Illustrated Tirthankar Charitra
Authentic Illustrated Biographies of the Twenty Four Tirthankars
Up-pravartak Shri Amar Muni
(Disciple of Uttar Bharatiya Pravartak Bhandari Shri Padma Chandra Ji M.)
Srichand Surana ‘Saras’
Shri Surendra Bothara
Publisher : Padam Prakashan
Narela Mandi, Delhi - 011 040
: Diwakar Prakashan
A-7, Awagarh House, M. G. Road
Agra - 282 002 Phone: (0562) 54328
First Edition : 2521 A. N. M.
Jyeshth 2052 V.
June 1995 AD
Price: General Edition : Rupees Two Hundred only; US $20
Library Edition : Rupees Three Hundred only; US $30
Illustrator : Sardar Purushottam Singh and
Sardar Harvinder Singh
Printing : Printed by Rajesh Surana for Diwakar
Prakashan at Nirmal Chitran, Agra and
Graphic Art Press, Mathura
Cover : Front- The symbols of the twenty-four
Tirthankars in Chronological order
Back- Scenes of five auspicious events
(Panch-Kalyanaks) in the life of a Tirthankar,
viz. the auspicious descent (the 14 dreams),
the auspicious birth, the auspicious renunci-
ation, and the auspicious liberation.
Border on Pages : Every page of this book has a multicolored
border. At the top and bottom are twenty-
four Symbols (Lanchhan) of the Tirthankars
and at the sides are the fourteen great dreams.
In the theist world the loftiest entity is The God!
It has thousands of names like Paramatma (the ultimate soul), Bhagavan (the most glorious one), Siddha (the liberated), Buddha (the enlightened), The God, etc.
In the Jain tradition there are two forms of this entity-
(1) The formless God or Siddha (the liberated) and
(2) The God with a form or Tirthankar / Arihant.
The Tirthankar is a detached individual who is the ultimate altruist and benefactor of not only mankind but every living being. He propagates the religious path and preaches about it for their benefit. His benevolent voice promotes happiness, peace, and infinite bliss for every being.
In the Jain tradition there have been twenty-four Tirthankars during the current descending cycle of time, Bhagavan Rishabhdev being the first and Bhagavan Mahavir being the last.
For every Jain these Tirthankars are the entities to be worshipped and revered. The ultimate goal of Jainism is to tread the path shown by them and acquire infinite powers and virtues.
Out of these twenty-four Tirthankars, many authors have written the biographies of Bhagavan Rishabhdev and Bhagavan Mahavir. But very little has been done about authentic and complete biographical sketch of all the twenty-four Tirthankars. And it is even harder to get this material.
When we edited the Illustrated Kalpasutra we compiled brief life-sketches of all Tirthankars. As it is already a large volume we had to be selective in any further additions. It was at that time that we thought to compile life-sketches of all the Tirthankars in an independent book; it would be useful for all. The original plan was to include these brief biographical sketches within a 50 page book, but as the work progressed it became impossible to follow the plan. Although most of the inspiring incidents from earlier incarnations of the Tirthankars had to be left, the book became much larger than we originally thought of. However, whatever has been included will hopefully prove to be adequately useful, educative, interesting, and inspiring for our readers.
Scriptures like Bhagavati Sutra, Acharanga, Jambudvipa Prajnapti, Samvayang and others contain stray incidents from the lives of Tirthankars. Kalpasutra just lists all the Tirthankars and their periods besides giving brief details about Rishabhdev, Parshvanath, Arishtanemi, and Mahavir. It was Acharya Bhadrabahu who first of all attempted to compile biographical sketches of all Tirthankars in brief. Later others worked on providing more detailed biographies in a variety of styles, both interesting as well as informative. Some of these later works are: Pravachansaroddhar, Chauppanna Mahapuris Chariyam (Shilankacharya), Trishashtishalaka Purush Charitra (Hemchandracharya), Adipurana (Acharya Jinasen), Uttarpurana (Gunabhadra), Tiloyapannatti (Yativrishabhacharya), etc. Considerable material is available about the lives of Tirthankars from various works in Prakrit, Sanskrit, and Apabhramsha languages.
Shri Ratan Lal Doshi has compiled and edited the biographies of Tirthankars, based on Trishashtishakaka Purush Charitra, in Hindi in three volumes. Acharya Shri Hastimal ji M., a recognized Jain historian himself, has compiled these biographies with authentic references and his comments, in the first volume of the voluminous Jain Dharma ka Maulik Itihas. It is an unique effort.
In this context other important reference works are Bhagavan Mahavir by Upadhyaya Shri Kewal Muni ji and four research works on four Tirthankars by Acharya Shri Devendra Muni ji.
With the help of all these works we have selected and compiled this book; a brief but attractive presentation.
A useful and informative part of the book is its Appendix. All these dates are rarely available at one place. Vitaraga Vandana has been very useful in compiling the appendices.
I am grateful to all those authors, editors, and publishers whose knowledge, hard work, and experience has been conveniently available through their works listed above.
Although it is based on information available in ancient scriptures, this book has some unique features:
1. The most important features of this book are the 52 multicolored illustrations on incidents from the lives of Tirthankars made in attractive style. Acharya Shri Vijay Yashodev Suri had published a set of illustrations based on Bhagavan Mahavir’s life, it became very popular. There have been some other illustrated publications also, but this is the first attempt to present a neat and organized compilation of text and illustrations.
2. The biographical sketches have been compiled after a study of relevant literature from Digambar to Shvetambar traditions. Care has been taken to select only the incidents that are useful and inspiring and without any sectarian controversy.
3. Common man looks for a variety of specific data about Tirthankars and fails to find it in some commonly available book. This work attempts to fulfill that want with its functionally compiled appendices.
4. The combination of Hindi and English versions makes it useful for non-Hindi speaking readers, thus expanding its scope from Hindi speaking belt to the whole world.
We are sure, with these unique features, this Tirthankar Charitra will prove to be very useful for all and sundry.
The inspiration from U. B. Pravartak Gurudev Shri Bhandari Shri Padma Chandra ji M., and the guidance from Up-pravartak Shri Amar Muni ji and the collection of his articles and books have been vitally useful in compiling this work. I convey my heart felt regards to all these. I hope that the readers will like this work and that this will be frequently used as a reference book.
-Srichand Surana ‘Saras’
Who is A Tirthankar?
In this universe, which is without a beginning or an end, he soul continues to experience sorrow and joy, traversing though numerous dimensions and forms including those of gods, animals, human-beings, and hell-beings.
The principle causes of these unending cycles of rebirth are the inherent attitudes of attachment and aversion, and their consequences. The attitudes of attachment and aversion result in the bondage of good and bad Karmas and as a consequence the soul continues its passage from one dimension to the other.
Every soul is a dormant source of infinite energies, uninterrupted light of knowledge and unending joy and happiness. Knowledge and happiness are the fundamental natural activities of the soul. But the accumulated inertia of ignorance and illusion acts as an impediment to its endeavor to activate these inherent infinite energies. Even when it launches its efforts, the dense accumulation of attitudes of attachment and aversion does not allow these efforts to become successful. As such, the disciplining of these attitudes of attachment and aversion becomes the prime need on this path of salvation.
When its own true form is revealed on the soul it recognizes its inherent potential and gradually starts the efforts to win over the attitudes of fondness, attachment and aversion, as a result of its intense craving for salvation and practices of equanimity, penance, and meditation, it becomes tireless or Nirgranth (a term for Jain ascetic).
Continuing its un-dogmatic practices or the Nirgranth attitude, a day comes when the soul destroys all attachment and aversion and conquers fondness. As a result of this victory the soul attains the status of Jina.
Jina means the victorious one.
The individual who has destroyed attachemtn and aversion; who is absolutely free of fondness and ignorance; who has shed the four vitiating Karmas; namely illusory (Mohaniya), knowledge obstructing (Jnanavaraniya), perception obstructing (Darshanavaraniya), and power hindering (Antaraya); is known as vitarag (the detached one), Jina (the victorious) and Sarvajna or Kewali (the omniscient).
Any deserving soul may attain the status of Jina, omniscient, ultimate or pure soul (Param-Atma), but not a Tirthankar. This is because of the fact that it is only as the result of a specific pious type of Karma that one may become Tirthankar.
The lofty person, an omniscient Arihant, who defines, elaborates, and propagates Ahimsa, Truth, Brahmacharya etc., establishes the four pronged (Sadhu, Sadhvi, Shravak and Shravika) religious organization, and is endowed with unique powers is known as the Tirthankar.
It is a belief, mentioned in Jain scriptures, that it is only the soul who earns the pious bond of the Tirthankar-nam-karma through a very high level of penance and meditation, can attain the status of Tirthankar.
During one descending cycle of time there may be innumerable omniscients but only twenty four Tirthankars. Acharya Somdev Suri has given an explanation about why there can only be this specific number of Tirthankars-
“If the number of things existing in nature is not a fixed figure why the number of things like date, day constellations, stars, planets, oceans, mountains are believed to be fixed? It means that although they are numerous their exact number is fixed as per the law of nature.” During one descending cycle of time only these twenty four Tirthankars are the originators of religious founders of religious order and persons with divine powers.
A Tirthankar is not an incarnation of the God. He is an ordinary soul that born as a human and attains the states of a Tirthankar as a result of intense practices of penance, equanimity and meditation. As such, the Tirthankar is not defined as an Avatar (god-incarnate) but is the ultimate pure developed state of the soul. Thus he may be called as the God in human form.
In the current descending cycle there have been twenty-four Tirthankars from Bhagawan Rishabhdev to Bhagawan Mahavir.
There names are as follows:
1. Rishabhdev 9. Suvidhinath 17. Kunthunath
2. Ajitnath 10. Sheetalnath 18. Arnath
3. Sambhavnath 11. Shreyansnath 19. Mallinath
4. Abhinandan 12. Vasupujya 20. Munisuvrat
5. Sumatinath 13. Vimalnath 21. Naminath
6. Padmaprabh 14. Anantnath 22. Arishtanemi
7. Suparshvanath 15. Dharmnath 23. Parshvanath
8. Chandraprabh 16. Shantinath 24. Mahavir
RISHABHDEV BHAGAVAN, 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.
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 Ikshvaku Clan
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 and Trades
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 Renunciation
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 Dharma.”
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 year).
Omniscience and Nirvana
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 Tirthankar.
The first disciple of Bhagavan Rishabhdev was Rishabhsen. He became the first chief disciple. He was also known as Pundarik.
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.
AJITANATH BHAGAVAN - 2
The soul that became Bhagavan Ajitnath, in its earlier incarnation, was the great king Vimalvahan of Susima city in Mahavideh area. He led a pious life in spite of the available princely grandeur. At an appropriate time, he became an ascetic under Arindam Suri. Meditating about the omniscient and liberated souls and indulging in harsh penance, he purified his soul to a level where he could earn the Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. Completing his age, he reincarnated as a god in the Viaya-anuttar-dimension.
After completing his age in the dimension of gods, he descended into the womb of queen Vijaya Devi, wife of king Jitshaturu of Vinita town. Queen vijaya Devi saw the same fourteen dreams. This was a queer coincidence. When the augers were consulted they informed that Vijaya Devi will give birth to a Tirthankar and Vaijayanti to a Chakravarti (monarch of six continents).
During the period of the queen’s pregnancy, the influence of king Jitshatru enhanced to an extant that even the enemy kingdoms sought and negotiated friendly treaties with him. it became a common practice to say, “King Jitshatru is invincible (Ajit).”
The queen gave birth to a son on the eighth day of the bright half of the month of Magh. Inspired by the popular lore, the king named the new born as the Ajit. The same night vaijayanti also gave birth to a son who was named Sagar. Then both the princes came of age they were married. Time passed with the fusion of happiness.
When king Jitshatru became old and wanted to devote the last part his life to spiritual pursuit, he called his younger brother and asked him to take over the throne. Sumitra had no desire for the kingdom, he too wanted to become an ascetic. Both the princes were called and offered the kingdom. Ajit Kumar was a naturally detached person since childhood, and so he too declined. At last prince Sagar ascended the throne.
Ajit Kumar became an ascetic in his youth and went into remote and dense forests for his meditation and penance. His personality and the intensity of his lofty practices cast a pacifying influence all around. Natural enemies in the animal kingdom, like lion and cow, wolf and deer, snake and mongoose used to come and sit around him peacefully.
After a twelve year period of deep meditation and other spiritual practices attained omniscience on the eleventh day of the bright half of the month of Paush. The gods created the divine pavilion and Bhagawan Ajitnath gave his eloquent and magnetic discourses. Thousands of people accepted the path of renunciation.
King Sagar, during this period, conquered the six continents and became Chakravarti. King Meghvahan and Vidyadhar Bhim, the ruler of the island of Rakshasas (demons), were the illustrious contemporaries of Emperor Sagar. Once they went to a discourse of Bhagavan Ajitnath. There, Vidyadhar Bhim was drawn towards spiritual life. He became so detached that he gave his kingdom including the famous cities of Lanka and Patal Lanka to king Meghvahan. He also gave all his knowledge and miraculous powers to Meghvahan. Besides this he gave a divine necklace of nine large and shining beads. Meghvahan was the first king of the Rakshas clan in which the famous king Ravana was born.
Death of Sagar’s Sixty Thousand Sons
Emperor Sagar had thousands of queens and sixty thousand sons. Eldest among them was Janhu Kumar. Once all the princes went for an outing. When they arrived at the base of Astapad hills, they dug up large ditches and canals. In their youthful abandon they flooded these canals with the water of river Ganges. This flash flood inundated the houses and villages of the lower gods known as Nag Kumars. The king of these gods, Jwalanprbh came and tried to stop them in vain. The unruly princes were intoxicated with the regal power. At last Jwalanprabh lost his temper and turned all the sixty thousand princes to ashes.
This sudden death of all his sons was a traumatic experience for Emperor Sagar. He handed over the empire to his eldest grandson, Bhagirath, and took Diksha from Bhagavan Ajitnath.
When his last moments were approaching, Bhagavan Ajitnath went Sammetshikhar. With one thousand other ascetics, he commenced his final meditation. He attained Nirvana on the fifth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra.
SAMBHAVNATH BHAGAVAN - 3
A long time after the Nirvana of Bhagavan Ajitnath, the city of Kshempuri in the Airavat area of Mahavideh was ruled by king Vipulvahan. He was a soft hearted and compassionate ruler who loved and cared for his subjects. Once when there was a devastating draught and the population was deprived even of a few drops of water, the king opened his grain yards for the public, his kitchen for the monks and ascetics and his treasury for the import of food grains. He instructed the caretaker of his personal kitchen that the doors of his kitchen should be open to all and sundry. All guests should be given priority over himself. Whatever little is left should be served to him. If nothing is left he would be contented with the pleasure of serving his guests. During the drought there were many occasions when the king remained unfed and thirsty.
As a result of this sublime feeling of compassion, Vipulvahan acquired unique purity of soul and earned the Trithankr-nam-and-gotra-karma. Although, after the drought normalcy returned, the torture of the living world by the nature left a mark on Vipulvahan’s psyche. One day while he was standing on the roof top he witnessed dense rain clouds being scattered by wind. A feeling of intense detachment grew in him. He handed over his kingdom to his son and took Diksha from Svayamprabh Suri. After completing his age he reincarnated in the Anat dimension of gods.
From the Anat dimension, the being that was Vipulvahan descended into the womb of queen Sena Devi, wife of king Jitari of Shravasti. While this being was still in the mother’s womb there were sufficient rains and abundant crop. One day when the king and queen were happily watching the lush green vegetation all around, from their roof top, the king said, “My dear! This time even the waste-land is filled with grain crop. It seems that all this that is impossible, has been made possible (Sambhav) due to the auspicious influence of the pious soul you carry in your womb. We shall call our son- Sambhav.”
On the fourteenth day of the bright half of the month of Margshrish, the queen gave birth to a healthy son and he was ceremoniously named Sambhav Kumar. The little prince grew up in royal comfort but he hardly ever took more than cursory interest in the luxurious life style. At the appropriate age Sambhav Kumar was married and coronated. After a long and peaceful reign he became an ascetic on the fifteenth day of the bright half of the month of Margshrish. After a fourteen year period of spiritual practices, he attained omniscience. Arhat Sambhavnath gave his first discourse on the ephemeral nature of the mundane existence. For a long period he worked for the spread of religion. He got Nirvana on the fifth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra.
ABHINANDAN BHAGAVAN - 4
Mahabal was the king of Ratnasanchay/Mangalavati town in Purvavideh. Although a king, he was a simple and humble person. When people praised him, he thought that why people praised him even in absence of any virtues? When someone criticized him he would humbly say, “You are my true well-wisher and a friend who helps my progress by pointing out my faults.” when a feeling of detachment grew in him, he found and opportune moment and took Diksha from Vimal Suri. Due to his simplicity and humility he became a very popular and ideal Sharman in his group. It is said that as a result of this rare disposition and deep mediational practices he purified his soul to an extant that he acquired the Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. Completing his age, he reincarnated as a god in the Vijay dimension.
When the being that was Mahaval left the Vijay dimension, he descended into the womb of queen Siddharth, wife of king Samvar of Ayodhya. As a result of the simplicity of attitude inherited from the earlier birth, the soul in the womb of the queen had a soothing and pacifying influence on the outer world. The people of the kingdom were suddenly filled with the feelings of humility and fraternity. Irrespective of age, caste, creed and status every one started greeting and honoring others. Politeness and polished manners became the thing in vogue. The augurs and other scholars confirmed taht as the aura of a pious soul influences all the people around, the effusion of politeness was caused by the soul in the womb.
The queen gave birth to the future Tirthankar on the second day of the bright half of the month of Magh. As the influence of this soul was evident in the overt mutual greetings, the king named his son as Abhinandan (greeting).
As time passed Abhinandan lead normal mundane life with least indulgence. He ascended the throne when his father became an ascetic. After a long and peaceful reign, he became an ascetic and indulged in rigorous penance and lofty spiritual practices. He attained omniscience on the fourteenth day of the dark half of the month of Paush. For a long period Bhagavan Abhinandan moved around to show the right path to millions of beings. On the eighth day of the bright half of the month of Vaishakah he attained Nirvana at Sammetshikhar.
SUMATINATH BHAGAVAN - 5
Vijayasen was the king of Shankhpur town in the Purva Mahavideh area. He had a son named Purushasimha. While he had gone for a walk in the garden one day, the prince listened to the discourse of Acharya Vinayanandan Dev. He became detached and a turned ascetic. As a result of vigorous penance and higher spiritual practices, he earned the Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. Completing his age, he reincarnated as a god in the Vijayant dimension.
From Vijayant dimension, the soul that was Purushasimha descended into the womb of queen Mangalavati/Sumangala, wife of king Megh of Ayodhya. The news of the queen being pregnant made the atmosphere of Ayodyha live with happiness and joy.
One day two women and a little boy came to the kings court to seek justice. One of the women put forth her case before the king, “Sire! We both are wives of a rich seafaring merchant. Our husband has left for his heavenly abode leaving behind we two, a son, and heaps of wealth. The child truly belongs to me but this second wife of the merchant claims to be her. This is nothing but a conspiracy to grab the wealth that would be inherited by the child. Save me, my Lord! I seek my son and justice from you.”
The story narrated by the other woman was also the same. Shouting charges and counter charges at each other, both the women claimed the possession of the child. The child could not indicate his true mother as he had got equal affection from both. As the boy was born in some remote place, there was no eye witness available.
The king was in a quandary. Even after a lot of probing and weighing the evidence he could not solve the problem. Any ill conceived solution could end up in doing injustice to the innocent. The king and his ministers all could end up in doing injustice to the innocent. The king and his ministers all were in a fix. The night was approaching and the king was getting late for his dinner. He adjourned the case and went into the palace for dinner.
The queen asked, “Today you are late for the dinner, your highness. What is the matter? Was there some complex problem?”
The king narrated the case of the two women and their child and said, “No one is able to say firmly, which one of the women is the real mother of the child and which one is the pretender?”
The queen said with a smile, “Your Highness, let a woman solve the problems of women. Send the case to me and allow me to resolve the issue.”
Next morning the queen herself came to the kings court. Both the women and their son were produced before the queen. There was no apparent indication in the behavior and disposition of the two women that could give any indication of the genuineness of one. All of a sudden, the queen got an inspiration and she said, “This enigma has no simple solution. There is one object and two claimants. The object, being a person, cannot be split into two. Under the circumstances the only solution I can think of is to keep the matter pending. I carry a pious soul in my womb. Let us wait till it is born and is ready to resolve this issue. during the period of waiting, let the son and the property of the deceased be taken into the custody of the state. Till then the claimants may wait.”
Hearing all of this one of the claimants readily accepted the arrangement but the other started weeping. In a choked voice she said, “No! Please don’t separate me from my son. I will not be able to survive without my son for such a long period, I withdraw my claim. Let the other woman take the child as well as all the property of my husband. My only submission is that I may be allowed at least meet the child. I will be contented with that only.”
The queen recognized the pain and concern of a mother’s heart. She gave her judgment, “The woman who immediately agreed to my proposal is the impostor. Her attachment is not to the child but to the wealth. She may be imprisoned. The one who wants to surrender her claim is the real mother. The child and the wealth may be given to her with all honor.”
Everyone present in the assembly was dumbstruck by this witty method of judgment. The impostor pleaded guilty and submitted to be pardoned.
On the eighth day of the bright half of the month of Vaishakh, the queen gave birth to a son. A wave of peace and goodwill swept the whole world. Appreciating the fact that the marked improvement in wisdom and sense of judgment during the pregnancy was the influence of the presence of the illustrious and pious soul, king Megh named the new born as-Sumati (wisdom or right thinking).
When he became a young man, Sumati Kumar was married, and in due course inherited the kingdom. King Megh became an ascetic. After a long and peaceful reign Sumatinath, too, became an ascetic. He attained omniscience under a Priyangu tree on the eleventh day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra. He established the four pronged religious ford and became a Tirthankar. On the ninth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra he got Nirvana at Sammetshikhar.
PADMAPRABH BHAGAVAN - 6
Maharaj Aparajit ruled over Susima town in the Purvavideh area. He was a simple and religious person. He got detached after listening to the discourse of an Arhat and took Diksha from Acharya Pihitashrava. As a result of long spiritual practices he earned Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. Completing his age, he reincarnated as a god in the Graiveyak dimension.
From the dimension of gods, the being that was Aparajit descended into the womb of queen Susima, wife of the king Kaushambi. One day queen Susima had a desire to sleep on a bed made up of lotus flowers. As this was a desire of a pregnant mother, the gods made arrangements for its fulfillment. On the twelfth day of the dark half of the month of Kartik the queen gave birth to a son. The new born had a soft pink glow like lotus flowers. The king named him as Padmaprabh.
In due course the prince became young and was married. When his father left for spiritual practices, Padmaprabh ascended the throne. After a long and successful reign, when through his three fold knowledge he knew that the right moment has come, he became an ascetic. After six months of spiritual practices, on the full moon day of the month of Chaitra he attained omniscience under a banyan tree. Propagating right religion for a long time, Bhagavan Padmaprabh wandered around and at last arrived at Sammetshikhar. He got Nirvana on the eleventh day of the dark half of the month of Margshirsh.
SUPARSHVANATH BHAGAVAN - 7
The being that was to be Suparshvanath had done harsh penance and deep spiritual practices in his earlier birth as king Nandisen of Kshetrapuri. He then reincarnated as a god in the sixth Graveyak dimension.
From the dimension of gods this soul descended into the womb of queen Prithvi Devi, wife of king Pratishthasen of Varanasi. During her pregnancy the queen did not lose her normal shapely figure, as generally happens. As her flanks still remained attractive, the child, when born, was named Suparshva.
When Suparshva became young he was married and later ascended the throne. He ably conducted the affairs of he state and looked after the well being of his people. One day while he was enjoying the nature sitting at the roof top, he observed the falling of leaves and wilting of flowers. Suddenly he became aware of the transient nature of life. This gave a rising to the feeling of detachment and desire for spiritual upliftment. He gave his kingdom to his son and became an ascetic. After nine months of disciplined practices he became an omniscient on the sixth day of the dark half of the month of Phalgun. For a long period he worked for the spread of right knowledge. He got liberated on the seventh day of the bright half of he month of Palgun at Sammetshikhar.
CHANDRAPRABH BHAGAVAN - 8
In his birth as king Padma of Mangalavati town of Dhatkikhand, the being that was to become Bhagavan Chandraprabh earned Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. Spending a life time as a god in Anuttar Vijay dimension he descended into the womb of queen Lakshmana, wife of king Mahasen of Chandranana town.
During her pregnancy, one day the queen was looking at the splendors and glowing full-moon. All of a sudden she had a strange desire to drink the glowing streak of moon light. The king cleverly managed to satisfy this strange desire of a pregnant mother.
On the thirteenth day of the dark half of the month of Paush the queen gave birth to a healthy son who was fair and glowing like the moon. He was named Chandraprabh (glow of the moon).
Chandraprabh was apathetic towards the mundane pleasures and princely grandeur. After he ascended the throne his reign was short lived. He became an ascetic in the prime of his youth and just after three months of acute spiritual practices he became an omniscient. For a considerably long period he continued to enlighten the people and propagate the true religion. When his end approached he went to Sammetshikhar and after a month of long fast and meditation got liberated.
SUVIDHINATH BHAGAVAN - 9
In the tradition started by Bhagavan Rishabhdev the ninth Tirthankar re-established the four pronged religious ford was Bhagavan Suvidhinath During his earlier incarnation as emperor Mahapadma of Pushkalvati Vijay purified his soul to he extant of earning Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. He took birth in the Vijayant dimension of gods and from there he descended into the womb of queen Rama Devi, wife of king Sugriva of Kakandi town.
During the period of pregnancy queen Rama developed a strange capacity to develop processes for doing even the most difficult of tasks. Everyone got astonished at her skill. When the child was born the king accordingly named him as Suvidhi (correct procedure). During the teething period of the child the mother got a craving for playing with flowers. As such, he was also popularly known as Pushpadant (flower-tooth).
Suvidhinath had a normal princely life, but with detachment. He became an ascetic at an early age and attained omniscience only after four months rigorous spiritual practices. He got Nirvana at Sammetshikhar on the ninth day of the dark half of the month of Kartik.
Extinction of the Religious Ford
The tradition of the four pronged religious ford started by Bhagavan Rishabhdev gradually became extinct after the Nirvana of Bhagavan Suvidhinath. After his death, first the ascetic organization disintegrated and a time came when there was no ascetic left. The religious discourses two were given by common citizens or Shravaks. Slowly the influence of wealth became overpowering and people started forgetting the principals of five vows including Ahimsa and truthfulness. The discipline of spiritual principles gave way to ritualistic exchanges of wealth and total indiscipline.
SHEETALNATH BHAGAVAN - 10
The being that was to be Bhagavan Sheetalnath, in his previous but one birth was the king of Susima town in the Pushkarvar island. His name was Padmottar. When his son reached adulthood the religious king gave his kingdom to the son and took Diksha from Tristadha Muni. Vigorous spiritual practices and worship of the pious states as mentioned in the scriptures resulted in his acquiring the Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. Completing his age he reincarnated as the king of the Pranat dimension of gods.
One day due to some strange ailment, king Dridhrath had high fever and acute burning sensation in his body. He did not get any relief even after applying a variety of ointments. Out of anxiety and to comfort the king, the queen put her palm on his body. This mere touch of the queen removed the burning sensation and a feeling of soothing relief swept his body. After this incident the king decided to name the new born as Sheetal (cool/calm).
Sheetalnath was born on the twelfth day of the dark half of the month Magh. When he grew older he married at the request of his parents. At proper time, king Dridhrath coronated him and took Diksha. After a long and successful reign Sheetalnath left his home and became an ascetic. He attained omniscience under a Peepal tree on the fourteenth day of the dark half of the month of Paush. After wandering and preaching for a long time, he came to Sammetshikhar and attained Nirvana on the second day of the dark half of the month of Vaishakh.
SHREYANSNATH BHAGAVAN - 11
In his earlier incarnation, the being that was to become Bhagavan Shreyansnath purified his soul as king Nalingulm, and went to the Mahashakra dimension of gods. From there he descended and took birth as Shreyans Kumar, the son of king Vishnuraja and queen Vishnu Devi of Simhapur. Shreyans Kumar was born on the twelfth day of the dark half of the month of Bhadrapad.
He had a normal princely life and ascended the throne when Vishnuraja retired. After a long reign Shreyans Kumar became a Shraman and within a short span of two months attained omniscience on the fifteenth day of the dark half of the month of Magh under a mango tree. He got Nirvana at Sammetshikhar on the third day of the dark half of the month of Shravan.
It was during his period that the being that was to be Bhagavan Mahavir reigned as the first Vasudev Triprishta. After the death of Triprishtha, his brother Baldev Achal became a disciple of Dharmghosh who was a follower of Shreyansnath. Achal got liberated in this birth.
VASUPUJYA BHAGAVAN -12
King Padmottar ruled over Mangalavati town of Ardhapushkar island. He was a person devoted to spiritual pursuits. In later part of his life he took Diksha from Acharya Vajranabh. Reducing the tarnish of Karma by penance and spiritual practices he earned the Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma and incarnated as a god in the Pranat dimension.
Vasupujya was the king of Champa town in the Bharat sub-continent. His queen was Jaya Devi. Besides being a great warrior King Vasupujya was a compassionate and charitable person. The queen too was benevolent and she inspired the king in his charitable activities.
The being that was Padmottar was born to queen Jaya Devi. It is said that when the queen was pregnant, the king of gods came to convey his veneration to the future Tirthankar and his mother. As Indra is also known as Vasu, the new born was named Vasupujya (venerated by Vasu).
As Vasupujya grew, so grew his inherent detachment and apathy for mundane affairs. He had no attraction for the regal splendor and grandeur. When he became young his parents wanted him to marry but he declined. He even conveyed that he had no intention of ascending the throne. In spite of all persuasions from his family members, he renounced the worldly life and became a Shraman on the fifteenth day of he dark half of the month of Phalgun along with six hundred other persons.
The intensity of his spiritual practices was so deep that he became an omniscient within one month. At that moment he was practicing under a Patal tree in a garden outside Champa town. He established the four pronged religious ford and preached for a long period.
The second Vasudev, Dwiprishtaha, was his devotee. He and his brother Baldev Shrivijay conquered Prativasudev Tark and brought his oppressive rule to an end. Shrivijay later joined the ascetic order of Bhagavan Vasupujya.
Bhagavan Vasupujya got Nirvana in Champa town on the fourteenth day of the bright half of the month of Ashadh.
VIMALNATH BHAGAVAN -13
King Kritvarma and queen Shyanan Devi of Kampilpur were both spiritualists and devotees of the Jina. The queen one day saw fourteen auspicious things in her dream and the augurs announced that she will give birth to a Tirthankar. It was the pious soul that in its earlier birth was king Padmasen of Mahapuri town in Datakikhand and had descended into the queens womb from the Mahardhik dimension of gods.
During her pregnancy the queen radiated a soothing glow. Her temperature also became congenial, kind, and generous. When the child was born the whole atmosphere was also filled with a soothing glow. Inspired by this spread of purity, the king named his new born son as Vimal (pure/untarnished).
In due course, prince Vimal Kumar became young, was married, and then ascended the throne. After a long and successful reign he became a Shraman along with one thousand other kings and princes on the fourth day of the bright half of the month of Magh. After two years of spiritual practices he attained omniscience and established the religious ford. Merak Prativasudev, Svayambhu Vasudev, and Bhadra Baldev were his contemporaries.
Bhagavan Vimalnath got Nirvana at Sammetshikhar on the seventh day of the dark half of the month of Ashadh.
ANANTNATH BHAGAVAN - 14
Queen Suyasha Devi, wife of king Simhasen of Ayodhya, gave birth to an illustrious son on the thirteenth day of the dark half of the month of Vaishakh. During her pregnancy the queen dreamt of a very long strand of beads whose ends were not visible. The power and the glory of the king also increased manifold during this period. Accordingly the new born was named Anant (endless) Kumar.
After leading a normal life, first as a price and then as the king he became an ascetic along with one thousand other persons. He became an omniscient on the fourteenth day of the dark half of the month of Vaishakh under an Ashok tree. In his first discourse he elaborated the subject of the fundamentals-matter and life. He had fifty chief disciples including the senior most named Yash. Purushottam Vasudev and Suprabh Baldev reigned during his period of influence.
Bhagavan Anantnath got Nirvana at Sammetshikhar on the fifth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra.
DHARMNATH BHAGAVAN - 15
The being that was to become Bhagavan Dharmnath was king Dridhrath of Bhaddilpur in Mahavideh area, in its earlier incarnation. Although he had enormous wealth and a large kingdom, he led a detached and pious life like a lotus in a pond. Even great saints praised him as the embodiment of religion. During the later part of his life king Dridhrath became an ascetic and as a result of his unblemished character and sincere spiritual practices he earned the Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. Completing his age he reincarnated as a god in the Vaijayant dimension.
This being then descended into the womb of queen Suvrata, wife of king Bhanuraja of Ratnapur. During the pregnancy the queen devoted all her time in religious activities. Even the king and all other members of the family were inclined to devote maximum time to various religious activities like charity, righteousness, penances, studies etc. On the third day of the bright half of the month of Magh a son was born to the queen. Due to the religious influence during the pregnancy period, the king gave him the name Dharmnath. In due course he became young, was married and then ascended the throne. He ruled successfully for a long period.
One day he terminated all worldly attachments and became and ascetic. After two years of spiritual practices he became omniscient. His first religious discourse was attended by the fifth Vasudev Purush Simha and Sudarshan Baldev.
In his first discourse he mainly dealt with the subject of form and ill effects of passions. A large audience was benefited by this eloquent discourse. At last he went to Sammetshikhar and got Nirvana.
SHANTINATH BHAGAVAN - 16
The account of the earlier incarnations of Bhagavan Shantinath indicates that his being had taken the path of discipline that lead toward purity of soul many births before. As a result of this uplifting during his incarnations as Shrisen and Vajrayudh it was born as Meghrath, the son of king Dhanrath of Pundarikini town in Purva Mahavideh area. At the proper time, king Dhanrath gave the kingdom to Meghrat and became an ascetic.
Protection to a Refugee
Meghrath was a benevolent and religious ruler. He was compassionate and protected all living things. Being a Kshatriya and a warrior he had the chivalry to sacrifice all he had in order to protect those in trouble.
One day while observing the partial renunciation vow (Paushadh) he was about to start a discourse on the religion propagated by the Tirthankars. All of a sudden a pigeon, trembling with fear, fell in his lap and uttered in choking human voice, “Save me, O king! Give me refuge, take me under your protection!” The compassionate king comforted the bird and took it under his protection.
The pigeon was followed by a falcon who too uttered in human language, “O king! This pigeon is my food, leave it alone.” The king tried to explain, “It has taken refuge with me, as such I am duty bound to protect it. I will give you any type of food you want; why kill a living thing just to fill your stomach?”
The falcon insisted, “If you will not leave it I may die of hunger. I am a carnivore; who will provide me food. If I die, you will be responsible and bear the sin.”
When the falcon did not yield, Meghrath said at last, “O falcon! As long as I exist, I will not allow you to die. I will cut out flesh from my body equivalent to the weight of this little pigeon and give it to you. You may satisfy your urge to eat. But under no circumstance I shall allow you to kill the bird that has taken refuge with me.”
The falcon agreed to this proposal and the king put the pigeon in one pan of balance and in the other started putting pieces of flesh cut out from his own body. Surprisingly, the weight of the pigeon continued to increase as the king went on putting his flesh in the pan. Witnessing this pathetic scene, the queens and the members of the assembly were moved to tears. They requested the king not to sacrifice his precious life for a mere pigeon. The falcon, was also requested relent but he too declined.
The king continued to cut flesh from his body and put it in the pan of the balance. At last, when the pieces of flesh were not enough, the king got up from his seat and sat down in the pan. Everyone present was dumb struck at this lofty compassion and chivalry displayed by the king. Suddenly there was a flesh of divine light and a divine personage appeared. The pigeon and the falcon disappeared. The god addressed the king, “Maharaj! The king of gods was praising your compassion and courage, in his assembly. I could not contain myself and came around to test you myself. All this was my creation. You come out with flying colors. You are worthy of the praise bestowed on you by the King of gods. Please forgive me.” The god filled Meghrath’s wounds instantaneously and left for his abode.
Whenever there is a talk about chivalry and compassion king Meghrath’s name is taken with respect.
Disturbed by the miseries of the mundane life, one day king Meghrath was doing mediation. He transcended to a very high level of purity. Knowing about this uncommon purity and determination of Meghrath the king of gods bowed to him with reverence, “My salutations to you O citizen Yogi! there are but a few in this world who could reach this level of detachment and purity.” Two senior consorts of Indra, Surup and Atirup did not like this gesture of praise of a mere human. They both came to disturb the meditation of Meghrath. They made several beautiful and voluptuous damsels appear before the king. These beauties tried to disturb Meghrath by a display of dances and inviting gestures. When these night long seductive afflictions failed to disturb king Meghrath, the goddesses, before returning to their abode, appeared themselves and asked the king to forgive them.
King Meghrath, then, coronated his on and took Diksha from Arhat Dhanrath. Due to his increasing purity in meditation in the face of many afflictions, he earned the Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. Completing his age he reincarnated in the Sarvarthsiddha dimension of gods.
From the dimension of gods, the being that was Meghrath descended into the womb of queen Achira, wife of king Vishvasen of Ikshvaku clan and ruler of Hastinapur.
Once there was a great storm in the Hastinapur area. There were heavy rains and many other calamities. An epidemic followed these calamities and hundreds of people started dying every day. The masses appealed tot he king to save them, but the king took a vow that he will not eat or drink as long as peace and normalcy does not return to his kingdom.
Move by this harsh vow of king Vishvasen, the king of gods himself appeared before the king said, “O king! You are disturbed unnecessarily. Is there any death at the place where the wish-fulfilling trio of Chintamani, Kalpavriksha, and Kamdhenu (divine gem, tree and cow) exist? The embodiment of peace is being carried by queen Achira Devi in her womb and you still feel disturbed. It surprises me!” The Indra then sang a panegyric in praise of the Tirthankar and advised the king, “Let the queen got to he roof top and sing this panegyric. After this, let her throw a glance at the vast expanses of your kingdom all around. This pacifying glance of the queen will remove all miseries from wherever it reaches.”
On the thirteenth day of the dark half of the month of Jyeshta the queen gave birth to the great and illustrious son. The whole universe, including even the hell, was pervaded by a soothing glow and a feeling of joy and happiness. Due to the pacifying influence during the period of pregnancy, the new born named Shanti Kumar (Shanti = Peace). When he came of age he was married to several beautiful princesses. At proper time king Vishvasen gave the kingdom Shantinath and took Diksha.
After a few years king Shantinath got a son who was named Chakrayudh. Several years later, the divine disc weapon appeared in the armory. When the traditional worship rituals of this weapon were concluded, it started moving toward the east on its own. Shantinath followed the Chakra with his armed forces. Most of the kings on the way surrendered. After defeating the remaining few Shantinath became a Chakravarti.
When, after a long and peaceful reign, he realized that the moment for his renunciation was approaching, Shantinath went into the Sahasramra jungle, and, becoming an ascetic commenced his practices.
After wandering as an ascetic for one year he returned to the same jungle and there, on the ninth day of the bright half of the month of Paush, he attained omniscience under a Nandi tree. His first discourse was on the subject of disciplining the senses. He came to Sammetshikhar after a long period wandering and propagating true religion. There, along with nine hundred other ascetics, he observed a month long fast that started his final meditation. On the thirteenth day of the dark half of the month of Jyeshta, Bhagavan Shantinath attained Nirvana.
KUNTHUNATH BHAGAVAN - 17
The name of the powerful and illustrious king of Khadgi town in Purva Mahavideh area was Simhavaha. He was a very devoted and religious person when his son became young and capable, he handed over his kingdom to the son and took Diksha from Samvaracharya. As a result of his vigorous penance and devotion for the Arhat, he earned the Tirthankar-nam-and gotra-karma. Completing his age he reincarnated in the Sarvarthsiddha dimension of gods.
From the dimension of gods he descended into the womb of queen Shri Devi, wife of king Shursen of Hastinapur. During her pregnancy the queen saw a heap of gemstones known as Kunthu in her dreams. This inspired the king to name him Kunthu Kumar. The pious deeds of earlier birth resulted in unlimited power and grandeur for Kunthu Kumar. After Shursen became an ascetic, Kunthu Kumar ascended the throne. Soon the disc weapon appeared in his armory and he proceeded to conquer the world with his mighty army. Without any confrontation all the kings accepted his sovereignty and Kunthunath became a Chakravarti. Many mighty kings and princes used to be present in his court all the time. After a long and peaceful reign of twenty three thousand seven hundred and fifty years he became an ascetic along with one thousand kings immediately after Diksha he acquired Manahparyav Jnan. He spent sixteen years as an ordinary ascetic. Indulging in penances and other spiritual practices, he attained omniscience on the third day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra under a Tilak tree in Sahasramara jungle outside Hastinapur. His first discourse was on the subject of “inner purity”.
As an omniscient ascetic Kunthunath wandered around and preached true religion for a very long period. He then went to Sammetshikhar and observed a month long fast before breathing his last. His followers were deeply devoted to him. As such, a large crowd was present at the moment of his Nirvana and cremation ceremony. They witnessed the ceremony with heavy hearts and tear filled eyes. The mortal remains of Bhagavan Kunthunath were taken away by the gods for worship.
ARNATH BHAGAVAN - 18
King Dhanpati of Susima city in Mahavideh area took Diksha from Samvar Muni and after acquiring Tirthankar-nam-and gotra-karma he reincarnated in the Graiveyak dimension of gods. From here he descended into the womb of queen Maha Devi, wife of king Sudarshan of Hastinapur. Besides the fourteen great dreams that precede the conception of a Tirthankar, queen Maha Devi also saw a gem studded wheel (Ara). accordingly, after the birth the boy was named Ara Kumar.
When Ara Kumar became young he was married to many beautiful princesses. Later king Sudarshan gave the kingdom to Ara Kumar and became an ascetic. For some years Arnath ruled as a regional king. Gradually his power and glory increased and one day the disc weapon appeared in his armory. He conquered the six continents and became a Chakravarti. In his attendance were thirty two thousand kings.
After a long and successful reign, one day emperor Arnath was thinking about the ever changing seasons. This triggered a chain of sublime thoughts that lead to complete detachment. He renounced all the wealth, power and glory and became an ascetic. He did spiritual practices and wandered around. After three years he arrived in the Sahasramra jungle outside Hastinapur and stood in mediation under a mango tree. With the fire of higher meditation he burnt one after another the four vitiating Karmas including illusory, knowledge obstructing, perception obstructing, and power hindering. Consequently he attained omniscience. His first discourse after attaining omniscience was on the subject of “how to win over the enemies like attachment and aversion.”
In this first religious assembly thousands of individuals became ascetics including his 32 chief disciples headed by Kumbh. Spending a long period of twenty one thousand years wandering and promoting religion, he finally arrived at Sammethshikhar and attained liberation.
the sixth and seventh Vasudevas and Baldevas and the eighth Chakravarti (Subhum) were his followers.
MALLINATH BHAGAVAN - 19
In the Aparvideh area there was a city named Vitshoka. It was ruled by a powerful king Mahabal. He was very intimate with six other kings who were his childhood friends. Influenced by discourses of ascetics, king Mahabal decided to follow the spiritual path. he sought opinion of his six childhood friends with the remark-I want to became an ascetic, do you also?
All the six friends replied, “We have been together during both good and bad times. When we have been together during both good and bad times. When we have enjoyed the mundane life in company, it would be shameful if we part company on the spiritual path. We shall become ascetics together and we shall do all spiritual practices together.”
The seven kings took Diksha from Varadharma Muni and started the spiritual practices earnestly. Mahabal was bitten by the bug of ego. he thought, “I have always been ahead of my friends. Now, if I do the same practices I will remain at the same level. As such I should do a little more and be ahead as before.” With this feeling Mahabal started secretly doing more practices than the others. All the seven friends would formally take vow of some specific penance together but when on conclusion, other friends broke their fast, Mahabal would continue his fast on some pretext. The desire to be above the ordinary inspired this competition. As a result of this deception Mahabal feel from the lofty spiritual level he had attained due to his intense practices and acquired the Karma that would result in being born as a woman (Stri-ved). However, as he still maintained the purity and intensity in his practices he later also earned the Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. All the seven ascetics breathed their last after sixty days fast and mediation. They reincarnated as gods in the Anuttar dimension.
Birth of Malli Kumari
The being that was Mahabal, leaving the abode of gods, descended into the womb of queen Prabhavati, wife of king Kumbh of Mithila town. During the third month of pregnancy the queen had a desire to sleep on a bed made up of fragrant flowers of five colors and to smell a bouquet of flowers (Malladam) all the time. It is said that if a pious soul resides in the womb all the desires are fulfilled. On the eleventh day of the bright half of he month of Margshirsh the Queen gave birth to a pious and beautiful girl. It was unprecedented that a Tirthankar be born as a girl; everyone was surprised. But even the almighty is helpless when the Karmas precipitate into action.
The mother’s craving for flower bouquet inspired the king to name the girl as Malli Kumari. She was very fond of having a bouquet of flowers. Florists from far and near used to bring attractive and beautiful bouquets to present her and get desired gifts in return. Strange yarns about her infatuation for flowers and bouquets spread all around.
Once a famous and rich merchant, Arhannak, of Champa town, went on a sea voyage with some other people. After earning heaps of wealth when he was returning, a god appeared. In order to test Arhannak’s devotion for his religion, the god created a variety of afflictions. Even in the face of death Arhannak did not yield. His devotion for the path shown by Jina was absolutely unwavering. The god was pleased with this unrelenting determination of Arhannak. He gave the merchant a pair of divine earrings as gift.
On the way back the ship stopped at Mithila. All the merchants went to King Kumbh’s assembly with gifts. Arhannak gifted the divine earnings for Malli Kumari. The king and his ministers became astonished at the divine beauty of these earrings. Once a joint in these earrings broke. king Kumbh called expert goldsmiths to weld this joint but none of the artisans had skill enough to do its work. In annoyance the king exiled many of these artisans. Wherever these artisans went they talked of the divine beauty of Malli Kumari.
Once Mallidinna, the younger brother of Malli Kumari, constructed an entertainment room in the palace premises. One of the working artists was highly talented. This artist had a glimpse of a toe of Malli Kumari who was standing behind a lattice. This enable the highly gifted artist to paint a fresco of the princess on a wall of the room. he was under the impression that the prince will be pleased to look at he exact replica of his sister and richly reward him.
When the room was complete, the prince came with his wives to look at and approve the beautiful paintings, some of which were erotic as well. While he was enjoying these works of art, he came across the painting of Malli Kumari. He could not believe what he saw. Ashamed of himself he said, “My elder sister is here and I am shamelessly enjoying these sensual paintings along with my wives.” His governess explained, “Prince, You are mistaken. this is not your sister but her life size portrait.” The prince carefully examined the painting and was astonished at the realistic work of art and the skill o the artist. However the feeling if anger overtook the sense if appreciation. He was annoyed at the mindless effrontery of the artist who had pained such a live portrait of his respected elder sister in the entertainment chamber.
The angry prince called the painter and asked him when and how he saw the princess. The artist humbly submitted, “Sire! I just saw one toe of the princess from behind a lattice. But I am endowed with this miraculous skill that when I start painting even a part of a thing I automatically complete the thing perfectly.”
This explanation did not pacify the prince. He exiled the artist after amputating his right thumb. The vexed artist made another painting of the princess and sold it at a very high price to king Adinshatru of Hastinapur. Adinshatru was attracted towards Malli Kumari, as many others who had heard about her divine beauty.
Discussion with Choksha
one day a female mendicant named Choksha came to Mithila. In order to influence the royal family she came to Malli Kumari. choksha was a scholar of Vedas and other scriptures and her interpretation was that keeping the body clean, indulging in charity and the annointment of Tirth (sacred place)were the only religious activities that lead to liberation. She started preaching her ideas to Malli Kumari, who heard all this with patience. When Choksha had nothing more to say, Malli Kumari said in her magnetic voice, “With due respect to your attire, I am surprised at your ignorance, Choksha. Know that every charity is not done with religious or pious intent. Even cleaning the body and annointment of a Tirth are not sacred if they are not done with equanimous and pious feelings or if they cause any destruction of any living organism. A blood stained cloth will never be cleaned by washing it with blood. The basis of religion is a discerning attitude. To an irrational person, even penance causes discomfort and irritation.” This irrefutable logic of Malli Kumari silenced Choksha, but she became angry and decided to take revenge.
Choksha decided that, in order to shatter the pride of this princess it would be best if she could be manipulated into marrying some king who already had many wives. Cooking up her plan, she approached the king of Kampilyapur in Panchal state. She gave a titillating description of the divine beauty of Malli Kumari and provokingly said to the king, “Your life and palace both are lack luster as long as you do not marry and bring this divine beauty to your palace.” King Jitshatru was highly impressed. He decided to seek the hand of Malli Kumari in marriage.
Change of Heart of the Six Kings
The six friends of Malli Kumari’s earlier birth were born in six different royal families and inherited the kingdoms.
1. King Pratibuddha of Saketpur,
2. King Chandrachhay of Champa,
3. King Rupi of Shravasti,
4. King Shankh of Varanasi,
5. King Adinshatru of Hastinapur, and
6. King Jitshatru of Panchal (Kampilyapur).
The fame of the beauty of Malli Kumari inspired all these six kings to send proposing kings and returned the emissaries. These kings felt insulted and marched on Mithila with their armies and lay a seize.
When king Kumbh got the challenge he became worried. Malli Kumari asked about the cause of her father’s anxiety. Kumbh replied, “Daughter! All these kings want to marry you. My refusal has irked them and they have surrounded Mithila. I am anxious about what I should do now!”
Malli Kumari was already aware of all these activities through her Avadhi Jnan (the capacity to know all about the physical world). She made a plan to enlighten these friends of her last birth. In the palace garden she got a chamber made and in its center installed a life size statue that was her exact replica. It’s inside was hollow and there was an opening hidden under the neck. Six adjacent chambers were also erected around this central circular chamber. These six chambers had windows opening in the main chamber. These windows were so designed that a n onlooker could only see the statue and nothing else. Making all these arrangements, Malli Kumari started putting one handful of the food she ate every day inside the hollow statue.
When the stink of decomposed food, coming out of the statue on opening the lid became intolerable, Malli Kumari went to her father. She said to her father, “Stop worrying, father, and inform the kings individually that I want to meet them to discus about marriage.” The king did likewise. Believing that only he had been invited, everyone of the kings accepted the invitation. At the predetermined time they all came one by one and were led to the six chambers allotted for them separately. From the windows in their chambers each one of them gazed at the divinely beautiful statue considering it to be Mali Kumari. Everyone was dreaming of the marriage and the happy moments thereafter. All of a sudden Malli Kumari removed the concealed cover from the hole in the neck of he statue. The obnoxious smell of decomposed food filled the chambers. The hellish smell hit the peeping kings and they were jolted out of their state of day dreaming. Their faces distorted with revulsion.
Panic stricken, the kings shouted, “What is all this? Why have I been locked in this chamber? It is impossible breath here. Please open the doors.” It was then that Malli Kumari appeared and said, “O slaves of passions! You are totally infatuated with female beauty. A moment ago you were admiring this earthly beauty and were nurturing a desire to possess and enjoy it. Now a hatred for the same is evident on your distorted faces. What sort of love for beauty is this?”
The kings shouted, “Why are you trying to make fools of us? It is impossible to tolerate this stink?”
Malli Kumari asked the attendants to open the gates of the chambers. All the six kings rushed out and were surprised to see each other. Finding the right opportunity Malli Kumari said to them, “The stink caused by just a few handfuls of food is intolerable. Mind you, this body is nothing but a statue made of bones and flesh and maintained by the same food. Why such infatuation for such decomposed thing? You are all friends of my last birth. Rise above this infatuation and commence once again the terminted pursuit of purification of the self.”
All the six kings acquired Jati-smaran Jnan, They sought pardon from king Kumbh as well as Malli Kumari. Resolving to follow the path of renunciation they left for their respective kingdoms.
Malli Kumari also announced her decision to become an ascetic. After the great charity she became an ascetic along with three hundred males and equal number of females. Immediately after her Diksha, she acquired Vipulmati Manahparyav Jnan (the ultimate Pra normal capacity and started deep meditation. The same afternoon she attained omniscience. In her first discourse she discussed on the subject of philosophy of equanimity. The six kings took Diksha during this first discourse. After enhancing the spread of religion for a long period she attained Nirvana on the fourth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra at Sammetshikhar.
MUNISURVRAT BHAGAVAN - 20
The being that was to be Bhagavan Munisuvrat purified its soul during his birth as Surshreshta, the king of Champa city in Mahavideh. He then reincarnated in the Pranat dimension of gods.
King Sumitra of the Harivamh clan ruled over Rajgriha town. His wife, queen Padmavati, gave birth to a son, the being that had descended from the Pranat dimension of gods, on the ninth day of the dark half of the month of Jyeshta. After the traditional post birth rituals the name giving ceremony was celebrated. The king announced that since this being had descended into the womb of queen Padmavati, she took a variety of good vows and lead a life as disciplined as an ascetic. As such the new born named Munisuvrat (vow like ascetics).
In due course Munisuvrat was married and ascended the throne. After a successful and long reign he became an ascetic on the eighth day of the dark half of the month of Phalgun. He wandered as a ordinary ascetic for eleven months and attained omniscience under a Champa tree. His first discourse was on the subject of “scriptural and applied philosophy”. After a long life devoted to spread of true religion he went to Sammetshikhar and got liberated on the ninth day of the dark half of the month of Jyeshtha.
Bhagavan Munisuvrat’s period was an important period of Jain pre-history. His illustrious contemporaries and followers included stalwarts like the ninth Chakravarti-Mahapadma, the eighth Prativasudev, Baldev, and Vasudev, Ravan, Rama and Lakshman respectively. The elder brother of Bahagavan Munisuvrat, ascetic Vishnu Kumar, also became famous for his pioneering effort of saving the Jain organization from the oppressions of mister Namuchi; the Rakshabandhan festival is celebrated in the memory of that event.
NAMINATH BHAGAVAN -21
The being hat was to be Bhagavan Naminath purified his soul during his birth as king Siddharth of Kshambi town in East Mhavideh. He reincarnated as a god in the Aparajit dimension. this being then descended into he womb of queen Vipra, wife of king Vijay of Mithila. As the queen had seen fourteen auspicious things in her dream at the moment of conception, the augurs informed hat the child to be born was going to be a Chkravarti or a Tirthankar.
During the pregnancy period once Mithila was attacked by some very powerful kings. Peace loving king Vijay was at a loss to find a peaceful solution and was worried. An expert augur told the king that the pregnant queen should go to the roof of the palace and look at the attacking armies. The queen followed the instructions and threw a loving glance at the large armies stationed on the fields outside the town. The aura of the pious soul in the womb was so powerful that it cast a pacifying spell on the attackers. the kings who were sure to win the battle, surrendered and bowed before king Vijay.
This incident inspired the king to name the new born as Naminath. Born on the eighth day of the dark half of the month of Sravan, Naminath had a happy childhood. When he became young he was married and later was given the reign of the kingdom. After a long and peaceful reign he became an ascetic on the ninth day of the dark half of the month of Ashadh. After nine months he attained omniscience under a Bakul Tree in a garden near Mithila. His first discourse was on the subject of right perception. After a long period of religious and spiritual activities he went to Sammetsikhar and got liberated on the tenth day of the dark half of the month of Vaishakh.
The tenth Chakravarti Harishen was his contemporary and the eleventh Chakravarti Jai came in his religious tradition, through much later.
ARISHTANEMI BHAGAVAN - 22
The being that was to be Bhagavan Arishtanemi, in his earlier incarnation, was Shankh, the eldest son of king Shrishen of Hastinapur. One day some citizens and wayfarers came to the king and informed him that the highways approaching Hastinapur and the surrounding area were being terrorized by bandits and smugglers. No traveler or villager was safe from the attack of the bandits. Robbery and murder became a daily routine for them. The citizens requested he king to protect the masses. the king deputized prince Shankh to go and punish the bandits.
Prince Shankh was an accomplished diplomat and strategist. He planned and conducted his campaign in such a way that he apprehended the leader of bandits without any bloodshed. While he was on his way back he heard the cry of help of a young princess abducted by a Vidyadhar (a lower god); prince Shankh challenged the Vidyadhar, defeated him and saved princess Yahomati. when these young people saw each other they fell in love and got married. In due course prince Shankh ascended the throne.
Once a scholarly ascetic visited Hastinapur. King Shankh went for his Darshan, an asked him, “Why am I so deeply in love with Yashomati that all my desires to renounce come to a naught.” The ascetic said, “Your marital ties are many a life-time deep. For last six lives you are being married to each other, this is the seventh birth. That is the reason for such intense and deep feeling of love for each other.”
The king asked, ”When these ties will be broken?”
The scholarly ascetic replied, “In your ninth incarnation you will be born as Neminath and she as Rajimati. In that birth you will be able to break this tie of love and become twenty second Tirthankar. Rajimati will also follow you on the path of renunciation and get liberated.”
The Birth as Arishtanemi
Knowing all this Shankh had a deep feeling of detachment. He gave his kingdom to his on and became an ascetic. As a result of high spiritual practices and deep devotion for Jnan he earned the Tirthankar-nam-and gotra-karma and reincarnated in the Aprajit dimension of gods.
Bhagavan Rishabhdev and twenty one other Tirthankars were born in the Ikshavku clan. The twentieth Tirthankar Munisuvrat was born in the Harivamsh clan. The great king Vasu was also from Harivamsh clan. After a long time this clan saw another illustrious king Sauri who was the founder of the famous Sauripur town. Sauri had two sons Andhak Vrishni and Bhog Virshni. Andhak Virishni had ten sons, the eldest was Samudravijay and the youngest Vasudev.
The being that was Shankh descended from the Aparajit dimension of gods into the womb of queen Shiva Devi, wife of king Samudravijay of Sauripur. The fourteen great dreams indicated that this being was to become a Tirthankar. On the fifth day of the bright half of the month of Shravaan queen Shiva Devi gave birth to a son. As per the convention 56 goddesses of directions arrived and performed the birth celebrations after the post-birth cleaning.
During the naming ceremony the king conveyed that as the queen had seen a disc with Arishta gems, the new born will be called Arishtanemi.
Vasudev, the younger brother of king Samudravijay was a charming and handsome person. His senior queen Rohini had a son named Balram (Padma) and junior queen Devaki had a son named Shrikrishana. Balram and Shrikrishna were the ninth Baldev and Vasudev.
During those times the whole area of central India had become a disturbed area due to prevailing conspiracies among various kingdoms. Cruel Kamsa and oppressive Jarasandh (the Prativasudev) were the worst of these feuding principalities. In order to be away from these everyday problems and as per the advise of an astrologer, the Yadav clan, including Samudravijay, Vasudev, Ugrasen, Shrikrishan etc. migrated from Mathura sauriur to the west coast. Shrikrishan constructed the large and beautiful town of Dwarka on the sea coast and near the Raivatak mountain (Girnar). Its grand architecture and strong fortification made it heavenly beautiful and unconquerable.
The Power and Prowess of Arishtanemi
One day while wandering around, youthful Arishtanemi reached the hall of weapons of Vasudev Shrikrishna. Seeing the divine weapons he first lifted the Sudarshan Chakra (the disc weapon) curiously and whirled it playfully. He then lifted the giant bow, Sarang, and bent it as if it was a thin cane. After this he lifted the Panchajanya conch, put it to his lips and blew it hard. The piercing loud sound emanating from the great conch shocked the town. Shrikrishan rushed to the armory. Seeing Arishtanemi playfully handling the he giant and heavy weapons belonging to Vasudev, Shrikrishan was astonished. He asked “Nemi! did you blow the Panchajanya?” Nemi innocently replied, ”Yes brother! It is so cute I could not contain myself.”
Shrikrishan knew that is weapons were beyond the capacity and strength of any warrior in the world. He was astonished and pleased at the same time, that his young cousin was so strong and powerful. He wanted to test Nemi’s strength further; he invited Nemi to the gymnasium for a friendly trial of strength. First Shrikrishan raised his arm and held it straight asking Nemi to bring it down. Nemi forced Shrikrishna’s arm down without any apparent effort. After this Nemi raised his arm and Shrikrishana, in spite of all his strength could not force it down. He even put all his weight on the outstretched arm but as if it was a beam of steal, the arm of Nemi did not move even a fraction of an inch.
Shrikrishan was very pleased knowing about this unprecedented strength of his cousin. He thought that this great individual, much more powerful than him, is capable of becoming a Chakravarti. but how could he become a Chakravarti if he does not change his attitude of detachment for all worldly activities. Shrikrishan formulated a plan. He asked Nemi to marry and start his family life. Nemi still did not show any interest. Shrikrishan now consulted his queens and organized a spring festival. The ladies dragged Nemi Kumar to the pool for water games and there they used all their guile to pursued him to agree for marriage. Shrikrishna also requested once more. Nemi presented a smiling but thoughtful look. With his divine knowledge he became aware it was the marriage celebration that would initiate him on the path of liberation. As such he did not oppose the proposal. His silence was taken as a sign of affirmation and it was joyously announced that Nemi Kumar had finally agreed for marriage.
Shrikrishana started the search for a suitable match. One of his queens Satyabhama, informed hat her beautiful and delicate younger sister, Rajul, would be an extremely suitable match for Nemi Kumar. Shrikrishana finalized all arrangements. On the arranged date the marriage procession started with Nemi Kumar riding the decorated king elephant. All the kings and princes of the Yadav clan joined the procession with their royal regalia and retinue. When the procession was approaching the destination, Nemi Kumar saw that on the side of the road there were large fenced areas and cages full of wailing animals and birds. Filled with sympathy and compassion, he asked the elephant driver why those animals and birds were being kept in bondage. The driver informed him that the creatures were collected to be butchered for meat for the large number of gusts attending his marriage.
Nemi Kumar was filled with despair and a feeling of detachment. He said to the elephant driver, “If I agree to be the cause of the butchering of so many living beings my life and the one to come will be filled with pain and misery. So, I will not marry. Immediately arrange for the release of all these creatures; turn back and head for Dwarka.” The driver looked at him in astonishment. Nemi Kumar said, “This is an order.”
The driver went and opened the gates of the fenced areas and cages. The animals jumped and ran away into the jungle. They were saved from the torture of death. The driver came back and turned the elephant towards Dwarka. On the way Nemi Kumar took out all the valuables and ornaments on his body and handed them over to the elephant driver.
The news spread panic in the marriage procession. All the seniors of the Yadav clan tried to change the mind of Nemi Kumar, but in vain. Even Shrikrishna could not dissuade him from his determination. Nemi Kumar said to the elders, “As these animals were prisoners in the cages, we all are prisoners in cages of karma which are much stronger than these fences. See the feeling of joy evident in the animals released from the cages. Know that happiness is in freedom, not in bondage. I want to tread the path of breaking this bondage of Karma and embrace eternal bliss. Please do not stop me.”
When Rajimati, dressed as bride, heard of this act of Nemi Kumar she could not tolerate the sting of sorrow. she fainted with shock. When she recovered she started crying and again lost consciousness.
After a year long charity, Nemi Kumar sat in a palanquin named Uttarkura, and, passing through the town of Dwarka, arrived in the Raivatak garden. He got down under an Ashoka tree and pulled out five fistful of hair and after taking off all ornaments and the royal dress. He became an ascetic along with one thousand person on the sixth day of he bright half of the month of Shravan. Shrikrishan was deeply touched by this incident; he blessed his younger cousin and wished him success in his mission.
Arhat Neminath spent fifty four days in deep spiritual practices and then went to Vijaynat hill (Girnar). On the fifteenth day of the dark half of the month of Ashvin, in he afternoon, he was observing a two days fast and was meditating under a bamboo tree when he became an omniscient. Establishing he four pronged religious organization (Tirth) he became the twenty second Tirthankar.
When Rajimati recovered from the melancholy she decided to follow the path taken by Neminath. Prince Rathnemi, the younger brother of Neminath, tried his best to seduce Rajimati. But she could not be distracted from her goal. When Rajimati came to know that Neminath had become an omniscient, she went to the Samavasaran of neminath along with many of her friends and took Diksha. She lost herself in penances and other spiritual practices and in the end got liberated.
Stories of a number of famous ascetic contemporaries of Bhagavan Arishtanemi are glittering gems in he heap of Jain scriptures. some more prominent names are child ascetic Gajasukumar, great ascetic Dhandhan Rishi, Thavaccha-putra Sharman etc.
Bhagavan Arishtanemi got liberated, at the age of one thousand years, on the eighth day of the bright half of he month o Ashadh.
A number of historians accept that Arishtanemi, he cousin of Shrikrishana, was a historical figure who greatly contributed towards vegetarianism, compassion and Ahimsa. This is the point where Jain prehistory fuses with history.
PARSHVANATH BHAGAVAN - 23
Bhagavan Parshvanath was born about 380 years before the Nirvana of Bhagavan or in the 10th century BC.
Like other Tirthankars, important events of earlier incarnations of the being that became Bhagavan Parshvanath are available in Jain scriptures. Study of these incidents reveals that amnesty and compassion played a major part in his life and progress toward purity of soul. In every incarnation his rival, Kamath, continued to torture him and he continued to forgive and forget.
Kamath and Marubhuti
The soul that was to be Bhagavan Parshvanath was inspired to take the direction of purity in its birth as Marubhuti. He was born to the wife of Purohit Vishabhuti living in Potanpur city. His elder brother was Kamath. As Kamath was cruel, conceited, and a debauch, in spite of being the elder son it was Marubhuti who succeeded his father on the post of Rajpurohit (the director of ritual ceremonies of the king and state). Attracted toward the beautiful wife of Marubhuti, Vasundhara, Kamath seduced her. When Kamath’s wife came to know about the affair, she tried to dissuade him in vain and told Marubhuti about it. Marubhuti made a secret inquiry and conveyed everything in detail to the king. Kamath was exiled by the king. He became a mendicant and started doing rigorous penance.
After sometime Marubhuti felt that it was because of his report that Kamath was insulted and thrown out of the state; as such he should go and beg forgiveness from his elder brother. Marubhuti went into the jungle near Kamath and bowed before him seeking his pardon. Instead of getting pacified, Kamath was over powered by the desire of vengeance. He picked up a large stone and hit Marubhuti on the head.
Marubhuti died on the spot.
The King Elephant
The soul of Marubhuti was reborn as an elephant in the forests of Vindhyachal. It became the leader of the herd. One day when an ascetic was standing in meditation in the Vindhyachal area, the king elephant came near him. The memory of its past life precipitated and it became a follower of the ascetic and turned mellow and detached. One day the elephant rushed into and stationed itself in the middle of a pond in order to save himself from a forest fire. The being that was Kamath had taken birth as a serpent of the Kurkut species. When it saw the elephant, the serpent recognized it as its enemy from the earlier birth. The serpent landed on the head of the elephant and stung it. The elephant equally tolerated the pain and died peacefully.
In his third birth the being that was Marubhuti reincarnated as a god in the Sahasrar dimension. From there it descended and was born as prince Kiranveg in Mahavideh area. He furthered his progress towards purity by becoming an ascetic and was killed once again by the Kamath, now born as a snake. His next birth was as a god in the Achyut Kalpa dimension. From there he came to Mahavidh area as king Vajranabh. Kamath was born as a Bhil aborigine who shot Vajranabh, who had become an ascetic now, with an arrow. Reincarnating in the Madhyam Graiveyak dimension of gods, the being that was to be Parshvanath enjoyed the fruits of his pious Karma.
In his eighth birth this being was born in the royal family of Puranpur in the Mahavideh area. After ascending the throne Suvarnbahu conquered six continents and became a Chakravarti. In later part of his life he became an ascetic and did purest of meditations to earn Tirthakar-nam-and-gotra-karma. During this birth also, this being was killed by its old enemy Kamath who was born as a fierce lion. From here this being went to the Pranat dimension of gods.
Descending from the Pranat dimension of gods, the being that was Marubhuti came into the womb of Vama Devi, wife of King Ashvasen of Varanasi. On the tenth day of the dark half of the month of Paush Vama Devi gave birth to a son. At the time of his naming ceremony king Ashvasen announced that during her pregnancy Vama Devi one night saw a snake slithering on the bed near his flank. She woke him up and saved him from the impending danger. As such, he was naming the new born as Parshva (flank).
Prince Parshva was very handsome and intelligent. His fame reached Kushasthalpur and princess Prabhavatti, daughter of king Prasenjit, determined to become his wife. Before a proposal for marriage could be sent the king of Kalinga lay a seize of Kushasthalpur and sought the hand of Prabhavati in marriage. King Prasenjit, aware of the might of Yavanraj sent a messenger to Varanasi for help. King Ashvasen got irritated at the misconduct of Yavanraj and command the army in this battle. Pshvasen was well aware of the ability and prowess of prince Parshva; he accepted proposal without any hesitation.
Before the prince started for the battle field the king of gods sent a divine and air worthy chariot for Parshva. After reaching the battle field the and prior to giving the orders to attack, Parshva sent a message to Yavanraj that now Prasenjit was under the protection of king Ashvasen, and as such he should break his seize of Kushasthalpur or face the great army of Varanasi and divine powers of Parshva. Although the youthful Yavanraj and some of his younger ministers were provoked, a senior minister informed him that the king of gods himself sided Parshva. He not only had divine powers but also the flying chariot of Indra. To fight Parshva was to embrace certain defeat. Yavanraj accepted the advice of the senior minister and surrendered before prince Parshva without a fight. He offered rich gifts to Parshva and became a friend of Prasenjit.
Victorious Parshva Kumar returned to Varanasi. King Prasenjit also came to Varanasi with his daughter Prabhavati and requested king Ashvasen to marry Parshva Kumar with Prabhavati. Parshva was averse to the bond of marriage. However, his parents persuaded him and he could not hurt their feelings. He was married to Prabhavati but led a simple and detached life.
One day prince Parshva was enjoying a view of the town from the balcony of his palace. When he saw groups of men and women, carrying items for worship, passing by, he asked out of curiosity if it was some day of religious ceremonies. His attendants informed him that some mendicant named Kamath is doing a harsh penance named Panchagni Tap (five fire penance). The citizens are going to pay homage to him with all these presents. Prince Parshva also proceeded to witness this strange scene. As he was endowed with three levels of knowledge since birth, Parshva perceived everything worth knowing about this person at once. This was the same being that had been nurturing an intense feeling of vengeance for him for many births. After completing his age in the hell he was born in a poor family. Driven by hunger and poverty he had become a mendicant and was influencing the ignorant masses with his harsh but ill conceived penance.
When prince Parshva came near the mendicant he saw that some logs of wood were burning all around the mendicant. Inside one of the logs was a pair of serpents, writhing in pain due to the intense heat of the burning flames. Moved by a feeling of compassion the prince said to the mendicant, “Burning a five sensed being in fire, what sort of self improvement do you strive for?” The mendicant replied angrily, “Prince! You are a child; go and enjoy your princely games. It is mendicants like me who know about religion not you. How can you claim that some being is burning in the fire around me?”
All the efforts to persuade him that a pair of serpents was burning in the fire went in vain. Parshva then ordered his attendants to draw the specific log aside and split it. As soon as the attendants did that, a pair of serpents, partially scorched, fell on the ground writhing in pain. Realizing that they were about to die, prince Parshva said to them that they should not be annoyed with the ignorant mendicant and should remain equanimous during the last moments of their lives. He also recited the Namokar Mantra. As a result of equanimous thoughts and hearing the Namokar Mantra, after death the pair was born as the king and queen of the gods of the Nag Kumar clan (Dharanendra and Padmavati).
The mendicant became angry and kept on adding more fuel to the fire of vengeance. After death he reincarnated as the evil god Meghmali.
This incident inspired Parshva Kumar to step on the right path and show the path to the masses misled by such ignorant hypocrites. While he was contemplating this, he one day went to garden and chanced to see some frescoes about the incidents of life of Bhagavan Arishtanemi. These vivid paintings pushed him to the decision of becoming an ascetic. He sought permission of his father and started the year long charity. On the eleventh day of the dark half of the month of Paush he became an ascetic under an Ashok tree.
One day Parshva-muni was standing in meditation in Kaushamv jungle. God Dharanendra arrived there to pay homage. When he saw scorching sun rays falling on the meditating ascetic, he covered Parshva-muni with canopy of snake hoods. It is said that this area later became famous as Ahichhatra.
One day Parshva-muni was standing in meditation under a banyan tree in an Ashram outside a village. The evil god Meghamali, the Kamath of earlier birth, through his evil powers became aware of this. Driven by the animosity of earlier births, Meghamali arrived at the spot where Parshva-muni his extremely loud and fearsome laughter. When Parshva-muni remained unmoved, Meghmali inflicted pain on him by attacking in the form of various animals. Parshva-muni tolerated all these afflictions with equanimity. Meghamli’s anger reached its peak.
Now he created dark and dense clouds in the skies. The sky was completely covered by dark rain-bearing clouds. With fearsome rumbling and thunder and lightening it started raining heavily. Meghamali caused so much rain that it flooded the whole area. Parshva-muni tolerated the torment of this torrential rain like the Meru mountain. The water level rose and it reached the tip of Parshvanath’s nose. He was still unmoved in his meditation. At this peak of the affliction, the throne of god Dharanendra trembled. He came to know about the incident through his divine powers and reached the spot with Padmavati. One of these snake-gods created a platform under the feet of Parshva-muni and the other a canopy of its multiple hoods over hid head. Dharanendra admonished Meghamali who then fell at the feet of Parshva-muni and sought his forgiveness.
After eighty three days of penance and spiritual practices Parshva-muni came to Ashrampad garden in Varanasi and stood in meditation under a Dharanendra tree. With fast increasing purity he attained omniscience on the fourth day of the dark half of the month of Chaitra. The gods created the divine pavilion. Bhagavan Parshvanath gave his first discourse on the form of religion. He propagated the four dimensional religion(Ahimsa, truth, non-stealing and non-possession) for upliftment of the soul.
Inspired by the discourse of Bhagavan Parshvanath, many members of his family including his father Ashvasen, mother Vama Devi, and wife Prabhavati took Diksha from him. Many other princes and scholars including the famous Vedic scholar Shubhdatta also took Diksha after hearing to his discourse. Bhagavan Parshvanath established the four pronged religious organization. He had eight chief disciples with Shubgdatta being the first and most senior.
Although no detailed mention is available about the areas visited by Bhagavan Parshvanath, it can be surmised from various incidents and related stories that he covered a considerably wide area of the subcontinent. It appears that he visited Kashi-kaushal (Uttar Pradesh), Nepal, Bang (Bengal), Kalinga (Orissa), Anga (Magadh), Vidarbh, Konkan, Saurashtra etc. Among his followers were Shakya Kings, rulers of Magadh (grandfather and father of king Shrenik) and many others.
In Jain scriptures there is a mention of an incident of Bhagavan Parshvanath’s period that has not been much talked about. It is the initiation of 206 old spinsters in his ascetic organization. At different times many old spinsters from merchant families from a number of towns took Kiksha into Bhagavan Parshvanath’s organization and indulged in spiritual practices. But due to some faults in minor codes of discipline and death before doing required corrective self-analysis they reincarnated as queens of lesser gods like Chamarendra, Balindra, Vyantarendra etc. At the time of Bhagavan Mahavir’s divine pavilion creation they came for the Darshan (paying homage in person) and displayed their divine glamour and grandeur just like the sun god. What to talk of the common audience when even Ganadhar Gautam became spellbound at this heavenly display. When Gautam asked Bhagavan Mahavir about these goddesses he explained these goddesses acquired these unique divine powers as a result of their practices of penance and discipline when they were the old-spinster ascetics in Bhagavan Parshvanath’s order.
All these references indicate that even during the period of Bhagavan Mahavir the faith and devotion for Bhagavan Parshvanath was wide spread. The masses strongly believed that remembering the name of Bhagavan Parshvanath was the panacea for all troubles as well as the means of success. This was the reason that in Bhagavan Mahavir’s time Bhagavan Parshvanath was popularly known as “Purushadaniya”.
Many scholars are of the opinion that the Chaturyam Dharm (the four dimensional religion) was the leading and prominent religion in whole of India during that period. The Buddha also got initiated into this school in the early part of his spiritual life. Later he evolved and propagated his eight pronged religion out of this only.
Bhagavan Parshvanath was a householder for thirty years and then an ascetic for seventy years. When he was 100 years old he got liberated on the fifth day of the bright half of the month of Shravan at Sammetshikhar.
It is believed that the time span between the Nirvana of Bhagavan Parshvanath and Bhagavan Mahavir’s launching of his own school was about 250 years. There is a mention of four prominent leaders of Bhagavan Parshvanath’s school:
1. Ganadhar Shubhdatta (Shumbh)
2. Arya Haridatta
3. Acharya Samudra Suri
4. Arya Keshi Shraman
The last one is believed to have existed between 166 to 250 years after the Nirvana of Bhagavan Parshvanath. Arya Keshi Shraman was a forceful Acharya. The staunch non-believer king Pradeshi became a highly devoted Jain Shravak under his influence only. There were nine groups of five hundred ascetics each, in the large religious organization headed by Keshi-muni. These groups worked in far fling areas like Tailang (Andhra), Konkan and Maharashtra. He himself wandered in the Magadh area with one thousand ascetics.
MAHAVIR BHAGAVAN - 24
Bhagavan Mahavir was the last and the twenty fourth Tirthankar of this era in the Jain tradition. He had a highly developed multifaceted personality. He scintil-lated with the infinitely intense glow of the pure soul. All the virtues and powers of his soul were completely awakened and active. He had infinite power but, at the same he also had infinite compassion. Possessing ultimate powers of the soul, he was unconquerable, fully developed and absolutely composite human being.
But the seeds of this grandeur and greatness of Bhagavan Mahavir were sown in the remote past. He had been doing vigorous penance, indulging in altruism and practicing deep meditation in many of his past incarnations. From this angle the incidents from earlier incarnations of this supreme soul are very important and inspiring. The first incident in this sequence is known as “the first touch of righteousness”. It is from the 27th birth before the final birth of the soul of Bhagavan Mahavir. The story of this birth as the village elder Nayasar, goes like this-
First Glimpse of Right Knowledge: Nayasar
In the twenty seventh birth before being born as Bhagavan Mahavir, this soul was a village elder and forester working for king Shatrumardhan for Pratisthan city in the west Mahavideh area. He used to bring all the wood required for construction purposes from the forest. One day at noon time all the workers were taking rest after their lunch. Nayasar also sat under a tree in order to take the food he had brought along. Before starting to eat he saw some ascetics wandering at the foot of nearby hills. Nayasar thought that these ascetics are wandering without food or water in this scorching sun. If they happen to come this side, I will offer a part of my food to them. I will be benefited by this simple act of serving guests and my day will become purposeful.
Innocent Nayasar waited looking at the approaching ascetics. With deep devotion he offered them this pure food. When they proceeded towards the town, Nayasar accompanied them for some distance to show the way. When Nayasar bowed before the ascetics before taking their leave, they gave him sermons of the true path, the simple code of compassion, pity, simplicity, humility and equanimity. Devoted and respectful, Nayasar got enlightened and the seed of righteousness (Samyaktva) sprouted in his mind. As this is the starting point of the spiritual evolution, the moment when a soul lost in the darkness of illusion got the first glimpse of spiritual light, the counting of the earlier incarnations of the soul that became Bhagavan Mahavir begins here.
The Third Birth: Marichi
After completing his age (the age of being, according to Jainism, is a fixed period determined by actions in the immediately preceding birth), the soul of Nayasar was reborn as a god in the Saudharm Kalpa. He then took birth as Marichi, the son of Chakravarti (sovereign of six continents) Bharat in the city of Ayodhya. After hearing the first dicourse of Bhagavan Rishabhdev he became a Shraman. But as he could not sustain the rigorous ascetic codes, he abandoned the dress of a Shraman, made desired relaxation’s in the harsh code of Shraman conduct, and became a Tridandi Parivrajak (a class of mendicants). He started keeping an umbrella and a pair of wooden slippers. He also used to take bath and apply fragrant pastes like sandal wood pastes. However, he still believed the path of Rishabhdev to be the best. He would sit just outside the divine pavilion (Samavasaran) of Rishabhdev and when asked about his strange dress, he would innocently accept his weaknesses and preach to the people around, inspiring them to accept the religion of Shramans.
One day Bharat Chakravarti asked Bhagavan Rishabhdev, “Prabho ! Is there any great being (soul) present in this congregation who will become a Tirthankar like you?” Rishabhdev replied, ”Bharat ! Outside this religious congregation sits your son Marichi dressed as a Parivrajak. After penance’s and other practices for many reincarnations, he will become the last Tirthankar of this cycle of time. during his passage from Marichi to Mahavir, he will also be born as Triprishtha Vasudev (the lord of three regions) in one birth and in another reincarnations Priyamitra Chakravarti.”
Hearing about the astoundingly bright future of the soul of his Marichi, Emperor Bharat burst with joy. He went to Marichi with the happy news and said, ”Marichi ! You are extremely lucky, I greet you as the future Tirthankar.”
Marichi was overjoyed hearing the prophecy of Bhagavan Rishabhdev. His happiness was boundless. But at the same time, thoughts of the glory of his clan stirred his conceit. Filled with pride for his clan, he uttered, ”How great is my clan and what a superior family is that to which I belong! My grandfather is the first Tirthankar, my father is the first Chakravarti, and I will became a Vasudev, a Chakravarti, and finally the last Tirthankar of this cycle of time. How great, indeed!” And thus Marichi almost burst with conceit. Slowly he slid down from the heights of spiritual excellence, and was drawn into the whirlpool of the egoism of racial supremacy.
According to the Jain tradition, Marichi was the founder of the Parivrajak school. Marichi used to say that the Shramans were free of the distortions of mind, speech, and body, but the Parivrajaks had these. As such, the Parivrajaks started keeping a trident, there symbol. In his last days he made prince Kapil his disciple. From that point on the derivative Parivrajak school gradually distanced itself from the Shraman school.
The soul of Marichi moved from the human dimension to that of gods and back again alternatively for twelve incarnations. When born as human he became Parivrajak many a time and observed numerous austerities. In his sixteenth reincarnation he was born as prince Vishvabhuti the nephew of king Vishvanandi of Rajgrih. He became an ascetic and did harsh penance before breathing his last. In the seventeenth reincarnation he took birth as a god in the Mahashakra dimension of gods and in eighteenth as Triprishtha Vasudev.
Queen Mrigavati of king Prajapati of Potanpur gave birth to an extremely powerful son. He was named Triprishtha.
Prajapati was an ordinary king of subordinate kingdom of the Prativasudev Ashvagriv. Triprishtha was a very brave and valorous young man. When the fame of his powers and strength reached Ashvagriv he became apprehensive. He asked his astrologer about how he would meet his end. The astrologer said, “The man who would crush your powerful emissary-Chandamegh and also kill the ferocious lion of Tunga mountain will be the messenger of death for you.” One day Ashvagiv sent Chanda to Potanpur. When this emissary misbehaved, Triprishtha threw him out. Then an order was issued to Prajapati, ”A ferocious lion has created havoc in the Shali area. Immediately proceed to that area and protect the farmers from the lion. “ When Prajapati prepared to go, prince Triprishtha requested, ”Father ! When we are available you need not take the trouble to proceed for this insignificant venture. Your sons can easily take care of that petty beast.”
Triprishtha and his elder brother Baldev Achal Kumar went to that forest and inquired about the lion from the local populace. As directed , they proceeded toward the den of the lion. Disturbed by the noise of the village folk, the lion came out of its den and charged towards the princes. Looking at the approaching lion Triprishtha thought, “The creature is alone moving on its feet, why do I need my bodyguards and the chariot? When it dose not carry any weapon, why should I ? I will face it alone and bare handed.” Triprishtha got down from the chariot and threw away his weapons. He fought alone and bare handed with the ferocious men-eater. In the end he caught hold of the jaws of the lion and tore it apart. The driver of the chariot of the prince went near the writhing lion, said a few words of sympathy, and covered its wounds with medicinal hers. The dying moments of the beast became peaceful. This act infused a feeling of affection for the driver in the mind of the dying lion.
When the driver reincarnated as the chief disciple of Bhagavan Mahavir, Indrabhuti Gautam, this lion was born as a farmer. When the farmer saw Gautam he was infused with a feelings of fear and vengeance surfaced. Bhagavan Mahavir then revealed the cause of these dormant feelings by narrating the story of his earlier life.
Prince Triprishtha conquered the evil king, Prativasudev Ashvagriv, and established his own empire over three continents. He became the first Vasudev of this cycle of time.
Lead in the Ears
Once the Vasudev was enjoying a musical concert in his assembly. When his eyelids became heavy with slumber he instructed his bed attendant, “When I am asleep stop the program?”
After a few minutes Triprishtha closed his eyes and went to sleep. Everyone present was engrossed in the lilting music. The concert went on throughout the night. Suddenly Vasudev was awake. When he heard the music going on, he turned crimson with anger. He shouted angrily at the attendant, “Why the music has not been stopped yet ?” With folded hands the bed attendant submitted, “Everyone was lost in the intoxicating waves of the melodious music. Pardon me, Sire! I too became lost.” The negligence in following his instructions added fuel to the fire of Triprishtha’s anger. Directing all his anger on the negligent aide, he said, “Pour molten lead in the ears of this music buff. Let him realize the consequences of ignoring the instructions of his master for the sake of his live for music.” Vasudev’s order was carried out. Writhing with extreme and intolerable agony the bed attendant died on the spot.
The soul in the form of Triprishtha accumulated the bondage of tarnishing Karmas due to its extremely cruel attitude. It had to suffer the excruciating result in the form and life as Mahavir. The aide reincarnated as a farmer and hammered nails in Mahavir’s ears when he did penance as a Shraman. As a result of the intoxication of power, passion for grandeur, and cruelty of attitude, Triprishtha Vasudev, after living his age was reborn in the seventh hell. In his twenty first incarnation he became a lion; in the twenty second he again went to the fourth hell, and after that he was born as Priyamitra Chakravarti in the twenty third birth.
The Right Direction : Priyamitra Chakravarti
After seeing many auspicious dreams, the queen of Dhananjay, the ruler of Mukanagari, gave birth to a son. He was named as Priyamitra. As a result of his virtuous Karmas and his bravery he conquered all the six continents and became a Chakravarti. He enjoyed all these pleasures and grandeur befitting a Chakravarti. In the end, he got detached and became a Shraman by taking Diksha (the formal act of renouncing the mundane life style) from Pottilacharya. For about ten million years he indulged in serving the guru, studying and pondering over the scriptures, meditation, and a variety of austere penance’s. Though these he continued to wipe out the tarnishing Karmas acquired during previous lives. Living his age, he was reborn as a god in the Mahashukra Kalpa from where, in his next incarnation, he was born as the son of king Jitshatru of Chhatranagari.
Austere Practices : Nandan Muni
The life of prince Nandan (son of king Jitshatru) was like a lotus flower in the swamp of passions and mundane indulgences. The attraction of the beauty and love of beautiful damsels did not divert him from his spiritual quest. Finally he became a disciple of Pottilacharya. Becoming an ascetic, he started purifying his soul with the fire of penance. He undertook the tough practice of the twenty step penance that includes discipline, penance, devotion for Arihant, service of the ascetic, and other such purifying acts. As a result of these practices, he earned the Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma (the Karma that would make him a Tirthankar if future birth). He spent about a hundred thousand years as a Shraman with perfect discipline. During this period he did one hundred and sixty thousand one month fasts. Living his age with austure Pranat Pushpottar Viman (a specific dimension of gods). This was the birth preceding his reincarnation as Mahavir.
LIFE AS HOUSEHOLDER
Conditions before the Birth
About 2594 years back (599 BC) in the eastern region of India, a bright source of spiritual light dawned. He became famous as Vardhaman Mahavir.
During the period of Bhagavan Parshvanath, the feudal system of rule prevailed in India. However, the beginnings of democratic system had started appearing on the political scene. It was the dawn of the localized republics. After his Nirvana the republics started expanding and Vaishali emerged as the capital of the federation of small republics. Maharaj Chetak, a staunch follower of the Parshva Tradition, was the president of the Vaishali republic and the federation.
On the northern shore of the Ganges a large and powerful group of Lichhavi Kshatriyas favoured democratic system. The six prominent clans that formed this republic were-Ugra, Bhog, Rajanya, Ikshvaku, Lichhavi, Jnat, and Kaurav, and nine chiefs represented them.
Another union was named Malla and it was divided into two parts-northwestern and south-eastern. The capital city of north-west was Kushinara and that of south-east was Pava. The nine chiefs of the Federation of Malla republics were also staunch supporters of the democratic system. Nine Mallas and nine Lichhavis combined to form a well organized apex union called the Union of Vajji Republics. The Lichhavis of the Vaishali republic were Suryanvanshi Kshatriyas, the descendants of Maryada Purushottam Ram. Before the advent of Bhagavan Mahavir and the Buddha, these were famous as the Videhas, but later, the name Lichhavi became more popular. Still, as a cultural group they always retained their identity as the Videhas. In the Jain literature Maharaj Chetak has been mentioned as Videgraj, his sister, Trishla, as Videhdinna. Mahavir has also been mentioned as Videh Sukumal. All this is indicative of the higher religious and cultural status of the state of Videh.
The Royal Family of Vaishali
To the north of Vaishali, there was a suburb named Kundpur Sannivesh. There was a colony of Brahmans in the southern parts of Kundpur. The chief of these Brahamans was Rishabhdatta and his wife was Devananda. Although a rich Brahman and a scholar of the Vedas and Vedangas, Rishabhdatta was a devotee of Bhagavan Parshvanath.
In the northern parts of Kundpur there was a colony of Kshatriyas of the Jnat clan. The colony was known as Kshatriya Kundpur. Siddharth was the chief here. Because of his great valor and wealth he was respectfully addressed as Raja or Narendra. He was a highly influential member of the Vaishali republic.
Trishla, the sister of president Chetak of Vaishali, was married to Siddharth; she was also known as Videhdinna and Priyakarini, Chetak’s elder son Simhabhadra (commander-in- chief of the army of the Vajji Republic. Maharaj Chetak had seven daughters-
1. Chelana-Queen of king Bimbsar Shrenik of Magadh.
2. Shiva-Queen of king Chandapradyot of Avanti.
3. Mrigavati-Queen of king Shatanik of Kaushambi.
4. Pradmavati-Queen of king Dhadhivahan of Champa (mother of Chandanbala).
5. Prabhavati-Queen of king Udayan (Udayi) of Sindhu-Sauvir.
6. Jyeshtha-Wife of prince Nandivardhan, elder brother of Bhagavan Mahavir.
7. Sujyeshtha-Did not marry. Became ascetic in Mahavir’s organization.
Ajatshatru (Kunik), the famous warrior character in Jain and Buddhist literature, and king Udayan of Vats were own grandsons of Maharaj Chetak.
Dreams: The Premonition
One night mother Trishla is sleeping in her soft and cozy bed. Suddenly she dreams of auspicious things and gets up. She is filled with an hitherto inexperienced joy and ecstasy.
She leaves the bed, sits on a chair and contemplates, “So many divine and auspicious things together in my dream. I had such astonishing dream for the first time in my life, what does this indicate, indeed some benefits in the near future?” She goes to king Siddharth and tells him about the dreams.
King Siddharth beams with joy and says,” Devi! Your dreams are bounteous. We will gain wealth, pleasures, happiness, and a son. We shall also have territorial gains. The interpretation of these dreams indicates that the son born to you will be the embodiment of the combined of the combined virtues of all the virtuous things and signs existing on the earth. (In scriptures like Acharang and Kalpasutra, it is mentioned that the descent of the soul that was to be Mahavir was originally the womb of Devananda Brahmani. The fetus was then transplanted into the womb of Trishla Kshatriyani by god Harinaigamehsi under instructions from Shakrendra.)
After their morning chores, Maharaj Siddharth and Devi Trishla came and took their seats in the assembly hall. His younger brother Suparshva, his wife and other members of the royal family also took their seats nearby.
Famous dream readers of Vaishali arrived into the assembly hall. Maharaj Siddharth and Devi Trishla greeted the dream readers and scholars of eight pronged system of augury, and offered them high seats. The king said to them, “Scholars of augury! Last night in the early hours of the morning, Priyakarini, Videhdinna Devi Trishla saw 14 auspicious dreams. Kindly interpret these dreams on the basis of your knowledge and experience of the science of augury and satisfy the curiosity of all of us.”
The augurs listened to the details of the dreams from Devi Trishla and beamed with joy. Pondering over, they interpreted the dreams as follows-
“O king of kings! Maharaj Siddharth ! According to the science of dreams there are 72 auspicious dreams. Out of these, 42 indicate of ordinary benefits and remaining 30 of great benefits. The dreams the fortunate Devi Trishla has seen are the fourteen great dreams that indicate extremely auspicious and divine gains in the near future. According to these dreams Devi Trishla will give birth to a son who will become a Chakravarti, but.....
Maharaj ! According to the scriptures there already have been 12 Chakravartis, the prescribed number for this cycle of time. However, one Dharm-Chakravarti (Emperor of religion) is still to be born. As such, all the signs and circumstances point at the fact that your son, the benefactor of mankind, will be a Dharm-Chakravarti.”
King Siddharth amply rewarded the dream-readers and sent them home with due honor.
The Auspicious Birth
It was spring time and the nature was in full bloom. The atmosphere was clean and pure. Cool and fragrant breeze infused joy in every particle in the nature. In the
soundless quietude of the midnight, the sky was fluorescent with milky moonlight. The auspicious date was the thirteenth of the bright half of the month of Chaitra. The moon was in conjunction with the Uttaraphalguni Nakshatra (lunar mansion), the sign of victory. At that auspicious moment Mother Trishla gave birth to a divine child.
The child was the embodiment of divine light. As soon as it was born, the world was filled with radiant light. It appeared as if, to behold this divine light even the blind were blessed with eyes. This light penetrated even the oppressive dense darkness of the hell. The hell beings forgot their pain. Quarrels, fights, and battles stopped. Those suffering from a life time of hunger and thirst experienced a divine feeling of fulfillment. All around cool and fragrant breeze started blowing. Patients of chronic ailments felt cured. Natural enemies too had a surge of a feeling of mutual goodwill and love. All the three worlds (heaven, earth and hell) were filled with waves of happiness. With the birth of the child, the whole atmosphere underwent a strange change for sometime.
Hearing the news of the birth of Bhagavan Mahavir all the inhabitants of the dimensions of gods danced with joy. First of all the king of gods, Shakrendra, came and bowed
before the Bhagavan and then circumambulated mother Trishla three times. All the gods goddesses and lower gods (Gandharva, Kinner etc.) sang and danced and celebrated the
birth of the Tirthankar with gaiety.
According to the Kalpasutra, on the night of the birth of the child, first of all 56 divine maidens from all directions (Disha Kumaris) performed the first cleaning and other necessary post birth duties. Shakrendra and other gods, then, took the child to the peak of the Meru mountain and gave him the first bath and annointment. They sang songs in honor of the divine birth.
At dawn a maid named Priyamvada rushed to king Siddharth and announced, “Congratulations Sire! Many congratulations! Queen Trishla has given birth to a male child.”
Filled with joy and ecstasy the king gave away all the ornaments on his body, save state emblems, to Priyamvada. He also released her from slavery. Thus, a slave woman was freed of her life long slavery just because she was the bearer of the good news of the birth of the Tirthankar.
King Siddharth called his prime minister and ordered, “Tell the officer-in-charge of celebrations to organize unique and special birth celebrations.”
After the kings order, all the highways, roads, and lanes in the town of Kshatriyakund were cleared, perfumed water was sprayed, and buntings, garlands, and leaves were lavishly put everywhere. Sweets and gifts were distributed. People danced with joy. The whole town echoed with felicitous songs and music.
Maharaj Siddharth had an inspiration. He called the prime minister and said, ”The celebrations of child birth in the royal family are part of the tradition. However, on this
particular occasion I want something new, something unique.”
The minister humbly submitted, ”Sire ! Express your wish and it will be carried out like an order.”
King Siddharth said, “Today announce a general amnesty. Free all the prisoners; right off all the debts; distribute money to the needy; allow fifty per cent subsidy on all
purchases from all traders; open centers for distribution of food and clothes to the poor, old, and invalid; and liberate old and sick slaves. Thus let the townsfolk join the
celebrations free from misery, hunger and bondage.
The order of king Siddharth was carried out. The celebrations continued for ten days with unprecedented enthusiasm. People hailed the occasion and muttered, “ Some divine great soul has descended on the earth to liberate the world from pain and misery.”
When the name giving ceremonies approached, king Siddharth said to Devi Trishla, “Devi! There has been a continued increase in our wealth, power and happiness. As such I think we should name the child as Vardhaman (ever increasing).”
Queen Trishla consented with joy, ”Maharaj ! You are absolutely correct. This child is certainly going to accelerate our all around development.”
Vardhaman : The Name
On the twelfth day after the birth of the child, king Siddharth organized a great feast and invited all his relatives and friends. After meals and other state courtesies, king Siddharth addressed the guests, “Since the day this child was conceived, our family has been blessed
with increasing goodwill, respect, wealth, and mutual affection. Cash, gold, and gems have increased in our treasury. The public has gained health, peace, happiness, and goodwill. Thus since the moment this soul has descended, there has been a continued enhancement in our glory, wealth, health, and fame. As such I and Devi Trishla have thought of
a befitting name for this child ‘Vardhaman’.”
King Siddharth’s suggestion was unanimously approved and the child was formally named Vardhaman.
One day Shakrendra, while talking in the assembly of gods, stated, “There is no person more brave, courageous and strong than price Vardhaman.” Praising an eight year old
boy’s bravery in the assembly of gods was a strange thing. A skeptic god jokingly said that Shakrendra was exaggerating. And he proceeded to test prince Vardhaman.
Vardhaman was playing with children of his age in the Jnatkhand jungle. The game was to race to a target tree, climb up, and come down. The first one to reach the ground was the winner.
Vardhaman ran the race and was first to climb the tree. Just then the boys on the ground, saw a ferocious cobra slithering up around the trunk of the trunk of the tree and
hissing with its raised hood. The boys stated trembling with fear and ran away. From a safe distance they shouted, “Vardhaman, do not come down. There is a black serpent of the tree-trunk.
Vardhaman, on his way down saw the snake and also heard the call of his friends. He shouted back, “Be quiet, and don’t be afraid.” He jumped down. The snake followed and, hissing, it leapt a Vardhaman. With astonishing agility, the prince caught the snake by its hood and with a jerk threw it away like a piece of rope.
After this, the boys started playing another game called Tindushak. This game was also a race to a target tree. The winner was to ride piggy-back on the losers and return to the base. The god who had come to test Vardhaman also joined the group in the disguise of a boy. In the game when Vardhaman won, the god got Vardhaman on his back and started
back for the base. On way he transformed himself into a giant. With the prince on his back the god flew in the sky. The boys shouted with fear. Vardhaman, undaunted, hit the giant with his mighty fist. The god cried with pain and landed back on the ground. Vardhaman jumped from his back. The culprit disappeared and in his place appeared a god, who begged Vardhaman’s pardon.
Test by Indra in the School
When Vardhaman entered the ninth year of his age, his parents thought that it was time to impart martial and formal education befitting a Kshatriya boy to him. They decided to send him to school.
When he went to the school he offered his respects to the teacher just like any other ordinary student. In spite of having all worldly knowledge since his birth, by offering respect to his teacher, Vardhaman honored the age old traditional ideals. The teacher gave him the first lesson of the alphabets. Vardhaman listened silently. After sometime the teacher called him and asked, “Prince! You are just idling, why don’t you repeat the lesson and memorize it ?” In reply, Vardhaman recited the full alphabets. The teacher was surprised.
While he was trying to fathom the surprising capacity of the little boy, an old Brahman, with a Tilak on his forehead, entered the school. The teacher greeted him and offered a
seat. The Brahman asked some complex questions on grammar. The teacher could not reply and remained silent looking down in disgust. The Brahman smiled and said, “Acharya! Please do not bother yourself. May be, This new student of yours
will solve my problem. If you allow me, I may ask him?”
The teacher consented and the old Brahman put the complex questions before Vardhaman. Little Vardhaman, Without hesitating, gave correct and appropriate answers. The teacher
stared dumbfounded at the little boy. The Brahman smiled and said, “Acharya! Please don’t feel insulted. You are not aware that the sun of knowledge of this era is present before you as prince Vardhaman. He is the future Bhagavan Mahavir,
It is believed that Indra compiled his questions and Vardhaman’s answers into a book named Aindra Vyadaran (the grammar of the Indra).
Jnat clan to which king Siddharth belonged, was same as the Ikshvaku clan to which belonged Bhagavan Rishabhdev. Siddharth and Rishabhdev both also belonged to the Kashyap family. It is a matter of pride for the Ikshvaku clan and Kashyap family that 22 Tirthankars came from the same family.
Devi Trishla was the sister of Chetak, the president of the Vaishali republic. Because of the paternal connection with Videh area she was also known as Videhadatta (dinna); her third name was Priyakarini.
Vardhaman’s uncle or king Siddharth’s younger brother was Suparshva. Siddhartha’s elder son was Nandivardhan. Nandivardhan’s wife was Jyeshtha.
Vardhaman also had a sister named Sudarshana. When and to whom Sudarshana was married is not mentioned anywhere. However, her son Jamali was a famous figure.
Although surrounded by unlimited wealth and grandeur, prince Vardhaman’s mind and attitude was completely detached and purified by the fire of discipline. It was like a lotus
flower in the pond. The power and glory of the kingdom never attracted him. Even his marriage to Yashoda, daughter of prince Samarvir, was due to the affectionate persuasion and pressure by and from his parents. Yashoda gave birth to a daughter, who was named Priyadarshana. Prince Jamali married Priyadarshana. According to Acharang Sutra, three names of Vardhaman became very famous:
1. Vaddhamane—This name, Vardhaman, was given by his parents.
2. Samane—Saman or Shraman indicates his natural unblemished intellect.
3. Mahavir—This indicates his unique bravery, courage, and tolerance. This name was given by the gods.
Another of his names was Sanmati. Because of his purity of thoughts he also became famous by his name. Other names of Bhagavan Mahavir, found in canonical literature are as follows: Jnatputra, Vaishlik, Vir, Ativir, Antya Kashyap,
Death of Parents
Detached from all mundane activities and desirous of becoming an ascetic in order to pursue the spiritual goal, Mahavir was keeping the matter pending due to his earlier
resolution—“As long as my parents are alive I shall not think of taking Diksha.”
When Mahavir became 28 years old his parents took the last vow of continued meditation without food. They gradually purified their souls and left their mortal bodies
with a serene mental state. After their death Vardhaman told his elder brother, now king Nandivardhan, about his decision to become ascetic. Nandivardhan replied in a choking voice, “Prince! Loss of parents followed by your renunciation; how will I be able to bear these shocks at the same time? Honor my desire and postpone your program for two years.”
Vardhaman accepted his elder brother’s request and stayed back for two more years. But during this period he lived like an ascetic. Indulging in spiritual practices with
due discipline, he prepared himself for his impending renunciation.
Knowing about his resolve for renunciation, gods from the edge of the universe arrived and put forth the formal request, “O benefactor of the world! Your resolve is great. Please proceed on the path of renunciation and propagate religion for the welfare of the world.”
Prince Vardhaman gave charity three hours everyday for one year. Rich or poor, whoever came to Vardhaman was awarded whatever he desired. At the end of one year Vardhaman was ready for renunciation.
THE LIFE AS AN ASCETIC
The Great Renunciation
It was the tenth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Margshirsh. Prince Vardhaman had observed a ritual fast of two days. A palanquin named Chandraprabh was prepared for his great renunciation. Sometime in the afternoon, Vardhaman came out of the palace and climbed into the palanquin. The procession with the palanquin proceeded to Jnatkhand garden in the north-east of Kshatriyakund. The palanquin was placed near an Ashok tree. Vardhaman got down from the palanquin. Thousands of eyes were staring at the prince. His golden body was adorned with a beautiful dress and scintillating ornaments. The next moment he had removed all the ornaments and his dress. The only cover on his body was a piece of cloth resting on his shoulders and provided by Indra. Vardhaman pulled out his hair in five fistfuls. Indra collected his dress, ornaments, and hair in a golden vessel.
After this he uttered in his deep resonant voice, “Namo Siddhanam,” (I bow to the Siddhas or liberated souls). Then he took the vow of ascetic life, “I take the vow of practicing equanimity all through my life and abandon all intentional sinful activities.”
Bhagavan Mahavir, accepting the rigorous ascetic vow, resolved, “ In my ascetic life I will remain equanimous in all conditions and circumstances. I will tolerate every
affliction of predicament caused by man, god, demon or animal equally, no matter how fearsome it is. As long as I do not attain omniscience, I will continue to tread the fire
paved path of purity with unflinching and firm steps.” A wave of reverence started and thousands of heads bowed with reverence and thousands of the throats uttered in
unison, ”Victory be to Shraman Mahavir.”
The Removal of Poverty
After the austere vow the Mahashraman acquired Manahparyav Jnan which allowed him to perceive the feelings and thoughts of all beings. His heart was filled with equanimity and compassion. His face beamed with a spontaneous smile. He walked with firm and steady steps towards the jungle without turning around or hesitating.
Suddenly there was a feeble call from behind. The call of a pain filled heart retards the movement of a Mahashraman also. Next moment a wiry and weak Brahman, moving briskly with the help of a stick, arrived and fell at the feet of the Mahashraman. Tears were flowing from his eyes and there was an expressive pain on his pitiable face. he uttered humbly, “Prince Vardhaman! Kindly liberate me; give me something;
remove my poverty.”
Shraman Mahavir recognized the old man to be Som Sharma of Brahmankund. Long back he used to come to king Siddharth’s court. The charitable king extended him all help by giving what he needed. He was happy then. But he was not seen after the king’s death.
Som Sharma said, “Prince, I wandered around from one state to another after the death of king Siddharth, my mentor. Wherever I went, my bad luck followed me. After two years of wandering in vain, I have returned home this morning. On my return my family members informed me about your year long charity. Everyone got what he desired, but I, the ill-fated, got nothing from your charitable hands. Prince! As soon as I reached home I came to know that abandoning everything, you have become ascetic only today. Prince Vardhaman, have pity on this poor destitute. Remove my poverty with your kind hands.”
Mahavir was filled with compassion, but today he had nothing to give. He suddenly thought of the divine cloth on his shoulder. He tore it into two and gave one to the Brahman. The Brahman was filled with joy. He took this piece of cloth to a mender and inquired about its value. The mender said, “Brahman! How did you get this divine cloth?
It is just a part of a whole. If you could bring the other part also, I will mend it back to its original form and you could sell it for a hundred thousand gold coins.”
The greedy Brahman ran back to Mahavir and followed him wherever he went. After about a year the remaining piece of the divine cloth fell from Mahavir’s shoulder. Som Sharma picked it up, got it mended, and sold it to king Nandivardhan for a hundred thousand gold coins.
The Period of Practices: The Afflictions Rejection of the Divine Help –
The day after his renunciation Mahavir left Jnatkhand garden. At sunset he arrived near a small village called Kurmargram (identified as Kaman Chhapra today). He stopped under a tree, and, standing rock still, started his meditation. After some time a cowherd arrived there with his oxen. He wanted to go into the village to do his job of milking cows. He approached the meditating Shraman and said, “Ascetic! Please look after my oxen while I go into the village to milk cows. I will return soon.” Without waiting for a reply the cowherd went away. The oxen, untethered and uncared for, strayed into the nearby jungle. On his return when the cowherd did not find his oxen, he asked, “Ascetic! Where are my oxen?” Mahavir remained silent. The cowherd grumbled and started looking around. He searched all around throughout the night in vain. The oxen, in the mean time, returned and lay down near Mahavir. When the exhausted cowherd returned in the morning and beheld this scene, he lost his temper. He took Mahavir to be a thief in disguise, whom he had caught just before the thief was to flee with the oxen that he must have hidden during the night. Without a second thought he started hitting Mahavir with the rope he carried for tying the oxen. The hard sisal rope left large inflamed welts on Mahavir’s naked body. Even this excruciating pain did not distract Mahavir from his meditation.
Just then an overpowering divine person appeared and said in his commanding voice, “Stop it, you ignorant idiot! You are committing a grave crime. This person is no thief.
He is the son of king Siddharth. He is Shraman Mahavir, a great yogi and a meditating ascetic.” The cowherd fell prostate at the feet of Mahavir and, repenting for his
ignorance, begged his pardon. The divine person who had interfered was none else but the king of gods, Indra. He bowed before Mahashraman. Disturbed by the inflamed marks on the body of Mahavir he said, “Prabhu! These ignorant people will continue to cause you pain due to their foolishness. Please allow me to be in your attendance to provide you protection. Mahavir replied in all humility, “Devraj ! You should know that an ascetic on the spiritual path reaches the goal of purity with the help of his own practice, courage, and discipline. It is never with the help of the king of gods or the king of demons that a soul sheds all its Karmas and becomes an Arhant or gets liberated.” Full of reverence and praise, the king of gods bowed before Shraman Mahavir and departed.
The Afflictions by Shulpani –
Wandering Mahavir one day arrived near a small forlorn village on the banks of river Vegvati. Outside the village on a small hillock stood a
temple surrounded by scattered heaps of bones and skeletons. Considering it to be an appropriate place for his practices, Mahavir sought permission from the villagers. The villagers informed him that this forlorn village was once a prosperous town. The ferocious lance wielding demon, Shulpani Yaksha, who dances and laughs on heaps of bones, had turned this Vardhaman village into Asthik-gram, the village of bones. The temple under questions was his temple and he did not allow any one to stay there. If at all someone stayed he did not come out alive. The villagers tried to dissuade Mahavir from
staying in the temple.
But Mahavir was determined to root out fear and sow the seeds of courage. He insisted, and by evening he was standing at a spot within the temple, completely lost in his meditation. When darkness descended, the air was filled with eerie sounds. Shulpani, the Demon with a lance, appeared in the courtyard and started emitting fearful trumpeting noise. He was surprised to see a human being standing fearlessly in meditation. He produced thunderous roar that shook the thick walls of the temple. But the ascetic still did not move, nor did he show horrifying atrocities. A mad elephant appeared and goaded Mahavir with its pointed tasks. It lifted him in his trunk and tossed around. When this had no effect on Mahavir, a horrible ghost appeared and attacked Mahavir with its large canines and claws. Next appeared a black serpent that attacked Mahavir with its large venomous fangs and toxic breath. Finally he caused extreme pain in seven delicate spots within Mahavir’s body (eyes, ears, nose, head, teeth, nails, and the back). Mahavir had an endless capacity to tolerate pain. Even this extreme agony failed to pierce the serenity of his composure.
Drained of all his demonic energy, Shulpani became apprehensive. He thought that he was facing some divine power much stronger then he and he was heading towards his own destruction. All of a sudden a divine spiritual light heading towards his own destruction. All of a sudden a divine spiritual light illuminated his inner self. Slowly his anger subsided, fear dissolved, and a feeling of goodwill took over. He touched Mahavir’s pardon. Mahavir opened his eyes and, raising his humility begged Mahavir’s pardon. Mahavir opened his eyes and , raising his hand, said, “Shulpani ! Anger supplements anger and love begets love. If you do not cause fear, you will become free of all fears always. So destroy the poison ivy of anger.”
Mahavir spent his first monsoon-stay at Asathik-gram.
The Embodiment of Love
Leaving Asthik-gram Mahavir proceeded in the direction of Shvetambika town. The trail to this town passed through a dense and desolate forest. When some shepherds saw Mahavir entering the forest they shouted, “O Monk, stay put for a minute. This is a dangerous trail. There is a black serpent with venomous gaze on this trail. His hissing and gaze burn plant and trees. Even flying birds and standing humans drop dead. Please leave this trail and take a different route.”
Mahavir heard this fear filled call of the shepherds. With a serene smile he raised a hand as a gesture of assurance. With firm steps Mahavir went near the snake-hole. All around human and animal skeletons could be seen. There was not a single green leaf as far as the eye could see. Close to the snake-hole was a delepidated temple. Mahavir stood in the shade of this temple and started his meditation.
After some time the giant black serpent came out of its hole hissing fiercely. It had seen a human being after a long time. The man was standing firm and fearless with closed eyes. The serpent was surprised. It looked at Mahavir with its venomous red eyes. Like flames from a ball of fire, its poisonous eyes emitted waves of venom. It hissed awesomely. But all this had no effect whatsoever on Mahavir. The serpent was astonished, “Till today every man I came across has been consumed by my first venomous hiss and this man stands still, absolutely unmoved.”
The serpent glanced at the sun and once again focused its gaze at Mahavir and hissed at him with renewed anger, but in vain. It slithered from the line of the expected fall of the body and than with all its force sank its fangs in Mahavir’s toe and injected all its venom. It drew back and waited expectantly again in vain.
The angry serpent, vexed further by its failure stung Mahavir twice again. All its three attacks were wasted. Mahavir stood undisturbed. The serpent was astonished to see milk oozing out instead of blood from the spots where it has stung on Mahavir’s toe .
Bhagavan Mahavir was standing unmoved. His face was glowing and on his lips was a charming smile, like a blooming rose. His eyes reflected the inner compassion.
The serpent continued to stare with surprise. Confused by its failure it was lost in its thoughts.
Involved in his spiritual pursuits, Mahavir uttered din his deep and tranquil voice, “ O Chandakaushik ! Open your inner eyes. Be calm and remember your past life. do not inject venom of anger in your life. Rise above the deadly poison of anger.
Mahavir opened his ambrosia filled eyes. When the serpent met his gaze, it felt as if a wave of peace and tranquillity had engulfed its inner self. It appeared that its venom was slowly vanishing. It was lost in deep thoughts. Its dormant memory started unfolding and it acquired Jatismaran Jnan. Incidents from its past two births surfaced in its memory. It realized that it had suffered excruciating pain and degradation due to extreme anger and acute attachment during those births. The heat of repentance melted its vices.
Its spirit embraced enlightenment and mind became tranquil. It touched the pious feet of Bhagavan Mahavir and resolved, “O Lord ! Now I will not look at any one at all throughout my life. I will not eat anything. I will not drink also. I will just put my mouth in the hole and lie still in the shadow of your feet. I will now at one for all my sins committed during the last three births and improve my future.”
Knowing that the serpent had become harmless, throngs of people started arriving from nearby villages. They worshipped the serpent-god by offering milk and sweets. But the serpent was lying, keeping its hood in the hole, in meditation without even a trace of movement . Swarms of ants were attracted by the sweets. They started stinging the serpent. But the serpent tolerated these afflictions with equanimity. It silently took the last vow (fast unto death). It tolerated the agony of hunger, thirst and the stings of ants. Its body became almost perforated, but it did not react at all. After fifteen days it died and was reborn as a god in the Sahasrar dimension.
Quashing of the Flames
Once, leaving Shravasti, Shraman Vardhaman was going to Haliddug village. On the way he saw a large banyan tree. finding it suitable, he went under it and started his night meditation. It was winter and a cold wind was blowing. Gaushalak was also following him. As Gaushalak could not tolerate the piercing wind, he shifted to the other side of the tree. After some time some wayfarers also stopped under the tree. They collected dry wood and started a fire to cook food. They spent the night there and kept the fire burning.
The fire slowly spread and reached the spot where Mahavir was standing. Gaushalak shouted a warning. But Mahavir had no Early in the morning they broke camp and went away. The fire was left burning. Slowly it spread and engulfed the surrounding dry twigs and leaves gathered under the tree. The wind was blowing in the direction of meditating Mahavir. The fire slowly spread and reached the spot where Mahavir was standing. Gaushalak shouted a warning. But Mahavir had no awareness besides that for his soul. He was unmoved by the heat of the approaching flames. He was busy quashing the ultimate fire, the fire of rebirth. The flames reached him and scorched his feet. Even this acute pain did not reach the depth of his tranquillity. After some time the fire subsided on its own.
Torture by Kalahasti
Leaving Chorak village Mahavir arrived at the out skirts of Kalambuka village. This village was ruled by two brother, Megh and Kalahasti. Although they were landlords and chieftains. they were still involved in unlawful activities like looting the neighboring kingdom. Tying them with ropes, he tortured them inhumanely. When he still could extract no information from them be ordered them, to be taken to his elder brother, Megh, for further torture and interrogation.
Shackled like criminals, They were produced before Megh, who felt as if he was looking at a known face. He suddenly recalled that once he had seen prince Vardhaman at the court of king Siddharth. This shackled spy seemed to have an uncanny resemblance with the prince. He came closer and recognized that the person in bondage was none else but prince Vardhaman who had become a Shraman. He fell at the feet of Mahavir and, with tears of repentance in his eyes he begged to be forgiven. When released Mahavir resumed his journey.
Among the Aborigines
It was the fifth year of practices of Bhagavan Mahavir. He moved into the Radh (or Ladh) country. This area was also known as Vajra Bhumi or Shubhra Bhumi and was inhabited by scant and scattered population of rustic aborigines. Gaushalak also followed Mahavir wherever he went. The people of this area did not know anything about ascetics and their ways. They stared in astonishment when they saw a naked person standing like a statue at godforsaken places. When they did not get any response or even reaction on shouting at him, they would get irritated and hit him with sticks, lances, bones and stones. Some on his body. Shraman Mahavir equally tolerated all these tortures and continued his advance toward purity.
He wandered from one place to another and once in a while came across small villages. Not so very often he would enter a village to beg food and mostly got dry and stale food. However, most of the time he went without any food. People would curiously stare at him and wild dogs would pounce on him and bite. For their crude entertainment, the aborigines would pick up Mahavir and throw him on the ground. Mahavir spent almost five months in that area during his first visit. Once again, during the ninth year of his practices, Mahavir returned to this area for about six months.
Once, while moving from Siddharthpur to Kurmar village Mahavir was passing through a dense forest. All of a sudden Gaushalak saw a Tapas ascetic in an opening on one side of the trail. On closer observation he saw that the hermit was busy doing some strange penance. He was standing facing the sun with his head hanging down and arms straight up. Long strands of his hair were hanging on the ground like roots of some old banyan tree. Due to the heat of sun rays, small insects, falling from his unkempt hair were writhing, and out of compassion, he was picking them up and putting them back in his dense locks of hair.
Gaushalak could not control his laughter seeing this strange activity. Jokingly he said, “O abode of insects! What do you think you are doing? You are gathering insects and considering this act to be a penance.” The hermit remained calm the first time. But when Gaushalak did not refrain from making biting remarks, the hermit looked at him with his burning eyes and said, “O vicious person! My name is Vaisyayan Tapas and I am the doom of ignorant fools like you.” Instead of jolting him to sanity, this scornful comment drew an insulting laughter from Gaushalak. The hermit now took a few steps back and angrily started emitting fire from his mouth (this is a miraculous power called Tejoleshya, acquired through long and harsh penance). Within no time, a ball of fire rushed towards Gaushalak, who retreated with fear and ran to Mahavir shouting in panic, “Sire! Save me. This Tapas will burn me.” Reaching Mahavir, Gaushalak fell at his feet.
Hearing the pathetic call of Gaushalak, Mahavir was moved. Turning back he saw the approaching fire ball. From the compassionate heart of Shraman Mahavir flowed a spontaneous stream of cool pacifying energy. When the nectar-glance of Mahavir fell on the fire-ball, it subsided. The angry hermit was astonished to see his fire-ball extinguished. He recognized Mahavir as a much greater and more benevolent power than he, and said, “Pardon me, O embodiment of benevolence! I did not know that this man was your disciple.” Gaushalak was saved from his imminent death.
Gaushalak was relieved. He asked, “Sire! What does this abode of insects say?” Mahavir replied, “He was just going to turn you to ashes with his fire-power. You were saved by me by my pacifying power. Do not disturb anyone in the future.”
Afflictions by Kataputna
It was an incident from the sixth year of the period of spiritual practices of Shraman Mahavir. It was the month of Magh, the peak of winter season. Chilling and biting winds were blowing. During the quiet part of the night in a lonely jungle, Mahavir was standing in meditation. All of a sudden, a witch named Kataputna came there. Seeing Mahavir deep in meditation she became angry for no apparent reason.
But there is nothing that happens without reason. There must certainly been some antagonism from some previous birth. As soon as the feeling surfaced, Kataputna lost her reason, and, in order to take her revenge of some forgotten deed from some past life, she started torturing Mahavir.
She took the form of a giant and ominous looking Parivrajak with long strands of hair. Filling ice cold water in her braided hair she sprayed that freezing water on Mahavir. The atmosphere was filled with the moaning sound of icy winds and demonic laughter of the witch. It was a horrific scene.
Mahavir, elevated completely into a higher spiritual realm, remained unmoved and serene. At last the witch accepted her defeat. She bowed to the feet of Shraman Mahavir and left. As a result of his total absorption in the self and his high purity of soul, Mahavir acquired the special mental powers of perceiving the whole physical world at will.
In the Prison
During the sixth year of his practices, Mahavir one day went to the Kupiya village in the state of Videh, east of Vaishali. The village guards caught him and, taking him to be a spy, put him in prison. There were two female mendicants in the village. When they, Vijay and Pragalbh, heard that a spy disguised as a nude ascetic had been apprehended, they came to see him. Shraman Mahavir, tied up, was standing in meditation in the prison. The mendicants recognized him and became sad. They approached the guards
and said, “You call yourself guardians of the state and people and you fail to distinguish a thief from a honest citizen. You do not find any difference between a Shraman and a smuggler. For your information, you are torturing Shraman Vardhaman, the ascetic son of king Siddharth. Have you no fear of the wrath of the gods?”
With this revelation the soldiers started trembling. They, at once, released Mahavir and sought his forgiveness. Shraman Mahavir just raised his palm a gesture of pardon and assurance and left for some other solitary place.
Deadly Torture by Sangam
One day Shraman Mahavir was doing a special one night meditation in the Polash temple in Pedhal garden outside the Pedhal village. In this practice one makes his body, mind, psyche and soul absolutely still and tranquil. Observing the high degree of engrossment in meditation, Indra exclaimed, “You are great, Prabhu Vardhaman! Today you have no equal as an ascetic and serene, brave, and equanimous spiritualist.” Sangam, a god in Indra’s assembly, was peeved at this praise of a moral being. He retorted, “If Devraj promises not to interfere, I can disturb the concentration of Mahavir. It is a child’s play for me.”
Indra remained silent, through unwillingly. Considering it to be affirmative, Sangam, with all his cunning and power came to Polash temple. One after another he crated twenty almost fatal predicaments to disturb Mahavir’s meditation.
He created a terrible sand storm an in no time Mahavir was submerged in a heap of sand. Mahavir, in his unshakable determination did not even close his eyes. As soon as the storm stopped, arrived a swarm of ants. Mahavir’s body was covered with biting and stinging ants, but he remained still. After this, innumerable mosquito’s attacked Mahavir’s body. After mosquitoes, came an attack by white ants turning him into a termite-hill. Scorpions crawled over his body and pierced it with poisonous stings. This was followed by biting mongoose, large cobras, and giant field rats.
After all this, appeared a white elephant that goaded Mahavir with its large pointed tusks. This elephant than lifted Mahavir in its trunks and tossed him up. When Mahavir fell on the ground, it crushed him with its legs. This was followed by an attack by an ominous looking ghost. Then a tiger attacked and gored Mahavir with its sharp talons.
When all these painful afflictions failed to disturb Mahavir’s meditation, Sangam took a different approach. He created a realistic illusion of Siddharth and Trishla weeping and wailing profusely. But this too could not penetrate Mahavir’s iron resolve. Sangam then lit a fire almost touching Mahavir’s feet and started cooking. After this he took the form of a bird catcher and hung a number of cages on Mahavir. The birds attacked Mahavir with their beaks and talons through the gaps in the cages. Blood oozed from these new wounds. Then came a storm, torrential rain, and hail-storm. Nothing could disturb the rock hard resolve of Mahavir.
Now came a giant whirlwind; lifting and swirling everything that came in its path. Mahavir’s body swirled but his mind remained stable. At last Sangam himself lifted a large mace and hit Mahavir. It was a heavy blow that buried Mahavir in the ground up to his knees but he did not even blink. After all these physical blows, Sangam resorted to a psychological attack. He arrived in his divine form riding a Viman (space vehicle) and said to Mahavir, “Why are you suffering so much and still standing on the earth. Come, I will take you to heaven with this mortal body of yours.” Mahavir did not respond.
Lastly Sangam produced sparsely clad fairies who approached Mahavir and undulated their voluptuous bodies invitingly. He also created an atmosphere conducive to lust. Mahavir never even shifted his icy gaze and his body remained reactionless.
All these twenty afflictions drained Sangram’s energy and he was tired. On the other hand even after tolerating these painful tortures Mahavir remained poised in his elevated state of meditation.
Refuge to the Demon King
In the Vindhya range there lived a hermit named Puran. As a result of his rigorous penance’s he was reincarnated as the king of demons, Chamarendra. He had a bloated ego due to his natural powers and miraculous capacities. When through his demonic perception, he came to know that the king of gods, Shakrendra, had more glory and luxuries, his ego was hurt. He decided to subjugate the king of gods. He prepared to attack the abode of Shakrendra, the Saudharm Viman, with his demonic arsenal. But in case he faced defeat he wanted support from someone more powerful than him. On searching he found that Shraman Mahavir was the most suitable person.
He immediately rushed to Sumsumarpur, where Mahavir was standing in meditation. After bowing to Mahavir he said, “Bhante! I, demon king Chamarendra, am going to fight with Saudharmendra Shakra, please protect me.” Saying thus and without waiting for a reply, he rushed to the assembly of gods and challenged the king of gods. Fro a moment Shakrendra was taken aback but when he saw that it was demon king Chamrendra, he calmly lifted his most potent weapon, the Vajra, and launched it at the demon king.
As the Vajra sped in the direction of Chamarendra it emitted bright sparks and thunderous sound. Afraid of this fierce weapon Chamarendra fled in the direction of the tree under which Mahavir stood in meditation. When Shakendra realized where Chamarendra was heading, he became worried about any possible damage the Vajra could cause to Mahavir. He at once rushed after fleeing Chamarendra to defuse the Vajra. It was a strange seen in the sky; first the demon king crying with fear, then the sparkling Vajra followed by the king of gods.
The demon king transformed himself into a tiny being and took refuge behind Mahavir’s feet. He uttered, “Prabhu! I am under your protection, kindly save me.” As the Vajra was bout to hit him and explode, Indra caught it and disabled it Chamarendra was trembling with fear and Shakrendra was boiling with anger. Mahavir lifted his open palm and blessed them both. Indra said to Chamarendra, “Demon king! What you have done is unpardonable? But by taking refuge with Bhagavan Mahavir you have tied my hands. As he has forgiven you I am leaving you unharmed. You may go.” The demon king, free of the fear of fear and the king of gods, free of anger, bowed before Bhagavan Mahavir and left for their respective abodes.
The Deliverance of Chandana
From the capital town Kaushambi, king Shatanik ruled over the state of Vats. His chief queen Mrigavati was the daughter of Maharaj Chetak of Vaishali republic. Anga was neighboring state and its capital was Champa. The king of this state was Maharaj Dadhivahan. His queen Dharini was the younger daughter of Chetak. Dharini had a daughter named Vasumati who was very beautiful as well as graceful.
Once, when king Dadhivahan had gone with his army to assist a neighboring king, Shatanik attacked Champa. The cruel soldiers of Kaushambi plundered Champa. The general and a great Charioteer of Kaushambi, Kakmukh was attracted more by beauty rather than riches. He entered the palace and kidnapped queen Dharini and Vasumati. On the way when Kakmukh intended to violate her chastity, queen Dharini committed suicide. When Vasumati also threatened to do so, he had a change of heart. He took her to his home as a daughter. When his wife did not tolerate Vasumati, he was persuaded by Vasumati to auction her in the slave market and please his wife with the proceeds.
Kakmukh took Vasumati to the slave market. In the auction the highest bidder was a courtesan from Kaushambi. There was an altercation when Vasumati refused to go with her.
Just at that moment a rich merchant from Kaushambi arrived there. Seeing the commotion he inquired, “What is going on here?”
Someone from the crowd said, “Today a slave girl, lifted from Champa, has been bought for sale at a hundred thousand gold pieces. She looks like a divine beauty. A courtesan has bought her but she refuses to go with her. She appears to be a high born and chaste girl.”
Immediately the merchant entered the slave market. He looked at the princes and was immediately drawn to analyzing the situation, “no, she cannot be a slave girl. She is a divine person. O lord! How evil the prevailing conditions have become! Such inhuman torture to such a delicate and cultured girl. A lovely girl in such a wretched predicament.” The merchant was moved. He approached Vasumati and said, “Child, I am merchant Dhanavah. I am a follower of Nirgranth Shramans and live in this town. Looking at your troubles I feel depressed. If you do not wish to go with the courtesan I will not allow this to go with the courtesan I will not allow this to happen. I will buy you by paying a hundred thousand gold pieces. Would you come with me? Would you live with me as my daughter?”
An orphan princess, sold as a slave, arrived at the house of merchant Dhanavah. But his wife, Mula, became doubtful as soon as she saw the divinely beautiful girl entering her household. The moment Mula set her eyes on Vasumati she saw a rival for the favors of her husband. Sown were the seeds of doubt even for her upright husband.
Due to her sweet demeanor Vasumati had a magical influence over the household. The fragrance of her poise and coolness of her nature inspired Dhanavah to call her Chandan (sandal wood). His wife Mula was smitten with envy. She thought that this poisonous flower should be nipped in the bud.
One day, merchant Dhanavah left the town on some business errand. This was a golden opportunity for Mula. She relieved all the servants of the household, called Chandana, replaced her beautiful dress with rags, took off all of her ornaments, tied her in shackles and shaved her long silky hair. Chandana uttered in surprise, “Mother, what are you doing? I have done no harm to you. For what misdeed are you punishing me?”
Mula silenced Chandana, put her in a dark cell, locked it and left.
Dhanavaha returned on the third day. When he saw the house abandoned he was taken aback. He called, “Chandan, O Chandan !” but no one replied. He went at the back of the house and shouted once again. Chandana shouted back, “Father, I am here, in the cellar on the back side.”
The merchant went in and saw that the cellar was locked. Looking through the bars of the iron gate he saw Chandana in her wretched condition and started crying, “What happened to my daughter? What evil soul has done this to you?” Chandana replied calmly, “Father, get me out first and then I will tell you everything.”
The merchant broke the lock and brought out Chandana . She asked, “Father, I have not taken even a drop of water for last three days. Please give me something to eat and drink.” The merchant went around the house but everything was locked. Not even a utensil was available. He saw a basket containing a handful of dried pulse-bran meant for cows. He took the basket and put it before Chandana, “Child, eat some of this. I shall call a blacksmith to cut your shackles.”
The Impossible Resolution
It was the 12th year of Bhagavan Mahavir’s spiritual practices. Spending the monsoon-stay at Vaishali he came to a garden in Kaushambi. It was the time around which the incidents of Shatanik’s attack on Champa, fall of Champa, sacrifice of queen Dharini, auction of princess Vasumati as a slave, etc. were occurring. Bhagavan Mahavir with his penetrating knowledge and perception had a glimpse of all this. He made an almost impossible resolution on the first day of the dark half of the month of Paush.
“I will accept alms for breaking my fast only from a princess that has become a slave. And that too only if she has a shaven head, her limbs are shackled, she has not eaten for three days, she is sitting on the threshold of a house, she has pulse-bran lying in a basket and she has a smile as well as tears in her eyes. Unless these conditions are met I resolve to continue my practice and not to break my fast.”
Four months passed since Bhagavan Mahavir started going from door to door to beg in the town of Kaushambi.
One day Mahavir approached the house of the chief minister of Kaushambi, Sugupta. Sugupta’s wife, Nanda was a devotee of Bhagavan Parshvanath and was acquainted with the ways of ascetic Shramans. Looking at Mahashraman Vardhaman approaching her house for alms, she became enthralled. She requested Prabhu to accept pure and ascetic food. Mahavir turned back without accepting anything. Nanda became disappointed. Cursing her bad luck she said, “Mahashraman Vardhaman came to my house and, what a misfortune, I could not provide him anything.”
Nanda’s maids reassured her, “Lady, why are you so dejected, this ascetic has been approaching almost every household in Kaushambi for alms and without taking a single grain or uttering a word he is returning back. We have been witnessing all this for the last four months. This is nothing unique at your place so why be dismayed?”
The words of the maid added to Nanda’s distress, “What! The Mahashraman is returning without alms for last four months. That means Prabhu has been on fast for four months and I have not been on fast for four months and I have not been able to serve him. How unlucky I am?”
At that moment minister Sugupta arrived. Nanda told him everything.
Sugupta also became worried. King Shatanik and queen Mrigavati also got the news that Shraman Mahavir was wandering in Kaushambi without food or water for four months. Everyone was sad and worried. The ruling family for Bhagavan Mahavir’s Darshan and requested him to accept food. But he was unmoved.
Five months and twenty five days had passed since Bhagavan Mahavir had eaten anything. The twenty sixth day of the sixth month dawned. It was past noon when Prabhu Vardhaman, wandering for alms, was approaching the house of merchant Dhanavah. An expectant crowd followed him.
Chandana was sitting on the threshold of the cellar, one feet inside and the other outside. In her hand was a basket and in the basket, stale pulse-bran. When she looked at the shackles on her limbs a broken dream emerged in her memory and she became lost. All of a sudden she heard the sound of approaching footsteps, and a murmur of a crowd. She looked up and found that the great savior Sharaman Mahavir was standing at her door. Chandana became enthralled. She thought, “Thank lord! You have yourself come to my rescue from this pitiable condition.” A glow of happiness dawned on her face. She forgot all her misery, the pain turned into joy as if every cell in her body was dancing. She tried to stand, “Welcome O lord! Please accept something from these wretched hands.” Prabhu took a step forward and stopped. Twelve out of the thirteen conditions were visible, only Chandana had no tears in her eyes, Mahavir turned and started moving away.
As soon as Mahavir turned, Chandana’s joy vanished as if struck by lightening, “How unlucky I am that even in this wretched condition Prabhu has returned empty handed from my door.” Filled with self pity she started crying.
Mahavir turned back and looked. All conditions of his resolution were visible now. He stepped ahead and extended her cupped palms before Chandana. Joyous Chandana took the pulse-bran from the basket and put it in the extended palms of Bhagavan Mahavir. Mahavir broke his fast.
The next moment Chandana’s shackles shattered to pieces. Divine drums sounded in the sky. Divine applause echoed from all directions, “Hail the alms-giving.” Flowers, fragrant water and perfumes showered from the sky and the courtyard of Dhanvah was filled with heaps of gems. Her beauty had magnified thousand fol. Gods and goddesses adorned Chandana with beautiful garments and ornaments.
This resolution of the period of penance of Bhagavan Mahavir may be deemed as the first step of the human endeavor for women’s liberation.
Last Calamity: Nails in the Ears
After spending the twelfth monsoon-stay of his period of practices in Champa, Bhagavan Mahavir arrived outside a village named Chhammani and stood in meditation. It was dusk and a cowherd was returning home from his farm he said, “Ascetic! Please look after my oxen, I will return in a few minutes”, and he left.
The cowherd went into the village and returned a little late. The oxen had drifted away grazing. Not finding his oxen, he asked, “Ascetic, where are my oxen?”
Mahavir was in deep meditation and unaware of all this. The cowherd asked again, and once again he did not get any response. He got irritated and shouted, “You hypocrite! Are you deaf, don’t you hear anything?”
Mahavir still did not respond. The cowherd lost his temper, “You pretender,-it seems that both your ears are useless. Wait a minute, I will give you proper treatment.” He picked long nail like thorns from a nearby shrub of Kansa grass and pierced the ears of Mahavir deeply by hammering the thorns in.
Even such excruciating agony did not move Mahavir from his meditation, neither did it evoke any feeling of anger or aversion in him.
Completing his meditation in normal course he went inside the village for alms. He arrived at the door of a trader named Siddharth. A friend of the trader was sitting with him. He was a doctor. Both of them gave pure food to Mahashraman with due respect.
Doctor Kharak told Siddharth, “Friend, the face of this Shraman has a divine glow but there is a shade of tiredness too. Some inner pain is visible in his eyes. I feel this great sage suffers from some inner agony.”
Siddharth replied, “Friend, if such a great sage suffers from some kind of pain, we should immediately go and treat him.”
After taking alms Mahashraman returned. Taking Doctor Kharak with him, Siddharth followed. Going into the garden, where Prabhu rested, when the two exclaimed him they found the tow thorns stuck in his ears. Kharak shivered with remorse. The friends then arranged for necessary instruments and medicines. They used some medicated oil and forceps and pulled out he thorns. This caused such an unbearable agony to Mahavir that an anguished cry was forced out of him. Blood oozed out of his ears. The doctor dressed the wound with some coagulant.
Ten Great Dreams
Once after some deep and exhausting spiritual practice Bhagavan Mahavir was extremely tired. The exhaustion resulted in a slumber for a few moments during the last hour of the night and Mahavir saw ten strange drams.
The ten scenes of Mahavir’s dream and the interpretations of Utpal are as follows-
1. Scene: Defeating a Tal demon
Int.: You will soon destroy the Mohaniya Karma (illusory Karma).
2. Scene: A bird with white feathers is in attendance.
Int.: You will always have purest attitude or feelings.
3. Scene: A bird with multicolored feathers is around.
Int.: You will propagate multifaceted knowledge through the twelve Angas (canons).
4. Scene: Two gem strings appear in front.
Int.: Utpal could not understand the fourth scene. On his inquiry Mahavir explained....I will preach tow way religion....the conduct of ascetics and the conduct of laity.
5. Scene: A herd of white cows is in front.
Int.: The four pronged organization (Shraman, Shramani, Shravak, Shravika) will serve you.
6. Scene: A pond with open lotuses.
Int.: Gods from four dimensions will serve you.
7. Scene: Crossed a waxy ocean swimming.
Int.: You will cross the ocean of rebirths.
8. Scene: Sun rays are spreading in all directions.
Int.: Soon you will get enlightenment or omniscience.
9. Scene: You are encircling the Manushottar mountain with your bluish intestines.
Int.: You will pervade the universe with your pure glory.
10. Scene: You are sitting on a throne placed on the summit of the mountain Meru.
Int.: You will give religious discourse sitting on a high throne.
The Light of Omniscience
Observing the details of Bhagavan Mahavir’s twelve year period of spiritual practices it becomes evident that his practices combined four qualities-1. Deep and undisturbed meditation, 2. Rigorous penance, 3. Extreme tolerance of pain, and 4. Ultimate equanimity.
It was the tenth day of the bright half of the month of Vaishakh. Twelve years five months and fifteen days had passed since the beginning of Mahavir’s spiritual practices. Prabhu Mahavir sat in mediation under a Saal tree in a garden on the back of Rijubaluka river. Sitting on both feet with knees touching his chest, he was feeling calm even in the scorching summer sun. Focusing all his physical, mental and spiritual energies he was engrossed in deep and pure meditation. Gradually the sun was setting in the west and within the soul of Bhagavan Mahavir the sun of omniscience was rising. As soon as the dark clouds of four deeply binding Karmas scattered, the all enlightening sun of omniscience dawned. The physical world was being envelop by the darkness of night but the spiritual would was being filled with the light of infinite rays of knowledge. The endeavor had reached the summit of success and attained the goal. Mahavir had become Bhagavan (God), Jina (Victor), Sarvajna (all knowing), and Sarvadarshi (all perceiving). As soon as he became omniscient a soothing light spread in the three worlds for a few seconds. The living world was filled with a strange feeling of hitherto unknown bliss.
The First Discourse
After a twelve and a half year long period of extreme spiritual practices Shraman Vardhaman acquired the ultimate perception (Kewal Darshan), and ultimate knowledge (Kewal Jnan or omniscience). To greet and eulogize the first ray of the divine sun of Mahavir’s infinite knowledge, innumerable gods and goddesses from heavens landed on the earth. Doing Vandana of Prabhu Mahavir they celebrated the ultimate attainment (Kivalya).
Traditionally a Tirthankar preaches the religion of equanimity (Ahimsa) immediately after his gaining omniscience. To take advantage of the first divine discourse of Mahavir the gods created the divine pavilion (Samavasaran) on the pious banks of Rijubaluka river. Numerous gods were engrossed in listening the discourse.
The gods may admire and eulogize truth, discipline, and virtues but they cannot do spiritual practices by taking vows. Only man is Capable of entering the discipline of spiritual practices. As such, it is aid that in absence of a human being the first discourse of Bhagavan Mahavir was a failure in context of spiritual gains as none of those present took any vow.
From the bank of Rijubaluka river Mahavir came to Madhyam Pava. A divine pavilion was created in the Mahasen jungle.
During that month of Vaishak Som Shrama had organized a great yajna. Eleven famous and great scholars with their 4400 disciples had come to participate in this Yagna. Thousands of people from far and near were arriving to behold the pious flames of the Yajna. Thus, Mhahyam Pava had become a place of pilgrimage.
On hearing of the sudden arrival of Bhagavan Mahavir, Pandit Som Sharma become worried and disturbed due to the anti Yajan attitude of the Shraman culture. He went to the chief guide of the Yajna, Mahapandit Indrabhuti. They all confabulated but were short of ideas. Indrabhuti finally said, “Shraman Vardhaman is certainly a person to reckon with. He has the power of spiritual practice and fire of penance but still in knowledge he will prove to be no match for us. With out unmatched power of knowledge we should be able to defeat him now and subjugate a rising adversary in time. We need not worry. It is probable that this pious day may turn out to be the day of our ultimate victory.”
This hope filled assurance form Mahapandit Indrabhuti made all the other scholars happy. Som Sharma started dreaming of the victory of the Brahman Yajna organization. Indrabhuti with this 500 disciples proceeded to confront Mahavir.
Indrabhuti and the Self
Indrabhuti’s mind got a shock the moment he put his first step inside the divine pavilion. His mind got agitated. From the distance he saw the astonishing glow on the face of Shraman Mahavir. When the powerful sun rays fall on the Himalayan ice caps the ice starts melting. Similarly Indrabhuti’s ego started melting. He felt as if streams of doubt and uncertainty had started emerging and flowing.
“Indrabhuti Gautam! You have arrived?”
The deep resonant voice of Prabhu Mahavir fell on Indrabhuti’s ears the moment he entered the third gate of the assembly. “Mahavir recognizes me!” Indrabhuti was astonished; he thought, “Of course, he must have heard of me, the world famous scholar.”
“Indrabhuti Gautam, although you are a great scholar of Vedas, you are still doubtful of the existence of soul.” When these words in the imposing voice of Mahavir echoed in the ears of Indrabhuti he was stunned.
Prabhu sweetly uttered in friendly tone, “Indrabhuti Gautam, you doubt about if the soul is based on your knowledge of the Vedas. But the same Vedas contain undeniable proof of independent existence of the soul. Have you ever thought what is a soul? Who is it? and who is it that has this knowledge is the cognizant factor of soul. Soul is an entity that is formless and beyond the sensory realm, it can be perceived not through the sense organs but through direct intuitive experience . . .”
Listening to the Vedic aphorisms and irrefutable logic of Mahavir about the existence of soul, Indrabhuti’s doubts were removed. His ego melted. With the rising of humility the divine ray of truth became visible. The darkness within Gautam was dispelled. With overflowing respect and curiosity Gautam fell at the feet of Prabhu Mahavir.
“Prabhu, I came with a desire to be victorious, but now I am only a seeker of knowledge. Please bestow on me the infinite knowledge of truth. I wish to become a disciple and sit at your divine feet.”
“You are welcome, O beloved of gods!” Mahavir uttered equally. Indrabhuti Gautam became the first disciple of Bhagavan Mahavir. His five hundred disciples were also initiated by Mahavir into the order. The sky reverberated with sounds of hailing.
The news of initiation of Gautam brought shadow soft gloom over the Yajna site where the scholars were waiting. But the second great scholar, Agnibhuti, summoned courage and said, “I will go and bring back my brother by defeating Mahavir.”
Agnibhuti also arrived at the religious assembly with hi five hundred disciples. As soon as he entered the pavilion and approached Mahavir, Mahavir said, “Agnibhuti, your senior has his cobwebs of doubt cleared, he has now become unambiguous. Now you should also remove your quandary about the fruits of Karma. As the existence of soul is self evident, it is also established that it is soul that is the doer of the Karma (action) and the sufferer of its consequences (fruit).”
The moment his doubt was removed the shackles of dogmas shattered. With the vanishing of ego a stream of faith started flowing within Agnibhuti. He also submitted before the omniscience of Shraman Mahavir along with his 500 disciples.
The youngest brother of Indrabhuti, Vayabhuti, also decided to try his luck with his 500 disciples. As a thirsty person stops at a source of clean water, Vayabhuti stayed with Mahavir and along with his 500 disciples joined Mahavir’s order.
Great scholars like Vyakta and Arya Sudharma also came and removing their doubts became Mahavir’s disciples along with 500 followers each. Similarly, Mauryaputra and Akampit with their 350 disciples each; Achalbhrata, Metarya, and Prabhas each with 300 disciples got initiated into Mahavir’s order.
Thus, eleven great scholars were inducted with their 4400 disciples into Mahavir’s order during his first discourse.
Establishment of the Ford
The eleventh day of the bright half of the month of Vaishakh is considered to be the date of the historical glory of the Jain tradition. On the tenth of the same month, Bhagavan Mahavir attained omniscience, so the day is important as the occasion of his personal triumph. But from the view point of establishing the religious organization (Tirth/Ford) the eleventh is the most important day. It was on this day that the eleven great Brahman scholars rid themselves of their egos of superiority by birth and the misconceptions, and were initiated into the Shraman tradition based on equanimity and Ahimsa. They became the chief disciples or Ganadhars of Mahavir. In Jain tradition, the Ganadhar is the most exalted spiritual person after the Tirthankar. Thousands of other men and women were also converted, many of whom became ascetics and others who took vows for laity.
Princess Chandanbala, who had fulfilled the complex resolve of Bhagavan Mahavir, was also waiting for this auspicious day. As soon as she received the news of Mahavir’s omniscience, she was over-joyed. She reached divine pavilion by the fastest available means. She was also accompanied by many worthy women. After listening to the discourse she became the first woman ascetic disciple of Mahavir.
Shankh and Shatak with many other rich and prominent citizens joined Mahavir’s order as lay followers. Sulasa and many other women also joined the religious family. Thus, the land of Mahasen jungle in Madhyam Pava and the eleventh day of the bright half of the month of Vaishakh became the blessed land and the blessed day respectively.
The twelve year period of spiritual practices of Bhagavan Mahavir was the basis of his personal achievement of omniscience and the status of Arihant/Tirthankar. After his enlightenment the remaining thirty years of his life were devoted to the welfare of the living world. During this period he revolutionized human thought and shattered many long established misconceptions and curses of traditional dogmas. His deeds and achievements in the fields of human welfare and upliftment as well as his contribution to the storehouse of human knowledge may be briefly summed up as:
1. He opposed the wanton human and animal sacrifice and the misleading rituals in the name of religious Yajnas for benefits in the next life. As a more humane and rational alternative he showed the path of Ahimsa.
2. He broke the established tradition of depriving women in general and men of lower castes from the formal study of scriptures and indulging in many religious activities. He was bold enough to initiate people from this section of society into his religious order. he provided equal rights an opportunities to all for study and practice of religion. He successfully rooted out the caste system in his area of influence at social and spiritual level.
3. Under his influence the established norms of social status based on caste, wealth, power and grandeur were shattered and new norms of social status based on virtues and moral and ethical values were established.
4. He used Ardha-Magadhi, the lingua-franca of that period for his discourses. Giving importance to folk culture and language of the masses over Sanskrit, the language of scholarly few and the upper class, he preached in eloquent and attractive style.
5. For the ascetics of his school pursuing the path of detachment with the help of discipline, penance, chanting and meditation, he also prescribed regular indulgence in activities of social welfare. His order included people from all sections of the society-Indrabhuti Gautam and many others from the Brahmin caste; Shalibhadra, Dhanna, and many others from the Vaishya caste; Megh Kumar, Nandishen, etc. from the Kshatriya caste; and Maitarya, Arjunmali, etc. from the Shudra caste. Among women prominent in his order Chandanabala, Mrigavati, Kali, etc. were from ruling families and Subhadra, Revati, etc. were from the merchant class.
6. The Shravakas (householders) in his organization included people from all walks of life. Udayi, Shrenik, Ajatshatru, etc. were kings; Anand was a farmer, Saddalputra was a potter; and Sulas was a butcher.
7. The religious organization of Mahavir was founded on virtues like detachment, equanimity, knowledge and discipline.
8. The original contributions of Mahavir were Ahimsa as the basis of code of conduct and relativity of thought (Anekant) as the basis of spiritual purity and equanimity.
9. As Mahavir had millions, of admires and followers, he also had opponents like Gaushalak and decenters like Jamali. For 5 to 6 years Jamali moved with Mahavir as his disciple. But later, driven by ambition and lust for popularity he became Mahavir’s opponent. He projected himself as omniscient and Tirthankar. The feeling of envy burning within him made him attack Mahavir and try to burn him. But the great pacifying powers of a true Tirthankar defeated him. Compassionate Mahavir still forgave him and advised to work for purity of the soul.
At the request of king Hastipal Mahavir spent his last monsoon-stay at Pavapuri (Apapapuri at the age of 72 years. When about three and a half months passed he became aware that the end of his life is approaching. Ganadhar Gautam was overly attached with Mahavir. He may not be completely swept away by the sorrow of separation- thinking thus Mahavir directed him to go and enlighten Brahman Som Sharma.
On The fifteenth day of the dark half of the month of Kartik Mahavir was observing a two days fast. He sat in the Samavasaran and gave his last discourse which became famous as Uttaradhyayan Sutra, Vipak Sutra, etc.
Just before the hour of midnight he shed all his remaining Karmas and attained Nirvana. For a few moments the whole world was enveloped in darkness.
Gods dispelled the darkness with the help of gems and humans lit earthen lamps to have the last glimpse of their savior. In memory of that day people celebrate the festival of lights or Dipawali.
Hearing about the Nirvana of Bhagavan Mahavir, Ganadhar Gautam became sad and melancholic. But soon he came out of it and progressed on the path of purity with help of extreme detachment. Jumping the levels of spiritual purity he acquired omniscience the next morning.
Gods and human beings celebrated jointly the events of attainment of Nirvana by Mahavir and omniscience by Ganadhar Gautam.
After the Nirvana of Mahavir the responsibility of heading the large religious order came to his fourth chief disciple Arya Sudharmaswami.
After Arya Sudharmaswami the order was headed by his disciple Arya Jambuswami. After the Nirvana of Arya Jambuswami (406 Before Vikram) the tradition of omniscients became extinct from Bharat area for this descending cycle of time.
IMPORTANT DATES OF LIFE OF BHAGAVAN MAHAVIR
Birth : 13th day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra,
542 BV (30th March, 599 BC) at Kshatriyakund
Diksha (initiation) : 10th day of the dark half of the month of Margshirsh,
512 BV (569 BC) at Kshatriyakund
Kewal Jnan (omniscience) : 10th day of the bright half of the month of
Vaishakh, 500 BV (557 BC) on the bank of
Establishment of the Order : 11th day of the bright half of the month of
Vaishakh, 500 BV (557 BC) at Madhyam Pava
Nirvana (liberation) : 15th day of the dark half of the month of Kartik,
470 BV (November, 527 BC) at Pavapuri
Important facts about the Tirthankars
· The southern part of the Jambu continent is Bharat area, the northern is the Airavat area and the central part is Mahavideh area. In the Bharat and Airavat areas there are twenty four Tirthankars in each during every ascending and descending cycle of time.
· In the Mahavideh area the Tirthankars are always present.
· The being that earns the Tirthankar-nam-karma gets liberated in the third birth, counted from the birth of gaining this potency and purity.
· The auspicious influence and indications of a future Tirthankar start appearing six months before the conception or descent (Garbh-kalyanak). The Tirthankars in the Bharat and Airavat areas have five auspicious events (Kalyanak) during their life time.
· During this descending cycle all the beings that became Tirthankars descended from the dimensions of gods in the Bharat area. Six months before the moment of descent, all the other gods get infused with special feeling of reverence for these would be Tirthankars and they express the feelings by bowing.
· Six months before the end of their life in hell, the beings that become Tirthankars are relieved from the hellish afflictions through the interference of gods.
· Even during pregnancy, the being destined to be a Tirthankar possesses three fold knowledge-Mati (intellect), Shruti (literal), and Avadhi (extrasensory) Jnan. He even uses this knowledge if and when need arises.
· The Tirthankars do not feed on the mother’s milk. The king of gods appoints various goddesses as governesses to take care, with due respect, of chores like bathing, dressing, feeding, and nursing.
· After the birth of a Tirthankar, 56 goddesses of directions arrive and perform the post-birth rituals. 64 Indras and other gods perform their traditional duties of joyous birth celebrations taking the new born Tirthankar Pandukvan on Meru mountain.
1. The divine physical structure is free of sweat, glime or slime, and ailment.
2. His breath is fragrant.
3. Due to extreme compassion and tranquillity the reed blood corpuscles of a Tirthankar turn white. As such the color of flesh and blood of a Tirthankar is Milky white.
4.. His food intake and excretion is invisible to normal human eye.
· If the karma responsible for mundane indulgences precipitate, when young, he is married to a good woman from a family of high status. However, he has no fondness for a luxurious family life.
· During the year preceding his renunciation he gives 10.8 million gold coins in charity every day, making it 388 million gold coins during the year.
· The moment he takes the vow of abandoning all intentional sinful activities he acquires the Manahparyav Jnan (the capacity to perceive the subtle and gross thoughts, feelings and attitudes of every being).
· At the time of taking Diksha (the formal initiation to become an ascetic) the Tirthankars utter Namo Siddhanam, offering salutations only to the Siddhas or the liberated souls.
· At the time of taking Diksha the Tirthankar pulls five fistful of his hair and gives them to Indra. The Indra (king of gods) puts these into a gem studded golden box with due care and immerses in the milky sea.
· All the Tirthankars remain silent during the period of their spiritual practices, beginning from the moment of initiation till they acquire omniscience. Their discourses start only after they have become omniscient.
· During their period of practices the Tirthankars move about alone, detached, and unscheduled.
· As ordinary ascetics they neither give away any discourses nor make any disciples.
· When they destroy the vitiating Karmas as a result of their higher spiritual practice and acquire virtues like omniscience, ultimate perception, all power, and capacity to propagate religions, then they attain the status of Arihant Tirthankar.
· They are endowed with thirty four unique attributes and thirty five unique speech attributes.
· They are free of all the eighteen vices.
The eighteen vices are:
1-5. The five power hindrances (hindrance of charity, progress, pleasure, facility, and potency); 6. mirth; 7. fondness; 8. irritation; 9. fear; 10. hatred; 11. distress; 12. lust; 13. dogma; 14. ignorance; 15. slumber; 16. indulgence; 17. attachment; and 18. aversion.
There is another such list of vice:
1. dogma; 2. ignorance; 3. pride; 4. anger; 5. illusion; 6. greed; 7. fondness; 8. irritation; 9. slumber; 10. distress; 11. falsity; 12. larcency; 13. jealousy; 14. fear; 15. violence; 16. love; 17. enjoy; and 18. mirth.
· The first Tirthankar, Rishabhdev, in his earlier incarnation, had the knowledge of all fourteen subtle canons. All the other twenty three Tirthankars, In their earlier incarnations had the knowledge of only eleven canons.
· As soon as the status of Tirthankar is attained Indra creates the divine pavilion (Samavasaran). In the assembly in this pavilion the Tirthankar gives discourses in the Ardha-Magadhi language with the view that the common man may be benefited. The Samavasaran is attended by all, including men, gods, and animals. In this first discourse at least one individual gets inspired to abandon mundane life and become and ascetic. Bhagavan sits in the lotus pose in the Samavasaran.
· Tirthankar Munisuvrat and Arishtanemi were born in the Harivamsha clan and the remaining twenty two in the Ikshvaku clan.
· At the moment of their renunciation Bhagavan Rishabhdev was the oldest in age (8.4 million Purva). Bhagavan Parshvanath and Mahavir were the youngest in age (30 years).
· The tallest among the Tirthankars was Bhagavan Rishabhdev (500 Dhanush) and the smallest was Bhagavan Mahavir (seven Haath/feet)
· Vasupujya, Malli, Nami, Parshva, and Vardhaman became ascetics as princes during the first third part of their life. Remaining nineteen Tirthankars became ascetics as kings during the last third part of their life. (The three divisions of age are equal parts of average age of human beings of a specific era).
· From Rishabh to Shreyans all Tirthankars not only did marry but ruled also, Vasupujya altered this tradition by becoming and ascetic when he was a young prince. The nineteenth and twenty second Tirthankar remained unmarried.
· Bhagavan Rishabh started the process of renunciation at Vinita town and Arishtanemi at Dwarka. All the remaining Tirthankars did theirs at their birth places.
· Bhagavan Mahavir was initiated alone, Parshvanath and Mallinath with three hundred persons each, Vasupujya with six hundred, Rishabh with four thousand and the remaining Tirthankars with one thousand persons each.
· Tirthankar Shreyans, Malli, Munisuvrat, Arishtanemi, and Parshva all took Diksha during forenoon, and the remaining nineteen during the afternoon. Sumati took Diksha after having meals, Malli and Parshva after a three day fast, Vasupujya after one day fast, and the remaining Tirthankars after two days fasts (on the last day of the fasting period).
· Tirthankar Rishabh broke his fast after one year since the day of initiation, all remaining Tirthankars broke the next day.
· Tirthankar Rishabh got sugar-cane juice as the first alms and the remaining ones got Ksheer (rice cooked in milk);
· The places where the Tirthankars got their first alms were blessed with a shower of gold equivalent to the dimensions of their respective bodies.
· All the Tirthankars of Bharat and Airavat areas except the first and last propagate for dimensional religion or the religion with four great vows as its central theme. The four vows are abandonment of or refraining from: 1. all types of violence, 2. all types of falsity, 3. all types of unoffered acquisition, and 4. all types of possessions. The first and the last Tirthankars propagate five dimensional religion by adding the vow of abandonment of all types of lustful activities to the above four.
· The Ashok tree under which Mahavir got initiated was of 32 Dhanush height. The Chaitya tree of Rishabhdev of a height equivalent to three times that of his body. All the remaining Tirthankars were initiated under trees having the height equivalent to 12 times the height of their respective bodies.
· Bhagavan Rishabh attained omniscience after a thousand years of his initiation and Mallinath just after four and a half hours.
· The area of the divine pavilion of Rishabh was 12 Yojans. There was a gradual reduction of 2 Kosa (1/2 Yojan) in this area for succeeding Tirthankars till Naminath (22nd). The area of the divine pavilion of the twenty-third Tirthankar, Parshvananth, was 1.5 Yojans and that of Mahavir was one Yojan. These dimensions are for the descending cycle, that for the ascending cycle are the same but in reverse order. In the Videh area the dimension is 12 Yojans uniformly. Indranilmani (Sapphire) is essentially used in the decoration of these Samavasarans.
· The maximum number of chief disciples was one hundred for Bhagavan Sumatinath and the minimum for Parshvanath - ten.
· When the Karmic ties are completely broken the Tirthankar stops the speech completely.
· Before the Nirvana (liberation) Rishabhdev had observed a last penance (Santhara) of six days, Mahavir that of two days, and the remaining Tirthankars that of one month.
· Rishabh, Arishtanemi, and Mahavir all three were sitting in the Paryankasan (a specific yogic posture) and the remaining twenty one were standing in the Kayotsarg Mudra (a yogic posture) at the moment of liberation.
· Rishabhdev was liberated at the Ashtapad mountain, Arishatanemi at Girnar mountain, Vasupujya at Champa town, Mahavir at Pava town and all the rest at Sammetshikhar (Parasnath hills).
The Basis of Becoming a Tirthankar: The Twenty Auspicious Practices
To reach the status of a Tirthankar it is not enough to do certain practices during certain birth. It is the result of a progressive process of unvieling the potential energy through endeavors in right direction during a series of incarnations. It seems that the chief disciples or gods must have expressed their curiosity about the journey towards ultimate purity and the Tirthankars must have provided the details. That is why details of earlier births of all Tirthankars are available.
The counting of these births starts from the birth in which the soul gets the first glimpse of righteousness. This is considered to be the most important turning point for a soul because once the right direction is attained, liberation is certain.
The Earning of Tirthankar-nam-karma
The loftiest of the pious category of Karmas is said to be the Tirthankar-nam-karma. It is important to know when and how it is acquired because this is the basis over which the status of Tirthankar is founded. This Karma is acquired one birth earlier. It is the physical or normal human body that acquires this Karma. The aural alternate body (Vikriya Sharir) does not have the capacity to acquire this Karma. The future Tirthankar descends from the dimension of gods or ascends from the dimension of hell. In both these dimensions the souls have aural bodies. As the aural body does not have the capacity of long-term spiritual practices, this Karma is not acquired during this immediately preceding birth. That is the reason that all the Tirthankars do their final spiritual practices of acquiring this Karma during their last but second birth as human beings. During that birth they acquire a high degree of purity perception. They become Kshayak Samyaktvi (the level of purity where the past Karmas are destroyed not suppressed).
The Acharyas say that the goal of spiritual pursuit should not be the status of a Tirthankar. Though its status is very high the Tirthankar-nam type of Karma is still a Karma and as such a tie. On the path of purity and effort to earn pious Karma is not advisible. The spiritualists never indulge in any activity that leads to bondage, irrespective of its being pious.
All activities by spiritualists are directed toward shedding of the Karmas. As a result of certain activities or practices certain Karmas are wiped and as a consequence this specific bondage is achieved without striving for it. These practices are numbered twenty. These are also known as the twenty practices leading to the Tirthankar status and are believed to be the fundamental guiding factors for attaining the status of Tirthankar.
1. Worship of the Arihant (Tirthankar).
2. Worship of the Siddha (liberated soul).
3. Faith in discourses.
4. Worship of the teacher.
5. Worship of the senior ascetic.
6. Worship of the scholar.
7. Worship of those whom indulge in penance.
8. Continued application of knowledge for maximum possible time.
9. Purity of perception.
10. To praise the virtues of others and be happy at the progress of others.
11. To practice the six essentials including Pratikraman (self analysis) in the prescribed way and at the prescribed time.
12. Observe all the vows and codes of conducts with ever increasing indulgence.
13. Detachment—always practice apathy for attachment, fondness, conceit, and greed. Develop the attitude of being detached.
14. To activate the potential or to practice penance with all intensity.
15. To give due importance and respect to the four pronged religious organization.
16. To look after and take care of the detached.
17. To enhance knowledge regularly.
18. To have faith on the sermons of the detached.
19. To give charity to the deserving.
20. Devotion for Tirthankar’s sermons and the discipline of the order.
In the eight chapter of the Jnatasutra and in Avashyak Niryukti these twenty practices are mentioned. Intense practice of even one or two of these practices may lead to earning Tirthankar-nam-karma. In the Mahapuran and the Tattvarth Sutra there is a mention of sixteen practices of feelings or attitudes. These encompass all the above twenty practices. Importance had been given to spiritual practices in both of these sets of practices.
The Unique Attributes of a Tirthankar
The Thirty Four Unique Attributes of a Tirthankar (A)
The Tirthankars are worshipped as the loftiest beings in this world because they acquire infinite knowledge, perception, purity of conduct , and power by destroying the four vitiating Karmas at spiritual level. This gives rise to unique attributes in them, both at spiritual and physical levels. In canonical terms those are known as Atishaya or out of ordinary. These are-
1. There is no growth of hair on the body.
2. The body remains free of any ailment.
3. The blood and flesh are milky white.
4. The breath is fragrant like lotus.
5. Food intake and excretion are invisible.
6. Above the head there are three canopies (umbrellas) in the sky.
7. A wheel, symbolic of religion, moves ahead and behind him in the sky.
8. At both flanks there are white whisks in the sky.
9. The throne is made of crystal quartz.
10. The flag of Indra moves ahead of him.
11. wherever he stays there is an Ashok tree.
12. There is a divine aura around him.
13. The land around him is pleasant.
14. Thorns get reversed.
15. The seasons are pleasant and favorable.
16. Pleasant wind blows.
17. Dust is settled due to moisture.
18. There are heaps of five types of lifeless flowers around him.
19. There is absence of unpleasant sound, form, smell, color and touch around him and pleasant things appear.
20-21. His voice is heard with same volume and clarity up to a distance of one Yojan.
22. His discourse is in Ardha-Magadhi language.
23. All present in the audience understand his discourse in their respective languages.
24. In his proximity the natural enemies forget their animosity.
25. His opponents become amiable.
26. His dissenters become speechless.
27-28. Twenty five Yojans around him there is no epidemic or death.
29-33. Wherever he goes there are no afflictions self-inflicted or inflicted by others
including flood, drought, diseases, etc.
34. The touch of his feet pacifies all the earlier disturbances of the area.
Thirty Five Unique Attributes of Speech (B)
After gaining omniscience the Tirthankars give discourses aimed at public welfare. They utter only that which they have directly experienced, thus in their speech there is nothing but the truth. Their life is free of all 18 vices. Their speech also has unique qualities. The scriptures mention 35 unique attributes.
The voice of a Tirthankar is deep like the thunder of clouds and it is never devoid of purpose and result. Following are the 35 unique virtues-
1. It has quality
2. It has lofty meaning
3. It is free of coloquial terms
4. Deep as thunder
8. Profound meaning
9. Free of ambiguity
11. Free of doubt
12. It does not expose faults of others.
14. Relevant to the time and place
15. It suits the subject-matter
16. To the point and precise
18. Strictly relevant to the topic.
19. Sweet like nectar
20. Not harsh or biting
21. Supports quest for liberation
22. Profoundly meaningful
23. Free of self-praise and criticism for others
24. To be emulated always
25. Follows the rules of grammar
26. Incites curiosity in the listener
27. Full of eloquence and beauty
28. Free of pauses
29. Free of double meaning
30. Having interpretations
31. Out of ordinary
32. Capable of picturesque description
33. Profound in content and effect
34. Not annoying to self and others
35. Completely logical and vivid
Birthmarks on the Body of a Tirthankar
(The 1008 Auspicious marks)
1. Coconut tree
5. Lancet (for elephant)
8. White canopy
11. Pair of fishes
12. Two urns
17. Space vehicle
25. Meru mountain
26. Indra (king of gods)
27. Divine damsel
30. The moon
31. The sun
32. Horse of good breed
35. Vina (a musical instrument)
36. Mridang (a type of drum)
40. A head-dress
44. Bead string
46. Arm Band
48. Two rings
51. Two bracelets
58. Gem studded lamp
61. Goddess Laxmi
62. Goddess Saraswati
63. Divine cow
65. An ornament for forehead
66. Great precious things
67. Wishfulfilling tree*
68. Wishfulfilling tree
69. Wishfulfilling tree
70. Wishfulfilling tree
71. Wishfulfilling tree
72. Wishfulfilling tree
73. Wishfulfilling tree
74. Wishfulfilling tree
75. Wishfulfilling tree
76. Wishfulfilling tree
78. Jambu tree
82. Royal palace
83. Fire planet
90. An astrological conjunction-Rahu
91. An astrological conjunction-Ketu
92. Siddharth tree
93. Ashok tree
94. Gem studded throne
95. Triple canopy
97. Divine sound
98. Shower of flowers
100. Divine drums
These are the 108 main signs. Combined with 900 minor signs like mole etc. it totals to 1008 auspicious signs.
Note: *67 to 76 - These are different types of wishfulfilling trees.
The Symbol of Tirthankar: A Study
There are twenty four Tirthankars. Every Tirthankar has a specific representative symbol that is known as Lanchan”.
Generally all the idols of Tirthankars are similar except for Parshvanath which has a serpent hood over the head. Some idols of Rishabhdev show locks or a bun of hair on the head. Suparshvanath idols too have a serpent hood sometimes but there is a marked difference from that over Parshvanath. The hood over Suparshvanath has five serpent heads whereas that over Parshvanath has seven, nine, eleven or one thousand serpent heads. Besides these there is hardly nay difference between the idols of different Tirthankars. It is with the help of the symbols carved at the base of these idols that the specific Tirthankar is recognized. Where the symbol is absent the idol cannot be attributed to a specific Tirthankar. Sometimes an idol without symbol is taken to be of a future Tirthankar. In the field of Jain iconography the symbol of Tirthankar occupies an important place because it is the only means of recognizing the specific Tirthankar. Any idol without a symbol, Shrivatsa and eight attributes is of a Siddha (liberated soul) in general.
The points worth considering in this regard are-what is the purpose behind these signs or symbols? When the tradition of carving them on idols began and what is the classical view on this matter?
Some of the themes could be traced back to the earlier incarnations of the Tirthankars. For example during one of its incarnation the being that became Mahavir was a lion. (Mahavir’s sign is a lion). In earlier incarnation Bhagavan Parshvanath was closely associated with serpents. (Parshvanath’s sign is a snake). Bhagavan Rishabhdev was the originator of farming and its techniques and bull is closely associated with farming. (Rishabhdev’s symbol is bull). There is an incident from Bhagavan Neminath’s life when he blew a famous conch-shell. (Neminath’s symbol is conch-shell).
All the Tirthankars laid emphasis on equality of all life forms. They also practiced and promoted compassion for all beings in the animal kingdom. This is reflected in the fact that seventeen out of the twenty four Tirthankars have animals or birds as their symbols.
In this context traditionally it is believed that at the time of annointing during the post-birth celebrations Indra looks for the birth-mark on the right toe of the new born and accordingly declares the symbol of the Tirthankar. There is a mention of this in “Trikalvarti Mahapurush”.
In the early period of Jain sculpture these symbols were not carved on the idols. On the ancient sculptures of Maurya and Kushan era from Lohanipur these symbols are not found. This tradition appears to have started later when at some point these symbols began to be carved at the base of the statues. Still a systematic research is needed in this field in order to reveal the themes, and psychological background of these symbols and the virtues of Tirthankars they are related to. The January-February 1990 issue of Tirthankar (a periodical published from Indore) provides a useful reading on the subject. We have included all these symbols in the page-boarder in this book.
Word ‘Nath’ : A Study
· A misconception prevails that the suffix ‘Nath’ with the names of many Tirthankars is the influence of the ‘Nath’ sect of Yogis. It is baseless as the founder of the Nath sect, Matsyendranth belonged to the 800 A.D. The suffix Nath is found in much earlier Jain works like Bhagavati Sutra and Avashyak Sutra. Yati Vrishabhacharya in his Tiloyana Pannats has also used this suffix (400 A..D). As such it appears that it was Matsyendra who was influenced by the popularity of Neminath and Parshvanath and started using the suffix Nath.
The Earlier Incarnations of Tirthankars
· I Tirthankar
1. Dhanna, the Carvan leader
3. Saudharm dimension
8. Saudharm dimension
9. Doctor Jivanand
10. Achyut dimension
11. Vajranabh Chakravarti
12. Sarvarthsiddha dimension
2. Vijay dimension
· III Tirthankar
2. Anat dimension
· IV Tirthankar
1. Dharma Simha
2. Vijay dimension
· V Tirthankar
2. Vaijayant dimension
· VI Tirthankar
· VII Tirthankar
2. Sixth Graiveyak dimension
· VIII Tirthankar
2. Vaijayant dimension
· IX Tirthankar
2. Vaijayant dimension
· X Tirthankar
2. Pranat dimension
· XI Tirthankar
2. Mahashukra dimension
· XII Tirthankar
2. Pranat dimension
· XIII Tirthankar
2. Sahasrar dimension
· XIV Tirthankar
2. Pranat dimension
· XV Tirthankar
2. Vaijayant dimension
1. King Shrishen
2. A God
4. Amit-tej Vidyadhar
6. Aparajit Baldev
7. King of Achyut dimension
9. King of Graiveyak dimension
11. Sarvarthsiddha dimension
· XVII Tirthankar
2. Sarvarthsiddha dimension
· XVIII Tirthankar
2. Ninth Graiveyak dimension
· XIX Tirthankar
2. Vaijayant dimension
· XX Tirthankar
2. Pranat dimension
· XXI Tirthankar
2. Aparajit dimension
· XXII Tirthankar
2. Saudharm dimension
3. King Supratishthit
4. Mahendra dimension
5. Aparajit dimension
6. Anat dimension
7. King Shankh
8. Aparajit dimension
· XXIII Tirthankar
3. Sahasrar dimension
4. Kirandev Vidyadhar
5. Achyut dimension
7. Graiveyak dimension
9. Pranat dimension
· XXIV Tirthankar
2. Saudharm dimension
4. Brahma dimension
5. Kaushik Brahman
6. Pushyamitra Brahman
7. Saudharm dimension
9. Secondkalpa dimension
11. Sanatkumar dimension
13. Mahendra dimension
14. Sthavar Brahman
15. Brahmakalpa dimension
17. Mahashukra dimension
18. Triprishta Vasudev
19. Seventh hell
20. A lion
21. Fourth hell
22. Priyamitra Chakravarti
23. Mahashukra dimension
25. Pranat dimension
26. Foetus of Devananda
Tirthankars of Bharat Area Present, Past and Future
S.No. Present Past Future
1. Rishbhdev Kewal Jnani Mahapadma, 1
2. Ajitnath Nirvani Surdev, 2
3. Sambhavnath Sagar Suparshva, 3
4. Abhinandan Mahayash Svayamprabh, 4
5. Sumatinath Vimal Sarvanubhuti, 5
6. Padmaprabh Sarvanubhuti Devshruti
7. Suparshvanath Shridhar Udaynath, 6
8. Chandraprabh Datta Pedhalputra
9. Suvidhinath Damodar Pottil
10. Sheetalnath Suteja Shatakirti, 7
11. Shreyansnath Swaminath Munisuvrat
12. Vasupujya Munisuvrat Sarvabhavavid
13. Vimalnath Sumati Amam
14. Anantnath Shivgati Nishkashay
15. Dharmnath Astanga Nishpulak
16. Shantinath Namoshvar Nirmam, 8
17. Kunthunath Anil Chitragupta, 9
18. Arnath Yashodhar Samadhi
19. Mallinath Kritarth Samvar
20. Munisuvrat Jineshvar Anivritti
21. Naminath Suddhamati Vijay
22. Arishtanemi Shivankar Vimal
23. Parshvanth Syandannath Devopapat
24. Mahavir Samprati Anantvijay
Following nine will be the incarnations of pious souls that earned Tirthankar-namkarma during Mahavir’s period. Their names in sequence are -- 1. King Shrenik, 2. Suparshva, 3. Udayi, 4. Pottil ascetic, 5. Dridhay, 6. Shamkh, 7. Shatak, 8. Sulasa, and 9. Revati
The Tirthankars in Mahavideh Area (The Twenty Viharmans)
At present one hundred and twenty Tirthankars exist in the Mahavideh area. The names of the twenty Viharman Tirthankars are as follows—
1. Shri Simandhar Swami
2. Shri Yugmandhar Swami
3. Shri Bahu Swami
4. Shri Subahu Swami
5. Shri Sujat Swami
6. Shri Svayamprabh Swami
7. Shri Rishabhanan Swami
8. Shri Anantvirya Swami
9. Shri Surprabh Swami
10. Shri Vishaldhar Swami
11. Shri Vajradhar Swami
12. Shri Chandranan Swami
13. Shri Chandrabahu Swami
14. Shri Bhujangam Swami
15. Shri Ishwar Swami
16. Shri Nemiprabh Swami
17. Shri Virsen Swami
18. Shri Mahabhadra Swami
19. Shri Devyash Swami
20. Shri Ajitvirya Swami
Shri Simandhar Swami
He is the first Viharman Tirthankar. He was born in the Pundarikini town of the Pushpakalavati state of the east Mahavideh area in the Jambu continent. His father was king Shreyans and mother Satyaki. He was considered to be a great man as his mother had seen fourteen great dreams. His symbol is the bull. He was given the name Simandhar because he followed the discipline to highest limit.
When he became a youth, his body grew to 500 Dhanush in height and he was married to a princess named Rukmani.
After an age of 8.3 million Purvas he became and ascetic and attained omniscience. His complete age is 8.4 million Purvas.
The twenty Viharman Tirthankars existing at present in the Mahavideh area were born at the same time just after the Nirvana of the 17th Tirthankar of Bharat area, Kunthunath. All of them took Diksah together just after the Nirvana of 20th Tirthankar Munisuvrat. Just after one month of becoming ascetics they all attained omniscience. They all will get liberated at the same time after the Nirvana of the seventh Tirthankar of future ascending cycle of time, shri Udaynath.
When all these Tirthankars are liberated other future Tirthankars will attain omniscience in the other part of Mahavideh area. This is an unbroken tradition since time immemorial and will continue for all time to come. The rule is that a minimum of twenty Tirthankars must always exist. The maximum number can go up to 170.
The Initiators of Tirthankars
The Tirthankar is a self-enlightened person. He is also his own initiator. But there is a tradition that the initiator (Guru) from the birth during which he acquires the Tirthankar-nam-karma is termed as the Diksha Guru (initiator). The names of the initiators of the twenty for Tirthankars of the present era are as follows—
S. No. Tirthankar Diksha Guru (Initiator)
1. Rishabhdev Tirthankar Vajrasen
2. Ajitnath Acharya Aridaman
3. Sambhavnath Acharya Svayamprabh
4. Abhinandan Acharya Vimal Chandra
5. Sumatinath Acharya Vinayanandan
6. Padmaprabh Muni Pihitashrav
7. Suparshvanath Muni Aridaman
8. Chandraprabh Muni Yugandhar
9. Suvidhinath Muni Jagannand
10. Sheetalnath Acharya Srastagh
11. Shreyansnath Muni Vajradant
12. Vasupujya Acharya Vajranabh
13. Vimalnath Acharya Sarvagupta
14. Anantnath Muni Chittaraksha
15. Dharmnath Sthavir Vimalvahan
16. Shantinath Rajarshi Dhanrath
17. Kunthunath Acharya Samvar
18. Arnath Muni Samvar
19. Mallinath Acharya Dharmghosh
20. Munisuvrat Muni Nandan
21. Naminath Muni Sudarshan
22. Arishtanemi Acharya Shrishen
23. Parshvanath Tirthankar Jagannath
24. Mahavir Acharya Pottil
The Difference Between Tirthankar and Omniscient (Kewali)
Depending on mental alertness or dynamism of the practicer there are numerous levels of practicers, viz. Jinakalpi (solitary), Abhigrahdhari (who gives emphasis on specific resolution), Pramatta (partially alert), Apramatta (absolutely alert), Saragi (partially detached), Vitragi (absolutely detached), etc. The first step in this progression is Sadhu (ascetic) and the last is Vitrag, Tirthankar and Kewal Jnani (omniscient). Although there is no difference in the level of knowledge of a Tirthankar and an omniscient, the status of Tirthankar has its own importance. It has its own attributes and recognition. The difference between these two states of highest purity are as follows -
1. In a Tirthankar there is precipitation of the Tirthankar-nam-karma. This is absent in case of common omniscient.
2. For two earlier births a Tirthankar necessarily acquires right-perception. It is not a rule for a common omniscient.
3. A Tirthankar while in the womb has Avadhi Jnan (all knowledge of the physical world). It is not a rule for a common omniscient.
4. The mother of a Tirthankar has fourteen great dreams at the time of conception. It is not so in the case of a common omniscient.
5. A Tirthankar is always a male, the case of Mallinath being an unique exception. For a common omniscient this rule does not apply.
6. A Tirthankar is not breast-fed; whereas a common omniscient (Kewali) is.
7. A Tirthankar gives charity for one year immediately before Diksha, as a rule. A Kewali does not necessarily.
8. A Tirthankar does not give discourse before attaining omniscience, he may, however, answer a question. A Kewali does give discourses even as a common ascetic.
9. In a Tirthankar’s life there are five auspicious events. It is not so in case of a Kewali.
10. A Tirthankar acquires Manahparyav Jnan immediately after his Diksha. A Kewali does not.
11. A Tirthankar is self-enlightened. A Kewali is not necessarily.
12. Before his Diksha a Tirthankar is formally asked for that by the gods. For Kewali no god arrives.
13. A Tirthankar establishes the four pronged religious organization or ford; not a Kewali.
14. A Tirthankar has a religious order; not a Kewali.
15. The principal disciples of a Tirthankar are Ganadhars. A Kewali’s disciples are not.
16. A Tirthankar has eight auspicious attributes; not a Kewali.
17. A Tirthankar has thirty four unique attributes; not a Kewali.
18. A Tirthankar’s speech has thirty five unique attributes; not a Kewali’s.
19. A Tirthankar in his progression to purity does not touch the I, II, III, V and XI Gunasthans (the specific stages on the path of purity); whereas a Kewali may touch all gunasthans except the XI.
20. A Tirthankar does not have Kewali-Samudghat (a special process of spsiritophysical transformation); a Kewali has.
21. A Tirthankar is born in the Kshatriya caste. A Kewali may be from any and all castes.
22. A Tirthankar has Sam-chaturasra Samsthn (one of the six types of anatomical structures). A Kewali may have nay of the six.
23. The minimum and maximum age of a Tirthankar is 72 years and 8.4 million Purvas respectively. In case of a Kewali it is 9 years and 10 million Purvas.
24. The height of a Tirthanakar may be between 7 Haath (about 7 feet) and 500 Dhanush (about 2000 feet). A Kewali is between 2 Haath and 20 feet.
25. A Tirthankar may exist only in fifteen specific Karma-bhumi’s (the worlds of action). A Kewali exists generally in the fourth part, however, one born in the fourth part may attain the status during the fifth part also.
26. A Tirthankar is always self initiated. A Kewali may also be initiated by others.
27. A Tirthankar exists only in the third and fourth part, however, one born in the fourth part may attain the status during the fifth part also.
28. Two Tirthankars never happen to meet each other; whereas Kewalis do.
29. The minimum number of Tirthankars existing at one time is twenty and maximum is 170. For Kewali’s these numbers are 20 million and 90 million.
30. The Ganadhars create the twelve canons based on Tirthankar’s preaching. This is not so in case of a Kewali.
31. A Tirthankar does not face any afflictions after he becomes an omniscient. A Kewali may have to face.
32. A Samavasaran (divine pavilion) is created for a Tirthankar; not for a Kewali.
33. The first discourse of a Tirthankar is never a failure; it is not necessarily so in case of a Kewali.
34. The soul of a Tirthankar always descends from the dimension of gods or ascends from hell. The soul of a Kewali may come from any of the four dimensions.
35. In case of a Tirthankar the Vedaniya Karma (the Karma of sufference) is of good-bad quality and the remaining non-vitiating Karmas are of exclusively good quality. In case of a Kewali only the Ayushya Karma (age determining) is of exclusively good quality, the remaining three being good-bad.
36. Only worthy souls arrive in the assembly of a Tirthankar; whereas in a Kewali’s assembly even unworthies may come.
37. There is only one Tirthankar in one specific area. Kewali’s may be many.
Details About Tirthankars
The Sixty Three Great Men
In the Jain tradition there are sixty three highly endowed person who are known as Shalaka Purush or great men. They are 24 Tirthankars, 12 Chakravaritis, 9 Baldevs, 9 Vasudevs, and 9. Prativasudevs. Brief descriptions of these great men are as follows-
The highest monarch in the human world is known as Chakravarti. He reigns over one specific section of any of the three worlds known as Bharat, Airavat, or Mahavideh. The number of countries under his reign is 32000. He has 32000 subordinate kings and 25000 gods in his attendance. He is the owner of nine types of wealth and fourteen types of gems. He has 64000 queens, 20000 mines each of gold and silver and 16000 mines of gems. His army comprises of 8.4 million each of elephants, horses and chariots; 960 million foot soldiers; 9.9 million personal guards; and 16000 ministers. He has the combined power of 4 million octopeds (a mythical creature). The minimum and maximum number of Chakravartis in all dimensions inhabited by humans are 20 and 150.
The names of twelve Chakravartis of Bharat area during the current descending cycle are -1. Bharat, 2. Sagar, 3. Maghava, 4. Sanat Kumar, 5. Shantinath, 6. Kunthunath, 7. Arnath, 8. Subhum, 9. Padma, 10. Harishen, 11. Jaisen, 12. Brahmadatta.
He is elder brother of a Vasudev and has extreme attachment with his younger brother. A Baldev’s mother sees four great dreams. He has the strength of a million octopeds. Four thousand gods are in his attendance. His weapons, including mace and plough are blessed by a thousand gods each. Because of their mutual affection Baldev and Vasudev rule jointly. After the death of the Vasudev, Baldev becomes and ascetic and indulges n spiritual practices. Some of them are liberated and others are reincarnated in dimensions of gods.
A Vasudev in his earlier births sheds some specific karmas and determines to acquire this status. His soul then incarnates either in the heaven or the hell and then is born as Vasudev. At the time of his conception his mother sees seven great dreams. His complexion is dark. He has the strength equivalent to 2 million octopeds and he conquers three continents by killing the Prativasudev. He has 16000 kingdoms and kings under his subjugation and 8000 gods in his attendance. He has 16000 queens and seven gems.
They also determine their status in their earlier births and are monarchs of three continents. Their powers are slightly lower than that of the Vasudevs. They are necessarily killed by the Vasudevs and go to hell.
The maximum and minimum numbers of Baldev, Vasudev and Prativasudev are 108 and 20. It is believed that as Tirthankar does not meet another Tirthankar, a Chakravarti and a Vasudev also do not meet another Chakravarti and Vasudev respectively. Also a Vasudev does not meet a Chakravarti.
The names of nine Vasudevs, Baldevs and Prativasudevs of Bharat area during the present descending cycle are as follows-
S.No. Baldev Vasudev Prativasudev Tirthankar Period
1. Vijay Triprishtha Ashvagriv Contemporary to Shreyans
2. Achal Dviprishtha Tarak Contemporary to Vasupujya
3. Sudharm Svayambhu Merak Contemporary to Vimalnath
4. Suprabh Purushottam Madhukaitabh Contemporary to Anantnath
5. Sudarshan Purushsimha Nishumbh Contemporary to Dharmnath
6. Nandi Purushpundarik Bali between Armat and Mallinath
7. Nandimitra Datta Prahlad between Arnath and
8. Ram Naryan Ravan between Munisuvrat and
9. Balbhadra Krishna Jarasandh Contemporary to Neminath
The Physical Power of a Tirthankar: A Mythical Compilation
A Tirthankar is the exposition of all dormant powers in a being. He is infinitely powerful. In the mythological literature of Jains, this power has been calculated as follows-
· A bull is as powerful as 12 warriors.
· A horse is as powerful as 10 bulls.
· A bufallow is as powerful as 12 horses.
· An elephant is as powerful as 15 bufallows.
· A lion is as powerful as 500 elephants.
· An octoped is as powerful as 2000 lions.
· A Baldev is as powerful as 1 million octopeds.
· A Vasudev is as powerful as 2 Baldevs.
· A Chakravarti is as powerful as 2 Vasudevs.
· A king of serpent gods is as powerful as 100000 Chakravartis.
· An Indra is as powerful as 10 million kings of serpent gods.
· The power of innumerable Indras is significant as compared to that of the small finger of a Tirthankar.
The Construction of the Divine Pavilion of Tirthankars
[Like many other branches of science the branch of constructing assembly halls has also amply developed. T construct a large auditorium where thousands of people may arrive, be accommodated, may listen to the lectures and peacefully leave, requires a trained mind with engineering skill. For such an arrangement renowned experts display their skill. Still there are incidents of chaos and stampede in such large congregations. Even the police forces get nervous in trying to control such crowds of thousands of people.
Thousands of years ago the divine pavilions were created for the assembly of a Tirthankar where not only millions of human beings but also innumerable gods and animals used to assemble.
In a large pavilion or assembly hall covering an area of one Yojan (4 sq. kosa or 12 sq. km) used to accommodate innumerable gods, humans and animals. They would arrive and sit in the allotted sections, listen to the discourses of the Tirthankar and go back peacefully. There were adequate traffic and parking arrangements for vehicles. The detailed and scientific description of such arrangements available in the ancient scriptures is truely astonishing. It also reveals the highly developed science and intellect during that period. We give brief description of the structure of these divine pavilions of the Tirthankars.]
The beholding of a Tirthankar in his divine pavilion, pondering over his discourses, and following his teachings purifies and strengthens the attitude, faith and realization of spiritual pursuits. Sitting in proximity of the Tirthankar, seeing him, listening to his discourse and coming under the influence of his aura and various unique attributes is spiritually inspiring not only for the gods and humans but also for the animals. Men and animals of contrasting attitudes loose their cruelty and mutual animosity, disease, sorrow, afflictions, fear etc. The Tirthankar’s discourse also provides benefits in shape of enhancement of knowledge and science and progress on the path of liberation through stoppage of inflow and acceleration of shedding of Karmas.
The Great Benefits
Knowing about the arrival of Bhagavan Mahavir in the Samavasaran the sages said, “O beloved of gods! This is the source of great benefits for us. When even the hearing of the names of Arihant Bhagavants is a boon, there is no doubt that approaching, greeting, bowing admiring and worshipping him in person is highly beneficial.” It is a great occasion to listen to even one word of the august preaching of the great man. Bowing to him and offering him and offering him reverence is sure to result in attainment of the pure blissful state of liberation besides being source of benefits, happiness and peace during this life and the later incarnations.
What is a Samavasaran? How is it created? Who creates it? When and for how long the Tirthankar gives his discourse in the Samavasaran? All these questions have been dealt in various canons (Agams), and their different commentaries (Niryukti, Vritti and Bhashya) in eloquent style.
The Samavasaran is the religious assembly of Tirthankars. The literal meaning of the term is proper congregation at a specific place or a place where beings with different attitudes assemble in an orderly manner. As such, the assembling of a variety of worthy beings-specially humans, animals and gods-for the purpose of beholding the Tirthankar and listening to his preachings is called Samavasaran. It is something much larger in dimension, much wider in scope, much numerous in species, and much lofty in purpose as compared to the modern parliament where representatives from various areas of the country meet.
The Special Divine Plan of the Samavasaran
The Mahardhik gods, first of all, inform the Abhiyogya gods about village, town or area where the Samavasaran is to be constructed. These gods, then clear, clean and level a 12 sq. km area pneumatically. Fragrant water is aerially sprinkled over that area and than in order to make the atmosphere pleasantly perfumed a variety of suitable flowers are showered. The whole area is decorated with various gemstones including moonstone and sapphire. Now the Vyantar gods construct gem studded and gold inlaid gates in all the four directions. These gates are embellished with motiffis like umbrella, human figure, crocodile arch, swastika etc.
After this the kings of gods with their special powers construct three concentric parapet walls with serrated design and embellished with gems and gold. The outermost wall is constructed by the king of the Jyotishka gods. The innermost wall is full of gemstones and is made by the king of Vaimanik gods. The decorations and embellishments are also done by the gods who construct the walls. The main gate studded with every gem is made by the Bhavanpati gods. Large urns with burning incenses with mixtures of fragrant powder like black Agar and Kundarak are installed all around by the Vyantar gods.
Now Ishan gods arrive and plant a Ashok tree 12 times the height of the Tirthankar exactly at the center of the innermost circle. Under this tree they make a gem studded platform. At the center of this platform they make a throne with leg-rest of crystal-quartz. Over this throne there are three canopies, one over the other. On both the flanks of the throne stand the Balindra and Chamar gods with whisks in their hands. The Vyantar gods install the emblem of wheel of religion a little distance away and in front of the throne. After this all the gods hail in loud voice and express their feeling of extreme joy.
As a rule, where all the gods arrive, the construction of the Samavasaran is done jointly by different gods as detailed above. But where kings of gods with special powers arrive, it is they who construct the Samavasaran. However, if such gods do not arrive it is the option of the Bhavanpati and other gods to construct the Samavasaran.
Entry and the Sitting Arrangement
After the construction of the Samavasaran is complete the Tirthankar enters it by the eastern gate during the first hour after the dawn or when the second hour is approaching. He moves stepping on divine lotuses. While walking, seven divine lotuses appear both at the front and back of him. He first circumambulates the Chaitya tree and then approaches the throne and sits on it facing east.
Three replicas of the Tirthankar sitting on the throne are created by gods and installed facing remaining three directions. Thus the Tirthankar is visible to every one sitting anywhere in the assembly.
At the feet of the Tirthankar the senior most principle disciple sits after bowing to the tirthankar. The senior Ganadhar sits near the feet of the Tirthankar in south-east direction. All the other Ganadhars sit at his side or ahead of him.
Then the omniscient ascetics enter from the eastern gate, circumambulate the Tirthankar, utter-Namastirthaya (salutation tot he Tirth), and take their seats at the back of the Ganadhars . After this the remaining highly endowed ascetics (Manahparyav Jnanis, Avadhi Jnansis, Fourteen Purvadhars, other Purvadhars etc.) also enter from the eastern gate, go around the Tirthankars thrice, pay homage to the Tirthankar and other seniors, and take seats behind the Kewal Jnanis.
Now enter the female ascetics and after formally paying homage to all the seniors go and stand behind the Vaimanik gods, they do not sit. Goddesses from the Vaimanik dimension enter from the eastern gate and formally saluting to the Tirthankar and all the ascetics go and stand behind the common ascetics. One after another come the goddesses from Bhavanpati, Vyantar and Jyotishka dimensions, from the southern gate and paying homage to the Tirthankar and all the ascetics go and stand in the south-western direction one behind the other in the said order.
After all these arrive gods from Bhavanpati, Jyotishka and Vyantar dimensions from the eastern gate and after due formalities take their allotted seats, one group behind the other in the said order in the north-western direction. Then from the northern gate enter the Vaimanik gods followed by men and women and after due formalities take their allotted seats. In front sit Vaimanik gods, behind them are men and then women. The families sit near the gods with whom they are associated and nowhere else.
In every direction and the corners sit these clusters of people in groups of three classes (gods, men and women). As a rule the juniors pay respects to the seniors at the time of their arrival in the assembly, irrespective of the order of arrival. At the four gates-east, west, north and south stand Soma, Varun and respectively as guards of the directions.
Sitting in this fashion there is no if superiority or inferiority, envy, competition, differences or animosity. Due to the miraculous influence of the Tirthankar, even the natural enemies from the animal kingdom loose anger or fear from each other.
This is the arrangement of the first enclosure.
Arrangement of the Second and Third Enclosures
The second enclosure is allotted to all types of animals (the five sensed ones). The third enclosure is allotted for parking of vehicles.
Outside these enclosures there are crowds of animals, humans, as well as gods. Sometimes they come separately and sometimes all together. However, in spite of the crowd the movement is orderly and peaceful. There is hardly any rush or stampede or altercation.
The Importance of Beholding the Samavasaran
To behold the Samavasaran of a Tirthankar is such an important act that an ascetic who has not done so earlier is inspired to walk and come even if he is stationed twelve Yojan (approx. 144 km) away. As it is a rule that any ascetic stationed within a distance of 144 km from the Samavasaran should come and join. One who ignores this for any reason should observe a four days fast as a penitence. This is because his right perception is fret with faults of instability, shallowness and dilution.
The appearances of the Tirthankar sitting in the Samavasaran is so breathtakingly beautiful that if all the gods join together and try to create that beauty in the dimension of a toe, it cannot surpass the beauty of the toe of the Tirthankar.
In terms of the beauty of the form the list of people in order of descendence is as follows (The beauty of the earlier being infinitely more than the latter: Tirthankar, Ganadhar, Ascetics with normal human body, Anuttar Vaimanik gods, Navagraiveyak, Achyut, Aaran, Pranat, Anat, Sahasrar, Mahashukra, Lantak, Brahmlok, Mahendra, Sanat Kumar, Ishan, Saudharma, Bhavanvasi, Jyotishka, Vanavyantar (all dimensions of gods), Chakravarti, Vasudev, Baldev and regional kings. The common kings and other people are further down on the scale with much larger gap. (The traditional reduction being-infinitely less in six attributes.)
The Acharyas have explained the purpose of this breathtaking beauty of the Tirthankar that appears due to the precipitation of the Tirthankar-nam-karma. They say that this divine beauty of the Tirthankar inspires those attending the Samavasaran to indulge in religious or righteous activities activities. they feel that when such a divinely beautiful person indulges in righteous activity, all those who are earthly, beautiful ought to do so. The utterances of a divinely beautiful person are listened to with attention. The pride of the narcissists also shatter sin presence of such an embodiment of pure beauty. Those are the reasons that make the divine beauty of a Tirthankar praiseworthy.
The Ideal of Humility
The first words the Tirthankar utters when he starts his discourse are “Salutations to the ford of religion.” After this he begins his discourse in easily understandable words of the common man’s language, Ardha-Magadhi, with the specific purpose that everyone present may understand and absorb the words and their meaning. As the status of Tirthankar is gained because of the establishment of Tirth (ford of religion), salutations, are first of all offered to the Tirth. The cause of becoming revered is reverential even for the reverend one. The religious ford or Tirth is revered in the whole cosmos whereas the Tirthankar is revered only in the revered only in the inhabited region; the Tirthankar recognizes this fact with due reverence. Another reason is that when such a lofty and endowed person as a Tirthankar displays such humility he sets an example for others to follow.
The Volume of the Speech
With the advancement of technology the capacity and scope of transmission of sound with the help of amplifiers, telephones, radios and satellites has increased manifold. However, the Tirthankar’s speech is naturally endowed with unique attributes. As such in the Samavasaran the voice of the Tirthankar reaches the eardrums or hearing organs of all five sensed beings. Everyone in the audience thus removes his doubts and ambiguities.
The Tirthankar gives his discourse only in one language, but he assembly has the congregation of gods, humans and animals. How do they all understand this monolingual discourse? It is something like the single color water turning into a variety of colors depending on the soil it falls on; black, white, red or gray etc. One of the unique attributes of the Tirthankar’s speech is this capacity to automatically get translated into the language of the listener. In this age of advanced technology it is nothing to be astonished about. In the United Nations Organization there are representatives from almost all nations of the world. There is a multiplicity of languages, but the technology has made it possible that any speech in any language is immediately translated into the language of the listener.
There are twelve types of congregations in the Samavasaran. If the preaching of the Tirthankar does not inspire any of the listeners to take a vow of any one of the four Samayiks (a specific spiritual practice), Sarvavirati (total renunciation), Deshvirati (partial renunciaton), Samyaktva (right conduct), and Shruti-Samayik (listening to the scriptures), all this effort of construction of the Samavasaran and collecting such a large crowd would go waste. But it is not so. Once the Samavasaran is created, the Tirthankar does give his discourse. For once at least, his preaching makes lasting impression on the psyche of the listener even if he does not accept any of the prescribed vows. The pure particles of the Tirthankars speech are fast acting. As such, more often than not his speech does not go in vain. Men take at least one of the four types of vows mentioned above. The animals accept one out of three leaving aside the Sarvavirati. The gods as a rule accept the Samyaktva Samayik.
In the Samavasaran, the Tirthankar gives discourse for the first quarter of the day (three hours). After this he comes out of the first quarter of the day (three hours). After this he comes out of the first enclosure, Devachhandak, situated in the second enclosure towards the east and rests comfortably.
In the village or town near which the Samavasaran is created, a number of messengers are appointed for giving news about the movement of the Tirthankar. Some of them are honorary and others salaried. For this recurring expenditure the Chakravarties contribute 1.2 million gold coins. The regional kings contribute the same number in silver coins. Gods like Kuber, various landlords, merchants and other people contribute according to their capacity and devotion.
How the Gods Work for Spread of Religion?
The devoted gods too follow this practice. They distribute money to various people appointed for various jobs like security, maintenance and serving the masses. They also provide assistance to people in need as well as support to the newly initiated ones. they consider this to be the worship of the Tirthankar. As a result they acquire the Satavedaniya Karma (the pleasure causing Karma). They automatically become virtuous and promote the spread of religion.
After the Tirthankar’s discourse the Ganadhars start their discourse. This is done during the second quarter of the day.
The Position of the Ganadhars
Ganadhars, the heads of groups of ascetics, give their discourse either sitting on the thrones resented by kings or the foot rest of the Tirthankar.
The Ganadhars in their discourse narrate the stories about past and future. They also answer to the questions of the curious among the masses. As the Ganadhars answer to all and sundry questions it is not possible to call them ignorant or lacking in the unique virtues like Avadhi Jnan and others.
Thus in the Samavasaran of a Tirthankar there are ample opportunities of hearing to the discourse of great souls, pondering, accepting vows, enhancing of right attitude, religious activities, worshipping and serving greatmen as well as masses.
(For further reading see Abhidhan Rajendra Kosh, Vol. 7)
Shri Amar Muni is a scholarly ascetic from Shri Shwetambar Sthanakvasi Jain Shraman Sangh. He is an accomplished orator, poet, and singer. He has written detailed commentaries on Bhagavati Sutra (four volumes), Sthananga Sutra (two volumes) and many others. He is the one who is responsible for taking the bold initiative to launch the publication of the illustrated Agam literature.
Illustrated Uttardhyayan Sutra (Hindi-English), illustrated Antakritdasha Sutra (Hindi-English) and illustrated Kalpa Sutra have already been published and received well.
The scholarly editor of this illustrated series is Srichand Surana ‘Saras.’