Vardhamana (Mahavira) 600 – 200 BC Personalities
Vardhamana (Mahavira): The 24th and the last reformer of Jainism, Vardhamana was founded in 599 BC, In Ksatiryakundagrama, India, born to a royal Kastirya family (warrior caste) by Hindus. It is speculated that he was a junior-contemporary of Buddha.
Vardhamana spent most of his life as a wanderer, had no clothes, and only ate vegetables and fasting. After 12 years of practicing such a severe life, he is said to have gained the highest spiritual knowledge. He is therefore known as Mahavira (the fully enlightened teacher). He spent the next thirty years traveling. He reorganized the religion of Jainism, systematized earlier teachings and es
tablished guidelines for monks and other supporters. His reforms have influenced Indian society to this day. According to tradition Mahavira died at the age of 72 in Pava in the Bihar state in 527 BC. At a time he should have 400,000 followers.
His death anniversary is remembered in India as an event of Dipavali,
which is the last day of the Hindu and Jain calendar. Mahavira’s sermons were orally compiled by his immediate disciples in the Agam-Sutras. These Agam sutras were orally passed on to future generations. Over time, many of the Agam sutras have been lost, destroyed or modified. After about a thousand years, the Agam sutras were recorded on Tadpatris (sheet of paper used at that time to keep records for future references). Swetambar Jains recognize these sutras as an authentic version of their teachings, while Digambar Jains use them as a reference.