Tirthankara: The founders of Jainism who led the humankind

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Jainism is one of the oldest religions from ancient India and there are multiple founders of the religion. Thus, the Jain religion is polytheism. Over time, Tirthankara formed this beautiful religion. The followers of Jainism also call them ‘Jina’ meaning ‘Victor’. They are also addressed as the saviour of humankind.

Jainism says Tirthankara existed for over a billion years to teach humanity in different eras. They teach us to respect each entire living creature on Earth and accept their presence.

Who are Tirthankara?

Tirthankara are referred to as ‘teaching gods’. The word ‘Tirthankara’ is a Sanskrit word that means ‘Ford-maker’ and the devotees worship them in the Jain temples. Yet, they aren’t seen as Gods because; Jainism doesn’t believe that God is a creator. However, Tirthankara are superior to humans but completely enlightened.

They are a beautiful combination of ‘Theertha’ meaning ‘a pilgrimage site’ and ‘Samsara’ meaning ‘experience of rebirth ’. Hence, when someone achieves Samsara, understands his/her being in the world and gains ‘Kevala Jnana’(Omniscient) is a Tirthankara. From their own experiences, they teach to attain liberation from the cycle of life and death even today! 

‘Arihanta’ means ‘A destroyer of inner enemies’ and ‘Vitragi’ means ‘One who doesn’t have any attachment to anything’ are their other names. This expresses their total detachment from the world. 

Normally, a Tirthankara meditates on a lion throne in a crossed-legged position which is a famous posture. ‘Kayotsarga pose’ is another well-known posture.

How’s a Tirthankara born?

No, they aren’t an incarnation of God. An ordinary soul takes birth in a human body and later on passes through different events of life. The result is ‘Tirthankara, an ultimate pure developed state of the soul’. For that, a soul needs an intense practice of penance, equanimity and meditation.

Following are the events from which a Tithankara’s soul goes through to reach the highest form of purity.

1. Garbha Kalyanak: This is an event when a Tirthankara’s soul departs its previous life and enters into his/her mother’s womb for the next birth.

2. Janma Kalyanak: In this event, the soul of the Tirthankara is born.

3. Diksha Kalyanak: In this event, the Tithankara’s soul rejects all his/her worldly procession and becomes a monk/nun.

4. Kevalgyan Kalyanak: In this event, the soul of Tirthankara acquires all knowledge of the world and becomes omniscient. After that, a celestial being builds ‘Samavasarana’, a divine preaching hall and from there the Tirthankara delivers his/ her 1st sermon. This is the most important event as a pure soul teaches a path to redemption. 

5. Nirvana Kalyanak: In this event, the soul leaves Tirthankara’s present body and gets Moksha. The soul obtains ‘Siddhashila’, a state of forever happiness.   

How many Tirthankara are there?

‘Kalpasutra’ is an ancient Jain scripture that holds the life history of 24 Tirthankara. This is the chronicle list of all of them.

1.  Rishabhanatha

Birthplace: Ayodhya

Nirvana place: Kailash

Symbol: Bull

2.  Ajitanatha

Birthplace: Ayodhya

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Elephant

3.  Sambhavanatha

Birthplace: Sharvasti

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Horse

4.  Abhinandananatha

Birthplace: Ayodhya

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Monkey

5.  Sumatinatha

Birthplace: Ayodhya

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Goose

6.  Padmaprabha

Birthplace: Kaushambi

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Lotus

7.  Suparshvananatha

Birthplace: Varanasi

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Swastika

8.  Chandraprabha

Birthplace: Chandrapura

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Moon

9.  Pushpadanta

Birthplace: Kakandi

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Crocrodile

10.   Shitalanatha

Birthplace: Bhaddilapura

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Kalpavriksha

11.  Shreyansanatha

Birthplace: Simhapuri

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Rhinoceros

12. Vasupujya

Birthplace: Champapuri

Nirvana place: Champapuri

Symbol: Buffalo

13. Vimalanatha

Birthplace: Kampilyapura

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Boar

14.  Anantanatha

Birthplace: Ayodhya

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Porcupine

15. Dharmanatha

Birthplace: Rantnapuri

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Vajra

16.  Shantinatha

Birthplace: Hastinapuri

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Deer

17. Kunthunatha

Birthplace: Hastinapuri

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Goat

18.  Aranatha

Birthplace: Hastinapuri

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Fish

19. Mallinatha

Birthplace: Mithila

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Kalasha

20.  Munisuvrata

Birthplace: Rajagriha

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Tortoise

21.  Naminatha

Birthplace: Mithila

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Blue water Lily

22.  Neminatha

Birthplace: Sauripura

Nirvana place: Girnar

Symbol: Shankha

23.  Parshvanatha

Birthplace: Varanasi

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Snake

24.  Mahavira

Birthplace: Kundalapura

Nirvana place: Pavapuri

Symbol: Lion

Conclusion

These are the main founders of Jainism and there are 6 million followers. Tirthankara played an important role in establishing a better path for humankind via Jainism.

At Secret Temples, you will learn about detailed knowledge of Jainism.

Tirthankara: The founders of Jainism who led the humankind

Image Source: 4to40

Jainism is one of the oldest religions from ancient India and there are multiple founders of the religion. Thus, the Jain religion is polytheism. Over time, Tirthankara formed this beautiful religion. The followers of Jainism also call them ‘Jina’ meaning ‘Victor’. They are also addressed as the saviour of humankind.

Jainism says Tirthankara existed for over a billion years to teach humanity in different eras. They teach us to respect each entire living creature on Earth and accept their presence.

Who are Tirthankara?

Tirthankara are referred to as ‘teaching gods’. The word ‘Tirthankara’ is a Sanskrit word that means ‘Ford-maker’ and the devotees worship them in the Jain temples. Yet, they aren’t seen as Gods because; Jainism doesn’t believe that God is a creator. However, Tirthankara are superior to humans but completely enlightened.

They are a beautiful combination of ‘Theertha’ meaning ‘a pilgrimage site’ and ‘Samsara’ meaning ‘experience of rebirth ’. Hence, when someone achieves Samsara, understands his/her being in the world and gains ‘Kevala Jnana’(Omniscient) is a Tirthankara. From their own experiences, they teach to attain liberation from the cycle of life and death even today! 

‘Arihanta’ means ‘A destroyer of inner enemies’ and ‘Vitragi’ means ‘One who doesn’t have any attachment to anything’ are their other names. This expresses their total detachment from the world. 

Normally, a Tirthankara meditates on a lion throne in a crossed-legged position which is a famous posture. ‘Kayotsarga pose’ is another well-known posture.

How’s a Tirthankara born?

No, they aren’t an incarnation of God. An ordinary soul takes birth in a human body and later on passes through different events of life. The result is ‘Tirthankara, an ultimate pure developed state of the soul’. For that, a soul needs an intense practice of penance, equanimity and meditation.

Following are the events from which a Tithankara’s soul goes through to reach the highest form of purity.

1. Garbha Kalyanak: This is an event when a Tirthankara’s soul departs its previous life and enters into his/her mother’s womb for the next birth.

2. Janma Kalyanak: In this event, the soul of the Tirthankara is born.

3. Diksha Kalyanak: In this event, the Tithankara’s soul rejects all his/her worldly procession and becomes a monk/nun.

4. Kevalgyan Kalyanak: In this event, the soul of Tirthankara acquires all knowledge of the world and becomes omniscient. After that, a celestial being builds ‘Samavasarana’, a divine preaching hall and from there the Tirthankara delivers his/ her 1st sermon. This is the most important event as a pure soul teaches a path to redemption. 

5. Nirvana Kalyanak: In this event, the soul leaves Tirthankara’s present body and gets Moksha. The soul obtains ‘Siddhashila’, a state of forever happiness.   

How many Tirthankara are there?

‘Kalpasutra’ is an ancient Jain scripture that holds the life history of 24 Tirthankara. This is the chronicle list of all of them.

1.  Rishabhanatha

Birthplace: Ayodhya

Nirvana place: Kailash

Symbol: Bull

2.  Ajitanatha

Birthplace: Ayodhya

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Elephant

3.  Sambhavanatha

Birthplace: Sharvasti

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Horse

4.  Abhinandananatha

Birthplace: Ayodhya

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Monkey

5.  Sumatinatha

Birthplace: Ayodhya

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Goose

6.  Padmaprabha

Birthplace: Kaushambi

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Lotus

7.  Suparshvananatha

Birthplace: Varanasi

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Swastika

8.  Chandraprabha

Birthplace: Chandrapura

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Moon

9.  Pushpadanta

Birthplace: Kakandi

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Crocrodile

10.   Shitalanatha

Birthplace: Bhaddilapura

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Kalpavriksha

11.  Shreyansanatha

Birthplace: Simhapuri

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Rhinoceros

12. Vasupujya

Birthplace: Champapuri

Nirvana place: Champapuri

Symbol: Buffalo

13. Vimalanatha

Birthplace: Kampilyapura

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Boar

14.  Anantanatha

Birthplace: Ayodhya

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Porcupine

15. Dharmanatha

Birthplace: Rantnapuri

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Vajra

16.  Shantinatha

Birthplace: Hastinapuri

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Deer

17. Kunthunatha

Birthplace: Hastinapuri

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Goat

18.  Aranatha

Birthplace: Hastinapuri

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Fish

19. Mallinatha

Birthplace: Mithila

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Kalasha

20.  Munisuvrata

Birthplace: Rajagriha

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Tortoise

21.  Naminatha

Birthplace: Mithila

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Blue water Lily

22.  Neminatha

Birthplace: Sauripura

Nirvana place: Girnar

Symbol: Shankha

23.  Parshvanatha

Birthplace: Varanasi

Nirvana place: Shikharji

Symbol: Snake

24.  Mahavira

Birthplace: Kundalapura

Nirvana place: Pavapuri

Symbol: Lion

Conclusion

These are the main founders of Jainism and there are 6 million followers. Tirthankara played an important role in establishing a better path for humankind via Jainism.

At Secret Temples, you will learn about detailed knowledge of Jainism.

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