A Tirthankar is a human being who has attained a highly exalted state due to intense spiritual practices in various lifetimes and signifies the ultimate pure developed state of the soul. Having attained the highest spiritual goal of human life, they help others cross the ocean of Samsara and win freedom against the infinite cycles of birth and death that man has to undergo.
Birth and childhood
Anantnath in his previous incarnation was King of Arishta town in Dhatkikhand. He led a highly pious and religious life. Later he took Diksha from Acharya Chitraaksh. He had attained a very high state of spiritual enlightenment due to which he was to be reborn as the next Tirthankar. His soul reincarnated in the Pushpottar dimension of the Gods after which it descended into the womb of Queen Suyasha Devi who was the wife of King Simhasen of Ayodhya. She had dreamt of fourteen auspicious things which were-
1. A large and beautiful white bull entering her mouth.
2. A lion
3. A garland of flowers
4.A giant elephant having four tusks
5.Goddess Lakshmi seated on a lotus
6.The glorious Sun
7. The full moon shining in the sky
8.A sea of milk
9.A golden urn
10.A Flag which was fluttering
11.A vehicle of the Gods which moves in space
12.A pond filled with lotus flowers
13.A heap of gems
14.A fire without smoke
When the King heard this he was overjoyed as he knew that these were signs of the birth of a Tirthankar. Both of them felt blessed and thanked the Lord for their good fortune. Time passed and the queen gave birth to a son on the thirteenth day of the dark half of the month of Vaisakh (according to Hindu calendar). During the pregnancy the Queen had dreamt of a long strand of beads whose ends were not visible. During this period the King’s power also increased manifold. This was attributed to the soul in the womb who was named Anant (endless). As time passed he grew up and got married. The king decided to hand over the Kingdom to him and retire to the forest in pursuit of spiritual practices. Anantnath was a good and compassionate King. He took care of his subjects and also was deeply religious hence continued his prayers and meditation practices. Kings from nearby kingdoms came to him and he always helped them to solve their problems.
After ruling the Kingdom wisely for a number of years Anantnath began to feel restless. In his meditation he saw all his past incarnations and realised the reason for his birth and the true goal of his life. A deep sense of detachment came over him. He decided to give up his Kingdom and embrace ascetism. Along with him many members of the royal family and his subjects also embraced ascetism. After undergoing severe penances under an Ashoka tree he achieved Omniscience on the fourteenth day of the dark half of the month of Vaisakh.
He began preaching and teaching his followers the tenets of Jain philosophy, the principles of Right Conduct, Right Thinking and Right action. He taught them compassion and non violence. He underwent deep spiritual penances and on the fifth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra he attained Nirvana at Sammed Shikhar.
His symbol is porcupine. Bhagavan Anantnath exhorted his followers to rigidly follow the path of non violence and compassion and practice the principles of Right Conduct,Right Thinking and Right Action.He stressed that the goal of human life was liberation and man should rise above worldly pleasures and strive to transcend the eternal cycles of birth and death.The sacred land of India has been blessed by the birth of Divine beings like him who are born solely to redeem mankind and with their purity and compassion raise humanity to sublime and exalted heights.