Mahavir Swami’s Kewal Gyan is an extremely important way of life and thought process for those practicing the Jain religion. This tells us about the Tirthankaras achieving omniscience or Keval Gyan.
Mahavira or Vardhamana as he was known earlier practiced austerities and deep meditation for a period of 12 and half years. During these periods of austerity, he used to stay in parks, jungles and other deserted places. He had to tolerate period of severe humiliation, face all obstacles with great patience and utmost bravery. The fasts that he used to keep increased from two days to gradually moving up to 6 months.
While he was at it, Mahavira reached the village of Jarmbhika, near the river Rijuvaluka. During this time, Mahavira was observing a 2 days fast. In order to get over all remaining his bad Karmas, Mahavira sat on a cow-milking position, ignoring all discomforts and only concentrated on the ultimate goal.
His mind was completely focused and absorbed in the highest level of meditation and finally after getting rid of all the bad Karmas, he attained what can be called the absolute knowledge. He attained this ultimate absolute knowledge on the bright half of the moon, on the 10th day in the month of Vaisakha. Thus this is the day famous for being when Mahavira had received his absolute knowledge.
After receiving this absolute knowledge, Mahavira became omniscient and could see everything in the universe, and also the past, present as well as the future. Having received the Absolute Knowledge, he then became the Arihanta, or one who had defeated his enemies. Post this Mahavira delivered his first sermon which is recorded in the religious book called Agamass.
Four qualities of Mahavira’s spiritual practices –
There is couple of salient points which were observed during Mahavira’s spiritual practices of 12 years. These are as follows –
- Deep meditation without any disturbances
- Painstaking penance
- Enormous tolerance of pain
- Complete equanimity
The attainment of absolute knowledge
After a passage of 12 years and 5 months and 15 days, on the bright half on the month of Vaisakha, according to the traditional Hindu calendar, that Mahavira sat under a Saal tree in a squatting position. His knees touched his chest, and the scorching sun was at the top of his head. He sat in the garden which was at the back of the Rijubaluka River. The entire day he sat in the same position focusing his complete mind and will in deep meditation. When darkness descended, the darkness descended, the darkness of Karma from Mahavira left him and the sun of omniscience rose, and drove away all the darkness of the mind and soul. The tremendous endeavor had achieved the goal and Mahavira became all at once all the following together – Bhagavan or the God, Jina meaning the Victor, Sarvajna or the all knowing, and Sarvadarshi or the all perceiving. His omniscient stage lit up the three worlds and the earth was filled with a beautiful light for a few seconds.
The First Ever Spiritual Discourse after attaining Kewal Gyan
The hard penance of 12 and a half year had paid off, when finally Mahavira received the Ultimate Knowledge. It is the usual custom that the omniscient should address with his ultimate perception or Kewal Darshan, and ultimate knowledge or Kewal Gyan or omniscience. The Gods and Goddesses from Heaven had arrived to listen to Mahavira. They celebrated the attainment of the Ultimate Knowledge by doing a vandana, or eulogy of Mahavira.
The divine Gods created a pavilion called Samavasaran on the banks of the Rijubaluka River, where Mahavira preached a religion based on Ahimsa or non-violence or equanimity. The gods all listened to him with avid interest. However, despite the engrossment, Gods cannot take vows to change their way of living or their thoughts. Thus, Mahavira Swami left the Rijubaluka River and moved towards Madhyam Pava, so that he may gain disciples who would practice his preached way of life and take vows. There was a huge pavilion created in the Mahasen jungle.
Vaishak Som Shrama had organized a pilgrimage and a great Yajna for which 11 reputed scholars along with their 4400 disciples had come. There were thousands of other devotees who had come to see the yajna and be a part of it. Mahapandit Indrabhuti upon hearing about Mahavira went to confront him as Vaishak Som Shrama was worried about having his yajna. However Mahapandit Indrabhuti after meeting Mahavira became his disciple and took the vow.
Teaching of Mahavira-
Lord Mahavira, amongst many other things, taught the following –
- No soul is dependent on each other
- All souls are equal
- Every soul is absolutely omniscient
- human beings are miserable because of their own faults, an
- God does not exist separately
- God is neither the creator nor the destroyer they must overcome those faults
- Ahimsa or non-violence is the highest religion as all beings hate pain
- One should know oneself, recognize oneself and be immersed in oneself and only then can one attain divinity
- The biggest mistake is not recognizing oneself. Everyone must recognize the true self.
Since God does not exist separately, everyone can make an effort to reach divinity by making supreme efforts.