The 24th TirthankaraLord Mahavira was not the founder of the Jaina religion. Jainism has a long and illustrious line of teachers who are called Tirthankaras. Tirthankara means "one who finds a place to cross the ocean of suffering." Another translation is "ford-finder."
The very first Tirthankara was Rishabha who lived at the dawn of human civilisation. Lord Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara and the last one in this particular cycle of time.
Sri Chinmoy, Jainism: give life, take not, Agni Press, 1998