Rishabhanatha (also Rsabhadeva, Rishabhadeva, or Rsabha which literally means "bull") is the first Tirthankara (ford maker) in Jainism. A mythical leader, he is believed in Jainism to have lived millions of years ago. He was the first of twenty-four teachers in the present half cycle of time in Jain cosmology and called a ford maker because his teachings helped one across the sea of interminable rebirths and deaths (samsara). He is also known as Adinatha of Jainism which translates into "First (Adi) Lord (Natha)", as well as Adishvara (first Ishvara), Yugadideva (deva of yuga), Prathamaraja (first king), and Nebheya (son of Nabhi). Along with Mahavira, Parshvanatha and Neminatha, Rishabhanatha is one of the four Tirthankaras that attract the most devotional worship among the Jains.
Mahavira (Mahavira), also known as Vardhamana, was the twenty-fourth Tirthankara (ford-maker) of Jainism. In the Jain tradition, it is believed that Mahavira was born in the early part of the 6th century BC into a royal family in what is now Bihar, India. At the age of thirty, abandoning all worldly possessions, he left his home in pursuit of spiritual awakening and became an ascetic. For the next twelve and a half years, Mahavira practiced intense meditation and severe austerities, after which he is believed to have attained Kevala Jnana (omniscience). He preached for thirty years, and is believed by Jains to have died in the 6th century BC. Scholars such as Karl Potter consider his biographical details as uncertain, with some suggesting he lived in the 5th century BC contemporaneously with the Buddha. Mahavira died at the age of 72, and his remains were cremated.
According to Jainism, purification of soul and liberation can be achieved through the path of three jewels:
1. Samyak Darsana ("Correct View") - Faith in basic tenets of Jainism, acceptance of the self-evident truth of soul.
2. Samyak Jnana ("Correct Knowledge") - Knowledge of the tattvas without any doubt or misapprehension.
3. Samyak Charitra ("Correct Conduct") - behavior consistent with the Five vows
Jain texts often add samyak tap (Correct Asceticism) as the fourth jewel, thereby emphasizing their belief in ascetic practices as the means to liberation (moksha). The four jewels of orthodox Jain ideology are called moksha marg. According to Jain texts, the liberated pure soul (Siddha) goes up to the summit of universe (Siddhashila) and dwells there in eternal bliss.
Jain scriptures are called Agamas. They are believed to have been verbally transmitted from one generation to next, much like the ancient Buddhist and Hindu texts, by the oral tradition. The Jain tradition believes that their religion is eternal, and the teachings of their first Tirthankara Rishabhanatha were their scriptures millions of years ago. The mythology states that the Tirthankara taught in a divine preaching hall called samavasarana, which were heard by the gods, the ascetics, and the layperson. The discourse delivered is called shrut Jnana and comprises eleven angas and fourteen purvas. The discourse is remembered and transmitted by the Ganadharas (chief disciples) and is composed of twelve angas ("departments"). It is symbolically represented by a tree with twelve branches.