Mahavira (around 599)
Mahavira in the Jain tradition was the 24 thand last Tirthankara (one how has achieved
enlightment). Born into a Kings household, Mahavira started engaging in mediation and was
interesting the core beliefs of Jainism. At the age of 30, he gave up his world possessions and
spent 12 years as an ascetic. Janism is complete perfection and purification of the soul. Our soul
is diluted by karmic actors from billions of years ago. The purpose of the mahavera is to purify
the living by breaking the karmic cycle.
During these 12 years he spent most of his time mediating. He gave outmost regard to
other living bodies (humans, animals, plants) and avoided harming them. At the age of 42 , he
became a Jina and then devoted the rest of his life into preaching the eternal truth of spiritual
freedom to the people in India. He travelled barefoot without clothes. He taught 5 great Jain
vows: Ahimsa (non violence) Satya (truthfulness) Asteya (No n stealing) Brahmachara (chastity,
no sensual pleasure) and Aparigraha (non attachment)
5 Great Vows: Right knowledge, right faith, and right conduct are the three most essential for
attain liberation in Jainism. In order to acquire these, one must observ e the five great vows.
1) Ahimsa, Non violence: None violence is the supreme principle of Jainism as it repeatedly
said in the Jain literature, “Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture,
or kill any creature or living being.” Accordin g to Jainism, all living things are equal and
no living being has the right to harm another, therefore violence of everything is
forbidden. Nonviolence in Jainism is not a negative virtue if it based if one the positive
quality of universal love and compas sion. One who lives by this cannot be indifferent to
the suffering of others.
2) Satya, Truth: Anger, greed, fear and jokes are breeding grand’s of untruth. To speak the
truth requires moral courage, only those who have conquered greed, gear, anger, jealous
and ego can speak truth. Jainism insists that truth is to be observed in speech, mind and
3) Asteya, non stealing: Stealing consists of taking another’s property without his consent,
or by injustice immoral methods. Jainism emphasis ones duty to not t ake something that
is not his. The vow of non-stealing insists that one should totally be honest in action,
thought, and speech.
4) Brachmachrya, Chastity: Total retrain from sensual pleasure which is not limited to
physical pleasure but also thinking of plea sure. Sensual pl