Glory of Jainism: Prabhavati

Published: 22.10.2012

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Prabhavati

Once in Vitbhay, a city in Sindh, a mysterious box was kept in the plaza, brought by a sailor. The sailor said: “The box contains an idol of Bhagwan. He who would be able to open it, would be a very fortunate man. He would get all happiness desired by one and all.” Many saints, businessmen, artisans and others tried to open it but without any success. King Udayan was worried as did not know how to open the box. Queen Prabhavati could read the anxiety written on his face and said: “What’s the matter? You seem to have lost your interest in food and are always lost in thought.” King Udayan said: “In the entire kingdom there is hardly a person who can open the box. Is my kingdom devoid of good and pious people? Are there only sinners? I am eager to have a glimpse of the idol kept in the box.” Queen Prabhavati decide to try to open the box. She offered milk and water and performed the pooja (worship) with full devotion. She remembered Arihant (destroyers of karma) and said: “O Arihant! I am eager to have a glimpse of you. Do not disappoint me.” She then tried to open the box and, lo and behold, the box opened. A miracle had happened and people were jubilant. The king built a jinalay and the idol was installed in it. The fame of Prabhavati spread far and wide.

Prabhavati, once, asked a maid to bring a piece of white cloth for pooja. She saw a blood stain on it and was furious. She, in a fit of anger, gave a blow to the maid and, ill-luck would have it, she instantly died of shock. Queen examined the cloth and discovered that it was no blood stain. She repented profusely and cursed herself for having killed the maid. Prabhavati was performing pooja and the king saw her headless shadow. It was an omen of approaching death. The queen was unperturbed on knowing the truth and continued her worship as if nothing was to happen. She expressed a desire to attain diksha (renunciation) and the king granted her wish. Prabhavati undertook severe penance and remained in the company of nuns. She, then, began to fast to exercise utmost control over body and attained the status of a sati (extremely pious women). She earned for herself a place in the pantheon of those who were a symbol of steadfast devotion and absolute piety. King Udayan and the people of the city of Vitbhay, taking a cue from her life, began to follow Jainism.

It is customary to remember and chant the names of Tirthankars and sadhus who enlighten the lives of the ordinary people. Similarly, sixteen satis are also remembered early in the morning and revered by one and all for their piety and devotion. Those who renounce the worldly pleasures and joys and become sadhus and sadhvis are naturally revered in Jain religion. But on the other hand, those shravaks and shravikas who, without renouncing the world, display qualities of sadhu and sadhvis are also revered. Religion has four pillars: Sadhu, sadhvi, shravak and shravika and the religious edifice stands erect on these four pillars. The lives of some of the shravikas reflect the best that is there in Jain religion and their lives and character have proved to be an inspirational force. Prabhavati was one such woman and is rightly revered as a sati.

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. Anger
  2. Arihant
  3. Body
  4. Diksha
  5. Jainism
  6. Karma
  7. Pooja
  8. Sadhu
  9. Sadhus
  10. Sadhvi
  11. Sadhvis
  12. Shravak
  13. Shravaks
  14. Shravika
  15. Shravikas
  16. Tirthankars
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