A Tirthankara (Maker of the River-Crossing, saviour, spiritual teacher) signifies the founder of a tirtha, which means a fordable passage across the sea of interminable cycles of births and deaths (called saṃsāra).The Kalpasutra, a popular text in Jainism, cites Kundagrama as the place where he was born.These eleven Brahmin–Ganadharas, as the early followers, were responsible for remembering and verbally transmitting the teachings of the Mahavira after his death, which came to be known as Gani-Pidaga or Jain Agamas.
Mahavira was the last Tirthankara of Avasarpiṇī (present descending phase or half of the time cycle).
According to the Jinasena's Mahapurana, the heavenly beings arrived to perform his funeral rites; in others he is described, at age 72, to be giving his final preaching over six days to a large crowd of people.
Everyone falls asleep, only to awaken to find that he has disappeared, leaving only his nails and hair, which his followers cremate.
Mahavira's previous births are discussed in Jain texts such as the Mahapurana and Tri-shashti-shalaka-purusha-charitra.
While a soul undergoes countless reincarnations in the transmigratory cycle of saṃsāra (world), the births of a Tirthankara are reckoned from the time he determined the causes of karma and developed the Ratnatraya.
In 1975, which was the 2,500th anniversary of the Nirvana (or Moksha) of Mahavira, monks of the various sects of Jainism assembled to resolve their differences and arrive at some commons points of agreement about the history and philosophy of Jainism.