Wednesday, November 25, 2009



According to the Jains, their religion originated in the remote antiquity. In the Rigveda there are references to Risabha, the first Tirthankara as claimed by the Jains. But there is no historical basis for the first 22 Tirthankaras. Only the last two Tirthankaras are historical personages. The twenty-third Tirthankara, Parsvanath, was the son of King Asvasena of Benares. He became an ascetic at the age of 30 and got enlightenment after 84 days of penance.

His main messages were: (i) non-injury, (ii) not to tell lies, (iii) non-stealing, and (iv) non-possession. He died on Mount Sammeta in Bengal at the age of 10(The twenty-fourth and last Tirthankara was Vardhamana Mahavira born in 540 BC in Kundagrama (now the place is Basarh) near Vaisali in north Bihar. His father, Siddhartha, was a chief of the Jnatrika clan, one of the confederates of the Lichchhavis of Vaisali. His mother, Trisala, was the sister of Chetaka, an eminent Lichchhavi prince of Vaisali. He was married to Yasoda and had a daughter called Priyadarsena, who later married Jamali, a disciple of Mahavira. At the age of 30, after the death of his parents, he became an ascetic. After 12 years of asceticism he attained full enlight­enment (kaivalya) at Jrimbhigrama and thus, conquered misery and happiness, So he became 'Mahavira'. He also got the title of Arhant, i.e. worthy, Jina (conqueror), and Tirthankara (fordmaker). In 468 Be, he died at the age of 72 at Pava, near Rajgir, east of Patna, by self-starvation.

Mahavira preached almost the same message as ParsvanathexcepUhat he.addedarfifth principle in Jainism­, vow of chastity. He. -also established the. chatur:oidTia by
formulating-rules and regulations for monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen.

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