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
In his previous incarnation, Vasupujya was King Padmottar who ruled over the kingdom of Manglavati in Ardhapushkar Island. He was a very pious and noble king. Later on taking Diksha from Acharya Vajranabh he reached an exalted state of spiritual enlightenment so he was reborn as the next Tirthankar. In between he incarnated as a God in the Pranat dimension and then his soul descended into the womb of Queen Jaya Devi who was the wife of King Vasupujya of Champa town. The Queen had fourteen auspicious dreams. These 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
The King and Queen were very happy to know that they were fortunate to be born as the parents of a Tirthankar. The Queen gave birth to a son on the fourteenth day of the Phalgun month Krishna Paksh (according to the Hindu calendar). When the baby was still in the womb Lord Indra the King Of Gods came to pay his salutations to the future Tirthankar hence the baby was named Vasupujya(venerated by Indra also known as Vasu).The Prince grew up to be a kind, loving and highly religious boy. He even declined marriage and always had his mind turned inwards. He refused to rule the Kingdom which his father wanted to hand over to him.
He renounced worldly life and became an ascetic. Many members of the royal family and his subjects joined him and after intense spiritual practices on the second day of Shulka Paksh of the month of Magh under the Patal tree he achieved Omniscience. It is said that in one of his travels he came to Dwaraka. There, the King of Dwaraka was Dwiprishtha who was the brother of Vasupujya. Vasupujya explained to him his past lives. Hearing this and understanding the bondage of life and the infinite cycles of birth and death he fell at his feet and took Diksha from him.
He then continued preaching and encouraged his followers to realise the true goal of life and after a number of years on the fourteenth day of the bright half of the month of Ashad (according to the Hindu calendar) he attained Nirvana.
The Symbol for Vasupujya is buffalo. Bhagavan Vasupujya was a Divine Being who came to help mankind to liberate themselves from the eternal cycles of birth and death. He exhorted the people to follow Right Living, Right Conduct and Right Thinking and to free themselves from bondage, desires and attachment by inculcating qualities of non violence and compassion. Such divine Beings are born in every age and with their purity and love sanctify the very ground they walk on and India is fortunate to have such sacred souls born in this holy land.