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Idol of Rishabha (8-9th century CE)
|Alternate name(s)||Adinatha, Adish Jina, Adi Purush, Ikshvaku|
|Successor||Bharata, Bahubali and his 98 other sons|
|Kalyanaka / Important Events|
|Chyavana date||Jeth Vad 4|
|Birth date||Fagan Vad 8|
|Diksha date||Fagan Vad 8|
|Kevalgyan date||Maha Vad 11|
|Moksha date||Posh Vad 13|
|Moksha place||Mount Kailash|
|Height||500 bows (1500 metres)|
|Age||84 lakh purva (592.704 x 1018 years)|
|Ganadhara||Pundarika and Brahmi|
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Rishabha (Sanskrit Ṛṣabha, lit. "bull"), also known as Adinatha (Ādinātha), is said to be the first Tirthankara of the present half cycle of time (as per Jain cosmology). Rishabha is known by many names like Adinatha (the first world teacher), Adish Jina (first Jina or conqueror), Adi Purush (first perfect man), Ikshvaku, Vidhata and Srista.
Founder of Jainism
Jains believe that twenty-four tīrthaṅkaras or "ford-makers", teachers who establish the Jain teachings grace every half cycle of time indefinitely. Jains trace their history through a succession of these tīrthaṅkaras. Rishabhadev was the founder of Jainism in the present half-cycle of time. 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.
Parshvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara was a historical figure, who lived in the 9th century BCE. Historians believe him to be the founder of Jainism. However, the current knowledge about the history of India is not enough to say whether Parshvanatha decisively founded the Jain religion or not. In this regard, Hermann Jacobi, a noted indologist, writes:
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.
On the second day of Ashadha (month of Hindu calendar) Krishna (dark fortnight), Queen Marudevi saw sixteen auspicious dreams. King Nabhi explained these dreams to her as a sign of Tirthankara's birth. This event is the first Kalyanaka of Panch Kalyanaka (five auspicious events) and is known as garbha kalyana. This means enlivening of the embryo through the descent of the life (soul) in the mortal body. 
His kingdom was kind and gentle and he is credited with transforming a tribal society into an orderly one. 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. Rishabha is known for advocating non-violence. He was one of the greatest initiators of human progress.
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. Among these, Sunanda was the mother of Bahubali and Sundari whereas Sumangala was the mother of Bharata and Brahmi. He taught his daughters Brahmi and Sundari, the Brahmi-lipi (ancient Brahmi script) and the 'science of numbers' (Ank-Vidya) respectively.
Some of the scriptures mention that a dancer named Nilanjana was sent by Indra for the purpose of awakening Rishabha to renounce the world. Indra staged the dancer's sudden death in order to awaken Rishabha and make him preach Jainism. The sudden fatal death of Nilanjana, reminded Rishabha of the world's transitory nature and he developed a desire for renunciation. He gave his kingdom to his 100 sons, of whom Bharata got the city of Vinita (Ayodhya) and Bahubali got the city of Podanapur (Taxila) and became an ascetic on the ninth day of Chaitra Krishna (Hindu calendar). The renunciation is the third of Panch Kalyanaka and is called Diksha Kalyanaka. His aim was to cause less harm to others and keep no possessions.
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). 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. He got the name Ikshvaku from the word Ikhsu (sugarcane) and his dynasty became Ikshvaku dynasty.
He spent 1000 years performing austerities and then attained Kevala Jnana (omniscience) on the eleventh day of Falgun Krishna (Hindu calendar) over Palitana hills of Gujarat. This is the fourth of Panch Kalyanaka of a Tirthankara and is known as Kevala Gyan Kalyanaka. He was the first human to attain enlightenment in the present cosmic age.
Omniscient Rishabha traveled far and wide preaching Jainism. He attained Moksha on fourteenth day of Magha Krishna(Hindu Calendar). While traveling, he came across a mountain named Ashtapada, which is famously known as mount Kailash. Deva (heavenly beings) created a divine preaching hall known as samavasarana at this mountain for Rishabha. He attained Moksha on Mount Kailasa at the age of 84 lakh purva (592.704 x 1018 years). His preachings were recorded in fourteen scriptures known as Purva.
Human civilization was not much developed before him and people were primitive and illiterate. He taught them tending of animals, cooking, poetry, painting, sculpture and similar arts. He introduced karma-bhumi (the age of action) by teaching six main professions to the householders for livelihood. They were Asi (swordsmanship for protection), Masi (writing skills), Krishi (agriculture) Vidya (knowledge), Vanijya (trade and commerce) and Shilp (crafts). The institution of marriage came into existence, during his time. He introduced a total of seventy-two sciences which includes arithmetic, the plastic and visual arts, the art of lovemaking, singing and dancing.
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).
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. The life of Rishabha is also given in Mahapurana of Jinasena.
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. 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.
Rishabha Idol dated 12th century from Gurupura at Shivappa Nayaka palace in Shivamogga
Kalchuri period Adinath image at Hanumantal Bada Jain Mandir, Jabalpur
Idol of Lord Rishabha at Ambika Mata Temple, Kangra Fort
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rishabhanatha.|
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