Mahavira was the 24th and last Tirthankara of Jainism. Also known as Vardhamana, he was an Indian ascetic philosopher and one of the principal figures of Jainism which is one of the major religions of the Indian subcontinent. Mahavira was a contemporary of Gautama Buddha, the primary figure in Buddhism on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. Mahavira was born into a royal family of Kshatriyas in present day Bihar, India. As the son of a king he had a privileged childhood and was raised in the lap of luxury. He grew up to be a brave lad and is once said to have controlled a fierce serpent. However, with time he realized that his luxurious life did not provide him any satisfaction and at the age of 30 he renounced all his worldly ties and embarked on a search for the ultimate spiritual truth. He underwent severe penance for twelve and a half years following which he finally attained ‘Kevala Jnana’, the highest stage of perception. He spent the next several years travelling all over India teaching his philosophy. He also established the rules of religious life for Jain monks and nuns.