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Title: Tirthankara  
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Subject: Ikshvaku dynasty, Jain rituals and festivals, Panch Kalyanaka, Jainism in Goa, Mahavira
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In Jain community, a fourfold order of male and female monastics, srāvakas (male followers) and śrāvikās (female followers).[7]

Twenty-four tirthankaras grace each half of the cosmic time cycle in Jain cosmology. The 24th tīrthankara of the current cycle was Mahavira, who was a contemporary of Gautama Buddha.[2]


  • Overview 1
  • Five life events (pañca kalyāṇaka) 2
  • Samavasarana 3
  • Tīrthaṅkaras of present cosmic age 4
  • List of the 24 tirthankaras 5
    • Present cosmic age 5.1
    • Next cosmic age 5.2
  • Gallery 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9


Image of the tirthankara Rishabha, Ajmer Jain Temple

The tirthankaras' teachings form the basis for the Jain canons. The inner knowledge of tirthankara is believed to be perfect and identical in every respect and their teachings do not contradict one another. However, the degree of elaboration varies according to the spiritual advancement and purity of the society during their period of leadership. The higher the spiritual advancement and purity of mind of the society, the lower the elaboration required.

While tirthankaras are documented and revered by Jains, their grace is said to be available to all living beings, regardless of religious orientation.[8]

Tīrthaṅkaras are arihants who after attaining kevalajñāna (pure infinite knowledge)[9] preach the true dharma. An Arihant is also called Jina (victor), that is one who has conquered inner enemies such as anger, attachment, pride and greed.[5] They dwell exclusively within the realm of their Soul, and are entirely free of kashayas, inner passions, and personal desires. As a result of this, unlimited siddhis, or spiritual powers, are readily available to them – which they use exclusively for the spiritual elevation of living beings. Through darśana, divine vision, and deshna, divine speech, they help others in attaining kevalajñana, and moksha (final liberation) to anyone seeking it sincerely.

Tīrthaṅkara images are usually seated with their legs crossed in front, the toes of one foot resting close upon the knee of the other, and the right hand lying over the left in the lap.[1]

Five life events (pañca kalyāṇaka)

Auspicious dreams seen by a tirthankara's mother during pregnancy

The life of a tirthankara are marked with the following five auspicious events (Kalyanaka)-

  1. Gārbha kalyāṇaka (conception): When ātman (soul) of a tirthankara comes into his mother's womb.[10]
  2. Janma kalyāṇaka (birth): Birth of a tirthankara. Indra does an Abhisheka on the tirthankara on Mount Meru.[11]
  3. Dīkṣā kalyāṇaka (renunciation): When a tirthankara renounces all worldly possessions and become an ascetic.
  4. Jñāna kalyāṇaka: The event when a tirthankara attains kevalajñāna (infinite knowledge). A samavasarana (divine preaching hall) is erected from where he delivers sermons and restores sangha after that.
  5. Nirvāṇa kalyāṇaka (liberation): When a tirthankara leaves his mortal body, it is known as nirvana. It is followed by the final liberation, moksha. Their souls dwells in Siddhashila after that.


Samavasarana of a tirthankara

After attaining kevalajñāna, a tirthankara preaches the path to liberation in the samavasarana. According to Jain texts, the heavenly pavilion is erected by devas (heavenly beings) where devas, humans and animals assemble to hear the tirthankara.[12] A tirthankara's speech is intercepted by all humans and animals in their own language. It is believed that during this speech, there is no unhappiness for miles around the site.[13]

Tīrthaṅkaras of present cosmic age

Jainism postulates that time has no beginning or end. It moves like the wheel of a cart. Jains believe that exactly twenty-four tirthankaras are born in each half-cycle of time in this part of the universe. The first tirthankara was Mahavira (599-527 BC).[14]

In Jain tradition the tirthankaras were royal in their final lives, and Jain texts record details of their previous lives. Their clan and families are also among those recorded in very early, or legendary, Hindu history. Twenty two tirthankaras belonged to the Ikshvaku dynasty. Two tirthankaras - Munisuvrata, the twentieth, and Neminatha, the twenty-second - belonged to the Hari dynasty.[15] Jain canons state that Rishabha, the first tirthankara, founded the Ikshvaku dynasty.

In Jain tradition, the twenty tirthankaras achieved siddha status on mount Shikharji. Rishabha attained nirvana on Mount Kailash, Vasupujya at Champapuri in North Bengal, Neminatha on mount Girnar in Gujarat, and Mahavira, the last tirthankara, at Pawapuri, near modern Patna. Twenty-one of the tirthankaras are said to have attained moksha in the kayotsarga “standing meditation” posture, while Rishabha, Neminatha and Mahavira are said to have attained moksha in the lotus position.

List of the 24 tirthankaras

Present cosmic age

The tirthankara Neminatha, 12th century, Government Museum, Mathura

In chronological order, the names, emblems and colours of the 24 tirthankaras of this age are mentioned below:[1][16][17] 1 dhanuṣa (bow) is equal to 6 ft and 4 hatha is equal to 1 dhanuṣa.

No. Name Symbol Colour Height
1 Rishabha (Adinatha) Bull Golden 500 dhanuṣa
2 Ajitanatha Elephant Golden 450 dhanuṣa
3 Sambhavanatha Horse Golden 400 dhanuṣa
4 Abhinandananatha Monkey Golden 350 dhanuṣa
5 Sumatinatha Goose Golden 300 dhanuṣa
6 Padmaprabha Padma Red 250 dhanuṣa
7 Suparshvanatha Swastika Golden 200 dhanuṣa
8 Chandraprabha Crescent Moon White 150 dhanuṣa
9 Pushpadanta Crocodile or Makara White 100 dhanuṣa
10 Shitalanatha Shrivatsa Golden 90 dhanuṣa
11 Shreyanasanatha Rhinoceros Golden 80 dhanuṣa
12 Vasupujya Buffalo Red 70 dhanusa
13 Vimalanatha Boar Golden 60 dhanusa
14 Anantanatha Porcupine according to the Digambara
Falcon according to the Śvētāmbara
Golden 50 dhanuṣa
15 Dharmanatha Vajra Golden 45 dhanuṣa
16 Shantinatha Antelope or deer Golden 40 dhanuṣa
17 Kunthunatha Goat Golden 35 dhanuṣa
18 Aranatha Nandyavarta or fish Golden 30 dhanuṣa
19 Māllīnātha Kalasha Blue 25 dhanuṣa
20 Munisuvrata Tortoise Black 20 dhanuṣa
21 Naminatha Blue lotus Golden 15 dhanuṣa
22 Neminatha Shankha Black 10 dhanuṣa
23 Parshvanatha Snake Blue 9 hatha
24 Mahavira Lion Golden 7 hatha

Next cosmic age

As per Jain cosmology, the wheel of time is divided in two halves, Utsarpiṇī or ascending time cycle and Avasarpiṇī, the descending time cycle. 24 tirthankaras are born in each half of this cycle. The 24 tirthankaras of the present age (avasarpinī) are the ones listed above. The names of the next 24, which will be born in utsarpinī age are as follows. [Mentioned in the parentheses is one of the (previous human birth) of that soul.]

  1. Padmanabha (King Shrenik)[18]
  2. Surdev (Mahavira's uncle Suparshva)
  3. Suparshva (King Kaunik's son king Udayi)
  4. Svamprabh (The ascetic Pottil)
  5. Sarvanubhuti (Sravaka Dridhayadha)
  6. Devshruti (Kartik's Shreshti]])
  7. Udaynath (Shravak Shamkha)
  8. Pedhalputra (Shravak Ananda)
  9. Pottil (Shravak Sunand)
  10. Shatak (Sharavak Shatak)
  11. Munivrat (Krishna's mother Devaki)
  12. Amam (Krishna)[19]
  13. Shrinishkashay (Satyaki Rudhra)
  14. Nishpulak (Krishna's brother Balbhadra also known as Balrama)
  15. Nirmam (Shravika Sulsa)
  16. Chitragupt (Krishna's brother's mother Rohini Devi)
  17. Samadhinath (Revati Gathapatni)
  18. Samvarnath (Sharavak Shattilak)
  19. Yashodhar (Rishi Dwipayan)
  20. Vijay (Karna of Mahabharata)
  21. Malyadev (Nirgranthaputra or Mallanarada)
  22. Devachandra (Shravak Ambadh)
  23. Anantvirya (Shravak Amar)
  24. Shribhadrakar (Shanak)


See also


  1. ^ a b c "Britannica Tirthankar Definition". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Taliaferro, Charles and Marty, Elsa J. (2010). A Dictionary of Philosophy of Religion. A&C Black. p. 286.  
  3. ^ Balcerowicz 2009, p. 16.
  4. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 169-170.
  5. ^ a b Sangave 2001, p. 16.
  6. ^ Sangave, Vilas Adinath (2001). Facets of Jainology: Selected Research Papers on Jain Society, Religion, and Culture. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan.  
  7. ^ Balcerowicz 2009, p. 17.
  8. ^ Flügel, P. (2010). The Jaina Cult of Relic Stūpas. Numen: International Review For The History Of Religions, 57(3/4), 389-504. doi:10.1163/156852710X501351
  9. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 164.
  10. ^ Kalyanak
  11. ^ Wiley, Kristi L. (2009). The A to Z of Jainism. Scarecrow Press. pp. 200, 246.  
  12. ^ Jain 2015, p. 200.
  13. ^ Pramansagar 2008, p. 39-43.
  14. ^ Vir Sanghvi. "Rude Travel: Down The Sages". Hindustan Times. 
  15. ^ Jain 2015, p. 151.
  16. ^ Jain 2015, p. 181-208.
  17. ^ Tirthankara (EMBLEMS OR SYMBOLS) pdf
  18. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 276.
  19. ^ Choksi & Chhapia 2011.


  • Jain, Vijay K. (2015), Acarya Samantabhadra’s Svayambhustotra: Adoration of The Twenty-four Tirthankara, Vikalp Printers,  
  • Choksi, Mansi; Chhapia, Hemali (10 February 2011), Now, meet Ravan the saint,  
  • Balcerowicz, Piotr (2009), Jainism and the definition of religion (1st ed.), Mumbai: Hindi Granth Karyalay,  
  • Pramansagar, Muni (2008), jain tattvavidya, India: Bhartiya Gyanpeeth,  
  • Sangave, Vilas Adinath (2001), Aspects of Jaina religion (3 ed.), New Delhi: Bharatiya Jnanpith,  
  • Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: A-Devo. 1987. 
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