Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (1) ► Cakravartī Mahāpadma

Posted: 15.04.2016

In the present avasarpiṇī time in Bharata region of Jambūdvīpa at Hastināpura came the ninth world emperor (cakravartī) Mahāpadma. He was contemporary of Lord Munisuvratanātha.

In the ancient times in Bharata, Hastināpura of Āryāvarta division was a famous and prosperous city. There ruled a brave king named Padmottara who belonged to the lineage of Lord Vṛṣabhanātha. His queen was named Jvālā. One day queen Jvālā dreamt that a lion cub had entered into her mouth. The queen told the king about the dream. The dream interpreters through calculations said that a great and pious soul has entered the queen's womb who will gain immortal fame as he grows up. Upon completion of her pregnancy the queen gave birth to a very beautiful and bright son who was named Viṣṇukumāra.

Later queen Jvālā saw the 14 great dreams. The dream interpreters, satisfying the curiosity of the royal couple, said the son born from the queen's womb will become the cakravartī emperor of Bharata when he grows up. After completion of her pregnancy the queen gave birth to a very bright son with all auspicious traits, who was named Mahāpadma. Viṣṇukumāra and Mahāpadma were both brought up with royal majesty and appropriate education was organised for the princes. Both brothers had a sharp intellect and soon mastered all the arts and from childhood, blossomed into youth. Viṣṇukumāra was disinclined towards worldly affairs and pleasurable activities since childhood; hence he took permission from his parents and accepted initiation as a monk, and studied the Aṃgas, śāstras and started observing severe penance. As a result he obtained easily many kinds of knowledge and accomplishments. There in Mahāpadma developed due qualities of an able ruler and emperor, hence king Padmottara declared him crown prince and gave him the responsibility of the kingdom.

At that time the disciple of Lord Munisuvratanātha, Ācārya Suvrata, wandering unhindered, came to Ujjayinī. Hearing of the ācārya's arrival the king of Ujjayinī, Śrīvarmā, his Prime Minister Namuci, along with many important people came to see him. Namuci was very proud of his knowledge. Sitting there, praising the Vedic rituals, he began to criticize the Śramaṇa tradition. Ācārya Suvrata was silent but one of his younger disciples engaged in debate with him and defeated him in front of people.

Namuci was hurt and he decided in his mind to avenge this insult. Gripped by the feeling of revenge Namuci came to that garden in the darkness of the night with a naked sword, and seeing everyone fast asleep, he moved freely towards the young monk. He held the sword with both his hands in order to kill the monk and lifted his hands. He was about to bring down his hands with full force when he became still in that very posture, his hands remained in eth air and he could not even lift his legs. By mere thought of his bad condition, disgrace and stigma his face lost colour. The next day even before dawn the monks saw Namuci in this state, then the devotees who came to see the monks saw him, and slowly the word spread and the whole city came over to see Namuci in this state. People began to discuss about Namuci. The moment the effect of the stupefaction ended, hiding his face with hurt he went home. It was impossible for him to stay in Ujjayinī; hence he quietly left Ujjayinī and wandering, reached Hastināpura.

Reaching Hastināpura Namuci came in contact with the crown prince Mahāpadma and slowly became his trusted aide. Mahāpadma also made him a minister. At that time a subordinate ruler of Hastināpura named Siṃharatha turned hostile. Looting the surrounding areas he would return to his fortress. The crown prince sent his army to capture Siṃharatha but did not succeed. In the end Mahāpadma instructed Namuci to capture and bring Siṃharatha. Namuci surrounded Siṃharatha's fortress from all sides and put obstructions at all the entry and exit points. Namuci also played a trick and bribed some of Siṃharatha's fortress gatekeepers and took them on his side and one day he entered Siṃharatha's fortress with his army through a secret pathway and captured Siṃharatha. Mahāpadma was very pleased with this venture of Namuci's and asked him to ask for something. Namuci thanked Mahāpadma for this gesture and said 'O king, you may keep this promise of yours as my deposit I shall take it when the occasion arises.' Crown prince Mahāpadma accepted the request of Namuci's. In time a heavenly cakra jewel appeared in Mahāpadma's armouryand he gained victory over the six divisions and became the master of nine treasures and 14 jewels and adorned with the title of cakravartī. When he was seated on the throne of Hastināpura as cakravartī emperor of Bharata, monk Suvrata came to Hastināpura with his disciples and upon request by the people there, agreed to stay during rainy season halt at a garden on the outskirts.

Namuci found an apt time for his revenge and reminded Mahāpadma of his promise and said 'I want to conduct a great sacrifice for heavenly accomplishments, for the successful completion of which you may make me the Lord of your kingdom until its completion and make my command binding and may it not be transgressed. Emperor Mahāpadma accepted Namuci's request.

Small and big officials, important subjects, the supervisor of religious affairs, all went to Namuci and blessed him for successful completion of the sacrifice. Keeping in mind the norm of Śramaṇa tradition to keep away from worldly affairs, Ācārya Suvrata did not go to Namuci. He became angry with this. For, after all, it was to show his animosity towards Ācārya Suvrata and the Śramaṇa tradition that he had planned all this. Raging with anger he went to Ācārya Suvrata and told him 'you monks leave the boundaries of my kingdom within seven days. After this if any monk is seen in this kingdom he will be put to death.' To protect the Śramaṇa tradition from this very difficult situation Suvrata called upon his disciple and one of great attainments, Viṣṇukumāra. He tried explaining to Namuci, but he was adamant. In the end he told Namuci - 'never mind, at least give me land to the extent of three steps.' Namuci agreed and said 'ok, whichever monk stays outside of these three steps shall be killed. But then Viṣṇukumāra through his art of transformation started expanding his body. Within moments his body reached as far as the sky. Seeing this form of Viṣṇukumāra, Namuci fell to the ground in fear. Monk Viṣṇukumāra placed one of his steps on the east coast of the sea, and the second step on the west coast. Then, roaring like the end of the world, said –'Now tell me, Namuci, where do I place my third step?' Namuci could not utter a word; he was shaking like a pīpala leaf. Cakravartī came out form his palace, reaching the spot, recognised Viṣṇukumāra, paid obeisance to him and sought pardon for this condemnable crime. Monk Viṣṇukumāra calmed down. He returned to his normal self. He bestowed a forgiving glance at Namuci and repented usage of his labdhis (attainments) to protect the order of the monks and again went back to his austerities. Through penance he annihilated completely all the eight karmas and attained blissful mōkṣa. Cakravartī Mahāpadma took initiation at the age of twenty thousand years; through penance destroying all the eight karmas, and ultimately attained liberation.

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Title: Jain Legend: Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (1)
Author:
Acharya Hasti Mala
Editors:
Shugan C. Jain
Publisher: Samyakjnana Pracaraka Mandala, Jaipur
Edition: 2011