Mah�v�ra, the last T�rtha�kara of the Jainas, is described as a supreme personality and acknowledged as �a great Br�hma�a�, �a great guardian�, �a great guide�, �a great preacher�, �a great pilot�, and �a great recluse�.1Around 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.


�Mah�v�ra� was not the personal name of the religious teacher. He was better known to his contemporaries as Niga��ha N�ta-putta � Niga��ha of the N�ta or N�ya clan. This name is composed of two separate epithets, Niga��ha and N�taputta, the first of which is religious and the second secular. He was Niga��ha (Nirgrantha) in a literal sense�unclothed without and free from all worldly bonds and ties within. He was called N�taputta because he was a scion of the N�ya, N�ta2 or J��t�, clan of the Kshatriyas. Just as the Buddha was called ��kyaputta because he was a scion of ��kya clan, so was Mah�v�ra called N�taputta because he was a scion of the N�ta Clan.

Mah�v�ra, the Tirthankara passed through in his own life-time five Kalya�akas, which are the five noble events in the life of a T�rtha�kara. These five Kaly��akas (pious events) are : (1) Garbha-Kaly��aka, (Conception – event), (2) Janma Kaly��aka (Birth-event), (3) Tapa-Kaly��aka (Austerity-event), (4) J��na-Kaly��aka (Knowldge-event) and (5) Nirv��a Kaly��aka (Liberation-event). These Kaly��akas are auspicious and en�obling 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-Kaly��aka, Mah�v�ra became detached from worldly pleasures and adopted the life of asceticism. (4) In the J��na-Kaly��ak, Mahavira attained omniscience as a result of the performance of Dhyana. And consequently, he delivered sermons in Samavasara�a (religious assembly) and propagated the religions of Ahimsa by going to different places. By the effect of Kevalaj��a (omniscience), the environment was charged with spiritual atmosphere and nature and all the beings were affected in various ways. (5) The Nirv��a-Kaly��aka of Mahavira means the attainment of Moksa (liberation) with the result that the body is relinquished1.


The Jaina tradition places the birth of Mah�v�ra in the year 599 B.C. He belonged to K��yapa gotra. He was the son of K�atriya Siddh�rtha, also known as �rey��sa and Ya����a, and of K�atriy��i Tri�al�, also known as Videhadatt� and Priyak�ri�i of the Vasi��ha Gotra.3 His mother was the sister  (according to Digambaras, daughter) of Ce�aka, one of the kings of Vai�al�. His parents, both lay followers of P�r�va, were pious and chaste, virtuous and strict. They rigorously observed the principles of Jainism.

One incident regarding the birth of Mah�v�ra, which has been mentioned by some �vet�mbara works, can not be ignored. It is said that Mah�v�ra was first conceived in the womb of a Br�hmin lady called Dev�nand� but was later transferred to the womb of Tri�al� Khattiy�n�. The Bhagavat� S�tra puts this episode into the mouth of Mah�v�ra himself. The incident as described there relates to Dev�nand� and U�abhadatta, the original parents, coming to see Mah�v�ra when the latter had become famous as a preacher. On seeing Mah�vira milk began to flow from the breast of Dev�nand� 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 Dev�nand�. The text goes on to say that these original parents of Mah�v�ra 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 Digambaras.

Before birth, Mah�v�ra’s mother is said to have seen a number of dreams. According to the �vet�mbaras, they numbered fourteen. In these fourteen dreams, according to the Kalpa S�tra, were seen (1) an elephant; (2) a bull; (3) a lion; (4) the anointing of the goodess �ri; (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 knowledge.


The early scriptures of both the �vet�mbaras7 and the Digambaras8 agree that Ku��apura or Ku��agr�ma was the birthplace of Mah�v�ra. After examining the evidence contained in the ï¿½c�r��ga S�tra9, the S�trak�it��ga10, the Kalpa S�tra11, the Uttar�dhyayana S�tra12 and the Bhagavati-S�tra-T�ka13, it becomes clear that Jainism had a great stronghold in the area of Vai��l�-Ku��apura of the Videha country during this period and that Mah�v�ra was closely associated with this area. The name Vis�lie i.e. Vai��lika was given to Mah�v�ra in the S�tra-K�it��ga. Vai�alika apparently means a native of Vai�al�, the capital of Videha country. Thus it is clear that Mah�v�ra was born at Ku��apura near Vai�al� in the Videha country.

From the seventh century onwards, the gradual decline of Vai��l� began and the Jainas came to forget the birthplace of the last T�rtha�kara. Some Digambara Jaina works14 place Vai��li under Cae�aka in Sindhu-Vi�aya or Sindhu-de�a. To them Tirabhukti became Sindhu-Vi�aya. Evidently, however, Vai��li was not situated in Sindhu-Sauv�ra. K. P. JAIN15 suggests two reasons for this confusion. Firstly, it may be that the authors have equated Sindhu-de�a with V�jide�a16, and, secondly, there might have been a confusion especially because Ujjayini in Avanti, too, was called Vi��l�17, and there was the Sindhu river in the adjoining territory for which reason it was called Sindhu-de�a in the middle ages (8th to 15th centuries A.D.). Since the Digambara writers, K. P. JAIN adds, lived more in the Ujjayin� region, they appear to have confused Ujjayini (which was also called Vi��l�) with the Vi��l�, little knowing that another Vi��l� different from their own existed in Eastern India.

Efforts have recently been made to find out the birthplace of Lord Mah�v�ra, the son of the J��t�ka leader of Kshatriya-Ku��apura or Ku��alapura and the maternal son of a Lichchhavi chief. While the Digambara Jainas found a village called Ku��alapura near N�land�, the �vet�mbara Jainas found a site called Kshatriyaku��a near the village Lachhw�d or Lachhu�r in South Monghyr. These came to be regarded as the birthplaces of Lord Mah�v�ra by the respective sects. Temples and Dharma��l�s 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 such.

The present site, Kshatriyaku��a, near Lachav�da, can not be the birthplace of Lord Mah�v�ra because it formed part of A�ga, and not of Videha. Modern K�atriyaku��a is situated on the mountain while there are no references to mountains in connection with ancient K�atriyaku��a of Ku��apura in the Jaina scriptures. Near the present K�atriyaku��a, no traces of such ancient places as Vai��l�, V��ijyagr�ma, Koll�ga-Sannive�a and Karm�ragr�ma are found. The nullaha near it is not the Ga��aki river.

In the Mah�vagga of the Buddhists, it has been said that Buddha, while sojourning at Kotigg�ma, was visited by the courtezan Ambap�li and the Lichchhavis of the neighbouring capital, Vai�al�. From Kotigg�ma, he went to where the N�tikas lived. There he lodged in the N�tika Brick Hall. From there he went to Vai��li where he converted the general-in-chief (of the Lichchhavis), a lay disciple of the Nirgranthas. H. JACOBI has identified Ko�igg�ma of the Buddhists with Ku��ag�ma of the Jainas. Apart from the similarity of the names, the reference to the N�tikas, apparently identical with the J��trka K�atriyas to whose clan Mah�v�ra belonged, and to S�ha, the Jaina, points to the same direction. Ku��agr�ma, therefore, was probably one of the suburbs of Vais�l�, the capital of Videha. This conjecture is borne out by the name Ves�lie, i.e. Va�s�lika given to Mah�v�ra in the S�trak�it��ga. Vai��lika apparently means a native of Vai��l�; and Mah�v�ra could rightly be called as such when Ku��agrama was a suburb of Vai��l�.  The identification of Ko�igg�ma with Ku��apura seems to be doubtful, and both seem to be independent villages.

A.F.R. HOERNLE19 has clearly shown that Vai��l� is the birthplace of Mah�v�ra. V��iyag�ma was another name of the well-known city of Vai��l�, the capital of the Lichchhavi country. This city, commonly called Vai��l�, occupied a very extended area, which included within its precinet, besides Ve��l� proper, several other places such as V��iyag�ma and Ku��ag�ma. They still exist as villages called B�niy� and Basuku��a.

The identification of Vai��l� with the group of remains associated with the village of Bas��h 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 Vai��l�.20

The identification of ancient Vai��l� and Ku��ag�ma or Ku��apura with Bas��h and Basuku��a 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 Ku��apura, V��iyag�ma, Koll�ga Sannive�a and Karm�gagr�ma to be the suburbs of Vai��l�. This view does not seem to be correct. These were independent villages which may be identified with the modern villages of Basuku��a, Baniy�, Kolu� and K�mana Chapar�g�ch� respectively. Br�hma�aku��a and K�atriyaku��a were the two wards of Ku��apura, and between them was situated Bahu��la Caitya. Vai��l� and Ku��apura were situated on the eastern bank of the Ga��ak� river, while Karm�ragr�ma, Koll�ga Sannive�a,25 V�nijyagr�ma and Dvipal��a Caitya on the west.


There are scriptural anecdotes, and miracles connected with the childhood of Mah�v�ra. 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 Ku��apura 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 �Vardham�na�27 or the �Prosperous one�, because with his birth, the wealth, fame and merit of the family increased.

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 Mah�v�ra, they therefore gave him the name Sanmati in devotion.28

The scriptures of both the �vet�mbaras and the Digambaras relate the legends of Mah�v�ra’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, Mah�v�ra 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, Mah�v�ra 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 called ‘At�v�ra’.

Another legend tells how, when Mah�v�ra was playing with the same children at ï¿½mbali pipal� (a sort of �tick� or �tig�) among the trees, a god disguised as a dreadful snake appeared on a tree. All his companions were alarmed and fled away. Mah�v�ra, 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. Mah�v�ra, 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 nameMah�v�ra was given to him. As he was devoid of love and hate, he was called ï¿½rama�a.30

In person, Mah�v�ra seems to have been handsome and impressive. He was possessed of a very keen intellect.31 The Kalpa S�tra32mentions that from his very birth, he possessed �supreme, unlimited and unimpeded knowledge and intuition.�


On the question of Mah�v�ra’s marriage, there is a fundamental difference of detail between the Digambara and the �vet�mbara accounts. The Digambara works33 deny the fact of Mah�v�ra’s marriage. On the other hand, in the �vet�mbara accounts,34 there is an allusion to his marriage. In his youth, Mah�v�ra’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, Ya�od�, a K�atriya lady of Kau��inya Gotra, who soon presented him with a daughter named A�ojj�. A�ojj� was married to Jam�l�, a K�atriya, who after becoming Mah�v�ra’s follower created a schism. Mah�v�ra’s grand- daughter, who belonged to the Kau�ika Gotra, had two names : Se�havat� and Ya�ovat�.

Mah�v�ra’s paternal uncle was Sup�r�va. His elder brother was Nandivardhana and his elder sister Sudar�an�. His parents died when he was thirty years old. Afterwards, his elder brother, Nand�vardhana, 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, Mah�v�ra 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.


The ï¿½c�r��ga S�tra has preserved a sort of religious ballad giving an account of the years during which Mah�v�ra led a life of the hardest asceticism, thus preparing himself for the attainment of the highest spiritual knowledge (Kevala J�ana). The account given in the Kalpa S�tra substantially agrees with that of the Ac�r��ga S�tra. Both the ï¿½c�r��ga and the Kalpa S�tranarrate the story of his S�dhan� 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 Mah�v�ra S�dhan� given in the ï¿½c�r��ga and the Kalpa S�tra does not bring in Go��la to form an episode. It is only from the Bhagavat� S�tra and the Uv�sagadas�o that we know that the �j�vika Teacher Go��la lived in the company of Mah�v�ra for about six years during this ascetic period of Mah�v�ra’s life.

 Mah�v�ra renounced the world at the age of thirty. Digambaras believe that Mah�v�ra abandoned clothes at the time of his initiation,whereas the �vet�mbaras hold that he abandoned them after thirteen months. The ï¿½c�r��ga S�tra gives the following account of his ascetic life.

For a year and a month since he renounced the world Mah�v�ra 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 people.39

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

Mah�v�ra 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 gnats.42

Mah�v�ra travelled in the pathless country of R�dha, in Vajrabh�mi and �vabhrabh�mi, 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 �Get away from here.� 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 from desire.43

Mah�v�ra 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 Mah�v�ra’s ascetic life given in the Kalpa S�tra is as follows. When the moon was in conjunction with the asterism Uttaraph�lguni, 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 Mah�v�ra 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, Bh�ru��a. He was valorous like an elephant, strong like a bull, unassailable like a lion, steady and firm like Mount Mand�ra, 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 splendour.48

 Out of all the eight months of summer and winter taken together, Mah�v�ra 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 Sa�s�ra, 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, Mah�v�ra 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 S�tra gives a list of forty-two rainy seasons spent by Mah�v�ra since he renounced the life of a householder. He stayed the first rainy season in Asthikagr�ma, three rainy seasons in Camp� and P���icamp�, twelve in Vai��l� and V��ijyagr�ma, fourteen in R�jag�ha and N�land�, six in Mithil�, two in Bhadrik�, one in �labhik�, one in Panitabh�mi, one in �r�vast� and the last one in the town of P�p� in king Hastip�la’s office.51

  1. C.LAW52 thinks that the Kalpa S�tra list of places is worded according to the idea of succession and chronology. The idea of succession is suggested by two expressions : �the first rainy season in Asthikagr�ma� and �the last rainy season in P�p� or P�v�. Accordingly he suggests the names of places where Mah�v�ra spent the twelve rainy seasons of his ascetic life.53 He stayed the first rainy season in Asthigr�ma, three rainy seasons in Camp� and P���icamp� and eight in Vai��l� and V��ijyagr�ma. 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 groups.

According to a commentary on the Kalpa S�tra, Asthigr�ma was formerly called Vardham�na. It would perhaps be more correct to say that Asthigr�ma was the earlier name of Vardham�na (modern Burdwan). But none need be surprised if Asthigr�ma was the same place as Hatthig�ma (Hastigr�ma) which lay on the high road from Vai��l� to P�v� (probably modern Kasi�).54 Camp� was the capital of A�ga which was conquered in Mah�v�ra’s time by �re�ika Bimbis�ra and permanently annexed to Magadha. Its actual site is probably marked by two villages of Camp�nagara and Camp�pura near Bhagalpur. P���icampa must have been a place near Camp�. Vai��l� is identified with modern Bas�rah in Vai��l�, a district of Bihar. It was the chief seat of government of the V�jji-Lichchav�s in Mah�v�ra’s time. V��iyag�ma is the same as modern Bania, a village near Bas�rah.55 R�jag�ha (modern R�jgir) was the capital of Magadha in Mah�v�ra’s time. N�land� is identified with modern Bargaon, 10 km. to the north-west of R�jg�r in the district of N�land� near Bihar (Biharsharif).56 Mithil� 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 Badrik�, which is the same name as the P�li Bhaddiya, was an important place in the kingdom of A�ga.58 It was visited by Buddha and is identified with modern Monghyr.59

�labhik�, which is the same as the P�li �lavi, 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 S�vatthi and R�jagiha.61Pa�itabh�mi, which is the same as Pa�iyabh�mi, was a place in Vajrabh�mi, a division of the pathless country of R��ha.62�r�vast� was the flourishing capital of the kingdom of Ko�ala in Mah�v�ra’s time. It is identified with Sahet-Mahet on the bank of the R�pti.63 P�p�, which is the same name as the P�li P�v�, was one of the chief seats of government of the Mallas. It was in Mah�v�ra’s time one of the halting stations on the highway from Vai��l� to Ku��n�r� and Kapilavastu.64A. CUNNINGHAM took it for the modern village, Padaraona, 18 km. to the N. N. E. of Kasi�.65 It is identified with a place located at a distance of ten km. from Biharsharif in Patna District.66

One important event of this period of Mah�v�ra’s life was his meeting with Go��la Ma�khaliputta, the head of the �j�vika sect. From the account given in the Bhagavat� S�tra, it is known that during the second year of his ascetic life, Mah�v�ra stayed at N�land� during the rainy season. At this time, Go��la, who was then wandering about in the country showing pictures to the people at large, happened to arrive and put up there. Owing to Mah�v�ra’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 R�jag�ha had shown respect and hospitality to him, Go��la was attracted, and wanted to be his disciple, but Mah�v�ra turned down his request. His prayer was not granted on two successive occasions even though the Master was entreated by the rich householders, �nanda and Sudar�ana.

In the meantime, Mah�v�ra went to the settlement of Koll�ga, at some distance from N�land�, where he was hospitably greeted by the Br�hmi� Bahula. (Koll�ga is identified with the modern village Kolhu�.) Go��la proceeded towards R�jag�ha and its suburbs to find out Mah�v�ra 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 Br�hmi� of the place, shaved off his hair and beared, and in despair departed in search of the Master. On his way, he came across Koll�ga where he saw people praising Bahula’s liberality towards Mah�v�ra.67

Go��la continued his search of Mah�v�ra and at last succeeded in finding him out at Pa�iyabh�mi. He again requested him with greater earnestness to accept him as his disciple. This time his request was granted, and both Mah�v�ra and his disciple Go��la lived together for six years in Pa�iyabh�mi, practising asceticism. Afterwards, they started from Pa�iyabh�mi to K�rmagr�ma, and from K�rmagr�ma to Siddh�rthagr�ma. Siddh�rthagr�ma is probably the same as Siddh�rthagr�ma in the B�rbhum District.68 While at K�rmagr�ma, they met an ascetic named Ve�aya�a who remained seated with upraised arms and upturned face in the glare of the Sun, while his body was swarmed with lice. Go��la enquired whether he was a sage or a bed of lice. Vesaya�a became very angry and attempted to strike Go��la with his supernormal powers. Mah�v�ra explained to him the severe ascetic discipline by which such powers could be obtained.

While at Siddh�rthagr�ma, Go��la 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 Mah�v�ra who believed in the freedom of the will. Henceforth Go��la severed his connection with Mah�v�ra and established a separate sect known as �j�vika.69

The incidental enumeration of the places visited by Mah�v�ra in the Bhagavat� S�tra during his ascetic life does not tally with those given in the Kalpa S�tra. The Bhagwati S�tra associates N�land�, R�jag�iha, Pa�iyabh�mi, Siddh�rthagr�ma and K�rmagr�ma with his early wanderings. The Uv�sagadas�o mentions V��ijyagr�ma, Camp�, B�r��as�, �labhi (P�li Alavi), Kampilyapura, Pol�sapura, R�jag�ha, and �r�vast� as the places that were visited by Mah�v�ra. Both the Bhagavati S�tra and the Uv�saga-das�o would have us believe that he received extraordinary respect from certain rich householders even long before his Jinahood. B�r��as� is no other than modern Benaras. Kampillapura is identified with Kampil in the Farrukabad District.70 Pol�sapura has not been identified, but at the time of Mah�v�ra, it was within the kingdom of king Jiyasattu, the ruler of Ko�ala.

When Mah�v�ra 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 Ku��agr�ma on the tenth day of the dark of M�rgasir�a in winter by simply putting on a divine garment (Devadussa). He came to the garden of N�yasa��ava�a situated in the north-east direction on the outskirts of Ku��agg�ma. At this place, the renunciation ceremony of Mah�v�ra was celebrated with great rejoicings. He is said to have given the first half of his garment to a Br�hma�a.


In the evening of the same day, Mah�v�ra left N�yasa��a for Kum�rag�ma. There were two routes by which this journey was performed, one by water and the other by land. Mah�v�ra preferred the latter and reached Kum�rag�ma. Now this village is known by the name of Kammana-Chhapar�.71 Here, Mah�v�ra stood in meditation but was harassed by a cowherd who took him for a thief and wanted to hit him. Next day, Mah�v�ra proceeded to Koll��ga Sannivesa where he broke his fast. From there, he started for Mor�ga Sannivesa and reaching there, stayed in a hermitage. Next day, he left Mor�ga Sannivesa but again came back to this place after eight months. Then he proceeded to At�hivag�ma, where he put up in the shirne of ��lap���. Here ��lap��� Jakkha is said to have caused Mah�v�ra many troubles but the latter bore them with his wonted equanimity and patience. Thus Mah�v�ra spent his first rainy season at A��hiyag�ma.


From A��hiyag�ma, Mah�v�ra again came to Mor�ga Sannivesa where lived an ascetic named Achchhandaka. Then he started for V�c�la, which was divided into Uttarav�c�la and Dakkhinav�c�la, and between them flowed the rivers Suvannak�l� and Ruppak�l�. When Mah�v�ra was going from Dakkhi�av�c�la to Uttarav�c�la, the remaining half of his garment got entangled in the thorns on the bank of Suvannak�l�. From this time onwards, Mah�v�ra became a naked monk. There were two routes to Uttarav�c�la, one through the hermitage named Kanakakhala and another from outside it. Mah�v�ra chose the former one which was more difficult. At Uttarav�c�la, he had to face a poisonous snake named �r��ivi�a. From Kanakakhala, he travelled to Seyaviy� 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 Mah�v�ra arrived at Surabhipura from Seyaviy� after crossing the Ganges, and afterwards proceeded to Th���ka 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 Ga��ak�.73 From here, Mah�v�ra proceeded to R�yagiha and sojourned in a weaver’s shed in N�land� where he passed the second rainy season. Here Go��la met him and the two left for Koll�ga together.


From Koll�ga, Mah�v�ra and Go��la came to Sunnakh�laya and then to Bambha�ag�ma. This Bambha�ag�ma lay in a route from R�jagrha to Camp�.74 From this place, they reached Camp� where Mah�v�ra spent the third rainy season.


From Camp�, Mah�v�ra and Go��la arrived at K�l�ya Sannivesa and thence to Pattak�laya. At both these places, Go��la was insulted by people for his misbehaviour. Then, both came to Kum�r�ya Sannivesa where Mah�v�ra practised meditation in the garden, Camparama�ijja. Then they proceeded to Cor�ga Sannivesa where they were taken to be spies and were taken prisoners. Cor�ga Sannivesa may be identified with Choreya in Lohardugga District in Bengal.75 From this place, they travelled to Pi��hicamp� where Mah�v�ra passed the fourth rainy season.


From Pi��hicamp�, Mah�v�ra and Go��la proceeded to Kaya�gal�, now identified with Ka�kajol in SanthalPargan� in Bihar.76 At this place, some ascetics were staying with their families. Go��la is known to have misbehaved with them and was therefore punished. Then both came to S�vatthi and, later, to Haledduga. Here under a big turmeric tree Mah�v�ra stood in meditation. His feet are said to have been burnt by fire. Meditation over, both proceeded to Na�gala where Mah�v�ra stood in meditation again in the V�sudeva temple. Go��la was punished once again for his misdemeanour. Then, they arrived at Avattag�ma where Mah�v�ra spent his time in meditation in the Baladeva temple and Go��la was taken to task for his misbehaviour. Continuing their travels in this region, they reached Cor�ya Sannivesa from where they journeyed to Kalambuka Sannivesa. Here both were tied by K�lahasti and were beaten; later on, they were set at liberty by K�lahasti’s brother, Megha, who recognized Mah�v�ra. Then they journeyed to the country of L��ha where Mah�v�ra had to endure various kinds of painful sufferings. L��ha or R��ha 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 Mah�v�ra’s life. Undaunted, they travelled to the city of Bhaddiya where Mah�v�ra passed the fifth rainy season.


From Bhaddiya, both Mah�v�ra and Go��la travelled to Kayalisam�gama, and then onward to Jambusa��a and Tamb�ya Sannivesa. Jambusa­­­­­­ï¿½­ï¿½a was located between Ambag�ma and Bhoganagara on a route from Vai��li to Ku��n�r�.78 Then they arrived at K�iya Sannivesa where, suspected of being spies, they were kept as prisoners, but were later released at the intercession of two sisters, Vijay� and Pragalbh�. K�iya or K�piya is identified with a place located at a distance of ten km. from the Khal�l�b�da Mehad�vala road in Khal�l�bad Tehsil of �h�habast� District.79

Now Go��la and Mah�v�ra parted with each other. Mah�v�ra left for Vai��l� where he stood in a blacksmith’s shed. The blacksmith, seeing Mah�v�ra naked, ran to hit him. Afterwards, Mah�v�ra proceeded to G�m�ya Sannivesa where he was honoured by Vibhelaka Jakkha. From this place, he travelled to S�lis�sayag�ma where the demoness Ka�ap�tan� caused him much trouble. After six months, Go��la again joined Mah�v�ra at this place. Finally, Mah�v�ra visited Bhaddiya in order to spend the sixth rainy season there.


Then Mah�v�ra and Go��la travelled together in the country of Magadha. In the course of the journey, Mah�v�ra decided to spend the seventh rainy season at �labhiy�.


From �labhiya, Mah�v�ra and Go��la set out for Ku���ga Sannivesa. At this place, Mah�v�ra stood in meditation in the temple of V�sudeva. Go��la was again beaten for his bad manners. Then they visited Maddanag�ma and stayed in the Baladeva temple. Afterwards they came to Bahus�lagag�ma where Mah�v�ra was harassed by S�lejj� V��am�ntar�. From this place, they proceeded to  the capital Lohaggal� 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 A��hiyag�ma. Lohaggal� may be identified with Lohardag� situated in the region which forms the central and north-western portion of the Chhota Nagpur Division.80 From Lohaggal�, they went to Purimat�la where Mah�v�ra stood in meditation in the garden of Saga�amuha. Purimat�la may be identified with Purulia in Bihar.81 From there, they travelled to Un��ga and on to Gobh�mi. At last they reached R�yagiha in order to pass the eighth rainy season.


From R�yagiha, Mah�v�ra and Go��la again set out for a L��ha country which is non-Aryan. In the course of this journey, they passed through Vajjabh�mi and Subbhabh�mi, where Mah�v�ra had to endure all sorts of tortures. Sometimes people surrounded him and set their dogs upon him. Mah�v�ra got no shelter in this region. He passed the ninth rainy season in this country.


Mah�v�ra and Go��la then travelled to Siddhatthapura and Kummag�ma. Soon they returned to Siddhatthapura. It may be the same as Siddhangr�ma in Birbhum District.82 Severing his relations with Mah�v�ra again, Go��la now went to S�vatthi while Mah�v�ra visited Vai��l� where the republican chief Sa�kha saved him from the trouble caused by the local children. From here, Mah�v�ra crossed the river Ga��ai by boat and reached Va�iyag�ma. He then proceeded to S�vatthi where he passed the tenth rainy season.


From S�vatthi, Mah�v�ra set out for S�nula��hiyag�ma, which may be identified with Dalabhum in Singhbhum District in Bengal.83 He then went to Pe�h�lag�ma and stood in meditation in the garden of Pe�h�la in the shrine of Pol�sa. In this region of the Mlechchhas, Mah�v�ra had to suffer much. He travelled later to V�luyag�ma, Subhoma, Suchchhett�, Malaya and finally on to the Hatthis�sa. At all these places, apparently located in the north-west part of Orissa, Mah�v�ra 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. Mah�v�ra 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 Vayagg�ma. For a period of six months, he had to bear great hardship at all these places. From Vayagg�ma, he proceeded to �labhiy� and then to Seyaviy� and S�vatthi. At last, passing through Ko��mb�, V�n�rasi, R�yagiha and Mithil� he spent the eleventh rainy season at Vai��l�.


From Vai��l�, Mah�v�ra came to Su�sgum�rapura which is identified with a hilly place near Chunar in Mirzapur District.84 He proceeded thence to Bhogapura, which lay between P�v� and Vai��l�,85 and to Nandigg�ma, from where he travelled to Me��hiyag�ma. Afterwards he proceeded to Ko��mbi, where he received his alms after a period of four months. From Ko��mbi, he set out for Sumangalg�ma and then for P�layag�ma. Finally, he reached Camp� for spending the twelfth rainy season.


From Camp� Mah�v�ra came to Jambhiyag�ma. KALYANA VIJAYA identifies it with Jambhigaon near the river Damodar in the Hazaribagh District,86 but it must be located somewhere near modern P�v�puri in Bihar.87 From this place, he reached Me��hiyag�ma. Then he visited Chham��ig�ma where a cow-herd is said to have thrust iron nails into his ears. In this condition, Mah�v�ra is said to have reached Majjhima P�v� where the nails were removed from his ears.


According to the �vet�mbaras, Mah�v�ra was born with three kinds of knowledge : Matij��na, �rutaj��na and Avadhij��na. He also gained the fourth kind of knowledge, Mana�pary�yaj��na, 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, Mah�v�ra got up for food after two days he went to Kulapura where its ruler, Kul�dhipa, 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 Mah�v�ra took his first meal P�ra�� after fasting for two days. He returned to the forest and wandered about in it performing twelve kinds of penance. At last he visited Ujjayin� and did penance in a cemetery there when Rudra and his wife tried in vain to interrupt him Mahavira Conquesed this Pari�uha (afflition).


The period of twelve years spent in penance and meditation was not fruitless, for in the thirteenth year, Mah�v�ra 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 :

�During the thirteenth year, in the second month of summer, in the fourth fortnight, the light (fortnight) of Vai��kha, 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 J�mbhikagr�ma on the northern bank of the river �jup�lik�, in the field of the householder S�m�ga, in a north-eastern direction from an old temple, not far from a S�l 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 Nirv��a, the complete and full, the unobstructed, unimpeded, infinite and supreme, best knowledge and intuition, called Kevala.�

When the venerable Mah�v�ra 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 beings.89

At this time, Mah�v�ra 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, �free from fetters�. 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 � 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.�90


When Mah�v�ra attained kevalahood, a Samava�ara�a (religious conference) was held on the bank of the river Ujjuv�liy�, but it is said that the first discourse of Mah�v�ra remained unsuccessful. Then after traversing twelve yojanas, he is said to have returned to Majjhima P�v� where the second Samava�ara�a was convened in the garden of Mah�sena. Here after a long discussion on various religious and philosophic points, Mah�v�ra converted to Jainism the eleven learned Br�hma�as who had gone there to attend the great sacrifice being performed by a rich Br�hma�a named Somila.

According to the Digambara scriptures, even after obtaining Kevalaj��na (Enlightenment) at J�mbhikagr�ma, Mah�v�ra did not break his vow of silence taken from the time of Pravrajy�, and wandering continuously for sixtysix days in silence, reached R�jag�ha, the capital of Magadha. Outside the city of R�jag�ha, at Vipul�cala where he settled, a Samava�ara�a was held for his first sermon. First of all he converted eleven learned Br�hma�as, including Indrabh�ti Gautama, who were known as his disciples (Ga�adharas). King �re�ika with the members of the royal family, including his queen Cetan�, and the whole army came to the Samava�ara�a to pay homage to Mah�v�ra 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 Mah�v�ra� principles the gain �carya Samanta bhadra (2nd cent. A.D.) called the religion of Mah�v�ra a ‘Sarvadaya’ Tirtha, which terms is now-a-days used after Gandhiji.


First of all, Mah�v�ra by his preaching converted to Jainism the eleven learned Br�hma�as who became his disciples, his eleven Ga�adharas. They listened to Mah�v�ra’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 Ga�dharas. The eldest was Indrabh�ti, then followed Agnibh�ti, V�yubh�ti, Vyakta, Sudharm�, Ma��ikata, Mauryaputra, Akampita, Acalabhr�t�, Met�rya and Prabh�sa. The first three Ga�adharas were brothers and belonged to the Gautama Gotra, and were residents of Gobbarag�ma. The fourth belonged to the Bh�radv�ja Gotra and was the resident of Koll�ga Sannivesa; the fifth belonged to the Agni Ve�y�yana Gotra and was the resident of Koll�ga Sannivesa; the sixth belonged to the Vasis�ha Gotra and was the resident of Moriya Sannivesa; the seventh belonged to the K��yapa Gotra and was the resident of Moriya Sannivesa; the eighth belonged to the Gautama Gotra and was the resident of Mithil�; the ninth belonged to the H�r�ta Gotra and was resident of Ko�ala; the tenth belonged to the Kau�inya Gotra and was the resident of Tu�gika Sannivesa; and the eleventh belonged to the same Gotra and was the resident of R�jag�ha. These Ga�adharas were all Br�hma�a teachers, and all except Indrabh�tri and Sudharm�, died during the life-time of Mah�v�ra. They are said to have been versed in the twelve A�gas, the fourteen P�rvas and the whole Ga�ipi�aga (the basket of the Ga�is).91

The Digambaras have some different names for these Ga�adharas and give a different account of Gautama’s conversion. According to Gu�abhadra92 the eleven names are as follows : Indrabh�ti, V�yubh�ti, Agnibh�ti, Sudharm�, Maurya, Maundra, Putra, Maitreya, Akampana, Andhavela or Anvacela and Prabh�sa. Indrabh�ti 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 K�la and Dravya, Pa�ca Astik�ya, Tattva and Le�y�, 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 Mah�v�ra 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 Mah�v�ra 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 JainPa���val�s, Sudharm� comes after Indrabh�ti, and Sudharm� was also known by the name of Loh�rya.

One significant fact about these Ga�adharas 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.


Mah�v�ra 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, and laywomen.

The chief among his followers were the fourteen thousand monks placed under the charge of Indrabh�ti Gautama. Mah�v�ra 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 Ga�as, placing each school under the headship of one of his chief disciples or Ga�adharas. The leading Ga�adhara had five hundred monks under him, but some of the others had only three hundred or two hundred and fifty. These Ga�adharas were to guide and instruct separate groups of Nirgranthas.

Besides the fourteen thousand monks, a great multitude of women followed Mah�v�ra, and of these some thirtysix thousand actually renounced the world and became nuns. At their head was Chandan�, a first cousin of Mah�v�ra’s, or, as other accounts have it, his aunt.

Mah�v�ra’s third Order consisted of laymen numbering about one hundred and fiftynine thousand with �a�kha �ataka at their head. These laymen were householders who could not actually renounce the world but they at least could observe the five small vows calleda�uvrata. 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. �The genius for organization which Mah�v�ra possessed� as S. STEVENSON rightly observes, �is 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.�94

Their fourth and last Order consisted of devout laywomen or ï¿½r�vik�s numbering about three hundred and fiftyeight thousand with Sulas� and Revat� as their heads. Their household duties prevented their becoming nuns but still they served the ascetics in many ways. Thus Mah�v�ra converted a large number of people to Jainism.

The Digambaras believe that Mah�v�ra 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-akshar�, which was intelligible to all.


The Jaina Kalpas�tra gives the names of the places where Mah�v�ra spent one or more rainy seasons since he became an ascetic after renouncing the world. He stayed the first rainy season in A��hikagr�ma, three rainy seasons in Camp� and P���ichamp�, twelve in Vai��li and Va�ijagr�ma, fourteen in R�jag�ha and N�land�, six in Mithil�, two in Bhadrik�, one in �labhik�, one in Pa�itabh�mi, one in �r�vast� and the last one in the town of P�p� in king H�stip�la’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 S�tra. There is no doubt that the Kalpa S�tra’s authority on the itinerary of Mah�v�ra 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 Mah�v�ra’s itinerary exhaustively and chronologically. After attaining Kevalaj��na, Mah�v�ra spent no less than thirty rainy seasons at the following places yearwise � (1) R�jag�ha, (2) Vai��li, (3) V��ijyagr�ma, (4) R�jag�ha, (5) V��ijyagr�ma, (6) R�jag�ha, (7) R�jag�ha, (8) Vai��li, (9) Vai��li, (10) R�jag�ha, (11) V��ijyagr�ma, (12) R�jag�iha, (13) R�jag�iha, (14) Champ�, (15) Mithil�, (16) V�nijyagr�ma, (17) R�jag�ha, (18) V��ijyagr�ma, (19) Vai��l�, (20) Vai��l�, (21) R�jag�ha, (22) N�land�, (23) Vai��l�, (24) Vai��l�, (25) R�jag�ha, (26) N�land�, (27) Mithil�, (28) Mithil�, (29) R�jag�ha, and (30) �p�p�pur�.97

It may be note here that the Digambaras do not subswill to the view of Caturm�sa in rainy seasons in respect of the T�rtha�kara at differents places for the propagation of religion and upliftment of the masses. Hence Mahavira made Vih�ra 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 !


First of all, Mah�v�ra seems to have tried to attract those householders who formed a large body of lay disciples by laying down certain rules of conduct. Gautama Indrabh�ti 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, Mah�v�ra 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 recluses.

Mah�v�ra 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 P�rvas 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 Mah�v�ra 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, �nanda and his wife �ivanand� from V�nijagr�ma, K�madeva and his wife Bhadr� from Camp�, C�lanipriya and his wife �y�ma, S�radeva and his wife Dhany� from B�r��as�, Cullasataka and his wife Pu�y� from Kampilyapura, Kundakolita and his wife from Kampilyapura, Sardalaputra and his wife Agnimitr� from Pol�sapura and Mahasataka from R�jag�ha and Nandin�priya and his wife A�vin�, and Salatipriya and his wife Ph�lguni were the most well-known lay disciples of Mah�v�ra.

The P�li Up�li S�tra100 introudces us to the rich householder Up�li of Balakagr�ma, near N�land�, who was a lay disciple of Mah�v�ra 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 Balakagr�ma, headed by Up�li, became lay disciples of Mah�v�ra. The banker M�g�ra or M�gadhara of �r�vast�, father-in-law of the Buddhist lady Vis�kh�, is mentioned as a lay disciple of Mah�v�ra and a lay supporter of the Nirgrantha recluses.

The Jaina Bhagavat� S�tra speaks of two other rich householders Vijaya and Sudar�ana, among the lay disciples of Mah�v�ra. Of these the former was a citizen of R�jag�ha.


Not only the rich bankers and merchants, but even kings, queens, princes, and ministers became lay disciples of the Jaina T�rthankara Mah�v�ra. His personal connections with the various rulers were through his mother, Tri�al�, the Lichchhavi princess, and his maternal uncle, Ce�aka, the king of Vai��l�. According to Jaina traditions, kings like �re�ika,101 K��ika,102 Ce�aka,103Pradyota,104 ï¿½at�n�ka, Dadhiv�hana,105 Ud�yana,106 V�angaya, V�rajasa, �a�jaya, �a�kha, K�sivaddha�a107and others are said to be his followers. Queens like Prabh�vat� of Ud�yana,108 M�g�vat� and Jayant� of Ko��mb�,109queens of king �re�ika and Pradyota,110 and princesses like Candan�,111 the daughter of the king of Camp� followed Jainism. Princes called Atimukta,112 Padma,113 grandsons of �re�ika, Megha, Abhaya and others114 are said to have joined the Order of Jainism. The royal patronage must have facilitated the spread of Jainism.

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 �re�ika’s father is said to be a follower of the P�r�van�tha sect115 which had also its stronghold at R�jag�iha, it is natural that Bimbis�ra was inclined towards Jainism. The Uttar�dhyayana S�tra116 relates how Bimbis�ra, �the lion of the kings� with the greatest devotion visited the other �Lion of homeless ascetics� (A�ag�ra-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 Mah�v�ra because of the expression A�ag�ra Siham, while others118 consider him to be a different ascetic, An�thi of the Nirgrantha sect. His Jaina leanings may have been due to his wife Cellan�, who was a daughter of Ce�aka of Vai��l�. Hemacandra tells the story that �when the country was under a blight of frost, the king accompanied by Devi Cellan� went to worship Mah�v�ra�.119 The fact that Mah�v�ra passed fourteen rainy seasons at R�jag�ha is sufficient to prove that he exercised some influence over both �re�ika and K��ika, the rulers of Magadha. According to the Jaina texts,120 Mah�v�ra was always treated by them and other members of the royal family with the utmost respect. On one occasion, �re�ika is said to have issued a proclamation promising financial support to the relatives of those who enter the Jaina holy order.121

�re�ika’s son K��ika 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 Aupap�tika S�tra throws special light on the cordial relations between K��ika and Mah�v�ra. K��ika is known to have appointed a special officer known as Prav�tti V�duka Puru�a to inform him about the wanderings and daily routine of Mah�v�ra. It contains an account of Mah�v�ra’s Samo�ara�a in Camp� and K��ika’s pilgrimage to this place. He was a frequent visitor to Mah�v�ra with his queens and royal retinue. He had an intimate connection with him both at Vai��l� and Camp�, and openly declared before Mah�v�ra 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. K��ika was succeeded by his son Udayabhadra, who in the lifetime of his father served him as the Viceroy at Camp�. He was a devout Jaina, fasting on the 8th and 14th tithis.123 He is also known to have built a Jaina shrine (caityag�ha) at the centre of the town, P��aliputra.

At the time of Mah�v�ra, Ud�yana was a very powerful monarch of Sindhu Sauv�ra. He is said to have been related to Mah�v�ra through his wife Prabh�vat�, a daughter of king Ce�aka. It is said that once Ud�yana thought of paying a visit to Mah�v�ra, who was in Camp� at that time, and that the latter knew his thoughts and came down to his capital Vitabhaya in order to ordain him. Ud�yana anointed Ke��kum�ra, his sister’s son, on the throne and joined the order under Mah�v�ra.125 He is known to have attained perfection.126 The Buddhist scriptures127 describe Udr�ya�a or Rudr�ya�a of Sindhu Sauv�ra, with Roruka as his capital, as a Buddhist. It is said that an image of the Buddha was sent by king Bimbis�ra to king Ud�yana to acquaint him with the Buddhist religion. In course of time, he gave his throne to his son �ikha��i and joined the Buddhist order under the influence of his queen Candraprabh�.

According to Jaina traditions, Pradyota, a follower of Mah�v�ra, tried all he could for the propagation of Jainism. Mah�v�ra was related to Pradyota, because �iv�, the daughter of his maternal uncle Ce�aka was married to him. Pradyota is said to have installed theJivanta (life-time) Sv�m� images of Mah�v�ra at Ujjain, Da�apura and Vidi��.128 According to the Buddhists, Pradyota was converted to Buddhism by Mah�kacch�yana.129

Ce�aka, the ruler of Vai��l�, was a follower of Mah�v�ra. It was only due to his influence that Vai��l� became a stronghold of Jainism and that Mah�v�ra visited this place from time to time. Ce�aka had seven daughters, the eldest of whom was married to king Udayana of Vatsa and the youngest to King �re�ika Bimbis�ra of Magadha. One joined the religious Order of Mah�v�ra 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.SHAH that these princesses were instrumental in the propagation of Jainism in Northern India.130

It is significant that Buddhist books do not mention Ce�aka at all, though they tell us about the constitutional government of Vai��l�. Buddhists took no notice of him as his influence was used in the interest of their rivals. Si�ha, a Lichchhavi general, was among the lay disciples of the Jaina T�rtha�kara.131

Looking at the great importance of Camp� in the Jaina annals, there is nothing strange if one assumes that its ruler, Dadhiv�hana, followed Jainism and held Mah�v�ra in high esteem. His daughter Candan� or Candanab�l� was the first woman who embraced Jainism shortly after Mah�v�ra had attained the Kevala.132 As Camp� became a great centre of Jainism, Mah�v�ra spent three of the rainy seasons at this place.

The ruler of Kau��mb� was king �at�n�ka to whom was married M�g�vat�, the third daughter of Ce�aka.133 Both the king and the queen were devotees of Mah�v�ra and followers of the Jaina Order. The Jaina tradition also affirms that the king’s Minister(Am�tya) and his wife were Jainas by faith. �at�n�ka’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.

S�vatthi, B�r��as�, Kampillapura, Mithil�, Pol�sapura and �labhia were all important towns visited by Mah�v�ra within the kingdom of king Jiyasattu.134 Jiyasattu (Jita-�atru, conqueror of enemies) seems to be a title of the king like the epithetDev�nampiya of A�oka. Jiyasattu seems to be no other than Pasenadi or Prasenajit of Ko�ala. The R�yapase�iya Sutta135 records a dialogue between Ke�� and Paesi, when the latter, being influenced by the teachings of the former, became a Sama�ov�saga.Ke��, a follower of P�r�va, was a Jaina recluse who is represented in the Uttar�dhyayana S�tra as the contemporary of Mah�v�ra and Gautama Indrabh�ti. Paesi or Prade�� may be identified with Pasenadi or Prasenajit of Ko�ala.136

After giving up his flourishing kingdom of Da��r�a, Da�amabhadra, who was the contemporary of Mah�v�ra, became a monk.137 Da�amabhadra is not known from any other source. Da��r�a is identified with Vidi�� 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 Vajrasv�m� and other Jain pontiffs obtained liberation in the hills, Ku�jar�varta and Rath�varta, in the neighbourhood of Vidi��.139

Karaka��u, king of Kali�ga, is known to have adopted the faith of the Jinas, and, after placing his son on the throne, exerted himself as ��rama�a�.140 This proves the existence of Jainism in this Province from very early times, but it is very difficult to say when Karaka��u lived in Kali�ga. It was a Jaina stronghold, at least from the time of Tr�thankara Mah�v�ra. The Jaina Hariva��a Pur��a informs us that Lord Mah�v�ra had preached his faith in Kali�ga. The Haribhadr�ya V�tti on ï¿½va�yaka confirms Mah�v�ra’a visit to the country of Kali�ga 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 Kali�ga in the inscription of Kh�ravela 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 Mah�v�ra’s visit to South India. From the Jivandhara Charita of Bh�skara, it is known that J�vandhara, who was the ruling chief of this region at this time, was a Jaina. He cordially received Mah�v�ra and became an ascetic after obtaining Diksh� from him.142 J�vandhara 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.

Mah�v�ra is known to have converted to Jainism a prince named �rdraka who became a monk.143 He was so much influenced by the teachings of Mah�v�ra that he always supported Jainism in his disputations with the teachers of different religions. This �rdraka is identified with the prince of the Persian emperor Kuru�a (558-530 B.C.). Both the emperor and the prince are believed to have sent presents to the king �re�ika and his son Abhayakum�ra of Magadha who also in return despatched their presents to them. It is said that first of all Abhayakum�ra enlightened �rdraka with the teachings of Mah�v�ra. In course of time, �rdraka joined the Order of Mah�v�ra.144

On the basis of an evidence furnished by a very late period, Mah�v�ra 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 Mah�v�ra in person came to �r�m�la.145 This is supported by the ï¿½rim�lam�h�tmya, a work of the thirteen century A.D., which gives an account of the dissemination of Jainism in �r�m�la. An inscription of 1369 A.D., found on the door of the chief shrine in J�vantasv�m� �r� Mah�v�ra Jaina temple at Mungusthala Mah�t�rtha, 7 km. west of �bu Road, shows that Lord Mah�v�ra visited Arbudabh�mi, and an image was consecrated by �r� Kes� Ga�adhara during the 37th year of the life of Mah�v�ra.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 Mah�v�ra. There are many stray references in the Jaina S�tras which prove that the Licchavis followed the Jaina faith. Their capital, Vai��l�, formed one of the headquarters of the Jaina community during the days of Mah�v�ra. Out of the fortytwo rainy seasons of his ascetic life, Mah�v�ra spent twelve at Vai��l�. Like the Licchavis, the Vajjis, who in fact can not be strictly differentiated from the Licchavis, came under the influence of T�rtha�kara Mah�v�ra, for Vai��l� seems to have been regarded also as the metropolis of the entire Vajji confederacy. The J��t�kas of Ku��agrama, 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 N�taputta. It is among these confederate K�atriyas that Mah�v�ra was born and found strong supporters of his religion. The Mallas also seem to have cherished a feeling of respect and sympathy for the T�rtha�kara 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 Mah�v�ra in one way or the other. While some of the names of these rulers seem to be imaginary, others might have flourished long after Mah�v�ra. 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 Mah�v�ra, 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.


The evidence of Buddhist literature is adequate enough to prove that Mah�v�ra 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. D�rghatapasv� and Satyaka (P�li Sacchaka) among the Nirgrantha recluses, and Abhaya, the prince, Up�li, the banker, and Si�ha, the Licchavi General among the Jaina laity, loom large among those intermediaries. While they are said to have halted at N�land�, Vai��l� and R�jag�ha at one and the same time, they are not known to have seen each other.150 Mah�v�ra was elder in age to Buddha, the former predeceasing the latter by a few years.

That Mah�v�ra 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, �re�ika Bimbis�ra and Aj�ta�atru were powerful kings of Magadha; A�ga was annexed to the kingdom of Magadha, and the V�jji-Lichchhavis of Vai��l� and the Mallas of Ku�m�ra and P�v� formed two powerful confederacies. Prasenjit was the monarch of Ko�ala, and K��� was annexed to the kingdom of Ko�ala.

It is not without reason that Mah�v�ra has been represented in the Abhayar�jakum�ra 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 Mah�v�ra’s teaching that Devadatta insisted on having the five special rules introduced in the Buddhist Order.


Even in the life-time of Mah�v�ra, there arose schimatic tendencies in the Jaina Sa�gha. In the fourteenth year of Mah�v�ra’s becoming a omniu�nts, his nephew and son-in-law, Jam�li, headed an opposition against him. Similarly, two years later, a holy man in the Jaina community, Tisagutta, made an attack on certain points in Mah�v�ra’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. Jam�li, however, persisted in his heretical opinions until his Nirv��a.


Mah�v�ra attained Nirv��a at the age of 72 at P�v�. It is said in the Kalpas�tra153 that when Mah�v�ra died, the eighteen confederate kings of K��� and Ko�ala, the nine Mallak�s and the nine Lichchhavis instituted an illumination, saying �since the light of intelligence is gone, let us make an illumination of material matter.� The Nirv��a day is being celebrated as the D�p�vat� festival (festival of lamps) throughout India. Besides,  Mahavia� Nirvana day makes the beginning of V�ra Nirv��a Sa�vat. This Sa�vat is the oldest Sa�vat rampant is India.

There is a persistent Jaina tradition that Mah�v�ra attained Nirv��a 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 Nirv��a of Mah�v�ra, Candragupta became king.154 The whole problem was made more complicated and controversial by connecting it with Buddha’s Nirv��a, the date of which has not yet been fully and authoritatively ascertained.155 Scholars are therefore not unanimous about the date of the Nirv��a of Mah�v�ra as they still hold different views.

In order to solve this problem of the date of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a, one should take a comprehensive view. It is well known from the different sources that Mah�v�ra flourished in the age of �re�ika (Bimbis�ra) and K��ika (Aj�ta�atru) of Magadha, Prasenajit of Ko�ala, Udayana of Vatsa, Pradyota of Avanti and Pu�karas�rin of Taxila. It is also certain that he lived in the days of Ma�khali Go��la and Buddha. Ma�khali Go��la 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 Mah�v�ra attained Nirv��a in the 16th year of the reign of K��ika and the Buddhist tradition places the Buddha’s Nirv��a in that king’s 8th regnal year. The date of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a is said to have coincided with the date of the coronation at Ujjayin� of P�laka, the son of Ca��a Pradyota, the king of Avanti. We can be successful in determining the date of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a if we depend not only on the Buddhist but also on the Jaina and Brahmanical sources to fix up the dates of Mah�v�ra’s contemporary rulers and religious teachers.


The theory that Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a 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 follows :

  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 Mah�v�ra 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 Nirv��a 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 Maurya.
  2. J. CHARPENTIER believed the year of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a to be 467 B.C. on the presumption that the Buddha’s death definitely occurred in 477 B.C. According to the Buddhist texts, Mah�v�ra and the Buddha were both contemporaries, and they flourished in the reign of Aj�ta�atru.
  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 Mah�v�ra’s death. Hence by deducting 60 years from the traditional period of 527 years before Christ, he arrived at the year 467 B.C.
  4. According to the Jaina tradition, the Jaina Pontiff Sambh�tivijaya died exactly in the year following Chandragupta’s accession, or 156 after Mah�v�ra. Bhadrab�hu, the successor of Sambhutivijaya, died fifteen years later. All Jaina traditions from Hemacandra downwards give 170 after Mah�v�ra as the year of Bhadrab�hu’s death. This would be 297 B.C. if the date 467 B.C. is accepted as the year of Mah�v�ra’s death. The Jaina tradition also brings Bhadrab�hu into the closest connection with Chandragupta in whose reign the date 297 B.C. falls.
  5. The Kalpas�tra in its present form is a compilation made 980 years after the passing away of Mah�v�ra 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 Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a.

While discussing the date of Go��la’s death, A. L. BASHAM159 fixes the date of Mah�v�ra’s death in 468-467 B.C., which agrees with the date suggested by H. JACOBI on the basis of Hemcandra’s Pari�i��aparvan and supported by J. CHARPENTIER. PROF. BASHAM accepts 483 B.C. as the date of the Buddha’s Nirv��a. On the basis of the Mah�va��a synchronism, the accession of Aj�ta�atru 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 Go��la’s death, the first being the tradition of its occurrence sixteen and a half years before that of Mah�v�ra, and the second that of its taking place during the war between Magadha and Vai��l� in the reign of Aj�ta�atru-K��iya. Of the two, the latter seems the more reliable. There were two campaigns of the war called Mah��il�ka��ae and Rahamusale respectively. A. L. BASHAM suggests that the first campaign, soon after which Go��la died, must have taken place at some time between the date of Aj�ta�atru’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 Go��la in 484 B.C., if a year is allowed for the news of the �Battle of Great Stones� to spread to S�vatthi and to become fixed in the popular consciousness. With regard to the death of Mah�v�ra as taking place at P�v� during the Buddha’s lifetime and as mentioned in the Pali scriptures, he considers it to be that of Go��la at S�vatthi, which the Bhagavat� S�tra also mentions as having been accompanied by quarrel and confusion. The Mah�parinibb�na Sutta records that the preparations for the campaign against the Vajjis were made in the last year of the Buddha’s life while Mah�v�ra was still alive during the course of war.

477 B.C.

JAMES HASTING160 tries to fix the date of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a 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 Nirv��a with the historical date of the same event in 322 B.C.

484 B.C.

In his attempt to discuss the date of Go��la’s death, A.F.R. HOERNLE161 also fixed the date of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a. He accepts 482 B.C. as the �practically certain� date of the Buddha’s Nirv��a. King Bimbis�ra, the father and predecessor of Aj�ta�atru, was murdered by his son eight years before the Nirv��a or in 490 B.C. A.F.R. HORENLE believes that for some years before this, Aj�ta�atru 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 Bimbis�ra. H. JACOBI’S theory of the later date of Mah�v�ra’s death is rejected by him, in order to devise a chronological scheme according to which Mah�v�ra may predecease the Buddha; but the Bhagavat� tradition of the sixteen years interval between the deaths of Mah�v�ra and Go��la is accepted by him without question. He therefore suggests 484 B.C. for the death of Mah�v�ra and 500 B.C. for that of Go��la and for the war and the de facto accession of Aj�ta�atru.

486 B.C.

H.C. RAYCHAUDHURI162 suggests 478 B.C. or 486 B.C. and 536 B.C. as the probable dates of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a, 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 J��t�ka rival. Hence he considers 486 B.C. to be a more likely date as it is also in keeping with the year of Aj�ta�atru’s accession. The Jaina statement that their T�rtha�kara dies some sixteen years after the accession of K��ika (Aj�ta�atru) can be reconciled with the Buddhist tradition about the death of the same teacher before the eighth year of Aj�ta�atru, if we assume that the Jainas, who refer to K��ika as the ruler of Camp�, begin their reckoning from the accession of the prince to the viceregal throne of Camp� while the Buddhists make the accession of Aj�ta�atru to the royal throne of R�jag�ha the basis for their calculation.

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 �clear evidence of the Buddhist tradition on this question� that Mah�v�ra predeceased the Buddha.

488 B.C.

H.C. SETH164 suggests 488 B.C. as the date of Mah�v�ra’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 Mah�v�ra’s death several years after that of the Buddha. On the other hand, the tradition preserved in the Buddhist P�li canon clearly says that Niga��ha N�taputta, i.e. Mah�v�ra, died at P�v� a little before the Buddha.

The traditional chronology given in Merutunga’s Vicara�re�� puts Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a 470 years before the Vikrama era. All the Jaina traditions assign 40 years of reign to Nahav��a between the period of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a and Vikrama. This Nahav��a is generally identified with Nahap��a, the Mah�kshatrapa of Kshahar�ta family, who lived after the commencement of the Vikrama era. If we take out 40 years of Nahav��a from 470 years, the interval given in these traditions between Mah�v�raNirv��a 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 Mah�v�ra Nirv��a. This will place Mah�v�ra’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 religious teachers.

490 B.C.

  1. MISHRA165presupposes 487 B.C. as the date of Buddha’s death, and then, by comparing the details of the lives of the Buddha and Mah�v�ra, especially the places where they spent their rainy seasons, he comes to the conclusion that Mah�v�ra died in 490 B.C. In order to find out the date of that specific rainy season when Mah�v�ra died, he consulted the lives of the Buddha and Mah�v�ra, viz. Buddhacary� (in Hindi) by RAHULA SANKRITYAYANA and ï¿½rama�a Bhagv�n Mah�v�ra by RATNAPRABHA VIJAYA. In the Buddhacary�, it is stated that Lord Buddha spent the 17th rainy season at R�jag�ha, further in the Mah�sakulud�yi Sutta,166 it is said that on that particular occasion, both Buddha and Niga��ha N�taputta 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 Mah�v�ra, it becomes clear that he spent his 16th rainy season in 516 B.C. at R�jag�ha. In the rainy season of 513 B.C. also, both the Buddha and Mah�v�ra were at R�jag�ha.

The S�ma��aphala Sutta tells us how king Aj�ta�atru 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 Aj�ta�atru 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 �r�vast�. This Buddhist reference therefore means that sometime in the last month of the C�turm�sya, the Buddha came to R�jag�ha. Coming to Mah�v�ra, it is known that he lived at R�jag�ha in 491 B.C. during the rainy season of the forty-first year of his ascetic life. Thus it was possible for Aj�ta�atru to meet the Buddha at R�jag�ha after having met Mah�v�ra. Mah�v�ra passed his forty-second rainy season in 490 B.C. at Madhyam� P�v� where he died.

Both from the Buddhist and the Jaina traditions, it is clear that both the Buddha and Mah�v�ra were at Vai��l� in 519 B.C. and that the conversion of S�ha to Buddhism also took place at the same time. The Up�lisutta is also important, because the event took place at N�land� when both the teachers were there in 491 B.C.

So the year 490 B.C. as the year of Mah�v�ra’s death is able not only to show that Buddha survived Mah�v�ra but also to make both the teachers spend the same rainy season at R�jag�ha, Vai��l� and N�land�.

498 B.C.

B.C. LAW167 advocated another theory when he postulated 498 B.C. as the date of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a. According to him, 527 B.C. and 544 B.C. as the dates of the demise of Mah�v�ra 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 Mah�v�ra predeceased the Buddha by 5 or 6, 7 or 8 or even 14 or 15 years; and (2) that Mah�v�ra 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 �re�ika Bimbis�ra. Similarly, the figure 527 is accounted for as the date of the attainment of Jinahood by Mah�v�ra. Accepting this date of Mah�v�ra’s Keval�ship, one has to compute the date of his birth as B.C. 570, and that of his demise as B.C. 498.

545 B.C.

  1. P.JAYASWAL fixed the date of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a in 545 B.C. His main argument was that since according to some Jaina Pa���val�s, it was the interval between Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a 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., Mah�v�ra’s date should be pushed further back by 18 years. He tried to corroborate his theory by a statement of some of the other Pa���val�s which give 219 years as the interval between Mah�v�ra 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 Pur��ic traditions, identified Vikrama with King Pulum�vi, the son of Gautm�putra S�takar�i, and fixed the Buddha’s Nirv��a in 544 B.C.168

437 B.C.

  1. V.VENKATESVARA puts forth 437 B.C. as the date of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a. Believing that the Buddha died sometime between 485 and 453 B.C., and that he could not have died after Mah�v�ra, this scholar surmises that 470 years’ tradition relates to the �nanda Vikrama era of 33 A.D.169


Although some of the theories set forth above are well reasoned and convincing, they present some serious difficulties.

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. (Mah�v�ra era) 155. His statement is the solitary instance of this view and is at variance with all other Jaina sources, Digambara or �vet�mbara, earlier or later than himself, that give this date as M.E. 210 or 215. This caused confusion which misled these scholars. The Tiloyapa��ati of Yativ��abha (5th century A.D.), the Hariva��a of Jinasena (783 A.D.), Trilokas�ra of Nemicandra (973 A.D.), Vic�ra�re�iof Merutu�ga (1306 A.D.) and others mention 215 years.

The P�laka mentioned in the lists was the son of King Ca��a Pradyota of Ujjayin� and that during the period of 60 years allowed to K��ika and Ud�y� he was ruling at P��aliputra, 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 Ujjayin� 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 Kum�rap�la became a ruler 1669 years after Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a. The year of Kum�rap�la’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 Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a 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. CHARPENTIERbelieved the date of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a 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 Nirv��a, and then attempted to fix the dates of Go��la and Mah�v�ra. H.C. RAYCHAUDHURI, B.C. LAW, H.C. SETH, and Y. MISHRA first presupposed 486-487 B.C. as the date of Buddha’s death, and then attempted to fix Mah�v�ra’s death. K.P. JAYASWAL, by accepting the Buddha’s death in 544 B.C., fixed Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a in 545 B.C. The proper approach to the problem is that one should settle the date of the Buddha’s Nirv��aby accepting that of Mah�v�ra in 527 B.C. as it is not controversial.

  1. JACOBI, J. CHARPENTIER, A.L. BASHAM, H.C. SETHand K.P.JAYASWAL wrongly think that the Buddha predeceased Mah�v�ra. From the study of the early Buddhist texts, it is clear that Mah�v�ra was the senior contemporary of the Buddha; that he attained Kevalaj��na 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 Mah�v�ra or Niga��ha N�taputta as taking place at P�v� 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 Nirv��a of Mah�v�ra 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 Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a given in the Jaina traditions.

All the Jaina traditions assign forty years of reign to Nahav��a before Vikrama. H.C. SETH thinks that this Nahav��a or Nahap��a, the Mah�kshatrapa of Kshahar�ta family, lived after Vikrama, and by taking 40 years out of 470, he considers 430 years to be the difference between the date of Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a and the commencement of the Vikrama era. Against this, it may be suggested that Nahav��a here means the �ake 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, Val�ka, Mahu, D�sa 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 �akas, the predecessors of the two well known dynasties of Bh�maka and Cash�ana. The names on the coins resemble those of the �aka 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.

  1. K.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 needed.
  2. MISHRAcame to the conclusion that the death of Mah�v�ra occurred in 490 B.C. when he compared the details of the lives of the Buddha and Mah�v�ra, especially the places where they spent their rainy seasons. For this, he consulted Buddhacary� (in Hindi) by R. SANKRITYAYANA and ï¿½rama�a Bhagv�n Mah�v�ra by RATNA PRABHA VIJAYA. In the very early Jaina and Buddhist scriptures, no chronological description of the rainy seasons spent by Lord Mah�v�ra and the Buddha have been given. Both R. SANKRITYAYANA and RATNAPRABHA 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 Mah�v�ra 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 �On the conception of an Ananda Vikrama Era�, no such era was ever started or gained currency, nor does it find any mention in the P�thv�r�ja-r�so of poet Canda as is alleged.


There are scholars176 who maintain that Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a 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 Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a in 527 B.C. Yativ��habha (5th century A.D.) seems to have been the first to record this tradition in the Tiloyapa��ati, and it is corroborated by Jinasena (783 A.D.) in the Hariva��a, by Nemicandra (973 A.D.) in the Trilokas�ra, by Merutu�ga (1306 A.D.) in theVic�ra�re�i, and by others. The Jaina writers, whenever they expressed the date of Mah�v�ra, did it either straight away in the Mah�v�ra era, or in terms of either the Vikrama or the �aka era. The Vikrama era and the �aka 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 T�rtha�kara Mah�v�ra, 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 traditions.
  2. In the Vic�ra�re�� of Merutu�ga, there are some old g�th�s containing references to historical and chronological events taking place between the Mah�v�ra era and the Vikrama and �aka eras. The substance of this information may be submitted in the following chronological able.

            Mah�v�ra died                                                                                                         527 B.C.

            P�laka, acc.                                                                                                                527 B.C.

            Nandas established supremacy                                                             467 B.C.

            Mauryas established supremacy                                                          312 B.C.

            Pu�pamitra, acc.                                                                                                    204 B.C.

            Balamitra, acc.                                                                                                       174 B.C.

            Nabhov�hana, acc.                                                                                              114 B.C.

            Gardabhilla, acc.                                                                                                      74 B.C.

            Gardabhilla expelled by the �akas                                                       61 B.C.

            Vikram�ditya recovers Ujjayin�                                                              57 B.C.

            Four successors of Vikram�ditya                                                    3-78 A.D.

            ï¿½aka era commences                                                                                          78 A.D.

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 Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a, which is the foundation of this chronological scheme, cannot be wrong.

  1. The Jainas have tried to preserve the traditions relating to the ï¿½rut�vat�ra (i.e. the redaction of the canon). In this connection, some Jaina works177 give the genealogy of 28 immediate successors of Mah�v�ra, 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 Mah�v�ra’s death and the commencement of the �aka era. All these sources are in perfect agreement as to the fact that this succession lasted till 683 years after Mah�v�ra’s Nirv��a, 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 Pa���val�s of the Nandi Sa�gha, particularly its Prak�it Pa���val�, 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 Pa���val� allots 99 years to group V, they allot 118 years to it. According to the Jaina traditions, Bhadrab�hu 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.

  1. There are also traditions which relate to Kalki who is believed to have flourished at about the close of the first millennium after Mah�v�ra’s death.179In this connection, chronological lists of the ruling dynasties, particularly of Ujjayin�, have been preserved for these one thousand years ending with Kalki’s tyrannical rule. Kalki is identified with either Ya�odharman of the Aulikara dynasty of Mandsor or with Mihirakula of the H��a dynasty.180It is more likely that he was Mihirakula.
  2. Another tradition, which further confirms this date relates to the great schism in the Jaina Sa�gha. According to the �vet�mbara 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
  3. The date of the redaction of the �vet�mbara 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 Bhadrab�hu III, who wrote the Niryuktis on the redacted ï¿½gamas�tras, was an elder brother of Var�hamihira, the astronomer (427 S.E. or 505 A.D.).
  4. Pu�karas�rin, who was a contemporary of Pradyota of Avanti and Bimbis�ra of Magadha, was the ruler of Gandh�ra with its capital at Taxila. Pradyota was engaged in hostilities with Pu�karas�rin the cause of which is not known. Pu�karas�rin is said to have sent an ambassador and a letter to king Bimbis�ra of Magadha. But Bimbis�ra was in no mood to alienate Pradyota. Pradyota was unsuccessful in his war, but was saved from disaster by the outbreak of hostilities between Pu�karas�rin and the P���avas. The P���avas appear to have settled in the Punjab.

This area of Gandh�ra 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 (Gandh�ra). 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 Gandh�ra which was inherited by Darius as a part of his empire, while for himself he pushed his Indian conquest farther into the region called Sindhu.

As Gandh�ra became a part of the Persian empire from 550 B.C., its ruler Pu�karas�rin must be placed earlier. Bimbis�ra and Pradyota, who were the contemporaries of Pu�karas�rin, were ruling in about 550 B.C. As Mah�v�ra is known to be a contemporary of Bimbis�ra and Pradyota, the date of his Nirv��a in 527 B.C., as recorded in the Jaina scriptures, is not improbable.

  1. If we assume this date of Mah�v�ra’s death to be correct, it does not conflict with the known facts of history. Ca��a Pradyota, king of Avanti, died on the same night of 527 B.C. as T�rtha�kara Mah�v�ra, and he was succeeded by his son P�laka. Ca��a 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 Bimbis�ra and his son Aj�ta�atru. According to the Jaina tradition, Mah�v�ra died sixteen years after the coronation of Aj�ta�atru, and this period might have included some years of his Viceroyalty over Camp�. It seems that he started his rule from about 535 B.C. His father Bimbis�ra, is known to have ruled 28 (or 38) years according to the Pur��as, 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 Go�ala is known to have died sixteen and a half years before Mah�v�ra, his date of death may be presumed to be 543 B.C. As the Buddha was a junior contemporary of Mah�v�ra, he might have attained Nirv��a a few years after Mah�v�ra.


Mah�v�ra 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 Ahi�s� 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 encouraged.

For Mah�v�ra 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.

Mah�v�ra was tolerant in religious matters. As there were different conflicting religious and philosophical views current in his time, he formulated the principal of Sy�dv�da 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 well.

Mah�v�ra was a great M�ha�a182 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 pilot185because by means of the boat of the doctrine, he brought them straight to the shore of the Nirv��a and delivered all those numerous living beings that, on the great sea of the world, were straying or perishing by sinking or drowning or floating.

Mah�v�ra, 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 Kriy�v�dins, of the Akriy�v�dins, of the Vainayikas, and of the Aj��nav�dins.188 His perception was infinite.189

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 Sa�s�ra. He renounced everything because he had broken away from all ties.190

Mah�v�ra was a great reformer. Since many abuses had crept into Society, he did his utmost to remove them.

He possessed a great organizing capacity, and made the laity participate in the Sa�gha 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 degree.

  1.    Uv�, VII.
  2.    SBE XXII, pp. 80, 248.
  3.    ï¿½ch�, II, 15, 15; Kalpa, 109, 110.
  4.    SBE XXII, p. 226; Sama, p. 89a; Sth�n�, p. 523b; ï¿½ch�, II, 15. 4-5 (pp. 190-191).
  5.    Bhag, 9.33 (pp. 457-58).
  6.    V. A. SMITH : The Jain St�pa and other Antiquities of Mathura, �����
  7.    ï¿½va�yaka Niryukti, Kalpa S�tra, �va�yaka S�tra, (H�ribhadriya-Tik�), Mah�v�ra Chariya� of Nemichandra, Mah�v�ra Chariyam of Gu�achadra Ga�i, Paumachariyam of Vimala S�ri, Var��ga-Charitam of Ja��si�ha Nandi and ï¿½va�yaka-Ch�r�i.
  8.    P�jyap�da’s Da�abhakti, (p. 116); Jinasena’s Hariva��apur��a (1-2); Gu�abhadra’s Uttarapur��a (74); D�manandi’s Pur��a Sa�graha; Asaga’s Vardham�ma-Charitra (XVII. 61); Sakalak�rti’s Vardham�na Charitra (VII).
  9.    ï¿½ch�, II, 15. 15, 17.
  10.    S�tra, 1, 2, 3, 22.
  11.    Kalpa, (S�tras 110, 112, 128).
  12.    Uttar�, VI, 17.
  13.    Bhagavat� Ï¿½i, II, 1, 12, 2.
  14.    Uttara-Pur��a (75); Vimala Pur��a; ï¿½re�ika-Caritra (9); and ï¿½r�dhan�-Kath�-Kosha (4).
  15.    Jaina Siddh�nta Bh�skara, 3 (Sept. 1936), p. 50, f.n.).
  16.    Sindhu-de�a literally means �the country of Rivers� and Tirabhukti, too, has a similar meaning, i.e. �the Province situated on the Banks (of Rivers). From the Gupta period onwards, Videha came to be known as Tirabhukti.
  17.    Meghad�ta, 1, 30.
  18.    English translation of Uv�sagadas�v (Bibliotheca Indica Series, Calcutta, 1888).
  19.    V.A. SMITH : Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. XII (New York, 1921), pp. 567-68.
  20.    ASI, 1903-4, p. 82.
  21.    SSHJ, pp. 21-22.
  22.    NDGDAMI, p. 107.
  23.    LMLT, p. 19.
  24.    A.F.R. HOERNLE and H. JACOBI interpreted Sannive�a in the sense of ward and suburb respectively but it was also used in the sense of gr�ma. See VTM, I,  p. 98.
  25.    Kalpa, 97-105.
  26.    Ibid., 91, 106-107; ï¿½ch�, II, 15, 15.
  27.    Mah�pur��a, 74.
  28.    Tri. pu. Cha, 10, 2, 217; ï¿½va. Chu. I. p. 246.
  29.    Kalpa, 120; ï¿½ch�, II, 15. 15.
  30.    Ibid., 110.
  31.    Ibid., 112.
  32.    Padmapur�na, 20, 67; Hariva��apur��a. 60, 214; Tilovapa��ati, 4, 670 etc.
  33.    ï¿½ch�, II, 15. 15; Kalpa, 109.
  34.    Kalpa. 110.
  35.    ï¿½ch�. I, 8, 1, 3.
  36.    Ibid., I, 8, 1, 1.
  37.    ï¿½ch�, I, 8, 1, 2.
  38.    Ibid., I, 8, 1, � 4, 5, 6, 7.
  39.  Ibid., I, 8, 1, � 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19.
  40.    ï¿½ch�, I, 8, 2-2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11.
  41.    Ibid., I, 8, 3, 1.
  42.    ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½
  43.    ï¿½ch�, I, 8, 4, � 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15.
  44.    Ibid., I, 8, 4, 16.
  45.    Kalpa, 116.
  46.    Ibid., 117.
  47.    Kalpa, 117.
  48.    Ibid., 119.
  49.    Ibid., 120.
  50.    Ibid., 122.
  51.    LMLT, p. 32.
  52.    LMLT, 29.
  53.    Ibid., p. 33.
  54.    GEB, p. 6.
  55.    AGI, p. 537.
  56.    Ibid., p. 718.
  57.    Dhammapada Commentary, I, p. 384.
  58.    R. SANKRITYAYANA : Vinaya Pitaka, p. 248n.
  59.    GEB, p. 24.
  60.    PRAI, p. 160.
  61.    SBE, XXII, p. 264, f.n. 4; also p. 84.
  62.    AGI, p. 469.
  63.    GEB, p. 15.
  64.    Ibid., p. 498.
  65.    HSBJY, p. 24.
  66.    HSBJY, p. 23.
  67.    History of Bengal, Vol. I, p. 22.
  68.    Uv�, Tr. by A. F. R. HOERNLE, App. I.
  69.    GEB, p. 18.
  70.    HBSJY, p. 23.
  71.    NDGDAMI, p. 184.
  72.    ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ Vol. XV, P. II
  73.    VTM I, p. 194
  74.    GEB, p. 40.
  75.    R. SANKRITYAYANA : Vinaya Pi�aka, p. 248 n.
  76.    AGI, p. 732.
  77.    VTM, I, p. 203, f.n. 1.
  78.    Ibid., p. 204, f.n.1.
  79.    Imperial Gazetteers, Vol. VIII, p. 475.
  80.    JLAIDJC. p. 324.
  81.    History of Bengal, Vol. I. p. 22.
  82.    JLAIDJC, p. 278.
  83.    R. SANKRITYAYANA : Majjhima, p. 61 n.
  84.    Suttanip�ta, V. 1.38
  85.    KVSBM, pp. 357, 370.
  86.    JLAIDJC, p. 289.
  87.    SSHJ, p. 33
  88.    ï¿½ch�, II, 15, 25-26; Kalpa, 120, 121.
  89.    Majjh, I, pp. 92-93.
  90.    ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½   659-660.
  91.    ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½
  92.    SSHJ, pp. 61-62.
  93.    SSHJ, p. 67.
  94.    SSHJ, p. 41.
  95.    Kalpa, 122.
  96.    NATA, pp. 396-400.
  97.    ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½
  98.    Majjh, I. p. 227.
  99.    Majjh, I. 371-387.
  100. N�y�, p. 146; Sth�n�, p. 458; Uttar�, XX.
  101. Aup, 44-46.
  102. �va, Ch�, II, p. 164.
  103. Bhag, 442.
  104. �va, Ch�, II, p. 207.
  105. Bhag, pp. 556 ff.
  106. Sth�n�, p. 430 b.
  107. �va, p. 299.
  108. Bhag, 12. 2.
  109. �va, Ch�, p. 91, Anta, 7, p. 43.
  110. Bhag, 458b.
  111. Anta, III.
  112. N�y�, p. 32.
  113. Ibid., p. 33; N�y�. Chapt. 1; ï¿½va. Ch�, p. 115.
  114. Tr�, Pu. Cha, x, 6, 8.
  115. Uttar�, xx, 58.
  116. Hindu Civilization, The Age of Imperial Unity, p. 21.
  117. ����������������
  118. Tri. Pu. Cha, X, 6, 10, 11.
  119. Da���rutaskandha, Anuttaropap�tika Da���ga and J��t�dharmakath�.
  120. Bihar through the Ages, p. 127.
  121. Aup, 12, 27, 30; Hemachandra’s Pari�ish�aparvan, canto IV; ï¿½va. S�, pp. 684, 687.
  122. �va, S�, p. 690.
  123. Bhag, 13. 6.
  124. Uttar�, XVIII, 48.
  125. Avad�nakalpalat�, 40; Divy�d�na, 37.
  126. KMA, p. 119.
  127. Ibid, p. 115.
  128. Jainism in Northern India, pp. 88 f.
  129. Vin, vi, 4, 8.
  130. �va. Nir, 520 ff; ï¿½va. ��. p. 294 f.
  131. Bhag. 12, 2.
  132. Uv�, pp. 84-5, 90, 95, 105, 160 and 163.
  133. B. C.  LAW : Some Jaina canonical S�tras, p. 74; 162-204. The Pali counterpart of this Jaina S�tra is undoubtedly the dialogue known as the P�y�s� Suttanta in the D�gha Nik�ya. In the Pali Suttanta, the dialogue is put into the mouth of the Buddhist recluse, Kum�rakassapa, the Flower-Talker (Chitra kathi) and the Chieftain P�y�si of Setavy�, a town within the kingdom of Pasenadi of Ko�ala.
  134. NATA, p. 369. According to the D�ghanik�ya, Prade�i was a vassal of Presenajit while on the evidence of the R�yapa�e�iya �utta, Jita�atru was the ruler under Prade��. It seems more reasonable to say that Prade�� and Jita�atru are one and the same ruler who may be identified with Prasenajit of Ko�ala.
  135. Uttar�, XVIII, 44.
  136. GEB, p. 26.
  137. KMA, p. 121.
  138. Uttar�, XVIII, 45, 47.
  139. A.C. MITTAL : Early History of Orissa, p. 136.
  140. Karnatak through the Ages.
  141. S�tra, II, 6.
  142. J.P. JAIN : Bh�ratiya Itih�sa � eka D�ish�i, pp. 67-68.
  143. PRAS. WC., 1907, p. 35.
  144. APJLS, No. 48.
  145. Jainism in Rajasthan, p. 8.
  146. SBE, XLV, p. 339.
  147. NATA. p. 402.
  148. Majjh, I, pp. 392-393.
  149. LMLT p. 17.
  150. Kalpa, 128.
  151. Pari. VIII, 339.
  152. 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.
  153. Introductions to SBE, XXII and XLV, on Mah�v�ra and his Predecessors, I, A, IX, pp. 156 ff.
  154. IA, XLIII, pp. 118 ff; also see CAH, Vol. I, p. 156.
  155. History of India. Pt. I, pp. 39-40.
  156. A. L. BASHAM : History and Doctrines of the �jivikas. pp. 66-78.
  157. ERE, Vol. VII, p. 467.
  158. Ibid., Vol. I, pp. 260-61.
  159. An Advanced History of India, p. 73.
  160. B.C. Law Volume, Pt. I, pp. 606-607, f.n. 30.
  161. Bh�rata-Kaumudi, Part II, pp. 817-838.
  162. Y. MISHRA : An Early History of Vai��l�, pp. 202-212.
  163. Majjih, II. 3, 7.
  164. LMLT, p. 53.
  165. JBORS, 1, Pt. I, pp. 99-104.
  166. JRAS, 1917, pp. 122-130.
  167. Pari, VI, 243.
  168. Tri. Pu. Ch, X, 12, 45-46.
  169. R.C. MAJUMDAR, The Age of Imperial Unity, pp. 155-156.
  170. KMA, p. 156.
  171. Jaina S�hitya Aura Itih�sa Para Vi�ada Prak��a, pp. 26 f.
  172. NPPI, pp. 377-454, pp. 377-454.
  173. G.C. OJHA : Bh�ratiya Pr�china Lipim�la; V.S. AGRAWALA : T�rtha�kara Bhagav�n Mah�v�ra, II Bh�mik�.p. 19; H.L. JAIN : Tattva Samuchchaya, p. 6, KALYANA VIJAYA : V�ra Nirv��a Sa�vat Aura Jaina K�la Ga�an�VMT; NATA, p. 87.
  174. Tiloyapa��ati (5th century); Jambudvipa-praj�apti Sa�graha (700 A.D.); Dhaval� (780 A.D.), Hariva��a (783 A.D.)Jayadhaval� (837 A.D.), Kalpas�tra Ther�vali, Pari�ish�aparvan and Prabh�vakacarita, Pa���valis of Nandi, Sena and K�sh�h� Sa�ghas.
  175. Jaina S�hitya K� Itih�sa, pp. 356-369.
  176. Tiloyapa��ati, Hariva��a, Trilokas�ra, etc.
  177. N. R. PREMI : Jaina S�hitya Aura Itih�sa, p. 20.
  178. �va�yaka M�labh�shya (609 A.D.), Dar�anas�ra (933 A.D.).
  179. Up�sakada��-Sutram, ed. by A.F.R. HOERNLE, p. 141.
  180. Ibid
  181. Ibid., 144.
  182. Ibid., 145.
  183. S�tra, I, 6, 4.
  184. Ibid., I, 6, 28.
  185. Ibid., I. 6, 27.
  186. Ibid., I, 6, 25.
  187. Ibid., I, 6, 6