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Arihant (Jainism)

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Arihant (Jainism)

The enlightened Jain śramaṇa teacher Mahāvīra was considered an arihant by his followers.

Arihant (Jain Prakrit: अरिहन्त arihant, Sanskrit: अर्हत árhat "vanquisher of enemies") in Jainism is a step before becoming siddha. Arihants destroyed all gathi karma and live on until they reach the siddha status. The Ṇamōkāra mantra begins, Ṇamō arihantāṇaṁ--"I praise the Arihants."

Arihant is not a synonym for tirthankara, which refers specifically to certain arihants who have certain karmas that enable them to become spiritual leaders.


Jains believe that the arihant has defeated anger, ego, deception, and greed - inner enemies or kashayas responsible for the perpetuation of ignorance. When that happens, the person has destroyed the four ghati karmas, namely Gyanavarniya (knowledge blocking) Karma, Darshanavarniya (perception blocking) Karma, Mohniya (passion causing) Karma and Antaraya "obstacle-causing" karma. Thus the arihant obtains:

  1. Kevala Jnana, perfect knowledge due to the destruction of all jnanavarniya karmas
  2. Kevala darshan, perfect perception due to the destruction of all darshanavarniya karmas
  3. becomes passionless due to the destruction of all mohniya karmas
  4. gains infinite power due to the destruction of all antaraya karmas

Complete knowledge and perception means they know and see everything everywhere that is happening now, that has happened in the past, and that will happen in the future.

Tirthankaras are special arihants because they are spiritual leaders who revitalize the sangha, the four-fold order consisting of male saints (sādhus), female saints (sādhvis), male householders (Śrāvakas) and female householders (Śrāvikas).

Jains believe that during every half-cycle, twenty-four persons rise to the level of Tirthankara. The first Tirthankara of the current time cycle was R̥ṣabhadēva, and the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankara was Mahavira, who lived from 599 BCE to 527 BCE.

An arihant is also called a jina "conqueror". At the time of nirvana, the arihant sheds off the remaining four aghati karmas:

  1. Nam (physical structure forming) Karma
  2. Gotra (status forming) Karma,
  3. Vedniya (pain and pleasure causing) Karma,
  4. Ayushya (life span determining) Karma.

These four karmas do not affect the true nature of the soul and are therefore called aghati karmas. After attaining salvation from these arihants become siddhas.

In the Ṇamōkāra Mantra, Jains pray to the arihants first and then to the siddhas even though the latter are perfected souls who have destroyed all karmas and are considered to be at a higher spiritual stage than arihants. Since siddhas have attained ultimate liberation, they are inaccessible. However arihants are accessible for spiritual guidance to human society until their nirvana.

See also


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