MAHAVIRA: Omniscience (Keval Gyan)
Bhagavan Mahavira practiced strict austerities and deep meditation for a period of twelve years and a half. During this period he used to reside in parks, forests and deserted places and bore all the obstacles and tortures patiently and bravely. He used to observe fasts commencing from a two-days, fast and gradually going up to a fast lasting for six months.
He had now reached the highest state of meditation. He then reached the village Jarmbhika and stayed on the banks of the river Rijuvaluka. At that time he was observing a fast of two days. In order to annihilate the lingering remnants of the destructive Karmas, Bhagavan Mahavira sat down in the "cow-milking" posture, as shown in the illustration.
His mind was absorbed in the highest type of meditation and with all the karmas completely destroyed; he attained the absolute knowledge on the tenth day of the bright half of the month of Vaishakha. He became omniscient, comprehending and visualizing everything in the whole universe, as well as everything in the past, present, and the future.
Being free from all impurities, he now became an Arihanta. After that he delivered his first sermon and his messages is recorded in the Jain texts called agamass.
The Light of Omniscience
Observing the details of Bhagwan Mahavir 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
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 Mahavir 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 Mahavir Swami the sun of omniscience was raising. 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
The endeavor had reached the summit of success and attained the goal. Mahavir 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 Mahavir they celebrated the ultimate
Traditionally a Tirthankar preaches the religion of equanimity (Ahimsa) immediately after his gaining
omniscience. To take advantage of the first divine discourse of Mahavir the gods created the divine pavilion
(Samavasaran) on the pious banks of Rijubaluka river. Numerous gods were engrossed in listening the
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 Mahavir Swami was a failure in context of spiritual
gains as none of those present took any vow.
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 Mahavir Swami, Pandit Som Sharma becomes 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. With out 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 auspicous 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 Mahavir.