Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (3) ► Influential Ācārya Mallavādī Sūri 28th Pontiff Of Lord Mahāvīra

Posted: 30.06.2016

During the period of influence of 29th epochal-ācārya Hārila Sūri, another great and influential Ācārya, Mallavādī by name, with extraordinary knowledge of scriptures and their rendering belonging to Nāgendra clan existed. Ācārya Jinānaṃda Sūri was his teacher.

According to 'Prabhāvaka caritra' once Ācārya Jinānaṃda Sūri went to Bhṛgu Kaccha for pilgrimage of temples there. Two Buddhist Bhikṣus, Naṃda and Buddhāṃda lived there. They were both very famous Buddhist logicians and debaters of scriptural knowledge. Similarly Jinānaṃda was also a famous high calibre scholar on self-no self-doctrine. Buddhāṃda could not tolerate the all-round popularity of Jinānaṃda's scholarship. He therefore decided to engage Jinānaṃda in scriptural debates. This scriptural debate between Jinānaṃda and Buddhāṃda continued for many days in royal court. In the end, Jinānaṃda lost the debate due to vitaṇḍāvāda of Buddhānaṃda.  Jina Sūri did not consider it proper to stay in Bhṛgu Kuccha after this defeat and left for Vallabhī.

Vallabha Devī (Durlabha Devī), sister of Jinānaṃda along with her three sons AJīta Yaśa, Yaśa and Malla used to live in Vallabhī. After listening to the invigorating sermons of Jinānaṃda, the minds and hearts of Durlabha Devī and her three sons were filled with detachment. So they all took initiation into Jain monkhood in Ācārya Jinānaṃda Sūri's gaccha.

After their initiation into monkhood, Ajīta Yaśa, Yaśa and Malla diligently studied and acquired deep knowledge and scholarship of high order in logic, law, grammar, literature etc. and caused spread of Jain tradition and knowledge.

Śramaṇa Malla came to learn of the defeat inflicted by Bhikṣu Buddhāṃda on his teacher Jinānaṃda in scriptural debate. Malla's heart was filled with deep pain and anguish. Therefore secretly in his heart he resolved to defeat Bhikṣu Buddhāṃda and re-establish the glory of Jainism in Bhṛgu Kaccha. Śramaṇa Malla therefore decided to study the great text 'Naya cakra' which was composed based on the 5th prior canon 'Jṅāna Pravāda' by some earlier Ācārya. Jinānaṃda Sūri and Durlabha Devī both tried to persuade Malla not to do as even this text was strictly prohibited for all monks. However monk Malla had already decided to study 'Naya Cakra' to defeat Buddhist Bhikṣu Buddhāṃda. So he started deep study of 'Naya Cakra'.

He had just read the first verse from 'Naya Cakra', when the book fell from his hand and disappeared due to some supernatural powers. Surprised by this incidence, monk Malla became deeply pained. He therefore decided to compose 'Naya Cakra' himself.

Therefore he indulged in deeper study and contemplations of scriptures in a cave nearby on Khaṇḍala hills. After completing his rainy season halt there, he continued his serious studies and contemplations for the next six months resulting in his acquiring unique scholarship in composing and discussing this text. Thereafter he composed the voluminous holy text masterpiece named 'Naya cakra'. His teacher Jinānaṃda Sūri greatly admired Malla's achievements and adorned him with the title of Sūri. He was henceforth called Malla Sūri. Endowed with such achievements, Monk Malla Sūri started his journey towards Bhṛgu Kaccha. On reaching there, based on his writings in Naya Cakra, he had serious scriptural debates for six months with Buddhānaṃada in the royal courts. In the end Bhikṣu Buddhāṃda was defeated by monk Malla Sūri. While declaring Monk Malla victorious, the King anointed him with the title vādī (debater or logician par excellence) and he became Mallavādī Sūri thereafter. In this way, he had Jain congregation regain its lost glory in Bhṛgu Kaccha. Jain congregation again became popular and its influence grew in Bhṛgu Kaccha again.

Immediately the Jain congregation of Bhṛgu Kaccha proceeded to Vallabhī. After reaching Vallabhī, they paid obeisance to Ācārya Jinānaṃda Sūri and requested him to return to Bhṛgu Kaccha to bless them with his holy presence. Based on such persistent requests, Ācārya Jinānaṃda Sūri Alongwith his congregation of śramaṇas and śramaṇīs proceeded to Bhṛgu Kaccha. The teacher and the disciple had their affectionate meeting in Bhṛgu Kaccha. After handing over the administration of his entire congregation to ācārya Mallavādī, Ācārya Jinānaṃda Sūri himself went into deep contemplation on his own self.

Ācārya Mallavādī Sūri composed two jewels like, voluminous holy texts, namely, 'Naya cakra', and 'Padma caritra' or Rāmāyaṇa. Along with these two, he also wrote commentaries on 'Sanmati Tarka' by Ācārya Siddha Sena. By teaching 'Naya Cakra' having twelve chapters like the twelve limbs of scriptures, to his intelligent disciples, he made them experts in Anekanta, epistemology, logic, grammar and literature etc. He did great service to Jainism by teaching his disciples and making them undefeatable.

Both brothers i.e. Ajīta Yaśa and Yaśa were also great scholars in their own might. Monk Ajīta Yaśacomposed 'Pramāṇa' text while monk Yaśa composed 'Aṣṭāṃga Nimitta Bodhinī Saṃhitā'.

Based on the writings of author of Prabandhkoṣa Ratnaśekhara Sūri had given different views on Ācārya Mallavādī than in 'Prabhāvaka caritra'. He says that Ācārya Mallavādī is the son of the sister of King Śīlāditya of Vallabhī. On gaining rule over Vallabhī, Śīlāditya got his sister married to the ruler of Bhṛgu Kaccha. Śīlāditya's sister in course of time gave birth to an illustrious son named Malla. In the beginning Śīlāditya was a follower of Jainism and had temples and idols of Jains restored and rebuilt. At that time Jain congregation of Vallabhī was a strong and influential congregation.

During his rule, a great Buddhist ācārya who was a logician and debater defeated Jain monks in scriptural debates in Śīlāditya's courts. According to prior agreed terms of debate, Śvetāmbara Jains and monks had to leave Vallabhī. Śīlāditya himself also became a Buddhist follower. All holy places of Jains in Vallabhī came under the control of Buddhists.  In this way influence of Buddhist grew in Vallabhī.

During this period, King of Bhṛgu Kaccha died. Therefore his widow and sister of Śīlāditya Alongwith her son Malla who was barely eight years old took initiation in Jain monkhood in a Jain congregation. After the victory of logicians of Buddhist ācārya, both Śīlāditya and Kauśala King converted to Buddhism. Jain congregation started becoming weaker and losing its influence. On learning of the defeat of Jain congregation at the hands of Buddhist logicians, child mall experienced deep pain and immediately resolved to uproot Buddhism completely.

With this resolve and the permission of his mother, went to a cave. There he observed severe austerities and performed contemplations on the self continuously. As a result he was blessed with the acquisition of unique insight and wisdom in him. Light of divine knowledge appeared in him and he was blessed with unconquerable wisdom. He composed jewel like text 'Naya Cakra'. To re-establish the supremacy of Jainism, he proceeded towards Vallabhī. There in the court of Śīlāditya, he engaged in scriptural debates with Buddhist logicians for six months. At the end, Malla was declared victorious. The Buddhistācāryas could not tolerate this defeat and left Vallabhī. King Śīlāditya appointed Malla as his royal religious teacher. As per the prior agreed terms of the debate, he ordered expulsion of Buddhist monks from Vallabhī. He also gave full freedom to Jain monks to wander freely anywhere in Valalbhi. He also asked his orderlies' to request Jain monks elsewhere to visit Vallabhī and practice Jainism.  He gave full control of Śatruṃjaya hill to Jain congregation.

In this way, during the period of epochal- ācārya Hārila (V.N. 10001055), the herculean efforts and unique scholarship of Ācārya Mallavādī in V.N. 11th century made him as a great influential Jainācārya.

Share this page on: