Neminatha (Devanagari: ) was twenty-second Jain Tirthankar of the present age (Avsarpini). According to Jain beliefs, he became a Siddha, a liberated soul which has destroyed all of its karma. He is also known as Arishtanemi He along with Rishabha or Adinatha is mentioned in the Rig Veda Samhita. Neminatha was born to King Samudravijaya and Queen Shivadevi at Souripur in the Harivamsha clan. His birth date is the 5th day of Shravana Shukla in the Indian calendar.
Neminatha as a historical figure
Depiction of wedding procession of Lord Neminatha. The enclosure shows the animals that are to be slaughtered for food for weddings. Overcome with Compassion for animals, Neminatha refused to marry and renounced his kingdom to become a Shramana
There seems to be no doubt about the existence of Jainism in the 7th century BCE, but the history of Jainism goes back even earlier than of Parsvanatha. The Jain record mentions the names of twenty two Tirthankaras before him. Neminatha, the 22nd Tirthankara of the Jains, was the son of Samudra Vijaya and grandson of Andhakavrishni. Jains and some Hindus consider Neminath to be the cousin of Krishna..
According to both religions, Krishna negotiated his marriage with Rajamati, the daughter of Ugrasena, but Neminatha, empathizing with the animals which were to be slaughtered for the marriage feast, left the procession suddenly and renounced the world. Some writers of the Jain scriptures say that Tirthankara Neminatha was the master of Krishna.
The Andhakavrishnis of Dwaraka in Kathiawar Region of present Gujrat state of India, as a republic is referred to in the Mahabharata, Arthashastra and Ashtadhyayi of P ini.
The name of the Vrishni corporation is also found on a coin which on paleographical grounds dates to the 1st or 2nd century BCE. It seems that the republic was named after Andhakavrishni, the grandfather of Neminatha. If Andhakavrishni is a real person, there seems to be little doubt that his grandson Neminatha was real.
It is mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishads III, that the sage Ghora Angirasa imparted certain instructions of the spiritual sacrifice to Krishna, the son of Devaki. The liberal payment of this sacrifice was austerity, liberality, simplicity, non-violence and truthfulness. These teachings of Ghora Angirasa seem to be the tenets of Jainism. Hence, Ghora Angirasa seems to be a Jain sadhu. The word Ghora Angirasa seems to be an epithet given to him because of the extreme austerities he undertook. It may be possible to suggest that Neminatha was his early name and when he had obtained Nirvana after hard austerities, he might have been given the name of Ghora Angirasa.
In fact, the Jaina traditions about Neminatha or Arishtanemi as incorporated in the Harivamsha, Arittha Nemi Cariu and other works may be corroborated to some extent by the Brahaminical traditions. He is mentioned in some of the hymns of the Vedas but their meaning is doubtful.
In the Yajurveda, he seems to be clearly mentioned as one of the important Rishis]. He is described as one who is capable of crossing over the ocean of life and death, as the remover of violence, and one who is instrumental is sparing life from injury. The Yajurveda probably belongs to the 12th century BCE. This indicates that Neminatha was known at this time and flourished even before.
The Rig Veda mentions Aristanemi (Tirthankara Neminatha) as:
- "So asmakam Aristanemi svaha Arhan vibharsi sayakani dhanvarhanistam yajatam visvarupam arhannidam dayase" (Astak 2, Varga 7, Rig Veda)
Physical evidence for existence
Neminatha (stone).Chahaman, 11th century AD, Narhad, Rajasthan The literary evidence seems to be supported by epigraphic evidence. In Kathiawar, a copper plate has been discovered on which there is an inscription . King Nebuchadrezzar I of Babylonia, who was also the lord of Reva-nagara (in Kathiawar of Gujarat) had come to the place (Dwarka) of the Yaduraja. He built a temple and paid homage and made the grant perpetual in favour of Lord Neminatha, the paramount deity of Mt. Raivata. This inscription is of great historical importance. Nebuchadrezzar lived in the 10th century BCE. This indicates that even in the 10th century BCE Neminatha was worshiped.
- Facets of Jainology by Vilas Adinath Sangave Published 2001 by Popular Prakashan
- Article of Dr.Pran Nath The Times of India 19 March 1935