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the Jain mathematician|Mahāvīra (mathematician)

Jain deity
Vardhamana Mahavira
Last ''Jain Tirthankara''

Ahimsā+, Anekantavada+, Syadavada, Aparigraha+
Asadh Sud 6
Chaitra+ Sud 13
Kartik+ Vad 10
Vaisakh+ Sud 10
Asho+ Vad Amaas (Kartik+ Amavasya / Dipawali+)
Pawapuri+, Bihar+
7 cubits (10.5 feet)
72 years
Siddhayini or Siddhayika

'''Mahavira''' also known as '''Vardhamana''', was the twenty-fourth and last ''tirthankara+'' of Jainism+ of present Avasarpani era (ascending half of the time cycle as per Jain cosmology+).

Mahavira was born into a royal family in what is now Bihar+, India+. His father's name was Siddhartha and mother Trishala. At the age of 30, he left his home in pursuit of spiritual awakening (Diksha+). For the next twelve and a half years, he practiced intense meditation and severe penance, after which he achieved Kevala Jnana+ or enlightenment. He traveled all over Bharat+ (which was larger than today's India+) for the next thirty years to teach Jain philosophy+. Mahavira attained moksha+ at the age of 72. Mahavira was given the title ''Jīnā'', or "Conqueror" (conqueror of inner enemies such as attachment, pride and greed), which subsequently became synonymous with Tirthankara.

Although, there is reasonable evidence to believe that Parshvanatha+, predecessor of Mahavira was a historical figure, still Mahavira is sometimes referred as the founder of Jainism. On this famous Indologist, Heinrich Zimmer+ note:

His childhood name was '''Vardhamana''', which means ''the one who grows'', because of the increased prosperity in the kingdom at the time of his birth. He later came to be known as '''Mahavira''' (a Sanskrit word meaning ''the Great Hero'') because he conquered the world by achieving omniscence. Mahavira has many other titles and epithets, including Vira, Sanmati and Nātaputta. Buddhist+ texts refer to Mahavira as ''Nigaṇṭ ha Ñātaputta'' (son of ''Natas''). This referred to his clan of origin, the ''Ñata'' or ''Naya'' (Prakrit+), the Jnatri (Sanskrit+). He is also known as Sramana.

Historians date Mahavira as living from 497 BC to 425 BC.
Historians have identified three places in Bihar+ as his possible birthplace: Kundagrama (now Basokund in Muzaffarpur district+), first=Pranava K|last=Chaudhary|url=|title=Row over Mahavira's birthplace|publisher=The Times Of India+|date=14 October 2003

Mahavira was born into the royal Kshatriya+ family of King Siddhartha+ and Queen Trishala+ (sister of King Chetaka of Vaishali+). publisher=The Times of India+whereas Śvētāmbara dates his birth in 599 BC. His Gotra+ was Kashyapa.

Traditionally, Kundalapura in the ancient city of Vaishali+ is regarded as his birthplace; however, its location remains unidentified. As the son of a king, Mahavira had all luxuries of life at his disposal. Both his parents were strict followers of Parshvanatha+.

Jain traditions are not unanimous about his marital state. According to one tradition, Digambara+, he was celibate and according to another (Svetambara) he was married young to Yashoda and had one daughter, Priyadarshana.

At the age of 30, Mahavira abandoned all the comforts of royal life and left his home and family to live an ascetic life in the pursuit of spiritual awakening. He went into a park called Sandavana in the surroundings of Kundalpur+. He meditated under the Ashoka tree+. He underwent severe penances, even without clothes. There is graphic description of hardships and humiliation he faced in the ''Acharanga Sutra+''. In the eastern part of Bengal+ he suffered great distress. Boys pelted him with stones, people often humiliated him.

The Kalpa Sūtra+ gives a detailed account of his ascetic life:

According to Kalpa Sūtra+ (122), Mahavira spent forty-two monsoons of his ascetic life at Astikagrama, Champapuri+, Prstichampa, Vaishali+, Vanijagrama, Nalanda+, Mithila+, Bhadrika, Alabhika, Panitabhumi, Shravasti+ and Pawapuri+.

After twelve and a half years of rigorous penance, i.e. at the age of forty-three he achieved omniscience (Kevala Jnana+), The ''Acharanga sutra'' describes Mahavira as all-seeing. The ''Sutrakritanga+'' elaborates the concept as all-knowing and provides details of other qualities of Mahavira.

For a period of 30 years after omniscience, Mahavira traveled far and wide in India to teach his philosophy. According to the tradition, Mahavira had 14,000 ascetics, 36,000 nuns, 159,000 sravakas (laymen) and 318,000 sravikas (laywomen) as his followers. Some of the royal followers included King Srenika (popularly known as Bimbisara+) of Magadha+, Kunika of Anga+ and Chetaka+ of Videha+.

According to Digambara+, Mahavira attained moksha+ (complete liberation), i.e., his soul is believed to have become Siddha (soul at its purest) form in 510 BC whereas Śvētāmbara dates the year as 527 BC. devas do the funeral rites. According to Pravachansar, only nails and hair of tirthankaras are left behind, and rest of the body gets dissolved in the air like camphor. Some Western scholars suggests that this date would have been around 425 BC. Mahavira is usually depicted in a sitting or standing meditative posture with a symbol of a lion under him.

His 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.

* Five ethical principles that were preached by Mahavira:
# Ahimsa+ (Non Violence+)- Mahavira taught that every living being has sanctity and dignity of its own and it should be respected just like we expect our own sanctity and dignity to be respected. In simple words, we should show maximum possible kindness to every living being.
# Satya+ or truthfulness which leads to harmony in society. One should speak truth and respect right of property of each other's in society. One should be true to his own thoughts, words and deeds to create mutual atmosphere of confidence in society.
# Asteya+ or non-stealing which states that one should not take anything if not properly given.
# Brahmacharya+ or chastity which stresses steady but determined restraint over yearning for sensual pleasures.
# Aparigraha+ or non-possession, non-attachment which requires complete detachment from people, places and material property.

Mahavira taught that pursuit of pleasure is an endless game, so we should train our minds to curb individual cravings and passions. That way one does achieve equanimity of mind, mental poise and spiritual balance. One should voluntarily limit acquisition of property as a community virtue which results in social justice and fair distribution of utility commodities. The strong and the rich should not try to suppress the weak and the poor by acquiring limitless property which results in unfair distribution of wealth in society and hence poverty. Attempting to enforce these five qualities by an external and legal authority leads to hypocrisy or secret criminal tendencies. So the individual or society should exercise self-restraint to achieve social peace, security and an enlightened society.

Another fundamental teaching of Mahavira was Anekantavada+ i.e., pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints. Mahāvīra employed anekānta extensively to explain the Jain philosophical concepts. Taking a relativistic viewpoint, Mahāvīra is said to have explained the nature of the soul as both permanent from the point of view of underlying substance (''nīshyānay''), and temporary, from the point of view of its modes and modification.

Mahavira's previous births are discussed in Jain texts such as the ''Trishashtishalakapurusha Charitra+'' and Jinasena+'s ''Mahapurana+''. While a soul undergoes countless reincarnations in transmigratory cycle of saṃsāra+, the births of a Tirthankara+ are reckoned from the time he determined the causes of karma+ and developed the Ratnatraya+. Jain texts discuss twenty-six births of Mahavira prior to his incarnation as a Tirthankara+.
There are various Jain texts describing the life of Mahavira. The most notable of them is the ''Kalpa Sūtra+'' of Bhadrabahu+. The first Sanskrit biography of Mahavira was ''Vardhamacharitra'' by Asaga+ in 853 CE. He was earlier born as the heretical grandson of Rishabha+ known as Marichi+.

Mahavira's teachings influenced many personalities. Mahatma Gandhi+ was greatly influenced by Mahavira and said, "Bhagwan Mahavira is sure to be respected as the highest authority on Ahimsa+. If anyone has practiced to the fullest extent and has propagated most the doctrine of Ahimsa, it was Lord Mahavira."

A major even is associated with the 2500th anniversary of Nirvana of Mahavira in the year 1974. In this context, Padmanabh Jaini+ writes

* Mahaveerashtak Stotra composed by Jain Poet Bhagchand.

* Arihant (Jainism)+
* God in Jainism+
* History of Jainism+
* Timeline of Jainism+
* Siddhashila+

* ''Note: ISBN refers to the UK:Routledge (2001) reprint. URL is the scan version of the original 1884 reprint''


Royal Jains:
Jainism topics:

Mahavira+ Mahavira also known as Vardhamana, was the twenty-fourth and last tirthankara of Jainism of present Avasarpani era (ascending half of the time cycle as per Jain cosmology).
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