This word Rishabhanatha in Jainism means bull, but it is also referential of a mystical leader, one that is thought to have lived eons ago. It is thought that he was one of 24 teachers, those that are part of Jain cosmology, specifically this first half of the cycle. He is often referenced as the Ford maker, a person that has helped uncountable people escape the Wheel of Samsara. By helping them avoid this cycle of rebirth, he has reached a level of reverence that is very high. According to traditional accounts, he was initially born to a queen and king located in North India, and later married to have 99 sons and one daughter call Brahmi. At a later time he began to wander, abstaining from food for an entire year. It is from there, these humble beginnings, that he went on to live millions of purva years and was described as being 1200 feet tall. His teachings were then disseminated, many of which are still taught today.
Temples Dedicated To Rishabhanatha
There are many temples that are dedicated to Rishabhanatha including those that stand as high as 108 feet tall. He is thought to be the avatar of Vishnu, and is discussed in many parts of Buddhist literature. His statues are often sitting in the lotus position, or they can be standing, and there are also paintings. He is a very important in Hindu mythology, and was thought to have practiced asceticism for millions of years. It was only after he returned to Ashtapada that he finally died from his fasting. These temples, therefore, depict some of the stories and try to represent him in a physical manner that can be understood.
This basic overview of what Rishabhanatha is is just a cursory explanation of this very popular deity in Jainism. He is just one of 24 Tirthankaras, a Savior who was named by his mother after she had 14 auspicious dreams. These saviors are able to cross over, not being affected by the stream of life, death and rebirth. He is a symbol of freedom that many people look to as they are trying to improve their chances of not having to reincarnate again. What is so important about this figure is that he is a representation of what all of us are able to do. He is simply representative of someone that used asceticism to purify himself in order to escape the possibility of reincarnation.