Adinath Bhagwan

 श्री आदिनाथ भगवान्

 The first tirthankara of the Jainas, Rishabha, is not only the founder of the Jain  four-fold order, but is also the originator of the social organisation, the first lord of the earth and also the first to renounce the world to embrace and indicate the spiritual path.

 In the Jaina view, the advent of the first TIRTHANKARA became necessary in that phase of the  time-cycle when lapses just started appearing on the part of human beings and when due to  the growing barrenness of the subsistence trees(KALPA-BRIKSHAS), food was becoming more  difficult to get.  So some leader of men was necessary to establish order and to impart  training in the art of living.

We need not go into the details of the previous birth experiences of Rishabha nor into  his ancestry which consisted of a line of twins who later lived as man and wife.  His own  parents were patriarch (KULAKARA) Nabhi and his consort Marudevi.  His conception and birth were duly celebrated by the celestial beings.  He was born on the eighth day of the dark half  of Chaitra.  As was the natural order of the time, along with him was born his sister and  would-be consort Sumangala.  The boy was named Rishabha, since he bore the mark of a bull  on his thigh and his mother too saw a bull in her first dream.  When he was one year old,  seated on  the laps of his father, he received a piece of sugarcane (IKSHU) as a homage from  Indra, the leader of gods, by virtue of which the line took the name as Ikshvaku.  At the  ripe age he was married to his partner-at-birth Sumangala and also another Sunanda who, so goes the story, had lost her partner-at-birth in an accident and was recovered weeping from  the wilderness.  In fact, the marriage between Rishabha and Sunanda was the first ceremonial  marriage outside a partner-at-birth and, it appears, was so ordained in order to introduce  the ceremonial.  Prior to this, twins, initially brother and sister, used to live as man and wife on the attainment of youth without any social ceremony.  Then Rishabha, in deference to the wishes of his people, ascended the throne as the first monarch, his ancestors being all patriarchs by consent, without full royal authority.  It is difficult to say if Rishabha's assumption of office bore any semblance with Rousseau's SOCIAL CONTRACT.  At the divine order, a city was then constructed to be his capital.  Initially clled Vineeta because of the obeisance of the people to their first lord, the city later became famous as Ayodhya.

 Followed by a large retinue of monks, Rishabha now took to a wandering career, sleepless and without food and drink.  The lay people did not know how to make an offer of  food and drink to a monk.  The monks that were following him were all exhausted.  Utterly  starved and breathless, they broke away from him, took fruits and roots from a forest and  drank the necterine water from Ganga.  But the Lord was perturbed and thus a year rolled off.  
He was now at Hastinapura and he broke his fast here with cane juice offered by his own grandson Sreyansa Kumara who was reigning here.  For, at the very sight of the Lord the  prince could know what type of food was acceptable to a monk and the mode of offer and  accordingly he made the offer which was accepted.  This event took place on the third day in  the second half of Vaisakha when the gods arranged a non-ending shower of gems to celebrate  the occassion which henceforth became known as the AKSHAYA-TRITIYA day.  This day is held auspicious by all the Indians--Jaina as well as Hindu.  After the Lord's departure, Sreyansa  Kumara erected a holy altar at the place where the Lord had broken his fast and engaged
himself to worship it.

Once, in the course of his wanderings, the Lord reached the kingdom of Bahuvali.  He halted in a park outside the city of Taxila.  The king having received the news of the Lord's arrival gave orders for a full decoration of the town and an elaborate reception.  All this, however, took time and when at last the king reached the park, the Lord had already departed.  This was highly distressing and the king was penitent.  The ministers prevailed  upon him to have a DARSANA of the Lord's holy footprints and to feel himself to be in the presence of the Lord.  Bahuvali did accordingly.
Even the order of ganadharas (spiritual stalwarts who were named leaders of different  ganas or church-segments under the lord )was named  by the lord.  This order was headed by  Rishabhasena, who was Bharata's son.  Then he gave the fundamentals of the Jaina religion-the  SUTRAS, SUTRARTHAS, DRAVYAS, GUNAS, PARYAYAS and NAYAS. In this way, the Lord established the TIRTHA and equipped it with complete tenets, because of which he became the First TIRTHANKARA.

When Rishabha was at the height of spiritual power, Bharata, by dint of his world conquest, was at the acme of his temporal power.  A CHAKRA-RATNA was born in his armoury.  With the help of this he conquerred the six segments of the land and became a CHAKRAVARTI-monarch.  It was from him, so goes the tradition, that the country took its name as BHARATA-VARSHA.

With his earthly mission nearing completion, the Lord gave up his mortal frame through fasting.  His final moment was spent on the Ashtapada mountain (Mount Kailasa).  This was an occasion of great sorrow for all categories of beings, a great event for the universe, the exit of a TIRTHANKARA.  The Lord had left behind a huge family of spiritual stalwarts who were to uphold the Lord's path on the earth and propagate it to generations yet to be born.


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