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For hindu version, see Rishabha (Hinduism).
First Tirthankara
Photo of lord adinath bhagwan at kundalpur.JPG
Rishabha Idol at Kundalpur pilgrimage site in Madhya Pradesh, India
Alternate name(s) Ādinātha (the first world teacher), Adish Jin (first conqueror), Adi Purush (first perfect man), Ikshvaku
Successor Ajitnatha
Dynasty/Clan Ikshvaku (founder)[1]
Predecessor King Nabhi
Successor Bharata, Bahubali and his 98 other sons
Father King Nabhi
Mother Marudevi
Children Bharata
Kalyanaka / Important Events
Chyavana date Jeth Vad 4
Chyavana place Ayodhya
Birth date Fagan Vad 8
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 500 bows (1500 metres)[4]
Age 84 lakh purva (592.704 x 1018 years)[4]
Attendant Gods
Yaksha Gomukha
Yakshini Chakreshvari
Ganadhara Pundarika and Brahmi

Rishabha (Sanskrit Ṛṣabha), also known as Adinatha (First lord), is a figure in Jain theology who is stated to be the first Tirthankara of the present cosmic age (avasarpini).[5][6][7]


Rishabha is known by many names like Ādinātha (the first world teacher), Adish Jin (first conqueror), Adi Purush (first perfect man), Ikshvaku, Vidhata and Srista.[1]

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.[8] 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.[9]

Parshvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara was a historical figure, who lived in the 9th century BCE.[10][11][12] 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.[13] In this regard, Hermann Jacobi, a noted indologist, writes:[14]

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.


Garbha kalyana[edit]

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. [15]


Infant Rishabha being taken for abhishek to Sumeru on Airavat (Indra's elephant)

Rishabha was born to King Nabhi and Queen Marudevi at Ayodhya on the ninth day of Chaitra Krishna (Hindu calendar). This is the second of Panch Kalyanaka and is known as Janma Kalyanaka.


His kingdom was kind and gentle[16] and he is credited with transforming a tribal society into an orderly one.[17] 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.[16] Rishabha is known for advocating non-violence.[16] He was one of the greatest initiators of human progress.[18]

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.[19] Among these, Sunanda was the mother of Bahubali and Sundari whereas Sumangala was the mother of Bharata and Brahmi.[20] He taught his daughters Brahmi and Sundari, the Brahmi-lipi (ancient Brahmi script) and the 'science of numbers' (Ank-Vidya) respectively.[21]


Dance of Nilanjana
Rishabha performing kensh lonch in front of his disciples

Some of the scriptures mention that a dancer named Nilanjana was sent by Indra for the purpose of awakening Rishabha to renounce the world.[22] Indra staged the dancer's sudden death in order to awaken Rishabha and make him preach Jainism.[23] The sudden fatal death of Nilanjana, reminded Rishabha of the world's transitory nature and he developed a desire for renunciation.[24][25] 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)[26] 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.[17]

Akshaya Tritiya[edit]

King Shreyansa giving ahara to Rishabha

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).[27] 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.[28] He got the name Ikshvaku[18] from the word Ikhsu[1] (sugarcane) and his dynasty became Ikshvaku dynasty.[29]


Depiction of the meditation by Rishabhdeva

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.[25] He was the first human to attain enlightenment in the present cosmic age.


Rishabha's moving over lotus after attaining omniscience

Omniscient Rishabha traveled far and wide preaching Jainism.[30] 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.[30] He attained liberation on Mount Kailasa at the age of 84 lakh purva (592.704 x 1018 years).[4][31] His preachings were recorded in fourteen scriptures known as Purva.[32]


Human civilization was not much developed before him and people were primitive and illiterate.[33] He taught them tending of animals, cooking, poetry, painting, sculpture and similar arts.[18][34] 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).[6][35][36] The institution of marriage came into existence, during his time.[16][18] He introduced a total of seventy-two sciences which includes arithmetic, the plastic and visual arts, the art of lovemaking, singing and dancing.[16]

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).[37]

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.[38][39] The life of Rishabha is also given in Mahapurana of Jinasena.[40]

Bhaktamara Stotra by Acharya Manatunga is one of the most prevalent hymns of Rishabha.[41]


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.[42] 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.[43]




See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Jain 1929, p. 106.
  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. ^ a b c Sarasvati 1970, p. 444.
  5. ^ Zimmer 1953, p. 208-09.
  6. ^ a b Jain 1998, p. 47.
  7. ^ Jain 1929, p. 51.
  8. ^ Rai 2008, p. xiv.
  9. ^ Jain 2015, p. 178.
  10. ^ Zimmer 1953, p. 182-183.
  11. ^ Jain 1991, p. 12.
  12. ^ Charpentier 1922, p. 153.
  13. ^ Glasenapp 1999, p. 24.
  14. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 131
  15. ^ Zimmer 1953, p. 195.
  16. ^ a b c d e Rankin 2010, p. 43.
  17. ^ a b Rankin 2010, p. 44.
  18. ^ a b c d Jain 1991, p. 5.
  19. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 105.
  20. ^ Shah 1987, p. 112.
  21. ^ Jain 1998, p. 47-48.
  22. ^ Cort 2010, p. 25
  23. ^ Titze 1998, p. 8.
  24. ^ Cort 2010, p. 25.
  25. ^ a b Jain 2015, p. 182.
  26. ^ Titze 1998, p. 8
  27. ^ Rai 2008, p. 86.
  28. ^ Titze 1998, p. 138.
  29. ^ Shah 2004, p. 15.
  30. ^ a b Cort 2010, p. 115.
  31. ^ Sangave 2001.
  32. ^ Shah 1998, p. 12.
  33. ^ Jain 1929, p. 88.
  34. ^ Jain 1929, p. 89.
  35. ^ Rai 2008, p. x.
  36. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 103.
  37. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 105
  38. ^ History of Kannada literature
  39. ^ Students' Britannica India, Volumes 1-5. Popular Prakashan. 2000. p. 78. ISBN 0-85229-760-2. 
  40. ^ Gupta 1999, p. 133.
  41. ^ "Shri Bhaktamara Mantra (भक्तामर स्त्रोत)". 
  42. ^ Shah 1987, p. 113
  43. ^ Jain & Fischer 1978, p. 16


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