Illustrated Tirthankar Charitra
Shri Amar Muni
Important facts about the Tirthankars
During this descending cycle all the beings that became Tirthankars descended from the dimensions of gods in the Bharat area. Six months before the moment of descent, all the other gods get infused with special feeling of reverence for these would be Tirthankars and they express the feelings by bowing.
Even during pregnancy, the being destined to be a Tirthankar possesses three fold knowledge-Mati (intellect), Shruti (literal), and Avadhi (extrasensory) Jnan. He even uses this knowledge if and when need arises.
The Tirthankars do not feed on the mother’s milk. The king of gods appoints various goddesses as governesses to take care, with due respect, of chores like bathing, dressing, feeding, and nursing.
After the birth of a Tirthankar, 56 goddesses of directions arrive and perform the post-birth rituals. 64 Indras and other gods perform their traditional duties of joyous birth celebrations taking the new born Tirthankar Pandukvan on Meru mountain.
There are four unique congenital attributes of a Tirthankar-
1. The divine physical structure is free of sweat, glime or slime, and ailment.
2. His breath is fragrant.
3. Due to extreme compassion and tranquillity the reed blood corpuscles of a Tirthankar turn white. As such the color of flesh and blood of a Tirthankar is Milky white.
4. His food intake and excretion is invisible to normal human eye.
When they destroy the vitiating Karmas as a result of their higher spiritual practice and acquire virtues like omniscience, ultimate perception, all power, and capacity to propagate religions, then they attain the status of Arihant Tirthankar.
The eighteen vices are:
1-5. The five power hindrances (hindrance of charity, progress, pleasure, facility, and potency); 6. mirth; 7. fondness; 8. irritation; 9. fear; 10. hatred; 11. distress; 12. lust; 13. dogma; 14. ignorance; 15. slumber; 16. indulgence; 17. attachment; and 18. aversion.
There is another such list of vice:
1. dogma; 2. ignorance; 3. pride; 4. anger; 5. illusion; 6. greed; 7. fondness; 8. irritation; 9. slumber; 10. distress; 11. falsity; 12. larcency; 13. jealousy; 14. fear; 15. violence; 16. love; 17. enjoy; and 18. mirth.
The first Tirthankar, Rishabhdev, in his earlier incarnation, had the knowledge of all fourteen subtle canons. All the other twenty three Tirthankars, In their earlier incarnations had the knowledge of only eleven canons.
As soon as the status of Tirthankar is attained Indra creates the divine pavilion (Samavasaran). In the assembly in this pavilion the Tirthankar gives discourses in the Ardha-Magadhi language with the view that the common man may be benefited. The Samavasaran is attended by all, including men, gods, and animals. In this first discourse at least one individual gets inspired to abandon mundane life and become and ascetic. Bhagavan sits in the lotus pose in the Samavasaran.
Vasupujya, Malli, Nami, Parshva, and Vardhaman became ascetics as princes during the first third part of their life. Remaining nineteen Tirthankars became ascetics as kings during the last third part of their life. (The three divisions of age are equal parts of average age of human beings of a specific era).
Bhagavan Mahavir was initiated alone, Parshvanath and Mallinath with three hundred persons each, Vasupujya with six hundred, Rishabh with four thousand and the remaining Tirthankars with one thousand persons each.
Tirthankar Shreyans, Malli, Munisuvrat, Arishtanemi, and Parshva all took Diksha during forenoon, and the remaining nineteen during the afternoon. Sumati took Diksha after having meals, Malli and Parshva after a three day fast, Vasupujya after one day fast, and the remaining Tirthankars after two days fasts (on the last day of the fasting period).
All the Tirthankars of Bharat and Airavat areas except the first and last propagate for dimensional religion or the religion with four great vows as its central theme. The four vows are abandonment of or refraining from: 1. all types of violence, 2. all types of falsity, 3. all types of unoffered acquisition, and 4. all types of possessions. The first and the last Tirthankars propagate five dimensional religion by adding the vow of abandonment of all types of lustful activities to the above four.
The area of the divine pavilion of Rishabh was 12 Yojans. There was a gradual reduction of 2 Kosa (1/2 Yojan) in this area for succeeding Tirthankars till Naminath (22nd). The area of the divine pavilion of the twenty-third Tirthankar, Parshvananth, was 1.5 Yojans and that of Mahavir was one Yojan. These dimensions are for the descending cycle, that for the ascending cycle are the same but in reverse order. In the Videh area the dimension is 12 Yojans uniformly. Indranilmani (Sapphire) is essentially used in the decoration of these Samavasarans.
Rishabh, Arishtanemi, and Mahavir all three were sitting in the Paryankasan (a specific yogic posture) and the remaining twenty one were standing in the Kayotsarg Mudra (a yogic posture) at the moment of liberation.
Rishabhdev was liberated at the Ashtapad mountain, Arishatanemi at Girnar mountain, Vasupujya at Champa town, Mahavir at Pava town and all the rest at Sammetshikhar (Parasnath hills).