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23rd Jain Tirthankara
India, deccan, jina parshvanatha, 1100-1300.JPG
India, deccan, jina parshvanatha, 1100-1300
Predecessor Neminatha
Successor Mahavira
Dynasty/Clan Ikshvaku
Spouse Prabhavati[1]
Parents Ashvasena (father)
Vamadevi (mother)
Kalyanaka / Important Events
Chyavana date Falgun Vad 4
Chyavana place Varanasi
Born Pausha Vad 10, 877 BC
Diksha date Pausha Vad 11
Diksha place Varanasi
Kevalgyan date Falgun Vad 4
Kevalgyan place Varanasi
Moksha date Shravan Sud 8, 777 BC
Moksha place Shikharji
Complexion Blue
Symbol Snake
Height 9 cubits (13.5 feet)[2]
Age 100 years
Yaksha Dharanendra
Yakshini Padmavati

Parshvanatha (Pārśvanātha), also known as Parshva (Pārśva) was the twenty-third Tirthankara of Jainism.[3][4] He is the earliest Jain leader (c. 872 – c. 772 BC)[5][6] for whom there is reasonable evidence of having been a historical figure.[7][8][9] On this famous Indologist, Heinrich Zimmer note:

The foundation of Jainism has been attributed by Occidental historians to Vardhamana Mahavira...there must be some truth in the Jaina tradition of the great antiquity of their religion. At least with respect to Parsva, the Tirthankara just preceding Mahavira, we have grounds for believing that he actually lived and taught, and was a Jaina.[10]



Parshvanatha was born on the tenth day of the dark half of the month of Paush to King Asvasena and Queen Vama of Varanasi.[11] He belonged to the Ikshvaku dynasty.[12][13] He assumed and began to practice the twelve basic vows of the adult Jain householder when he reached the age of eight.[14]


Prabhavati was the daughter of King Prasenjit of Kushasthal. She wanted to marry Parshvanatha. Yavan, a powerful ruler of Kalinga, wanted to marry Prabhavati. So he attacked Kushasthal but was defeated by Parshvanath. King Prasenjit, then, offered Prabhavati's hand for marriage to Parshva in reward.[15]


He lived as formal prince of Varanasi and at the age of thirty, he renounced the world to become a monk.[16] He meditated for eighty-four days before attaining Kevala Jnana.[17] He achieved moksha at the age of one hundred atop Shikharji, which is known today as "the Parasnath Hills" after him. Pārśva was called purisādāṇīya "beloved of men", a name which shows that he must have been a genial personality.[12] He remains beloved among Jains.[18]

Previous Births

Parsva endures torments from evil God Kamath and is protected by serpent god Dharnendra and his consort Padmavati devi. Folio 60 from Kalpasutra series, loose leaf manuscript, Patan, Gujarat. c. 1472
  • Marubhuti - Visvabhuti, the prime minister of King Aravinda had two sons, elder one named Kamath and younger one named Marubhuti (Parshvanatha). Kamath killed Marubhuti and died as a criminal.[19]
  • Elephant - He was then reborn as an elephant in the forests of Vindyachal. His name was Vajraghosha (Thundering Voice of Lightening). Meanwhile, King Aravinda, after death of his minister Marubhuti, renounced his throne and was leading an ascetic life. When the elephant came near Aravinda, he recalled his previous human life by the blessings of Aravinda and became calm. Kamath was reborn as a serpent this time.[20] One day, when the elephant went to a river to quench his thirst, the serpent attacked him and he died the peaceful death of absolute renunciation.[21]
  • Sasi-prabha - Vajraghosha was reborn as Sasi-prabha (splendor of the moon) in the twelfth heaven and the serpent went to hell.[21]
  • Agnivega - After spending a luxurious life in heaven, he was reborn as prince Agnivega (strength of fire). He ascended the throne of his father which he later renounced to lead an ascetic life. Kamath was reborn as a serpent again after hell and again killed the ascetic in Himalayas during penance.[22]
  • When he was a prince he saved two snakes that had been trapped in a log in an Kamath’s fire. Later, the snakes were reborn as Dharnendra, the lord of the underworld kingdom of the nāgas, and Padmavati. Dharnendra and Padmavati sheltered Pārśva from a storm sent by a Meghmali (Kamath reborn).[23]


According to the Kalpa Sūtra, Pārśva had 164,000 śrāvakas (male lay followers) and 327,000 śrāvikās (female lay followers) and 16,000 sādhus (monks) and 38,000 sādhvīs (nuns). He had eight ganadharas (chief monks): Śubhadatta, Āryaghoṣa, Vasiṣṭha, Brahmacāri, Soma, Śrīdhara, Vīrabhadra and Yaśas. After his death, the ganadhara Śubhadatta became the head of the monastic order. He was then succeeded by Haridatta, Āryasamudra and Keśī.[16]

Keśī is believed to have been born about 166 to 250 years after the death of Pārśva and to have met the ganadhara of Mahavira, Indrabhuti Gautama.[24] Their discussion about the apparent differences between the teachings of the two tirthankaras is recorded in Jain texts.

Pārśva is the most popular object of Jain devotion. He is closely associated with compassion, although he is free from the world of rebirth like all tirthankaras and therefore unable to aid his devotees personally.[25]

Guru Gobind Singh has penned life history of Parsavnath in a composition called the Paranath Avtar, which is included in the Dasam Granth.[26]

Famous Temples dedicated to Parshvanatha

  • Shikharji (Sammet Sikhar) in Jharkhand
  • Shri Amijhara Parshavanath
  • Shri Andheshwar Parshvanath near Banswara
  • Shri Kalikund Parshvanath
  • Shri Chintamani Parshvanath in Navsari
  • Shri Avanti Parshvanath in Ujjain


See also


  1. "PARSHVANATH-THE 23RD TIRTHANKAR". External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Sarasvati 1970, p. 444.
  3. Fisher 1997, p. 115.
  4. Sanghvi, Vir. "Rude Travel: Down The Sages". Hindustan Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Zimmer 1952, p. 183.
  6. Sangave 2001, p. 103.
  7. Charpentier 1922, p. 153.
  8. Ghatage 1951, p. 411-412.
  9. Deo 1956, pp. 59–60.
  10. Zimmer 1952, p. 182-183.
  11. Zimmer 1952, p. 184.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Ghatage 1951, p. 411.
  13. Deo 1956, p. 60.
  14. Zimmer 1952, p. 196.
  15. "LORD PARSHVANATH". External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 von Glasenapp 1999, pp. 24–28.
  17. Danielou 1971, p. 376.
  18. Schubring 1964, p. 220.
  19. Zimmer 1952, p. 186-187.
  20. Zimmer 1952, p. 189.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Zimmer 1952, p. 190.
  22. Zimmer 1952, p. 191.
  23. "Parshvanatha". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 28 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. von Glasenapp 1999, p. 35.
  25. Bowker, John. World Religions. New York: DK Publishing, Inc. 1997.
  26. Dasam Granth, S.S. Kapoor, Page 17


External links