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Shruta-kevalin Acharya Shri Bhadrabahu Ji Maharaj
Inscription of the incoming of Shrutakevali Bhadrabahu swami and Chandragupta Maurya (Shravanabelagola)
Religion Jainism
Sect Digambara
Born c. 433 BCE
Died c. 357 BCE
  • Soma Sarmma (father)
  • Soma Sri (mother)
Senior posting
Successor Acharya Vishakha
Religious career
Ascetics initiated Chandragupta Maurya
Works Uvasagharam Stotra
Initiation by Govarddhana Mahamuni (Shruta Kevalin)

Bhadrabahu (c. 433 – c. 357 BCE) was the last Shrut Kevali (all knowing by hearsay, that is indirectly) in Jainism. He was a Digambara Acharya and the spiritual teacher of Chandragupta Maurya.[1]

There were five Shruta Kevalis in Jainism - Govarddhana Mahamuni, Vishnu, Nandimitra, Aparajita and Bhadrabahu.[2]

Early life[edit]

Bhadrabahu was born in Pundravardhana (now in Bangladesh) to a Brahmin family[3] during which time the secondary capital of the Mauryas was Ujjain. When he was seven, Govarddhana Mahamuni predicted that he will be the last Shruta Kevali and took him along for his initial education.[2] He was then initiated as a Digambara Muni and by practicing gyan, dhyan, tap and sanyam got the Acharya pad.[4]

Ascetic life[edit]

Bhadrabahu Gupha on Chandragiri

On the night of full moon in the month of Kartik, Chandragupta Maurya (founder and ruler of Maurya Empire) saw sixteen dreams, which were then explained to him by Acharya Bhadrabahu.[4]

S. No. Dream of Chandragupta Explanation by Bhadrabahu
1 The sun setting All the knowledge will be darkened
2 A branch of the Kalpavriksha break off and fall Decline of Jainism and Chandragupta's successors won't be initiated
3 A divine car descending in the sky and returning The heavenly beings will not visit Bharata Kshetra
4 The disk of the moon sundered Jainism will be split into two sects
5 Black elephants fighting Lesser rains and poorer crops
6 Fireflies shining in the twilight True knowledge will be lost, few sparks will glimmer with feeble light
7 A dried up lake Aryakhanda will be destitute of Jain doctrines and falsehood increase
8 Smoke filling all the air Evil prevail and goodness hidden
9 An ape sitting on a throne Vile, low-born, wicked will acquire power
10 A dog eating the payasa out of a golden bowl Kings, not content with a sixth share, will introduce land-rent and oppress their subjects by increasing it
11 Young bulls labouring Young will form religious purposes, but forsake them when old
12 Kshatriya boys riding donkeys Kings of high descent will associate with the base
13 Monkeys scaring away swans The low will torment the noble and try to reduce them to same level
14 Calves jumping over the sea King will assist in oppressing the people by levying unlawful taxes
15 Foxes pursuing old oxen The low, with hollow compliments, will get rid of the noble, the good and the wise
16 A twelve-headed serpent approaching twelve year of death and famine will come upon this land[5]
Stella showing the transmission of the oral tradition (Photo: Marhiaji, Jabalpur)

Bhadrabahu decided the famine would make it harder for monks to survive and migrated with a group of twelve thousand disciples to South India,[6][7] bringing with him Chandragupta, turned Digambara monk.[8][5]

According to the inscriptions at Shravanabelgola, Bhadrabahu died after taking the vow of Sallekhana.[9]


According to Svetambaras, Bhadrabahu was the author of Kalpa Sūtra,[10] four Chedda sutras, commentaries on ten scriptures, Bhadrabahu Samhita and Vasudevcharita.[11][3]


Bhadrabahu, who was a Digambara Acharya, remains an exemplar of dedication to first principles at any cost. After him, the Sangha split into two separate teacher-student lineages of monks. Digambara monks belong to the lineage of Acharya Vishakha and Svetambara monks follow the tradition of Sthulabhadra.

Regarding the inscriptions describing the relation of Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta Maurya, Radha Kumud Mookerji writes

The oldest inscription of about 600 AD associated "the pair (yugma), Bhadrabahu along with Chandragupta Muni." Two inscriptions of about 900 AD on the Kaveri near Seringapatam describe the summit of a hill called Chandragiri as marked by the footprints of Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta munipati. A Shravanabelagola inscription of 1129 mentions Bhadrabahu "Shrutakevali", and Chandragupta who acquired such merit that he was worshipped by the forest deities. Another inscription of 1163 similarly couples and describes them. A third inscription of the year 1432 speaks of Yatindra Bhadrabahu, and his disciple Chandragupta, the fame of whose penance spread into other words.[8]

Bhadrabahu-charitra was written by Ratnanandi of about 1450 AD.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wiley 2009, p. 51.
  2. ^ a b Rice 1889, p. 3.
  3. ^ a b Jaini, Padmanabh (2000). Collected Papers on Jaina Studies. Motilal Banarasidass. p. 299. 
  4. ^ a b Rice 1889, p. 4.
  5. ^ a b Sangave 2001, p. 174.
  6. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 47.
  7. ^ Rice 1889, p. 5.
  8. ^ a b c Mookerji 1988, p. 40.
  9. ^ Sangave 1981, p. 32.
  10. ^ Mookerji 1988, p. 4.
  11. ^ Wiley 2009, p. 52.