Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | History
See also Jain Dharm; Avasarpinee and Utsarpinee; Yaksh and Yakshinee in Jains
In Jain religion, a Teerthankar is he who is enlightened - perfect knowledge through asceticism. There are 24 Teerthankar in Jain religion and every Teerthankar has revitalized the religion. He himself had been enlightened and he shows the path of enlightenment to others also. A Teerthankar is supposed to attain Moksh after spending his life span on Earth.
Jain believe that Time has no beginning and no end, it turns like a wheel of cart. There have been infinite number of time cycles before our Time and there will be many more after us. As of 2010, we are exactly 2,537 years into the 5th era of the present half-cycle. In each half-cycle 24 Teerthankar are born (48 in full cycle). In the current half-cycle, Rishabh Dev was the 1st Teerthankar and he lived sextillions of years ago and attained Moksh towards the 3rd era. The 24th and the last Teerthankar was Mahaaveer (599-527 BC) whose existence is a historical fact. The next Teerthankar in our part of the world will be born in the beginning of the 3rd era of the next half-cycle of Time, in approximately 81,500 years time. Although Teerthankar are not god or gods, because Jain do not believe in One Creator, but in gods as beings. (see also Avasarpinee and Utsarpinee)
Many Teerthankar's statues and images have been found. They are always shown in sitting position, cross-legged in front, and the right hand lying over the left in the lap. Only two Teerthankar are shown differently - Paarshwanaath (the 23rd one who has snake hoods over his head) and Supaarshwa (the 7th one with smaller group of snake hoods. Digambar statues are shown naked while Shwetaambar statues are shown clothed and wearing ornaments etc.
All but two are ascribed to Ikshwaaku family - Munisuvrat (the 20th one) and Neminaath (the 22nd one) are said to belong Harivansh family. But according to Jain, Rishabh was the founder of Ikshwaaku Vansh. All but Rishabh took Deekshaa and Kaivalya Gyaan (Complete Knowledge) at their native places; while Rishabh took Deekshaa at Pureemaatal, Nemi at Giranaar; and Mahaaveer at the Rijuvalook River.
20 Teerthankar attained Nirvaan at Sammet Shikhar. Rishabh attained Nirvaan at Kailaash Mountain or Ashtpad Mountain which is not visible to human eyes. Vasupoojya attained Nirvaan at Champaapuree in North Bengal, Neminaath on Mount Giranaar in Gujaraat, and Mahaaveer in Paavaapuree. 21 Teerthankar have been attained Moksh in the Kaayotsarg position (standing mediation), while Rishabh, Nemi and Mahaaveer got their Moksh in sitting position (Padmaasan).
List of Teerthankar
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 01/30/14