Mahavira was born into a royal family in what is now Bihar, India, in either 599 BC or 480 BC. At the age of 30, he left his home in pursuit of spiritual awakening, and abandoned worldly things, including his clothes, and became a Jain monk. For the next twelve-and-a-half years, Mahavira practiced intense meditation and severe penance, after which he became kevali (omniscient).
For the next 30 years he traveled throughout South Asia to teach Jain philosophy. Mahavira taught that the observance of the vows ahimsa (non-injury), satya (truth), asteya (non-thieving), brahmacharya (chastity) and aparigraha (non-attachment) is necessary to elevate the quality of life. The teachings of Mahavira were compiled by Gautama Swami (chief disciple) and were called Jain Agamas. Most of these Agamas are not available today. Jains believe Mahavira attained moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death) at the age of 72.
- The greatest mistake of a soul is non-recognition of its real self and can only be corrected by recognizing the self.
- Every soul is independent, none depends on another.
- It is better to win over the self than to win over a million enemies.
- There is no separate existence of God. Everybody can attain god-hood by making supreme efforts in the right direction.
- All unenlightened persons produce sufferings. Having become deluded, they produce and reproduce sufferings, in this endless world.
- A living body is not merely an integration of limbs and flesh but it is the abode of the soul which potentially has perfect perception (Anant-darshana), perfect knowledge (Anant-jnana), perfect power (Anant-virya), and perfect bliss (Anant-sukha).
- Just as a threaded (sasutra) needle is secure from being lost, in the same way a person given to self-study (sasutra) cannot be lost.
- Every soul is in itself absolutely omniscient and blissful. The bliss does not come from outside.
- The soul comes alone and goes alone, no one companies it and no one becomes its mate.
- Only that science is a great and the best of all sciences, the study of which frees man from all kinds of miseries.