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. According to Jain philosophy Time cycle or the kaalchakra is infinite, it is beginningless and endless. Time is divided into two cycles, Utsarpini and Avsarpini. Utsarpini is progressive which means that during this cycle humanity progresses from its worst to its best in health, ethics, religion and all fields while in Avsarpini humanity moves from its best to worst stage. Aras are the six unequal periods that every Utsarpini and Avsarpini is divided into. At present according to Jainism the fifth Ara of the Avsarpini phase is going on with 19000 yrs approximately until the next Ara. The sixth phase will then begin after this Ara which is supposed to last for approximately 21000 years. This will be followed by the Utsarpini phase which will continue the repetition. Thus it is presumed that there have been infinite sets of 24 Tirthankaras, one for each half of the time cycle which will continue in the future. For the purpose of study, only the 24 Tirthankars of the present half cycle are considered.
Birth and childhood
Padmaprabh in his earlier incarnation was King Aparajit who ruled over Susima town in the Purva Videha area. He was a pious and peace loving person. Once listening to a discourse on the goal of human life and its earthly bondage he became detached and taking diksha from Acharya Pihitashrava embraced ascetism. His soul through countless lifetimes had undergone rigorous spiritual penances and achieved an exalted state of enlightenment hence he was reborn as the next Tirthankar. His soul descended into the womb of Queen Sushima, wife of King Dharan of Kaushambi. During her pregnancy, the Queen had a desire to sleep on a bed made up of lotus flowers. It is said that to fulfil her wishes the Gods themselves came down to make arrangements, such was the greatness of the unborn soul. The Queen gave birth to a son on the twelfth day of the dark half of the month of Kartik. Since the new born had a soft pink glow like the lotus, he was named Padmaprabh. As years passed the prince grew up and they got him married. Soon the King handed over the kingdom to his son and retired to the forest to pursue his spiritual practices. Padmaprabh began to rule the Kingdom and also pursued his meditation and other spiritual disciplines. One day during his meditation he glimpsed through his past lives and the purpose of his incarnation.
A spirit of detachment came over him and he embraced ascetism. Sitting under a tree he underwent rigorous penances and on the full moon day of the month of Chaitra under a banyan tree he achieved Omniscience.
He began preaching to people about the goal of human life, the spirit of renunciation and the qualities of non violence, right action, right conduct and right knowledge. After many years of preaching he attained Nirvana on the eleventh day of the dark half of the month of Margashirsh.
Bhagavan Padmaprabh preached the qualities of compassion, brotherhood and exhorted the people to realise their true potential and to break the infinite cycles of birth and death by undergoing spiritual penances and practices. He advised them to realise the true goal of human life and not get carried away by attachment and desire for sensual pleasures. Such exalted souls are born for redeeming mankind and their pure and high levels of spiritual attainment sanctify everyone and every place they go to and India owes her spiritual prowess to such highly realised souls who have been born from time to time to liberate mankind.