Depending on mental alertness or dynamism of the practicer there are numerous levels of practicers, viz. Jinakalpi (solitary), Abhigrahdhari (who gives emphasis on specific resolution), Pramatta (partially alert), Apramatta (absolutely alert), Saragi (partially detached), Vitragi (absolutely detached), etc. The first step in this progression is Sadhu (ascetic) and the last is Vitrag, Tirthankar and Kewal Jnani (omniscient). Although there is no difference in the level of knowledge of a Tirthankar and an omniscient, the status of Tirthankar has its own importance. It has its own attributes and recognition. The difference between these two states of highest purity are as follows –
In a Tirthankar there is precipitation of the Tirthankar-nam-karma. This is absent in case of common omniscient.
For two earlier births a Tirthankar necessarily acquires right-perception. It is not a rule for a common omniscient.
A Tirthankar while in the womb has Avadhi Jnan (all knowledge of the physical world). It is not a rule for a common omniscient.
The mother of a Tirthankar has fourteen great dreams at the time of conception. It is not so in the case of a common omniscient.
A Tirthankar is always a male, the case of Lord Mallinath (19th Tirthankar) being a unique exception. For a common omniscient this rule does not apply.
A Tirthankar is not breast-fed; whereas a common omniscient (Kewali) is.
A Tirthankar gives charity for one year immediately before Diksha, as a rule. A Kewali does not necessarily.
A Tirthankar does not give discourse before attaining omniscience, he may, however, answer a question. A Kewali does give discourses even as a common ascetic.
In a Tirthankar’s life there are five auspicious events. It is not so in case of a Kewali.
A Tirthankar acquires Manahparyav Jnan immediately after his Diksha. A Kewali does not.
A Tirthankar is self-enlightened. A Kewali is not necessarily.
Before his Diksha a Tirthankar is formally asked for that by the gods. For Kewali no god arrives.
A Tirthankar establishes the four pronged religious organization or ford; not a Kewali.
A Tirthankar has a religious order; not a Kewali.
The principal disciples of a Tirthankar are Ganadhars. A Kewali’s disciples are not.
A Tirthankar has eight auspicious attributes; not a Kewali.
A Tirthankar has thirty four unique attributes; not a Kewali.
A Tirthankar’s speech has thirty five unique attributes; not a Kewali’s.
A Tirthankar in his progression to purity does not touch the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Gunasthans (the specific stages on the path of purity); whereas a Kewali may touch all Gunasthans except the 11th.
A Tirthankar does not have Kewali-Samudghat (a special process of spsiritophysical transformation); a Kewali has.
A Tirthankar is born in the Kshatriya caste. A Kewali may be from any and all castes.
A Tirthankar has Sam-chaturasra Samsthn (one of the six types of anatomical structures). A Kewali may have nay of the six.
A Tirthankar may exist only in fifteen specific Karma-bhumi’s (the worlds of action). A Kewali exists generally in the fourth part; however, one born in the fourth part may attain the status during the fifth part also.
A Tirthankar is always self initiated. A Kewali may also be initiated by others.
A Tirthankar exists only in the third and fourth part; however, one born in the fourth part may attain the status during the fifth part also.
Two Tirthankars never happen to meet each other; whereas Kewalis do.
The minimum number of Tirthankars existing at one time is twenty and maximum
is 170. For Kewali’s these numbers are 20 million and 90 million.
The Ganadhars create the twelve canons based on Tirthankar’s preaching. This is not so in case of a Kewali.
A Tirthankar does not face any afflictions after he becomes an omniscient. A Kewali may have to face.
A Samavasaran (divine pavilion) is created for a Tirthankar; not for a Kewali.
The first discourse of a Tirthankar is never a failure; it is not necessarily so in case of a Kewali.
The soul of a Tirthankar always descends from the dimension of gods or ascends from hell. The soul of a Kewali may come from any of the four dimensions.
In case of a Tirthankar the Vedaniya Karma (the Karma of sufferance) is of good-bad quality and the remaining non-vitiating Karmas are of exclusively good quality. In case of a Kewali only the Ayushya Karma (age determining) is of exclusively good quality, the remaining three being good-bad.
Only worthy souls arrive in the assembly of a Tirthankar; whereas in a Kewali’s assembly even unworthies may come.
There is only one Tirthankar in one specific area. Kewali’s may be many.