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Acharya Bhadrabahu Ji Maharaj
Name (official) Acharya Bhadrabahu Ji Maharaj
Personal Information
Born 433 BC
Died 357 BC
Initiated by Govarddhana Mahamuni (Shruta Kevali)
After Initiation
Rank Acharya
Ascetics initiated Acharya Vishakha
Succeeded by Acharya Vishakha

Bhadrabahu (433 BC - 357 BC) was a last Shruta Kevali (having complete knowledge by hearing) in Jainism.[1] He was Digambara Acharya and the spiritual teacher of Chandragupta Maurya. He wrote several texts related to Jainism, including some of the most important works, Upsargahara Stotra and Kalpa Sūtra.[2]

There were five Shruta Kevalis in Jainism - Govarddhana Mahamuni, Vishnu, Nandimitra, Aparajita and Bhadrabahu.[1]


  • Early life 1
  • Ascetic life 2
  • Works 3
    • Upsargahara Stotra 3.1
  • Legacy 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6

Early life

Bhadrabahu was born in Pundravardhana (now in Bangladesh) to a Brahmin family[2] during which time the secondary capital of the Mauryas was Ujjain. When he was seven, Govarddhana Mahamuni predicted that he will be the last Shruta Kevali and took him along for his initial education.[1] He was then initiated as a Digambara Muni and by practicing gyan, dhyan, tap and sanyam got the Acharya pad.[3]

Ascetic life

Inscription of the incoming of Shrutkevali Bhadrabahu swami and Samrat Chandragupt (Shravanbelgola)

On the night of full moon in the month of Kartik, Chandragupta saw sixteen dreams, which were then explained to him by Acharya Bhadrabahu.[3]

S. No. Dream of Chandragupta Explanation by Bhadrabahu
1 The sun setting All the knowledge will be darkened
2 A branch of the Kalpavriksha break off and fall Decline of Jainism and Chandragupta's successors wont be initiated
3 A divine car descending in the sky and returning The heavenly beings will not visit Bharata Kshetra
4 The disk of the moon sundered Jainism will be split into two sects
5 Black elephants fighting Lesser rains and poorer crops
6 Fireflies shining in the twilight True knowledge will be lost, few sparks will glimmer with feeble light
7 A dried up lake Aryakhanda will be destitute of Jain doctrines and falsehood increase
8 Smoke filling all the air Evil prevail and goodness hidden
9 An ape sitting on a throne Vile, low-born, wicked will acquire power
10 A dog eating the payasa out of a golden bowl Kings, not content with a sixth share, will introduce land-rent and oppress their subjects by increasing it
11 Young bulls labouring Young will form religious purposes, but forsake them when old
12 Kshatriya boys riding donkeys Kings of high descent will associate with the base
13 Monkeys scaring away swans The low will torment the noble and try to reduce them to same level
14 Calves jumping over the sea King will assist in oppressing the people by levying unlawful taxes
15 Foxes pursuing old oxen The low, with hollow compliments, will get rid of the noble, the good and the wise
16 A twelve-headed serpent approaching twelve year of death and famine will come upon this land[4]

Bhadrabahu decided the famine would make it harder for monks to survive and migrated with a group of twelve thousand disciples[5] to South India, bringing with him Chandragupta, the founder of the Mauryan Empire[6] turned Jain monk.[4]

While Bhadrabahu was away the monks staying in the North realized that the sacred scriptures were being forgotten. A monk named Sthulabhadra convened a council to recompile the Purva scriptures. However, because Sthulabhadra’s own knowledge of these texts was imperfect, he went to Bhadrabahu to study the sections missing from his memory. Bhadrabahu taught Sthulabhadra, but forbade him to teach the Purva to others upon witnessing a demonstration by Sthulabhadra of certain extra-corporal powers, which suggested that with time these sacred scriptures would become corrupted. Thus, the fourteen Purvas in their original form perished with these two men. Bhadrabahu is considered to be the last expert of the fourteen Purvas, of the last Anga called Drstivada, one of the scriptures of Jainism. Of these, ten Purvas were passed on to Sthulibhadra, his chief disciple.

According to the inscriptions at Shravanabelgola, Bhadrabahu died after taking the vow of Sallekhana.


Folio from a Kalpa Sūtra (Book of Sacred Precepts), circa 1450, from Collection of LACMA.
Folio from a Kalpa Sūtra, c. 1400 CE
Folio from a dispersed Kalpa Sūtra (Book of Rituals), ca. 1465, depicting "The Fourteen Auspicious Dreams of the Jina's Mother". Jaunpur, India

He is well known for composing four Chedda sutras, for his commentaries on ten scriptures and writing Bhadrabahu Samhita and Vasudevcharita.[7]

Upsargahara Stotra

Upsargahara Stotra or Uvasagharam Stotra

Bhadrabahu had a brother named Varāhamihira.[8] Both were in the same kingdom. When a son was born to the king, Varahmihira declared that he would live for a hundred years but Bhadrabahu declared that he would live for only seven days, and that he would be killed by a cat. On the eighth day the prince died because a door fitting fell on his head; it had a picture of cat drawn on it. Due to this humiliation Varāhamihira left the kingdom; after some time he died.

After his death Varāhamihira became a Vyantar(a type of deva or demigod who are mostly evil) and tortured and terrorized the Jains, especially disciples and followers of Bhadrabahu. Bhadrabahu then composed a mantric prayer to 23rd Jain Tirthankara Parshvanath called the "Upsargahara Stotra" (also known as Uvassagaharam Stotra) and called upon Dharnendra, the divine follower (a "devta") of Parshvanath. As an effect of it, Varāhmihira was defeated and Jain society was relieved. The prayer is still famous among the Jains and has made Bhadrabahu's name immortal among Jain ascetics.


Bhadrabahu Gupha on Chandragiri

Bhadrabahu remains an exemplar of dedication to first principles at any cost. After him, the Sangha split into two separate teacher-student lineages of monks. Digambar monks belong to the lineage of Acharya Vishakha and Shvetambar monks follow the tradition of Sthulabhadra. Bhadrabahu composed some new texts as well. In the Shvetambar tradition, Brihatkalpa, Vyavahara, and Nisitha are considered his works.


  1. ^ a b c Rice 1889, p. 3.
  2. ^ a b Jaini, Padmanabh (2000). Collected Papers on Jaina Studies. Motilal Banarasidass. p. 299. 
  3. ^ a b Rice 1889, p. 4.
  4. ^ a b Sangave 2001, p. 174.
  5. ^ Rice 1889, p. 5.
  6. ^ Mookerji 1956.
  7. ^ "Acharya Bhadrabahu Swami". e-Jainism. 
  8. ^ Vidyabhusana 1920.


  • Sangave, Vilas Adinath (2001), Facets of Jainology: Selected Research Papers on Jain Society, Religion, and Culture, Popular Prakashan,  
  • Sangave, Vilas Adinath (1981), The Sacred Sravana-Belagola: A Socio-religious study,  
  • Vidyabhusana, Satis Chandra (1920), A History of Indian Logic: Ancient, Mediaeval, and Modern Schools,  
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