Rsabhadeva and Other Tirthankaras
30. Rsabhadeva, the first Tirthankara of Jainism was the progenitor of the Iksvaku race from which the Surya and Candra Vamsas were branched off. He was himself belonged to the most primitive and indigenous race of India, the Manus. The other tribes like Rksa, Yaksa, Naga, Pani; Gandharva etc. termed under the name of Vidyadharas were his followers. They are called Dravidians. According to Jain tradition, Prince Dravid was one of the sons of Rsabhadeva. He was the progenitor of the race who later on came to be called as Dravidians.
31. Rsabhadeva, was born from the womb of Maru-Devi in Ayodhya, the birth place of so many other Tirthankaras also, long ago in the fourth age of time-cycle, traditionally 84,00, 000 Purvas, may be about six to eight thousand years in Pre-Aryan period. His father was Nabhi Who had one hundred sons. After the name of his eldest son Bharata, the Great Emperor, our country is known as Bharatavarsa. He introduced the Karmabhumi to human civilization and founded the social order, law and order and justice. He also taught the art of fighting (Asi), writing (Masi), cultivation of land (Krsi), trade (Vanijya), arts (Vidya), and crafts (Silpa).
32. After leading a domestic life for a quite long time, Rsabhadeva left the home, went to the forest to lead the life of penance and austerity, attained the Kevalajnana in Prayag and created a shore beyond the ocean of Sansara in the form of Dharma that requires the total renouncement of worldly attachment for achieving the spiritual excellence. He was the first preacher of Non-violence (Ahimsa) and asceticism and did excellent penance and followed the path of self- control, destroyed all the Karmas, became an omniscient and established the four-fold unity of the Sramanas, Sramanis, Sravakas and Sravikas in our era of present Avasarpini period. He was really a lord of Yogis (Yogesvara) (Srimad Bhagawatapurana, l.3.l3). He is also called Svayambhu and Mahadeva. Rsabhadeva attained Nirvana at Mount Kailasa in the fourth age of time-cycle.
33. Jainism does not believe in concept of incarnation (Avataravada) but in ascendance of man to Godhood (Uttaravada). According to its ideology, any one can become an omniscient, Tirthankara or Jina by way of developing one’s own internal qualities and spiritual development through leading a path of purification (Asceticism). Tirthankara Rsabhadeva followed such pious path of asceticism and reached to the highest status of soul.
34. Tirthankara Rsabhadeva has been referenced in the Vedic literature as has already been mentioned. The Rgved (4.58.3; l0.l36.l) clearly refers to his spiritual personality. The Vatarasanas people surviving on air and not eating must be related to Digambara Jainism (Munayo vatarasanah pisangah vasate malah— Rg.l0.ll.l36.2). Sayana also mentioned them as Atindryarthadarsi (Sayanabhasya, l0.l36.2). They are also referred to in the Taitriya Aranyayakas (l.23.2.l; 22.214.171.124). Keshi (Rg. 10.11.131.1) and Rsabhadeva (Rg.l0.9.l02-6.l36) are one and the same personalities (Rg.10.l36.l). So many other references to Rsabhadeva may be mentioned from the Rgveda (Rg.126.96.36.199; 188.8.131.52; 184.108.40.206 etc.) and other Vedas (Yajurveda, 20.46). The l5th Vratyakanda of the Atharvaveda is very important from standpoint of Jain Sramanic history and philosophy. Vratyas were Arhatas, the followers of Rsabhadeva. He is remembered as Bhagawan in the Chandogyopanisad (5.1).
35. All these references from Vedic literature submit a glimpse of Jain history. Vrsabha, Nabhi, Jatirupadhara, Vitaraga, Nagna, Digvasa, Vatarasana, Arhat, Jitendriaya, Kesi, Digamnbara, Sristanemi, Nirgrantha, Hiranyagarbha, Asura, Sisna, Dasyu, Paramesthi, Vratya, and such other words are closely related with Jain asceticism. The Bhagawat Purana submits Tirthankara Rsabhadeva’s life in detail, which is followed by Vishnu, Siva, Agni, Kurma, Markandeya, Vayu, and other Puranas. He is mentioned there as Mahayogi and the 8th incarnation of Visnu (5.4.9; 5.3.20; 11.2.15-20 etc.). Considering all these references, one may come to the conclusion that Bhagavan Shiva and Tirthankara Rsabha are identical (10.9.102.6). The Sivapurana refers to Rsabhadeva as one of the twenty-eight incarnations of Siva (4.47-48; 7.2.9), even prier to Rama and Krsna. Jinasena supports the view by saying “Ime tapodhanah diptatapaso vatvalkalah (Adipurana, 2.l8) and Munayo vatarasanah (ibid. 2.64) 18.
36. The Rgveda is supposed to be the first and oldest book of world. The majority of scholars are of view that it was composed sometimes between 4500 B.C. and 2000 B.C. Rsabhadeva was much anterior to these times. Professor S. Srikantha Sastri takes back the antiquity of Jain tradition to at least 20,000 B.C.19 The prehistoric Indus Valley civilization of Mohenjodaro and Harrappa supports the antiquity of Jainism and establish its independent existence. Sir John Marshal also asserts that the Indus and Vedic cultures were unrelated. He is of view that nude figures discovered there on the Seals posture of Yoga are no other than Yogis or Jain Sramanas.20 These statues clearly indicate that the people of the Indus Valley, in the Chalcolothic period not only practiced Yoga but worshipped the images of the Yogis 21 which are found in not of sitting, but of standing Kayotsarga posture and the Kayotsarga posture is the peculiarity of Jain asceticism as depicted in the Adipurana of Acarya Jinasena (l8.75-90) in connection with the penances of Rsabhadeva or Vrsabhadeva. Professor R.P.Chanda (in the Modern Review for August, l932, pp. l55-160) referring to the figures of standing deities on some six seals (Plate exviii, fig.7 of Sir John Marshall’s work on Mohenjo-daro) especially numbered (f), (g), (h), of plate ii [Ib]) expressed his views that the standing deity with a bull as an emblem in the foreground can be the forerunner of Rsabhadeva. If so, Jainism also, along with Saivism, must takes its place as one of the oldest religions of Chalcolithic origins. The reference has also already been made to the stone portrait head of a Yogi with the eyes fixed on the tip of the nose. Thus he pings over the status between the Indus and subsequent Indian civilization as phases in the common cultural evolution in Sindh Five Thousand Years Age.22 Megasthenes mentions the traditional beginning of Indian history from 6,462 year before the time when the Great Indian Dionysus and his son Hercules, had been living. This Megasthenes’s description undoubtedly indicates that Adideva Rsabhadeva and his son Bharata are meant thereby. Rsabhadeva’s another son Bahuvali, the Bharata’s younger brother is remembered by erecting the monumental 57 feet high world famous statue at Sravanablagola in the Karanataka state of India. The ancient script Brahmi is named after the daughter Brahmi of Rsabhadeva.
37. The historicity from Second to the Twenty-first Tirthankaras is not much known to us, may be mythical till proved by historical and archaeological evidence, though they are somehow mentioned in the Pali literature. 23 During this period, so many Great Risis and Munis in Vedic tradition have been referred to in the Vedic and Puranic literature. It appears that the Indus valley civilization had continued to flourish for quite a long time up to rise of Vedic Aryans and their Brahmanic culture. Further the country got gradual Aryanisation and expansion of the power of Vedic Aryans to a great culmination point.
38. During the period of Munisuvrata, the twentieth Tirthankara of Jainism, Rama, a great hero of both the systems of Brahmana and Sramana (Vratya) may have tried to reconcile between Vedic and Jain schools of thoughts. The animal sacrifice of Vedic religion was also questioned for the first time in his times. The mystic- spiritualistic thought was initiated in the form of Upanishads, which opposed the sacrificial cult, during the period of Twenty- first Tirhtankar Nami,
39. The twenty-second Tirthankara, Aristanemi or Neminatha is referred to in the Rgveda (7.32.20) and the Yajurveda (25.28). He was the cousin of Lord Krisna, the great Revivalist and apostle of Ahimsa who preached against killing of animals and shattered the leadership of Vedic Brahamanism. This may have been happened in about the l5th century B.C.