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Founders and Legends of the Jain religion

Names & detail of all 24 Tirthankaras (Prophets- The Great Teachers )

Five Famous Tirthankaras

Legends


Names & detai of all 24 Tirthankaras (Prophets)

1. Sh. Rishabha Deva (Aadinath) 2. Sh. Ajit Naath 3. Sh. Sambhav Naath 4. Sh. Abhinandan Sawaami
5. Sh. Sumati Naath 6. Sh. Padam Prabh 7. Sh. Supaarsava Naath 8. Sh. Chandra Prabh
9. Sh. Suvidhi Naath 10. Sh. Shital Naath 11. Sh. Shreyaans Naath 12. Sh. Vaasupujya
13. Sh. Vimal Naath 14. Sh. Anant Naath 15. Sh. Dharam Naath 16. Sh. Shanti Naath
17. Sh. Kunthu Naath 18. Sh. Arah Naath 19. Sh. Malli Naath 20. Muni Suvrat
21. Sh. Nami Naath 22. Sh. Arisht Nemi 23. Sh. Paarshva Naath 24. Sh. Mahaavira Sawami

Five Famous Tirthankaras

Bhagwan Adinath (the first Tirthankar)
Tirthankar Shri Chandra Prabhu
Bhagwan Shantinath
Bhagwan Parsvanath
Mahavira

Five Famous Tirthankaras

Bhagwan Adinath (the first Tirthankar)

Bhagwan Adinath is considered as the Adipurush, the first Tirthankara and first ruling King. According to Jain tradition, Adinath lived hundreds of thousands of years ago. Although historians have been sceptical of this claim, evidence found at the archeological sites at Mohanjodaro and Harrappa of the Indus Valley Civilization proves that he predated this 5000-year-old civilization.

Bhagwan Adinath was born into the royal family of Ayodhya as the son of King Nabhiraja and Queen Maru Devi. He was married to two wives: Sumangla and Sunanda. Sumangla gave birth to Bharat, who later became a Chakravarti king . Sunanda gave birth to a child who came to be known as Bahubali.

It is believed that Adinath had one hundred sons and two daughters, who were named Brahmi and Sundari.

Jain tradition holds that all civilization developed from the teachings of Adinath. He was the first king to establish the institutions of marriage, agriculture, the arts, and weaponry (swordsmanship, archery, etc). After organizing and instructing the society in various disciplines, he ruled for thousands of years. (The system of measuring time during that period is still unknown.)

After this, he divided his kingdom among his sons and departed to take up an ascetic way of life. When Adinath renounced his kingdom, thousands of people followed him into the ascetic life.

Whenever they went for alms, people offered them gold, jewels, ornaments, etc. But no one offered them food. Thus, many of his followers could not tolerate the starvation. They began asking for food, and then they left to form their own groups. This was the beginning of many sects. (According to the Jain faith, Tirthankaras remained silent until they achieved perfection.)

Adinath also went without food for an enitre year. Then he went to his grandson Shreyan's kingdom (Hastinapur). His grandson offered him sugarcane juice, which he accepted. Hastinapur is still considered a holy place, and even today Jains make pilgrimages to this site to break ritual fasts (with sugarcane juice).

After becoming enlightend (Perfect), He broke his silence and preached for many years, tellilng how to escape the cycle of brith and death and achieve eternal bliss.

Bhagwan Adinath achieved Nirvana on the mountain of Kailash in the Himalayas when he was in complete Samadhi.

The symbol of Adinath is A Bull (Rishabh). He became popular by this symbol and is now known as Rishabh Deva.


Tirthankar Shri Chandra Prabhu

The eighth Tirthankar of Jainism is Chandra Prabhu. He was born to King Mahasen and Queen Sulakshana. When the Queen was bearing the child, she desired to swallow the nectar of the moon. Her wish was fulfilled and a son with a moon-like complexion was born to her. This is how he was named Chandra Prabhu.

He got married to more than one princess. After ruling his kingdom for a long time, he got initiation (Diksha). Chandra Prabhu attained Kaivalya after meditating for many months. For many years he served humanity. Then he went to 'Sammed' Mountain in Bihar, accompanied by one thousand monks. After meditating for one month, all of them got Nirvana.

Today, the temple of Chandra Prabhu at Tijara in Rajasthan is a famous center of pilgrimage for Jains.

Symbol of Chandra Prabhu is half moon. He brings smoothness and happiness to every living being. Large numbers of believers visit the tirth of Tijara every week.


Bhagwan Shantinath

The sixteenth Tirthankar of the Jain religion, Shantinath, was born to the King Vishavsen and Queen Achiradevi of Hastinapur. It is said that as soon as he entered the womb of his mother, incurable diseases were cured, and peace and happiness prevailed throughout the land. Because of this, he came to be called Santinath ('peacemanker').

When Shantinath was very young, he became expert in the use of many weapons. These skills enabled him to become a king at a very young age. Eventually, he became known as Chakarvarti ('King of Kings').

He enjoyed his kingdom and its riches for thousands of years. One day, however, he saw his own aging reflection in a mirror and realized that this body was not as young and beautiful as it used to be. Thus he came to realize that all the riches and even man's body itself are not eternal. At that moment he was inspired to become an ascetic.

He became enlightened on the eleventh moonlight night of Paush (Feb-March). For many years he travelled from city to city, spreading the message of peace, non-violence, and harmony. Finally, he achieved Nirvana on the mountian of Sammed Shikhar (Bihar). His symbol is a deer (Mriga). He is considered a god with powers to bestow peace and happiness.


Bhagvan Parsvanath

According to Jain belief, Bhagwan Parshvanath is the twenty-third Thirthankar. He was born 250 years prior to Lord Mahavir. He was the son of King Ashvasen and Queen Vamadevi of Varanasi.

It is said that he was named Parshvanath after an incident his mother experienced when the child was still in her womb. The mother found that a snake was lying next to her. Parshva means 'by the side of' -- hence the name Parshvanath.

Young Prince Parshva grew up as a great scholar and warrior. He married the daughter of Raja Prasenjit, Kumari Prabhavati. When their kingdom was attacked by another king (Yavanraj), Parshva asked his father for permission to fight. He then defeated Yavanraj not by armed fight but by intellectual discussion.

Impressed by the scholarly discussion of Parshvanath, Yavanraj became his follower. Parshva forgave him and inspired him to adopt non-violence.

Once Parshva went to a ceremony, 'Panchagni Tapa,' performed by Kamath. Parshva discovered a cobra couple in the firewood and saved their life. With the help of 'Namokar Mantra,' Parshvanath sent the cobras to heaven.

His action angered Kamath, who thought Parshva had disturbed his holy life. Kamath, who later became Meghmali, created many obstacles to Parshvanath's meditation. He flooded the place where Parshvanath was deeply engrossed in austerity. Then the Cobra Couple (who were now Dharmendra and Padmavati) raised a Lotus Seat below the meditating Parshva and thus saved him from drowning.

For the noble work done by Dharmendra and Padmavati at Sammed Shikhar (Bihar), Jain followers worship them as a God and Goddess.

According to history, Bhagwan Parshvanath got Nirvana in 720 B.C., after attaining Kaivalya. Twenty-three monks accompanied him.

His symbol is snake; and he lived one hundred years. He is worshipped by all the sects of Jainism with equal faith and respect.


Bhagwan Mahavira

The last (twenty-fourth) Tirthankar, Mahavira, was an historical personality. He was born in 599 BC at Kshatriya Kund in the democratic republic of Vaishali (Bihar), the son of King Siddharth and Queen Trishla Devi. His original name was Vardhman.

From his childhood, he was soft, kind-hearted. He was very upset by the ritual sacrifice of animals, and vowed to fight for the rights of animals. He also wished to fight for the advancement of women and untouchables.

He left his kingdom at the age of thirty to begin an ascetic life. He entered the forest to commune with all living beings, including animals, trees, and other plants. He practiced meditation, austerity, and samadhi for twelve and a half years, getting enlightement. By self-purification and severe spiritual pactices, finally, at the age of forty-two, Mahavira attained Kaivalya (perfection).

For the next thirty years, Mahavira spread the message of non-violence (Ahimsa), truth, non-stealing, right conduct, and non-posession. He campaigned against the barriers of caste, creed, and faith. He also advocated protecting all living creatures.

Lord Mahavira gave us several analytical theories of Karma, multiplicity of truth, Syadvad, etc. All these theories helped people to reach higher levels of consciousness and to create happinesss and peace in society. His doctrines of Right Knowing, Right Vision, and Right Conduct are considered the three Jewels of Jain philosopy, by which to achieve the ultimate goal in life.

The symbol of Lord Mahavira is the Lion, indicating what a fearless life he led. He is the most important of all the Tirthankaras, as most of the Jain scriptures were taken from his teachings.

Lord Mahavira advocated Ahimsa, which was carried further by later great men of history including Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

Mahavira attained Nirvana at the age of seventy-two at Pavapuri in Bihar.


Legends

Bhagwan Bahubali
Ghantakarna Mahavir
Manibhadraji
Manidhari Dadaguru Jinchandra
Parsva Yaksha
Nakoda Bhairav

Bhagvan Bahubali

Bahubali was the younger son of the first Tirthankar, Rishabhdev. He later became king of Podanpur. His elder brother Bharat was bent upon attacking Bahubali's kingdom. Their ministers negotiated and agreed that instead of war, there would be three contests between the brothers. In all three contests (Drisht Yudha, Jal Yudha, and Wrestling) Bahubali defeated his elder brother.

Still, Bahubali had been very much hurt by the behavior of his elder brother. He decided to surrender his kingdom to Bharat and left for the path of meditation. He did not want to bow before his other brothers who had already accepted ascetic.life.

This ego of Bahubali deterred him from visiting his father's court. Hence he went on meditating but could not attain the Keval Jnana, the supreme knowledge.

Bahubali was so much involved in his Samadhi, that his body got covered by vines, ants, and dust. Finally he was woken up from his ego when his sisters called him to release the false pride he was suffering from. Bahubali got enlightened and decided to see his father. Thanks to his sisters Brhami and Sundari, Bahubali was now a changed person with more knowledge and better understanding. He was welcomed in his father's court. The world got the benefit of his wisdom.

Bahubali is a symbol of learning. One stone statue of him in Karnataka stands fifty-seven feet high. For thousands of years it has shown to the world the way of knowledge and austerity.


Ghantakarna Mahavir

Ghantakarna Mahavir is highly respected by Swetambar Jains. He is placed at the thirtieth position among fifty-two heroes. He is a miracle god of Riddhi Siddhi and a troubleshooter. His idols have bell-like ears, so he is called Ghantakarna. The Temple of Ghantakarna at Mahuri (Gujarat) is very well known for producing miracles. Wishes of worshippers are fulfilled here.


Manibhadraji

Manibhadra was a great king who was devoted to the Jain religion and doctrines. He had enormous wealth and was also very fond of thirty-six muscial instruments. Later, Acharya Hem Vimal Suri named him as Kshetrapal because of his tremendous devotion.

The carrier of Manibhadra Dev is Airavat, the white elephant. His face on statues is sometimes depicted as an elephant, and sometimes as Varah. His idols are shown with four arms, and sometimes we also see him with six arms.

In Magarvada (Gujerat), there is an idol of Manibhadra where large numbers of devotees go to get their desires fulfilled. He is known to create miracles. It is believed that one gets wealth and protection from evil spirits by worshipping him.

Manibhadraji is highly respected among the Tapagachha sect of Sawetambar Jains. He is specially worshipped on Ashtami, Chaudas, and Diwali by those who want name and fame in the society. He likes the sound of temple bells.


Manidhari Dadaguru Jinchandra

About 800 years ago, there was a very influential Jain Acharya in the Shwetambar Sect. His name was Acharya Manidhari Jinchandra Suri. He was born in Lodhrapur (Rajasthan), and his Guru was Dada Jindutt Suri.

Jinchandra is known for having used his mantra to change a moonless night into a full-moon night by sending a dish into the sky. He preached to millions of people about non-violence and vegetariansim. He did many miracles and inspired people to adopt Jain principles.

He had directed that after his death, his dead body should not touch the ground during the funeral journey. But the devotees forgot, and set it down for a moment halfway along. Then no one, not even the elephants, could lift it to continue the procession. Hence there was no option other than to build his Samadhi at that place.

He had declared that a jewel, Maini, would come out of his head after death. He advised his followers to keep the jewel in a cup of milk. This forecast came true. Thus he is called Manidhari Dada Guru, meaning 'the jewel holder.'

His Samadhi is at Mahrauli near Delhi. The place is now a pilgrimage center, visited by thousands of people. Nowadays, it is as famous as Dadawadi.


Parsva Yaksha

Lord Parshva Yaksha is the divine guardian associated with the Twenty-Third Tirhankara, Parshvanath. His complexion is dark, he has an elephant-like face, and his head is sheltered by the hood of a cobra. He has four arms. His carrier is a tortoise. On is right side he holds a snake and a special fruit known as Bujjpurak. In his left hands he holds a snake and a mongoose. He is considered very influential; he can be compared with Ganesh, who is a Hindu God.


Nakoda Bhairav

Lord Nakoda Bhairav is the divine guardian associated with the ancient Jain pilgrimage center of Sammed Shikhhar. He is worshipped before the beginning of journeys to avoid obstacles. Nakoda Bhairav protects us from evil powers, ghosts, spirits, etc. He blesses the issueless with sons and daughters and relieves us from the worldly. ties.


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