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The Ganadhara Gautam Swami was the chief disciple of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankara. His real name was Indrabhuti Gautam, but he is after referred to as Gautama because that was his gotra. He was born in the Gochchar village in the Magadh kingdom to a Brahmin couple Vasubhuti and Prithvi. He had 500 students studying with him while he was conducing a yajna at Madhyam Pava.
Lord Mahavira, after having attained kevalajnana, came to Vipula hill just outside the capital Rajagriha of King Shrenika. According to the tradition he was awaiting suitable disciples before commencing his public teachings.
The Indra asked him to explain the meaning of a verse:
पंचेव अत्थिकाया छज्जीव णिकाया महव्वया पंच |
अट्ठयपवयण-मादा सहेउओ बंध-मोक्खो य ||
When he was unable to explain the verse, the Indra advised him to visit the samosharana of Lord Mahavira so that he can learn the meaning of the verse.
As he was approaching the set of Lord Mahavira at his gandhakuti, he saw the lofty manastambha (the column of pride). Seeing the manastambha, his pride vanished and he was filled with humility.
He became the chief disciple of Lord Mahavira at the age of 50. The day he took diksha is celebrated as Guru Purnima.
His brothers Agnibhuti and Vayubhuti, both scholars of distinction, also became Ganadharas of Lord Mahavira. He obtained salvation in Nawada.
According to Shwetambar scripture Kalpasutra,Indrabhuti the great Brahman was preparing for yagna[a holy sacrifice]along with his 500 disciples which included his learned brothers Agnibhuti and Vayubhuti. He was so learned and spiritually powerful person that when ever he performed a yagna Indra along with other devi-devtas [demi-gods] would attend the same. The same was aught to happen this time too, Indrabhuti observes the devi-devtas arriving from the sky in their divine vehicles, but to his shock neither of them stopped at his ashram [hermitage] but passed over it without even giving an eye to Indrabhuti. This hurt Indrabhuti's ego making him think that who suddenly became more powerful than he was. He decided to follow the vehicles of devtas to reach that person and challenge him for a shastrarth [scriptural debate] and defeat him. But little did he know that his life was going to change forever. Indrabhuti reaches the place where the devtas stopped and climbed a beautiful Samvosaran [sermon] of Lord Mahavir. Indrabhuti's ego melted away at the sight of the Manasthambha and his curiosity rose to see the person inside the Samvosaran. By then all his 500 disciples reached there after him. Indrabhuti started climbing the steps of Samvosaran. Each step he climbed his ego melted and finally he sees the face of the person he wanted to defeat - it was Lord Mahavir. Seeing the divine face his ego melted completely and he thought "what a divine face, how calm and pure his expressions are. How mature but at the same time innocent his face is" but before he completed his thought Lord Mahavir called him "Goyama" [Gautama], leaving a surprise in Indrabhuti's mind that how does he know him and his Gotra, but before he could he react Lord said "being a learned Brahman why still do you doubt the existence of the atman [soul]. "Now this came as a shock to indrabhuti as this indeed was his doubt and he had not shared it with any one yet, Lord continued and cleared his doubt by reciting a shloka from the upanishads itself and similarly he cleared the doubts of Agnibhuti and Vayubhuti. Indrabhuti along with his 500 disciples became so dispassioned that they asked Lord to give them Diksha and become ascetics to which Lord obliged and made them his disciples, and Indrabhuti was then known as Gautam swami.
The Jain Monastic Lineages 
- The Kevalis (those who attained kavalagyana)
- Mahavira Swami
- Gautam Swami
- Lohacharya (Sudharma Swami)
- Jambu Swami
- The Shruta Kevalis (who knew the complete oral texts)
According to Digambara tradition:
According to Svetambara tradition:
Bhadrabahu was the last leader of the undivided Sangha. After him there were two branches in the lineage. In both branches, some of the oral tradition was gradually lost. The two branches eventually became the two traditions Digambaras and the Svetambaras, although formal recognition of the separation is encountered in the 5th century CE.
The Lineages after Bhadrabahu 
All Jain monks today trace their lineage from Bhadrabahu.
- Bhadrabahu, the shruta-kevali
- Visakha, the 10-purvis begin here
- Deva I
- Nakshatri, 11 angis begin here.
- Dhruvasena and
- Subhadra, 1 angis begins here.
- Bhadrabahu II and
- Lohacarya II.
- Arhadvali, ekangis with partial knowledge of one anga.
- Dharasena, see Satkhandagama
- Pushpadanta and
Arhadvali is said to have been the founder of the for divisions of the Mula Sangha.
- Bhadrabahu and Sambhutavijaya
- Mahagiri and Suhastin
Kalpasutra then gives a lineage starting with Pushyagiri after Vajrasena ending with Kshamashramna Devarddhi, the president of the Vallabhi Council. The canonical books of the Svetambaras were produced in writing in this Council. The Kalpasutra also mentions ganas and shakhas established by other disciples of Bhadrabahu, Sambhutavijaya, Mahagiri etc. The Brihat-Kharataragachchha pattavali gives the name of Chandra after Vajrasena, the lineage continues until Udyotana, the founder of Brihadgachcha.
See also 
- Teerthankar mahaveer aur unki acharya parampara by Dr. Nemi chandra shastry, Sagar, 1974 vol-1-4.
- "History of the Digambaras". Jainworld.com. 1977-01-16. Retrieved 2012-04-22.
- http://www.jainworld.com/jainbooks/images/18/History_of_the_Digambaras.htm http://www.jainworld.com/jainbooks/images/18/History_of_the_Digambaras.htm
- "kalpasutra". Jainworld.com. Retrieved 2012-04-22.
- Jaina Sutras, Translated from the Prakrit by Hermann Jacobi, 1884
- Source at http://www.AtmaDharma.com
- Outline of Jainism by S.Gopalan, published by Waily Estern Ltd.,New Delhi-110016 in 1969