26 September 2013

Bhagwan Aristhnemi - 22nd Tirthankar

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 the 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 Shrikrishnaï'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 steel, 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 guests 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.

20 September 2013

Bhagwan Naminath - 21st Tirthankar

The being that was to be Bhagavan Naminath purified his soul during his birth as king Siddharth of Kshambi town in East Mahavideh. He reincarnated as a god in the Aparajit dimension. This being then descended into the 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 that the child to be born was going to be a Chakravarti 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 Sammet sikhar 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.

17 September 2013

Bhagwan Munisurvrat - 20th Tirthankar

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 Sammet shikhar 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.

21 May 2013

Bhagwan Mallinath - 19th Tirthankar

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.

Divine Earrings
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.

Ignorant Artist
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 the 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 of the artist. However the feeling of anger overtook the sense of appreciation. He was annoyed at the mindless effrontery of the artist who had painted 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.

They were:
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 terminated 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.

Note: There has been a debate since ages on the 19th Tirthankar being either Male or female. The same is not concluded and the above article is provided from the most accepted version of Tirthankar Charitra.

17 May 2013

Bhagwan Arnath - 18th Tirthankar

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 beautiful princess. 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.

15 May 2013

Bhagwan Kunthunath - 17th Tirthankar

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 Manah paryav 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.

07 May 2013

Bhagwan Shantinath - 16th Tirthankar

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 Meghrathï wounds instantaneously and left for his abode.

Whenever there is a talk about chivalry and compassion king Meghrathï's name is taken with respect.

Unflinching Discipline
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 to the 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 the 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. 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.

02 May 2013

Bhagwan Dharmnath - 15th Tirthankar

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.

30 April 2013

Bhagwan Anantnath - 14th Tirthankar

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.

27 April 2013

Bhagwan Vimalnath - 13th Tirthankar

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.

25 April 2013

Bhagwan Vasupujya - 12th Tirthankar

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 newborn 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 the 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.

03 April 2013

Bhagwan Shreyansnath - 11th Tirthankar

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.

29 March 2013

Bhagwan Sheetalnathji - 10th Tirthankar

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.

21 March 2013

Bhagwan Suvidhinathji - 9th Tirthankar

Bhagwan Suvidhinathji - 9th Tirthankar

In the tradition started by Bhagavan Rishabhdev the ninth Tirthankar re-established the four pronged religious ford by Bhagavan Suvidhinath. During his earlier incarnation as emperor Mahapadma of Pushkalvati Vijay, purified his soul to the 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 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.

12 March 2013

Bhagwan Chandraprabhuji - 8th Tirthankar

Bhagwan Chandraprabhuji - 8th Tirthankar

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 liberation approached he went to Sammet Shikhar and after a month of long fast and meditation got liberated.

28 February 2013

Bhagwan Suparshvanath - 7th Tirthankar

Bhagwan Suparshvanath - 7th Tirthankar

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.

21 February 2013

Bhagwan Padamprabh - 6th Tirthankar

Bhagwan Padamprabh - 6th Tirthankar

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.

11 February 2013

Bhagwan Sumatinathji - 5th Tirthankar

Bhagwan Sumatinathji - 5th Tirthankar

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 dont 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.

31 January 2013

Bhagwan Abhinandanji - 4th Tirthankar

Bhagwan Abhinandanji - 4th Tirthankar

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 that 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 Sammet Shikhar in Jharkhand - India.

22 January 2013

Bhagwan Sambhavnath - 3rd Tirthankar

Sambhavnath Bhagwan - 3rd Tirthankar

A long time after the Nirvana of Bhagawan 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 drought 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 Vipulvahanï'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.

18 January 2013

Bhagwan Ajitnath - 2nd Tirthankar

Bhagwan Ajitnath - 2nd Tirthankar

The soul that became Bhagavwn 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, Jwalanprabh 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.

16 January 2013

Bhagwan Rishabdev - 1st Tirthankar

"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 Aara the yield from the Kalpa-vrikshas reduced. The all-around 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 Marudevi. This epoch of Kulkar system was known as the epoch of twins (Yugalia). A human couple used to give birth to a twin- one male and one female. This twin would become husband and wife on reaching adulthood. The twins used to lead a happy and contented life and died a natural death together.

To consume what was available was the way of life. As such this period was also known as Bhog-Bhumi-Kaal or the era of free consumption. Upto the time of Kulkar Nabhiraja man lived in this land of abundance.

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 service to ascetics and others, 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"

Birth Celebrations
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 Tirthankars 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 father’s 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 peoples 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 centers. 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 losing 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 your shoulders looks attractive. Kindly leave it as it is." Rishabhdev agreed. Due to this bunch of hair he got the popular name-Keshariyaji (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 that 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 Rishabhdevs 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. Thousands 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 preceded 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 Rishabhdevs Nirvana