Ganadhar Sudharma Swami

Ganadhar Sudharma Swami

Sudharmaswami (607 BC to 507 BC)(Hindi:गणधर सुधर्मास्वामी) was the fifth Ganadhar of Lord Mahavir. All the current Jain acharya's and monks follow his rule.Ganadhar means a group leader. Lord Mahavir had many pupils. They were divided into 11 groups and each of them was placed under one Ganadhar. As such, there were 11 Ganadhars in all.

The first and foremost was Gautam Swami, whose idol you might have seen in the temple. Actually, Gautam is his last name, because he belonged to the Gautam clan. His first name was Indrabhuti, but he is popularly known as Gautam swami. Even Lord Mahavira used to call him Goyam, which is the Ardha-magadhi version of Gautam.

Biography as Jain literature

Sudharma swami was the son of a learned Brahmin named Dhammil, who lived in a village called "Kollag" situated in the present state of Bihar,India. The place is now known as Kollua and according to the archaeologists, it is the place where great Pundits like Vyakta and Sudharma had their schools in ancient times. Dhammil was childless. His wife Bhaddila was therefore craving for a child and worshipped the goddess Saraswati for that purpose. It is said that the Hindu goddess was pleased by her devotion and blessed her to get a highly accomplished son. Soon after that, Bhaddila became pregnant, and in due course, she gave birth to a son, who was named Sudharma. That happened in 607 BC, which means Sudharma swami was 8 years older than Lord Mahavira. The boy grew up under the loving care of his parents. At the proper age he was sent to a well known Ashram school, where he studied Vedas, Upanishads and all other Brahmanical literature. By the time he came back from the school, he was known as a learned Pundit and his fame had spread round about. He then started his own school, which became a great center of learning. Pupils used to come there from all over the country. There were more than 500 students studying under him.

At that time in Pavapuri, a city of Bihar in India, there was a prosperous Brahmin named Somil. Once, he decided to organize a great sacrifice. He wanted all the well-known learned men to come on that occasion. Indrabhuti Gautam, who was the most learned Brahmin of that time, was going to be the presiding priest. His equally learned brothers, Agnibhuti and Vayubhuti, were going to sit by his side. Vyakta and other well known Pundits were also scheduled to remain present on that occasion. Somil had come to know about Sudharma and had sent the invitation to him. Sudharma did not wish to miss the opportunity to attend that great sacrifice. Moreover, he was eager to see the Gautam brothers. He therefore, willingly accepted Somil's invitation. At the appointed time, the sacrifice started in right earnest. Oblations began to be offered together with the recitation of the appropriate verses. As the sacrificial smoke rose towards the sky, they noticed the celestial vehicles coming down. Indrabhuti and other priests were satisfied that they could induce the celestial beings to come down to accept the oblations. They were, however, disappointed to see that the vehicles had diverted their direction and were descending at the other end of the city. They could not make out why, forsaking their great performance, the vehicles were bound towards a different destination.

What had happened was that after attaining omniscience, Lord Mahavira had arrived at Pavapuri that very time. The heavenly beings were therefore coming down to pay their homage to the Lord and to listen to his sermon. "Indrabhuti" was surprised to know that. He had never come across anyone more knowledgeable than himself. He therefore guessed that Mahavira might be an impostor who could have somehow impressed the heavenly beings. It was therefore necessary to counter his tactics immediately.

With that intention, "Indrabhuti" went towards the camping ground of the Lord. As he approached, the Lord welcomed him by calling his name. "Indrabhuti" was astonished that the impostor even knew his name. But as he looked at the Lord, he was impressed by his personality. His pride began to melt.

The Lord Mahavira soon asked him, 'Gautam, a doubt still lurks in your mind about the independent existence of the soul. Isn't that?' "Indrabhuti" was dumbfounded to hear those words, because he did have such a doubt. The Lord then quoted the relevant Sutra from Veda itself and explained that there was no reason to hold such a doubt. With that clarification, the doubt of Indrabhuti was eradicated. Thereupon, he decided to accept the Lord Mahavira as his Guru. So falling at the feet of the Lord Mahavira, he requested to be accepted as a pupil. The Mahavira was pleased to accede to the request and initiated him as the first pupil.

As "Indrabhuti" did not come back, his brothers Agnibhuti, Vayubhuti and other Pundits like Vyakta went to the Lord Mahavira one after another.Mahavira welcomed them, and, pointing out their doubts pertaining to the soul, he gave them the convincing replies. All of them were satisfied with the Mahavira's elucidation and became his pupils along with their own followers.

Now, it came the turn of Sudharma. He had the concept that every living being could reincarnate in its own species. In other words, human beings could be reborn as human only. His belief was based on the analogy of plant life. An apple tree, for instance, would produce the seeds from which only apple trees can come out. The Lord welcomed him, too, and, pointing out his doubt, he explained that as different types of plants could be produced by cross breeding, so human beings could be reincarnated as human or heavenly beings or even as animals depending upon their tendencies and longings. Sudharma was convinced with that explanation and became the Mahavira's pupil along with his 500 followers. As a Ganadhar of the Lord he came to be known as Sudharmaswami. This happened during the 42nd year of the Lord Mahavira.

The eleven Pundits who had come from Somil's sacrifice became his first pupils and later came to be known as Ganadhars. Thereafter the Lord Mahavira lived for 30 years. During that period, he continued to move in different parts of the country in order to lay down the path of liberation. During his discourses, Sudharma swami always sat in front of him and carefully listened to what the Mahavira had to say.That enabled him to compose the Lord's teaching in the form of Agams.By the time of the Lord'Mahaviras Nirvan in 527 BC nine of the eleven Ganadhars had passed away and only Gautam swami and Sudharma swami had survived. Since Gautam swami had attained omniscience on the very night of Lord's Nirvan, the administration of the order was left to Sudharma swami. During the next 12 years that he remained at the helm, he efficiently managed the order set up by the Lord Mahavira and spread his message far and wide.


He gained omniscience in 515 BC and attained Nirvana in 507 BC at the ripe age of 100. After gaining omniscience, the religious order was entrusted to his principal pupil Jambuswami.During the period of his stewardship, Sudharmaswami composed the Lord's teachings in 12 parts, which are known as 12 Anga Agamas. They are known as our original Agamas and are collectively known as Dwädashängi. Dwadash means 12, and Anga means limb. As there are various limbs of the body, so there are these 12 limbs of the spiritual science. Many of the Agamas are composed in the form of questions asked by the disciple Jambuswami and the replies given by Ganadhar Sudharmaswami.

The succeeding Jain Acharya's from Sudharmaswami

The traditional successor Jain Acharya's of Lourd Mahavira from Ganadhar Sudharmaswami as per Shvetambar Tapa gachha faith are as follows-:

1.Sudharmaswami2.Jambuswami3.Prabhavswami4.Svyambhava Suri5.Yashobhadra Suri6.SambhutiVijay and Acharya Bhadrabahuswami(433 B.C.-357 B.C)7.Sthulibhadrasuri8.Arya Suhasti Suri and Arya Mahagiri Suri9.Su-sthit Suri and Supratibaddha Suri10.Indradinna Suri11.Dinna Suri12.Sinha Suri13.VajraSwami(370 AD to 376 AD)14.Vajrasain Suri15.Chandra Suri16.Samantabhadra Suri17.Vraddhadev Suri18.Pradhyotan Suri19.Manadev Suri20.Manatunga Suri21.Veer Suri22.Jaydeva suri23.Devananda suri24.Vikram Suri25.Narasingh suri26.Samudra Suri27.Mandadevvar suri28.Vibudhaprabha Suri29.Jayandna Suri30.Raviprabha Suri31.Yashodeva Suri32.Pradhumna pratap Suri33.Manadeva Suri34.Vimalchandra Suri35.Udhyotan Suri36.SarvaGuni Suri37.Deva Suri38.Sarvadeva Suri39.Yashobhadra Suri40.Munichandra Suri41.AjitaDeva Suri42.Vijay Sinha Suri43.Somaprabha Suri and Maniratna Suri44.Jagachchandra Suri45.Devendra Suri and Vidhyanand Suri46.Dharma-ghosh Suri47.Somaprabha Suri(1310 AD to 1321 AD)48.Somatilak Suri49.Devasundara Suri50.Soma-sundra var Suri(1430 AD to 1437 AD)51.Muni-Sundra Suri(1436 AD to 1446 AD)52.Ratnashekhar Suri53.Lakshmisagar Suri54.Sumati Suri55.HemaVimal Suri56.AnandaVimal Suri57.Vijay Daan Suri58.Vijay Heer Suri (Hira Vijaya Suri)(1527 AD)59.Vijay Saina Suri60.Vijay Deva Suri61.Vijay Sinha Suri62.Vijay Prabha Suri63.Ratna Suri64.Kshmaa Suri65.Devendra Suri66.Vijay Kalyan Suri67.Pramoda Suri68.Acharya Rajendrasuri(1187 to 1906)69.Dhanchandra Suri(1849 to 1920)70.Bhupendra Suri(1887 to 1936)71.Yatindra Suri(1183 to 1960)72.Viddhachandra Suri(1906 to 1982)73.Jayantsain Suri (1936-current)

References and sources

* [ Jain Scriptures]
* [ Jaina Sutras] , Translated from the Prakrit by Hermann Jacobi, 1884
*Source at
*Outline of Jainism by S.Gopalan, published by Waily Estern Ltd.,New Delhi-110016 in 1969

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