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Shri Rishabhadev (also known as Adinath or Adishvar)


Birth Place : Ayodhya (Kaushal) - Ishkavaku
Birth Date (or) Tithi : Chaitra Vad 8
Fathers Name : Nabiraja
Mothers Name : Marudevi
Lanchan (Sign) : Vrusabh
Nirvana Dham (or) Place: Ashtapad
Nirvana Date (or) Tithi : Magh Vad 13
Click Here to see Part of Shri Rishabhadev's life in pictures

The first Tirthankar Rishabhadev was born in the city of Ayodhya from the womb of queen Marudevi, the consort of the 14th Kulakar, king Nabhiraya. Exceptionally talented by birth, he belonged to the race of Ishkavaku. He was enthroned after Nabhiraya. During his rule, he initiated many works of public interest for his subjects and taught them to earn their livelihood by dint of six types of activities, such as, sword, pen, farming, technology, commerce and craft. (prjapatiryah prathamam jijivi suh sasasa krsyadisu karmasu prajah - Acharya Samantabhadra, Svayambhu Stotra). Since life had become difficult in the absence of the Kalpa trees, which had started disappearing with the land of pleasures, some alternative arrangements were essential to avoid the tension arising out of the difficulty in earning livelihood. With the emergence of the land of spiritual activity (karmbhumi) all necessary arrangements were initiated by king Rishabhadeva, for which he was given diverse names, such as, Prajapati, Brahma; Vidhata, Adipurush, etc. 

As prince, Rishabhadeva was married and had two wives, Yasasvati and Sunanda. Yasasvati had a second name which was Nanda. Rishabhadeva had 101 sons and 2 daughters. Queen Yasasvati gave birth to 100 sons starting with Bharata and one daughter named Brahmi. Sunanda gave birth to a boy named Bahubali and a girl named Sundari. 

On the one hand, he trained his sons in difficult skills like fighting, on the other he trained his two daughters. Brahmi and Sundari, in the science of letters and the science of numerals respectively. The Brahmi script, named after the princess had been widely used in our ancient inscriptions. Regarding this Brahmi script.All Dravidian languages have their genesis in the Brahmi Script .According to the well-known Jain tradition in South India, Brahmi was the daughter of Rishabhadeva. It was Risabha-deva who was the inventor of 18 scripts of which one became Kannada.

Although the word 'vidya' has a wide connotation, in the field of learning, it has many branches other than letters and numerals. In spite of that, at the present time, vidya includes those branches wherein numerals and letters are in wide use. 

Those who know these are considered to be educated, and the rest uneducated, even though the latter may have expertise in their own fields. Education today stand for education in letters and numerals. In the field of education, women are still lagging behind. Though female education has been much publicised, and propagated in these years, even then the situation has been far from satisfactory and it has not brought women at par with men. It was further pitiable 50 or 60 years ago. It is considered to be a matter of good luck if out of a lakh of women, a few are gifted with education. It is not the function of women to acquire education. Such an ideology has been the main factor which has prevented and hampered the growth of female education. It was Rishabhadeva who first imparted education to his daughters. This should clearly indicate the attitude of the Jains to female education. 

One day (the ninth day of the dark half of Chaitra), king Rishabhadeva was seated on his throne surrounded by hundreds of kings and the dance by the nymph (apasara) Nilanjana was in progress. Rishabhadeva and other members of the illustrious assembly were delighted by the dance, but ill-luck prevailing, her life-span was over just then, so that Indra at once replaced her by another similar divine dancer. Although Indra had done all this with skill and speed so that none else could perceive the change, but it did not escape the penetrating vision of Rishabhadeva. As soon as he realised the transistorizes of the worldly life, his attachment for it faded and he was full of detachment. He decided to be initiated in the digambar order. 

As soon as the Lokantik "gods" came to know this, they gave full approval to this desire of Rishabhadeva. Though the relatives and other members of the royal household tried very humbly to desist him from his resolve, they could not make him sway from his pious resolve. Ultimately, he abdicated and enthroned Bharata in Ayodhya and Bahubali at Podanapur; and became a monk. 

Along with him, about four hundred kings joined the digamber order as monks. They followed the king because of their emotional attachment for him rather than their faith. When monk Rishabha steeped in meditation, he remained meditating for six months continuously. Likewise fortitude and heroism was absent in these kings who had in a moment of enthusiasm assumed the role of a monk. They were very disturbed by hunger and thirst. Rishabhadeva was mute all the time and other monks did not have anyone to guide them. In fact, before initiation, they had not taken the permission of Rishabhadeva. Being deeply immersed in meditation, Rishabhadeva had no idea about the predicament of these monks. In the end, these monks had to satisfy their hunger by taking wild vegetation and they began to dress according to their own imagination. 

In this manner, bad saintliness and bad religion got started with good saintliness and good religion. In the land of enjoyment all living beings attain heaven as dev's after death, but with the emergence of the land of spiritual activity, wherefrom started the road to liberation, as also opened the road to four-fold existence. Among those four thousand who had deviated from the right path, there was one Marichi who, having passed through many good and bad lives ultimately ended as the final Tirthankar Mahaveer. 

When after six months, the meditation of monk Rishabhadeva ended, he went out to collect food, but because of the emergence of the land of spiritual activity, none knew how to make an offer to the monk. He could not get food for seven months and nine days. Thus on the expiry of a total period of one year one month and nine days, he obtained food for the first time in the city of Hastinapur from the hands of Shreyans, the brother of king Somaprabha. Shreyans had recollected by dint of his memory of the previous births the manner of offering food to a monk, and thus he was able to make the offer. The great monk took his meal on the third day of the second half of Vaisakh and since then that day has been called Akshay Tritiya which is an occasion for country-wide festivity. In this manner, the founder of the religious order (dharma-tirtha) is Tirthankar Rishabhadeva and of charity (daan-tirth) is Shreyans. 

Monk Rishabhadeva continued to perform the severest penance, both internal and external, for the realisation of self, by remaining mute for a thousand years. One day as he was completely immersed in self, he attained the highest, the supreme knowledge (keval-gnaan). Indra, the king of the "gods", came down to organise his first congregation (samvasaran). Brisabhasen, the younger brother of king Bharata became his first Ganadhar. Both the daughters of Risabha, Brahmi and Sundari, joined the order as nuns (Aryika) and took charge of the female section of the spiritual order. Quite a large number of the four thousand kings who got initiated into monk-hood with Rishabhadeva and then parted company, came back to join the order and were initiated into it by Rishabhadeva. But because of passion, Marichi did not rectify his mistake and started opposing Bhagwan Rishabhadeva by propagating an alternative faith of his own. 

Then on the expiry of his life-span, Bhagwan Rishabhadeva discarded his mortal frame on the top of Mount Kailash and entered into nirvana. As he was the first Tirthankar of the present down-phase of the cycle, he has also been called Adinath. 

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