Time has no beginning or end. It is not possible to measure the
length of the past or the future. They are without beginning and
the end. The time is thus infinite and continues forever. The
conditions that prevail from time to time do not however remain
the same; nor do they continue to stay static. They are periods
of ups and downs, of rise and fall, of progress and decline. After
every rise there is a fall and a fall is again followed by a rise.
According to the Jain tradition a period of rise, known as Utsarpini
or the ascending order is marked with all-round improvements like
increase in age, size, prosperity etc. On the other hand, a period
of fall, known as Avasarpini or the descending order is marked
with all-round deterioration and decline like decrease in age,
size, etc. These two periods together constitute one time cycle.
Each of the Utsarpini and the Avasarpini is divided into six eras
called Äräs meaning the spokes of a wheel. The present
one is considered the period of Avasarpini and we happen to live
in its fifth Ärä. It is also known as Kali-Yug.
Up to the end of the third Ärä of the current Avasarpini,
the people were leading more or less natural, and simple life.
The population was low and the nature was bountiful. The nature
provided all the necessities of human beings who had not to undertake
much effort for obtaining the necessities of life. Trees were
their shelter and provided enough leaves and barks for covering
their bodies. With the help of the boughs, they could also erect
huts for getting protection from rain and extreme weather. When
they felt hungry, they could pick up their food from the trees,
bushes etc. and there were ponds and enough flowing water for
cleaning their bodies and quenching their thirst. As such, there
was no struggle for existence or rivalry for survival and the
people used to spend their lives in peace.
tradition believes that till then women invariably gave birth
to twins, a boy and a girl. As kids, they used to grow together
and when they attained maturity, they behaved as husband and wife.
The people lived in tribes and had a leader who was known as Kulkar.
Nabhiraya was such a Kulkar at the end of the third Ärä.
He could peacefully manage the community of that time. His wife
Marudevi in due course gave birth to a twin who were named as
Rushabha and Sumangalä, who is also known as Nanda by some
Conditions started changing after Rushabha was born. There was
increase in population and nature no longer remained the bountiful
that it used to be. This gave rise to a sort of struggle for acquisition
and accumulation of the necessities of life. Sense of jealously,
envy, etc. also arose in its wake. Nabhiraya as the leader of
the community tried to restrain the struggle to the utmost possible
extent. In due course however, as Rushabha grew to be a bold,
intelligent, enthusiastic, young man, Nabhiraya entrusted the
management to him.
was visionary, thinker and inventor. He visualized that the struggle
for survival would not rest, unless some system of producing the
necessities of life is resorted to. He realized that people could
make effort for gaining their requirements from nature instead
of relying exclusively on natural bounties. The genius that he
was, he evolved the art of cultivation and taught the people how
to grow food and fiber. Thus he ushered in what we call the age
of material civilization.
explained to the people how to make life comfortable. He taught
how to cook the food, how to make wearable out of fiber, how to
rear the useful animals like cows, horses, etc. and also how to
construct houses in place of the huts. Thus, came into existence
the first city, Vinita that became his capital. The same city
was later known as Ayodhyä. He also evolved and developed
different arts and crafts whereby a variety of articles could
be made out of wood, metal, stone, etc. Thereby, people started
leading variegated life.
His father started the marriage system when Rushabha was married
not only to Sumangalä but also to another girl named Sunandä
who had lost her birth partner in an accident. Rushabha sanctified
the system of marriage and institutionalized the family life.
Thus a social order was evolved and Rushabha as the first acknowledged
ruler of the human society came to be known as King Rushabhdev.
He ruled for a very long time and laid down equitable rules and
regulations for ensuring peace and safety within his realm. People
were spontaneously affectionate to him, because he had provided
to them the peace and happiness that their forefathers could not
had a large family. He had 100 sons of whom the eldest two, Bharat
and Bähubali are well known and had two daughters named Brähmi
and Sundari. To all of them he imparted training in different
arts and crafts. Bharat turned out of be a brave warrior and a
capable ruler. India got its name ‘Bhäratvarsha’
from his name. Bähubali, true to his name (Bähu means
the hand and Bali means mighty), was known for the exceptional
strength of his hands. Brähmi was very learned girl. She
evolved the art of writing and developed the Brähmi script
in which most of scriptures are written. Her sister Sundari cultivated
exceptional talent in mathematics.
was still one more mission to be fulfilled by Rushabhdev. Once
while he was watching a dance, the life of one dancer suddenly
came to an end. Rushabhdev got much perturbed on witnessing it.
He started pondering over the incident and realized that every
phenomenon and every situation in the universe undergoes change
and that no situation stays forever. He developed detachment for
everything that is impermanent and ephemeral and he decided to
devote his life in search of lasting happiness. For this purpose,
he made Bharat the king of Vinita and entrusted Taxshilä
to Bähubali. To the remaining 98 sons he distributed other
parts of his vast kingdom. Then he renounced every thing else
and became a monk without possession in the search of ultimate
truth. 4000 of his associated and followers also joined him in
a monk, Rushabhdev wanted to stay an anchorite and therefore moved
from place to place. Moreover, he stayed in continuous meditation
and did not even care to take food. His followers could not fast
like him. They could also not get any guidance about the right
behavior for the monks, because Rushabhdev remained deeply immersed
in meditation all the time. They thus got confused and started
behaving according to their instincts. After a few months Rushabhdev
could see their miserable condition. He therefore thought to demonstrate
them the way a monk is supposed to live. As such, he started going
for alms in search of food. The people however did not know what
type of food to offer to the monks. Rushabhdev therefore could
not get the food that he could accept and had to continue fasting.
passed that way. After undergoing fasts for thirteen months and
9 days, while Rushabhdev was in Hastinäpur, he went to the
sugarcane farm of his grandson Shreyans. It was the day of Akshaya
Tritiya, the third day of the bright half of the month of Vaisakha,
usually occurs in the month of May. Shreyans offered the sugarcane
juice that was acceptable to the Grand Father. Thus he terminated
the long fast with that juice. In commemoration of that ordeal
of fast, people try to observe similar austerity. As it is not
possible to fast that long, they fast on alternate day during
the period of that austerity and at the end of it, they terminate
it with the sugarcane juice on the Akshaya Tritiya day.
years of rigorous austerities and search for truth, while Rushabhdev
was meditating under a banyan tree on the 11th day of the dark
half of Falgun (that usually occurs in March), he realized the
way of gaining lasting happiness. This is known as the ultimate
enlightenment and the attainment of Omniscience or Kevaljnän.
Then for guiding the people towards the right path, he set up
the fourfold religious order comprising monks, nuns, householder
males and householder females. Rushabhsen, the son of Bharat (Some
people considered him as a son of Rushabhdev) became the head
of the monks and Brähmi and Sundari headed the order of nuns.
As establisher of that religious order which is known as Tirth,
he is considered as the first Tirthankar of the current Avasarpini.
Being thus the first Lord, he is also known as Adinath (Adi means
the first or beginning and Näth means the Lord). He lived
long enough thereafter to teach the truth about the everlasting