Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | History
26-Indian History BC-1 - Jain Dharm
See also Teerthankar; Avasarpinee and Utsarpinee; Yaksh and Yakshinee in Jain Dharm; Ranakpur Jain Temple; Shatrunjaya Temples
Some rare Jain books are on the site: http://www.jainlibrary.org/
India has a
continuous civilization since 2500 BC. During the 2nd millennium, Aryan
speaking tribes migrated from northwest into the Indian subcontinent. From
"The Aangirasa Dictionary of the Hindu Religion and Culture", by
Aangiras Muni. 1999.
As the world degenerates and regenerates, the Jains believe worthy beings will appear on the Earth as they are since time immemorial. Six hundred years before Jesus Christ, around the time the Shaakya prince, Gautam, who later became the Buddha, another prince walked away from his palace to become a hermit. After years of meditation and contemplation, the hermit attained perfect enlightenment. The mysteries of cosmos un-folded before him. He shared his wisdom with the rest of humanity before ascending to his heavenly abode. The hermit's name was Vardhamaan. He lived in the land known today as Bihaar. He became renowned as the Jeen, the true conqueror, and specifically as Mahaaveer, the bravest of the braves who confronted the material world and triumphed over it. He had done something that even the gods could not do. He was therefore greater than the gods, worthy of worship.
He was recognized as Teerthankar, the seer who finds the ford that takes everyone across the river of material misery. It is said that when Trishalaa finally gave birth to Mahaaveer, the gods' king Indra bathed the newborn himself with celestial milk, a ritual essentially marking him as a Teerthankar. His words form the foundation of Jainism the non-violent path of true conquerors. his path advocates truth, simplicity, purity and continence.
But Mahaaveer is not the founder of Jainism. He merely transmitted the eternal wisdom of the cosmos. This has happened before too. The cosmos has been revealing its wisdom to many Teerthankar who have walked this Earth since the dawn of time. According to Jain metaphysics, the cosmos has no beginning or end; it is forever going through alternate cycles of degeneration and regeneration known as Ava-sarpinee and Uta-sarpinee. In Ava-sarpinee, life on earth worsens while in Uta-sarpinee things improve. In each cycle, there appear 63 worthy beings known as Sala-kapurushas. These include:
A Teerthankar or bridge-finder is a wise seer who rediscovers the Jain way. To the Jain, he is greater than the gods because he transcends the laws of Space and Time. In the Jain worldview, actions or Karm are responsible for ensnaring the soul in the flesh and for entrapping all beings in the material world. The Teerthankar provides all creatures with the means to liberate the soul from the confines of the body and to rise towards bliss, enlightenment and release from the eternal cycle of rebirth.
He advocates continence, truth, non-violence, simplicity and purity for those who seek liberation. Every Teerthankar is represented by a symbol. The first Teerthankar Rishabh is represented by a bull. The last, Mahaaveer, is represented by a lion. Of interest is Nemi, the 22nd Teerthankar, represented by a conch-shell, who is said to be the cousin of Krishn, who is worshipped by Hindu. He is said to have renounced the world on the eve of his marriage after witnessing the plight of animals being slaughtered for his wedding feast.
A Chakravartee is the emperor of the world, Lord of the material realm. Though he possesses worldly powers, he often finds his ambitions dwarfed by the enormity of the cosmos. One of the greatest Chakravartee mentioned in Jain scriptures is Bharat in whose memory India came to be known as "Bhaarat Varsh". After conquering the whole world, King Bharat, brimming with pride, sought to inscribe his great feat on the slopes of Mount Meru. To his great dismay, he found names of many other kings carved on Meru. Like him, they too had conquered the world. He was not the first man to do so and certainly he should not be the last. There were many before him, there would be many after him. Bharat, humbled by the experience, returned to his kingdom to do his duty, aware that his actions were not unique and that his existence was not special.
A Vaasudev is
a hero who appears on Earth from time to time to save the world from the
villain Prati-vaasudev. He is always accompanied by a wiser, older and
gentler elder brother known as Baladev. Baladev upholds the Jain principle
of non-violence. Vaasudev however forsakes this principle for the good of
humanity as he has to kill Prati-vaasudev. Two very famous Vaasudev mentioned
in the Jain scriptures are Lakshman and Krishn. In the Jain Raamaayan, the
Raakshas King Raavan who abducted Seetaa, wife of the Prince Raam of Ayodhyaa,
is killed by Lakshman. Raam refrains from doing so. By adhering to non-violence,
he earns the more exalted rank of a Baladev. In the same way in the Jain
Mahaabhaarat, Krishn participates in the great Kurukshetra war supporting the
Paandav against the Kaurav to get rid of the world of unrighteous kings. He
thus becomes a Vaasudev, while His elder brother Sankarshan is the Baladev because
he refuses to fight the war and chooses to renounce the world instead.
In Jain Dharm there were 24 Teerthankars. Teerthankar is a man who has enlightenment through asceticism. A Teerthankar becomes a Jeen after conquering his desires, anger, pride etc. He is able to found a Teerth also. Popularly known it was founded by Mahaaveer Jee. He was a Prince who left his royal home to become an ascetic. He is believed to have received enlightenment after 12 years of rigorous hardship, penance and meditation. Then he preached for 30 years, stopping only in rainy season. He died at the age of 72 in 527 BC. His deat was commemorated by a special lamp festival in Bihaar, which Jains claim is the basis of now-common Hindu festival of Deepaavalee.
Jain Teerthankar 23rd Teerthankar -
24rth Teerthankar (the Last one) -
According to Jain Dharm followers, Rishabh Dev was the 1st Teerthankar of the 24 Teerthankars of their Dharm of the present age (Ava-sarpinee). He is known as Aadinaath, Rishabhnaath, Rushabh, Rushabhdev, or Aadeeshwar. That is why he is called Aadinaath also.
Rishabh was born to a King, King Naabhi Raajaa and Queen Maru Devee at Ayodhyaa, in Ikshwaaku Vansh. Rishabh has been mentioned as one of Vishnu's Avataar in Bhaagvat Puraan. (According to Bhaagvat Puraan, 5/2, Brahmaa -> Manu -> Uttaanpaad and Priyavrat - > Priyavrat had 10 sons, among them one was Aagneedhra. Aagneedhra had nine sons -> Naabhi etc. Naabhi had a son named Rishabh who was the incarnation of Vishnu.)
According to Jains, Rishabh thus existed even before civilization. He had 101 sons. His eldest son Bharat was a Chakravartee king. Since he had become a Siddh, he is occasionally worshipped. According to Jains, this India was named after his son Bharat, Bhaarat or Bhaarat Varsh. His second son was Baahubalee, his statue is still standing at Shravanbelaagolaa, Karnaatak. His grandson Mareechi's soul later became Mahaaveer. His long hair has been referred to as Ravishen in Padm Puraan and Bhaagvat Puraan also mentions his long hair. Jain scripts mention his height as several hundred kilometers which seems unbelievable.
Teerthankars are depicted in sitting position, cross-legged, toes of one foot resting close upon the knee of the other, and the right hand lying over the left in the lap. Only two are represented differently - the 7th one Supaarshwa and the 23rd one Paarshwanaath. Digambar represent quite nude, while Shwetaambar depict clothed and decorated with crowns and ornaments. All but two come from Ikashwaaku family - those two are Munisuvrat, the 20th one, and Neminaath, the 22nd one were of the Harivansh race. [for a detailed description of these Teerthankar see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirthankar
If we do not know the length of Poorv years (great years), at least we know the length of common years (present human years). We can easily guess that how old is this Jain Dharm. Dhanush is 6 feet long, so if somebody is 500 Dhanush tall, it means his height is 3,000 feet. In the same way 1 hand is equal to 18", it means if Mahaaveer was 7 hands tall, it means he was 126" = 10 1/2' tall. Mahaaveer's height doesn't seem so impossible as, in those days, people were very tall. See Chaanakya.
There are many Jain Temples in Mount Aaboo, Raajasthaan. The largest temple is in Ranakpur Temple, in Paalee District, in Raajasthaan.
Temples see also
Among the Jain temples here, the main ones are Aadi Naath, Kumaar Paal, Vimal Shaah, Samprati Raaj and Chaumukhaa. People say that every night the idols in the Temples get covered with a silver layer on their own and the priest of the temple takes it with him as a gift from god. Visiting this place at least once is desired by every man of Jain religion. Built in 1618, the Chaumukhaa temple is the largest temple of this place. Every year during Phaalgun Teras, Chaitra Poornimaa and on Akshyaa Triteeya a lot of Jains visit this place.
The diameter of the entire temples here is of 18 kms. Some people take this Parikramaa walking while others use a Rath. Every year thousands of foreign tourists also visit this place. For them there are many Dharm shaalaa too built here. It is said that in the 13th century AD two brothers Tej Paal and Vishu Paal made the path of stones to climb the hill. This place is also known as Pundareek Giri.
There are many historical places here as well. Every temple built here has its own story and history different from the other. This place can be reached via rail, road and air. Palitaanaa has a small railway station. This is the best mode of transport to reach this religious place. Palitaanaa bus stand is around 1 km from railway station. There are many buses that go to this religious place with not much waiting. According to Jainism, since ancient times Palitaanaa is a major site of salvation and Nirvaan of Jain saints and sages.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 04/22/13