|Born||c. 367 BC|
|Died||c. 298 BC|
|Sect||Digambara and Svetambara|
|Notable work(s)||Uvasagharam Stotra|
|Ascetics initiated||Chandragupta Maurya|
|Initiation||by Govarddhana Mahamuni|
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Ācārya Bhadrabāhu (c. 367 – c. 298 BC) was, according to the Digambara sect of Jainism, the last Shruta Kevalin (all knowing by hearsay, that is indirectly) in Jainism . He was the last acharya of the undivided Jain sangha. He was the spiritual teacher of Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Empire.
According to the Digambara sect of Jainism, there were five Shruta Kevalins in Jainism – Govarddhana Mahamuni, Vishnu, Nandimitra, Aparajita and Bhadrabahu.
Bhadrabahu was born in Pundravardhana (The region mainly consisted of parts of the Northern West Bengal and North-Western Bangladesh, i.e., parts of North Bengal) to a Brahmin family 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. According to Śvētāmbara tradition, he lived from 433 BC to 357 BC. Digambara tradition dates him to have died in 365 BC. Natubhai Shah dated him from 322 to 243 BC.
Yasobhadra (351-235 BC), leader of the religious order reorganised by Mahavira, had two principle disciples, Sambhutavijaya (347-257 BC) and Bhadrabahu. After his death the religious order was divided in two lineages lead by Sambhutivijaya and Bhadrabahu.
On the night of full moon in the month of Kartik, Chandragupta Maurya (founder and ruler of Maurya Empire) saw sixteen dreams, which were then explained to him by Acharya Bhadrabahu.
|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 won't 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 will increase|
|8||Smoke filling all the air||Evil will start to prevail and goodness will be 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|
Bhadrabahu was in Nepal for a 12-year penitential vow when the Pataliputra conference took place in 300 BC to put together the Jain canon anew. Bhadrabahu decided the famine would make it harder for monks to survive and migrated with a group of twelve thousand disciples to South India, bringing with him Chandragupta, turned Digambar monk.
According to the inscriptions at Shravanabelgola, Bhadrabahu died after taking the vow of sallekhana (Fast until death).
According to Svetambaras, Bhadrabahu was the author of Kalpa Sūtra, four Chedda sutras, commentaries on ten scriptures, Bhadrabahu Samhita and Vasudevcharita.
Bhadrabahu was the last acharya of the undivided Jain sangha. After him, the Sangha split into two separate teacher-student lineages of monks. Digambara monks belong to the lineage of Acharya Vishakha and Svetambara monks follow the tradition of Acharya Sthulabhadra. Kalpasutra mentions Godasa as his chief disciple who founded Godasa Gana.
Regarding the inscriptions describing the relation of Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta Maurya, Radha Kumud Mookerji writes,
The oldest inscription of about 600 AD associated "the pair (yugma), Bhadrabahu along with Chandragupta Muni." Two inscriptions of about 900 AD on the Kaveri near Seringapatam describe the summit of a hill called Chandragiri as marked by the footprints of Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta munipati. A Shravanabelagola inscription of 1129 mentions Bhadrabahu "Shrutakevali", and Chandragupta who acquired such merit that he was worshipped by the forest deities. Another inscription of 1163 similarly couples and describes them. A third inscription of the year 1432 speaks of Yatindra Bhadrabahu, and his disciple Chandragupta, the fame of whose penance spread into other words.
Bhadrabahu-charitra was written by Ratnanandi of about 1450 AD.