The Jain Cosmology - The Cosmic Being and Tiers of the Universe
Notes: This essay was originally written by Johann Georg Buhler in German, and was translated by Jas Burgess (1903). It forms part of the book ON THE INDIAN SECT OF THE JAINAS. It has been edited and updated by me for Hinduwebsite.com (2013). For clarity, I have created the table of the Tirthankaras based on the information contained in the original text and also added headings. Jayaram V
The mythology of the Jainas, whilst including many of the Hindu divinities, to which it accords very inferior positions, is altogether different in composition. It has all the appearance of a purely constructed system. The gods are classified and subdivided into orders, genera, and species; all are mortal, have their ages fixed, as well as their abodes, and are mostly distinguished by cognizances chihnas or lâńchhanas. Their Tîrthakaras, Tìrthamkaras, or perfected saints, are usually known as twenty-four belonging to the present age. But the mythology takes account also of a past and a future age or renovation of the world, and to each of these aeons are assigned twenty-four Tîrthakaras.
The ten regions of the world
But this is not all: in their cosmogony they lay down other continents besides Jambûdvîpa-Bharata or that which we dwell in. These are separated from Jambûdvîpa by impassable seas, but exactly like it in every respect and are called Dhâtuki-kanda and Pushkarârddha; and of each of these there are eastern, and western Bharata and Airàvata regions, whilst of Jambûdvîpa there is also a Bharata and an Airâvata region: these make the following ten regions or worlds:--
2. Dhâtukî-khanda pûrva-bharata.
3. Dhâtukî-khanda paśchima-bharata.
4. Pushkarârddha pûrva-bharata.
5. Pushkaravaradvîpa paśchima-bharata.
6. Jambûdvîpa airâvata-kshetra.
7. Dhâtukî-khanda pûrva-airâvata.
8. Dhâtukî-khanda paśchima-airâvata.
9. Pushkarârdhadvîpa pûrva-airâvata.
110. Puskarârddha paśchima-airâvata.
To each of these is allotted twenty four past, present and future Atîts or Jinas,--making in all 720 of this class, for which they have invented names: but they are only names. 
Of the Tîrthakaras of the present age or avasarpini in the Bharata-varsha of Jambûdvîpa, however, we are supplied with minute details:--their names, parents, stations, reputed ages, complexions, attendants, cognizances (chihna) or characteristics, etc. and these details are useful for the explanation of the iconography we meet with in the shrines of Jaina temples. There the images of the Tîrthakaras are placed on highly sculptured thrones and surrounded by other smaller attendant figures. In temples of the Śvetâmbara sect the images are generally of marble--white in most cases, but often black for images of the 19th, 2Oth, 22nd and 23rd Jinas. On the front of the throne or âsana are usually carved three small figures: at the proper right of the Jina is a male figure representing the Yaksha attendant or servant of that particular Jina; at the left end of the throne is the corresponding female--or Yakshinî, Yakshî or Śâsanadevî; whilst in a panel in the middle there is often another devî. At the base of the seat also, are placed nine very small figures representing the navagraha or nine planets; that is the sun, moon, five planets, and ascending and descending nodes.
In the Jaina Purânas, legends are given to account for the connexion of the Yakshas and Yakshîs with their respective Tîrthakaras: thus, in the case of Pârśvanâtha, we have a story of two brothers Marubhûti and Kamatha, who in eight successive incarnations were always enemies, and were finally born as Pârśvanâtha and Sambaradeva respectively. A Pâshanda or unbeliever, engaged in the panchâgni rite, when felling a tree for his fire, against the remonstrance of Pârśvanâtha, cut in pieces two snakes that were in it; the Jina, however restored them to life by means of the pañchamantra. They were then re-born in Pâtâla-loka as Dharanendra or Nâgendra-Yaksha and Padmâvatî-Yakshinî. When Sambaradeva or Meghakumâra afterwards attacked the Arbat with a great storm, whilst he was engaged in the Kâyotsarga austerity--standing immovable, exposed to the weather--much in the way that Mâra attacked Śâkya Buddha at Bodh-gayâ, Dharanendra's throne in Pâtâla thereupon shook, and the Nâga or Yaksha with his consort at once sped to the protection of his former benefactor. Dharanendra spread his many hoods over the head of the Arhata and the Yakshmî Padmâvatî held a white umbrella (śveta chhatri) over him for protection. Ever after they became his constant attendants, just as Śakra was to Buddha. The legend is often represented in old-sculptures, in the cave-temples at Bâdâmi, Elura, etc., and the figure of Pârśva is generally carved with the snake-hoods (Śeshaphani) over him. 
Other legends account for the attachment of each pair of Śâsanadevatâs to their respective Jinas.
The Śvetâmbaras and Digambaras agree generally in the details respecting the different Tîrthakaras; but, from information furnished from Maisur, they seem to differ as to the names of the Yakshinis attached to the several Tîrthakaras, except the first and last two; they differ also in the names of several of the Jinas of the past and the future aeons. The Digambaras enlist most of the sixteen Vidyâdevis or goddesses of knowledge among the Yakshinîs, whilst the other sect include scarcely a third of them.
These Vidyâdevîs, as given by Hemachandra, are--(1) Rohinî; (2) Prajñaptî; (3) Vajrasrińkhalâ; (4) Kuliśânkuścâ--probably the Ankuśa-Yakshî of the Śvetàmbâra fourteenth Jina; (5) Chakreśvarî; (6) Naradattâ or Purushadattâ; (7) Kâli or Kâlîkâ; (8) Mahákâlî; (9) Gaurî; (10) Gândhârî; (11) Sarvâstramahâjvâlâ; (12) Mânavî; (13) Vairotyâ; (14) Achchhuptâ; (15) Mânasî; and (16) Mahâmânasikâ.
The images of the Tîrthakaras are always represented seated with their legs crossed in front--the toes of one foot resting close upon the knee of the other; and the right hand lies over the left in the lap. All are represented exactly alike except that Pârśvanâtha, the twenty-third, has the snake-hoods over him; and, with the Digambaras, Supârśva--the seventh, has also a smaller group of snake hoods. The Digambara images are all quite nude; those of the Śvetâmbaras are represented as clothed, and they decorate them with crowns and ornaments. They are distinguished from one another by their attendant Yakshas and Yakshinîs as well as by their respective chihnas or cognizances which are carved on the cushion of the throne.
All the Jinas are ascribed to the Ikshvâku family (kula))except the twentieth Munisuvrata and twenty-second Neminâtha, who were of the Harivamśa race.
All received dîkshà or consecration at their native places; and all obtained jńâna or complete enlightenment at the same, except Rishabha who became a Kevalin at Purimatàla, Nemi at Girnâr, and Mahâvîra at the Rijupàlukà river; and twenty of them died or obtained moksha (deliverance in bliss) on Sameta-Śikhara or Mount Pârśvanâtha in the west of Bengal. But Rishabha, the first, died on Ashtâpada--supposed to be Śatruñljaya in Gujarât; Vâsupûjya died at Champâpuri in north Bengal; Neminâtha on mount Girnâr; and Mahâvîra, the last, at Pâvâpur.
The 24 Tirthankararas and their particulars
Twenty-one of the Tîrthakaras are said to have attained Moksha in the Kâyotsarga (Guj. Kâüsagga) posture, and Rishabha, Nemi, and Mahâvira on the padmâsana or lotus throne.
For sake of brevity the following particulars for each Arhat are given below in serial order viz.:--
|Thirthankara and The vimâna or vâhana (heaven) from which he descended for incarnation.||Birthplace, and place of consecration or dîkshâ.||Names of father and mother.||Complexion.||Cognizance--chihna or lâñchhana.|
|Rishabhadeva, Vrishabha, Âdinthâ or Adishvara Bhagavân Sarvârthasiddha||Vinittanagarî in Koshalâ and Purimatâla||Nâbhîrâjâ by Marudevâ||golden--varna-,||the bull,--vrisha, balada|
|Ajitanâtha: Vijayavimàna||Ayodhyâ||Jitashatru by Vijayâmâtâ||(golden||the elephant--gaja or hasti|
|Sambhavanâtha: Uvarîmagraiveka||Sâvathi or sràvasti||Jitâri by Senâmâtâ||golden||the horse,--ashva, ghoda|
|Abhinandana: Jayantavimâna||Ayodhyâ||Sambararâjâ by Siddhârthà||golden||the ape,--plavaga, vânara or kapi|
|Sumatinâtha: Jayantavimâna||Ayodhyâ||Megharajâ by Mamgalâ||golden||the curlew,--kraumcha, (Dig. chakravakapâkshâ--the Brâhmani or red goose)|
|Padmaprabha: Uvarîmagraiveka||Kaushambî||srîdhara by Susîmâ||red (rakta)||a lotus bud--padma, abja, or kamala|
|Supârshvanâtha: Madhyamagraiveka||Varânashî||Pratishtharâjâ by Prithvî||golden|| the swastika symbol|
|Chandraprabha: Vijayanta||Chandrapura||Mahâsenarâjâ by Lakshmanâ||white--dhavala, shubhra||the moon--chandrâ or shashî|
|Suvidhinâtha or Pushpadanta: Ânatadevaloka||Kânandînagarî||Sugrîvarâja by Râmârânî||white||the Makara (Dig. the crab--êdi)|
|Sitalanâtha: Achyutadevaloka||Bhadrapurâ or Bhadilapura||Drıdharatha-râjâ by Nandâ||golden||the srîvatsa figure: (Dig. sri-vriksha the ficus religiosa)|
|Sreyâmshanâtha or sreyasa: Achyutadevaloka||Simhapurî||Vishnurâjâ by Vishnâ||golden||the rhinoceros--khadga, gemdâ: (Dig. Garuda)|
|Vâsupûjya: Prânatadevaloka||Champâpurî||Vasupûjya by Jayâ||ruddy--rakta, Guj. râtum||the female buffalo--mahishî, pâdâ|
|Vimalanâtha: Mahasâradevaloka||Kampîlyapura||Krıtavarmarâja by syâmâ||golden||a boar--shâkara, varâha|
|Anantanâtha or Anantajit: Prânatadevaloka||Ayodhyâ||Simhasena by Suyashâh or Sujasâ||golden||a falcon--shyena (Dig. bhallûka a bear)|
|Dharmanâtha: Vijayavimâna||Ratnapurî||Bhânurâjâ by Suvritâ||golden||the thunderbolt--vajra|
|sântinâthâ: Sarvârthasiddha||Gajapura or Hastinapurî||Vishvasena by Achirâ||golden||an antelope--mriga, harana, hullĕ|
|Kunthtinâtha: Sarvârthasiddha||Gajapura||Sûrarâjâ by srîrânî||golden||a goat--chhâga or aja|
|Aranâtha: Sarvârthasiddha||Gajapura||Sudarshana by Devîrânî||golden||the Nandyâvarta diagram, (Dig. Mina--the zodiacal Pisces)|
|Mallinâtha: Jayantadevaloka||Mathurâ||Kumbharâjâ by Prabhâvatî||blue--nîla||a jar--kumbham, kalasha or ghata|
|Munisuvrata, Suvrata or Muni: Aparâjita-devaloka||Râjagriha||Sumitrarâjâ by Padmâvatî||black--shyâma, asita||a tortoise--kûrma|
|Naminâtha, Nimi or Nimeshvara: Prânatadevaloka||Mathurâ||Vijayarâjâ by Viprârânî||yellow||the blue water-lily--nîlotpala, with the Digambaras, sometimes the Ashoka tree|
|Neminâtha or Arishtanemi: Aparâjita||Sauripura (Prákrit--Soriyapura) and Ujjinta or Mount Girnâr||Samudravijaya by sivâdevi||black--shyâma||a conch,--shamkha|
|Pârshvanâtha: Prânatadevaloka||Varânasî and Sameta-sikhara||Ashvasenarâja by Vâmâdevî||blue--nîla||a serpent--sarpa|
|sri-Mahâvîra, Vardhamâna or Vîra, the sramana:Prân atadevaloka||Kundagrâma or Chitrakûta, and Rijupâlukâ||Siddhârtharâja, sreyânsha or Yashasvin by Trishalâ Vidchadinnâ or Priyakârinî||yellow||a lion--kesharî-simha|
Further Details of the Thirthankaras
15 kinds of Tirthankaras
The Tirthakuras may be regarded as the dii majores of the Jainas,  though, having become Siddhas, emancipated from all concern, they can have no interest in mundane affairs. They and such beings as are supposed to have reached perfection are divided into fifteen kinds:
But the gods are divided into four classes, and each class into several orders: the four classes are:--
I. Bhavanâdhipatis, Bhavanavâsins or Bhaumeyikas, of which there are ten orders, viz.--
3. Taditkumâras or Vidyutkumâras;
4. Suvarna- or Suparnaka-kumâras;
6. Dvîpakumâras (Dîvakumâras);
9. Pavana- or Vâta-kumâras;
10. Ghanika- or Sanitakumâras.
II. Vyantaras or Vânamantaras, who live in woods are of eight classes:--
III. The Jyotishkas are the inhabitants of;
1. Chandras or the moons;
2. Sûryas or the suns;
3. Grahas or the planets;
4. Nakshatras or the constellations;
5. Târâs or the hosts of stars.
IV. The Vaimânika gods are of two orders:
(1) the Kalpabhavas, who are born in the heavenly Kalpas; and
(2) the Kalpâtîtas, born in the regions above the Kalpas.
(1) The Kalpabhavas again are subdivided into twelve genera who live in the Kalpas after which they are named; viz,--
7. Śukra or Mahâśukla;
9. Ânata (Ânaya);
10. Prânata (Pânaya);
(2) The Kalpâtîtas are subdivided into--
(a) the Graiveyakas, living on the upper part of the universe; and
(b) the Anuttaras or those above whom there are no others.
(a) The Graiveyakas are of nine species, viz.--
9. Âdityas or Nandikaras.
(b) the Anuttara gods are of five orders: viz.--
4. Aparâjitas; and
These Anuttara gods inhabit the highest heavens where they live for varying lengths of time as the heavens ascend; and in the fifth or highest--the great Vimâna called Sarvârthasiddha--they all live thirty-three Sâgaropamas or periods of unimagiable duration. Still all the gods are mortal or belong to the samsâra.
Above these is the paradise of the Siddhas or perfected souls, and the Uttarâdhyana Sûtra gives the following details of this realm of the perfected, or the paradise of the Jainas:--
"The perfected souls are those of women, men, hermaphrodites, of orthodox, heterodox, and householders. Perfection is reached by people of the greatest, smallest and middle size;  on high places, underground, on the surface of the earth, in the ocean, and in waters (of rivers, etc.).
"Ten hermaphrodites reach perfection at the same time, twenty women, one hundred and eight men; four householders, ten heterodox, and one hundred and eight orthodox monks.
"Two individuals of the greatest size reach perfection (simultaneously), four of the smallest size, and one hundred and eight of the middle size. Four individuals reach perfection (simultaneously) on high places, two in the ocean, three in water, twenty underground; and where do they go on reaching perfection? Perfected souls are debarred from the non-world (Aloka); they reside on the top of the world; they leave their bodies here (below) and go there, on reaching perfection.
"Twelve yojanas above the (Vimâna) Sarvârtha is the place called Îshatpragbhâra, which has the form of an umbrella; (there the perfected souls go). It is forty-five hundred thousand yojanas long, and as many broad, and it is somewhat more than three times as many in circumference. Its thickness is eight yojanas, it is greatest in the middle, and decreases towards the margin, till it is thinner than the wing of a fly. This place, by nature pure, consisting of white gold, resembles in form an open umbrella, as has been said by the best of Jinas.
"(Above it) is a pure blessed place (called Śîtâ), which is white like a conch-shell, the anka-stone, and Kunda-flowers;  a yojana thence is the end of the world. The perfected souls penetrate the sixth part of the uppermost krośa of the (above-mentioned) yojana. There, at the top of the world reside the blessed perfected souls, rid of all transmigration, and arrived at the excellent state of perfection. The dimension of a perfected soul is two-thirds of the height which the individual had in his last existence.
"The perfected souls considered singly--êgattêna (as individuals)--have a beginning but no end, considered collectively--puhuttêna (as a class)--they have neither a beginning nor an end. They have no (visible) form, they consist of life throughout, they are developed into knowledge and faith, they have crossed the boundary of the Samsâra, and reached the excellent state of perfection."
Like both the Brâhmans and Buddhists, the Jainas have a series of hells--Nârakas, numbering even which they name--
Those who inhabit the seventh hell have a stature of 500 poles, and in each above that they are half the height of the one below it.
Everything in the system as to stature of gods and living beings, their ages and periods of transmigration is reduced to artificial numbers.
About the middle of the tenth century there flourished a Jaina high priest named Uddyotana, with whose pupils the eighty four gachhas originated. This number is still spoken of by the Jainas, but the lists that have been hitherto published are very discordant. The following was obtained from a member of the sect as being their recognised list,--and allowing for differences of spelling, nearly every name may be recognised in those previously published by Mr. H. G. Briggs or Colonel Miles.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- The Atomic Theory of Jainism
- History of Jainism
- Jainism - Philosophy and Doctrine
- Major Beliefs of Jainism
- Jain Literature and Canonical Texts
- Jainism Cosmology
- The Jains And Their Creed
- Jainism - Doctrine and History
- An Introduction to Jainism or Jain Dharma
- The Philosophy and Practice of Jainism
- Information Websites on Jainism
- Jainism and the Belief in God
- Jainism - Jivas, the Embodied Souls
- Jainism - Belief in Karma
- The Theory of Knowledge in Jainism
- History of Jainism after Mahavira
- Vardhamana Mahavira
- Jainism - Anekantavada or Nayavada
- An Outsider Perspective on Jainism
- Jainism - Sects and Subsects
- Syadavada or Saptabhangi
- The Tattvas of Jainism
- Jain Thirthankaras
- Ethics of Jainism - The Three Jewels
- Tirthahkaras Before Mahavira
Footnote 1: See Ratnasâgara, bh. II, pp. 696--705.
Footnote 2: Cave Temples, pp. 491, 496; Arch. Sur. Westn. India, vol. I, p. 25 and pl. xxxvii; vol. V, p. 49; Transactions, R. As. Soc., vol. I, p. 435. At Rânpur in Godwâr, in the temple of Rishabhanâtha is a finely carved slab representing Pârśvanâtha in the Kâyotsarga position, attended by snake divinities,--Archit. and Scenery in Gujarât and Râjputâna, p. 21. The story has variants: conf. Ind. Ant. vol. XXX, p. 302.
Footnote 3: The Digambara describe the colours of the seventh and twenty-first Jinas as marakada or emerald coloured.
Footnote 4: For an account of the ritual of the Svetâmbara sect of Jainas, see my account in the Indian Antiquary, vol. XIII, pp. 191-196.
Footnote 5: Jour. Asiat. IXme Ser. tom. XIX, p. 260.
Footnote 6: Conf. Ratnasâgara, bh. II, pp. 616, 617; Jour. Asiat. IXme Ser. tome XIX, p. 259; Sac. Bks. E. vol. XLV, p. 226 f. See also Rev. de l'Histoire des Relig. tom. XLVII, pp. 34-50, which has appeared since the above was written, for "La doctrine des êtres vivants dans la Religion Jaina".
Footnote 7: See ante, p. 11, note 10; The following extract is from Sac. Books of the East, vol. XLV, pp. 211-213.
Footnote 8: The greatest size--ogâhanâ--of men is 500 dhanush or 2000 cubits, the smallest is one cubit.
Footnote 9: The gourd Lagenaria vulgaris.
Footnote 10: Ratnasâgara, bh. II, p. 607; Jour. As. u.s. p. 263.
Footnote 11: Those names marked * are found in Col. Miles's list Tr. R. A. S. vol. III, pp. 358 f. 363, 365, 370. Those marked † are included in H. G. Brigg's list,--Cities of Gujarashtra, p. 339.