Glory of Jainism: Vanraj Chavda

Published: 25.09.2012

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Vanraj Chavda

Vanraj Chavda, the founder of the Chavda empire, was a powerful ruler of Gujarat. Many Jain saints, brave soldiers and a host of eminent personalities lived during his reign. Jaishikhari, Vanraj's father, was defeated by king Bhuvad in a battle and his pregnant wife queen Roopsundari, accompanied by brother Surpal, hid herself in a forest. Vanraj was born and brought up in the forest. Once, while child Vanraj was sleeping in a cradle hung between trunks of two trees, Jain Acharya Sheelgunsuri happened to pass through the forest. His gaze fell on the sleeping child and prophesied that the child would carve out a niche for himself as a powerful ruler. The kind-hearted Jain saint gave shelter to the queen and her child. Vanraj was looked after by the Jain monk and this helped in the inculcation of many virtues in the infant Vanraj. His innate bravery did not remain dormant and he became the king of the forest. He was a true Kshatriya (a warrior-caste) and while playing with children, he would assume the role of a king.

With the passage of time, Vanraj grew into a brave man and showed his powers very often. A very determined man, he would never retrace a step once taken. He learnt the art of warfare from his uncle Surpal and decided to take back the empire lost by his father. He began collecting wealth, soldiers and weapons to wage a war against the enemy. Once Vanraj committed a theft at the house of a businessman in the neighbouring village. While stealing things from his house, his hand happened to fall into a pot of curd. He thought, "My hand is smeared with curd and it means I have eaten in the house of this man. So I am their guest. How can I steal things from his house?" Vanraj left the place, leaving behind the stolen goods. Next day the villager's sister Shridevi learnt, on inquiry, that it was Vanraj who had left behind the stolen goods. She invited him to her house for a meal. Vanraj promised her that she would be called to apply tilak (forehead Mark) on his installation as king.

Vanraj waylaid Bhuvad and looted silver and one thousand horses. The king of Kanoj also did not offer any resistance to him and Vanraj thought the time had come for him to seize power. He founded his empire in a forest on land inhabited by a shepherd Anahill. It was a land supposed to harbour only the brave souls. It is said that it was on this land that once a rabbit attacked a fierce dog. The new capital was christened Anahillpur Patan in A.D. 745. True to his promise, he summoned Shridevi, on whom he had conferred sisterhood, to apply tilak on his forehead. At the age of fifty, he ascended the throne and, it is said, he offered his kingdom to Sheelgunsuri which he declined to accept, being an ascetic. On being advised by the Acharya, Vanraj brought from Panchasar the idol of Shri Parshwanath Bhagwan and got it installed in Vanraj-vihar. The temple of Shri Panchasara Parshwanath still exists in Patan in north Gujarat with the idols of King Vanraj and Acharya Sheelgunsuri too. Vanraj became the king of Gujarat and his subjects were all happy, but often he was referred to as a robber, and he tried to remove the blot. His son Yograj too was painted on being branded robbers and their kingdom as 'Kingdom of robbers'. The three sons of Yograj looted the ships anchored in the sea near Somnath Patan. To atone for this sin, Yograj gave up taking food and water and committed self immolation by setting himself afire.

Sources
Title: Glory Of Jainism
Artist:

Ashok Saha and Prathana Saha

Publisher:

Shri Anilbhai Gandhi (Trustee),
Shri-108-Jain-Tirth-Darshan-Bhavan-Trust,
Shri-Samavasaran-Mahamandir,
Palitana - 364270 (India)

Edition: 1998

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Gujarat
  3. Parshwanath
  4. Tilak
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