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First Tirthankara
Photo of lord adinath bhagwan at kundalpur.JPG
Adinath Bhagwan, Kundalpur, Madhya Pradesh
Alternate name(s) Ādinātha (the first world teacher), Adish Jin (first conqueror), Adi Purush (first perfect man), Ikshvaku[1]
Successor Ajitnatha
Dynasty/Clan Ikshvaku
Predecessor King Nabhi
Successor Bharata, Bahubali and his 98 other sons
Father King Nabhi
Mother Marudevi
Issues Bharata
Kalyanaka / Important Events
Chyavana date Jeth Vad 4
Chyavana place Ayodhya
Birth date Fagan Vad 8, 10224 Years Ago
Birth place Ayodhya
Diksha date Fagan Vad 8
Diksha place Ayodhya
Kevalgyan date Maha Vad 11
Kevalgyan place Ayodhya
Moksha date Posh Vad 13
Moksha place Mount Kailash[2]
Complexion Golden
Symbol Bull[3]
Height 1500m
Age 592.704 Quintillion Years
Attendant Gods
Yaksha Gomukha
Yakshini Chakresvari
Ganadhara Pundarika and Brahmi

Rishabha (Sanskrit Ṛṣabha), also known as Adinatha (First lord), was the first tīrthaṅkara of the present cosmic age.[4][5][6]

Founder of Jainism[edit]

Jains believe that twenty-four tīrthaṅkaras or "ford-makers", teachers who establish the Jain teachings grace every half cycle of cosmic age indefinitely. Jains trace their history through a succession of these tīrthaṅkaras. Rishabhadev was the founder of Jainism in the present half-cycle of time.[7] He was born at the end of the third period, suṣama-duḥṣamā (read as Sukhma-dukhma) of present descending (avasarpinî) half cycle of cosmic age.[8] Parshvanatha, the 23rd tīrthaṅkara was a historical figure, who lived in the 9th century BCE.[9][10][11] Tradition says that Mahāvīra's parents followed his teachings. However, the current knowledge about the history of India is not enough to say whether Pārśva decisively founded the Jain religion or not.[12] In this regard, Hermann Jacobi, a noted indologist, writes:[13]

There is nothing to prove that Parshva was the founder of Jainism. Jain tradition is unanimous in making Rishabha, the first Tirthankara, as its founder and there may be something historical in the tradition which makes him the first Tirthankara.


Rishabha was born to Nabhiraja and Queen Marudevī at Ayodhya before human civilization was much developed.[14] It is said that Kubera built entire new town of Ayodhya at the time of the birth of Rishabha. People were primitive and illiterate and Rishabha taught them agriculture, tending of animals, cooking, poetry, painting, sculpture and similar arts.[15][16] He introduced karma-bhumi (the age of action).[17] The institution of marriage came into existence, during his time.[18][15] He introduced a total of seventy-two sciences which includes arithmetic, the plastic and visual arts, the art of lovemaking, singing and dancing.[18] He is said to have started the Ikshvaku dynasty of ancient Ayodhya. He taught people how to extract sugarcane juice. The name for the Ikshvaku dynasty comes from the word ikhsu (sugarcane) because of this event.[19] Ikshvaku was another name of Rishabha.[15] His kingdom was kind and gentle[18] and he is credited with transforming a tribal society into an orderly one.[20] Like any Tirthankara and other legendary figures of Indian history (who were great warriors), he too was a great warrior with great strength and body. However, he never needed to show his warrior aspect.[18] Rishabha is known for advocating non-violence.[18] He was one of the greatest initiators of human progress.[15]

Rishabha had two wives. One of them was Sunanda and the other is given different names, Yasaswati, Nanda and Sumangala, in different texts. He had one hundred sons and two daughters.[21] Among these, Sunanda was the mother of Bahubali and Sundari whereas Sumangala was the mother of Bharata and Brahmi.[22] He taught his daughters Brahmi and Sundari, the Brahmi-lipi (ancient Brahmi script) and the 'science of numbers' (Ank-Vidya) respectively.[23]


Ranakpur Jain temple dedicated to Rishabhdeva

Rishabha after being appointed as a king, taught six main professions to the householders for livelihood[5]-

Teachings Meaning
Asi Swordsmanship for protection
Masi Writing skills
Krishi Agriculture
Vidya Knowledge
Vanijya Trade and Commerce
Shilp Crafts


These professions changed the earth from Bhogbhumi (place of enjoyment) to Karmabhumi (place of action).


Some of the scriptures mention that a dancer named Nilanjana was sent by Indra for the purpose of awakening Rishabha to renounce the world.[25] Indra staged the dancer's sudden death in order to awaken Rishabha and make him preach Jainism.[26] The sudden fatal death of Nilanjana, reminded Rishabha of the world's transitory nature and he developed a desire for renunciation.[27][28]

Ascetic life[edit]

Rishabha gave his kingdom to his 100 sons, of whom Bharata got the city of Vinita (Ayodhya) and Bahubali got the city of Podanapur (Taxila).[29] He then became an ascetic. His aim was to cause less harm to others and keep no possessions.[20] He spent 1000 years performing austerities and then attained omniscience (Kevala Jnana).[28]

Rishabha was the first human to attain enlightenment in the present cosmic age. He traveled far and wide and preached Jainism.[30] While traveling, he came across a mountain named Ashtapada, which is famously known as mount Kailash. Gods created a divine preaching hall known as samavasarana at this mountain for Rishabha.[30] He attained liberation on Mount Kailasa at the age of 84 purva (84*3) i.e. 5,92,704 lakh years.[17] His preachings were recorded in fourteen scriptures known as Purva.[31]

Panch Kalyanaka[edit]

Main article: Panch Kalyanaka

The five kalyanakas are the five major events associated with a Tirthankara.

Name Date
Chyavana Kalyanaka Jeth Vad 4
Janma Kalyanaka Fagan Vad 8
Diksha Kalyanaka Fagan Vad 8
Keval Gyan Kalyanaka Maha Vad 11
Moksha Kalyanaka Posh Vad 13

Akshaya Tritiya[edit]

Akshaya Tritya is considered holy and supremely auspicious by Jains. It is believed that Rishabha took his first ahara (alms) as an ascetic on this day. He was the first monk of the present age, and people didn't knew how to offer food (ahara) to Jain monks. King Shreyansa of Hastinapur town recollected his past life experiences and offered him sugarcane juice (ikshu-rasa).[32] Jains attach great importance to this day as, it was only after 11 months and 13 days that Rishabha was offered food. It is celebrated on the third day of bright fortnight of the month Vaishaka.[33]

In Literature[edit]

There is mention of Rishabha in Hindu scriptures, like Bhagavata Puran. Rishabha also finds mention in Buddhist literature. It speaks of several tirthankara which includes Rishabha along with Padmaprabha, Chandraprabha, Pushpadanta, Vimalnatha, Dharmanatha and Neminatha. A Buddhist scripture named Dharmottarapradipa mentions Rishabha as an Apta (Tirthankara).[34]

The Ādi purāṇa, a 10th-century Kannada language text by the poet Adikavi Pampa (fl. 941 CE), written in Champu style, a mix of prose and verse and spread over sixteen cantos, deals with the ten lives of Rishabha and his two sons.[35][36] The life of Rishabha is also given in Mahapurana of Jinasena.[37]

Bhaktamara Stotra by Acharya Manatunga is one of the most prevalent hymns of Rishabha.[38]


Rishabha in padmasana (lotus posture)

Rishabha is usually depicted in lotus position or kayotsarga, a standing posture of meditation. The distinguishing mark of Rishabha is his long locks of hair which fall on his shoulders and an image of a bull in his sculptures.[39] His paintings usually depict various important events of his legend. Some of these include his marriage and Indra performing a ritual called abhisheka. He is sometimes shown as presenting a bowl to his followers and teaching them the art of pottery, painting a house, weaving textile. The visit of his mother Marudevi is also shown extensively in painting.[40]


Legends in photos[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ikshvaku
  2. ^ "To heaven and back - Times Of India". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2012-01-11. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  3. ^ Jain 1998, p. 46.
  4. ^ Zimmer 1953, p. 208-09.
  5. ^ a b Jain 1998, p. 47.
  6. ^ Jain 1929, p. 51.
  7. ^ Rai 2008, p. xiv.
  8. ^ Jain 2015, p. 178.
  9. ^ Zimmer 1953, p. 182-183.
  10. ^ Jain 1991, p. 12.
  11. ^ Charpentier 1922, p. 153
  12. ^ Glasenapp 1999, p. 24.
  13. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 131
  14. ^ Jain 1929, p. 88
  15. ^ a b c d Jain 1991, p. 5.
  16. ^ Jain 1929, p. 89
  17. ^ a b Sangave 2001, p. 103
  18. ^ a b c d e Rankin 2010, p. 43.
  19. ^ Shah 2004, p. 15.
  20. ^ a b Rankin 2010, p. 44.
  21. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 105.
  22. ^ Shah 1987, p. 112
  23. ^ Jain 1998, p. 47-48.
  24. ^ Rai 2008, p. x.
  25. ^ Cort 2010, p. 25
  26. ^ Titze 1998, p. 8.
  27. ^ Cort 2010, p. 25.
  28. ^ a b Jain 2015, p. 182.
  29. ^ Titze 1998, p. 8
  30. ^ a b Cort 2010, p. 115.
  31. ^ Shah 1998, p. 12.
  32. ^ Rai 2008, p. 86.
  33. ^ Titze 1998, p. 138
  34. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 105
  35. ^ History of Kannada literature
  36. ^ Students' Britannica India, Volumes 1-5. Popular Prakashan. 2000. p. 78. ISBN 0-85229-760-2. 
  37. ^ Gupta 1999, p. 133.
  38. ^ "Shri Bhaktamara Mantra (भक्तामर स्त्रोत)". 
  39. ^ Shah 1987, p. 113
  40. ^ Jain & Fischer 1978, p. 16