Life of the great Jain Tirthankara Parshwanath | Dr. T.K. Jain, jain.tk@gmail.com


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Human life is divine life. This is the life that gives us an opportunity for upward movement. This life enables us to use our will power, decisions and actions for our liberation. This is the life that can transform our future. Through our determination, we can liberate ourselves from the cycle of birth and death. It is said that even gods take birth as human beings in order to liberate from the cycle of birth and death. Human life has the biggest advantage in the form of the power of thinking and the capability to withstand suffering through focus on soul and detachment. Human life gives us choices and opportunities for right knowledge, right conduct and right vision. It is the human being, who can enable others also to liberate and to elevate. There are many stories in Jain literature. These stories were known to every Jain person earlier, but now these are getting limited to books and libraries. These stories have a message hidden in them. The message is about self control, self regulation and ultimate goal of life. These stories also tell us about the rich tradition of Jain Saints, which can certainly inspire the next generations to lead a life of principles and commitments. One such story is presented here for the guidance of the younger generations. It is the story of Lord Parshwanath, who enabled a couple of snakes to rise to the level of gods (through re-birth). When a instantly. This The quality karma at the moment and contented being dies the body may not of its next that time. The of death death, with soul (jiva) goes to its next body be human or even animal. life is determined by its mental state of the beingat is also im portant: a calm the mind focussed on spiritual

matters, is the best. A beingachieves deliverance when it is free from all karma. This is not the same thing as enlightenment. An enlightened bei ng is free of all harmful karma, but still subject to the non‐harmful karma. Howe ver, a delivered beingcannot attract any harmful karma, and they cannot do anyt hing bad. Such a beingis called an arihant. Despite being still human, an ar ihant has perfect knowledge, and happiness.All the tirthankaras were arihants (but not vice versa). A tirthankara is an arihant who founds a religious community of monks and nuns . An enlightened beingdoes not achieve deliverance until all the non‐harmful karma has expired. During this time it continues to be embodied and can live in the world. Presently, you will not find a fully enlightened beingeven among the most holy of Jain monks, as Jain teaching states that no‐one has or will achieve enlightenment in the present time (in Jain terms, no person can become Tirthankara or KewalGyani during the 5t h and 6th spokes of the current time cycle). This story is about the period when Parshwanath was a prince. From the childhood, he had supernatural powers and perceptive ability. His characteristics made him distinct and different from others. Once while sitting in the window of his home, he saw that there was someone doing some magic in the road and lots of people were gathered there. He was filled with a curiosity. He immediately rushed to the spot with his servants. He saw a Tapas person buring some wood and displaying his magistic powers. Parshwanath was not impressed by him. The supernatural powers of Parshwanath enabled him to see snakes getting

burnt in the wood. He asked the person to save the snakes. The person (called Kamath Tapas or Tapas) didn’t agree and said that there was no snake. Parshwanath immediately got the snakes removed from the wood and tried to give them sermon and recited Navkar Mahamantra before them. They couldn’t survive for long and died. But the healing of Parshwanath worked in some sense. As per Jain philosophy, rebirth takes place as per the wishes and ideas at the time of death and on the basis of accumulated karmas. The snakes became Gods in their next birth and their names are Dharmendra and Padmawati. The Tapas was infuriated at the foresight of Parshwanath. He lost his image in the public and ultimately he had to leave the city. He died after some time and he also became a God. Later the King Parshwanath became monk and started doing meditation as per Jain systems (he used to do Kayotsarga in standing posture for days). Once he was doing Kayotsarga, suddently the Tapas (who was now a god called Meghmali) came there and started creating all types of problems for the monk. Parshwanath remained calm and engrossed in his meditation. Tapas created heavy rains and floods, and at that time Dharmendra and Padmawati came to rescue Parshwanath. They created a platform for Parshwanath and protected him from rains and water. They also repelled Tapas. Parshwanath remained engrossed in meditation. He had no hatred for Tapas and no attachment for Dharmendra and Padmawati. Jain stories tell us about 9 previous lives of Parshwanath and in each of the life he had some incident of encounter with Tapas. Thus the life Parshwanath was affected by Tapas in each and every life in the past nine lives and in each case Parshwanath remained firm on principlies of equanimity.

Parshwanath presents a life of calmness, determination and commitment before us. He focused on his goals of attaining salvation and therefore remained detached to the worldly incidents. He harboured no feelings (neigher hatred nor attachment) was thus able to liberate himself from the bondage of the world. The story of Parshwanath tells us how we can attain supreme status by practicing detachment, equanimity and concentration on the ultimate goals of life. Parshwanath became the 23rd Tirthankara in Indian history. He re-established the Jain systems. He established a Tirtha (Tirth doesn’t mean a place of worship, but a group of people who become liberated due to sermons and ultimate knowledge that is imparted. Thousands of people became Kewalgyani under him and thus got liberation).

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