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