Dr. Fuherer on the strength of his knowledge about the valuable Jain Antiquities of Mathura declared
that Neminantha was an historical person*.
Prof. L.D. Barnet gives credit to the Jain belief and writes:**
“I would venture to point out a fact, which hitherto, I believe, has not received the attention it merits, namely the corroboration supplied by Jain legend. As is well known, the Jain Tirthankara Mahavira Vardhman was preceded by the Tirthankara Paraswa: natha, whose predecessor again was Arist \Nemi, whom Jain traditions represent as a contemporary of Krishna Vasudeva. If we assume an interval of 200 years between each these Tirthankaras as seems on general grounds most suitable, we bring Aristnemi’s date up to 1000 B.C., which nearly corresponds with the date assigned on other grounds by Mr. Pargitar to the Bharat war, in which according to tradition krishan took part year 950 B.C.”
In the Mahabharta Arista Nemi is styled specifically as Jinesvara which is a Jain term. He has been described there as preaching Ahimsa doctrine.
An image of Tirthankara Arista Nemi belonging probably to the reign of Kansika was unearthed at
Kan-kali-Tila Mathura, and bears an inscription which runs thus:
c-f/rqfe (rf'k) fj;s HkX;rs vfj"V.ksfeL; (oyrZ)
*Epigraphical Indica Vol. I, page 389 & Vol II pp. 206-207.
**Ancient Mid India ksatriya Tribes Vol I & Foreword page IV.
It mentions that the image of Arista Nemi was caused to be built by Mitrasri in the late 18th year (of the Kushan era).
Another inscription belonging to the Indo-scythian period is found inscribed on a Sarvato Chadrica image of the Jain at Mathura.
In the Chalukyan inscription at Laksamesvara the twenty second Tirthankara has been styled as Sankha-Jinendra, Snankha meaning conch being his cognizance*.
Dr. Pran Nath published a copper plate grant of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnazar (1140 B.C.) which mentions that the King came to Renata to pay homage to Lord Nomi.**
The following verse from Skanda Puran (Hindu) Prabhasa part XIV, 94-95 is worth nothing:
Okkeuks¿fi rr'pdzs r=k rhFkkZoxgue~A
;kn`;wi% f'koks n`"V lw;ZfocEcs fnxEcj%AA
i|klufLFkr% lkSE;LRkFkk ra r=k laLeju~A
izfr"BkI; egkewfrZ iwt;kekl oklje~AA
euks---Hkh"BkFkZa fl¼FkZa rr% flf¼eokIrokr~A
usfeukFk f'kosR;soa ukepdzs l okeu%AA
Translation:-- Vamana regarded the place as a Tirtha . the (true)
form of Siva, even that
digambra (undraped) form was seen in the image in the Sun! Recalling the form of the Lord,
seated in the Padma
Asna (the sitting yoga posture with legs crossed) which is the embodiment of
tranquillity itself, he established
the image of Basara and worshipped it! Teis he did to attain to the fulfilment
of the wish of his heart: this
wish was fulfilled! That Vamana named Neminatha Siva!
*Cognization= that by which one is known. Ind. Antiquary Vol VII pp. 101-111.
**Times of India 19th March, 1935; V.O.A. Jan—Feb., 55 Page 6.
In accordance with Jain traditions Lord Arista Nemi was the first cousin of the Hindu God Lord Krishna. Samudra Vijay, the father of Lord Arista Nemi and Vasu Deva the father of Lord Krishna, were brothers. Arista Nemi was born at Sauripura a big town on the bank of Yamuna near Agra.
The incidence leading to the complete renunciation by Lord Areista Nemi is quite unique.
Krishna feared that he had no chance for the Kingdom of Harivansa if Arishta Nemi was married. He knew of the soft heartness of Prince Nemi, and so he arranged to have a number of animals tied down all along the streets of the capital, Dwarka prior to the day fixed for the marriage, while he kept himself in the back ground. On the marriage day Prince Nemi proceeded at the head of wedding procession to the house of his father-in-law Uggar Sen. He was followed by Krishna, Balbhadra and other Prince of Yadu dynasty.
“Lo driver”, said Nemi, when his car drew near, “What is that noise?”
“Nothing of importance,” replied the charioteer, “it is the cry of the beasts in apprehension of the danger to their lives---the beasts that have been brought by your father-in-law for the meat of our dishes.”
This had the desired result, for it melted the soft heart of the Prince, who commanded to stop the car. Getting down and accompanied by the charioteer, the Prince went to the place where the animals were confined and tied. Fear and dread of approaching death was writ large on their innocent faces. A feeling of intense sympathy choked the voice of Nemi and he ordered the charioteer to unloose the ties of all of them. The charioteer did as he was directed, and the poor beasts ran out mad at their freedom.
“Well my Lord”, said the charioteer, “now be pleased to go the palace of the bride, but the Prince empathically, refused His father , his mother, even Krishna, queen Siva Devi, Rohini, Devki, all remonstrated, but he was firm like a rock. To their entreaties he replied, “No marry I will not, I will not willingly throw a noose around my neck. Don’t you see how joyous at their release are these beasts? I have got to free myself from the stronger fetters of Karmas in the same way. Born and reborn in this series of worldly existences, times without number a soul has been suffering untold miseries! In each of its incarnation it has a new father, a new mother, and a new set of friends and relatives, but it is the Jiva that is to be experience the fruits of its acts. Nobody shares its woes. The soul is its own saviour; there is none else to save it. I know penances are difficult, but they secure one’s liberation which consists in the purest joy. The worldly pleasures on the other hand lead one the painful hellds.” The marriage procession thus ended in a procession of renunciation. Taking away all the ornaments from his body Prince Nemi then entered the holy order.
With the perfect self-control, Arista Nemi now immersed himself in the deepest contemplation. Upon the annihilation of the four destructive Karmas Arista Nemi came to be possessed of omniscience.
Princess Rajmati. Princess Rajmati fell into a swoon when she came to know of it. “You should thank your stars”, remarked the maidens, “that you have not been married to a cruel, cowardly and a laggard in love lad. There are many other renowed princes more handsome, more powerful, who would be glad to have you as the wife.”
“What! Do you wish to celebrate”, replied Rajmati, “another marriage of mine? I do not mind, if prince
Nemi has discarded me, but I am his wife all the same”, And so saying she also renounced and joined
the order of the nuns and began to spend her days in holy contemplation.
The place where Lord Arishta Nemi and Rajmati meditated, is called Girner.* It is situated in Kathiawar and is next in importance only to Shri Paras Nath Hill for the Jains.
*Girnar was variously known as Urjayana and Raivata in ancient times. The Chinese pilgrim Hiun-Tsanga
while on his visit to Saurashtra was also attracted to Girnara ant refrers to it by its ancient name of
Urjayanta in his ‘travels’ He writes:
At a short distance from the capital city rises mount Youshen-to (Urjayanta) upon the top of the of which a monastery is established. The chambers and galleries have been mostly covered with thick forests and streams from the springs surrounded it on all sides. There holy men and sages walk and fix their abode and thither resort crowds of Rishis endowed with divine qualities.”
The scared hill is 3500feet high and is about ten miles east of Jirnagarh—old fort ) on account of the old fort of its kings. In ancient times it was known as Girinagara (Pkt. Girinayar) and seems to have flourished and spread upto the mountain.
At he foot of the mountain there are rocks which are hallowed by the name of the just and benevolent Asoka. On them are inscribed the Rock Edicts of that righteous king which proclaims the sanctity of life in the spirit of the teachings of the Tirthankara Nemi. It runs as follows.
This is the Edict of the beloved of the Gods, the Raja Priyadarshana. The putting to death of animals is to be held, entirely discontinued and no carnival meeting is to be held, for the beloved of the gods Raja Priyadarshna remarks many faults in such assemblies. There is but one assembly indeed which is approved of by Raja Priyadarshna. Foremerly in the kitchen of His sacred and Gracious Majesty the king, each day many hundered thousand of living creatures were slaughters to make Curries. But now when the script of the Law is being written only tree living creatures’ two peacocks and one antelope are slaughters for Curry, the antelope, however not invariably. Even these three living crearutes shall not be slaughters in future.”
During the Mauran period Shurta Kevali Gobardhana Swami the preceptor of Bhadrabahu came to sta at Girnara with his Sangha*2 . Later on when Chandra Gupta renounced the world with his preceptor Bhadrabahu and paid homage to the great Jina*3. Sampati and Saliska, the last kinds to the Mauryan dynasty were attacked towards Girnara and built temples of Neminatha2.
*2- Harisana Kotha Kosa’p.317-- Bhadrabahu Samhita
*3-Jain Sidhant Baskar Vol. VI pp. 190-191 V.O.A. Jan., Feb. 1955
Nimanatha and Krishna. Krishna one became curious to know hoe his own death would come
about and where he would be reborn. Arista Nemi , the omniscient Lord’s reply was that after
the destruction of the city of Dvaranati by the wrath of Devi payana on the action of fire and
drunkenness of yadavs.Krishna would be sent for the with Balrama to Pandu-Mathura in the South
were he would meet the sons of King Pandaua Youdhistra and others, and there in the presence of
Pandua brothers in the Kusamby forestsunder an excellent banyan tree, he would remain on a slab
of stone with his body covered with a yellow robe, when he would be pieced in his left foot by
a sharp narrow released from the bow by Jara-Kamara and thus he would ocme to death and then he
would be reborn in the continent of Jambydvipa in thecountry of Bharatvarsa in the land of Pundra,
in the city of Sata duara where he would be the twelfth Jina in the next era of progress finding
himself many ears in the status of a Kevalin. This prophecy is said to have satisfied Krishna*.
*1Dr. B.C. Law, L.L.B; D.Litt.etc . in article in the V.O.A.