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Parshvanatha (Pārśvanātha), also known as Parshva (Pārśva) was the twenty-third Tirthankara of Jainism.[1][2] He is the earliest Jain leader (c. 877–777 BCE) for whom there is reasonable evidence of having been a historical figure.[3][4][5]


Tirthankara Parsvanatha, Linden-Museum

Bhagvan Parshvanath was born in Varanasi, on the tenth day of the dark half of the month of Paush. Pārśva was the son of King Aśvasena and Queen Vāmā of Varanasi. He belonged to the Ikshvaku dynasty.[6] He lived as formal prince of Varanasi and at the age of thirty, he renounced the world to become a monk.[7] He meditated for eighty-four days before attaining Kevala Jnana.[8] He achieved mokṣa at the age of one hundred atop Shikharji, which is known today as "the Parasnath Hills" after him. Pārśva was called purisādāṇīya "beloved of men", a name which shows that he must have been a genial personality.[9] He remains beloved among Jains.[10]

When he was a prince he saved a serpent that had been trapped in a log in an ascetic’s fire. The snake, later reborn as Dharana, the lord of the underworld kingdom of the nāgas, sheltered Pārśva from a storm sent by a demon.[11]

According to the Kalpasutra, Pārśva had 164,000 male and 327,000 female lay followers and 16,000 men and 38,000 female monks. He had eight chief disciples known as ganadharas. They were Śubhadatta, Āryaghoṣa, Vasiṣṭha, Brahmacāri, Soma, Śrīdhara, Vīrabhadra and Yaśas. After his death, the gandhara Śubhadatta became the head of the monastic order. He was then succeeded by Haridatta, Āryasamudra and Keśī.[12]

Keśī is believed to have been born about 166 to 250 years after the death of Pārśva. He met the ganadhara of Mahavira, Indrabhuti Gautama. Their discussion about the apparent differences between the teachings of the two tirthankaras is recorded in Jain texts.

Tirthankara Parshvanatha Sculpture, Thirakoil

Pārśva is the most popular object of Jain devotion. He is closely associated with compassion, although he is free from the world of rebirth like all tirthankaras and therefore unable to aid his devotees personally.[13]

Guru Gobind Singh has penned life history of Parsavnath in form of composition called Paranath Avtar, which is included in Dasam Granth.[14] He designated Parsvanath, a Rudra Avtar.

Famous Temples dedicated to Parshvanatha[edit]

Parsvanath Temple, Khajurao

Some of the famous temples of Lord Parshvanath in India are -

  • Sammed Sikarji (Sammet Sikhar) in Jharkand
  • Shri Jain temples of Khajuraho Parshavanath
  • Shri Amijhara Parshavanath
  • Shri Andheshwar Parshvanath near Banswara (Raj.)
  • Shri Kalikund Parshvanath
  • Shri Chintamani Parshvanath in Navsari
  • Shri Avanti Parshvanath in Ujjain



  1. ^ Fisher 1997, p. 115
  2. ^ Vir Sanghvi. "Rude Travel: Down The Sages". Hindustan Times. 
  3. ^ Charpentier, Jarl (1922). "The History of the Jains". The Cambridge History of India 1. Cambridge. p. 153. 
  4. ^ Ghatage, A.M. (1951). "Jainism". In Majumdar, R.C. and A.D. Pusalker. The Age of Imperial Unity. Bombay. pp. 411–412. 
  5. ^ Deo 1956, pp. 59–60
  6. ^ Ghatage p. 411, Deo p. 60.
  7. ^ Glasenapp 1999, pp. 24–28
  8. ^ Danielou, A (1971) L'Histoire de l'Inde Translated from French by Kenneth Hurry. pp.376 ISBN 0-89281-923-5
  9. ^ Ghatage p. 411.
  10. ^ Walther Schubring: Jinismus, in: Die Religionen Indiens, vol. 3, Stuttgart 1964, p. 220.
  11. ^ "Parshvanatha". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  12. ^ Glasenapp 1999, pp. 24–28
  13. ^ Bowker, John. World Religions. New York: DK Publishing, Inc. 1997.
  14. ^ Dasam Granth, S.S. Kapoor, Page 17


  • Deo, Shantaram Bhalchandra (1956), History of Jaina monachism from inscriptions and literature, Poona [Pune, India]: Deccan College Post-graduate and Research Institute, pp. 59–60 
  • Fisher, Mary Pat (1997), Living Religions: An Encyclopedia of the World's Faiths, London: I.B.Tauris, ISBN 1-86064-148-2 
  • Glasenapp, Helmuth Von (1999), Jainism, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-1376-2