Bhagwan Mahaveer Swami ► Kewali Charya

Posted: 05.04.2015

The Light of Omniscience: 

Observing the details of Bhagwan Mahaveer Swami’s twelve year period of spiritual practices it becomes evident that his practices combined four qualities:

1. Deep and undisturbed meditation,
2. Rigorous penance,
3. Extreme tolerance of pain, and
4. Ultimate equanimity.

It was the tenth day of the bright half of the month of Vaishakh. Twelve years five months and fifteen days had passed since the beginning of Mahaveer’s spiritual practices. Prabhu Mahaveer sat in mediation under a Saal tree in a garden on the back of Rijubaluka river. Sitting on both feet with knees touching his chest, he was feeling calm even in the scorching summer sun. Focusing all his physical, mental and spiritual energies he was engrossed in deep and pure meditation. Gradually the sun was setting in the west and within the soul of Bhagwan Mahaveer Swami the sun of omniscience was rising. As soon as the dark clouds of four deeply binding Karmas scattered, the all enlightening sun of omniscience dawned. The physical world was being envelop by the darkness of night but the spiritual would was being filled with the light of infinite rays of knowledge. The endeavor had reached the summit of success and attained the goal. Mahaveer had become Bhagavan (God), Jina (Victor), Sarvajna (all knowing), and Sarvadarshi (all perceiving). As soon as he became omniscient a soothing light spread in the three worlds for a few seconds. The living world was filled with a strange feeling of hitherto unknown bliss.

The First Discourse: 

After a twelve and a half year long period of extreme spiritual practices Shraman Vardhaman acquired the ultimate perception (Kewal Darshan), and ultimate knowledge (Kewal Jnan or omniscience). To greet and eulogize the first ray of the divine sun of Mahaveer’s infinite knowledge, innumerable gods and goddesses from heavens landed on the earth. Doing Vandana of Prabhu Mahaveer they celebrated the ultimate attainment (Kivalya).

Traditionally a Tirthankar preaches the religion of equanimity (Ahimsa) immediately after his gaining omniscience. To take advantage of the first divine discourse of Mahaveer the gods created the divine pavilion (Samavasaran) on the pious banks of Rijubaluka river. Numerous gods were engrossed in listening the discourse.

The gods may admire and eulogize truth, discipline, and virtues but they cannot do spiritual practices by taking vows. Only man is Capable of entering the discipline of spiritual practices. As such, it is aid that in absence of a human being the first discourse of Bhagwan Mahaveer Swami was a failure in context of spiritual gains as none of those present took any vow.

From the bank of Rijubaluka river Mahaveer came to Madhyam Pava. A divine pavilion was created in the Mahasen jungle.

During that month of Vaishak Som Shrama had organized a great yajna. Eleven famous and great scholars with their 4400 disciples had come to participate in this Yagna. Thousands of people from far and near were arriving to behold the pious flames of the Yajna. Thus, Mhahyam Pava had become a place of pilgrimage.

On hearing of the sudden arrival of Bhagwan Mahaveer Swami, Pandit Som Sharma become worried and disturbed due to the anti Yajan attitude of the Shraman culture. He went to the chief guide of the Yajna, Mahapandit Indrabhuti. They all confabulated but were short of ideas. Indrabhuti finally said, "Shraman Vardhaman is certainly a person to reckon with. He has the power of spiritual practice and fire of penance but still in knowledge he will prove to be no match for us. Without unmatched power of knowledge we should be able to defeat him now and subjugate a rising adversary in time. We need not worry. It is probable that this pious day may turn out to be the day of our ultimate victory."

This hope filled assurance form Mahapandit Indrabhuti made all the other scholars happy. Som Sharma started dreaming of the victory of the Brahman Yajna organization. Indrabhuti with this 500 disciples proceeded to confront Mahaveer.

Indrabhuti and the Self: 

Indrabhuti’s mind got a shock the moment he put his first step inside the divine pavilion. His mind got agitated. From the distance he saw the astonishing glow on the face of Shraman Mahaveer. When the powerful sun rays fall on the Himalayan ice caps the ice starts melting. Similarly Indrabhuti’s ego started melting. He felt as if streams of doubt and uncertainty had started emerging and flowing.

"Indrabhuti Gautam! You have arrived?"

The deep resonant voice of Prabhu Mahaveer fell on Indrabhuti’s ears the moment he entered the third gate of the assembly. "Mahaveer recognizes me!" Indrabhuti was astonished; he thought, "Of course, he must have heard of me, the world famous scholar."

"Indrabhuti Gautam, although you are a great scholar of Vedas, you are still doubtful of the existence of soul." When these words in the imposing voice of Mahaveer echoed in the ears of Indrabhuti he was stunned.

Prabhu sweetly uttered in friendly tone, "Indrabhuti Gautam, you doubt about if the soul is based on your knowledge of the Vedas. But the same Vedas contain undeniable proof of independent existence of the soul. Have you ever thought what is a soul? Who is it? and who is it that has this knowledge is the cognizant factor of soul. Soul is an entity that is formless and beyond the sensory realm, it can be perceived not through the sense organs but through direct intuitive experience..."

Listening to the Vedic aphorisms and irrefutable logic of Mahaveer about the existence of soul, Indrabhuti’s doubts were removed. His ego melted. With the rising of humility the divine ray of truth became visible. The darkness within Gautam was dispelled. With overflowing respect and curiosity Gautam fell at the feet of Prabhu Mahaveer.

"Prabhu, I came with a desire to be victorious, but now I am only a seeker of knowledge. Please bestow on me the infinite knowledge of truth. I wish to become a disciple and sit at your divine feet."

"You are welcome, O beloved of gods!" Mahaveer uttered equally. Indrabhuti Gautam became the first disciple of Bhagwan Mahaveer Swami. His five hundred disciples were also initiated by Mahaveer into the order. The sky reverberated with sounds of hailing.

The news of initiation of Gautam brought shadow soft gloom over the Yajna site where the scholars were waiting. But the second great scholar, Agnibhuti, summoned courage and said, "I will go and bring back my brother by defeating Mahaveer."

Agnibhuti also arrived at the religious assembly with hi five hundred disciples. As soon as he entered the pavilion and approached Mahaveer, Mahaveer said, "Agnibhuti, your senior has his cobwebs of doubt cleared, he has now become unambiguous. Now you should also remove your quandary about the fruits of Karma. As the existence of soul is self evident, it is also established that it is soul that is the doer of the Karma (action) and the sufferer of its consequences (fruit)."

The moment his doubt was removed the shackles of dogmas shattered. With the vanishing of ego a stream of faith started flowing within Agnibhuti. He also submitted before the omniscience of Shraman Mahaveer along with his 500 disciples.

The youngest brother of Indrabhuti, Vayabhuti, also decided to try his luck with his 500 disciples. As a thirsty person stops at a source of clean water, Vayabhuti stayed with Mahaveer and along with his 500 disciples joined Mahaveer’s order.

Great scholars like Vyakta and Arya Sudharma also came and removing their doubts became Mahaveer’s disciples along with 500 followers each. Similarly, Mauryaputra and Akampit with their 350 disciples each; Achalbhrata, Metarya, and Prabhas each with 300 disciples got initiated into Mahaveer’s order.

Thus, eleven great scholars were inducted with their 4400 disciples into Mahaveer’s order during his first discourse.

Establishment of the Ford: 

The eleventh day of the bright half of the month of Vaishakh is considered to be the date of the historical glory of the Jain tradition. On the tenth of the same month, Bhagwan Mahaveer Swami attained omniscience, so the day is important as the occasion of his personal triumph. But from the view point of establishing the religious organization (Tirth/Ford) the eleventh is the most important day. It was on this day that the eleven great Brahman scholars rid themselves of their egos of superiority by birth and the misconceptions, and were initiated into the Shraman tradition based on equanimity and Ahimsa. They became the chief disciples or Ganadhars of Mahaveer. In Jain tradition, the Ganadhar is the most exalted spiritual person after the Tirthankar. Thousands of other men and women were also converted, many of whom became ascetics and others who took vows for laity.

Princess Chandanbala, who had fulfilled the complex resolve of Bhagwan Mahaveer Swami, was also waiting for this auspicious day. As soon as she received the news of Mahaveer’s omniscience, she was over-joyed. She reached divine pavilion by the fastest available means. She was also accompanied by many worthy women. After listening to the discourse she became the first woman ascetic disciple of Mahaveer.

Shankh and Shatak with many other rich and prominent citizens joined Mahaveer’s order as lay followers. Sulasa and many other women also joined the religious family. Thus, the land of Mahasen jungle in Madhyam Pava and the eleventh day of the bright half of the month of Vaishakh became the blessed land and the blessed day respectively.

The Achievements: 

The twelve year period of spiritual practices of Bhagwan Mahaveer Swami was the basis of his personal achievement of omniscience and the status of Arihant/Tirthankar. After his enlightenment the remaining thirty years of his life were devoted to the welfare of the living world. During this period he revolutionized human thought and shattered many long established misconceptions and curses of traditional dogmas. His deeds and achievements in the fields of human welfare and upliftment as well as his contribution to the storehouse of human knowledge may be briefly summed up as:

  1. He opposed the wanton human and animal sacrifice and the misleading rituals in the name of religious Yajnas for benefits in the next life. As a more humane and rational alternative he showed the path of Ahimsa.
  2. He broke the established tradition of depriving women in general and men of lower castes from the formal study of scriptures and indulging in many religious activities. He was bold enough to initiate people from this section of society into his religious order. he provided equal rights an opportunities to all for study and practice of religion. He successfully rooted out the caste system in his area of influence at social and spiritual level.
  3. Under his influence the established norms of social status based on caste, wealth, power and grandeur were shattered and new norms of social status based on virtues and moral and ethical values were established.
  4. He used Ardha-Magadhi, the lingua-franca of that period for his discourses. Giving importance to folk culture and language of the masses over Sanskrit, the language of scholarly few and the upper class, he preached in eloquent and attractive style.
  5. For the ascetics of his school pursuing the path of detachment with the help of discipline, penance, chanting and meditation, he also prescribed regular indulgence in activities of social welfare. His order included people from all sections of the society-Indrabhuti Gautam and many others from the Brahmin caste; Shalibhadra, Dhanna, and many others from the Vaishya caste; Megh Kumar, Nandishen, etc. from the Kshatriya caste; and Maitarya, Arjunmali, etc. from the Shudra caste. Among women prominent in his order Chandanabala, Mrigavati, Kali, etc. were from ruling families and Subhadra, Revati, etc. were from the merchant class.
  6. The Shravakas (householders) in his organization included people from all walks of life. Udayi, Shrenik, Ajatshatru, etc. were kings; Anand was a farmer, Saddalputra was a potter; and Sulas was a butcher.
  7. The religious organization of Mahaveer was founded on virtues like detachment, equanimity, knowledge and discipline.
  8. The original contributions of Mahaveer were Ahimsa as the basis of code of conduct and relativity of thought (Anekant) as the basis of spiritual purity and equanimity.
  9. As Mahaveer had millions, of admires and followers, he also had opponents like Gaushalak and decenters like Jamali. For 5 to 6 years Jamali moved with Mahaveer as his disciple. But later, driven by ambition and lust for popularity he became Mahaveer’s opponent. He projected himself as omniscient and Tirthankar. The feeling of envy burning within him made him attack Mahaveer and try to burn him. But the great pacifying powers of a true Tirthankar defeated him. Compassionate Mahaveer still forgave him and advised to work for purity of the soul.

The Liberation: 

At the request of king Hastipal Mahaveer spent his last monsoon-stay at Pavapuri (Apapapuri at the age of 72 years. When about three and a half months passed he became aware that the end of his life is approaching. Ganadhar Gautam was overly attached with Mahaveer. He may not be completely swept away by the sorrow of separation- thinking thus Mahaveer directed him to go and enlighten Brahman Som Sharma.

On The fifteenth day of the dark half of the month of Kartik Mahaveer was observing a two days fast. He sat in the Samavasaran and gave his last discourse which became famous as Uttaradhyayan Sutra, Vipak Sutra, etc.

Just before the hour of midnight he shed all his remaining Karmas and attained Nirvana. For a few moments the whole world was enveloped in darkness.

Gods dispelled the darkness with the help of gems and humans lit earthen lamps to have the last glimpse of their savior. In memory of that day people celebrate the festival of lights or Dipawali.

Hearing about the Nirvana of Bhagwan Mahaveer Swami, Ganadhar Gautam became sad and melancholic. But soon he came out of it and progressed on the path of purity with help of extreme detachment. Jumping the levels of spiritual purity he acquired omniscience the next morning.

Gods and human beings celebrated jointly the events of attainment of Nirvana by Mahaveer and omniscience by Ganadhar Gautam.

After the Nirvana of Mahaveer the responsibility of heading the large religious order came to his fourth chief disciple Arya Sudharmaswami.

After Arya Sudharmaswami the order was headed by his disciple Arya Jambuswami. After the Nirvana of Arya Jambuswami (406 Before Vikram) the tradition of omniscients became extinct from Bharat area for this descending cycle of time.

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