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- The name of two Jain Tirthankaras (prophets or gurus), Rishabha & Arishtanemi, are found in the Rigveda.
- The Vishnu Purana & the Bhagavat Purana describe Rishabha as incarnation of Narayana.
- There were 24 tirthankaras, all kshatriyas & belonging to the Royal family.
- The first was Rishabha, the founder of Jainism & the last twenty fourth was Mahavira.
- Swami Parshavanath the twenty-third Tirthankara was son of Ashvasena, the king of Kashi. He was born about 250 years before Mahavira.
- Mahavira adopted prakrit language which was the language of common people. Religious literature was written in Ardh magadhi.
Vardhamana Mahavira –
- Mahavira was born in village Kundagrama, a suburb of Vaishali in district Muzzaffarpur (Bihar) in a kshatriya family in 540 B.C (according to some historian he was born in 599 B.C. & according to some others in 568 B.C.).
- His father Siddhartha was the head of the Jnatrika clan & mother Trishala was sister of the renowned Lichchavi king Chetak.
- Married to Yashoda & had a daughter Anojja (also called as Priyadarshana) whose husband, Jamali, became the first disciple of Mahavira.
- Became an ascetic at 30 after the death of his parents & attained perfect knowledge at 42 under a sal tree at Jrimbhikagrama on the banks of River Rejupalika.
- From now on-wards he was called Jaina or Jitendriya (one who has conquered his senses), Nirgrantha (free from all bonds) & Mahavira (the brave) & his followers were named Jain.
- For the remaining thirty years Mahavira moved from place to place & preached his doctrine in Kosala, Magadh, Mithila & Champa etc.
- At the age of 72, he attained Kaivalya (death) at Pava, near Patna in 468 B.C.(according to some historians in 527 B.C.).
Teachings of Jainism –
- He rejected the authority of the Vedas & its associated rituals & advocated an austere & simple life.
- Believed in dualistic philosophy & held that matter & soul are the only two ever existing elements.
- Did not believe in the existence of God & for him Universe was a product of nature- the outcome of cause & effect.
- Did not oppose Caste System & believed in karma & transmigration of soul.
- Syavada – truth can be approached from different view points & thus can be affirmed only with a degree of probability & is never final.
- Five cardinal principles of Jainism (Panch Mahavratas) –
- Ahimsa – Non-Violence.
- Asateya – No Stealing.
- Aparigraha – Non-possession.
- Satya – Truth.
- Brahmacharya – Celibacy.
- Ratnatraya (Three Jewels)- Right knowledge, Right Faith & Right Action.
- In Jainism the devotees (siddhas) have been classified in five categories, in the descending order- Tirthankara– who has attained salvation; Arhat– Who is about to attain nirvana; Acharya– the head of the ascetic group; Upadhyaya– teacher or saint; Sadhu, class which include the rest.