Rishabha (Adinath)

Parents : Nabhiraja and Marudevi
Website : www.ejainism.com, www.jainmuseum.com


Rishabhdev ( Adinath, Rushabh, Rushabhdev, Adinatha, Adishwar, Kesariyaji ); was the first of the 24 Tirthankars. He belonged to the House of Ikshwaku, which was also known as the "House of the Sun".

Rishabha was the first Tirthankar of the present age (Avasarpini). Because of this, he had the name of Ä€dināth - the original lord. He became a Siddha, a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma.

Rishabha was born to Nabhi Raja , Marudevi at Ayodhya in the Ikshvaku clan. According to Jain beliefs, Rishabha existed before civilization developed. He taught people agriculture, tending of animals, cooking, and more. He had one hundred and one sons (main among them Bharat Chakravati and Bahubali) and two daughters, Bhrami and Sundari. 

Rishabhdev started losing interest in mundane things and activities, and drifting toward detachment. He felt that he should transfer all his responsibilities to his sons and proceed towards liberation through spiritual practices. He also desired to reach the state of omniscience and consequently show the path of disciplined life and spiritual practices. His concept was that indulgence in mundane things does not give happiness. It gives only an illusion of happiness. True happiness is derived out of freedom from mundane indulgences.

Following the stream of his thoughts Rishabhdev divided the area of his rule between his one hundred sons. Bharat was given the state of Ayodhya and Bahubali that of Takshashila. Getting free of the responsibilities of the state, Rishabhdev decided to take Diksha (the formal initiation into the ascetic way). At that time the gods from the edge of the universe (the Lokantikdev) arrived and requested, "O savior of the human race! Your desire to show the path of renunciation to the mankind is admirable, kindly proceed soon to the task of propagating Dharma." After one year of meritorious charity, Rishabhdev sat in the palanquin named Sudarshan and arrived in the Siddharth-vana garden. It was the eighth day of the dark half of the month of Chaitra when, under an Ashok tree, Rishabhdev abandoned all his apparels and ornaments. He started pulling out his long strands of hair. After four fistfuls, when he was pulling out the fifth fistful of hair Indra said, "Sire! This strand of hair on the crown of your head and hanging down over your shoulders looks attractive. Kindly leave it as it is." Rishabhdev agreed. Due to this bunch of hair he got the popular name-KeshariyaJi (one with hair). The king of gods collected the hair pulled out by Rishabhdev in a divine cloth and immersed them in the divine ocean of milk.

When Bharat was to become a Chakravati (kings of kings) he asked his younger brother Bahubali to accept him as his king and protector. Bahubali refused, and both kings faced each other in battle. Wise men on both sides, to avoid major bloodshed, requested both kings to fight individually without army to decide the victor. Bharat, being the elder brother first punched Bahubali on his head and, because of the punch's enormous power, Bahubali sank into the ground up to his knees. Then, it was Bahubali's turn. Bahubali's name means 'Bahu' - Arm, and 'Bali' - Strength, he was known for the immense strength of his arm. Instead of landing a blow on his older brother with his raised arm, he simply changed direction, pulling out his own hair with the same hand, thus avoiding striking Bharat. With this, he put aside all of his possessions, and became a solitary renunciant. Learning from this example, Bharat came to understand the folly of his greed for land, money, and power forgiving his younger brother. Bharat continued to rule for some time, until eventually joining Lord Rishabdev as a solitary renunciant.

For one thousand years Bhagavan Rishabhdev continued his harsh spiritual practices completely ignoring his body and other mundane activities. On the eleventh day of the dark half of the month of Phalgun he was meditating under a banyan tree in the Shakatmukh garden outside Purimtal town, close to Ayodhya. Around forenoon he transcended to the purest higher state of meditation. The intensity of his practice caused the shedding of the knowledge and perception obscuring Karmas as well as the illusory Karmas. As a result, he attained omniscience, the purest and enlightened state of soul. Rishabhdev became a Jina.