Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (1) ► Lord Śrī Ariṣṭanemi (I)

Posted: 19.04.2016

The 22ndTīrthaṃkaraof Jain religion is Lord Ariṣṭanemi.

Past Life

In his past life Lord Śrī Ariṣṭanemi was Śaṃkha kumāra, the son of the king of Hastināpura, Śrīṣeṇa and queen Śrīmatī. When he grew up he became famous as Śaṃkharāja. Prince Śaṃkha was still a child when his father Śrīṣeṇa got the message that the Pallī chieftain Samaraketu had wreaked havoc at the borders of his kingdom. If Samaraketu was not suppressed in time, he would whip up other troubles too. Hearing this news the king gave instructions to prepare his army and decided to go to the battlefield himself. When prince Śaṃkha learnt of this he requested his father to send him to fight such an ordinary king so he could get a chance to learn the tactics of war and prove his bravery. Hearing the prince's brave request he gave him permission to go to war with the army. Very easily the prince captured the Palli chieftain and returned all the things looted by him to their respective owners and taking the prisoners with him, started for Hastināpura. On the way, prince Śaṃkha faced the Vidyādhara Maṇiśekhara who had kidnapped the daughter of Jitāri, Yaśomati and was taking her with him. The prince defeated him, too. Impressed by his bravery, Yaśomati accepted him in her mind as her Lord. Impressed by the prince's courage and ability, king Śrīṣeṇa handed over his kingdom to him and taking initiation became a mendicant and in time attained pure knowledge.

King Śaṃkha was enamoured of and attached to his queen Yaśomati. Once, king Śaṃkha went to listen to the discourse of monk Śrīṣeṇa. At the end of the discourse he asked the monk – Lord, why am I so attracted to and enamoured of Yaśomati? Even if I wish to, I am unable to accept the Śramaṇa path. After staying quiet for some time the omniscient monk said – the two of you have been in a relationship spanning seven births, and many times you were husband and wife. It is only because of the long relationship of the past births that your love is so deep. After this, completing your time as a god you shall be the 22ndTīrthaṃkara Neminātha in your next birth.  Listening to his past life story, king Śaṃkha became disenchanted and giving his kingdom over to his son, he became a mendicant. After becoming a mendicant, by showing great inclination towards being devoted to the arihanta, Siddhas and monks, through penance and restraint, he obtained the Tīrthaṃkara nāmakarma, and completing his life in meditation, became a minor god in the Aparājita vimāna.

Birth and Naming

Completing a full life in Aparājita vimāna, king Śaṃkha's soul entered the womb of Śivādevī, the pious queen of king Samudravijaya on the 12th day of the dark fortnight of Kārtika month under the Citrā constellation. She saw the fourteen great dreams and was very happy. On completion of pregnancy she gave birth to a son on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the Śravaṇa month under the Citrā constellation. The gods celebrated the birth, king Samudravijaya, too, gave gifts with a free hand and made people content. Ariṣṭanemi was very handsome. On a dark hued lustrous body, he had 1008 auspicious qualities, a firm body like the thunderbolt with a face that was very charming. On the 12th day during the naming ceremony the king said that during pregnancy we were all protected from all kinds of calamities and the mother saw the ariṣtanemi-studded cakra hence the name Ariṣṭanemi for the child would be apt. Ariṣṭanemi's father king Samudravijaya was a valorous king of the Harivaṃśa lineage. The introduction to his lineage's origin is given below as per requirement.

The Origin of the Harivaṃśa Lineage

In the period of the Tīrthaṃkara Lord Śītalanātha there was a king named Sumūha in the Kauśāmbī city in Vatsa deśa. He kept with him the very beautiful Vanamālā, wife of a person named Vīraka, and she started to stay at king Sumūha's palace enjoying all pleasures. There Vīraka became perturbed being separated from his wife and began to live in the forest as a young ascetic. One day, the king went for a stroll with Vanamālā to the forest. There both of them became sad seeing the pitiable state of Vīraka and began to repent their bad deed. Suddenly a lightning struck them and both died and in the next birth were born as twins in the pleasure consuming realm named Harivāsa. After sometime Vīraka, too, died and became a kilviṣī god in the Saudharma kalpa. Through his clairvoyance he saw that Sumūha and Vanamālā have been born as twins Hari and Hariṇī and are happily spending their lives together. He thought, despite having wronged me they are living happily, enjoying the pleasures of the pleasure-consuming realm. They cannot be killed but they can be sent to such a place where, while enjoying intense bond, they get sucked into a cycle of sorrow.

He learnt that the king of Campā had died and people were looking for an able person to make him the king. He at once sent the Hari twins, who had a life-span of one crore pūrvas, along with the Cittarasa kalpavŗkṣa tree (wish fulfilling tree) to Campā city, reducing their life-span to one lakh years and their height to 100 dhanuṣa and gave a call from the skies saying, make these two the king and queen and you shall spend your lives happily. Thinking that to be a god's call from the skies, the people placed Hari on the throne. On account of passion-inducing food and attraction towards sensual pleasures, Hari and Hariṇī died and went to hell. This was a surprising incident because the twins do not go to hell.

It is this Hari-Hariṇītwins who gave rise to the Harivaṃśa lineage. Many powerful, brave and pious kings belonged to this lineage and many cities settled by them are still around. The emergence of the Harivaṃśa lineage is considered to be post-nirvāṇa of Tīrthaṃkara Śītalanātha and before the time of Lord Śreyāṃsanātha.

The Harivaṃśa Lineage

After Hari, some of the kings from the Harivaṃśa lineage are as follows:

  1. Pṛthvīpati (son of Hari),
  2. Mahāgiri,
  3. Himāgiri,
  4. Vasugiri,
  5. Narāgiri,
  6. Indragiri.

This way, there were innumerable kings of the Harivaṃśa lineage. Twentieth Tīrthaṃkara Muni Suvrata was also form this lineage.

The son of Mādhava Indragiri was Dakṣa Prajāpati, whose queen was named Ilā and son was named Ilā. For some reason Ilā was annoyed with her husband Dakṣa prajāpati and taking her son Ilā with her, went to Tāmralipti where she established a city called Ilāvarddhana and the son built a city named Māheśvarī. After Ilā, his son Pulina ascended the throne. At one place, he saw a dog facing a lion making a circular gesture and thinking it to be the power of that place; he established a city named Kuṃḍiṇī over there. After Pulina, Varima established the Indrapura city. King Saṃjatī of this lineage established a town called Vaṇavāsī or Vāṇavāsī. Of the same lineage, the king Kuṇima was the ruler of Kollayara city. His son was Mahendradatta who had two brave sons Ariṣṭanemi and Matsya. Ariṣṭanemi settled the Gajapura city while Matsya built up the Bhaddila city. Both of them had hundred sons each. A king of the same Harivaṃśa clan, Ayadhaṇū, settled a city named Sojjha. Further in time there was a king named Mūla, and then Viśāla, who settled Mithilā city. Viśāla was later succeeded by kings Hariṣeṇa, Mahāsena, Samṃkha, Bhadra and Abhicandra. Abhicandra's son Vasu was a very powerful and famous king who became famous later on as "Uparicara Vasu" (one who sat on a throne of space in the skies).

Uparicara Vasu

Uparicara Vasu was a famous and valorous king. In his childhood he had studied under a teacher named Kṣīrakadambaka. The son of the teacher Parvata and the sage Nārada were his study-mates. Seeing those three students together one day some miraculous interpreter told his fellow ascetics that of these three one will become a king, one will go to heaven and the third will go to hell. When Kṣīrakadambaka heard this he thought Vasu is the son of a king so he will become a king, but let me find who out of the other two will go to hell. He made an artificial goat and filled it up with lac syrup. Kṣīrakadambaka called Nārada and said – child, I have stupefied this goat with a chant. Today is the eighth day of Bahulā, hence in the evening take it to such a place where nobody can see it and after killing it come back quietly.

Nārada took that goat in the evening to an uninhabited place. When he was about to kill the goat he thought that all the stars and planets are watching. He went still further into the forest taking the goat with him, there he said here all the trees and plants and vegetation are watching. Still further ahead was a small shrine and indeed that place was remote. As soon as Nārada began to kill the goat he thought the god of this shrine is watching. In the end, he took the goat to the teacher and told him everything. The teacher made him an ascetic and said – child, you did the right thing, you may go, but do not tell anyone about this.

After this Kṣīrakadambaka called his son Parvata and handing him the goat, instructed him similarly. Parvata took the goat to an empty lane from where no one could be spotted till a great distance. When he was certain nobody was watching then he sliced the goat and came back in the hermitage and told everything to his father. The teacher was very angry after hearing his son's words and said to Parvata, "What did you do, you rogue? Don't you know that the gods in the skies, the vegetation and invisible beings that wander about unseen watch everything we do? Or else you should have thought in your mind that at least you were watching yourself. You have done a heinous crime killing the goat; you will certainly go to hell. It is better that you get out of my sight."

After completion of their studies each student took leave of the teacher and started returning to their homes. When Vasu went to the teacher Kşīrakadambaka for blessings and requested his teacher to ask his reward as a teacher, the teacher said, "Child, when you grow up to be a king, show love towards your teacher's son Parvata, which will be my reward."

Vasu later became the king of the Cedi country. Once, roaming the forest for a hunt, Vasu released an arrow aimed at a deer, but it fell midway. When he went closer there he found a huge transparent rock, which was between the deer and the arrow, on account of which the deer was visible but the rock was not and the arrow hit that rock and fell to the ground even before it reached the deer. Vasu thought such a transparent rock would be very useful to a king like me. Reaching his palace he narrated the whole incident to his minister who got the rock moved to the palace and placing it in the hall, placed king Vasu's throne on top of it. Because it was placed on a transparent rock people thought Vasu's throne was hanging in space. Hence king Vasu's name became popular as "Uparicara Vasu".

After the death of the teacher Kşīrakadambaka' his son Parvata became the teacher and began to teach. He began to explain to his students the meaning of "ajairyaṣṭavyaṃ", that aja, that is, goat, must be used for sacrificial rituals. This when in the Vedas 'aja' is used in the context of 'that which is not born'; that is, grain which does not grow – a seed. When Nārada learnt of this, he at once went to Parvata and started explaining to him that he must not turn the traditional meaning of the Vedas into false meanings. The sages have always that that 'aja' means "traivārṣika-yava-vrīhī" that is, "a grain that does not grow", not a goat. But Parvata did not agree with Nārada's statement. He stuck to how own, and said if my words are proved fallacious then may my tongue be slashed and if otherwise, let your tongue be slashed. In the end it was decided that this question be placed before the third fellow-student, king Vasu and that his decision shall be binding on us.

When Parvata told his mother this entire account, she said firmly your father considered Nāradaa diligent student, hence Nārada must be right. But Parvata was not ready to accept defeat on any condition. In the end Parvata's mother went to king Vasu. Narrating the account of the debate to him she asked Vasu the meaning of "ajairyaṣṭavyaṃ" as explained by the teacher. When king Vasu said it was Nārada's meaning that was attested by the teacher, Parvata's mother became anxious and worried. She told Vasu, "This decision of yours will destroy my son, it is better that I kill myself first." Saying so, the teacher's wife started to take her own life. Seeing this, the king Vasu decided to take a decision favouring Parvata.

Lots of people gathered the next day. When king Vasu seated himself on the throne that seemed to be on space, Nārada and Parvata placed their respective statements before the king. In spite of knowing the true facts king Vasu, giving a decision favouring his teacher's son and wife, said that according to "ajairyaṣṭavyaṃ" a goat must be sacrificed. Because king Vasu 'knowingly favoured untruth', being given up by the gods siding the truth, his throne fell to the ground, he turned from 'Uparicara' to 'Sthalacara' (one whose throne is on the ground). Seeing the proof, because of foolishness, he attested Parvata's statement to be correct. As a result, through unseen powers Vasu was pushed to the netherworld. Because of favouring untruth in an unjust manner, he had to go to hell. Nārada went to the realm of gods but Parvata, later on, with the help of a god named Mahākāla, who was the enemy of king Sagara, made animal sacrifice mandatory in rituals and was the originator of this tradition.

The Account of Vasu in Mahābhārata

In the ancient times, sages and kings used 'aja', that is, grains that did not grow, in sacrificial rituals. There was no place for animal slaughter in sacrificial rituals. Animal killing in sacrifice used to be considered bad, heinous and extremely condemnable. This is clear in the Tulādhāra account, the Vicarūnu account and in the accounts of the uparicara king Vasu in the Mahābhārata. In the Śāntiparva of Mahābhārata, from all chapters from Vasudevahiṇḍī onwards, in most sections there are related accounts. The old and popularly accepted Jain and Vaiṣṇava scriptures unanimously agree on the fact that the original source of killing animals for sacrificial rituals was the usage of the term 'goat' in the place of 'that which does not grow' and the Cedi king Vasu's decision favouring this untruth. That by merely uttering the word of using animal sacrifice in rituals uparicara Vasu had to fall into the dark abyss of the netherworld, in this context, the brief introduction to Vasu as given in the Mahābhārata  is as follows:

Seeing king Vasu in intense penance, Indra got a doubt that if he continues this way, he will one day take away my position. Perturbed by this doubt, Indra came to Vasu and in order to disengage him from his penance, gave him, besides the vast Cedi kingdom and a crystalline gem studded airborne palace, a boon of being omniscient. Vasu's capital was by the banks of the river Śaktimatī. Because he roamed around in the airborne palace given to him by Indra, he became popular as uparicara Vasu. Uparicara Vasu was truthful, non-violent and used to have pure food. Aṃgirasa son, Bṛhaspati was his preceptor. Ruling justly and diligently, king Vasu conducted a great sacrifice of the aśvamegha Sixteen great sages such as Bṛhaspati, Hotā, Śālihotra, Kapila, Vaiśampāyana and Kaāva were present in that ritual with total nonviolent feeling. The potion of gods was fixed from the fruits, roots, etc. from the forests used for this ritual. Lord Nārāyaṇa, happy with this ritual of Vasu, appeared before him and accepted the sacrificial oblation offered to him. After completing the great aśvamegha sacrifice, king Vasu looked after his subjects for a long time.

Once, a debate ensued between the gods and sages regarding the oblations used in the sacrifice. The gods told the sages – "ajairyaṣṭavyaṃ", that is, goats, should be used for sacrifice – by this, they meant 'aja' should be translated as 'goat'. To this, the sages said – seeds should be used in sacrifice. That is what the Vaidika śrutis say. Seeds are called aja, it is not right to sacrifice a goat in the name of aja. Wherever animals are sacrificed in rituals those rituals are not ones in keeping with truth, men or religion.

At the time when this debate was going on between gods and sages, the great king Vasu reached there through the skyway on his palace. Seeing him the brahmarṣis (sages) told the gods – this king will clear our doubt. He is himself one who conducts sacrifices, looks after the well-being of all living beings and is a great man; he cannot go against the śāstras (scriptures /holy texts). All the sages and gods said, "Oh king! What should be used in a sacrifice; Food or goat?" The king asked them what is dear to each one of them. Who thinks aja means goat and who thinks it means food? Replying to the question of king Vasu the sages said, "Oh king! It is our opinion that food should be used in sacrifice, but the gods think sacrifice must be done with an animal called 'chāga'. Now you decide."

King Vasu, taking the side of the gods said, "aja means chāga, or goat, hence goat should be used." Hearing this, all the sages got angry and said, "Knowing aja's true inference is food, siding with the gods you have said it is goat, hence you will fall from the sky, and your power to roam around in the skies will end. If you have opposed the Veda scriptures, you shall go to the netherworld and if our word is against the scriptures, we shall fall." As soon as the sages stopped talking, king Uparicara fell to the earth from the sky and at once went into the netherworld.

Out of the eight sons of Vasu, six of them successively ascended the throne, one after the other, but the moment they did that, by some divine power, they got killed. Scared by this, two of the remaining sons, Suvasu and Pihaddhaya 'Śuktimatī' ran away from the city. Suvasu settled in Mathurā and Pihaddhaya's successor was Subāhu. After Subāhu, came respectively, Dīrghabāhu, Vajrabāhu, Ardhabāhu, Bhānu and Subhānu. After Subhānu his son Yadu was a brave king of the Harivaṃśa lineage. In Yadu's line, Saurī and Vīra were two great and powerful kings. King Saurī settled in Sauripura while Vīra built Sauvīra city.

The Paternal Side of Lord Neminātha

The Harivaṃśa clan's king Saurī had two valorous sons, Aṃdhakavṛṣṇi and Bhogavṛṣṇi. Aṃdhakavṛṣṇi had ten sons who were popular by the name Daśārha. Among them the eldest, Samudravijaya and the youngest, Vasudeva, were specially talented and influential. Samudravijaya was magnanimous, just and doting king to his subjects. It was Samudravijaya who brought up his younger brother Vasudeva. In time, Vasudeva, too, became famous for his valour.

The Past Life of Vasudeva

In his past life, Vasudeva was a Brahmin, Nandīṣeṇa. After his parents' death, his family members threw him out of the house. After he was thrown out of his house he was brought up and cared for by a gardener. The gardener had assured him he would marry one of his daughters to him. He was hurt to know that not even one of them liked him and so went to the forest to commit suicide. There a monk saw him and stopped him from doing so. Listening to the monk's discourse he took initiation and began to lead a life of restraint, and austerities. To make his condemnable life fruitful, he made a resolve that whenever he got news of any sick monk, he would first serve him and only then accept food. On account of severe penance he got many attainments (labdhi) so that whatever medicine he required for a diseased monk, he was able to acquire it. Because of this selfless service he became very popular and accumulated great merit (puṇya). He was unable to forget the insult meted out to him by the gardener's daughters, hence he decided that if his penance bears fruit, in the next birth he would like to be loved by women. After death, because of his penance, he obtained to the realm of gods and after completing his life there he was born as Vasudeva at Aṃdhakavṛṣṇi's house.

Vasudeva and Kaṃsa

Vasudeva's childhood passed off happily. He was sent to able teachers for appropriate education. When Vasudeva was studying, one day a merchant came with his son to him and said, "This child, Kaṃsa, will serve you, please keep him with you." Vasudeva agreed to the merchant's request. Kaṃsa served him and also started learning at the same time.

One day, Jarāsaṃdha sent a messenger to Samudravijaya and said, "Whosoever will capture the rebellious king Siṃharatha of Siṃhapura, I shall marry my daughter to him and also give a city as a gift." When Vasudeva got the message, he requested Samudravijaya that he may be permitted to capture Siṃharatha and present him. Samudravijaya heeded Vasudeva's request and sent him off with a strong army to fight. Siṃharatha faced Vasudeva. After a fierce battle, Vasudeva's army was weakened. Seeing this Vasudeva instructed his charioteer Kaṃsa to take him towards Siṃharatha. Kaṃsa did as told and in no time Vasudeva made Siṃharatha's army run helter-skelter. Kaṃsa showed extraordinary war-skills and breaking Siṃharatha's chariot wheels, captured him. Siṃharatha's soldiers ran away. Vasudeva presented Siṃharatha as captive to Samudravijaya. Very happy with this victory of prince Vasudeva, Samudravijaya organised a welcome ceremony.

When they were alone Samudravijaya told Vasudeva that based on some signs of Jīvayaśā, it has been predicted that she will destroy both clans. Hence it doesn't seem beneficial. To this, Vasudeva said, Kaṃsa has a big role to play in the success of this campaign, hence as a reward Jīvayaśā may be given to him. Samudravijaya said how can a high caste woman be married to a merchant's son? Vasudeva said, Kaṃsa's courageous work has proven him to be a kṣatriya's son indeed.

To know the truth, when the merchant was questioned, he said – "Oh king! In fact he is not my son. He was found within a bronze casket floating down the river Yamunā. Hence he was named Kaṃsa." We also found a ring along with him in that casket, in which was inscribed king Ugrasena's name, seeing which Samudravijaya came to believe Kaṃsa to be his son. At once he went to Jarāsaṃdha's house with Kaṃsa and Siṃharatha and narrating the incident of Kaṃsa capturing Siṃharatha, Samudravijaya said Kaṃsa is in fact king Ugrasena's son. Hearing this, Jarāsaṃdha happily married off his daughter Jīvayaśāto Kaṃsa.

Having come to know the fact that his father left him to float in river Yamunā, Kaṃsa decided to avenge him. The moment he became the son-in-law of Jarāsaṃdha, he asked for Mathurā kingdom from him and the moment he came there he imprisoned Jarāsaṃdha and began to rule there.

Vasudeva's Personality

Vasudeva's personality was very attractive and inspiring. When people would see him going up and down the main streets they would shower free praise on his pleasing to the eye kind of beauty. Women would keep staring at his enchanting glow. But Vasudeva was not even aware of his charming, beautiful youth. One day, he was returning from a stroll in his garden when Samudravijaya told him lovingly, "brother, do not roam around outside this way, your delicate body is withering away with dust and dirt. Staying within the palace, you can practise some other arts and skills." Vasudeva listened to his elder brother and started spending time in the palace.

One day, seeing the hunchbacked maid preparing a body-paste for Samudravijaya, Vasudeva asked her, "isn't this paste for me?" The maid said, "You have done a crime, so the king does not give you clothes and ornaments and paste." When Vasudeva forcibly took away the paste despite the maid's refusal, the maid remarked, "It is because of this kind of behaviour that you have been disallowed in royal halls, you do not give up your immodesty." Shocked, when lovingly Vasudeva spoke to the maid and pleased her, she said, "Actually, some people have told the king Samudravijaya that when prince Vasudeva takes a stroll along the main streets, women leave all their work and chase him and keep staring at him, spellbound. Some young women in fact keep waiting for his arrival. There is hysteria about you all over. Hearing this, your brother has made this arrangement for you." Hearing this Vasudeva, was worried and thought in this state, it is better to leave from here quietly. In the evening, he got out of the royal palace with an attendant called Vallabha.

On the way was a graveyard where he saw a dead body. Prince Vasudeva asked his attendant to prepare a funeral pyre with some logs of wood. When it was ready, Vasudeva told the attendant, "Go bring my jewel case. I shall donate something and enter the pyre." Hearing these words of the prince the attendant began to weep. He said, "If you want to enter the pyre, I too, shall follow you." The prince said, "Okay, but first bring the jewel-case. And yes, do not tell anyone about this."

The attendant returned to the city. Vasudeva set fire to the pyre. Close by on a tree he wrote, "Despite being one of true character and conduct, people have suspected me, hence I am giving myself up to the fire." Even before the attendant returned, Vasudeva left that place. On the way, he came across a bullock cart, with a woman who was going from her in-law's place to her mother's. An old man was accompanying her. Seeing Vasudeva walking on foot, she felt pity and she asked the old man to take him in the cart; he will rest in our home for a night and leave. Listening to the old man, Vasudeva sat in the bullock cart and, reaching his house, after a bath and a meal, began to prepare for rest. When he was resting he overheard people discussing outside a Yakṣa shrine that finding out about Vasudeva's jumping into the fire the members reached the graveyard and seeing the reasons for his doing so written on the tree, they were very sad and worried and completing all the last rites, returned home. Vasudeva felt worldly bonds are unfathomable, mysterious and transient. It is good. People believe I am no more. Hence they will not try to look for me and I can now uninhibitedly and freely move about.

After resting that night Vasudeva left that place and kept wandering about through different places. In the meantime, he learnt many things, undertook the study of various kinds of skills and on many occasions, put his courage and valour to use. This way, wandering about, Vasudeva reached Ariṣṭapura, the main city in the Kauśala republic. There he found out that the king of Kauśala, Rudhira, was organising a svayaṃvara (the woman selecting a groom for her) for his daughter, princess Rohiṇī, for which many great kings like Jarāsaṃdha, Dharmaghoṣa, Pāṃḍu, Samudravijaya, Candrābha, Kaṃsa, etc. were to be present. Vasudeva, too, sat with a paṇava musical instrument in his hand in a corner at the svayaṃvarahall. Accompanied by countless maids, the moment Rohiṇī entered with a garland in her hands, the entire hall looked like a painting with her aura blinding it. The faces of the kings (to whom Rohiṇī would go with the garland) would glow like the sun, but the moment she moved on ahead, their faces would turn pale and dark, losing sheen, just as the sun under the effect of the plant Rāhu. Vasudeva made a soft, melodious tune with his musical instrument with the sound of which Rohiṇī, like an enchanted peacock, moved towards Vasudeva leaving all the great kings, and reaching him, placed the garland around his neck and went quietly into her chambers.

There was furor in the hall. Many called out aloud, "after all, she chose a musician." Many kings felt it was not right. One of them said to the king of Kauśala, "If your daughter already likes a singer, what was the necessity for the theatrics of a svayaṃvara to insult the kings?" To this, king of Kauśala said, "a girl has the right to choose her groom in a svayaṃvara. She selects the one she finds suitable or her." Vasudeva said, "Is a Kṣatriya not allowed to sing or play music? Seeing the paṇava in my hands how did you all think I am not a Kṣatriya?" Hearing this, a king named Dharmaghoṣa said, "Insulting kings of pure clans by choosing a man of unknown descent is not right." Seeing the conversation take this turn someone suggested that if the singer claims to be a Kṣatriya, ask him to introduce his lineage. Vasudeva said, "What is the use of all this useless debate, the strength of my arms will show my identity." Hearing this Jarāsaṃdha said, "The root cause of this insult is the king of Kauśala. Capture the king Rūdhira." All the kings surrounded the king of Kauśala. Seeing this, astride the chariot 'dadhimukha' of the Vidyādhara king of Ariṃjayapura, Vasudeva gave out a battle cry. Hearing Vasudeva's call, when many kings started to attack Vasudeva, king Pāṃdu said, "No, this does not speak well of Kṣatriyas that so many kings should together attack one person." Jarāsaṃdha too expressed consent to this and said, "Yes, let each king take turns and fight a duel with him, whosoever wins, Rohiṇī will be his." When Vasudeva within minutes defeated the brave kings such as Śatruṃjaya and many others, Jarāsaṃdha told king Samudravijaya, "It would be better if you fought with him and gained Rohiṇī." On Jarāsaṃdha's request Samudravijaya started hurling a string of arrows at Vasudeva. Vasudeva struck all those arrows down but did not attack him. Seeing his arrows broken and fallen to the ground, Samudravijaya was very angry. At that time, Vasudeva released an arrow with his name on it towards his feet. Seeing Vasudeva's name on the arrow Samudravijaya was astonished. Forgetting everything, he leapt in joy at Vasudeva. Vasudeva threw his weapon and fell at Samudravijaya's feet. The elder brother pulled up his younger brother and embraced him. The other eight brothers too met Vasudeva with joy. Jarāsaṃdha and other kings praised the good fortune of the king of Kauśala. In everyone's presence he conducted the wedding of Rohiṇī with Vasudeva. After completion of the wedding ceremony, all kings went back to their respective kingdoms. Accepting the invitation of the king of Kauśala, Samudravijaya spent one year there, and giving permission to Vasudeva to stay there for some time, left for Sauripura.

While in Ariṣṭapura, Rohiṇī gave birth to a son who was named Balarāma. After spending some more time in Ariṣṭapura, Vasudeva, Rohiṇī and other wives and the son Balarāma, taking leave from the king of Kauśala, returned to Śauripura. After sometime, Kaṃsa extended a graceful invitation to Vasudeva to stay at Mathura with his family for some time. Vasudeva accepted Kaṃsa's request and started staying happily in Mathura's palaces.

Vasudeva-Devaki's Wedding and the killing of Kaṃsa

One day on Kaṃsa's request king Vasudeva went to Mṛttikāvatī city to see king Devaka's daughter Devakī. On the request of Kaṃsa, Devaka got Devakī married to Vasudeva. Vasudeva came with a lot of wealth and attendants in dowry to Mathura. Kaṃsa too reached Mathura on that auspicious occasion and said to Vasudeva with respect, "give me, too, a gift I seek on this happy occasion." When Vasudeva said "yes", Kaṃsa happily asked for seven of Devakī's infants. Obliged by friendship, not expecting anything untoward, Vasudeva agreed. Later, Vasudeva got to know that when Kaṃsa's wife Jīvayaśā had made fun of the young Śramaṇa monk Atimuktaka, showing him Devakī's pleasure-clothes, he had angrily said to her, "What are you laughing at and dancing about? The same Devakī's seventh son will kill your husband and father." Hearing of this Vasudeva understood the reason behind Kaṃsa's request. Still he decided that he will not go back on his word, no matter how great a loss he may have to suffer for it.

After her marriage Devakī became pregnant six times, the infants born thereby would be sent by divine grace of god Hariṇaigameṣī to the laywoman Sulasā and her still-born children would be sent to Devakī. Vasudeva would give the same over to Kaṃsa who would throw them away since they were still-born. When Devakī became pregnant a seventh time, she woke up with seven auspicious dreams. Vasudeva, interpreting the dreams said, - "You will give birth to a great, fortunate son, who will destroy both Kaṃsa and Jarāsaṃdha, when he grows up." Devakī said, "Lord, we must protect this son by all means; at least one son of mine should remain alive."

Kaṃsa suspected that even if he was bound by his promise, Vasudeva might try to protect his children, so he had imprisoned Devakī and Vasudeva. When after nine months Devakī gave birth to a son, by divine force, the prison-keepers fell asleep. Vasudeva took his son to Gokula and at that time, there was a slight drizzle, the gods had taken a form of an unseen umbrella. Crossing the river Yamunā, he reached Nanda's house where Yaśodā had given birth to a daughter. Vasudeva placed his son in the place of the daughter and took her with him to Devakī. When the attendants woke up, they placed her in front of Kaṃsa. Kaṃsa became reassured that his fears had been allayed.  There in Gokul Kṛṣṇa was being brought up by Nanda and Yaśodā. When Kaṃsa learnt of Kṛṣṇa's extraordinary courage and brave acts since childhood he got suspicious about him and tried to kill him several times through many methods but always failed.

When Kṛṣṇa grew up a little, Kaṃsa organised a wrestling competition in palace. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma went there, too. Kaṃsa prepared two giant wrestlers, Cāṇūra and Muṣṭika and also kept an elephant in rut to trample them. But along with Balarāma, Kṛṣṇa killed the wrestlers and the elephant. Seeing his plans fail Kaṃsa became angry. He instructed his soldiers to kill Balaram and Kṛṣṇa. Balarāma started killing Kaṃsa's soldiers and Kṛṣṇa, pouncing angrily as a tiger, threw Kaṃsa from his throne to the ground and killing him, freed his subjects from his atrocities.

The Wrath of Jarāsaṃdha

After killing Kaṃsa king Samudravijaya released Ugrasena from the prison and made him the king of Mathurā. Ugrasena conducted the wedding of his daughter Satyabhāmā in a grand way with Kṛṣṇa. Angry with Kaṃsa's death, Jīvayaśā went to Rājagṛha saying that she would put an end to Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa and all the ten offspring. Reaching Rājagṛha, she narrated the whole account to her father Jarāsaṃdha. Jarāsaṃdha was very unhappy with his daughter's widowhood. He resolved to destroy the Yādava clan. He instructed his son, Kālakumāra to attack the Yādavas with a huge army and kill them all. Kālakumāra took an oath, "I shall return only after killing the Yādavas. If they enter the fire fearing me, I shall chase them there, too."

When the Yādavas found out that Kālakumāra was coming with his petty army towards them, Samudravijaya and Ugrasena went towards the south-west sea with 18 crore Yādavas. Later they camped on the valleys of the Vindhya Mountains. The deity of the Harivaṃśa clan created a huge mountain with just one entrance on that pathway with her powers, and lit numerous burning pyres on it. When Kālakumāra army reached there chasing the Yādavas, it became stunned seeing the burning pyres. Nearby was an old woman, weeping. When she was questioned she said the Yādavas were running away fearing Jarāsaṃdha. When they learnt that Kālakumāra was chasing them with a huge army, seeing no way of saving their lives, they lit these pyres and fell into them. Seeing my clan destroyed this way, I am also going to enter into the flames. Saying this, she jumped into the flames. Seeing this, Kālakumāra told his brothers and other kings that he had taken an oath that he shall kill the Yādavas even after they entered into the flames. 'Hence I shall chase them jumping into the fire.' Saying this, with a naked sword in his hand, he jumped into the fire and turned into ashes. Jarāsaṃdha's army returned to Rājagṛha wringing its hands in despair.

Building Dvārikā City

When the Yādavas found out that Kālakumāra had entered the flames and that Jarāsaṃdha's army had returned to Rājagṛha city, they moved towards the sea-coast happily. They settled on the Raivata Mountain in Saurāṣṭra region. There, Satyabhāmā have birth to two sons, Bhānu and Bhāmara. Kṛṣṇa observed a three-day fast and meditated upon the deity, Susthita, of the salt ocean. On the third day, in the night time, the Susthita god appeared and giving Śrī kṛṣṇā the pāṃcajanya conch and Balarāma the conch named sughoṣa, gems and clothes, asked the reason for being invoked. Śrīkṛṣṇa said, 'Please return now the Dvārikā city of the earlier arddhacakris you have enveloped within your expanse.' The god immediately pulled back the sea-water from there. Instructed by Devendra, Vaiśravaṇa created overnight a Dvārikā city 12 yojanas long and 9 yojanas wide, with huge palaces filled with limitless wealth, beautiful tanks-wells, streams and gardens and wide roads. Seeing an auspicious time, the Yādavas entered Dvārikā city and began to live there and enjoying the great prosperity.

War with Jarāsaṃdha

Fearing Jarāsaṃdha's anger, when the Yādavas were moving towards Dvārikā, at that time child Ariṣṭanemi was barely four-and-a-half years old. He was being brought up in Dvārikā. The Yādavas, too, while in Dvārikā, gradually expanded their kingdom and the glory of their wealth and prosperity soon was being sung far and wide. When Jarāsaṃdha found out about the increasing fame of the Yādavas, he sent one of his messengers to Dvārikā and said 'the deceitful tactics you people employed to kill my son Kālakumāra shall be certainly avenged by Jarāsaṃdha. You cannot save yourself on land, or the netherworld from the oath he has taken to destroy the Yādavas.' The Yādava heroes were filled with unbound anger hearing the message, but Samudravijaya calmed them down with a gesture of his hands and told the messenger that whatever happened was on account of a divine power, not the conspiracy of the Yādavas. You tell your king that what he has started, he must finish.

After the messenger left, Samudravijaya discussed the war-strategy with his ten brothers and king Bhoja, Ugrasena, Balarāma, Kṛṣṇa, etc. to face Jarāsaṃdha. King Bhoja said the only strategy to be used for Jarāsaṃdha is punishment but this will only prove useful and best when we shall always follow the most important norm of the war, that every person engaged in the war shall fight till the end, putting his life at stake, without desire for even a moment's rest. Everybody agreed with king Borja's words and looked for consent at Samudravijaya when he said, "To break the ego of Jarāsaṃdha we must resort to punishment by not sitting in our fortress but by fighting with him on the borders with our army. This will prove our machismo and will keep a large part of the kingdom protected. This unsettles and impacts the enemy and it increases confidence of our army and subjects". Agreeing with Samudravijaya's suggestion the Yādava army started off, and within a few days, set up their camp on the banks of the river Sarasvatī, 45 yojanas or 360 miles from Dvārikā, near Sinīpallī village, 4 yojanas away from where Jarāsaṃdha's army had set up base.

At the time when the Yādava army set up base at Sinīpallī, a Vidyādhara leader came to king Samudravijaya with his armies and said, "Oh king, your army has great warriors such as Ariṣṭanemi, Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma, Pradyumna, Śāmba, etc. Hence we are at your service and we may be allowed to render service and assistance as per our abilities. We want that Vasudeva be our army general and Śāmba and Pradyumna be there to assist him. Many Vidyādhara kings are friends of the king of Magadha, Jarāsaṃdha and are extending help to him with their armies. You may allow us to keep them occupied in battle on the way." Samudravijaya accepted their request and placed Vasudeva, Śāmba and Pradyumna with them. At that time Ariṣṭanemi gave Vasudeva a medicine that would annul the effect of the weapons used by the gods.

There, Jarāsaṃdha's emissary 'Hansa' trying to explain to him said, "Oh king, you should consider very well what is beneficial to you and what is not, before commencing any work. You are well aware of the strength of Samudravijaya and Vasudeva. At the time of Rohiņī's svayaṃvara Vasudeva single-handedly defeated all the kings. His sons, Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa are both valorous. All gods and minor deities bow their heads to Ariṣṭanemi, Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa. Ariṣṭanemi can single-handedly win over the entire earth by the might of his arms. In your army, leaving aside you, who is that brave and strong? Most of the great ones in your army use deceit and trickery to do their work. Your son Kālakumāra was destroyed by the trick of a clan-goddess. Doesn't this show you that even destiny is not in your favour? The Yādavas too went far from you to Dvārikā, but you have provoked them to a war with you. Even now if you stop this war they will readily return to Dvārikā." But Jarāsaṃdha did not pay heed to Hansa's rightful speech, but insulted and condemned him.

Both armies created their battalion-placements. After preparing the placements, Jarāsaṃdha appointed Hiraṇyagarbha, the king of Kauśala his army general. Samudravijaya appointed Kṛṣṇa's elder brother, Anādhṛṣṭi as the army general of the Yādavas. The air was filled with sounds of conch-shells, trumpets and other war musical instruments. The warriors from both sides pounced on each other like hungry lions. When Ariṣṭanemi got ready for war, the king of gods, Indra, sent a chariot, Jaivaratha, filled with divine weapons, with his charioteer Mātali. Upon the request of Mātali, Ariṣṭanemi got on to that chariot. For a long time there was intense fighting. Neither side could break through each other's battalion placements. In the end, when Jarāsaṃdha's army succeeded in breaking past the portion of a placement at the forefront which protected the Garūḍa placement, Kṛṣṇa unfurled the Garūḍa flag and steadied the army. Mahānemi, Arjuna and Anādhṛṣṭi, after intense battle, crushed the army of Jarāsaṃdha. The Yādav army entered the enemy posts, breaking and defeating them. Intense fighting continued. Many great warriors came to be of use on both sides. Both army generals fought with weapons which lasted a long while. In the end, Anādhṛṣṭi beheaded Hiraṇyagarbha. There was chaos in Jarāsaṃdha's army. By coincidence, the sun had set as well, hence both armies returned to their respective camps.

On the second day, Jarāsaṃdha declared Śiśupāla his army general. Both armies created their respective circular placements (cakravyūha) and stood facing each other in the battlefield. With a twang of his bow-string, Jarāsaṃdha moved towards Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa. Jarāsaṃdha's son, prince Yavana, too, began to attack the sons of Vasudeva with great speed. Sāraṇakumāra chopped off the head of Yavan kumāra with his sword. Śiśupāla started hurling both weapons and verbal abuses at Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa broke Śiśupāla's bow to pieces, as well as his armour and chariot. Śiśupāla had just about leapt at Kṛṣṇa with his sword when the latter cut and brought to the ground his sword, crown and head. Seeing his army general killed thus, Jarāsaṃdha leapt at Kṛṣṇa like the dreaded time of death itself. Many Yādava warriors jumped at Jarāsaṃdha, but singlehandedly he killed them all. Jarāsaṃdha's 28 sons attacked Balarāma. After fighting for some time, Balarāma killed them with his plough. Seeing his sons killed this way, Jarāsaṃdha attacked Balarāma with his goad. Balarāma fell unconscious. He was about to attack a second time with his goad when Arjuna appeared before him with lighting speed and both started fighting. In this meanwhile Kṛṣṇa killed the remaining 19 sons of Jarāsaṃdha. Jarāsaṃdha was red with fury. He said – "Kṛṣṇa! Consider Balaram dead and you get ready to die too." Saying this, he leapt at Kṛṣṇa when Mātali beseeched Ariṣṭanemi, "Lord! Though you are averse to all murderous activities, yet now you must save your clan from bang destroyed. This Jarāsaṃdha is like a mere worm in front of you. Lord, show some of your miraculous deeds."

Ariṣṭanemi's miraculous deeds and killing of Jarāsaṃdha

As requested by Mātali, without any agitation, Ariṣṭanemi blew the Paurandara conch. All the four directions began to tremble by the sound of that conch-shell. Reassured, the Yādava army resumed fighting with renewed vigour. As advised by Ariṣṭanemi, Mātali whirled the chariot around like a fearsome typhoon and Ariṣṭanemi started releasing arrows on Jarāsaṃdha's army and destroyed the flags and crowns and, in a short while, killed one lakh soldiers. He did not kill Jarāsaṃdha, of course, but rendered him almost still as death. The wind-like speed of his was no match for anyone. In this meantime, Balarāma regained consciousness; he got himself together and started killing the enemy soldiers. The entire battlefield was filled with broken chariots, dead elephants, horses, human heads and pots. Seeing this destruction of his army Jarāsaṃdha started fuming. He moved his chariot towards Kṛṣṇa and said, "Kṛṣṇa! Now I want to put an end forever to your deeds of trickery and deceit. You killed Kaṃsa and Kālakumāra through trickery. Now I will kill you and fulfill Jīvayaśā's oath."

Laughing, Śrī kṛṣṇā said, "That will only be fulfilled by Jīvayaśā entering the flames." Śrīkṛṣṇa's words acted like fuel to the fire of Jarāsaṃdha's rage. Pulling the bow-string, he rained a shower of arrows at Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa kept cutting his arrows mid-way. When Jarāsaṃdha saw that none of his weapons were affecting Kṛṣṇa, he ultimately threw his effective weapon, the cakra. Seeing the cakra move towards Kṛṣṇa, the Yādava army got worried. Many warriors used their effective heavenly weapons on the cakra but they all failed. The cakra kept moving towards Śrī kṛṣṇā. Suddenly, the pivot of the cakra slightly hit Kṛṣṇa's chest, and circumambulation him, stopped at the forefinger of his right hand. Kṛṣṇa soon held the cakra in his right hand on the forefinger. Showers of scented water and flowers began to pour down on Kṛṣṇa and a heavenly voice said – "the ninth Vasudeva has emerged." kṛṣṇā told Jarāsaṃdha, "Oh king of Magadha! Do you still see trickery in this?" The egotistic Jarāsaṃdha said, "Just try hurling that cakra of mine towards me." kṛṣṇā then whirled the cakra towards Jarāsaṃdha and Jarāsaṃdha's head fell to the ground. The sky resounded with cries of cheer and victory of the Yādavas. Ariṣṭanemi too stopped his chariot. All the kings fell at his feet and begged forgiveness. Ariṣṭanemi took them all to kṛṣṇā. kṛṣṇā embraced Ariṣṭanemi. As per Ariṣṭanemi's suggestion, kṛṣṇā returned all their kingdoms to them. On Samudravijaya's suggestion, Jarāsaṃdha's son Sahadeva was given the kingdom of Magadha. At that time Samudravijaya was informed by three Vidyādharas that 'Vasudeva, Pradyumna and Śāmba had been engaging the Vidyādhara kings who had come to assist Jarāsaṃdha. Hearing the news of Jarāsaṃdha's death, all of them took refuge at Vasudeva's feet. All of them are now coming here.' In a while all of them reached there. The Yādavas celebrated their success happily and then reached Dvārikā. Samudravijaya tried to get Ariṣṭanemi married several times but wasn't successful.

Ariṣṭanemi and Kṛṣṇa

Once, wandering about, Ariṣṭanemi entered Kṛṣṇa's armoury. There he saw an extremely bright cakra, a fearsome bow like the Śeṣanāga (serpent), goad, sword and a huge pāṃcajanya conch-shell. The prince became inquisitive seeing the conch. Seeing him reach for the conch the guard of the armoury said, "Oh prince! Only Śrī kṛṣṇā can lift and blow this conch. Let alone blowing it, an ordinary person cannot even lift it." The guard had not even completed his sentence when prince Ariṣṭanemi lifted the conch and, bringing it to his lips, blew it. The waves of the sea in Dvārikā rose and hit each other at great speed. People's homes in Dvārikā and its surrounds began to tremble. Elephants blew their trumpets and many people fell unconscious. Even Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa wondered what happened. The armoury guard informed them that prince Ariṣṭanemi had blown the conch out of curiosity. Kṛṣṇa could not believe his ears; just then Ariṣṭanemi came there. Kṛṣṇa seated him next to him and said, "Did you blow the pāṃcajanya conch?" Ariṣṭanemi said – "Yes!" Kṛṣṇa embraced him with great fondness and said, "I am happy that you blew my conch. I was of the assumption that none apart from me could blow it. Why don't we go to the gymnasium and test our strengths?" Ariṣṭanemi gladly agreed. He was aware of his strength so he thought Kṛṣṇa might have some pain if they wrestled. Thinking thus, he said to Kṛṣṇa, 'we can test our strength by bending each other's arms.' Sensing the prince's feelings, Kṛṣṇa extended his right arm and asked him to bend it. Without much effort the prince bent Kṛṣṇa's arm as though it was a tender stalk of a lotus plant. Kṛṣṇa tried to bend his arm but in spite of using all his strength, he could not. Kṛṣṇa was astonished by the prince's boundless strength. He said, 'Oh prince, I am very happy to see your divine strength. Kṛṣṇa took the prince to his internal chambers and fed him. Knowing that Ariṣṭanemi was completely free of passions, Kṛṣṇa instructed the guards of his internal chambers to allow him free access at all times to the chambers.

Seeing the boundless strength of his younger brother Ariṣṭanemi, Kṛṣṇa was astonished and pleased at the same time. Even a cakravartī and Indra do not have this kind of unlimited strength. With such kind of immortal strength, why does he not try to bring the six divisions of Bhārata under his control? Balarāma explained that he has no desire for ruling. Rukamiṇī and other queens used to look after him very well. Kṛṣṇa himself would spend a lot of time with him. Suddenly a thought occurred to him, that 'my brotherly love will be fruitful when prince Nemi shall get married and enjoy the pleasures of a married life and all the wealth of the kingdom. This will only be possible when the prince's mind is attracted towards worldly pleasures.' Thinking thus, he instructed all his queens to try to attract Ariṣṭanemi's attention towards worldly matters.

As per Śrīkṛṣṇa's instructions, Rūkmiṇī, Satyabhāmā, etc. organized the spring festival. With persuasion and request Śrī kṛṣṇā took Ariṣṭanemi to see, and participate in the spring festival. Prince Nemi started seeing all the play devoid of passion, and did not get attracted towards any of that dalliance of his brother Kṛṣṇa with his sisters-in-law. In spite of the failure of the spring festival, Rūkmiṇīand Satyabhāmā did not stop their efforts. Whenever they found an occasion, they would try to induce in Ariṣṭanemi the desire for the world and would tell him that if he stopped being a loner and made someone his life-companion, he would understand the joys of life. Kṛṣṇa would occasionally, at opportune moments, keep giving him hints about selecting an eligible girl. Thus, seeing his family members persuading him, Ariṣṭanemi would think, 'how strange is the attraction for the world that people are themselves tied to it and if someone does not wish to be so, they want him too, to get bound by it. It would be better for me to agree to them as mere lip service and do the needful when time comes.' With this thought prince Nemi agreed to get married.

Everyone was delighted by the acceptance of prince Ariṣṭanemi. Śrī kṛṣṇā began the search for a suitable bride for him. Satyabhāmā told Kṛṣṇa that 'my younger sister Rājīmatī is in all ways suitable for the prince. Kṛṣṇa was very happy with Satyabhāmā's suggestion and immediately went to king Ugrasena. Hearing a proposal about Ariṣṭanemi for his daughter Rājīmatī from Kṛṣṇa's mouth made Ugrasena very happy. He immediately accepted the proposal. Getting Ugrasena's acceptance, Śrī kṛṣṇā went to Samudravijaya and told him everything. Samudravijaya was beyond himself with joy. After all, which father would not feel happy with his son's wedding proposal? The time of wedding was decided upon and both sides got busy with the preparations.

On the set date, prince Ariṣṭanemi's wedding procession moved towards king Ugrasena's palace. The sight of the bridegroom's wedding procession was very charming, beautiful and worth seeing. In the midst of beautiful, prosperous and well-decked people in the procession, prince Nemikumāra was looking like a crown jewel of the three worlds. A huge crowd gathered to see prince Nemikumāra as a bridegroom, and whosoever caught a glimpse of him would consider himself as fortunate. The procession slowly reached king Ugrasena's palace. Princess Rājīmatī's female friends saw him and were astonished. Running in, they surrounded Rājīmatī and said, 'you are extremely fortunate that you are to marry the light of the three worlds such as Nemikumāra.' Rājīmatī blushed on hearing the description of Nemikumāra's beauty and was feeling shy. Despite her refusal, her friends took her to the window from where she saw Nemikumāra. Rājīmatī had not even dreamt that such a gem of the three worlds, a gem of a man, would be her husband. She could not understand as to what good deeds of hers gave her a groom as beautiful as Nemikumāra. At this end, the princess was happy and enchanted by her fortune seeing the prince again and again and on the other end, on his way, hearing the wailing of animals, knowing all, Nemikumāra asked his charioteer – "What is this sad wailing I hear?" The charioteer said – "Lord! For your wedding feast they are bringing goats, and other wild animals and birds. Every animal holds dear its life, hence they are crying."

Nemikumāra asked his charioteer to direct the elephant towards the animal enclosures. Reaching there, Nemikumāra observed that innumerable animals were tied with ropes around their necks and legs and innumerable birds were trembling in fear in a pathetic state inside cages, stuck in meshed wires. The heart of compassionate Nemikumāra bled. He told the charioteer to release all the animals and birds. Within no time all the animals and birds were set free. After releasing the animals and birds, Nemikumāra removed all his ornaments and gave it to the charioteer and instructed him to take the elephant back to his palace. King Ugrasena became helpless. Kṛṣṇa and other Yādavas stood in his way.

Then his father, Samudravijaya asked, "Where are you going turning your face away from this auspicious occasion?" The disenchanted Nemikumāra said, "O! Parents, the same way as these animals and birds were bound, you and I are tied in deep bondage of all karmas. The same way as I have freed them from their bondage, I now want to take the bondage-releasing initiation to free myself from the bondage of karmas forever."

Hearing Nemikumāra speak of initiation his mother Śivādevī fell unconscious. Samudra Vijaya stood still. Kṛṣṇa said, "Brother, I cannot understand the tale behind your attitude of disenchantment; what happened so suddenly?" Ariṣṭanemi said, "Oh Cakrapāṇa! A human being stuck in the cycle of birth and death as a god, as a human being, in hell and in other modes again and again, experiences unbearable pain. This is the main reason of my disenchantment. In innumerable births we had innumerable parents; sons, relatives and friends, but nobody shared the other's sorrows. Everybody has to experience the results of their karmas on their own. I am tired and broken from walking on this horizon-less path of the world and am in unbearable pain. I want to seek a strong path for ultimate peace for myself, you and all living beings of this world. I have decided that I shall remove from the root, the karmas that are the basic cause of the endless sorrows. It is not possible to destroy karmas without accepting restraint; hence I shall certainly become a mendicant. You may not put obstacles in my decision unnecessarily."

Hearing Nemikumāra's words, Samudravijaya said, "Child! From the time of your conception you have spent your life in riches. How will your delicate body bear the intense heart of summer, fearsome cold of winter and unbearable pain of hunger and thirst?" Nemikumāra said, "Father! Those who know the pain of hell, for them the pain you have just enlisted are petty and negligible. By bearing pain in the path of penance the accumulated karmas are burnt to ashes and in the end, you attain unending and imperishable happiness in the form of mōkṣa. Material happiness in the end only opens the gates of the intense pain of hell. Now you tell me, which path should a person take?"

Ariṣṭanemi's question left everyone speechless. In fact, his words reflected the immortal truth of spiritual thinking. Everyone was certain that Nemikumāra had decided his path. Seeing an opportune moment, the lokāntikagods appeared before Nemikumāra and requested that he establish the religious order. The Lord started the year-long giving.

Hearing the conversation, Rājīmatī fell unconscious and when she regained consciousness, she started to cry. Her friends consoled her – "So what if that dispassionate one has left you? There are many beautiful and qualified Yādavas around. You choose any of them you like." Hearing this, like an angry lioness, Rājīmatī said – "There is no one better than Nemi in this world. I have accepted him in my mind. Now I will not bring a stain on my clan. I too shall proceed on that path on which my Lord has resolved to walk."

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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