Mahavir Swami and Mahatma Buddha both were great exponents of nonviolence,compassion and pity for all creatures. Mahavir Swami was the twenty-fourth Tirthankar (highly placed spiritual leader) of Jains. The Jain religion was given by the first Tirthankar Rishabhdev but Mahavir Swami contributed a lot in its growth. He attached a lot of importance to Tapa (penance) and austerities in Jainism. At the bank of river Gandaki on the outskirts of Vaishali kingdom was the town Kshatriyakundanpur, whose king was Siddharth. His queen was Trishla. She was the daughter of Chetak, the king of Vaishali in Videha area. Mahavir was born to them more than five hundred years before the beginning of Vikram Samvat. Before his birth, his mother saw fourteen strange dreams. In her dreams she had seen a white elephant with four teeth; a well built bull and a lion; the goddess Laxmi sitting on lotus flower; garlands made from Mandar flowers; full moon; bright sun; lotus flowers; deep ocean; royal throne; divine chariot; Nagloka; jewels and smokeless fire. King Siddharth appreciated her dreams a lot and told her that she would give birth to a majestic son and that it is the forecast of the advent of a great soul, who is a Tirthankar and would show the path for salvation to people. As predicted by king Siddharth, queen Trishla was blessed with a son 542 years before the on-set of Vikram Samvat in the morning of the thirteenth day of moonlitnights in the month of Chaitra (March-April), which was a Monday. He was radiatingpeace and glory and his body was shining like molten gold. He was named ‘Vardhman’.

It is said about him that soon after his birth Indra, the king of gods, took him to the Sumeru Mountain and there he gave him a bath with the water of Ksheersagar (mythol.-the ocean of milk, where rests the Lord Vishnu), performed the rituals and then kept him back in the royal palace. Queen Trishla was a noble lady and both queen Trishla and king Siddharth were followers of Jainism. Their influence was deeply engraved on the personality of Vardhman. They brought up Vardhman with great care and love. Vardhman was very gentle, brilliant and well-mannered. His childhood was spent in luxury and affluence but he was inclined towards renunciation, Tapa and detachment and was un-interested in worldly affairs. At the age of eight, Kumar Vardhman used to go out of the city and used to climb up and down on mango trees along with his friends. One, who was the fastest in doing so,was declared as the winner. The winner used to ride on the back of other boys as a token of reward. Once when Kumar Vardhman was busy playing with his friends, the king of gods, Indra praised him a lot for his vigor and strength. This made one of the gods named Sangam to come down to test Kumar Vardhman. He first appeared in the form of a black poisonous snake, having a very wide hood, which frightened the other boys but Kumar Vardhman caught hold of him and threw him away. Immediately he took the form of a boy and started playing with them. Gradually he started growing like a ghost and becamehuge in size. Kumar Vardhman pushed him aside. He started crying and bowed at the feet of Kumar Vardhman. He accepted Kumar Vardhman as a divine being and brought water in a gold-vessel for Kumar Vardhman to take bath and gave him a new name ‘Mahavir’.

Once two Sanyasis (ascetics) named Sanjay and Vijay visited the town. Just a glimpse of Mahavir Swami eliminated all their doubts. They named the prince Kumar Vardhman as “Sanmati’ and left the town. Kumar Vardhman was growing in an environment of Vairagya (detachment). The righteous conduct of his parents acted as a catalyst for him to gain knowledge. He started realizing that the eternal bliss could be gained only through renunciation and that Tapa and self-restraint were extremely important in life. On the insistence of his mother, he married princess Yashoda, daughter of Samarvir-the king of Vasantpur and his queen Padmavati. After some time he begot a daughter named Priyadarshna. Even while living a family life, he was a detached person,who had little interest in the worldly pleasures.Once Kumar Vardhman got deeply attracted towards asceticism. He thought that he had spent twenty-eight years of his life but had not attained the state of Kaivalya-Gyan (complete knowledge of Truth). The death is approaching nearer and nearer everyday but he had not been able to attain the knowledge of eternal-life. All the worldly things are impermanent and nothing else except the Atma (Self) could help the Atma. He sought permission of his mother but she could never think of seeing her son in the attire of a recluse wandering in the jungles and begging for alms. In due course of time after the death of his parents, he firmly made up his mind to renounce the world but had to stay back for another two years on insistence of his younger brother prince Nandivardhan. At last that moment arrived when Kumar Vardhman renounced the world and left for spending his life in Tapa and sadhana. Before entering in to the life of an ascetic, in the twenty-ninth year of his life Mahavir Swami gave away all his wealth in charity. In the thirtieth year he left behind the palace. The bond of attachment had been broken but he was yet to be initiated as an ascetic. He was initiated in the grove of Gratyakhand of the capital city Kundanpur. He removed his black hair himself and gave up all clothes except that were necessary. He bowed before the Siddha-Bhagwan and resolved not to indulge in any sinful act from that day; not to cause any hurt to any creature; not to lie; not to accept anything without being given by the owner thereof; not to accumulate anything and to give up sensual pleasures. He further resolved to forebear all human and natural calamities for the next twelve years and to spend a life of severe Tapa and self-restraint.

He kept his arms spread and did not fold them even when it was cold. He did not eat in night and was fully committed to his resolve of not causing hurt to others. Through self realization he gained the knowledge of the impermanence of worldly things and thereby subjugated his mind, body and speech. Seeing the world burning in the fire of pain and sorrows, he found the path of salvation and peace. In the thirteenth year of his ascetic life he attained the state of Kaivlyagyan (knowledge of Truth-the state of self-realization) under a Sal-tree. He became a Tirthankar. He had become weak and his body had shrunk but every cell of his body wasradiating divine glory. He walked through about twelve Yojan (a traditional measure of distance-reckoned variously as between about four and eighteen miles) in the night and reached Pawa from village Jamiya where great scholars and Pundits were performing Yagya (sacrificial act) at the residence of Somil-Brahman. When they learnt about Mahavir Swami’s arrival, they including the chief priest Pundit Indrabhuti, Vayubhuti and other eleven scholars went to listen to the sermon of Jineshwar Mahavir. On finding that all their doubts had been resolved they became disciples of Mahavir Swami. He told them that it was not correct to say that the world was non-existent (Shunya), it is real;what is known directly through conscious knowledge is the Atma. The inert actions are different from Atma and they fructify through association with the qualities of Atma.

Punya (virtue) and Paap (sins) result from the pleasant or sad outcome of the good or bad deeds. Mahavir Swami established a Sangha (a group of people-his disciples), based on eight principles. These principles included Atm-jay (winning over one’s own self); Ahimsa (not to hurt-non-violence); Vrat (fasting); Vinay (humility); Sheel (moral conduct); Maitri (fellow-feeling); Sambhav (treating everyone with equality) and Pramod (delight-happiness).

Mahavir Swami walked on foot from one village to another spreading the message of his Kaivlyagyan. The number of his disciples also started increasing, which included even kings and many other prominent persons. He visited many big cities including Ujjaini and Kaushambi. Once he reached the deadly burial ground of Ujjaini in night. Once a poisonous snake named Chand-Kausik bit him causing severe pain to him.This serpent was a yogi in his previous births but had not been able to win over his anger, as aresult of which in this birth he was born as a serpent. Mahavir Swami gave sermon to the snake to understand his own self. The snake came out of his ignorance and gained the knowledge of Self. Large number of people used to visit him to benefit from his Kaivlyagyan. At the age of seventy-two Mahavir Swami left this mortal world. His body had become very weak. He was spending his last Chaturmasya (the period of four months of rainy season during which the monks stop traveling and stay at one place) at Pawa when he started passing blood in stool. In the mid-night of the last day of the dark-fortnight of Kartik month, Mahavir Swami attained Paramgati (attained the highest state). His last words to his disciple Anand were that the cessation of attachment towards self is selfrealization; following the path of self-restraint and Tapa is worthy and that the path ofpeace and Ahimsa was the real Dharma-Marg (the path of Dharma).