Mahavira (599 BCE–527 BCE), also known as Vardhaman, was the twenty-fourth and last tirthankara of Jainism of present Avasarpani era (half time cycle as per Jain cosmology).
Mahavira was born into a royal family in what is now Bihar, India. At the age of 30 he left his home in pursuit of spiritual awakening (Diksha). For the next twelve and a half years he practiced intense meditation and severe penance, after which he achieved Kevala Jnana or enlightenment. He travelled all over Bharat (which was larger than today's India) for the next thirty years to teach Jain philosophy. Mahavira attained moksha at the age of 72. Mahavira was given the title Jīnā, or “Conqueror” (conqueror of inner enemies such as attachment, pride and greed), which subsequently became synonymous with Tirthankara. Although, there is reasonable evidence to believe that Parsva, predecessor of Mahāvīra was a historical figure, still Mahavira is sometimes referred as the founder of Jainism. On this famous Indologist, Heinrich Zimmer note:
"The foundation of Jainism has been attributed by Occidental historians to Mahavira. There must be some truth in the Jaina tradition of the great antiquity of their religion. We have grounds for believing that he (Parsva) actually lived and taught and was a Jaina."