Arihant (Jainism)

This article is about the term in Jainism. For the term Arhat or Arahant in Buddhism, see Arhat.
Gommateshwara statue dedicated to Arihant Bahubali

Arihant (Magadhi Prakrit: अरिहन्त arihant, Sanskrit: अर्हत árhat "conqueror"), is a soul who has conquered inner passions such as attachment, anger, pride and greed.[1] Arihant are also called kevalins (omniscient beings) as they possess Kevala Jnana (pure infinite knowledge).[2][3] An arihant is also called a Jina "conqueror". At the end of their life, arihants destroy all four gathiya karmas and attain moksha (liberation) and become siddha (liberated soul). The Ṇamōkāra mantra, fundamental prayer dedicated to Pañca-Parameṣṭhi (five supreme beings) begin with, Ṇnamō arihantāṇnamṁ--"Obeisance to the arihants".

Kevalī (omniscient beings) are said to be of two kinds[2]-

  1. Tirthankara kevalī- 24 human spiritual guides who after attaining omniscience teach the path to salvation.[4]
  2. Sāmānya kevalī- Kevalī who are concerned with their own liberation.


According to Jains, every soul has the potential to become arihant. A soul which destroys all kashayas or inner enemies like anger, ego, deception, and greed - responsible for the perpetuation of ignorance - becomes an Arihant.[1] According to Jain texts, omniscience is attained on the destruction of the deluding, the knowledge-obscuring, the perception-obscuring and the obstructive karmas, in the order mentioned.[5] The Arihant are said to be free from the following eighteen imperfections:[6]

  1. janma – (re)birth;
  2. jarā – old-age;
  3. triśā – thirst;
  4. kśudhā – hunger;
  5. vismaya – astonishment;
  6. arati – displeasure;
  7. kheda – regret;
  8. roga – sickness;
  9. śoka – grief;
  10. mada – pride;
  11. moha – delusion;
  12. bhaya – fear;
  13. nidrā – sleep;
  14. cintā – anxiety;
  15. sveda – perspiration;
  16. rāga – attachment;
  17. dveśa – aversion; and
  18. maraņa – death.


Main article: Kevala Jnana

In Jainism, omniscience is said to be the infinite, all-embracing knowledge that reflects, as it were in a mirror, all substances and their infinite modes, extending through the past, the present and the future.[7] According to Jain texts, omniscience is the natural attribute of the pure souls. The Self attaining omniscience becomes a kevalī.

The four infinitudes (ananta chatushtaya) are:[6]

  1. ananta jñāna, infinite knowledge
  2. ananta darśana, perfect perception due to the destruction of all darshanavarniya karmas.
  3. ananta sukha, infinite bliss; and
  4. ananta vīrya – infinite energy.


Main article: Tirthankara
Image of Vardhaman Mahāvīra, the 24th and last tirthankara of present half time cycle

Those Arihants who re-establish Jain faith are called Tirthankaras. Tirthankaras revitalize the sangha, the fourfold order consisting of male saints (sādhus), female saints (sādhvis), male householders (śrāvaka) and female householders (Śrāvika).

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.

Jain texts mention forty-six attributes of arihants or tirthankaras. These attributes comprise four infinitudes (ananta chatushtaya), thirty-four miraculous happenings (atiśaya), and eight splendours (prātihārya).[6]

The eight splendours (prātihārya) are:[8]

  1. aśoka vrikśa – the Ashoka tree;
  2. siṃhāsana– bejeweled throne;
  3. chatra – three-tier canopy;
  4. bhāmadal – halo of unmatched luminance;
  5. divya dhvani – divine voice of the Lord without lip movement;
  6. puśpa-varśā – shower of fragrant flowers;
  7. camara – waving of sixty-four majestic hand-fans; and
  8. dundubhi – dulcet sound of kettle-drums and other musical instruments.


At the time of nirvana (final release), 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 Namokara Mantra, Namo Arihantanam, Namo Siddhanam, Jains worship 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 not accessible. However arihants are accessible for spiritual guidance to human society until their nirvana.

Dravyasaṃgraha, a major Jain text mentions:

Having destroyed the four inimical varieties of karmas (ghātiyā karmas), possessed of infinite faith, happiness, knowledge and power, and housed in most auspicious body (paramaudārika śarīra), that pure soul of the World Teacher (Arhat) should be meditated on.
Dravyasaṃgraha (50)[9]

See also


  1. 1 2 Sangave 2001, p. 15.
  2. 1 2 Sangave 2001, p. 16.
  3. Sangave 2001, p. 164.
  4. Rankin 2013, p. 40.
  5. Jain, S.A. (1960). Reality. Vira Sasana Sangha. p. 282. Non-Copyright
  6. 1 2 3 Jain 2014, p. 3.
  7. Jain 2014, p. 2.
  8. Jain 2013, p. 181.
  9. Jain 2013, p. 177.


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