24 Tirthankars

In Jainism, a Tirthankar ("Fordmaker or Propagator"; also Tirthankara or Jina) is a human being who achieves enlightenment (perfect knowledge) through asceticism and who then becomes a role-model teacher for those seeking spiritual guidance. A Tirthankar is a special sort of arihant, who establishes the fourfold religious order consisting of monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen after achieving omniscience. Every Tirthankar revitalises the Jain order. A Tirthankar is so called because he is the founder of a "Tirth" (literally, 'ford'), a Jain community which acts as a "ford" across the "river of human misery".

Jains celebrate five major events in the life of a Tirthankar. They are called Kalyanak (auspicious events). They are:

1. Garbh Kalyanak - This is the event when the Tirthankar's soul departs from its last life, and is conceived in the mother's womb.

2. Janma Kalyanak - This is the event when the Tirthankar's soul is born.

3. Tap Kalyanak - This is the event when the Tirthankar's soul gives up all his/her worldly possessions and becames a monk/nun. (Digambar sect does not believe that women can become Tirthankar or be liberated.)

4. Kevalgyan Kalyanak - This is event when Tirthankar's soul destroys the four ghati karmas completely and attains the Kevalgyan (absolute knowledge). Celestial angels set Samavsaran for Tirthankars from where he/she delivers the first sermon. This is the most important event for the entire Jain order as the Tirthankar reinstates Jain Sangh and preaches the Jain path of purification and liberation.

5. Moksh Kalyanak - This event is when a Tirthankar's soul is liberated from this worldly physical existence forever and becomes a Siddha. On this day, the Tirthankar's soul destroys the four aghati karmas completely, and attains salvation, the state of eternal bliss.