Previous Births of Shantinath
The account of the earlier incarnations of Bhagwan Shantinath indicates that this soul had taken the path that lead towards purity of soul. As a result of his upliftment of the soul as Shrisen and Vajrayudh he got birth as Meghrath, son of King Dhanrath of Pundarikini town in Mahavideh area. King Dhanrath gave his throne to his son and became ascetic.
Meghrath was a benevolent and religious ruler. He was compassionate and protected all living things. Disturbed by the miseries of the mundane life, one day king Meghrath was doing mediation. He transcended to a very high level of purity. Knowing about this uncommon purity and determination of Meghrath the king of gods bowed to him with reverence, "My salutations to you O citizen Yogi! there are but a few in this world who could reach this level of detachment and purity." Two senior consorts of Indra, Surup and Atirup did not like this gesture of praise of a mere human. They both came to disturb the meditation of Meghrath. They made several beautiful and voluptuous damsels appear before the king. These beauties tried to disturb Meghrath by a display of dances and inviting gestures. When these night long seductive afflictions failed to disturb king Meghrath, the goddesses, before returning to their abode, appeared themselves and asked the king to forgive them.
King Meghrath’s uncommon purity and determination made gods to bow to him with reverence. King Meghrath, then, crowned his son and took Diksha from Arhat Dhanrath. Due to his increasing purity in meditation in the face of many afflictions, he earned the Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. Completing his age he reincarnated in the Sarvarthasiddha dimension of gods.
Birth of Lord Shantinath
From the dimension of gods, the being that was Meghrath descended into the womb of queen Achira, wife of king Vishwasen of Ikshvaku clan and ruler of Hastinapur. It had been raining from continuous seven days in Hastinapur area. The sky was covered with dense dark clouds and it was thundering along with heavy rain. Everybody was upset in the town. But this morning, clouds seemed to calm down a little and rain turned to drizzle. Queen could not control her self this morning and went to meet the king inspite of the rain outside. She wanted to tell the king about the fourteen (sixteen according to the digambar jain beliefs) auspicious dreams she saw at the dawn of the day. King understood that her queen was carrying a pious soul in her womb.
King was sitting in his court when his general, secretary, health minister, religious leaders all came to him and mentioned about the epidemic spread all over and that about hundreds of people started dying every day. King was in great tension because he felt helpless in solving the problem. He took a vow that he will not eat or drink as long as peace and normalcy does not return to his to his kingdom.
Moved by his this harsh vow, the king of gods himself appeared before the king and said, “O king! You are unnecessarily disturbed. What can happen wrong in the place where the wish fulfilling trio of chintamani, kalpavriksha, and Kamdhenu exists? Remember about the fourteen (sixteen according to the digambar jain beliefs) dreams that the queen saw. Her glance at the vast expanses of your kingdom all around is enough to remove all the miseries from wherever it reaches.”
Next day in a beautiful chariot king and queen both started their journey for the entire kingdom. And wherever they went there was a message of calmness and relief.
On the thirteenth day of the dark half of the month of Jyeshtha the queen gave birth to the great and illustrious son.
When queen gave birth to the son, the whole universe, including even the hell, was pervaded by a soothing glow and a feeling of joy and happiness. Due to this pacifying influence during the pregnancy of the queen and after the birth of the son, the new born was named Shanti Kumar (Shanti = Peace).
As a Prince and King
Time passed by and Shantinath became young handsome prince. His beauty, vision, wisdom, deep thoughts, religious nature was famous. Though he was not interested in getting married, yet he knew that he had some karmas left to be shed off. So he was married to several beautiful pricesses. At proper time King Vishwasen handed over the kingdom to Shantinath and went away on the path meditation in search of Moksha. After a few years king Shantinath got a son who was named Chakrayudh.
King Shantinath was to be a Chakravarti king that was decided by his stars and it was what his religious leaders have been telling him and inspiring him. Few years later a divine disc weapon appeared in the armory. When the traditional worship rituals of this weapon were concluded, it started moving toward the east on its own. Shantinath took permission from his mother and followed the weapon. Most of the kings on the way surrendered. After defeating the remaining few Shantinath became a Chakravarti. His kingdom was under the influence of peace and calmness allover.
Path of Renunciation
Slowly and steadily all his Karmas to live in palace and rule as a king was over. He realized the real purpose of his life, his ultimate goal to be achieved in this very life span. He handed over the responsibilities of the kingdom to Chakrayudh.
For the entire year from that time, he distributed wealth among the people. One day, along with thousand other kings, he came out of the palace, removed his hair with his fist, uttered, “Namo Siddhanam” and became an ascetic.
Omniscience and Nirvana
He went roaming place to place and meditating. Lots of problems came in his path but they all had to surrender to Shantinath ji’s feet. After one year of spiritual practices he reached Hastinapur and while sitting under Nandi Tree he attained omniscience on the bright half of the month of Paush. In his first religious discourse his son, mother, wife, all the people of Hastinapur and many people from all around came. Under the influence of the Pravachan Chakrayudh also took diksha and started his journey towards Moksha.
Tirthankar Shantinath ji, went to Sammed shikharji and there while meditating there all his Ghati Karma shed away and he attained Nirvana on the dark half of the month of Jyeshtha.