Vardhaman spent 12.5 years in deep meditation and self control. This course of penance’s comprehended ‘uninterrupted meditation, unbroken chastity, and the most scrupulous observance of the rules concerning eating and drinking.’ The account of his spiritual practices given in the Acharanga Sutra is literally soul -stirring.
He meditated day and night, undisturbed and non-perturbed. Avoiding women and giving up the company of householders, he realized singleness. He lodged in workshops, assembling places, manufactories, shed of straw, towns, garden-houses, in cemeteries and burial grounds, or at the foot of a tree, wherever shelter was available. He did not care for sleep for the sake of pleasure and he slept only for 3 hours in his 12.5 years of spiritual pursuit. In winter when cold winds blew, he did not seek sheltered places or kindle wood or seek to cover himself with clothes. In the cold season he meditated in the shade, in summer he exposed himself to the heat.
He would meditate with his eyes fixed on a square space before him of the length of a man or in some of the posture without the smallest motion. While meditating he would concentrate on the things above, below, or beside. He meditated free from sin and desire, not attached to sounds or colours, and never acted carelessly. Being averse from the impressions of the senses, he spoke very little and was always calm.
‘Thoroughly knowing the earth-bodies and water-bodies and fire-bodies and wind-bodies, the lichens, seeds and sprouts’ and comprehending ‘that they are, if narrowly inspected, imbued with life’, he avoided all kinds of sin and abstained from all sinful activities. He did not use other’s robe, nor did he eat out of other’s vessel. He did not rub his eyes or scratch his body. Knowing measure in eating and drinking he was not desirous of delicious food, nor had he a longing for it.’ For more than a couple of years he led a religious life without using cold water. He completely abstained from indulgence of the flesh; whether wounded or not, he took no medical treatment. He lived on rough food-rice, pounded jujube and beans. Sometimes he ate stale food. He accepted moist or dry or cold food, old beans, old pap, or bad grain, whatever was available. But where there were hungry birds, animals or thirsty beings or beggars standing in his way, he would go past that place without begging alms. He kept fasts; sometimes he ate only the sixth meal, or the eighth, or the tenth, or the twelfth; sometimes he did not drink for half a month or even for a month or for more than two months or even six months.
In accordance with the rules of the order he wandered about unceasingly, except for the four months of the rainy season. During the rest of the year, he lived in villages only a single night and in towns only five nights. He was indifferent alike to the smell of ordure and the sweet scent of sandal, to straw and jewel, dirt and gold, pleasure and pain, his world and the world beyond, to life and death. His mind was completely free from attachment. Circumspect in his thought, words and acts, he moved without wrath, pride, deceit and greed. Like water in a vessel, he was unattached in the midst of sin. During the course of his travels, he visited the pathless country of the Ladhas, in Vajrabhumi and in Subbhabhumi; and here his troubles were endless. The rude natives of the place attacked him and set dogs to bite him. He endured the abusive language of the rustics and bore pain, free from desire. “When he approached the village the inhabitants met him on the outside and attacked him, saying ‘Get away from here’. He was struck with a stick, the fist, a lance, hit with a fruit, a clod a potsherd. Beating him again and again many cried. Once when he sat in meditation, without moving his body they cut his flesh, tore his hair under pains, or covered him with dust. They disturbed him in his religious postures”. But like a hero at the head of a battle, bearing all hardships he reached on his path wholly undisturbed.”
Attainment of Omniscience
Read Article:Kevala Jnana
Lord Mahavir’s attainment of Kevalajnana
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 Mahavira’s spiritual practices. Lord Mahavir sat in mediation under a Shala tree in a garden on the back of the river Rijuvaluka (river Barakar in modern times). 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 (shukla dhyana). Gradually the sun was setting in the west and within him the sun of omniscience was rising. He became omniscient or, or Arihanta. He bec