Shri Amar Muni
THE FIRST TIRTHANKAR - 1
"He was the first king of this age and also the
first ascetic. Who also was the first ford-maker (Tirthankar), my
salutations to hat Rishabh Swami." -Acharya Hem Chandra
According to the Jain measurement of cosmic time one
cycle of time has two divisions. These two divisions, ascending time-cycle
there is a gradual improvement in physical and mental conditions,
including physical strength, health, happiness and simplicity, of beings
as well as climatic and life supporting conditions. During the descending
time-cycle there is a gradual deterioration in these conditions.
The Age of the Twins
During the first three Aras of the current descending
cycle man was completely dependent on nature for all his needs. The
wish-fulfilling trees provided all that he needed. Man was simple,
peaceful and contented in attitude. The environment was absolutely
unpolluted. Water was tasteful, cold, and sweet. Even the sand was sweet
as sugar. The air was healthy and exhilarating. The grains and fruits were
nutritious and filing. A simple meal of little quantity of fruit and water
lasted for days. Filled stomach and satisfied desires acted as antidote to
irritation and reduced disputes and other sinful activities. The whole
animal kingdom lived in harmony with the nature.
With the passage of time gradual changes occurred and
around the end of the third Ara the yield from the Kalpa-vrikshas reduced.
The alround deterioration in conditions spelled the beginning of quarrels
and disputes. To guard against these disputes and to live in peace and
harmony, man formed groups and the Kulkar system was evolved. A number of
people collected to form a �Kula� (family) and the head of the group was
called �Kulkar�. It was the duty of the �Kulkar� to remove discord and
establish order. Nabhiraja was the seventh and the last in the line of
Kulkars. His wife was Marudeva. This epoch of Kulkar system was known as
the epoch of twins (Yugalia). A human couple used to give birth to a twin-
one male and one female. This twin would become husband and wife on
reaching adulthood. The twins used to lead a happy and contented life and
died a natural death together.
To consume what was available was the way of life. As
such this period was also known as Bhog-Bhumi-Kaal or the era of free
consumption. Upto the time of Kulkar Nabhiraja man lived in this land of
Birth of Rishabhdev
It was during the last part of the third Ara of the
current descending cycle of time that the great and pious soul that was to
become Rishabhdev descended into the womb of Marudeva on the fourth day of
the dark half of the month of Ashadh during the night.
In the ancient Jain scriptures it is mentioned that
during many previous births, the soul that was to be Rishabhdev had done
prolonged spiritual practices. As a result of high degree of purity of
thoughts and attitude as well as penance, meditation, charity and
benevolent deeds it had earned highly pious Karmas.
In his incarnation as Dhanna, the caravan leader, he
had offered alms and services to ascetics and others. As doctor Jivanand
he had taken ample care of ailing masses as well as ascetics. As king
Vajranabh he had supported poor and desolate masses. After many years of
public services to ascetics and others. As doctor Jivanand he had taken
ample care of ailing masses as well as ascetics. As king Vajranabh he had
supported poor and desolate masses. After many years of public service
Vajranabh renounced the world and became an ascetic. As a result of
unprecedented spiritual practices, including religious studies, penance,
tolerance, and meditation, he earned Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. These
pious deeds of earlier births resulted in his taking birth as Rishabhdev.
When this pious soul was conceived, mother Marudeva
dreamt of fourteen auspicious things. The first thing she saw in her dream
was that a beautiful and large white bull was entering her mouth. The
other things she saw in her dream are as follows:
2. A giant elephant having four tusks,
3. A lion,
4. Goddess Laxmi seated on a lotus,
5. A garland of flowers,
6. The full moon resplendent in the sky,
7. The scintillating sun,
8. A fluttering flag,
9. A golden urn,
10. A pond full of lotus flowers,
11. A sea of milk,
12. A space vehicle of gods,
13. A heap of gems,
14. Smokeless fire,
Nabhiraja was an experienced and scholarly person. When
he heard about these dreams from Maudeva, he said, "Devi! You will give
birth to a highly endowed soul who will show the path of peace and
happiness to this world"
On the eighth day of the dark half of the month of
Chaitra, around midnight, healthy Marudeva gave birth to twins. This pious
birth influenced the surroundings. The sky became filled with a soothing
glow, the wind became fragrant and the whole atmosphere became impregnated
with unprecedented joy that was hard to describe.
From all around came the fifty six goddesses of
directions. They circumambulated the Tirthankar�s mother and bowed before
her. They also sang in praise of the child that was to become Tirthankar
and then proceeded to perform post-birth cleaning rituals.
At that instant the king of gods of the Saudharm
dimension, Saudharmendra Shakra, also came to know that the first
Tirthankar has taken birth. He arrived with his large retinue of gods and,
bowed before the mother,
"O great mother! I, Saudharmendra Shakra, bow before
you and offer my salutations."
After the salutations the mother was put to sleep.
Saudharmendra created five look alike bodies of himself. With one body he
carefully lifted the baby in his hands. With the second body he took an
umbrella in his hands and stationed the body behind the baby. With the
third and fourth bodies he took whisks and stationed these bodies on both
sides of the baby. With the fifth body he lifted his divine weapon, Vajra,
and stationed himself ahead of the baby as a body guard. In this formation
the king of gods airlifted the baby to Meru mountain. There, all gods,
including their 64 kings with their consorts, ceremoniously performed the
post-birth anointing rituals. This ceremony, popularly known as
Janma-kalyanak, of a Tirthankar, is unparalleled in this world.
Giving the Name
Next morning Nabhiraja organized the birth
celebrations. He invited his friends and relatives to a feast and
announced, "As there is a sign of a bull on the thigh of the new born, and
Marudeva first of all saw a bull in her great dreams, we name this child
as �Rishabh Kumar�." His twin will be known as "Sumangala".
The Beginning of the
When Rishabh Kumar was one year old, Saudharmendra came
to Kulkar Nabhi for formalizing the family name. He carried a sugar-cane
in his hand Baby Rishabh was sitting in his fathers lap. When he saw the
sugar-cane he eagerly extended his tiny hands to grab it. Saudharmendra
gave the sugar-cane to the baby and seeing his affinity for sugar-cane (Ikshu)
he formally named the family as Ikshvaku.
Rishabh Kumar was married to a girl named Sunanda whose
twin died in an accident. This was the beginning of the marriage system.
He was also married to his twin Sumangala in a ceremony that was arranged
by the gods.
Prince Rishabh led a happy married life. In due course
Sumangala gave birth to Bharat, Brahmi and ninety eight other sons.
Sunanda gave birth to Bahubali and Sundari.
Evolution of Crafts
Prince Rishabh was a highly endowed, farsighted and
industrious individual. He had a profound insight into the human
psychology. Looking at the needs the times and society he evolved numerous
arts, crafts and trades and taught them to people with right aptitude and
physical and mental capacities. To some he taught farming and to others
the trade of agricultural produce. He invented the alphabets, language,
and the numbers along with the tools for writing. For self defense he
evolved martial arts and taught these to individuals with strong physique.
He also established systems of social security and penal codes. Pottery,
architecture, music, dance, and many other arts and crafts that enriched
the human society in the fields of knowledge, arts, entertainment,
administration, etc. are said to be his contributions.
Then one day, on the request of the people�s
representatives. Nabhiraja nominated Rishabh to become the first king of
this age. He arranged for an elaborate coronation ceremony and handed over
the reigns of the state to Rishabh Kumar. The ceremony was attended by all
members of the family, large number of twins, and gods. The gods created a
golden throne and anointed Rishabh with the water collected from various
pilgrimage centres. They attired him in divine dress and ornaments and
formally put the crown on his head. The twins humbly poured water on his
feet from the cups made of lotus leaves. Rishabh became the first king of
this era. The king of gods ordered Kuber, the god of wealth, to construct
a suitable city. This beautiful city was named Vinita; later on it became
popularly known as Ayodhya.
Preaching the Path of
For many years Rishabhdev continued to rule his people
and open new frontiers of knowledge. During the reign of his father the
population was organized into random groups only. Rishabhdev reorganized
them according to their virtues, activities and professions, and broadly
divided the society into three groups. Trading community was known as
Vaishya, martial community was known as Kshtriya and all other people
indulging in a variety of services were known as Shudra. Till his times
the Brahman group was not formed.
After a long span of time (6.3 million Purva) he
started loosing interest in mundane things and activities, and drifting
toward detachment. He felt that he should transfer all his
responsibilities to his sons and proceed towards liberation through
spiritual practices. He also desired to reach the state of omniscience and
consequently show the path of disciplined life and spiritual practices.
His concept was that indulgence in mundane things does give happiness. It
gives only an illusion of happiness. True happiness is derived out of
freedom from mundane indulgences.
Following the stream of his thoughts Rishabhdev divided
the area of his rule between his one hundred sons. Bharat was given the
state of Ayodhya and Bahubali that of Takshashila. Getting free of the
responsibilities of the state, Rishabhdev decided to take Diksha (the
formal initiation into the ascetic way). At that time the gods from the
edge of the universe (the Lokantikdev) arrived and requested, "O savior of
the human race! Your desire to show the path of renunciation to the
mankind is admirable, kindly proceed soon to the task of propagating
After one year of meritorious charity, Rishabhdev sat
in the palanquin named Sudarshan and arrived in the Siddharth-vana garden.
it was the eighth day of the dark half of the month of chaitra when, under
an Ashok tree, Rishabhdev abandoned all his apparels and ornaments. He
started pulling out his long strands of hair. After four fistfuls, when he
was pulling out the fifth fistful of hair Indra said, "Sire! This strand
of hair on the crown of your head and hanging down over you shoulders
looks attractive. Kindly leave it as it is." Rishabhdev agreed. Due to
this bunch of hair he got he popular name-Keshariya ji (one with hair).
The king of gods collected the hair pulled out by Rishabhdev in a divine
cloth and immersed them in the divine ocean of milk.
Following the example of Rishabhdev many of his
subordinate rulers as well as common people got inspired to embrace the
ascetic way of life. It is mentioned in scriptures that with Rishabhdev
four thousand others also took Diksha.
The First Charity
After becoming an ascetic, Rishabhdev took the vow of
total silence and started wandering accompanied by other ascetics. When,
after his penance, he went out to beg for food, he did not get anything to
eat. The common people of that age were ignorant about the practice of
giving food as alms. They did not even appreciate the need to do so.
Whenever Rishabhdev approached them, they offered him respect and valuable
gifts as they would to a king. Rishabhdev would then proceed ahead without
accepting anything. As time passed the accompanying ascetics conferred
among themselves and decided to eat fruits and vegetables naturally
available. They slowly drifted away from Rishabhdev and the true ascetic
way of life. After one entire year of wandering from place to place and
doing harsh spiritual practices without touching any food or water
Rishabhdev decided to beg food once again. He came to Hastinapur town.
Bahubali�s son, Somprabh, was the king of Hastinapur.
His son Shreyans Kumar saw a dream during night that Suvarnagiri, the
golden mountain had turned black and he had brought it back its golden
color by washing it with pitchers full of milk. He narrated his dream to
his father and friends, but no one could interpret its significance.
Shreyans Kumar was sitting in the balcony of his palace
and brooding over the dream he saw last night. All of a sudden he heard
the noise caused by happy masses who had seen Rishabhdev entering the
town. Thousands of citizens of Hastinapur rushed toward Rishabhdev with
gifts. Rishabhdev did not even look at these things and continued his
graceful walk in the direction of the palace.
When Shreyans saw approaching Rishabhdev, he rushed to
welcome his great grandfather. After bowing down at the great ascetics
feet when Shreyans looked at Rishabhdev�s face he could not shift his
gaze. He went into a state of meditative thoughts and suddenly he acquired
Jati-smaran Jnan, the knowledge that opens up memories of the past births.
In his past birth Shreyans was the charioteer of king Vajranabh (the past
incarnation of Rishabhdev). This knowledge also made him aware of the
duties of laity toward Shramans. He realized that Bhagavan Rishabhdev had
been wandering around without food or water due to the prevailing
ignorance of the people regarding ascetic norms.
With due reverence he requested Rishabhdev, "Prabhu! I
am honored by your presence. I have just received 108 pitchers full of
fresh sugar-cane juice that are pure and suitable for you in all respects.
Kindly accept the juice and break your fast." Rishabhdev extended his
cupped palms and Shreyans poured the sugar-cane juice from a pitcher.
Rishabhdev broke his fast and the skies reverberated with the sound of
divine drums and divine applaud, "Hail the alms giving!" The gods also
showered gems, flowers and perfumes.
This was the beginning of the tradition of religious
charity and alms giving. In memory of this incident, the third day of the
bright half of the month of Vaishakh is celebrated as Akshay Tritiya
festival. The Jains specifically celebrate it as the breakfast day after
the penance of Varshi Tap (one meal and fast on alternate days for one
For one thousand years Bhagavan Rishabhdev continued
his harsh spiritual practices completely ignoring his body and other
mundane activities. On the eleventh day of the dark half of the month of
Phalgun he was meditating under a banyan tree in the Shakatmukh garden
outside Purimtal town, close to Ayodhya. Around forenoon he transcended to
the purest higher state of meditation. The intensity of his practice
caused the shedding of the knowledge and perception obscuring Karmas as
well as the illusory Karmas. As a result, he attained omniscience, the
purest and enlightened state of soul. Rishabhdev became a Jina.
When Rishabhdev attained omniscience the whole world
was filled with a soothing glow for a moment. Numerous gods descended from
heavens to pay their respects to the Tirthankar. They also created the
Samavasaran, the divine pavilion. King Bharat also proceeded toward the
divine assembly riding an elephant and taking along his grandmother
Marudeva. Apprehensive about the hardships of the ascetic life of her son,
Marudeva was relieved when she beheld the scintillating face of Rishabhdev
sitting in the divine assembly surrounded by happy and dazzling gods. The
vision of her son perched on the spiritual pinnacle triggered the flow of
spontaneous joy in the heart of Marudeva. This mundane joy slowly turned
into the ultimate bliss and she acquired omniscience. Coincidentally, at
the same moment she completed her age and became liberated soul (Siddha).
Bhagawan Rishabhdev made the announcement Marudeva had become a Siddha.
In his first discourse Rishabhdev detailed the trilogy
of right conduct. Knowing about the significance of life as a human being
and importance of a dutiful life, thousands of people including Rishabhsen,
the eldest son of Emperor Bharat, and five thousands of people including
Rishabhsen, the eldest son of Emperor Bharat, and five thousand other
members of royal family embraced the acetic way of life. Thousand of other
persons accepted the Shravak Dharm (the religious way for laity). As he
founded the four pronged religious ford at the beginning of the present
era, Bhagavan Rishabhdev became popularly known as Adinath, the first
The first disciple of Bhagavan Rishabhdev was
Rishabhsen. He became the first chief disciple. He was also known as
For a long time Bhagavan Rishabhdev continued to
propagate his religion having the five great vows as its central theme.
When he realized that all his remaining Karmas are approaching their end
he proceeded to the Ashtapad mountain. On the thirteenth day of the dark
half of the month of Magh, a little before noon time, Rishabhdev, along
with ten thousand other ascetics, was observing a six day fast without
water. He was sitting in the meditation in the Paryanka pose. When the
moon entered the Abhijit lunar mansion he got nirvana and got liberated
from all sorrows.
The king of gods, Saudharmendra, Emperor Bharat,
numerous gods and men gathered and celebrated the auspicious event of
Bhagavan Rishabhdev�s Nirvana