Jain Vidya (2): First Tirthankar Bhagawan Rishabhdeva

Published: 07.01.2018

In Jaina tradition, time has been divided into two cycles called utsarpini (ascending cycle) and avasarpini (descending cycle). In the ascending cycle there is corresponding gradual progress and in the descending cycle, there is gradual regression. Each cycle has six aeons (Aras). At present we are living in the fifth aeon of the descending cycle of time i.e. Ara. It was in the third aeon of the present cycle that Rishbhdeva was born in the house family of Kulkar Nabhi. The name of Rishabh's mother was Marudeva. As Rishabhkumar reached youth he was married to Sunanda and Sumangala. Sunanda gave birth to a daughter and a son. The daughter was named Sundari and the son was named Bahubali. Sumangala gave birth to a daughter called Brahmi and 99 sons including Bharat.

The period that preceeded Rishab was called yougalika age. In those days, each couple gave birth to brother and sister twins. Since the children were born in pairs (yugala), the age was called yougalika. There prevailed no system of society, of masters and of hiring servant. The basic needs of the people were fulfilled through kalpa vriksha, the wish fulfilling tree. People lived in forests. [Due to increase in population and decrease in the quality of natural resources, people began to breach the laws. Hence need of a king was felt to manage the community].

Rishabhdev became the first king of that age. Due to his inborn genius, he made people began to emerge a new age, a new

civilization. Many cities were established and the people abandoned the system of living in forests and began to live in the cities. Rishabh trained the people into important professions called asi (use of weapons to protect themselves) masi (doing business), krishi (the methods of cultivating the land), he also taught them the duty of serving the people. He taught his daughter Brahmi 18 types of scripts and another daughter Sundari was given knowledge was given of mathematics. People became efficient in their professions and began to live happily in his kingdom. He ruled for a very long period. Then he planned to renounce his kingship. He gifted (entrusted) each of his hundred sons with the responsibility of ruling an independedent state and became an ascetic on Chaitra Krishna Asthami. (Eighth day of dark moon fortnight of chaitra month) He attained kaivalya (omniscience) after having led a life of austerities for one thousand years. He established a four-fold religious order and known to be the first Tirthankar of his age. His ninety eight sons also renounced their kingdoms and embraced asceticism under his spiritual leadership. Lord Rishabh lived the life of an ascetic for one lac purvas and attained nirvana.

Bharat became the first universal monarch (chakravarti). Our Country 'Bharat' was also named after him. One day he was meditating in his glass house, perceiving minutely the limbs of his body, his concentration deepened and he soon realized that this body and infact the whole world is perishable. Then and there his purity reached to higher stages and he attains Kaivalya (omniscience).

On account of egoistic passion Bahubali didn't go to Lord Rishabh for initiation. He initiated himself into asceticism and remained standing for one year in a posture of kayotsarga- a meditative state for self realization. He succeeded in suppressing all other passions except the ego which was dissipated when he was enlightened by his sister sadhvis Brahmi and Sundari. Now he became omniscient.

Rishabhdeva's mother Marudeva riding on an elephant was coming eagerly towards Samavasarana to have a glimpse of her Tirthankar son Rishabh. Lord Rishabh was sitting in a religious assembly.

Seeing this Marudeva's feelings and thoughts were sublimated. She attained keval gyana even being seated on the elephant and attained liberation.

Questions:

  1. Who was Rishabhdeva? In which aeon of the time cycle was he born?
  2. How many kinds of arts and crafts did he teach his sons?
  3. At what place did the universal monarch Bharata attain omniscience?
  4. Why did Bahubali not attain omniscience?
Sources
Title: Jain Vidya (2)
Editor: Muni Sumermal (Sudarshan)
Translation: Dr. Samani Shashi Pragya
Publisher: Samana Sanskriti Sankaya, Jain Vishwa Bharati, Ladnun
20th Edition: 2013
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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. ASI
  2. Ara
  3. Asi
  4. Avasarpini
  5. Bahubali
  6. Bharata
  7. Body
  8. Chakravarti
  9. Concentration
  10. Cycle of Time
  11. Gyana
  12. JAINA
  13. Jaina
  14. Kaivalya
  15. Kalpa
  16. Kalpa vriksha
  17. Krishna
  18. Lac
  19. Nirvana
  20. Omniscient
  21. Purvas
  22. Rishabh
  23. Rishabhdev
  24. Rishabhdeva
  25. Sadhvis
  26. Samavasarana
  27. Time Cycle
  28. Tirthankar
  29. Utsarpini
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