Ācharya Bhadrabahu (c. 367 - c. 298 BCE) was, according to the Digambara sect of Jainism, the last Shruta Kevalin (all knowing by hearsay, that is indirectly) in Jainism (the other sect, Śvētāmbara, believes the last Shruta Kevalin was Acharya Sthulabhadra, but was forbade by Bhadrabahu from disclosing it). He was the last acharya of the undivided Jain sangha. He was the last spiritual teacher of Chandragupta Maurya.
Late inscription at Shravanabelagola describing the incoming of Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta Maurya
|Born||c. 367 BCE|
|Died||c. 298 BCE|
|Sect||Digambara and Svetambara|
|Notable work(s)||Uvasagharam Stotra|
|Ascetics initiated||Chandragupta Maurya|
|Initiation||by Govarddhana Mahamuni|
According to the Digambara sect of Jainism, there were five Shruta Kevalins in Jainism - Govarddhana Mahamuni, Vishnu, Nandimitra, Aparajita and Bhadrabahu.
Bhadrabahu was born in Pundravardhana (now in Bangladesh) to a Brahmin family during which time the secondary capital of the Mauryas was Ujjain. When he was seven, Govarddhana Mahamuni predicted that he will be the last Shruta Kevali and took him along for his initial education. He was then initiated as a Jain Muni and by practicing gyan (wisdom), dhyan (meditation), tap (austerities) and sanyam (equanimity) attainted the status of Acharya.
|S. No.||Dream of Chandragupta||Explanation by Bhadrabahu|
|1||The sun setting||All the knowledge will be darkened|
|2||A branch of the Kalpavriksha break off and fall||Decline of Jainism and Chandragupta's successors won't be initiated|
|3||A divine car descending in the sky and returning||The heavenly beings will not visit Bharata Kshetra|
|4||The disk of the moon sundered||Jainism will be split into two sects|
|5||Black elephants fighting||Lesser rains and poorer crops|
|6||Fireflies shining in the twilight||True knowledge will be lost, few sparks will glimmer with feeble light|
|7||A dried up lake||Aryakhanda will be destitute of Jain doctrines and falsehood increase|
|8||Smoke filling all the air||Evil starting to prevail and goodness hidden|
|9||An ape sitting on a throne||Vile, low-born, wicked will acquire power|
|10||A dog eating the payasa out of a golden bowl||Kings, not content with a sixth share, will introduce land-rent and oppress their subjects by increasing it|
|11||Young bulls labouring||Young will form religious purposes, but forsake them when old|
|12||Kshatriya boys riding donkeys||Kings of high descent will associate with the base|
|13||Monkeys scaring away swans||The low will torment the noble and try to reduce them to same level|
|14||Calves jumping over the sea||King will assist in oppressing the people by levying unlawful taxes|
|15||Foxes pursuing old oxen||The low, with hollow compliments, will get rid of the noble, the good and the wise|
|16||A twelve-headed serpent approaching||twelve year of death and famine will come upon this land|
Bhadrabahu decided the famine would make it harder for monks to survive and migrated with a group of twelve thousand disciples to South India, bringing with him Chandragupta, turned Digambara monk.
Bhadrabahu was the last acharya of the undivided Jain sangha. After him, the Sangha split into two separate teacher-student lineages of monks. Digambara monks belong to the lineage of Acharya Vishakha and Svetambara monks follow the tradition of Acharya Sthulibhadra.
Regarding the inscriptions describing the relation of Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta Maurya, Radha Kumud Mookerji writes,
The oldest inscription of about 600 AD associated "the pair (yugma), Bhadrabahu along with Chandragupta Muni." Two inscriptions of about 900 AD on the Kaveri near Seringapatam describe the summit of a hill called Chandragiri as marked by the footprints of Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta munipati. A Shravanabelagola inscription of 1129 mentions Bhadrabahu "Shrutakevali", and Chandragupta who acquired such merit that he was worshipped by the forest deities. Another inscription of 1163 similarly couples and describes them. A third inscription of the year 1432 speaks of Yatindra Bhadrabahu, and his disciple Chandragupta, the fame of whose penance spread into other words.
Bhadrabahu-charitra was written by Ratnanandi of about 1450 CE.
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