The below mentioned article provides a short biography of Mahavira.
The original name of Mahavira was Vardhamana. He was born at Kundagrama. His father Siddhartha was the Chief of his clan. Siddhartha had two sons and Vardhamana was the youngest of the two. He was born in 539 B.C.
At the time of his birth the astrologers made a forecast that either he will be a great king or a great saint. Mahavira spent his early life in the royal luxuries and was married to a beautiful princess, Yashodhara.
A daughter was also born to Mahavira. It is said that parents of Mahavira were the followers of Parsva Nath, and Mahavira was greatly influenced by the teachings of Parsva Nath. He developed a bent towards meditation while he was still a child.
At the age of thirty when his parents had died he denounced the world with the permission of his elder brother. For about 13 months he wore clothes but subsequently he cast off his clothes and started living naked.
During the next 12 years he lived on extreme self-mortification. All sorts of living beings gathered and crawled round his body but he continued his meditation. During this period he did not take any bath, washed teeth or take any medicine.
Often he went on without water for months. After all these hardships he attained knowledge at, the age of 43. After this he came to be known as Jaina Mahavira (or the conqueror), and his followers came to be known as Jains.
After his enlightenment Mahavira continued to preach his doctrines. For this purpose he travelled widely and had to face many difficulties. The initial response of the people was not quite favourable. It is said that at the country of Ladha people attacked him with dogs, but despite all these difficulties he did not lose courage and continued to preach his doctrine.
In course of time a large number of people became his followers. Mahavira was particularly lucky to receive patronage from the royal families. Rulers like Bimbsara of Magadha, Pradyota of Avanti, Dadhivardhan of Champa rendered him considerable help in spreading his message.
Although Mahavira was a contemporary of Buddha but it appears that the two never met each other. Mahavira died at the age of 72 at village Pawa in Patna district. It is said that at the time of his death he had about fourteen thousand disciples.