Jain Tirthankaras- An Introduction

In Jainism, Tirthankaras are human beings who have destroyed all their Ghati(destructive) karmas and become leaders and spiritual role models for those seeking salvation. They are entirely free of desires, passions and dwell exclusively within their soul. Due to their high degree of purity and spiritual advancement, they have unlimited powers which they use solely for the spiritual upliftment of mankind. At the end of their life span the Tirthankar becomes a Siddha ending the cycles of birth and death. Time or Kaal is beginningless and endless according to Jain philosophy. In each half cycle of time, 24 Tirthankaras are born. Thus in every time cycle 48 Tirthankaras are born in two batches of 24. The previous lives of Tirthankars were usually royalty as recorded in Jain tradition and their clan was usually recorded in legendary Hindu history.

There were 24 Tirthankaras who established the fourfold Sangha order consisting of monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen, namely Sadhus, Sadhvi, Shravak, Shravika respectively.

They were-

1. Rishabha

2. Ajitnath

3. Sambhavanath

4. Abhinandanath

5. Sumatinath

6. Padmaprabh

7. Suparshvanath

8. Chandraprabhu

9. Pushpadanta or Suvidhina

10. Sheetalnath

11. Shreyansanath

12. Vasupujya

13. Vimalnath

14. Ananthnath

15. Dharmanath

16. Shantinath

17. Kunthunath

18 Aranath

19. Mallinath

20. Munisuvrata

21. Nami Natha

22. Neminath

23. Parshvanath

24. Mahavir

Major Events of Tirthankaras celebrated

1. Chyavana Kalyanak - When the Tirthankar’s soul is conceived in the mother’s womb.

2. Janma Kalyanak - When the Tirthankar’s soul is born.

3. Diksha Kalyanak - When the Tirthankar’s soul gives up worldly possessions and becomes a monk

4. Kevaljnana Kalyanak - when the Tirthankar’s soul destroys the four ghati karmas and attains Kevaljnana or Absolute knowledge and delivers the first sermon.

5. Nirvana Kalyanak - When the Tirthankar’s soul is liberated and he becomes a Siddha or liberated soul.