(Sanskrit = ford-makers or bridge-builders)
In Jainism, this is an enlightened human being who helps others escape samsara. They represent the highest possible attainment for the soul.
1. There have been 24 Tirthankaras. Mahavira is the most recent one, and there will be 24 more in the current cycle of the universe, with the next one expected in 81,500 years.
2. The role is similar to the Buddhist concept of the bodhisattva.