Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, the last Tï¿½rthaï¿½kara of
the Jainas, is described as a supreme personality and acknowledged as ï¿½a great
Brï¿½hmaï¿½aï¿½, ï¿½a great guardianï¿½, ï¿½a great guideï¿½, ï¿½a great preacherï¿½, ï¿½a great
pilotï¿½, and ï¿½a great recluseï¿½.1 Around his personality there
gathered a large number of men and women belonging to different castes and
classes. His disciples and followers sincerely believed that their master
whether walking or sitting, was gifted with supreme knowledge and vision of the
Summum bonum. It is this earnest belief in the greatness of the Teacher
that induced them to repose their trust in him and his words. To them, he stood
as a living example of the highest human virtue and perfection. His life was to
them a perennial source of light and inspiration. His sufferings and forbearance
kept them steady in all their trials and tribulations, and his teachings and
instructions were for them not ordinary words but utterances of one who saw the
light of truth and was able to lead others along the path to enlightenment.
ï¿½Mahï¿½vï¿½raï¿½ was not the personal name
of the religious teacher. He was better known to his contemporaries as Nigaï¿½ï¿½ha
Nï¿½ta-putta ï¿½ Nigaï¿½ï¿½ha of the Nï¿½ta or Nï¿½ya clan. This name is composed of two
separate epithets, Nigaï¿½ï¿½ha and Nï¿½taputta, the first of which is religious and
the second secular. He was Nigaï¿½ï¿½ha (Nirgrantha) in a literal senseï¿½unclothed
without and free from all worldly bonds and ties within. He was called Nï¿½taputta
because he was a scion of the Nï¿½ya, Nï¿½ta2 or Jï¿½ï¿½tï¿½, clan of the Kshatriyas.
Just as the Buddha was called ï¿½ï¿½kyaputta because he was a scion of ï¿½ï¿½kya clan,
so was Mahï¿½vï¿½ra called Nï¿½taputta because he was a scion of the Nï¿½ta
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, the Tirthankara passed
through in his own life-time five Kalyaï¿½akas, which are the five noble events in
the life of a Tï¿½rthaï¿½kara. These five Kalyï¿½ï¿½akas (pious events) are : (1)
Garbha-Kalyï¿½ï¿½aka, (Conception - event), (2) Janma Kalyï¿½ï¿½aka (Birth-event), (3)
Tapa-Kalyï¿½ï¿½aka (Austerity-event), (4) Jï¿½ï¿½na-Kalyï¿½ï¿½aka (Knowldge-event) and (5)
Nirvï¿½ï¿½a Kalyï¿½ï¿½aka (Liberation-event). These Kalyï¿½ï¿½akas are auspicious and
enï¿½obling for the worldly beings at large, (1) When Tirthankara Mahavira was
conceived, the mother saw dreams which pointed to the birth of a Tirthankara, by
virtue of which the parents rejoiced and damsels took care of the mother. (2)
When Tirthankara Mahavira was born, Indra eulogised the mother. The beauty of
the child (Mahavira) was capturing. Indra, the celestial being saw the child
with one thousand eyes and even then he did not get full satisfaction. Peace
prevailed throughout. (3) In Tapa-Kalyï¿½ï¿½aka, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra became detached from
worldly pleasures and adopted the life of asceticism. (4) In the Jï¿½ï¿½na-Kalyï¿½ï¿½ak,
Mahavira attained omniscience as a result of the performance of Dhyana. And
consequently, he delivered sermons in Samavasaraï¿½a (religious assembly) and
propagated the religions of Ahimsa by going to different places. By the effect
of Kevalajï¿½ï¿½a (omniscience), the environment was charged with spiritual
atmosphere and nature and all the beings were affected in various ways. (5) The
Nirvï¿½ï¿½a-Kalyï¿½ï¿½aka of Mahavira means the attainment of Moksa (liberation) with
the result that the body is relinquished1.
The Jaina tradition places the birth
of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra in the year 599 B.C. He belonged to Kï¿½ï¿½yapa gotra. He was the
son of Kï¿½atriya Siddhï¿½rtha, also known as ï¿½reyï¿½ï¿½sa and Yaï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½a, and of
Kï¿½atriyï¿½ï¿½i Triï¿½alï¿½, also known as Videhadattï¿½ and Priyakï¿½riï¿½i of the Vasiï¿½ï¿½ha
Gotra.3 His mother was the sister (according to Digambaras, daughter) of
Ceï¿½aka, one of the kings of Vaiï¿½alï¿½. His parents, both lay followers of Pï¿½rï¿½va,
were pious and chaste, virtuous and strict. They rigorously observed the
principles of Jainism.
One incident regarding the birth of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, which has been mentioned by some ï¿½vetï¿½mbara works, can not be ignored.
It is said that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was first conceived in the womb of a Brï¿½hmin lady
called Devï¿½nandï¿½ but was later transferred to the womb of Triï¿½alï¿½ Khattiyï¿½nï¿½.
The Bhagavatï¿½ Sï¿½tra puts this episode into the mouth of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra himself.
The incident as described there relates to Devï¿½nandï¿½ and Uï¿½abhadatta, the
original parents, coming to see Mahï¿½vï¿½ra when the latter had become famous as a
preacher. On seeing Mahï¿½vira milk began to flow from the breast of Devï¿½nandï¿½ due
to the strong motherly love she bore towards him. Gotama asked his Master the
reason for this upon which the latter admitted that he was the son of Devï¿½nandï¿½.
The text goes on to say that these original parents of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra accepted the
order of their Jaina son.5
Curiously enough, the tradition
about the transfer of the womb goes back to the beginning of the Christian era
or even earlier, as it is found depicted in one of the Mathura
Sculptures.6 This incident regarding the
transfer of the womb has been discredited by the
Before birth, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's mother is
said to have seen a number of dreams. According to the ï¿½vetï¿½mbaras, they
numbered fourteen. In these fourteen dreams, according to the Kalpa
Sï¿½tra, were seen (1) an elephant; (2) a bull; (3) a lion; (4) the anointing
of the goodess ï¿½ri; (5) a garland; (6) the moon; (7) the sun; (8) a flag; (9) a
vase; (10) a lotus lake; (11) an ocean; (12) a celestial abode; (13) a heap
of jewels and (14) a flame. The Digambaras, who describe sixteen dreams, insert
the visions of a throne of diamonds and rubies, and also of a great king of the
gods dwelling below the earth. They also assert that she saw the sun before she
dreamt about the moon. In place of a flag, they affirm that she saw two fishes.
They also assert that she witnessed two vases instead of one, filled with pure
water. The interpreters foretold that the child would become either a universal
monarch or a Tirthankara possessing all possible
The early scriptures of both the
ï¿½vetï¿½mbaras7 and the Digambaras8 agree that Kuï¿½ï¿½apura or Kuï¿½ï¿½agrï¿½ma
was the birthplace of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. After examining the evidence contained in the
ï¿½cï¿½rï¿½ï¿½ga Sï¿½tra9, the
Sï¿½trakï¿½itï¿½ï¿½ga10, the Kalpa
Sï¿½tra11, the Uttarï¿½dhyayana
Sï¿½tra12 and the
Bhagavati-Sï¿½tra-Tï¿½ka13, it becomes clear that Jainism had
a great stronghold in the area of Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½-Kuï¿½ï¿½apura of the Videha country during
this period and that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was closely associated with this area. The name
Visï¿½lie i.e. Vaiï¿½ï¿½lika was given to Mahï¿½vï¿½ra in the
Sï¿½tra-Kï¿½itï¿½ï¿½ga. Vaiï¿½alika apparently means a native of Vaiï¿½alï¿½,
the capital of Videha country. Thus it is clear that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was born at
Kuï¿½ï¿½apura near Vaiï¿½alï¿½ in the Videha country.
From the seventh century onwards,
the gradual decline of Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ began and the Jainas came to forget the
birthplace of the last Tï¿½rthaï¿½kara. Some Digambara Jaina works14 place Vaiï¿½ï¿½li under Caeï¿½aka in
Sindhu-Viï¿½aya or Sindhu-deï¿½a. To them Tirabhukti became Sindhu-Viï¿½aya.
Evidently, however, Vaiï¿½ï¿½li was not situated in Sindhu-Sauvï¿½ra. K. P. Jain15 suggests two reasons for this
confusion. Firstly, it may be that the authors have equated Sindhu-deï¿½a with
Vï¿½jideï¿½a16, and, secondly, there might have
been a confusion especially because Ujjayini in Avanti, too, was called
Viï¿½ï¿½lï¿½17, and there was the Sindhu river in
the adjoining territory for which reason it was called Sindhu-deï¿½a in the middle
ages (8th to 15th centuries A.D.). Since the Digambara writers, K. P. Jain
adds, lived more in the Ujjayinï¿½ region, they appear to have confused Ujjayini
(which was also called Viï¿½ï¿½lï¿½) with the Viï¿½ï¿½lï¿½, little knowing that another
Viï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ different from their own existed in Eastern India.
Efforts have recently been made to
find out the birthplace of Lord Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, the son of the Jï¿½ï¿½tï¿½ka leader of
Kshatriya-Kuï¿½ï¿½apura or Kuï¿½ï¿½alapura and the maternal son of a Lichchhavi chief.
While the Digambara Jainas found a village called Kuï¿½ï¿½alapura near Nï¿½landï¿½, the
ï¿½vetï¿½mbara Jainas found a site called Kshatriyakuï¿½ï¿½a near the village Lachhwï¿½d
or Lachhuï¿½r in South Monghyr. These came to be regarded as the birthplaces of
Lord Mahï¿½vï¿½ra by the respective sects. Temples and Dharmaï¿½ï¿½lï¿½s were
constructed and the Jaina pilgrims began to pour into these places. Thus while
the real birthplace was forgotten, other places came to be recognized as
The present site, Kshatriyakuï¿½ï¿½a,
near Lachavï¿½da, can not be the birthplace of Lord Mahï¿½vï¿½ra because it formed
part of Aï¿½ga, and not of Videha. Modern Kï¿½atriyakuï¿½ï¿½a is situated on the
mountain while there are no references to mountains in connection with ancient
Kï¿½atriyakuï¿½ï¿½a of Kuï¿½ï¿½apura in the Jaina scriptures. Near the present
Kï¿½atriyakuï¿½ï¿½a, no traces of such ancient places as Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½, Vï¿½ï¿½ijyagrï¿½ma,
Kollï¿½ga-Sanniveï¿½a and Karmï¿½ragrï¿½ma are found. The nullaha near it is not the
In the Mahï¿½vagga of the
Buddhists, it has been said that Buddha, while sojourning at Kotiggï¿½ma, was
visited by the courtezan Ambapï¿½li and the Lichchhavis of the neighbouring
capital, Vaiï¿½alï¿½. From Kotiggï¿½ma, he went to where the Nï¿½tikas lived. There he
lodged in the Nï¿½tika Brick Hall. From there he went to Vaiï¿½ï¿½li where he
converted the general-in-chief (of the Lichchhavis), a lay disciple of the
Nirgranthas. H. Jacobi
has identified Koï¿½iggï¿½ma of the Buddhists with Kuï¿½ï¿½agï¿½ma of the Jainas. Apart
from the similarity of the names, the reference to the Nï¿½tikas, apparently
identical with the Jï¿½ï¿½trka Kï¿½atriyas to whose clan Mahï¿½vï¿½ra belonged, and to
Sï¿½ha, the Jaina, points to the same direction. Kuï¿½ï¿½agrï¿½ma, therefore, was
probably one of the suburbs of Vaisï¿½lï¿½, the capital of Videha. This conjecture
is borne out by the name Vesï¿½lie, i.e. Vaï¿½sï¿½lika given to Mahï¿½vï¿½ra
in the Sï¿½trakï¿½itï¿½ï¿½ga. Vaiï¿½ï¿½lika apparently means a native of
Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½; and Mahï¿½vï¿½ra could rightly be called as such when Kuï¿½ï¿½agrama was a
suburb of Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½. The
identification of Koï¿½iggï¿½ma with Kuï¿½ï¿½apura seems to be doubtful, and both seem
to be independent villages.
A.F.R. Hoernle19 has clearly shown that Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ is
the birthplace of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. Vï¿½ï¿½iyagï¿½ma was another name of the well-known city
of Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½, the capital of the Lichchhavi country. This city, commonly called
Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½, occupied a very extended area, which included within its precinet,
besides Veï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ proper, several other places such as Vï¿½ï¿½iyagï¿½ma and Kuï¿½ï¿½agï¿½ma.
They still exist as villages called Bï¿½niyï¿½ and Basukuï¿½ï¿½a.
The identification of Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ with
the group of remains associated with the village of Basï¿½ï¿½h in Muzaffarpur
District, some forty km. to the north of Patna, is conclusively proved by the
survival of the ancient name with only slight modifications; by the geographical
bearings taken from Patna and other places; by the topographical details
compared with the description recorded by Yuan Chwang, the Chinese pilgrim in
the seventh century and by the finding on the spot of sealings of letters
inscribed with the name Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½.20
The identification of ancient
Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ and Kuï¿½ï¿½agï¿½ma or Kuï¿½ï¿½apura with Basï¿½ï¿½h and Basukuï¿½ï¿½a respectively has
been supported by several other scholars such as T. Bloch21, S. Stevenson22, N. L. Dey23 and B. C. Law24. Some of these scholars consider
Kuï¿½ï¿½apura, Vï¿½ï¿½iyagï¿½ma, Kollï¿½ga Sanniveï¿½a and Karmï¿½gagrï¿½ma to be the suburbs of
Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½. This view does not seem to be correct. These were independent villages
which may be identified with the modern villages of Basukuï¿½ï¿½a, Baniyï¿½, Koluï¿½ and
Kï¿½mana Chaparï¿½gï¿½chï¿½ respectively. Brï¿½hmaï¿½akuï¿½ï¿½a and Kï¿½atriyakuï¿½ï¿½a were the two
wards of Kuï¿½ï¿½apura, and between them was situated Bahuï¿½ï¿½la Caitya. Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ and
Kuï¿½ï¿½apura were situated on the eastern bank of the Gaï¿½ï¿½akï¿½ river, while
Karmï¿½ragrï¿½ma, Kollï¿½ga Sanniveï¿½a,25 Vï¿½nijyagrï¿½ma and Dvipalï¿½ï¿½a
Caitya on the west.
There are scriptural anecdotes, and
miracles connected with the childhood of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. It is stated in them that his
birth was celebrated alike by gods and men, and it was received by his parents
with the loftiest expectations. On the day of his birth, the prisoners in
Kuï¿½ï¿½apura were released. Festivals kept the whole town vibrant in mirth and joy
for ten days after which many offerings were made to the gods.26 His parents named him
ï¿½Vardhamï¿½naï¿½27 or the ï¿½Prosperous oneï¿½, because
with his birth, the wealth, fame and merit of the family
The two ascetics, Sanjaya and
Vijaya, harboured some doubts about
the nature of some object. As their misgiving immediately disappeared at the
sight of Tirthankara Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, they therefore gave him the name Sanmati
The scriptures of both the
ï¿½vetï¿½mbaras and the Digambaras relate the legends of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's supreme valour
and how easily he excelled all his companions in strength and physical endurance
during boyhood. One day, playing with his friends in the garden of his father,
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra saw an elephant, mad with fury and secration flowing from his temples,
rushing towards him. His companions, all boys, shocked and frightened at the
sight of this imminent danger, deserted their comrade and ran away. Without
losing a moment, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra made up his mind to face the danger squarely, went
towards the elephant, caught hold of his trunk with strong hands and mounted his
back at once. Because of controlling & pacifying on amuck elephant, he was
Another legend tells how, when
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was playing with the same children at ï¿½mbali pipalï¿½ (a sort of
ï¿½tickï¿½ or ï¿½tigï¿½) among the trees, a god disguised as a dreadful snake appeared
on a tree. All his companions were alarmed and fled away. Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, mustering
courage, remained calm. He caught hold of the snake and threw it away. The god
again decided to frighten the child by carrying him high up into the sky on his
shoulders. Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, however, was not in the least alarmed, and seizing this
opportunity of showing his superiority over the petty goods whacked from and
pulled his hair so hard that he was only too ready to bend down and get rid of
his obstreperous burden.29 As Vardhman stood fast in the midst
of dangers and fears, patiently enduring all hardships and calamities, adhering
to the chosen rules of penance, and as he was wise, indifferent to pleasure and
pain alike, rich in self-control and gifted with fortitude, the name
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was given to him. As he was devoid of love and hate, he was
In person, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra seems to have
been handsome and impressive. He was possessed of a very keen
intellect.31 The Kalpa
Sï¿½tra32 mentions that from his very birth,
he possessed ï¿½supreme, unlimited and unimpeded knowledge and intuition.ï¿½
Life of a
On the question of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's
marriage, there is a fundamental difference of detail between the Digambara and
the ï¿½vetï¿½mbara accounts. The Digambara works33 deny the fact of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's
marriage. On the other hand, in the ï¿½vetï¿½mbara accounts,34 there is an allusion to his
marriage. In his youth, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's was, however, given to contemplation and had
begun to entertain plans of renunciation. His parents tried to solve the problem
by marrying him off to a beautiful young woman, Yaï¿½odï¿½, a Kï¿½atriya lady of
Kauï¿½ï¿½inya Gotra, who soon presented him with a daughter named Aï¿½ojjï¿½.
Aï¿½ojjï¿½ was married to Jamï¿½lï¿½, a Kï¿½atriya, who after becoming Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's follower
created a schism. Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's grand- daughter, who belonged to the Kauï¿½ika
Gotra, had two names : Seï¿½havatï¿½ and Yaï¿½ovatï¿½.
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's paternal uncle was
Supï¿½rï¿½va. His elder brother was Nandivardhana and his elder sister Sudarï¿½anï¿½.
His parents died when he was thirty years old. Afterwards, his elder brother,
Nandï¿½vardhana, succeeded his father. With the permission of his brother and
other authorities,35 he carried out his long cherished
resolve and became a monk with the usual rites. The Digambara works do not
mention the names of his elder brother and elder sister. According to them,
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra embarked upon his spiritual vocation during the lifetime of his
parents. At first his parents were opposed to the idea of their delicately
nurtured child undergoing all the hardships that fall to the lot of a houseless
mendicant, but at last they acquiesced.
Ascetic Life : His Twelve Years of Preparation
The ï¿½cï¿½rï¿½ï¿½ga Sï¿½tra has
preserved a sort of religious ballad giving an account of the years during which
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra led a life of the hardest asceticism, thus preparing himself for the
attainment of the highest spiritual knowledge (Kevala Jï¿½ana). The account given
in the Kalpa Sï¿½tra substantially agrees with that of the Acï¿½rï¿½ï¿½ga
Sï¿½tra. Both the ï¿½cï¿½rï¿½ï¿½ga and the Kalpa Sï¿½tra narrate the story
of his Sï¿½dhanï¿½ in such a manner as to suggest that he had to make
superhuman efforts before he could aspire to obtain the coveted position of a
Kevalin. It is remarkable that this account of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra Sï¿½dhanï¿½
given in the ï¿½cï¿½rï¿½ï¿½ga and the Kalpa Sï¿½tra does not bring in Goï¿½ï¿½la
to form an episode. It is only from the Bhagavatï¿½ Sï¿½tra and the
Uvï¿½sagadasï¿½o that we know that the ï¿½jï¿½vika Teacher Goï¿½ï¿½la lived in the
company of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra for about six years during this ascetic period of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra renounced the world at the age
of thirty. Digambaras believe that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra abandoned clothes at the time of his
initiation,whereas the ï¿½vetï¿½mbaras hold that he abandoned them after thirteen
months. The ï¿½cï¿½rï¿½ï¿½ga Sï¿½tra gives the following account of his ascetic
For a year and a month since he
renounced the world Mahï¿½vï¿½ra did not discard his clothes. Thereafter, he gave up
his garments and became naked.36 Even when he used his robe, he used
it only in winter.37 For more than four months, many
living beings gathered on his body, crawled about it, and caused him
pain.38 Then he meditated, walking with his
eye fixed on a square space before him of the length of a man. Many people
assembled, shocked at the sight; they struck him and shouted. When asked, he
gave no answer; when saluted he gave no response. He was struck by sinful
For more than a couple of years, he
led a religious life; he lived in solitude, guarded his body, had intuition, and
was calm. He carefully avoided injuring the meanest form of life. He did not use
what was expressly prepared for him. He consumed clean food. He did not use
another's robe, nor did he eat out of another's vessel. Disregarding contempt,
he went with indifference to places where food was prepared. He was not desirous
of eating delicious food, nor had he any longing for it. He neither rubbed his
eyes nor scratched his body.40
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra sometimes lodged in
workshops, assembling places, shops; sometimes in factories or under a shed of
straw. He sometimes took shelter in travellers' halls, garden-houses or towns;
sometimes in a cemetery, in relinquished houses, or in the shade of a tree. At
these places, he spent thirteen long years meditating day and night, exerting
himself, strenuously. He did not seek sleep for the sake of pleasure; he would
keep awake and sleep only a little, free from cares and desires. Waking up
again, he would lie down exerting himself; going outside for once in a night, he
would walk about for an hour. In these resting places, he had to face manifold
calamities. Crawling or flying animals attacked him. Bad people, the guard of
the village, or lance-bearers assaulted him. Always a master of himself, he
endured these hardships as he wandered about, speaking but little. Ill treated
by the wanderers, he kept himself in meditation, free from
resentment.41 Always calm and cool-headed, he
patiently bore the pains caused by, cold, fire, flies and
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra travelled in the pathless
country of Rï¿½dha, in Vajrabhï¿½mi and ï¿½vabhrabhï¿½mi, where he used most comfortless
beds and seats. The rude natives of the place attacked him and unleashed their
dogs to bite him, but he never kept them off. Being perfectly enlightened, he
endured the abusive language of the rustics. Sometimes when he did not reach the
village, the inhabitants met him on the outskirts and attacked him, saying ï¿½Get
away from here.ï¿½ He was struck with a stick, fist, or lance; he was hit with a
fruit, a clod, and a potsherd. When once he sat without moving his body, they
cut his flesh, tore his hair or covered him with dust. They disturbed him in his
religious meditation. Abandoning the care of his body, he endured all pains free
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra abstained from the
indulgence of the flesh, and he was never attacked by any illness. Whether
wounded or not, he never had any desire for any medical treatment. Purgatives
and emetics, anointing of the body and bathing, shampooing and cleaning of the
teeth were abjured by him, after he learned that the body is something unclean.
In the cold season, he meditated in the shade, and in summer, he exposed himself
to the heat. He lived on coarse food : rice, pounded jujube, and beans. Using
these three kinds of food, he sustained himself for eight months. Sometimes he
ate only on the sixth day, or the eighth, the tenth and the twelfth. Sometimes
he ate stale food. He committed no sin himself, nor did he induce others to do
so, nor did he consent to the sins of others. He meditated persevering in some
posture, without any motion whatsoever; he meditated in mental concentration on
the things above, below, beside, free from desires. He meditated free from sin
and desire, not attached to sounds or colours; though still an erring mortal, he
never acted carelessly.44
Thus, like a hero at the head of a
battle, he bore all hardships, and, remaining undisturbed, proceeded on the road
to deliverance. Understanding what truth is and restraining his impulses for the
purification of his soul, he finally liberated himself.45
The account of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's ascetic
life given in the Kalpa Sï¿½tra is as follows. When the moon was in
conjunction with the asterism Uttaraphï¿½lguni, he, after fasting for two
and a half days without drinking water, put on a divine robe, and, quite alone,
nobody else being present, palled out his hair and, abandoning his house,
entered the state of houselessness.46 For more than a year he wore
clothes. Afterwards, he walked about naked, and accepted the alms in the hollow
of his hand. Fore more than twelve years, he neglected his body and took no care
of it. With exemplary equanimity he bore, experienced and suffered all pleasant
or unpleasant occurrences arising from gods, men or animals.47
Henceforth, the ascetic Mahï¿½vï¿½ra
remained circumspect in speech, and movement. He guarded his thoughts, words,
acts, senses and chastity. He moved about without wrath, pride, deceit and
greed. He remained calm, tranquil, composed, liberated, free from temptations,
without egoism, and without possessions. In short, he had cut off all earthly
ties, and was not stained by any wordliness. As water does not adhere to a
copper vessel, so sins found no place in him. His course was unobstructed like
that of Life. Like the firmament, he needed no support, and like the wind he
knew no obstacles. His heart was pure like the water in autumn. He remained
unsoiled like a leaf of lotus. His senses were well protected like those of a
tortoise. He lived single and alone like the horn of a rhinoceros. He was free
like a bird. He was always waking like the fabulous bird, Bhï¿½ruï¿½ï¿½a. He was
valorous like an elephant, strong like a bull, unassailable like a lion, steady
and firm like Mount Mandï¿½ra, deep like an ocean, mild like the Moon, refulgent
like the Sun and pure like the excellent gold. Like the earth, he patiently bore
everything and like a well-kindled fire, he shone in his
Out of all the eight months of summer and
winter taken together, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra spent only a single night in villages and only
five nights in towns. He was indifferent alike to the smell of ordure and of
sandal, to straw and jewels, dirt and gold, and pleasure and pain. He was
attached neither to this world nor to the world beyond. He desired neither life
nor death. He arrived at the other shore of the Saï¿½sï¿½ra, and exerted
himself for the suppression of the defilement of Karma.49
With supreme knowledge, intuition,
conduct, valour, uprightness, mildness, dexterity, patience, freedom from
passions, control, contentment, and understanding, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra meditated on himself
for twelve years. He moved on the supreme path to final liberation which is the
fruit of veracity, control, penance and good conduct.50
The Kalpa Sï¿½tra gives a list
of forty-two rainy seasons spent by Mahï¿½vï¿½ra since he renounced the life of a
householder. He stayed the first rainy season in Asthikagrï¿½ma, three rainy
seasons in Campï¿½ and Pï¿½ï¿½ï¿½icampï¿½, twelve in Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ and Vï¿½ï¿½ijyagrï¿½ma, fourteen in
Rï¿½jagï¿½ha and Nï¿½landï¿½, six in Mithilï¿½, two in Bhadrikï¿½, one in ï¿½labhikï¿½, one in
Panitabhï¿½mi, one in ï¿½rï¿½vastï¿½ and the last one in the town of Pï¿½pï¿½ in king
B. C. Law52 thinks that the Kalpa Sï¿½tra
list of places is worded according to the idea of succession and chronology. The
idea of succession is suggested by two expressions : ï¿½the first rainy season in
Asthikagrï¿½maï¿½ and ï¿½the last rainy season in Pï¿½pï¿½ or Pï¿½vï¿½. Accordingly he
suggests the names of places where Mahï¿½vï¿½ra spent the twelve rainy seasons of
his ascetic life.53 He stayed the first rainy season in
Asthigrï¿½ma, three rainy seasons in Campï¿½ and Pï¿½ï¿½ï¿½icampï¿½ and eight in Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ and
Vï¿½ï¿½ijyagrï¿½ma. This view does not appear to be correct. Except the first and the
last, the other places have not been mentioned in chronological order but in
According to a commentary on the
Kalpa Sï¿½tra, Asthigrï¿½ma was formerly called Vardhamï¿½na. It would perhaps
be more correct to say that Asthigrï¿½ma was the earlier name of Vardhamï¿½na
(modern Burdwan). But none need be surprised if Asthigrï¿½ma was the same place as
Hatthigï¿½ma (Hastigrï¿½ma) which lay on the high road from Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ to Pï¿½vï¿½
(probably modern Kasiï¿½).54 Campï¿½ was the capital of Aï¿½ga which
was conquered in Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's time by ï¿½reï¿½ika Bimbisï¿½ra and permanently annexed to
Magadha. Its actual site is probably marked by two villages of Campï¿½nagara and
Campï¿½pura near Bhagalpur. Pï¿½ï¿½ï¿½icampa must have been a place near Campï¿½. Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½
is identified with modern Basï¿½rah in Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½, a district of Bihar. It was the
chief seat of government of the Vï¿½jji-Lichchavï¿½s in Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's time. Vï¿½ï¿½iyagï¿½ma
is the same as modern Bania, a village near Basï¿½rah.55 Rï¿½jagï¿½ha (modern Rï¿½jgir) was the
capital of Magadha in Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's time. Nï¿½landï¿½ is identified with modern
Bargaon, 10 km. to the north-west of Rï¿½jgï¿½r in the district of Nï¿½landï¿½ near
Bihar (Biharsharif).56 Mithilï¿½ was the capital of the
prosperous kingdom of Videha. It is identified with Janakpur, a small town
within the Nepal border, north of which the districts of Muzaffarpur and
Darbhanga meet.57 Badrikï¿½, which is the same name as
the Pï¿½li Bhaddiya, was an important place in the kingdom of
Aï¿½ga.58 It was visited by Buddha and is
identified with modern Monghyr.59
ï¿½labhikï¿½, which is the same as the
Pï¿½li ï¿½lavi, is identified by A. Cunningham
and A. F. R. Hoernle
with Newal or Nawal in Unao
District in U.P., and by N. L. Dey with
Aviwa, 40 km. north-east of Eatwah.60 It lay between Sï¿½vatthi and
Rï¿½jagiha.61 Paï¿½itabhï¿½mi, which is the same as
Paï¿½iyabhï¿½mi, was a place in Vajrabhï¿½mi, a division of the pathless country of
Rï¿½ï¿½ha.62 ï¿½rï¿½vastï¿½ was the flourishing
capital of the kingdom of Koï¿½ala in Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's time. It is identified with
Sahet-Mahet on the bank of the Rï¿½pti.63 Pï¿½pï¿½, which is the same name as the
Pï¿½li Pï¿½vï¿½, was one of the chief seats of government of the Mallas. It was in
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's time one of the halting stations on the highway from Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ to
Kuï¿½ï¿½nï¿½rï¿½ and Kapilavastu.64 A. Cunningham
took it for the modern village, Padaraona, 18 km. to the N. N. E. of
Kasiï¿½.65 It is identified with a place
located at a distance of ten km. from Biharsharif in Patna
One important event of this period
of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's life was his meeting with Goï¿½ï¿½la Maï¿½khaliputta, the head of the
ï¿½jï¿½vika sect. From the account given in the Bhagavatï¿½ Sï¿½tra, it is known
that during the second year of his ascetic life, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra stayed at Nï¿½landï¿½
during the rainy season. At this time, Goï¿½ï¿½la, who was then wandering about in
the country showing pictures to the people at large, happened to arrive and put
up there. Owing to Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's extraordinary self-restraint, his impressive
habits of meditation, his capacity to prophesy things correctly and to the fact
that a rich householder Vijaya, of Rï¿½jagï¿½ha had shown respect and hospitality to
him, Goï¿½ï¿½la was attracted, and wanted to be his disciple, but Mahï¿½vï¿½ra turned
down his request. His prayer was not granted on two successive occasions even
though the Master was entreated by the rich householders, ï¿½nanda and
In the meantime, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra went to
the settlement of Kollï¿½ga, at some distance from Nï¿½landï¿½, where he was
hospitably greeted by the Brï¿½hmiï¿½ Bahula. (Kollï¿½ga is identified with the modern
village Kolhuï¿½.) Goï¿½ï¿½la proceeded towards Rï¿½jagï¿½ha and its suburbs to find out
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra but it vain. He came back to the weaver's shed of Nanda where he gave
away his clothes, vessels, shoes, and pictures to a Brï¿½hmiï¿½ of the place, shaved
off his hair and beared, and in despair departed in search of the Master. On his
way, he came across Kollï¿½ga where he saw people praising Bahula's liberality
Goï¿½ï¿½la continued his search of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and at last succeeded in finding him out at Paï¿½iyabhï¿½mi. He again
requested him with greater earnestness to accept him as his disciple. This time
his request was granted, and both Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and his disciple Goï¿½ï¿½la lived
together for six years in Paï¿½iyabhï¿½mi, practising asceticism. Afterwards, they
started from Paï¿½iyabhï¿½mi to Kï¿½rmagrï¿½ma, and from Kï¿½rmagrï¿½ma to Siddhï¿½rthagrï¿½ma.
Siddhï¿½rthagrï¿½ma is probably the same as Siddhï¿½rthagrï¿½ma in the Bï¿½rbhum
District.68 While at Kï¿½rmagrï¿½ma, they met an
ascetic named Veï¿½ayaï¿½a who remained seated with upraised arms and upturned face
in the glare of the Sun, while his body was swarmed with lice. Goï¿½ï¿½la enquired
whether he was a sage or a bed of lice. Vesayaï¿½a became very angry and attempted
to strike Goï¿½ï¿½la with his supernormal powers. Mahï¿½vï¿½ra explained to him the
severe ascetic discipline by which such powers could be
While at Siddhï¿½rthagrï¿½ma, Goï¿½ï¿½la
uprooted sesame shrub and threw it away. Owing to a chance fall of rain, the
shrub came to life again. From this, he jumped to the conclusion that all plants
were capable of reanimation. He drew even further conclusion that not only
plants, but in fact all living beings were capable of reanimation. His theory of
reanimation and other doctrines did not find favour with Mahï¿½vï¿½ra who believed
in the freedom of the will. Henceforth Goï¿½ï¿½la severed his connection with
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and established a separate sect known as ï¿½jï¿½vika.69
The incidental enumeration of the
places visited by Mahï¿½vï¿½ra in the Bhagavatï¿½ Sï¿½tra during his ascetic life
does not tally with those given in the Kalpa Sï¿½tra. The Bhagwati
Sï¿½tra associates Nï¿½landï¿½, Rï¿½jagï¿½iha, Paï¿½iyabhï¿½mi, Siddhï¿½rthagrï¿½ma and
Kï¿½rmagrï¿½ma with his early wanderings. The Uvï¿½sagadasï¿½o mentions
Vï¿½ï¿½ijyagrï¿½ma, Campï¿½, Bï¿½rï¿½ï¿½asï¿½, ï¿½labhi (Pï¿½li Alavi), Kampilyapura, Polï¿½sapura,
Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, and ï¿½rï¿½vastï¿½ as the places that were visited by Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. Both the
Bhagavati Sï¿½tra and the Uvï¿½saga-dasï¿½o would have us believe that
he received extraordinary respect from certain rich householders even long
before his Jinahood. Bï¿½rï¿½ï¿½asï¿½ is no other than modern Benaras. Kampillapura is
identified with Kampil in the Farrukabad District.70 Polï¿½sapura has not been identified,
but at the time of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, it was within the kingdom of king Jiyasattu, the
ruler of Koï¿½ala.
When Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was thirty years old,
he renounced the world with the permission of his elder brother, Nandivardhana,
and his relatives. With people pursuing him, he set out from Kuï¿½ï¿½agrï¿½ma on the
tenth day of the dark of Mï¿½rgasirï¿½a in winter by simply putting on a
divine garment (Devadussa). He came to the garden of Nï¿½yasaï¿½ï¿½avaï¿½a
situated in the north-east direction on the outskirts of Kuï¿½ï¿½aggï¿½ma. At this
place, the renunciation ceremony of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was celebrated with great
rejoicings. He is said to have given the first half of his garment to a
In the evening of the same day,
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra left Nï¿½yasaï¿½ï¿½a for Kumï¿½ragï¿½ma. There were two routes by which this
journey was performed, one by water and the other by land. Mahï¿½vï¿½ra preferred
the latter and reached Kumï¿½ragï¿½ma. Now this village is known by the name of
Kammana-Chhaparï¿½.71 Here, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra stood in meditation
but was harassed by a cowherd who took him for a thief and wanted to hit him.
Next day, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra proceeded to Kollï¿½ï¿½ga Sannivesa where he broke his fast. From
there, he started for Morï¿½ga Sannivesa and reaching there, stayed in a
hermitage. Next day, he left Morï¿½ga Sannivesa but again came back to this place
after eight months. Then he proceeded to Atï¿½hivagï¿½ma, where he put up in the
shirne of ï¿½ï¿½lapï¿½ï¿½ï¿½. Here ï¿½ï¿½lapï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Jakkha is said to have caused Mahï¿½vï¿½ra many
troubles but the latter bore them with his wonted equanimity and patience. Thus
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra spent his first rainy season at Aï¿½ï¿½hiyagï¿½ma.
From Aï¿½ï¿½hiyagï¿½ma, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra again
came to Morï¿½ga Sannivesa where lived an ascetic named Achchhandaka. Then he
started for Vï¿½cï¿½la, which was divided into Uttaravï¿½cï¿½la and Dakkhinavï¿½cï¿½la, and
between them flowed the rivers Suvannakï¿½lï¿½ and Ruppakï¿½lï¿½. When Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was
going from Dakkhiï¿½avï¿½cï¿½la to Uttaravï¿½cï¿½la, the remaining half of his garment got
entangled in the thorns on the bank of Suvannakï¿½lï¿½. From this time onwards,
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra became a naked monk. There were two routes to Uttaravï¿½cï¿½la, one through
the hermitage named Kanakakhala and another from outside it. Mahï¿½vï¿½ra chose the
former one which was more difficult. At Uttaravï¿½cï¿½la, he had to face a poisonous
snake named ï¿½rï¿½ï¿½iviï¿½a. From Kanakakhala, he travelled to Seyaviyï¿½ where he was
received by King Paesi. T. W. Rhys
Davids identifies this place with Satiabia and Vost
with Basedita, twenty-five km. from Sahet-Mahet and ten km. from
Balarampur.72 Mahï¿½vï¿½ra arrived at Surabhipura
from Seyaviyï¿½ after crossing the Ganges, and afterwards proceeded to Thï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ka
Sannivesa where he stood in meditation. The place was situated in the country of
Mallas to the north-west of Patna on the right bank of the
Gaï¿½ï¿½akï¿½.73 From here, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra proceeded to
Rï¿½yagiha and sojourned in a weaver's shed in Nï¿½landï¿½ where he passed the second
rainy season. Here Goï¿½ï¿½la met him and the two left for Kollï¿½ga
From Kollï¿½ga, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and Goï¿½ï¿½la
came to Sunnakhï¿½laya and then to Bambhaï¿½agï¿½ma. This Bambhaï¿½agï¿½ma lay in a route
from Rï¿½jagrha to Campï¿½.74 From this place, they reached Campï¿½
where Mahï¿½vï¿½ra spent the third rainy season.
From Campï¿½, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and Goï¿½ï¿½la
arrived at Kï¿½lï¿½ya Sannivesa and thence to Pattakï¿½laya. At both these places,
Goï¿½ï¿½la was insulted by people for his misbehaviour. Then, both came to Kumï¿½rï¿½ya
Sannivesa where Mahï¿½vï¿½ra practised meditation in the garden, Camparamaï¿½ijja.
Then they proceeded to Corï¿½ga Sannivesa where they were taken to be spies and
were taken prisoners. Corï¿½ga Sannivesa may be identified with Choreya in
Lohardugga District in Bengal.75 From this place, they travelled to
Piï¿½ï¿½hicampï¿½ where Mahï¿½vï¿½ra passed the fourth rainy season.
From Piï¿½ï¿½hicampï¿½, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and
Goï¿½ï¿½la proceeded to Kayaï¿½galï¿½, now identified with Kaï¿½kajol in Santhal
Parganï¿½ in Bihar.76 At this place, some ascetics were
staying with their families. Goï¿½ï¿½la is known to have misbehaved with them and
was therefore punished. Then both came to Sï¿½vatthi and, later, to Haledduga.
Here under a big turmeric tree Mahï¿½vï¿½ra stood in meditation. His feet are said
to have been burnt by fire. Meditation over, both proceeded to Naï¿½gala where
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra stood in meditation again in the Vï¿½sudeva temple. Goï¿½ï¿½la was punished
once again for his misdemeanour. Then, they arrived at Avattagï¿½ma where Mahï¿½vï¿½ra
spent his time in meditation in the Baladeva temple and Goï¿½ï¿½la was taken to task
for his misbehaviour. Continuing their travels in this region, they reached
Corï¿½ya Sannivesa from where they journeyed to Kalambuka Sannivesa. Here both
were tied by Kï¿½lahasti and were beaten; later on, they were set at liberty by
Kï¿½lahasti's brother, Megha, who recognized Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. Then they journeyed to the
country of Lï¿½ï¿½ha where Mahï¿½vï¿½ra had to endure various kinds of painful
sufferings. Lï¿½ï¿½ha or Rï¿½ï¿½ha comprise the modern districts of Hooghly, Howrah,
Bankura, Burdwan, and the eastern part of Midnapore.77 From this place, they moved on
towards Punnahalasa where some robbers made a dastardly attempt on Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's
life. Undaunted, they travelled to the city of Bhaddiya where Mahï¿½vï¿½ra passed
the fifth rainy season.
From Bhaddiya, both Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and
Goï¿½ï¿½la travelled to Kayalisamï¿½gama, and then onward to Jambusaï¿½ï¿½a and Tambï¿½ya
Sannivesa. Jambusaï¿½ï¿½a was located between
Ambagï¿½ma and Bhoganagara on a route from Vaiï¿½ï¿½li to Kuï¿½ï¿½nï¿½rï¿½.78 Then they arrived at Kï¿½iya
Sannivesa where, suspected of being spies, they were kept as prisoners, but were
later released at the intercession of two sisters, Vijayï¿½ and Pragalbhï¿½. Kï¿½iya
or Kï¿½piya is identified with a place located at a distance of ten km. from the
Khalï¿½lï¿½bï¿½da Mehadï¿½vala road in Khalï¿½lï¿½bad Tehsil of ï¿½hï¿½habastï¿½
Now Goï¿½ï¿½la and Mahï¿½vï¿½ra parted with
each other. Mahï¿½vï¿½ra left for Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ where he stood in a blacksmith's shed. The
blacksmith, seeing Mahï¿½vï¿½ra naked, ran to hit him. Afterwards, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra
proceeded to Gï¿½mï¿½ya Sannivesa where he was honoured by Vibhelaka Jakkha. From
this place, he travelled to Sï¿½lisï¿½sayagï¿½ma where the demoness Kaï¿½apï¿½tanï¿½ caused
him much trouble. After six months, Goï¿½ï¿½la again joined Mahï¿½vï¿½ra at this place.
Finally, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra visited Bhaddiya in order to spend the sixth rainy season
Then Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and Goï¿½ï¿½la travelled
together in the country of Magadha. In the course of the journey, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra
decided to spend the seventh rainy season at ï¿½labhiyï¿½.
From ï¿½labhiya, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and Goï¿½ï¿½la
set out for Kuï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ga Sannivesa. At this place, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra stood in meditation in
the temple of Vï¿½sudeva. Goï¿½ï¿½la was again beaten for his bad manners. Then they
visited Maddanagï¿½ma and stayed in the Baladeva temple. Afterwards they came to
Bahusï¿½lagagï¿½ma where Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was harassed by Sï¿½lejjï¿½ Vï¿½ï¿½amï¿½ntarï¿½. From this
place, they proceeded to the
capital Lohaggalï¿½ where the royal servants suspected them to be spies and caught
them. Later on they were set free at the intercession of Uppala who is said to
have arrived there from Aï¿½ï¿½hiyagï¿½ma. Lohaggalï¿½ may be identified with Lohardagï¿½
situated in the region which forms the central and north-western portion of the
Chhota Nagpur Division.80 From Lohaggalï¿½, they went to
Purimatï¿½la where Mahï¿½vï¿½ra stood in meditation in the garden of Sagaï¿½amuha.
Purimatï¿½la may be identified with Purulia in Bihar.81 From there, they travelled to
Unï¿½ï¿½ga and on to Gobhï¿½mi. At last they reached Rï¿½yagiha in order to pass the
eighth rainy season.
From Rï¿½yagiha, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and Goï¿½ï¿½la
again set out for a Lï¿½ï¿½ha country which is non-Aryan. In the course of this
journey, they passed through Vajjabhï¿½mi and Subbhabhï¿½mi, where Mahï¿½vï¿½ra had to
endure all sorts of tortures. Sometimes people surrounded him and set their dogs
upon him. Mahï¿½vï¿½ra got no shelter in this region. He passed the ninth rainy
season in this country.
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and Goï¿½ï¿½la then travelled
to Siddhatthapura and Kummagï¿½ma. Soon they returned to Siddhatthapura. It may be
the same as Siddhangrï¿½ma in Birbhum District.82 Severing his relations with
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra again, Goï¿½ï¿½la now went to Sï¿½vatthi while Mahï¿½vï¿½ra visited Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ where
the republican chief Saï¿½kha saved him from the trouble caused by the local
children. From here, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra crossed the river Gaï¿½ï¿½ai by boat and reached
Vaï¿½iyagï¿½ma. He then proceeded to Sï¿½vatthi where he passed the tenth rainy
From Sï¿½vatthi, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra set out for
Sï¿½nulaï¿½ï¿½hiyagï¿½ma, which may be identified with Dalabhum in Singhbhum District in
Bengal.83 He then went to Peï¿½hï¿½lagï¿½ma and
stood in meditation in the garden of Peï¿½hï¿½la in the shrine of Polï¿½sa. In this
region of the Mlechchhas, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra had to suffer much. He travelled later to
Vï¿½luyagï¿½ma, Subhoma, Suchchhettï¿½, Malaya and finally on to the Hatthisï¿½sa. At
all these places, apparently located in the north-west part of Orissa, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra
had to undergo extreme physical torture. Afterwards he reached Tosali where he
was suspected to be a robber and hit hard. The place is now identified with
Dhauli and some neighbouring places in Orissa. Then he travelled to Mosali where
he was caught under the suspicion of a dacoit and brought before the king, but
he was soon released. Mahï¿½vï¿½ra again returned to Tosali and found himself in
great troubles. He was actually to be hanged here but was luckily rescued by
Tosali Kshatriya. Then he arrived at Siddhatthapura from where he proceeded to
Vayaggï¿½ma. For a period of six months, he had to bear great hardship at all
these places. From Vayaggï¿½ma, he proceeded to ï¿½labhiyï¿½ and then to Seyaviyï¿½ and
Sï¿½vatthi. At last, passing through Koï¿½ï¿½mbï¿½, Vï¿½nï¿½rasi, Rï¿½yagiha and Mithilï¿½ he
spent the eleventh rainy season at Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½.
From Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra came to
Suï¿½sgumï¿½rapura which is identified with a hilly place near Chunar in Mirzapur
District.84 He proceeded thence to Bhogapura,
which lay between Pï¿½vï¿½ and Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½,85 and to Nandiggï¿½ma, from where he
travelled to Meï¿½ï¿½hiyagï¿½ma. Afterwards he proceeded to Koï¿½ï¿½mbi, where he received
his alms after a period of four months. From Koï¿½ï¿½mbi, he set out for
Sumangalgï¿½ma and then for Pï¿½layagï¿½ma. Finally, he reached Campï¿½ for spending the
twelfth rainy season.
From Campï¿½ Mahï¿½vï¿½ra came to
Vijaya identifies it with Jambhigaon near the river Damodar
in the Hazaribagh District,86 but it must be located somewhere
near modern Pï¿½vï¿½puri in Bihar.87 From this place, he reached
Meï¿½ï¿½hiyagï¿½ma. Then he visited Chhamï¿½ï¿½igï¿½ma where a cow-herd is said to have
thrust iron nails into his ears. In this condition, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra is said to have
reached Majjhima Pï¿½vï¿½ where the nails were removed from his
Penance in a Cemetery at Ujjain
According to the ï¿½vetï¿½mbaras,
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was born with three kinds of knowledge : Matijï¿½ï¿½na, ï¿½rutajï¿½ï¿½na
and Avadhijï¿½ï¿½na. He also gained the fourth kind of knowledge,
Manaï¿½paryï¿½yajï¿½ï¿½na, by which he knew the thoughts of all sentient beings
possessing the five senses, some time after his initiation to asceticism.
According to the Digambaras, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra got up for food after two days he went to
Kulapura where its ruler, Kulï¿½dhipa, held him in high esterm, washed his feet
with his own hands, and, having walked round him three times, offered him rice
and milk. There Mahï¿½vï¿½ra took his first meal Pï¿½raï¿½ï¿½ after fasting for two days.
He returned to the forest and wandered about in it performing twelve kinds of
penance. At last he visited Ujjayinï¿½ and did penance in a cemetery there when
Rudra and his wife tried in vain to interrupt him Mahavira Conquesed this
The period of twelve years spent in
penance and meditation was not fruitless, for in the thirteenth year, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra
at last attained supreme knowledge and final deliverance from the bonds of
pleasure and pain. This most important moment of the Tirthankara's life has been
described this :
ï¿½During the thirteenth year, in the
second month of summer, in the fourth fortnight, the light (fortnight) of
Vaiï¿½ï¿½kha, on its tenth day, called Suvrata, while the moon was in
conjunction with the asterism Uttara-Phalguni, when the shadow had turned
towards the east, and the first wake was over, outside of the town Jï¿½mbhikagrï¿½ma
on the northern bank of the river ï¿½jupï¿½likï¿½, in the field of the householder
Sï¿½mï¿½ga, in a north-eastern direction from an old temple, not far from a
Sï¿½l tree, in a squatting position with joined heels exposing himself to
the heat of the Sun, with the knees high and the head low, in deep meditation,
in the midst of abstract meditation, he reached Nirvï¿½ï¿½a, the complete and
full, the unobstructed, unimpeded, infinite and supreme, best knowledge and
intuition, called Kevala.ï¿½
When the venerable Mahï¿½vï¿½ra had
become an Arhat and a Jina, he was a Kevalin, omniscient and
comprehending all objects; he knew all the conditions of the world, of gods, men
and demons; whence they come, where they go, whether they are born as men or
animals, or become gods or hell-beings; their food, drink, doings, desires, open
and secret deeds, their conversation and gossip and the thoughts of their minds;
he saw and knew all the conditions in the whole world of all living
At this time, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was forty-two
years old; and from this age, he entered upon a new stage of life, that of a
religious teacher and the head of a sect called the Nirgranthas, ï¿½free from
fettersï¿½. He went from place to place for the propagation of his doctrine, and
for making converts. His first declaration about himself aroused confidence
among his followers and he urged them to follow his example in their own life.
The Buddhist texts give us an idea of his first declaration which is as follows
I am all-knowing and all-seeing, and
possessed of an infinite knowledge. Whether I am walking or standing still,
whether I sleep or remain awake, the supreme knowledge and intuition are present
with me ï¿½ constantly and continuously. There are, O Nirgranthas, some sinful
acts you have done in the past, which you must now wear out by this acute form
of austerity. Now that here you will be living restrained in regard to your
acts, speech, and thought, it will work as the non-doing of Karma for
future. Thus, by the exhaustion of the force of past deeds through penance and
the non-accumulation of new acts, (you are assured) of the stoppage of the
future course, of rebirth from such stoppage, of the destruction of the effect
of Karma, from that, of the destruction of pain, from that, of the
destruction of mental feelings, and from that, of the complete wearing out of
all kinds of pain.ï¿½90
When Mahï¿½vï¿½ra attained kevalahood, a
Samavaï¿½araï¿½a (religious conference) was held on the bank of the river
Ujjuvï¿½liyï¿½, but it is said that the first discourse of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra remained
unsuccessful. Then after traversing twelve yojanas, he is said to have
returned to Majjhima Pï¿½vï¿½ where the second Samavaï¿½araï¿½a was convened in
the garden of Mahï¿½sena. Here after a long discussion on various religious and
philosophic points, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra converted to Jainism the eleven learned Brï¿½hmaï¿½as
who had gone there to attend the great sacrifice being performed by a rich
Brï¿½hmaï¿½a named Somila.
According to the Digambara
scriptures, even after obtaining Kevalajï¿½ï¿½na (Enlightenment) at
Jï¿½mbhikagrï¿½ma, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra did not break his vow of silence taken from the time of
Pravrajyï¿½, and wandering continuously for sixtysix days in silence,
reached Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, the capital of Magadha. Outside the city of Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, at
Vipulï¿½cala where he settled, a Samavaï¿½araï¿½a was held for his first
sermon. First of all he converted eleven learned Brï¿½hmaï¿½as, including Indrabhï¿½ti
Gautama, who were known as his disciples (Gaï¿½adharas). King ï¿½reï¿½ika with
the members of the royal family, including his queen Cetanï¿½, and the whole army
came to the Samavaï¿½araï¿½a to pay homage to Mahï¿½vï¿½ra as well as to listen
to his first sermon. It is said that the king asked him several questions
concerning the faith and all of them were satisfactorily answered. In view of
the all embracing chapter of
Mahï¿½vï¿½raï¿½ principles the gain ï¿½carya Samanta bhadra (2nd cent. A.D.) called the
religion of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra a 'Sarvadaya' Tirtha, which terms is now-a-days used after
First of all, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra by his
preaching converted to Jainism the eleven learned Brï¿½hmaï¿½as who became his
disciples, his eleven Gaï¿½adharas. They listened to Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's discourses
and heard the gentle, thoughtful answers he gave to all questions. Finally,
being convinced of the truth of his views, they became his disciples or
Gaï¿½dharas. The eldest was Indrabhï¿½ti, then followed Agnibhï¿½ti, Vï¿½yubhï¿½ti,
Vyakta, Sudharmï¿½, Maï¿½ï¿½ikata, Mauryaputra, Akampita, Acalabhrï¿½tï¿½, Metï¿½rya and
Prabhï¿½sa. The first three Gaï¿½adharas were brothers and belonged to the Gautama
Gotra, and were residents of Gobbaragï¿½ma. The fourth belonged to the
Bhï¿½radvï¿½ja Gotra and was the resident of Kollï¿½ga Sannivesa; the fifth
belonged to the Agni Veï¿½yï¿½yana Gotra and was the resident of Kollï¿½ga
Sannivesa; the sixth belonged to the Vasisï¿½ha Gotra and was the resident
of Moriya Sannivesa; the seventh belonged to the Kï¿½ï¿½yapa Gotra and was
the resident of Moriya Sannivesa; the eighth belonged to the Gautama
Gotra and was the resident of Mithilï¿½; the ninth belonged to the Hï¿½rï¿½ta
Gotra and was resident of Koï¿½ala; the tenth belonged to the Kauï¿½inya
Gotra and was the resident of Tuï¿½gika Sannivesa; and the eleventh
belonged to the same Gotra and was the resident of Rï¿½jagï¿½ha. These Gaï¿½adharas
were all Brï¿½hmaï¿½a teachers, and all except Indrabhï¿½tri and Sudharmï¿½, died during
the life-time of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. They are said to have been versed in the twelve
Aï¿½gas, the fourteen Pï¿½rvas and the whole Gaï¿½ipiï¿½aga (the
basket of the Gaï¿½is).91
The Digambaras have some different
names for these Gaï¿½adharas and give a different account of Gautama's
conversion. According to Guï¿½abhadra92 the eleven names are as
follows : Indrabhï¿½ti, Vï¿½yubhï¿½ti, Agnibhï¿½ti, Sudharmï¿½, Maurya, Maundra,
Putra, Maitreya, Akampana, Andhavela or Anvacela and Prabhï¿½sa. Indrabhï¿½ti became
a very learned Pandita and grew extremely vain of his learning. One day,
however, an old man appeared and asked him to explain a certain verse to him,
but had immediately afterwards become so lost in meditation that he could get no
explanation of it from the saint, and yet he felt that he could not live unless
he knew the meaning. The verse contained references to Kï¿½la and
Dravya, Paï¿½ca Astikï¿½ya, Tattva and Leï¿½yï¿½, not one of which
could Gautama understand, but being too true a scholar to pretend to a knowledge
which he did not possess, he sought out Mahï¿½vï¿½ra to ask for an explanation. The
moment he was in the presence of the great ascetic, all his pride in his fancied
learning disapproved and he besought Mahï¿½vï¿½ra to teach him. He not only became a
convert himself, but took over with him his five hundred pupils and his three
brothers.93 In the Digambara Jain
Paï¿½ï¿½ï¿½valï¿½s, Sudharmï¿½ comes after Indrabhï¿½ti, and Sudharmï¿½ was also known
by the name of Lohï¿½rya.
One significant fact about these
Gaï¿½adharas is that all of them were Brahmins, which proves that among the
Brahmins also an ideological revolution was taking place and compelling them to
give up their traditional grooves of thoughts advocating ritualism. Further, it
was this intelligentsia that predominantly included the Brahamins who helped him
spread his faith.
Orders of the Jaina Community (Saï¿½gha)
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra possessed a unique power of
organization. By his wonderful personality and organizational skill, he
attracted a large number of people, both men and women, to be his disciples.
From them therefore grew the four orders of his community : monks, nuns, laymen,
The chief among his followers were
the fourteen thousand monks placed under the charge of Indrabhï¿½ti Gautama.
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra resolved to combat by regulations and organization those special
temptations and dangers which beset ascetics in their wandering life. For this
purpose, he divided fourteen thousand monks into nine regular schools called
Gaï¿½as, placing each school under the headship of one of his chief
disciples or Gaï¿½adharas. The leading Gaï¿½adhara had five hundred
monks under him, but some of the others had only three hundred or two hundred
and fifty. These Gaï¿½adharas were to guide and instruct separate groups of
Besides the fourteen thousand monks,
a great multitude of women followed Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, and of these some thirtysix
thousand actually renounced the world and became nuns. At their head was
Chandanï¿½, a first cousin of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's, or, as other accounts have it, his
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's third Order consisted of
laymen numbering about one hundred and fiftynine thousand with ï¿½aï¿½kha ï¿½ataka at
their head. These laymen were householders who could not actually renounce the
world but they at least could observe the five small vows called
aï¿½uvrata. The similarity of their religious duties, differing not in kind
but in degree, brought about the close union of laymen and monks. Most of these
regulations meant to govern the conduct of laymen were intended apparently to
make them participate, in a measure and for some time, in the merits and
benefits of monastic life without obliging them to renounce the world
altogether. ï¿½The genius for organization which Mahï¿½vï¿½ra possessedï¿½ as S. Stevenson
rightly observes, ï¿½is shown in nothing more clearly than in the formation of
this and the order of laymen. These two organizations gave the Jaina a root in
India that the Buddhists never obtained, and that root firmly planted amongst
the laity enabled Jainism as we have seen, to withstand the storm that drove
Buddhism out of India.ï¿½94
Their fourth and last Order
consisted of devout laywomen or ï¿½rï¿½vikï¿½s numbering about three hundred
and fiftyeight thousand with Sulasï¿½ and Revatï¿½ as their heads. Their household
duties prevented their becoming nuns but still they served the ascetics in many
ways. Thus Mahï¿½vï¿½ra converted a large number of people to
The Digambaras believe that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra
did not travel alone but that wherever he went he was accompanied by all monks
and nuns who had entered his Order. He preached in a language which they call
An-aksharï¿½, which was intelligible to all.
Rainy Seasons (Caturmï¿½sa)
The Jaina Kalpasï¿½tra gives
the names of the places where Mahï¿½vï¿½ra spent one or more rainy seasons since he
became an ascetic after renouncing the world. He stayed the first rainy season
in Aï¿½ï¿½hikagrï¿½ma, three rainy seasons in Campï¿½ and Pï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ichampï¿½, twelve in Vaiï¿½ï¿½li
and Vaï¿½ijagrï¿½ma, fourteen in Rï¿½jagï¿½ha and Nï¿½landï¿½, six in Mithilï¿½, two in
Bhadrikï¿½, one in ï¿½labhikï¿½, one in Paï¿½itabhï¿½mi, one in ï¿½rï¿½vastï¿½ and the last one
in the town of Pï¿½pï¿½ in king Hï¿½stipï¿½la's office.96 This list is neither exhaustive nor
chronological though it covers broadly the fortytwo years of his itinerary. It
is rather difficult to distinguish the places he visited during and after the
period of his ascetic life merely on the basis of the list supplied by the
Kalpa Sï¿½tra. There is no doubt that the Kalpa Sï¿½tra's authority on
the itinerary of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra is ancient and fairly reliable. It gives us a fair
idea of the area over which he wandered propagating his faith. When the places
are correctly identified, we come to know that this area roughly covered the
modern state of Bihar and some parts of Bengal and U.P.
The late Jaina works describe
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's itinerary exhaustively and chronologically. After attaining
Kevalajï¿½ï¿½na, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra spent no less than thirty rainy seasons at the
following places yearwise ï¿½ (1) Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, (2) Vaiï¿½ï¿½li, (3) Vï¿½ï¿½ijyagrï¿½ma,
(4) Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, (5) Vï¿½ï¿½ijyagrï¿½ma, (6) Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, (7) Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, (8) Vaiï¿½ï¿½li,
(9) Vaiï¿½ï¿½li, (10) Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, (11) Vï¿½ï¿½ijyagrï¿½ma, (12) Rï¿½jagï¿½iha,
(13) Rï¿½jagï¿½iha, (14) Champï¿½, (15) Mithilï¿½, (16) Vï¿½nijyagrï¿½ma,
(17) Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, (18) Vï¿½ï¿½ijyagrï¿½ma, (19) Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½, (20) Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½,
(21) Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, (22) Nï¿½landï¿½, (23) Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½, (24) Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½,
(25) Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, (26) Nï¿½landï¿½, (27) Mithilï¿½, (28) Mithilï¿½,
(29) Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, and (30) ï¿½pï¿½pï¿½purï¿½.97
It may be note here that the
Digambaras do not subswill to the view of Caturmï¿½sa in rainy seasons in respect
of the Tï¿½rthaï¿½kara at differents places for the propagation of religion and
upliftment of the masses. Hence Mahavira made Vihï¿½ra at different places! But
access, to svetambaras Mahavira followed the rule of staying at one place in
rainy seasons. Hence the above are the places where Mahavira spent one or more
rainy seasons !
on lay followers (ï¿½rï¿½vakas)
First of all, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra seems to have
tried to attract those householders who formed a large body of lay disciples by
laying down certain rules of conduct. Gautama Indrabhï¿½ti was taken to task by
the Master when he sought to claim a difference in degree in this respect
between a recluse and a lay disciple.98 The gift of supernormal vision was
no monopoly of any Order or caste or sex. In this matter, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra made no
distinction between men and men, or between men and women. He did not enjoin one
set of rules for male recluses and another for those of the fair sex, one set of
rules for male lay disciples and another for female lay disciples. When he
wandered about in the country, he was accompanied by male as well as female
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra not only taught his
followers to undergo penances and live a life of restraint in all possible ways
but also watched how they had been progressing. He also encouraged them in the
study of the Pï¿½rvas and in developing their power of reasoning and arguing. The
Buddhist records themselves attest that there were some able and powerful
disputants among the Nirgrantha recluses and disciples.99
The lay disciples of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and
the lay supporters of his Order, both male and female, are all mentioned as
persons of opulence and influence. At the same time, they were noted for their
piety and devotion. Their contemporaries, including kings and princes, consulted
them on many affairs and matters. Among them, ï¿½nanda and his wife ï¿½ivanandï¿½ from
Vï¿½nijagrï¿½ma, Kï¿½madeva and his wife Bhadrï¿½ from Campï¿½, Cï¿½lanipriya and his wife
ï¿½yï¿½ma, Sï¿½radeva and his wife Dhanyï¿½ from Bï¿½rï¿½ï¿½asï¿½, Cullasataka and his wife
Puï¿½yï¿½ from Kampilyapura, Kundakolita and his wife from Kampilyapura,
Sardalaputra and his wife Agnimitrï¿½ from Polï¿½sapura and Mahasataka from Rï¿½jagï¿½ha
and Nandinï¿½priya and his wife Aï¿½vinï¿½, and Salatipriya and his wife Phï¿½lguni were
the most well-known lay disciples of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra.
The Pï¿½li Upï¿½li
Sï¿½tra100 introudces us to the rich
householder Upï¿½li of Balakagrï¿½ma, near Nï¿½landï¿½, who was a lay disciple of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and a liberal supporter of the recluses of his Order, both male and
female. We are indeed told that a very large number of the inhabitants of
Balakagrï¿½ma, headed by Upï¿½li, became lay disciples of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. The banker
Mï¿½gï¿½ra or Mï¿½gadhara of ï¿½rï¿½vastï¿½, father-in-law of the Buddhist lady Visï¿½khï¿½, is
mentioned as a lay disciple of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and a lay supporter of the Nirgrantha
The Jaina Bhagavatï¿½ Sï¿½tra
speaks of two other rich householders Vijaya and Sudarï¿½ana, among the lay
disciples of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. Of these the former was a citizen of
Not only the rich bankers and
merchants, but even kings, queens, princes, and ministers became lay disciples
of the Jaina Tï¿½rthankara Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. His personal connections with the various
rulers were through his mother, Triï¿½alï¿½, the Lichchhavi princess, and his
maternal uncle, Ceï¿½aka, the king of Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½. According to Jaina traditions,
kings like ï¿½reï¿½ika,101 Kï¿½ï¿½ika,102 Ceï¿½aka,103 Pradyota,104 ï¿½atï¿½nï¿½ka,
Dadhivï¿½hana,105 Udï¿½yana,106 Vï¿½angaya, Vï¿½rajasa, ï¿½aï¿½jaya,
ï¿½aï¿½kha, Kï¿½sivaddhaï¿½a107 and others are said to be his
followers. Queens like Prabhï¿½vatï¿½ of Udï¿½yana,108 Mï¿½gï¿½vatï¿½ and Jayantï¿½ of
Koï¿½ï¿½mbï¿½,109 queens of king ï¿½reï¿½ika and
Pradyota,110 and princesses like
Candanï¿½,111 the daughter of the king of Campï¿½
followed Jainism. Princes called Atimukta,112 Padma,113 grandsons of ï¿½reï¿½ika, Megha, Abhaya
and others114 are said to have joined the Order
of Jainism. The royal patronage must have facilitated the spread of
Both Jainism and Buddhism claim most
of the contemporary rulers of this period as followers of their respective
religions. It seems that it was the general policy of the rulers of this and
even of later times to show reverence to the teachers of different sects. As
ï¿½reï¿½ika's father is said to be a follower of the Pï¿½rï¿½vanï¿½tha
sect115 which had also its stronghold at
Rï¿½jagï¿½iha, it is natural that Bimbisï¿½ra was inclined towards Jainism. The
Uttarï¿½dhyayana Sï¿½tra116 relates how Bimbisï¿½ra, ï¿½the lion of
the kingsï¿½ with the greatest devotion visited the other ï¿½Lion of homeless
asceticsï¿½ (Aï¿½agï¿½ra-Siham) at a chaitya with his wives, servants
and relations, and became a staunch believer in the Law. R. K. Mookerji
and other historians117 have identified this ascetic with
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra because of the expression Aï¿½agï¿½ra Siham, while
others118 consider him to be a different
ascetic, Anï¿½thi of the Nirgrantha sect. His Jaina leanings may have been due to
his wife Cellanï¿½, who was a daughter of Ceï¿½aka of Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½. Hemacandra tells the
story that ï¿½when the country was under a blight of frost, the king accompanied
by Devi Cellanï¿½ went to worship Mahï¿½vï¿½raï¿½.119 The fact that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra passed
fourteen rainy seasons at Rï¿½jagï¿½ha is sufficient to prove that he exercised some
influence over both ï¿½reï¿½ika and Kï¿½ï¿½ika, the rulers of Magadha. According to the
Jaina texts,120 Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was always treated by them
and other members of the royal family with the utmost respect. On one occasion,
ï¿½reï¿½ika is said to have issued a proclamation promising financial support to the
relatives of those who enter the Jaina holy order.121
ï¿½reï¿½ika's son Kï¿½ï¿½ika is represented
in the Jaina texts as a Jaina. These texts122 are partial in freeing him from the
charge the Buddhist texts level against him. The Aupapï¿½tika Sï¿½tra throws
special light on the cordial relations between Kï¿½ï¿½ika and Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. Kï¿½ï¿½ika is
known to have appointed a special officer known as Pravï¿½tti Vï¿½duka Puruï¿½a
to inform him about the wanderings and daily routine of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. It contains an
account of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Samoï¿½araï¿½a in Campï¿½ and Kï¿½ï¿½ika's pilgrimage to this
place. He was a frequent visitor to Mahï¿½vï¿½ra with his queens and royal retinue.
He had an intimate connection with him both at Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ and Campï¿½, and openly
declared before Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and his disciples his faith in him as the true teacher
who had made clear the true path of religion based on renunciation and
non-violence. Kï¿½ï¿½ika was succeeded by his son Udayabhadra, who in the lifetime
of his father served him as the Viceroy at Campï¿½. He was a devout Jaina, fasting
on the 8th and 14th tithis.123 He is also known to have built a
Jaina shrine (caityagï¿½ha) at the centre of the town,
At the time of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, Udï¿½yana was
a very powerful monarch of Sindhu Sauvï¿½ra. He is said to have been related to
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra through his wife Prabhï¿½vatï¿½, a daughter of king Ceï¿½aka. It is said that
once Udï¿½yana thought of paying a visit to Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, who was in Campï¿½ at that
time, and that the latter knew his thoughts and came down to his capital
Vitabhaya in order to ordain him. Udï¿½yana anointed Keï¿½ï¿½kumï¿½ra, his sister's son,
on the throne and joined the order under Mahï¿½vï¿½ra.125 He is known to have attained
perfection.126 The Buddhist
scriptures127 describe Udrï¿½yaï¿½a or Rudrï¿½yaï¿½a of
Sindhu Sauvï¿½ra, with Roruka as his capital, as a Buddhist. It is said that an
image of the Buddha was sent by king Bimbisï¿½ra to king Udï¿½yana to acquaint him
with the Buddhist religion. In course of time, he gave his throne to his son
ï¿½ikhaï¿½ï¿½i and joined the Buddhist order under the influence of his queen
According to Jaina traditions,
Pradyota, a follower of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, tried all he could for the propagation of
Jainism. Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was related to Pradyota, because ï¿½ivï¿½, the daughter of his
maternal uncle Ceï¿½aka was married to him. Pradyota is said to have installed the
Svï¿½mï¿½ images of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra at Ujjain, Daï¿½apura and Vidiï¿½ï¿½.128 According to the Buddhists,
Pradyota was converted to Buddhism by Mahï¿½kacchï¿½yana.129
Ceï¿½aka, the ruler of Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½, was a
follower of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. It was only due to his influence that Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ became a
stronghold of Jainism and that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra visited this place from time to time.
Ceï¿½aka had seven daughters, the eldest of whom was married to king Udayana of
Vatsa and the youngest to King ï¿½reï¿½ika Bimbisï¿½ra of Magadha. One joined the
religious Order of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and the other four were married to the members of
the royal family. There may be some truth in the suggestion made by C. J.
that these princesses were instrumental in the propagation of Jainism in
It is significant that Buddhist
books do not mention Ceï¿½aka at all, though they tell us about the constitutional
government of Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½. Buddhists took no notice of him as his influence was used
in the interest of their rivals. Siï¿½ha, a Lichchhavi general, was among the lay
disciples of the Jaina Tï¿½rthaï¿½kara.131
Looking at the great importance of
Campï¿½ in the Jaina annals, there is nothing strange if one assumes that its
ruler, Dadhivï¿½hana, followed Jainism and held Mahï¿½vï¿½ra in high esteem. His
daughter Candanï¿½ or Candanabï¿½lï¿½ was the first woman who embraced Jainism shortly
after Mahï¿½vï¿½ra had attained the Kevala.132 As Campï¿½ became a great centre of
Jainism, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra spent three of the rainy seasons at this
The ruler of Kauï¿½ï¿½mbï¿½ was king
ï¿½atï¿½nï¿½ka to whom was married Mï¿½gï¿½vatï¿½, the third daughter of
Ceï¿½aka.133 Both the king and the queen were
devotees of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and followers of the Jaina Order. The Jaina tradition also
affirms that the king's Minister (Amï¿½tya) and his wife were Jainas by
faith. ï¿½atï¿½nï¿½ka's son and successor was Udayana. The Jaina literature claims him
to be a follower of the Jaina Order. On the other hand, the Buddhist scriptures
tell us that Udayana was at first not favourably inclined towards Buddhism, but
later, however, he became a devotee of the Buddha.
Sï¿½vatthi, Bï¿½rï¿½ï¿½asï¿½, Kampillapura,
Mithilï¿½, Polï¿½sapura and ï¿½labhia were all important towns visited by Mahï¿½vï¿½ra
within the kingdom of king Jiyasattu.134 Jiyasattu (Jita-ï¿½atru,
conqueror of enemies) seems to be a title of the king like the epithet
Devï¿½nampiya of Aï¿½oka. Jiyasattu seems to be no other than Pasenadi or
Prasenajit of Koï¿½ala. The Rï¿½yapaseï¿½iya Sutta135 records a dialogue between Keï¿½ï¿½ and
Paesi, when the latter, being influenced by the teachings of the former, became
a Samaï¿½ovï¿½saga. Keï¿½ï¿½, a follower of Pï¿½rï¿½va, was a Jaina recluse who is
represented in the Uttarï¿½dhyayana Sï¿½tra as the contemporary of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra
and Gautama Indrabhï¿½ti. Paesi or Pradeï¿½ï¿½ may be identified with Pasenadi or
Prasenajit of Koï¿½ala.136
After giving up his flourishing
kingdom of Daï¿½ï¿½rï¿½a, Daï¿½amabhadra, who was the contemporary of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, became a
monk.137 Daï¿½amabhadra is not known from any
other source. Daï¿½ï¿½rï¿½a is identified with Vidiï¿½ï¿½ or Bhilsa region in Madhya
Pradesh.138 The early association of Jainism
with this area is clear even from the Jaina traditions which over that
Vajrasvï¿½mï¿½ and other Jain pontiffs obtained liberation in the hills,
Kuï¿½jarï¿½varta and Rathï¿½varta, in the neighbourhood of Vidiï¿½ï¿½.139
Karakaï¿½ï¿½u, king of Kaliï¿½ga, is known
to have adopted the faith of the Jinas, and, after placing his son on the
throne, exerted himself as ï¿½ï¿½ramaï¿½aï¿½.140 This proves the existence of
Jainism in this Province from very early times, but it is very difficult to say
when Karakaï¿½ï¿½u lived in Kaliï¿½ga. It was a Jaina stronghold, at least from the
time of Trï¿½thankara Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. The Jaina Harivaï¿½ï¿½a Purï¿½ï¿½a informs us that
Lord Mahï¿½vï¿½ra had preached his faith in Kaliï¿½ga. The Haribhadrï¿½ya Vï¿½tti
on ï¿½vaï¿½yaka confirms Mahï¿½vï¿½ra'a visit to the country of Kaliï¿½ga and adds
that the king of that country was a friend (or relation) of his
father's.141 The reference to Nandar ja as
having taken away the image of Jina from Kaliï¿½ga in the inscription of Khï¿½ravela
is very interesting as it proves the existence of image-worship among the Jainas
even in the fifth century B.C.
There are traditions even of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's visit to South India. From the Jivandhara Charita of Bhï¿½skara, it
is known that Jï¿½vandhara, who was the ruling chief of this region at this time,
was a Jaina. He cordially received Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and became an ascetic after
obtaining Dikshï¿½ from him.142 Jï¿½vandhara seems to be an imaginary
name. Actually speaking, there was no such ruler whose kingdom extended to and
comprised of Southern India during this period.
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra is known to have converted
to Jainism a prince named ï¿½rdraka who became a monk.143 He was so much influenced by the
teachings of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra that he always supported Jainism in his disputations with
the teachers of different religions. This ï¿½rdraka is identified with the prince
of the Persian emperor Kuruï¿½a (558-530 B.C.). Both the emperor and the prince
are believed to have sent presents to the king ï¿½reï¿½ika and his son Abhayakumï¿½ra
of Magadha who also in return despatched their presents to them. It is said that
first of all Abhayakumï¿½ra enlightened ï¿½rdraka with the teachings of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. In
course of time, ï¿½rdraka joined the Order of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra.144
On the basis of an evidence
furnished by a very late period, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra is known to have propagated his
message even in the region now known as Rajasthan. There is an inscription of
1276 A.D. which begins with a verse telling us that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra in person came to
ï¿½rï¿½mï¿½la.145 This is supported by the
ï¿½rimï¿½lamï¿½hï¿½tmya, a work of the thirteen century A.D., which gives an
account of the dissemination of Jainism in ï¿½rï¿½mï¿½la. An inscription of 1369 A.D.,
found on the door of the chief shrine in Jï¿½vantasvï¿½mï¿½ ï¿½rï¿½ Mahï¿½vï¿½ra Jaina temple
at Mungusthala Mahï¿½tï¿½rtha, 7 km. west of ï¿½bu Road, shows that Lord Mahï¿½vï¿½ra
visited Arbudabhï¿½mi, and an image was consecrated by ï¿½rï¿½ Kesï¿½ Gaï¿½adhara during
the 37th year of the life of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra.147 These statements are of a very late
date and, therefore, cannot be easily relied on. But from them it can be
legitimately deduced that in the 13th century A.D., Jainism was considered to be
a very old religion in Rajasthan.148
Not only the rulers but also several
contemporary clans149 were the followers of the religion
of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. There are many stray references in the Jaina Sï¿½tras which
prove that the Licchavis followed the Jaina faith. Their capital, Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½,
formed one of the headquarters of the Jaina community during the days of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. Out of the fortytwo rainy seasons of his ascetic life, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra spent
twelve at Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½. Like the Licchavis, the Vajjis, who in fact can not be
strictly differentiated from the Licchavis, came under the influence of
Tï¿½rthaï¿½kara Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, for Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ seems to have been regarded also as the
metropolis of the entire Vajji confederacy. The Jï¿½ï¿½tï¿½kas of Kuï¿½ï¿½agrama, who
formed one of the most important clans included in the Vajjian confederacy, were
also his followers. The other clans of the Vajjian confederacy must have been
naturally influerced by the doctrines of Nï¿½taputta. It is among these
confederate Kï¿½atriyas that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was born and found strong supporters of his
religion. The Mallas also seem to have cherished a feeling of respect and
sympathy for the Tï¿½rthaï¿½kara and his doctrines. The Ugras and the Bhogas are
repeatedly mentioned in several of the oldest sacred books as being among the
most prominent of the earliest converts.
It is clear from the above
discussion that though only a few of these kings can definitely be identified,
the late tradition without much historical support brings nearly all the kings
of North India in those days under the spiritual sway of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra in one way or
the other. While some of the names of these rulers seem to be imaginary, others
might have flourished long after Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. From this evidence only one
significant conclusion can be drawn, namely, that in course of time, Jainism
spread in different parts of India and received royal patronage. During the
period of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, its influence seems to have been confined only to the modern
states of Bihar and some parts of Bengal and U.P. and it is probable that most
of the ruling chiefs of this area patronized Jainism.
and the Buddha
The evidence of Buddhist literature
is adequate enough to prove that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was a senior contemporary of the
Buddha. Although they had not personally met each other, there were occasions
when they felt interested in knowing and discussing each other's views through
some intermediaries. Dï¿½rghatapasvï¿½ and Satyaka (Pï¿½li Sacchaka) among the
Nirgrantha recluses, and Abhaya, the prince, Upï¿½li, the banker, and Siï¿½ha, the
Licchavi General among the Jaina laity, loom large among those intermediaries.
While they are said to have halted at Nï¿½landï¿½, Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ and Rï¿½jagï¿½ha at one and
the same time, they are not known to have seen each other.150 Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was elder in age to
Buddha, the former predeceasing the latter by a few years.
That Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and the Buddha were
contemporaneous is proved by the synchronization of certain historical facts.
When they had started their career as religious teachers and reformers, ï¿½reï¿½ika
Bimbisï¿½ra and Ajï¿½taï¿½atru were powerful kings of Magadha; Aï¿½ga was annexed to the
kingdom of Magadha, and the Vï¿½jji-Lichchhavis of Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ and the Mallas of
Kuï¿½mï¿½ra and Pï¿½vï¿½ formed two powerful confederacies. Prasenjit was the monarch of
Koï¿½ala, and Kï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ was annexed to the kingdom of Koï¿½ala.
It is not without reason that
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra has been represented in the Abhayarï¿½jakumï¿½ra Sutta as personally
interested in the welfare of Devadatta who fomented a schism within the Buddhist
Order of the time.151 B. M. Barua
suggests that Devadatta was a man with Jaina leaning.152 It is probably under the influence
of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's teaching that Devadatta insisted on having the five special rules
introduced in the Buddhist Order.
Even in the life-time of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra,
there arose schimatic tendencies in the Jaina Saï¿½gha. In the fourteenth year of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's becoming a omniuï¿½nts, his nephew and son-in-law, Jamï¿½li, headed an
opposition against him. Similarly, two years later, a holy man in the Jaina
community, Tisagutta, made an attack on certain points in Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's doctrine.
Both of these schisms were, however, concerned with mere trifles, and seem to
have caused no great trouble, as they were speedily stopped by the authority of
the himself. Jamï¿½li, however, persisted in his heretical opinions until his
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra attained Nirvï¿½ï¿½a at
the age of 72 at Pï¿½vï¿½. It is said in the Kalpasï¿½tra153 that when Mahï¿½vï¿½ra died, the
eighteen confederate kings of Kï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ and Koï¿½ala, the nine Mallakï¿½s and the nine
Lichchhavis instituted an illumination, saying ï¿½since the light of intelligence
is gone, let us make an illumination of material matter.ï¿½ The Nirvï¿½ï¿½a day is
being celebrated as the Dï¿½pï¿½vatï¿½ festival (festival of lamps) throughout India.
Besides, Mahaviaï¿½ Nirvana day makes
the beginning of Vï¿½ra Nirvï¿½ï¿½a Saï¿½vat. This Saï¿½vat is the oldest Saï¿½vat rampant
There is a persistent Jaina
tradition that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra attained Nirvï¿½ï¿½a in 527 B.C. but this seems to
have become controversial by an incorrect statement of Hemacandra's (1078-1172
A.D.) to the effect that 155 years after the Nirvï¿½ï¿½a of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra,
Candragupta became king.154 The whole problem was made more
complicated and controversial by connecting it with Buddha's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a, the
date of which has not yet been fully and authoritatively
ascertained.155 Scholars are therefore not
unanimous about the date of the Nirvï¿½ï¿½a of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra as they still hold
In order to solve this problem of
the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a, one should take a comprehensive view. It
is well known from the different sources that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra flourished in the age of
ï¿½reï¿½ika (Bimbisï¿½ra) and Kï¿½ï¿½ika (Ajï¿½taï¿½atru) of Magadha, Prasenajit of Koï¿½ala,
Udayana of Vatsa, Pradyota of Avanti and Puï¿½karasï¿½rin of Taxila. It is also
certain that he lived in the days of Maï¿½khali Goï¿½ï¿½la and Buddha. Maï¿½khali Goï¿½ï¿½la
was his senior contemporary and died sixteen and a half years earlier, while
Buddha was his junior contemporary and died afterwards. A Jaina tradition states
that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra attained Nirvï¿½ï¿½a in the 16th year of the reign of Kï¿½ï¿½ika
and the Buddhist tradition places the Buddha's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a in that king's 8th
regnal year. The date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a is said to have coincided
with the date of the coronation at Ujjayinï¿½ of Pï¿½laka, the son of Caï¿½ï¿½a
Pradyota, the king of Avanti. We can be successful in determining the date of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a if we depend not only on the Buddhist but also on the
Jaina and Brahmanical sources to fix up the dates of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's contemporary
rulers and religious teachers.
Theory of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a in 467 B.C.
The theory that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a
occurred in 467 B.C. was suggested long ago by H. Jacobi156 and was strongly supported by
J. Charpentier.157 K. A. Sastri,158 who subscribes to the same opinion,
supports this theory with almost the same arguments which are as
1. This date
is based on a tradition recorded by the great Jaina author, Hemacandra, namely,
that there was a gap of 155 years between the death of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and the
accession of Candragupta Maurya. According to the Jaina tradition, the accession
of Candragupta Maurya at Ujjain took place in 312 B.C. Hence, the year of the
Nirvï¿½ï¿½a is 467 B.C. Here the year 312 B.C. probably indicates the date of
extension of the Mauryan rule over Ujjayini in the reign of Candragupta
2. J. Charpentier
believed the year of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a to be 467 B.C. on the presumption
that the Buddha's death definitely occurred in 477 B.C. According to the
Buddhist texts, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and the Buddha were both contemporaries, and they
flourished in the reign of Ajï¿½taï¿½atru.
3. He believed
that no person of the name of Vikrama ever existed about 57 B.C. and further
that there was discrepancy of 60 years between the account of other Jaina
sources and that of Hemacandra who stated that Candragupta Maurya came to the
throne 155 years after Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's death. Hence by deducting 60 years from
the traditional period of 527 years before Christ, he arrived at the year 467
to the Jaina tradition, the Jaina Pontiff Sambhï¿½tivijaya died exactly in the
year following Chandragupta's accession, or 156 after Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. Bhadrabï¿½hu, the
successor of Sambhutivijaya, died fifteen years later. All Jaina traditions from
Hemacandra downwards give 170 after Mahï¿½vï¿½ra as the year of Bhadrabï¿½hu's death.
This would be 297 B.C. if the date 467 B.C. is accepted as the year of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's death. The Jaina tradition also brings Bhadrabï¿½hu into the closest
connection with Chandragupta in whose reign the date 297 B.C.
Kalpasï¿½tra in its present form is a compilation made 980 years after the
passing away of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra during the reign of Dhruvasena, king of Gujarat, but in
another recension the number is 993. King Dhruvasena is known to have ruled from
526 to 540 A.D. From this, the date 467 B.C. is fixed as the year of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's
While discussing the date of
Goï¿½ï¿½la's death, A. L. Basham159 fixes the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's death
in 468-467 B.C., which agrees with the date suggested by H. Jacobi
on the basis of Hemcandra's Pariï¿½iï¿½ï¿½aparvan and supported by J. Charpentier. Prof.
Basham accepts 483 B.C. as the date of the Buddha's
Nirvï¿½ï¿½a. On the basis of the Mahï¿½vaï¿½ï¿½a synchronism, the accession
of Ajï¿½taï¿½atru must have occurred in the year 491 B.C. and the second campaign
against the Vajjis in 481-480 B.C. There are two synchronisms for the date of
Goï¿½ï¿½la's death, the first being the tradition of its occurrence sixteen and a
half years before that of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, and the second that of its taking place
during the war between Magadha and Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ in the reign of Ajï¿½taï¿½atru-Kï¿½ï¿½iya. Of
the two, the latter seems the more reliable. There were two campaigns of the war
called Mahï¿½ï¿½ilï¿½kaï¿½ï¿½ae and Rahamusale respectively. A. L.
suggests that the first campaign, soon after which Goï¿½ï¿½la died, must have taken
place at some time between the date of Ajï¿½taï¿½atru's accession and the year
preceding the Buddha's death. He held the view that the first campaign occurred
in 485 B.C. and the death of Goï¿½ï¿½la in 484 B.C., if a year is allowed for the
news of the ï¿½Battle of Great Stonesï¿½ to spread to Sï¿½vatthi and to become
fixed in the popular consciousness. With regard to the death of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra as
taking place at Pï¿½vï¿½ during the Buddha's lifetime and as mentioned in the Pali
scriptures, he considers it to be that of Goï¿½ï¿½la at Sï¿½vatthi, which the
Bhagavatï¿½ Sï¿½tra also mentions as having been accompanied by quarrel and
confusion. The Mahï¿½parinibbï¿½na Sutta records that the preparations for
the campaign against the Vajjis were made in the last year of the Buddha's life
while Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was still alive during the course of war.
Hasting160 tries to fix the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's
Nirvï¿½ï¿½a in c. 477 or 476 B.C. He comes to this conclusion by
combining the Jaina date of Candragupta's accession to the throne 155 years
after the Nirvï¿½ï¿½a with the historical date of the same event in 322
In his attempt to discuss the date
of Goï¿½ï¿½la's death, A.F.R.
Hoernle161 also fixed the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's
Nirvï¿½ï¿½a. He accepts 482 B.C. as the ï¿½practically certainï¿½ date of
the Buddha's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a. King Bimbisï¿½ra, the father and predecessor of
Ajï¿½taï¿½atru, was murdered by his son eight years before the Nirvï¿½ï¿½a or in
490 B.C. A.F.R. Horenle
believes that for some years before this, Ajï¿½taï¿½atru was the de facto
ruler, and that the war took place, not in the year of his legal, but of his
de facto accession, which cannot have been long before the murder of
Bimbisï¿½ra. H. Jacobi's
theory of the later date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's death is rejected by him, in order to
devise a chronological scheme according to which Mahï¿½vï¿½ra may predecease the
Buddha; but the Bhagavatï¿½ tradition of the sixteen years interval between
the deaths of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and Goï¿½ï¿½la is accepted by him without question. He
therefore suggests 484 B.C. for the death of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and 500 B.C. for that of
Goï¿½ï¿½la and for the war and the de facto accession of
H.C. Raychaudhuri162 suggests 478 B.C. or 486 B.C. and
536 B.C. as the probable dates of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a, according to
the Cantonese reckoning which places the death of the Buddha in 486 B.C.,
or according to the Ceylonese one which places it in 544 B.C., whichever is
accepted as the basis. Between 478 B.C. and 486 B.C., the first date is said to
be in conformity with Hemacandra's who is said to have placed Candragupta's
accession in M.E. 155, i.e. 323 B.C. in this case, which cannot be far from the
truth, but that would be at variance with the clear evidence of the Buddhist
canonical texts which make the Buddha survive his Jï¿½ï¿½tï¿½ka rival. Hence he
considers 486 B.C. to be a more likely date as it is also in keeping with the
year of Ajï¿½taï¿½atru's accession. The Jaina statement that their Tï¿½rthaï¿½kara dies
some sixteen years after the accession of Kï¿½ï¿½ika (Ajï¿½taï¿½atru) can be reconciled
with the Buddhist tradition about the death of the same teacher before the
eighth year of Ajï¿½taï¿½atru, if we assume that the Jainas, who refer to Kï¿½ï¿½ika as
the ruler of Campï¿½, begin their reckoning from the accession of the prince to
the viceregal throne of Campï¿½ while the Buddhists make the accession of
Ajï¿½taï¿½atru to the royal throne of Rï¿½jagï¿½ha the basis for their
C.D. Chatterjee163 also favours 486 B.C., because for
him 483 B.C. is definitely the correct year of the Buddha's death and
because he believes, on the basis of ï¿½clear evidence of the Buddhist tradition
on this questionï¿½ that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra predeceased the Buddha.
H.C. Seth164 suggests 488 B.C. as the date of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's death on the basis of the Buddhist tradition, assuming 487 B.C. as
the date of the Buddha's death. The great difficulty in accepting 468 B.C.
according to him is that it will place Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's death several years after that
of the Buddha. On the other hand, the tradition preserved in the Buddhist Pï¿½li
canon clearly says that Nigaï¿½ï¿½ha Nï¿½taputta, i.e. Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, died at Pï¿½vï¿½ a little
before the Buddha.
The traditional chronology given in
Merutunga's Vicaraï¿½reï¿½ï¿½ puts Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a 470 years before
the Vikrama era. All the Jaina traditions assign 40 years of reign to Nahavï¿½ï¿½a
between the period of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a and Vikrama. This Nahavï¿½ï¿½a is
generally identified with Nahapï¿½ï¿½a, the Mahï¿½kshatrapa of Kshaharï¿½ta family, who
lived after the commencement of the Vikrama era. If we take out 40 years of
Nahavï¿½ï¿½a from 470 years, the interval given in these traditions between Mahï¿½vï¿½ra
Nirvï¿½ï¿½a and the commencement of the Vikrama era, the difference between
these two important events will be 430 years. This will give 488 B.C. as the
date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra Nirvï¿½ï¿½a. This will place Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's death about a year
before that of the Buddha who died in 487 B.C. These two dates will reconcile
most of the Buddhist as well as the Jaina traditions about these two great
Y. Mishra165 presupposes 487 B.C. as the date of
Buddha's death, and then, by comparing the details of the lives of the Buddha
and Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, especially the places where they spent their rainy seasons, he
comes to the conclusion that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra died in 490 B.C. In order to find out the
date of that specific rainy season when Mahï¿½vï¿½ra died, he consulted the lives of
the Buddha and Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, viz. Buddhacaryï¿½ (in Hindi) by Rahula
Sankrityayana and ï¿½ramaï¿½a Bhagvï¿½n Mahï¿½vï¿½ra by Ratnaprabha
Vijaya. In the Buddhacaryï¿½, it is stated that Lord Buddha
spent the 17th rainy season at Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, further in the Mahï¿½sakuludï¿½yi
Sutta,166 it is said that on that particular
occasion, both Buddha and Nigaï¿½ï¿½ha Nï¿½taputta were present. Taking 567 B.C. as
the date of the birth of the Buddha, this comes to 516 B.C. By taking 561 B.C.
as the date of the birth of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, it becomes clear that he spent his 16th
rainy season in 516 B.C. at Rï¿½jagï¿½ha. In the rainy season of 513 B.C. also, both
the Buddha and Mahï¿½vï¿½ra were at Rï¿½jagï¿½ha.
The Sï¿½maï¿½ï¿½aphala Sutta tells
us how king Ajï¿½taï¿½atru of Magadha paid visits to one after another of the six
heretical teachers to hear their doctrines, and at last discontented with them
all, he took refuge with the Buddha. This visit of Ajï¿½taï¿½atru to the Buddha took
place in 491 B.C. The rainy season of 491 B.C., which was his forty-second rainy
season, was passed by the Buddha at ï¿½rï¿½vastï¿½. This Buddhist reference therefore
means that sometime in the last month of the Cï¿½turmï¿½sya, the Buddha came
to Rï¿½jagï¿½ha. Coming to Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, it is known that he lived at Rï¿½jagï¿½ha in 491
B.C. during the rainy season of the forty-first year of his ascetic life. Thus
it was possible for Ajï¿½taï¿½atru to meet the Buddha at Rï¿½jagï¿½ha after having met
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. Mahï¿½vï¿½ra passed his forty-second rainy season in 490 B.C. at
Madhyamï¿½ Pï¿½vï¿½ where he died.
Both from the Buddhist and the Jaina
traditions, it is clear that both the Buddha and Mahï¿½vï¿½ra were at Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ in 519
B.C. and that the conversion of Sï¿½ha to Buddhism also took place at the same
time. The Upï¿½lisutta is also important, because the event took place at
Nï¿½landï¿½ when both the teachers were there in 491 B.C.
So the year 490 B.C. as the year of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's death is able not only to show that Buddha survived Mahï¿½vï¿½ra but also
to make both the teachers spend the same rainy season at Rï¿½jagï¿½ha, Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½ and
B.C. Law167 advocated another theory when he
postulated 498 B.C. as the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a. According to him,
527 B.C. and 544 B.C. as the dates of the demise of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and the Buddha
respectively cannot be harmonized with the historical facts connected with the
lives of the two great teachers of India. Two things, he says, may be taken as
certain: (1) that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra predeceased the Buddha by 5 or 6, 7 or 8 or even 14
or 15 years; and (2) that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra passed as a Jina before the Buddha. The
authenticity of B.C. 544 or 543 as the date of Buddha's demise has been
questioned by modern scholars who propose either 486 B.C. or 484 B.C. as the
correct date. The figure 544 or 543 is accounted for as the date of the
accession of ï¿½reï¿½ika Bimbisï¿½ra. Similarly, the figure 527 is accounted for as
the date of the attainment of Jinahood by Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. Accepting this date of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Kevalï¿½ship, one has to compute the date of his birth as B.C. 570, and
that of his demise as B.C. 498.
K. P. Jayaswal
fixed the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a in 545 B.C. His main argument was
that since according to some Jaina Paï¿½ï¿½ï¿½valï¿½s, it was the interval
between Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a and Vikrama's birth, and not his accession,
which is said to have been 470 years, and since Vikrama ascended the throne and
started his era at the age of 18 in 57 B.C., Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's date should be pushed
further back by 18 years. He tried to corroborate his theory by a statement of
some of the other Paï¿½ï¿½ï¿½valï¿½s which give 219 years as the interval between
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and the accession of Candragupta Maurya, which according to him is
otherwise fixed in 325 B.C. He also tried to reconcile his chronology based upon
the Jaina sources with the Purï¿½ï¿½ic traditions, identified Vikrama with King
Pulumï¿½vi, the son of Gautmï¿½putra Sï¿½takarï¿½i, and fixed the Buddha's
Nirvï¿½ï¿½a in 544 B.C.168
S. V. Venkatesvara
puts forth 437 B.C. as the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a. Believing that the
Buddha died sometime between 485 and 453 B.C., and that he could not have died
after Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, this scholar surmises that 470 years' tradition relates to the
ï¿½nanda Vikrama era of 33 A.D.169
of the above theories
Although some of the theories set
forth above are well reasoned and convincing, they present some serious
The greatest defect of some of the
above theories is that their advocates, H. Jacobi, J. Charpentier, J.
Hasting and A.L. Basham,
based them on the statement of Hemacandra (12th Century A.D.). Candragupta
Maurya ascended the throne in M.E. (Mahï¿½vï¿½ra era) 155. His statement is the
solitary instance of this view and is at variance with all other Jaina sources,
Digambara or ï¿½vetï¿½mbara, earlier or later than himself, that give this date as
M.E. 210 or 215. This caused confusion which misled these scholars. The
Tiloyapaï¿½ï¿½ati of Yativï¿½ï¿½abha (5th century A.D.), the
Harivaï¿½ï¿½a of Jinasena (783 A.D.), Trilokasï¿½ra of Nemicandra (973
A.D.), Vicï¿½raï¿½reï¿½i of Merutuï¿½ga (1306 A.D.) and others mention
The Pï¿½laka mentioned in the lists
was the son of King Caï¿½ï¿½a Pradyota of Ujjayinï¿½ and that during the period of 60
years allowed to Kï¿½ï¿½ika and Udï¿½yï¿½ he was ruling at Pï¿½ï¿½aliputra, are facts
corroborated by some other sources. In connection with these dynastic
chronologies, it may, however, be noted that it is not correct to treat them as
referring to the kings of Magadha. All kings and dynasties mentioned in them are
definitely known to be connected with Ujjayinï¿½ in Malwa or Western India. Of
course, some of them ruled over a big empire covering other parts of India,
including Magadha as well.
Curiously enough, even
Hemacandra170 in another context of the same work
has admitted that the Nanda dynasty began in M.E. 60 and in another work of
his171 he gives the traditional date of
527 B.C. when he mentions that Kumï¿½rapï¿½la became a ruler 1669 years after
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a. The year of Kumï¿½rapï¿½la's accession to the throne is
known to be 1143 A.D.
Another serious defect of these
theories is that their advocates attempted to determine the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's
Nirvï¿½ï¿½a on the basis of that of the Buddha's which itself is full of
controversy. That has resulted in divergent conclusions. H. Jacobi
and J. Charpentier
believed the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a to be 467 B.C. on the assumption
that the Buddha's death occurred definitely in 477 B.C. A.L. Basham
and A.F.R. Hoernle
accepted 483 B.C. as the date of the Buddha's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a, and then attempted
to fix the dates of Goï¿½ï¿½la and Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. H.C. Raychaudhuri,
and Y. Mishra
first presupposed 486-487 B.C. as the date of Buddha's death, and then attempted
to fix Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's death. K.P. Jayaswal,
by accepting the Buddha's death in 544 B.C., fixed Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a in
545 B.C. The proper approach to the problem is that one should settle the date
of the Buddha's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a by accepting that of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra in 527 B.C. as it
is not controversial.
Jacobi, J. Charpentier, A.L. Basham, H.C. Seth and K.P. Jayaswal
wrongly think that the Buddha predeceased Mahï¿½vï¿½ra. From
the study of the early Buddhist texts, it is clear that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was the senior
contemporary of the Buddha; that he attained Kevalajï¿½ï¿½na earlier and that
he predeceased the Buddha by 5, or 6, 7 or 8, even 14 or 15 years. These
Buddhist texts record the death of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra or Nigaï¿½ï¿½ha Nï¿½taputta as taking
place at Pï¿½vï¿½ during the Buddha's lifetime and as being accompanied by serious
confusion and quarrelling among his supporters.
The view held by some scholars that
there are irregularities in the list of kings and dynasties ruling from the
period of the Nirvï¿½ï¿½a of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra to 57 B.C. or 78 A.D. is not wholly
correct. On the other hand, many scholars also believe that the Jaina traditions
have definite historical background. In spite of minor discrepancies in dates,
the general account given in them is fully in keeping with the known facts of
history.172 Here the question does not relate
to the verification of individual dynasty and king but to the determination of
the general correctness of the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a given in the
All the Jaina traditions assign
forty years of reign to Nahavï¿½ï¿½a before Vikrama. H.C. Seth
thinks that this Nahavï¿½ï¿½a or Nahapï¿½ï¿½a, the Mahï¿½kshatrapa of Kshaharï¿½ta family,
lived after Vikrama, and by taking 40 years out of 470, he considers 430 years
to be the difference between the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a and the
commencement of the Vikrama era. Against this, it may be suggested that
Nahavï¿½ï¿½a here means the ï¿½ake rule in Ujjayini before Vikrama in the
second or first century B.C. This Jaina tradition is supported even by
numismatic evidence.173 Copper coins of five rulers, viz.,
Hamugama, Valï¿½ka, Mahu, Dï¿½sa and Sauma, have been scooped out from Ujjain and
from the neighbouring region. With the help of palaeography, the historian can
place these rulers in the second and first century B.C. K.D. Bajpai
tried to prove that the rulers who issued the coins were ï¿½akas, the predecessors
of the two well known dynasties of Bhï¿½maka and Cashï¿½ana. The names on the coins
resemble those of the ï¿½aka chiefs already known from inscriptions and other
coins. On the reverse, there are figures such as those of frog, moon on hill,
tree within railing; or a double-orbed Ujjain symbol.
Mukhtar174 attempts a refutation of the theory
propounded by J. Charpentier
as also by K. P. Jayaswal
by trying to prove that Vikrama era started neither with the birth nor with the
coronation of Vikrama but with his death, and that therefore no addition or
reduction in the traditional interval of 470 years was
came to the conclusion that the death of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra occurred in 490 B.C. when he
compared the details of the lives of the Buddha and Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, especially the
places where they spent their rainy seasons. For this, he consulted
Buddhacaryï¿½ (in Hindi) by R. Sankrityayana
and ï¿½ramaï¿½a Bhagvï¿½n Mahï¿½vï¿½ra by Ratna Prabha
Vijaya. In the very early Jaina and Buddhist scriptures, no
chronological description of the rainy seasons spent by Lord Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and the
Buddha have been given. Both R. Sankrityayana
Vijaya have based the account of rainy seasons on very late
works which cannot be relied upon.
As regards S. V. Venkateswara's
theory to the effect that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra died in 437 B.C., there is absolutely no
tradition which can support it. Moreover, as the late G. H. Ojha175 showed in his article ï¿½On the
conception of an Ananda Vikrama Eraï¿½, no such era was ever started or gained
currency, nor does it find any mention in the Pï¿½thvï¿½rï¿½ja-rï¿½so of poet
Canda as is alleged.
theory of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½na in 527 B.C.
There are scholars176 who maintain that Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's
Nirvï¿½ï¿½a took place in 527 B.C. The following arguments may be advanced in
support of this theory.
1. There is a
continuous Jaina tradition from the fifth century A.D. onwards about the date of
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a in 527 B.C. Yativï¿½ï¿½habha (5th century A.D.) seems to
have been the first to record this tradition in the Tiloyapaï¿½ï¿½ati, and it
is corroborated by Jinasena (783 A.D.) in the Harivaï¿½ï¿½a, by Nemicandra
(973 A.D.) in the Trilokasï¿½ra, by Merutuï¿½ga (1306 A.D.) in the
Vicï¿½raï¿½reï¿½i, and by others. The Jaina writers, whenever they expressed
the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, did it either straight away in the Mahï¿½vï¿½ra era, or in
terms of either the Vikrama or the ï¿½aka era. The Vikrama era and the ï¿½aka era
are known to have started in 57 B.C. and 78 A.D. respectively with the
well-known interval of 135 years between them. The Jainas have never had any
difference of opinion regarding the date of Tï¿½rthaï¿½kara Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, as, for
instance, the Buddhists had regarding the date of the Buddha. The reason is that
there was no cultural break. Jainism continued to live in India while Buddhism
disappeared. In spite of schismatic tendencies and the predominance of
particular sects in particular regions, it remained in constant touch with its
coreligionists wherever they were or to whichever sub-sect they belonged. Thus
the Jainas were able to preserve their cultural
2. In the
Vicï¿½raï¿½reï¿½ï¿½ of Merutuï¿½ga, there are some old gï¿½thï¿½s containing references
to historical and chronological events taking place between the Mahï¿½vï¿½ra era and
the Vikrama and ï¿½aka eras. The substance of this information may be submitted in
the following chronological able.
Nandas established supremacy
Mauryas established supremacy
Gardabhilla expelled by the ï¿½akas
Vikramï¿½ditya recovers Ujjayinï¿½
Four successors of Vikramï¿½ditya
ï¿½aka era commences
There is nothing in this general
chronological scheme which, on the face of it, appears to be absurd or even
unworthy of belief. In point of details also, this account is in fair accordance
with known historical facts. This chronological scheme must be regarded, on the
whole, as transmitting an old historical tradition, which, though not acceptable
in all its details without further corroborative evidence, cannot be thrown out
as worthless or contradicted by positive testimony of reliable character. Hence,
the date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a, which is the foundation of this
chronological scheme, cannot be wrong.
3. The Jainas
have tried to preserve the traditions relating to the ï¿½rutï¿½vatï¿½ra (i.e.
the redaction of the canon). In this connection, some Jaina
works177 give the genealogy of 28 immediate
successors of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, divided into five groups with the periods taken by each
group. These works tell us at the end that by deducting 77 years and 7 months
from this period of 683 years, we get 605 years and 5 months, which is the
exact interval between Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's death and the commencement of the ï¿½aka era.
All these sources are in perfect agreement as to the fact that this succession
lasted till 683 years after Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's Nirvï¿½ï¿½a, that up to this time, the
direct canonical knowledge, though gradually declining in volume, continued to
be preserved in the memory of these Gurus, and that it was about this time that
the redaction of the surviving canonical knowledge was undertaken and the Jaina
canons for the first time appeared in book form.
The slight differences one notices
in these various sources, relate only to certain names. Some sources also differ
in the extent of knowledge preserved by groups V and VI. The Paï¿½ï¿½ï¿½valï¿½s
of the Nandi Saï¿½gha, particularly its Prakï¿½it Paï¿½ï¿½ï¿½valï¿½, which is
quite an old document, gives the total period for the 5 Gurus of group IV
as 123 years, whereas the other sources give it as 220 or 222 years; and while
this Paï¿½ï¿½ï¿½valï¿½ allots 99 years to group V, they allot 118 years to it.
According to the Jaina traditions, Bhadrabï¿½hu was the contemporary of
Candragupta Maurya (324-300 B.C.), but in the genealogy of the Pontiffs, he is
allotted 365 B.C. K. C. Sastri178 has tried to rectify his mistake of
sixty years in the genealogical table of the Pontiffs.
4. There are also traditions which
relate to Kalki who is believed to have flourished at about the close of the
first millennium after Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's death.179 In this connection, chronological
lists of the ruling dynasties, particularly of Ujjayinï¿½, have been preserved for
these one thousand years ending with Kalki's tyrannical rule. Kalki is
identified with either Yaï¿½odharman of the Aulikara dynasty of Mandsor or with
Mihirakula of the Hï¿½ï¿½a dynasty.180 It is more likely that he was
tradition, which further confirms this date relates to the great schism in the
Jaina Saï¿½gha. According to the ï¿½vetï¿½mbara sources, the schism took place in M.E.
609, and according to the Digambara ones, in V.E. 136, thus giving the date as
A.D. 82 or 79.181
6. The date of
the redaction of the ï¿½vetï¿½mbara canon is another instance. Tradition places this
event in M.E. 980 or 993 (i.e. A.D. 453 or 466) which seems to be quite correct
since Bhadrabï¿½hu III, who wrote the Niryuktis on the redacted
ï¿½gamasï¿½tras, was an elder brother of Varï¿½hamihira, the astronomer (427
S.E. or 505 A.D.).
Puï¿½karasï¿½rin, who was a contemporary of Pradyota of Avanti and Bimbisï¿½ra
of Magadha, was the ruler of Gandhï¿½ra with its capital at Taxila. Pradyota was
engaged in hostilities with Puï¿½karasï¿½rin the cause of which is not known.
Puï¿½karasï¿½rin is said to have sent an ambassador and a letter to king Bimbisï¿½ra
of Magadha. But Bimbisï¿½ra was in no mood to alienate Pradyota. Pradyota was
unsuccessful in his war, but was saved from disaster by the outbreak of
hostilities between Puï¿½karasï¿½rin and the Pï¿½ï¿½ï¿½avas. The Pï¿½ï¿½ï¿½avas appear to have
settled in the Punjab.
This area of Gandhï¿½ra seems to have
become a part of the Persian empire from about 550 B.C. It is generally held
that the eastern conquest of Cyrus (558-530 B.C.) included the Districts of
Drangiana, Sattagydia and Gandaritis (Gandhï¿½ra). The two later inscriptions of
Persepolis (518-515 B.C.) and of Naksh-i-Rustam (515 B.C.) mention Hi(n)du or
the northern Punjab as a part of the domain of Darius, the successor of Cyrus.
These references indicate that probably it was Cyrus who conquered Gandhï¿½ra
which was inherited by Darius as a part of his empire, while for himself he
pushed his Indian conquest farther into the region called
As Gandhï¿½ra became a part of the
Persian empire from 550 B.C., its ruler Puï¿½karasï¿½rin must be placed earlier.
Bimbisï¿½ra and Pradyota, who were the contemporaries of Puï¿½karasï¿½rin, were ruling
in about 550 B.C. As Mahï¿½vï¿½ra is known to be a contemporary of Bimbisï¿½ra and
Pradyota, the date of his Nirvï¿½ï¿½a in 527 B.C., as recorded in the Jaina
scriptures, is not improbable.
8. If we
assume this date of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra's death to be correct, it does not conflict with
the known facts of history. Caï¿½ï¿½a Pradyota, king of Avanti, died on the same
night of 527 B.C. as Tï¿½rthaï¿½kara Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, and he was succeeded by his son
Pï¿½laka. Caï¿½ï¿½a Pradyota is known to have ruled for 23 years, which implies that
he became a ruler in about 550 B.C. Pradyota is known to be one of the
contemporaries of both Bimbisï¿½ra and his son Ajï¿½taï¿½atru. According to the Jaina
tradition, Mahï¿½vï¿½ra died sixteen years after the coronation of Ajï¿½taï¿½atru, and
this period might have included some years of his Viceroyalty over Campï¿½. It
seems that he started his rule from about 535 B.C. His father Bimbisï¿½ra, is
known to have ruled 28 (or 38) years according to the Purï¿½ï¿½as, and 52
years according to the Sinhalese chronicles. Hence his accession to the throne
may be placed either in 587 B.C. or in 563 B.C. Since Goï¿½ala is known to have
died sixteen and a half years before Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, his date of death may be presumed
to be 543 B.C. As the Buddha was a junior contemporary of Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, he might
have attained Nirvï¿½ï¿½a a few years after Mahï¿½vï¿½ra.
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was one of the great
religious teachers of mankind. He recognized the need for the perfection of self
and prescribed certain practical rules of conduct for the attainment of this
aim. He did not preach to others what he did not practise himself. For the
realization of such an aim, he believed in the blissfulness of the entire being.
This happy state, he said, cannot be bought by the wealth, pomp, and power of
the world but can certainly be realized through patience, forbearance,
self-denial, forgiveness, humality and, compassion. For this purpose, he
inculcated the doctrine of Ahiï¿½sï¿½ or non-violence in thought, word and
action. Those who came under the influence of his personality, gave up the
eating of meat and fish and took to vegetarian diet. This principle was at the
back of many philanthropic and humanitarian deeds and institutions which he
For Mahï¿½vï¿½ra distinctions of caste,
creed or sex did not matter. According to him, salvation is the birthright of
everyone, and it is assured if one follows the prescribed rules of conduct. His
doctrine of Karma made the individual conscious of his responsibility for
all actions. It also awakened the consciousness that salvation was not a gift or
favour but an attainment within the reach of human beings.
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was tolerant in religious
matters. As there were different conflicting religious and philosophical views
current in his time, he formulated the principal of Syï¿½dvï¿½da in which
there is room for the consideration of them all. This attitude in religious
matters produced an atmosphere of mutual harmony among the followers of
different sects, who began to appreciate the views of their opponents as
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was a great
Mï¿½haï¿½a182 who possessed fully formed
knowledge and insight, who was adored and worshipped by the three worlds, and
who was furnished with a wealth of meritorious works. He was known to be a great
Guardian183 because he protected and guarded,
with his staff of the Law, all those numerous living beings who in the
wilderness of the world were straying or perishing, being devoured or cut
asunder or pierced through or mutilated or castrated, He was a great preacher184 because by means of many discourses
and explanations he delivered people from evil and saved all those numerous
living beings that were straying or perishing. He was a great
pilot185 because by means of the boat of the
doctrine, he brought them straight to the shore of the Nirvï¿½ï¿½a and
delivered all those numerous living beings that, on the great sea of the world,
were straying or perishing by sinking or drowning or
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, who was the wisest sage
the world has known possessed infinite knowledge and faith. This wise man had
knowledge of all beings, mobile or immobile, high or low, eternal or transient.
Like a lamp, he saw the doctrine in a true light.186 He knew this world and the world
beyond.187 His knowledge was inexhaustible
like the water of the sea. As he had mastered all philosophical systems, he
understood the doctrines of the Kriyï¿½vï¿½dins, of the Akriyï¿½vï¿½dins, of the
Vainayikas, and of the Ajï¿½ï¿½navï¿½dins.188 His perception was
He endured severe tortures and
penances in his life in order to annihilate his karmas. He bore
everything like the earth. Having conquered the passions : wrath, pride, deceit,
greed, which defile the soul the great sage did not commit any wrong, nor did he
cause any wrong to be committed by others. He practised the highest
contemplation, which is the purest of the pure. He granted protection to all and
was the most vigorous. He wandered about without a home and crossed the flood of
the Saï¿½sï¿½ra. He renounced everything because he had broken away from all
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra was a great reformer. Since
many abuses had crept into Society, he did his utmost to remove
He possessed a great organizing
capacity, and made the laity participate in the Saï¿½gha along with the
monks. He encouraged a close union between laymen and monks by advocating
similar religious duties for both, duties that differed not in kind but in
1. Uvï¿½, VII.
XXII, pp. 80, 248.
3. ï¿½chï¿½, II, 15, 15;
Kalpa, 109, 110.
XXII, p. 226; Sama, p. 89a; Sthï¿½nï¿½, p. 523b; ï¿½chï¿½, II, 15.
4-5 (pp. 190-191).
5. Bhag, 9.33 (pp.
6. V. A.
Smith : The Jain Stï¿½pa and other Antiquities of Mathura,
7. ï¿½vaï¿½yaka Niryukti, Kalpa Sï¿½tra,
ï¿½vaï¿½yaka Sï¿½tra, (Hï¿½ribhadriya-Tikï¿½), Mahï¿½vï¿½ra Chariyaï¿½ of Nemichandra,
Mahï¿½vï¿½ra Chariyam of Guï¿½achadra Gaï¿½i, Paumachariyam of Vimala
Sï¿½ri, Varï¿½ï¿½ga-Charitam of Jaï¿½ï¿½siï¿½ha Nandi and
8. Pï¿½jyapï¿½da's Daï¿½abhakti, (p.
116); Jinasena's Harivaï¿½ï¿½apurï¿½ï¿½a (1-2); Guï¿½abhadra's Uttarapurï¿½ï¿½a
(74); Dï¿½manandi's Purï¿½ï¿½a Saï¿½graha; Asaga's Vardhamï¿½ma-Charitra
(XVII. 61); Sakalakï¿½rti's Vardhamï¿½na Charitra (VII).
9. ï¿½chï¿½, II,
15. 15, 17.
10. Sï¿½tra, 1, 2, 3,
11. Kalpa, (Sï¿½tras 110, 112,
12. Uttarï¿½, VI,
13. Bhagavatï¿½ ï¿½i, II, 1, 12,
14. Uttara-Purï¿½ï¿½a (75);
Vimala Purï¿½ï¿½a; ï¿½reï¿½ika-Caritra (9); and
15. Jaina Siddhï¿½nta Bhï¿½skara, 3
(Sept. 1936), p. 50, f.n.).
16. Sindhu-deï¿½a literally means
ï¿½the country of Riversï¿½ and Tirabhukti, too, has a similar meaning, i.e.
ï¿½the Province situated on the Banks (of Rivers). From the Gupta period onwards,
Videha came to be known as Tirabhukti.
17. Meghadï¿½ta, 1,
18. English translation of
Uvï¿½sagadasï¿½v (Bibliotheca Indica Series, Calcutta,
19. V.A. Smith :
Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. XII (New York, 1921), pp.
1903-4, p. 82.
23. Lmlt, p.
24. A.F.R. Hoernle
Jacobi interpreted Sanniveï¿½a in the sense of ward
and suburb respectively but it was also used in the sense of grï¿½ma. See
I, p. 98.
26. Ibid., 91, 106-107; ï¿½chï¿½,
II, 15, 15.
28. Tri. pu. Cha, 10, 2, 217;
ï¿½va. Chu. I. p. 246.
29. Kalpa, 120; ï¿½chï¿½, II,
30. Ibid., 110.
31. Ibid., 112.
32. Padmapurï¿½na, 20, 67;
Harivaï¿½ï¿½apurï¿½ï¿½a. 60, 214; Tilovapaï¿½ï¿½ati, 4, 670
33. ï¿½chï¿½, II, 15. 15;
35. ï¿½chï¿½. I, 8, 1,
36. Ibid., I, 8, 1,
37. ï¿½chï¿½, I, 8, 1,
38. Ibid., I, 8, 1, ï¿½ 4, 5, 6,
39. Ibid., I, 8, 1, ï¿½ 10, 11, 12, 17, 18,
40. ï¿½chï¿½, I, 8, 2-2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,
41. Ibid., I, 8, 3,
43. ï¿½chï¿½, I, 8, 4, ï¿½ 1, 2,
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15.
44. Ibid., I, 8, 4,
46. Ibid., 117.
47. Kalpa, 117.
48. Ibid., 119.
49. Ibid., 120.
50. Ibid., 122.
51. Lmlt, p.
53. Ibid., p. 33.
54. Geb, p.
55. Agi, p.
56. Ibid., p.
57. Dhammapada Commentary, I, p.
58. R. Sankrityayana
: Vinaya Pitaka, p. 248n.
59. Geb, p.
60. Prai, p.
XXII, p. 264, f.n. 4; also p. 84.
62. Agi, p.
63. Geb, p.
64. Ibid., p.
67. History of Bengal, Vol. I, p.
68. Uvï¿½, Tr. by
A. F. R. Hoernle,
69. Geb, p.
72. ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Vol. XV, P.
73. Vtm I,
74. Geb, p.
Sankrityayana : Vinaya Piï¿½aka, p. 248
76. Agi, p.
77. Vtm, I,
p. 203, f.n. 1.
78. Ibid., p. 204,
79. Imperial Gazetteers, Vol. VIII, p.
81. History of Bengal, Vol. I. p.
83. R. Sankrityayana
: Majjhima, p. 61 n.
84. Suttanipï¿½ta, V.
pp. 357, 370.
87. Sshj, p.
88. ï¿½chï¿½, II, 15, 25-26;
Kalpa, 120, 121.
89. Majjh, I, pp.
90. ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ 659-660.
93. Sshj, p.
94. Sshj, p.
98. Majjh, I. p.
99. Majjh, I.
Nï¿½yï¿½, p. 146; Sthï¿½nï¿½, p. 458; Uttarï¿½,
ï¿½va, Chï¿½, II, p. 164.
ï¿½va, Chï¿½, II, p. 207.
Bhag, pp. 556 ff.
Sthï¿½nï¿½, p. 430 b.
ï¿½va, p. 299.
Bhag, 12. 2.
ï¿½va, Chï¿½, p. 91, Anta, 7, p. 43.
Nï¿½yï¿½, p. 32.
Ibid., p. 33; Nï¿½yï¿½. Chapt. 1; ï¿½va. Chï¿½, p.
Trï¿½, Pu. Cha, x, 6, 8.
Uttarï¿½, xx, 58.
Hindu Civilization, The Age of Imperial Unity, p.
Tri. Pu. Cha, X, 6, 10, 11.
Daï¿½ï¿½ï¿½rutaskandha, Anuttaropapï¿½tika Daï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ga and
Bihar through the Ages, p. 127.
Aup, 12, 27, 30; Hemachandra's Pariï¿½ishï¿½aparvan, canto IV;
ï¿½va. Sï¿½, pp. 684, 687.
ï¿½va, Sï¿½, p. 690.
Bhag, 13. 6.
Uttarï¿½, XVIII, 48.
Avadï¿½nakalpalatï¿½, 40; Divyï¿½dï¿½na, 37.
Ibid, p. 115.
Jainism in Northern India, pp. 88 f.
129. Vin, vi, 4,
ï¿½va. Nir, 520 ff; ï¿½va. ï¿½ï¿½. p. 294 f.
Bhag. 12, 2.
Uvï¿½, pp. 84-5, 90, 95, 105, 160 and 163.
B. C. Law
: Some Jaina canonical Sï¿½tras, p. 74; 162-204. The Pali counterpart of
this Jaina Sï¿½tra is undoubtedly the dialogue known as the Pï¿½yï¿½sï¿½
Suttanta in the Dï¿½gha Nikï¿½ya. In the Pali Suttanta, the
dialogue is put into the mouth of the Buddhist recluse, Kumï¿½rakassapa, the
Flower-Talker (Chitra kathi) and the Chieftain Pï¿½yï¿½si of Setavyï¿½, a town
within the kingdom of Pasenadi of Koï¿½ala.
369. According to the Dï¿½ghanikï¿½ya, Pradeï¿½i was a vassal of Presenajit
while on the evidence of the Rï¿½yapaï¿½eï¿½iya ï¿½utta, Jitaï¿½atru was the ruler
under Pradeï¿½ï¿½. It seems more reasonable to say that Pradeï¿½ï¿½ and Jitaï¿½atru are
one and the same ruler who may be identified with Prasenajit of
Uttarï¿½, XVIII, 44.
Uttarï¿½, XVIII, 45, 47.
A.C. Mittal :
Early History of Orissa, p. 136.
Karnatak through the Ages.
Sï¿½tra, II, 6.
J.P. Jain :
Bhï¿½ratiya Itihï¿½sa ï¿½ eka Dï¿½ishï¿½i, pp. 67-68.
Wc., 1907, p. 35.
Jainism in Rajasthan, p. 8.
XLV, p. 339.
Majjh, I, pp. 392-393.
Pari. VIII, 339.
The different Buddhist traditions place the date of the Buddha
differently; the Ceylonese in 544 B.C., the Burmese in 501 B.C.; the Tibetan in
488 B.C. and the Cantonese in 486 B.C. (Some scholars have suggested even 477
B.C. or 453 B.C.). The recently advocated view is 483 B.C. See D.R. Bhandarkar
Vol. I. pp. 329-330.
Introductions to Sbe,
xxii and XLV, on Mahï¿½vï¿½ra and his
Predecessors, I, A, IX, pp. 156 ff.
IA, XLIII, pp. 118 ff; also see Cah, Vol.
I, p. 156.
History of India. Pt. I, pp. 39-40.
A. L. Basham
: History and Doctrines of the ï¿½jivikas. pp. 66-78.
Vol. VII, p. 467.
Ibid., Vol. I, pp. 260-61.
An Advanced History of India, p. 73.
Volume, Pt. I, pp. 606-607, f.n. 30.
Bhï¿½rata-Kaumudi, Part II, pp. 817-838.
Y. Mishra :
An Early History of Vaiï¿½ï¿½lï¿½, pp. 202-212.
Majjih, II. 3, 7.
1, Pt. I, pp. 99-104.
1917, pp. 122-130.
Pari, VI, 243.
Tri. Pu. Ch, X, 12, 45-46.
The Age of Imperial Unity, pp. 155-156.
Jaina Sï¿½hitya Aura Itihï¿½sa Para Viï¿½ada Prakï¿½ï¿½a, pp. 26
NPPI, pp. 377-454, pp. 377-454.
G.C. Ojha :
Bhï¿½ratiya Prï¿½china Lipimï¿½la; V.S. Agrawala
: Tï¿½rthaï¿½kara Bhagavï¿½n Mahï¿½vï¿½ra, II Bhï¿½mikï¿½. p. 19; H.L. Jain :
Tattva Samuchchaya, p. 6, Kalyana
Vijaya : Vï¿½ra Nirvï¿½ï¿½a Saï¿½vat Aura Jaina Kï¿½la Gaï¿½anï¿½
VMT; Nata, p.
Tiloyapaï¿½ï¿½ati (5th century); Jambudvipa-prajï¿½apti Saï¿½graha
(700 A.D.); Dhavalï¿½ (780 A.D.), Harivaï¿½ï¿½a (783 A.D.)
Jayadhavalï¿½ (837 A.D.), Kalpasï¿½tra Therï¿½vali, Pariï¿½ishï¿½aparvan and
Prabhï¿½vakacarita, Paï¿½ï¿½ï¿½valis of Nandi, Sena and Kï¿½shï¿½hï¿½
Jaina Sï¿½hitya Kï¿½ Itihï¿½sa, pp. 356-369.
Tiloyapaï¿½ï¿½ati, Harivaï¿½ï¿½a, Trilokasï¿½ra, etc.
N. R. Premi :
Jaina Sï¿½hitya Aura Itihï¿½sa, p. 20.
ï¿½vaï¿½yaka Mï¿½labhï¿½shya (609 A.D.), Darï¿½anasï¿½ra (933
Upï¿½sakadaï¿½ï¿½-Sutram, ed. by A.F.R. Hoernle,
Sï¿½tra, I, 6, 4.
Ibid., I, 6, 28.
Ibid., I. 6, 27.
186. Ibid., I, 6,
Ibid., I, 6, 6