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
Arahnath in his earlier incarnation was King Dhanpati of Sushima city in Mahavideha area. After ruling for a number of years he took Diksha from Samvar Muni. He had done rigorous penances for a number of lifetimes and had attained a very exalted state of enlightenment. Thus his soul was reborn as the next Tirthankar. He reincarnated in the Graiveyak dimension of the Gods and then descended into the womb of Queen Mitradevi who was the wife of King Sudarshana of Hastinapur. The Queen had witnessed fourteen auspicious things in her dream. They 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
Both of them were overjoyed to hear that the child to be born would be a Tirthankar. The Queen soon thereafter gave birth to a son on the tenth day of the Krishna Paksh of the month of Margashirsh according to the Hindu calendar. The Queen had also dreamt of a gem studded wheel(Arah) and hence the child was named Arahnath. Time passed by and the boy grew up and they got him married. The King then handed over the Kingdom to his son and retired to the forest to practice spiritual disciplines. Arahnath ruled the Kingdom wisely. Soon the disc weapon ‘Chakra’ appeared in his armoury and he proceeded to conquer the kingdom with his mighty army. It is said that he conquered the six continents and in his attendance were thirty two thousand Kings, thus he became a Chakravarti.
After a long and successful reign, one day contemplating on the changing seasons a sudden sense of detachment came over him. He decided to renounce everything and become an ascetic. Wandering as an ascetic he stood in meditation under a mango tree in the Sahasramra jungle outside Hastinapur and achieved Omniscience.
He began preaching about attachment and aversion to worldly desires and methods to conquer delusion and gain release from worldly bondage. He urged his followers to practice non violence and compassion and focus on the true goal of life ie liberation. He explained the concepts of Right Action, Right Thinking and Right Conduct. Finally at Sammed Shikhar he attained Nirvana. His followers included the sixth and seventh Vasudevas and Baldevas and the eight Chakravarti(Subhum).
The temples of Bhagavan Arahnath in India
Jain temple, Bajrangarh, Guna Madhya Pradesh
Shri Hastinapur Teerth Kshetra, Hastinapur, Uttar Pradesh
Shri Digambar Jain Atishaya Kshetra Nemgiri Samsthan, Jintur, Parbhani Maharashtra
Shri 1008 Digambar Jain Atishaya Kshetra Navagarh, Nabai, Sojana Taluka, Lalitpur Uttar Pradesh
His symbol is fish. Bhagavan Arahnath urged his followers to practice the principles of compassion, Right Conduct and exhorted them to realise the goal of life ie self realisation and to give up worldly pleasures, attachment and free themselves from the eternal cycles of birth and death. Divine Beings like him are born to liberate mankind from the bonds of delusion and their purity and knowledge help humanity to transcend these bonds and attain liberation and bliss.