JAINISM (C. 539 - 467 B.C.)

Jainism originated in the 6th century B.C. It rejected Vedic religion and avoided its rituals. Vardamana Mahavira was the founder of Jainism. But the Jains believe that their religion had been founded long ago by Rishaba Deva. Rishabha Deva was succeeded by 23 Thirthankaras (prophets). Mahavira was the 24th Thirthankara. It is believed that Rishabha Deva was the father of King Bharata, the first Chakravatin king of India.

Vardamana was born in 539 B.C. in a village called Kundagrama near Vaisali in Bihar. His father was Siddhartha. He was the head of a famous Kshatriya clan. His mother was Trisala. She was a princess of the Lichchavi clan. She was the sister of the ruler of Vaisali.

Vardamana was married to Yasoda, a princess. They had a daughter. In the beginning he led a life of luxury and pleasure. But gradually, his attitude about life changed. He became disgusted with life in general and the Vedic religion in particular. At the age of 30, he left his home and family. He became an ascetic (monk). He wandered from place to place in search of truth for 12 years. At the age of 42, he conquered his senses. He attained the greatest Spiritual knowledge or Kaivalya. He stopped wearing clothes. He was now called Mahavira (great Hero) or Jina (conqueror). He taught his religion for the next 30 years in places such as Kosala, Magadha, Mithila and Champa. He died at the age of 72 in 467 B C at a place called Pavapuri near modern Rajgir.

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