Neminath Bhagwan is the 22nd Tirthankara of the present time cycle. His symbol is conch (shankh). Gomedha Yaksh is His Shaasan Dev and Ambika Devi is His Shaasan Devi.
His complexion was black and had 11 Gandharas (chief disciples of a Tirthankara). Lakhs of Sadhus and Sadhvis attained liberation under His shelter.
Neminath Swami and Rajul, whom he was engaged too, had been husband and wife for nine consecutive lives. Out of His 11 Gandharas, the three Gandharas too were with Him since past nine lives, either as friends, brothers, or ministers.
Let’s now go through the life stories of the Lord’s past nine births, prior to His birth as Tirthankara. Finally, we will go through the story of his last birth as a Tirthankara.
When Prince Dhanpati was in the womb of his mother, his mother had a dream. In the dream, she saw a mango tree that was planted at nine different places. When she asked about the significance of the dream, she was told that the child in her womb will take top births for next nine lives, and each of them would be better than the previous one.
When Prince Dhanpati grew up into a mighty young man, he looked pretty handsome. On the other side, there lived an extremely beautiful and smart princess named Dhanvati. It was getting too difficult for her father to choose a nice groom, suitable for her.
One day, Princess Dhanvati went to a garden along with her friends. There she saw a painter painting a picture of a handsome guy. Looking at the picture, Princess Dhanvati fell in love with it. When she asked the painter regarding the person in the picture, the painter said he was Prince Dhanpati, who in reality, looked even more handsome than in the picture.
Princess Dhanvati immediately decided to marry him. Coincidentally, the father of Prince Dhanpati and the father of Princess Dhanvati were friends.
While both the kings sent their messengers and made arrangements for the engagement of their children, Princess Dhanvati wrote a letter to Dhanpati in a manner such that it could not be easily understood by a layman. Even Prince Dhanpati replied to her letter in a similar language and accepted the proposal. They both then got married.
Once an ailing Monk came to Prince Dhanpati’s kingdom and fell unconscious; he was very ill. Prince Dhanpati and Princess Dhanvati took great care of him. Later, Dhanpati’s father handed over the throne to Prince Dhanpati and took Diksha from the Monk.
After some years, the same Monk again came to their kingdom. This time, King Dhanpati and Queen Dhanvati also took Diksha from him. They practiced religion with great faith, and upon death, they both took birth in heaven as celestial beings.
In the second birth, the Souls of Lord Neminath Swami and Rajul reincarnated as a Dev and a Devi, respectively. Even there, they both were married to each other.
In the third birth, Neminath Bhagwan and Rajul were Vidyadhar Chitragati and Princess Ratnavati, respectively.
Princess Ratnavati was very beautiful. When she was born, her father had asked an astrologer as to whom would my daughter be married to. The astrologer said that the princess would be married to one who would fulfil the following three criteria:
Close by, in another town, there lived a prince named Sumitra. One day, his step-mother gave him poison so that she could crown her own son. Since then, Prince Sumitra was in coma, lying unconscious.
When Vidyadhar Chitragati came to know about Sumitra, his heart melted. Since Vidyadhar had, among many other skills, the quality of flying as well, he flew to this place and gave the right medication to Sumitra. Due to this, Sumitra recovered. Consequently, Prince Sumitra and Vidyadhar Chitragati became close friends.
Once it so happened that the brother of Princess Ratnavati kidnapped the married sister of Prince Sumitra. To save his sister, Prince Sumitra asked Vidyadhar Chitragati for help. The latter had a fierce battle with Princess Ratnavati’s brother, wherein he took away the khadak of his father and turned the palace into complete darkness to save Prince Sumitra’s sister.
This surprised the king and made him think that his khadak, which no one could take, how did Chitragati manage to take away so fearlessly. Later, Vidyadhar won the battle, and thus, rescued Sumitra’s sister from him.
On the other hand, Prince Sumitra got detached from all worldly things and took Diksha. While he was engaged in worship, his step-brother saw him, and out of hatred, he immediately hit him with an arrow. However, Monk Sumitra did not have any bad thoughts for his step brother; he finished his karma with equanimity and left his body to take his next birth in heaven.
Upon hearing this, Vidyadhar Chitragati was heartbroken. He went to the temple, and with great faith, he sung God’s hymns. Sumitra, who was watching this from Heaven, showered flowers on him. When the king (father of Princess Ratnavati) heard about this, it being the second hint, he took his daughter to meet Chitragati. The moment princess saw him, she got attracted towards him at the first sight.
All the three points being fulfilled, Vidyadhar Chitragati’s marriage took place with Princess Ratnavati. He ruled the kingdom nicely, and many years later, both took Diksha and did devotional worship of religion.
The fourth birth of Neminath Swami and Rajul was in heaven as a Dev and a Devi, respectively. Both were married to each other even in heaven.
The fifth birth of Neminath Bhagwan and Rajul was as King Aparajit and Queen Pritimati, respectively.
Queen Pritimati, when a Princess, was so beautiful that all the kings wanted to marry her. A swayamvar ceremony was arranged for her and all the kings were invited to this ceremony. She decided that she would marry someone who would be able to give the right answers to her questions.
Prince Aparajit, too, attended the swayamvar, but in disguise. While all the other kings were unable to answer her questions, Prince Aparajit was the only one who gave all the correct answers. Princess Pritimati put the garland onto Kumar Aparajit.
However, the kings present there did not like this. They fought with Kumar Aparajit, who won over all the kings, and got married to Pritimati. Later, the two took Diksha, and upon completing their age, took their next birth in heaven.
The sixth birth of Neminath Swami and Rajul was as a Dev and a Devi, respectively. Here too, both were married to each other.
The seventh birth of Lord Neminath and Rajul was that of King Shank and Queen Yashomati, respectively.
Once when Prince Shank went out with his friends far away from his kingdom; one night, he heard a loud mourning sound of a woman. Prince Shank saw a middle-aged woman crying incessantly. He asked her the reason for crying.
She narrated that while she was going with Princess Yashomati, someone kidnapped the princess, saying he would get married to her. She sought the help of the prince to bring Princess Yashomati back.
Prince Shank immediately ran after the kidnapper, fought with him and saved Princess Yashomati from the kidnapper. Princess Yashomati liked the prince at the first sight. They got married. After many years of married life, the two took Diksha.
Due to intense worship, King Shank bound the most auspicious Tirthankara-naam-gotra karma!
In the eight birth, once again, Neminath Swami and Rajul took birth in heaven as a Dev and a Devi, respectively. Like this, both Neminath Swami and Rajul were together as husband and wife for eight consecutive births.
In this birth, Neminath Bhagwan was the son of King Samudravijay, belonging to the Yadav clan, who ruled the city of Sauripuri. He was the eldest brother of all 10 brothers. His youngest brother was Vasudev, the father of Lord Krishna. Thus, both Lord Krishna and Lord Neminath Bhagwan were first cousins.
When Lord Neminath was a child, He would blow the conch very loudly. It was so powerful that no one except Lord Krishna could blow this conch as loud as Him. When Neminath Swami was in the womb, Queen Shivadevi saw 14 auspicious dreams. After His birth, His parents named Him as Arishtnemi.
Right from birth, Arishtnemi was very compassionate and kind-hearted; His compassion and kindness were indeed unique. Being born in the Yadav clan, Prince Arishtnemi was very powerful.
However, He used all his power in attaining the Self (Soul). He won over the internal enemies of anger, pride, deceit and greed, and became invincible. That is why He was called Arihant, the One who has won over all the inner enemies!
Right from birth, Arishtnemi believed in non-violence. Being born in Yadav clan and being a Kshatriya, He had to fight battles, but He would never kill anyone.
He had a tremendous skill in using a bow for shooting arrows, but He never used that skill to kill anyone. He would not kill the enemies, but would rather break their chariots or bows with His arrows so that they would become helpless.
As He grew young, His family wanted him to get married. However, Arishtnemi was completely detached, right from His childhood; He was not interested in any worldly pleasures.
Once Lord Krishna’s eight queens took Him to a park where they spent the entire day. They played with Him, showered flowers upon Him, and enjoyed a lot with Him. Later, they proposed the names of many princesses but Prince Arishtnemi right away denied all those names.
Just then, Queen Satyabhama proposed the name of her younger sister named Rajimati (Rajul), who was very simple and extremely beautiful. To this, Prince Arishtnemi did not say yes or no; He just kept smiling.
Seeing this shy gesture, the queen considered his silence as “yes” for getting married. Hence, Lord Krishna and the other elders decided to get Him married to Princess Rajimati, the daughter of King Ugrasen. The two got engaged.
Lavish arrangements were made for their marriage. Rajimati was anxious to get married to Arishtnemi. She was eagerly waiting for Him. On the other hand, Prince Arishtnemi, too, got ready as a groom and got on His chariot. Huge bridegroom's procession, including elephants and horses, proceeded for the royal marriage.
Amidst the merriments, Arishtnemi heard the sound of animals, crying and mourning aloud in fear, as if trying to save themselves. Listening to the sound, Arishtnemi’s heart was filled with compassion. He asked the charioteer as to what was this sound about and why were the animals crying in fear.
The charioteer said that this sound was of different animals like chicken, goat, cow, calves, deer and many others, who are crying to be free as they are going to be killed to be served as food for the bridegroom’s procession.
Arishtnemi could not tolerate this. His heart reached out for the animals that would be killed for no reason because of His marriage. He asked the charioteer to turn the chariot back as He decided not to marry.
Soon, everyone got to know that Prince Arishtnemi does not want to go for marriage. Lord Krishna, His Queens, King Ugrasen, King Samduravijay, Queen Shivadevi and all His relatives tried to convince him to return. They came back with the news that the animals would not be killed and they have been set free now; hence, He should have no problem in getting married now.
However, this incident had invoked complete detachment in Neminath Bhagwan. He conveyed that it’s good that the animals are free from their bondage; but now, He wanted to get free from the bondage of birth and death. Thus, the entire bridegroom’s procession returned home.
When Princess Rajimati got to know about all this, she fell unconscious. When she regained consciousness, she could not stop her tears for months together.
Here, the Devas came down to meet Arishtnemi and requested Him to take Diksha. For a year, Prince Arishtnemi made a lot of donations, after which He took Diksha. Many other Shravaks and Shravikas also took Diksha along with Him. Upon taking Diksha, the fourth type of Gnan, i.e., Manahparyay Gnan manifested in Him.
Neminath Swami’s elder brother, named Rathnemi, was deeply moved by the incident, and he felt very bad for Rajul. In the process of consolation, he began sending her gifts at short intervals. He had started liking her, and soon, got very attached to her.
On the other hand, Rajul was in a state of shock due to her separation from Arishtnemi, and hence, she did not understand the intentions of Rathnemi. She would just put aside the gifts received from him because she was in deep pain.
However, Prince Rathnemi misunderstood that even she has started liking him and has got attached to him, because she has accepted all the gifts. Thinking so, he went to her palace and proposed her.
Rajul asked him to come later. The next day, when Prince Rathnemi was to come to meet her, she drank a lot of milk. When he came, she vomited in a plate kept in front of him, and asked Rathnemi to drink what she had spewed. Rathnemi was puzzled that how can he drink this.
She then explained to him, “Likewise, I too am engaged to Arishtnemi; then, how can you marry me? In my mind, Arishtnemi is my only husband.” Listening to this, Rathnemi realized his mistake. He asked for her forgiveness and went away from there. With this, even he got detached and decided to take Diksha.
After taking Diksha, 54 days later, Neminath Bhagwan attained Keval Gnan!
So, the Devas made arrangements for His Samovasaran. Tirthankara Bhagwan Neminath Swami gave insightful Deshna, which inspired a lot of people to take the path of liberation and attain Diksha from Him. His brother Rathnemi and Rajul, to whom Lord was earlier engaged to, too, took Diksha from Him.
Once it so happened that while Sadhvi Rajul was in vihaar (travelling barefoot) with the other Sadhvis, all of a sudden, it started raining heavily. Everyone ran helter-skelter in search of some shelter. Sadhvi Rajul, too, ran and got into a dark cave nearby. She didn’t realize that Sadhu Rathnemi was already there in that cave.
Unaware that Rathnemi was around, she started changing her clothes. Seeing this, lust arose in Rathnemi. He went up to Rajul and said, “Let’s leave this Diksha and spend life together.” Rajul was alarmed.
She made him understand that he should not even think on these lines now, or else it would lead him to take the next birth in hell. How can he, being a Kshatriya and the brother of Lord Neminath Swami, commit such an act of cowardice of leaving Diksha and running away? Rather, he should confess this mistake before the Lord and seek His forgiveness.
Rathnemi realized his mistake. He immediately went to Lord Neminath and confessed all his mistakes with true repentance in his heart.
Thus, Neminath Swami set a great example of practising celibacy. Due to Him, both Rajul and Rathnemi practised celibacy too. Lord Neminath Swami and Lord Mallinath Bhagwan are the two Tirthankaras of the present Chovisi who did not marry in their birth as a Tirthankara.
Lord Neminath lived for 1000 years. He took Diksha at the age of 300 years, and thus, spent 70% of His life for the salvation of the world. Finally, He attained Nirvana on the Girnar Mountains and went to Moksha. Our heartfelt obeisance to Neminath Bhagwan!!!