Pārśva

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Pārśva. Twenty-third tīrthaṅkara in Jainism. Accepted now as a historical figure, born in the 9th cent BCE (c.250 years before Mahāvīra), tradition claims that he became a wandering ascetic for seventy years, teaching the law of fourfold restraint: ahiṃsā (non-injury); asatya (not lying); asteya (not taking anything not given); aparigraha (non-attachment to people, places, or things). According to 11th-cent. Jain commentators, this latter restraint included brahmacharya (chastity), the fifth vow in Mahāvīra's mahāvratas (see FIVE GREAT VOWS). Jain scriptures describe him as ‘the Best’, ‘the Awakened’, and ‘the Omniscient’, and claim that he gained a large following in his travels through Bihar and W. Bengal, where Jains today give him special honour, particularly on Mount Sammeta where he attained nirvāna and died. Numerous excavations in N. India have uncovered images of Pārśva seated under a canopy of cobras, the symbol associated with this jina.