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.
Sambhavnath-Birth and childhood
Sambhavnath in his previous birth was King Vipulvahan who ruled Kshempuri in the Airavat area of Mahavideh for a long time after the Nirvana of Bhagavan Ajitnath. He loved and cared for his subjects and was a compassionate and kind hearted ruler. Once during a drought in the kingdom there was no food and water so the King opened up his granaries for the people and used the money from his treasury to import food grains. He used his kitchen to feed all the monks and ascetics and was determined that none would be sent hungry advising his caretakers in the kitchen to see that no one who approached them were turned away. He did not care to feed himself and went unfed often during the drought but took care to feed his people. Through his acts of compassion in various lifetimes he had attained a high level of spiritual purity. Observing the hardships and suffering of the people during the drought brought to him a sense of intense detachment. He handed over his Kingdom to his son and became an ascetic under Svayamprabh Suri and passed away after years of prayers and penances.
He was reborn as the son of Queen Senadevi and King Jitari of Shravasti. It is said that while he was in his mother’s womb, there were signs of prosperity everywhere. There was abundant rainfall and the land was blessed with rich crops and lush vegetation. Everything in the land seemed Sambhav or possible due to the auspicious conception. Hence when the child was born, he was named Sambhav Kumar. He was born on the fourteenth day of the bright half of the month of Margashirsh. Right from his younger days, he showed a complete disinterest to material comforts and remained unaffected by the royal grandeur into which he was born. As he grew up at the appropriate time, he was married. Later the King handed over his kingdom to him.
He ruled peacefully for a number of years and on the fifteenth day of the bright half of the month of Margashrish he renounced the Kingship and took up ascetism. He then continued rigorous penances for fourteen years and finally attained omniscience. He then began to give discourses on human existence, the ephemeral nature of life and the goal of life which all mankind must strive to attain.
He worked towards this goal for a long period and helped in the spread of the Jain religion. On the fifth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra he attained Nirvana or liberation.
Bhagavan Sambhavnath reiterated that every soul had the potential to achieve God realisation as every soul is divine. Conquering one’s own inner enemies and passions and removing impurities and rendering it pure is the basic goal of all mankind. Striving towards this goal is the only duty that is of primary importance. Such God realised souls like Sambhavnathji are born to help man achieve this objective and with their innate compassion and knowledge uplift humanity and bring love and unity in the world.