Spiritual Affinities In Rishabha And Shiva



By Mr. Bal Patil


Like Buddha who founded Buddhism, Mahaveer was not the Arch-founder of Jainism. According to the Jaina Scriptural Tradition, there have been twenty three tirthankars before Mahaveer who propounded Jainism from time to time.

Dr. S. Radhakrishnan says that "The Bhagvata Purana endorses the view that Rishabha was the founder of Jainism. There is evidence to show that so far back as the first century B.C. there was people who were worshipped Rishabhadeva, the first Tirthankara. There is no doubt that Jainism prevailed even before Vardhamana Mahaveer or Parsvanatha. the Yajurveda mentions the names of three Tirthankaras Rishabha, Adinatha, and Arishtamemi."

The idea of Rishabha Tirtankaras being an epoch-making man is found deep rooted in the Jaina Scriptures. He was the son of fourteen Kalukara or manu, known as Nabhi. He is also known as Adinatha. Rishabha inaugurated the Karmabhoomi and pioneered human civilisation and culture.

Rishabha was the first preacher of the ahimsa dharma, the first tirthankara or ford- maker to moksha according to Jaina path of purification and liberation. He attained Nirvana on the summit of Mount Kailasa in Tibet. The point to be noted is that there is a consistent tradition found in the Jaina religious literature and also in Hindu puranas from earliest times in invoking Rishabha Deva as Rudra or Shiva. The following stanza in Shiva Puranas brings out clearly this association meaning : Rishabhadeva, Jaineshwara, the omniscient and the all pervasive incarnated himself on the magnificent Kailasa, Asthapada mountain.

It is the definite opinion of Sir John Marshall that the Vedic Aryans adopted Shiva worship ( Shiva Pashupati Rudra ) from Indus Valley culture. It is significant as suggested by various scholar that the nude standing images in the Indus Valley in a typical Jaina ascetic yogic pose Kayotsarga abandonment of the body in meditation beat a striking resemblance to the oldest Jaina Sculpture and further that there is a link between the Indus bull seals and the bull insignia, lanchhana of Rishabha.

From the Vedic times to the present Rudra or Shiva and Rishabha have been considered usually as alternative names or designations which are : Digambara, Digvasa, Tapomaya, Charukesha, Shanta, Akshobhya, Ahimsa, Jnani, Kapardi, Jati. These are such attributes as become perfectly applicable in their meaning to Rishabha Tirthankara. His nudity, matted hair is well known. The characteristic mark of Shankara is found in Jaina creations and images known as Triratna, which is found clearly marked in the cave of Saratakharavela at Udaigiri in Orissa. It is found marked on the palms of the ancient images of Rishabha and other Tirthankaras.

The arch form of this mark is found in the form of tri-horn on the Indus Valley seal images. It should not be surprising if the same mark evolved later as a phase of moon, Om, svastika and the cross of Christianity as well as the moon and star of Islam, as noted by the eminent Jaina scholar Dr. Hiralal Jain.

The disciples of Shiva are collectively called Gana, whose leader is called Ganapati and Ganesh. The group of Munis established by Rishabha is also called Gana and its leader, his chief disciple, is called Ganandhara. The tradition of Gana and Ganadhara is found unbroken till the last Tirthankara Mahaveer.

Rishabha occupies a very important place in the Shiva sect. In Linga Purana he is described as a king revered all the Kshatriyas and in Vayu Purana he is described as the ancestor of all the Kshatriyas Kings Sarva Kshatrasya purvajah. Such parallels and spiritual affinities since prehistoric times between Rishabha and Shiva show unmistakably that new Jainism and its first propounder have been the precursor of the later Shiva doctrine.

The most notable example of the fusion and synthesis of not only the Jaina, Shiva, but also the Brahmanic, vedic, Buddhist and other Indian philosophies is found in the great Himalayan centre of pilgrimage, Badrinatha or Badri Vishala. In the Badri Vishala temple in the daily worship the following stotra is recited: "One who is ordered as Shiva by the Shivas, as Brahma by the Vedatins, as Buddha by the Buddhists, as the cause by the Naiyayikas, Arahan by the Jainas, Karma By the Mimansakas, such god of the three worlds may grant as our longed for fruits. This illustrates how the Badrinath embodies the true secular synthesis of the India.



Source : From "The Times of India".


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