Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (3) ► A Great Writer Of Religious Texts And Influential Ācārya Hari Bhadra Of V.N. 13th Century

Posted: 10.07.2016

(V.N. 1227-1298 or Vikram 757-827)

Śrī Hari Bhadra, the royal adviser of the King Jitāri of Citrakūṭa, was a great scholar of very high calibre. He was an indisputable scholar of Vedas and Vedāṃga and other skills. He was very proud of his knowledge and skills.

While going on a road one day, he saw a Jain temple and idol therein. On seeing the Jina idol, he expressed his feelings in a sarcastic manner as follows:

Vapureva tavācaṣṭe spaṣṭa bhiṣṭānna bhojanam
Na hi koṭara saṃstheḍagnau tarūrbhavati śādvalaḥ

One day due to excessive official work, he had to overstay in the royal palace. While returning home at night, he heard the following sweet verse being recited by an old lady.

Cakkiduggaṃ haripaṇagaṃ paṇagaṃ cakkīṇa kesavo cakkī
Kesavo cakkī kesava ducakkī kesī ya cakkī ya!

This verse really attracted Hari Bhadra's mind and attention. But he could not understand its meaning in spite of his repeated efforts to do so.

In the morning, he straight away went to the cottage of the old lady who was reciting this verse he heard at night. As he entered he saw an old female monk with deep meditation emanating from her face. Paying her respects to the female monk, Hari Bhadra asked the old female monk, 'Mother! Were you cāk cakya reciting that verse at night?'

The experienced eyes of the old female monk could not ignore her deep insight suggesting that this youth later on will perform great service of Jainism.

Hari Bhadra requested the female monk to explain the meaning of that verse to him as his heart is filled with the desire to know the same.

The old Sādhvī replied, 'O son! If you are filled with the desire to know the deep knowledge of Jainism, then you must go to our teacher?'

After enquiring the name and address of her guru, Hari Bhadra went to Ācārya Jinabhaṭṭa. On seeing Jinabhaṭṭa, Hari Bhadra's heart was immediately filled with lot of respect for the Ācārya.

On seeing Hari Bhadra, Jinabhaṭṭa's mind was filled with inquisitiveness as to the whereabouts of Hari Bhadra and whether he is not the same royal adviser who is very proud of his knowledge and revered by the King. He wondered about the reason for Hari Bhadra's arrival there?

He formally asked Hari Bhadra, 'Bhadra, May you be blessed. Please tell what brings you here?'

Purohita Hari Bhadra in a very soft and humble voice said, 'O venerable! I heard a verse in Prākṛata in the voice of an old Sādhvī. In spite of my repeated efforts, I could not understand its meaning. I requested her to explain the meaning of this verse. She asked me to meet you to quench my thirst for knowledge. Therefore I am here in front of you.'

The guru said, 'The knowledge of Jain doctrine is extremely deep and complex. Please be my disciple first if you have the sincere desire to know the same.'

Hari Bhadra accepted initiation into Jain monkhood by ācārya Jinabhaṭṭa and became his disciple.

While introducing the old Sādhvī to Hari Bhadra, Jinabhaṭṭa said, 'O son! She is my guru sister Mahattarā Yākinī. She is an expert in all scriptures and is crown jewel of all female monks.'

Monk Hari Bhadra in a very humble and respectful tone said, 'O venerable! Even after being an expert scholar of scriptures causing the birth in many lives, I am feeling that I continue to be a fool. It is the result of meritorious deeds in my previous life that my Holy religious mother Yākinī Mahattarā, like the goddess of my clan, gave me the right direction'.

Since that day, monk Hari Bhadra started calling himself as Yākinī Mahattarā Sūnu. Serving the venerable teacher, monk Hari Bhadra with deep faith and devotion and diligently started deep study of all Jain scriptures.

Ācārya Jinabhaṭṭa after careful analysis of his disciple from all angles and finding an auspicious time anointed Hari Bhadra as a ācārya. After being anointed as Ācārya, Hari Bhadra undertook long and painful wandering of different parts of the country for preaching Jainism and imparting deep knowledge of Jain doctrine to worthy followers and scholars.

Two sons of his sister Haṃsa and Paramahaṃsa, with supreme beneficial wishes, took initiation into Jain monkhood from Ācārya Hari Bhadra. They both started studying with Hari Bhadra. In a short time, Ācārya Hari Bhadra made both monks Haṃsa and Paramahaṃsa expert scholars in scriptures and logic studies. In the heart of both these monks, a strong desire arose to learn Buddhist literature. They both expressed desire to Ācārya Hari Bhadra. Based on his knowledge of astrology and causation and seeing the ill effects of their desire later, Ācārya Hari Bhadra advised them strongly to stay there and acquire higher knowledge there itself as many scholars of high calibre are available there itself. But on persistence and non-stoppable persuasion of both disciples, Ācārya Hari Bhadra very unwillingly gave permission to them to study Buddhism at a far off place. After paying respects to their teacher, they both proceeded to learn Buddhism. They both disguised themselves, after removing all signs of a Jain monk so that they cannot be identified so, reached the kingdom of a Buddhist king. There, to quench their thirst for knowledge, reached the famous Buddhist school and got admission for study there. With the best facilities available for boarding and lodging and with abundantly intelligent and potentially bright scholars, started learning the difficult Buddhist logic literature very easily. To refute all non-refutable explanations given by Buddhist ācāryas for Jain logic, they with their prior knowledge of Jain scriptures and logic started writing them and their refutations based on eternal truth of Jain doctrine and similar non refutable Jain responses with proof and references separately. Unfortunately due to some preordained reasons, these papers written by them flew away from their hands in air and landed with Buddhist students. After reading them, these Buddhist students presented them to their teacher. When the Buddhist ācārya, conversant with the subject read those papers and powerful refutations of their doctrine and logic by Jain logic, he started trembling.

Startled by these, the Buddhist ācārya said, 'Some intelligent and bright Jain scholar exists as our student definitely. Else refutation of Jain logic by me cannot be negated by anyone else'.

So the ācārya went into deep consultation and analysis to locate that Jain scholar in his institute. Over period of time, the deceit and disguise of both Haṃsa and Paramahaṃsa was established.

Seeing their end to their life in sight soon, they immediately tied themselves under an umbrella and jumped, like a soldier with parachute, from the roof of the monastery where they lived and safely landed on earth unhurt. On landing they started running for their life immediately.

A large number of Buddhist soldiers and watchmen posted there saw them and started chasing them. Seeing the soldiers approaching them the elder brother Haṃsa said to Paramahaṃsa, 'O brother please run very fast and pay my regards to our teacher and seek forgiveness for my no humble misdeed. Right now you run to a Pratipāla king Sūrapāla lives in this city visible now and seek asylum in his kingdom. He will arrange for your safe arrival at the teacher's home'.

Haṃsa bravely faced and countered the large army of Buddhist soldiers near him. However, in the end he fell on the ground after getting hurt all over his body by their arrows. As per the orders of his elder brother, Paramahaṃsa arrived safely at King Sūrapāla's palace and with his help succeeded in reaching Citrakūṭa town.

Immediately on seeing his teacher, he fell on his feet in obeisance. Seeking forgiveness for the shameful act of his brother and his own he murmured 'tame mithyā bhavatu duṣkṛdtam' and narrated the entire episode from beginning to end to his teacher. While he was narrating the episode, he suffered a heart attack and he fell on the feet of his teacher.

Ācārya Hari Bhadra was deeply pained at the sudden demise of his influential and intelligent disciples. While in pain of the death of his able disciples, suddenly his heart was filled with anger against Buddhist ācāryas. In his heart he thought that until he takes revenge against the Buddhist ācāryas for this episode, his heart will always be pained by this thorn.

With the deep resolve to take revenge for this episode, he left his monastery without even seeking the permission from his teacher. He went straight to King Sūrapāla. He paid respectful thanks to King Sūrapāla for giving shelter to Paramahaṃsa against the might of Buddhist soldiers. Afterwards they both planned a plot to defeat the Buddhist scholars. Accordingly King Sūrapāla sent an expert in diplomacy and intelligent adviser to the Kingdom of Buddhist rulers and invited the Buddhist ācāryas to his court for scriptural discourse. He prepared the Buddhist ācāryas for the scriptural discourse and got an undertaking signed that whosoever is defeated in the scriptural debates shall jump in the pan of boiling oil and ends his life.

After three four days, the Buddhist ācārya accompanied with his disciples and by a large contingent of army arrived in the court of King Sūrapāla and started the scriptural debate with Ācārya Hari Bhadra. While starting the debate with Hari Bhadra, the Buddhist ācārya started with explanation of Buddhist doctrine of momentary nature of reality. Ācārya Hari Bhadra in a short time with his refutations of their discourse made them speechless and defeated the Buddhist ācārya.

The Buddhist ācārya was thus declared defeated by the elders. As per the agreed terms of the debate, the Buddhist ācārya had to jump in the pan with boiling oil. He died. After this other Buddhist scholars, one after the other lost in debates with Hari Bhadra and had to jump in the pan with boiling oil and die.

Afterwards a wave of hopelessness prevailed amongst the remaining Buddhist scholars. They started rebuking their ruling deity. The deity appeared and said, 'Forget the pain and go back (retreat) to your respective places. Do not get involved in debate with this Jainācārya.' After saying this, that deity disappeared. The remaining Buddhist scholars went back to their places.

When Jinabhaṭṭa heard of this miraculous act of his disciple Hari Bhadra from his other disciples, he immediately left to meet King Sūrapāla. He pacified Hari Bhadra out of his deep anguish with his serious and sweet persuasion. Hari Bhadra thought, 'I had performed this heinous act due to my deep love for my disciples.' Thinking so, the supreme devotee of his guru, Hari Bhadra as per the directions of his guru, started to undertake severe austerities to rectify the sins committed. He performed severe penance and made his body very fragile. But the pain of his disciples kept on lingering in his mind. Worried by Hari Bhadra's condition, the ruling deity appeared, consoled Hari Bhadra and asked him to observe pure penance to make his life successful.

Hari Bhadra requested the ruling deity, 'O mother! I am not pained by the fact that two of my disciples died. But I am worried that my guru Kula will die after my death.' Hearing the ruling deity said, 'Son! You have not earned the merit of progression of your clan. O great monk, you have just earned the merit to enhance the generation of scriptures by composing great religious texts.'

On hearing this, Hari Bhadra lost all pain and grief bothering him. He first composed 'Samarārka caritra' (samarāicca kahā) considered as one of the greatest popular religious Jain text in the twelve centuries of history of Jain literature.

After composing 'Samarārka caritra' (samarāicca kahā), he composed approximately 1500 appendices (prakaraṇa) and he considered these jewel like texts as his offspring. Always remembering his affectionate disciples, he always ended his compositions with the remark 'bhava Varāha'.

Hari Bhadra was also a grateful person. The old Sādhvī, who through her verse 'cakkiduggaṃ haripaṇagaṃ' not only led him in search of true knowledge but to ramaṇa monkhood as well, was always referred by him as religion-mother. To express his profound reverence to her, Hari Bhadra always ended his every composition with 'bhava Varāha' before his name followed by 'Yākinīmahattrā Sūnu' after his name.

More than 1500 compositions by Hari Bhadra himself were publicised all over the country by a trader named Kārapāsika.  Elder Kārapāsika by observing verbatim the sayings of Ācārya Hari Bhadra acquired massive wealth as well. Like Kārapāsika, Ācārya Hari Bhadra did great service to Jainism through other inquisitive and influential disciples /followers.

An old, worn out and infested with termite copy of Mahā Niśītha was also available to him. No other copy of Mahā Niśītha was available during his time. With his vast knowledge and diligent effort, Hari Bhadra recompiled, and completed that great MahāNiśītha text. He rewrote parts of this text to fill the missing links, pages, words and blanks in between.

After great research by eminent scholars of the country, they have given Vikram 757-827 as the time of Hari Bhadra.

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