, a Tirthankara
") is a human
who achieved enlightenment
, became a Jina
, and whose religious
teachings have formed the canon
of Jainism; although not Gods
, statues of Tirthankaras are found in temples
. Each Tirthankara is associated with an animal
, or other such symbol
Tirthankaras are so-named because they were the founders of "tirtha". which were communities of Jainists said to act as a "ford across the river of human misery".
All the Tirthankaras are said to have been princes, who adopted asceticism; except for the 19th, which Svetambaras believe to have been a woman. Many scholars believe that only the last two Tirthankaras actually existed.
List of Tirthankaras