In the Jain tradition, a Tirthankara, literally a “ford-maker,” is a spiritual pioneer who has crossed beyond the perpetual flow of earthly life. In each cycle of time, there are twenty-four Tirthankaras. They differ from other Jinas in that, in addition to liberating themselves, they spend their lives as teachers, sharing their knowledge with others. The twenty-fourth Tirthankara of the current age was Mahavira, who is said to have lived in the 6th century BCE.