Vardhaman Mahaveer - The Man Who Epitomized The Courage Of Non Violence

Vardhaman Mahaveer’s life is a story of a man who gave up everything one aspires for, to achieve self actualization and understand the mysteries of the universe that lie within. His ability to endure all hardships with detachments and stick to principles like non-violence, hold an example, that can be the answer to our unrestrained greed, consumerism and violence. Vardhaman Mahaveer can be the role model for humanity, and his teaching the wisdom that can save us from our misdeeds.
Vardhaman Mahaveer - The Man who epitomized the Courage of Non Violence
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For all those who advocate peace, non violence… or care about the disappearing species or cruelty towards living creatures … here is a story of a man who lived in ancient times and with self control, epitomized non violence as the greatest courage that the mankind has ever come to witness. This brave man, who redefined the meaning of courage, is a role model that this world badly needs today…

Life of Vardhaman

Five hundred and ninety nine years before Christ, a child was born in a village called Kundalgram to King Siddhartha, ruler of a small kingdom in North India and

his wife Trishala. He was named Vardhaman (meaning one who leads growth) because, the kingdom experienced a sudden spurt of prosperity while he was still in his mother’s womb. This prince, who later became the King, had a self-contemplating nature from his early childhood. He was fond of meditation and not attracted by worldly possessions or material wealth. He became interested in the beliefs of Jainism – a sect of religious philosophy in India that advocated self discipline and meditation.

His virtuous character continued even after he became the King. Though he was blessed with a loving family and all riches and luxuries a man of his times could aspire for, Vardhaman was more interested in self actualization. At the age of thirty years, he gave up his family, his kingdom and all material possessions, and decided to take up the path of a wandering ascetic. For the next twelve years and five months, he lived that life, with strict self-discipline, absolute detachment towards possessions and pleasures, wandering from one locality to another and concentrating only on meditation.

The path that Vardhaman chose was that of extreme rigor. He gave up all worldly possessions, even his clothes. He stayed out in the open or under a tree, facing the extremes of nature, from blistering heat to the shivering cold, without any protection, drinking and eating only to the extent it was absolutely necessary, hardly speaking, maintaining full control of his senses and spending his time meditating.

What characterized his conduct during these twelve years or so was his ability to maintain absolute calm, even in the face of gravest provocations. While wandering as a naked ascetic, he faced ridicule, abuse and aggression from the people. On occasions, people set their dogs to bite him or even attacked and injured him physically. Yet, he endured everything with absolute calm, without reacting and with complete detachment. His ability to face the extremes of nature and mankind and withstand all kind of pains with complete indifference and without being perturbed, is what earned him the name Mahaveer (meaning Great Courage).

Attainment of Omniscience (Keval Gyan)

It was after twelve years and five months of such life that he felt that he had come to realize and understand the world around him. This self realization, termed KEVAL GYAN, or omniscience is said to have occurred, with which he became aware of the reality that is enshrined in the mysteries of this universe. After that he spent the rest of his life sharing with people his thoughts and philosophy.

Principles of Conduct propagated by Vardhaman Mahaveer

The philosophy propagated by Vardhaman Mahaveer has become the central feature of Jainism, which

actually became very popular because of his influence. Jains consider him their twenty-fourth and the last Tirthankar or Jina (souls that have overcome the mortal world). His teachings are the most sacred part of Jainism today and the most followed as well.

Mahaveer suggested eight measures for self realization and fulfilling dharma (duty). Three of them are related to one’s approach, while the other five are about the actual conduct in life.

The three appropriate approaches advocated by Mahaveer are SAMYAK GYAN (Appropriate Knowledge)- one must obtain appropriate knowledge about himself and the world;  SAMYAK DARSHAN (Appropriate philosophy) – one must have a proper philosophy to ensure a healthy outlook and a meaningful life; and SAMYAK CHARITRA (Appropriate Conduct) – one must be careful about one’s conduct and ensure that it is appropriate and healthy.

For ensuring Samyak Charitra or proper conduct, Mahaveer recommended five great vows to his followers. These are AHIMSA (Non-violence) – refraining from any action that would cause a harm to any living creature; SATYA (Truthfulness) – adhering to absolute truth, even in the face of strongest temptations; ASTEYA (Not Stealing) – refraining from claiming anything that does not belong to you; BRAHMACHARYA (Abstinence) – abstaining from sensual temptations and pleasure; and APARIGRIHA (No possessions) – avoid possessions and accumulation of wealth.

Mahaveer’s Philosophy in 21st Century

To most people, the philosophy of Mahaveer would see seem impractical today. In the age of economic rationality and unrestrained consumerism and cut throat competition, it is the killing instinct rather than a self-restrictive, spiritual approach to life that can become a license for success. Yet, reality is often counter-intuitive, and like all cyclical things in this universe, may come back to strike, haunt and enlighten mankind some day.

With the violence that abounds around us, the individualism that ensures material progress with deepening emotional voids; with the senseless rat race that we choose and find ourselves entrapped in; the flood of knowledge that seems to be drowning us into insensitive ignorance, with all the industrial  progress, and some of it with not very welcome consequences, we might actually be moving towards a point where reality may finally dawn on us as being very different than what we have been assuming it to be. If the colonial and imperial exploitations by Great Powers of the world during the last few centuries, the Great Wars of the twentieth century and the Environmental Crisis threats in a not so distant future is any indication, then we may already be approaching a point of that realization.

Till that point of time, we can at least rejoice in the memory of that great soul who has shown a path that may save us one day!

Article Written By V Kumar

I am a physician, as well as a freelance writer with some expertise in several subjects. I write for the passion of writing. Life has blessed me with opportunities to witness interesting aspects of life and people around the world. Indeed, these are very interesting times and we who live in this era are privileged to experience it. You can find my articles at

Last updated on 16-05-2017 3K 1

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  • mylindaelliott  12-08-2014
    He sounds very interesting.  I don't know many people who could have lived like that for 12 years.
    reply 0
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