), referred to his clan of origin Jnata or Naya. He is also known as Sramana.
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.He spent the next twelve years in deep silence and meditation to conquer his desires and feelings. He went without food for long periods. He carefully avoided harming or annoying other living beings including animals, birds, and plants.He spent the next thirty years travelling on bare feet around India preaching to the people the eternal truth he realized. He attracted people from all walks of life, rich and poor, kings and commoners, men and women, princes and priests, touchables and untouchables.Mahavir explained that from eternity, every living being (soul) due to its ignorance is in bondage of karmic atoms. Then these karmic atoms are continuously accumulated by our good or bad deeds. Under the influence of karma, the soul is habituated to seek pleasures in materialistic belongings and possessions.
Mahavira's philosophy has eight cardinal (law of trust) principles, three metaphysical (dravya, jiva and ajiva), and five ethical. The objective is to elevate the quality of life.
Mahavira's teachings form the Basics of the Jain texts.The five ethnical principle of his teachings were :
1. Nonviolence (Ahimsa) - not to cause harm to any living beings
2. Truthfulness (Satya) - to speak the harmless truth only
3. Non-stealing (Asteya) - not to take anything not properly given
4. Chastity (Brahmacharya) - not to indulge in sensual pleasure
5. Non-possession/Non-attachment (Aparigraha) - complete detachment from people, places, and material things.
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.He also rejected the concept of gods and goddesses for various purposes.
He taught that we ourselves produce our own fate by our own actions and emotions: we should not look outside for some god to praise or blame or ask for favors. When we honor Mahavira we do not ask him for present help, but we meditate on his example and teachings and seek to draw the real meaning of these into our own life and spirit.
Mahavir had a great influnce on many people's life.He died, according to tradition, in 527 B.C. at Pava in located in Bihar state.