Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (4) ► Rancour – Writ Large in Gaccha

Posted: 23.08.2016

The herculean efforts of Jineśvara Sūri, Jinacandra Sūri, Abhayadeva Sūri and Jinadatta Sūri of Varddhamāna Sūri's tradition to rejuvenate the fundamental scriptures based spiritual path of purification (which was marred by the profligate methods of Temple dweller tradition) were really commendable and their names will continue to be written with reverence in golden letters in Jain history. The Jain Society is greatly indebted to VarddhamānaSūri and his traditions as it is the result of their untiring efforts that today Jain monks and female-monks are wandering together collectively in different states, cities and villages, preaching and propagating the original doctrine of Jainism strictly observing the pure code of conduct.

Despite these facts, a few scholar-ascetics of Middle Age carried away by the traditional hostility wanted to prove their gaccha as the true gaccha and other gacchas as fraudulent and the spiritual methods of other gacchas as degenerated. They even indulged in denunciatory remarks about one another.

Upādhyāya Dharmasāgara, disciple of Vijayadāna Sūri, the 57th Pontiff of Tapāgaccha criticised Dādā Śrī Jinadatta Sūri in an impertinent language in his text 'Pravacana Parīkṣā – Vol 1'. In his other text 'Kupakṣa Kauśika Sahasra Kiraṇa', he, in a very rude and reprehensible language criticised ten other sects and gacchas, namely, 1 Digambara, 2 Paurṇimīyaka, 3 Auṣtrika (Kharataragaccha), 4 Pāśacandragaccha, 5 Stanika(Aṃcalagaccha), 6 Sārddha Paurṇimīyaka, 7 Āgamika, 8 Kaṭuka, 9 Lūṃpākaa (lokāgaccha) and 10 Bījāmatī. In this text, apart from trying to prove their gaccha the best, he condemned that the above said sects and gacchas were going against the principle of scriptures and that they did not belong to Jain Congregation at all. This text sparked the fire of contempt in the entire Jain Congregation, in the second decade of Vikram 17th century. In order to pacify the situation billowing with detestation, Ācāryaśrī Vijayadāna Sūri, preceptor of Upādhyāya Dharma Sāgara immersed the book in the waters and Dharma Sāgara had to beg for forgiveness of the four-fold Congregation, for writing such a text. Seven years after the demise of Vijayadāna Sūri, his successor-Pontiff, the great influential Ācārya Vijaya Sūri, the spiritual preceptor of Akbar, once again brought the text into light renaming it as 'Pravacana Parīkṣā'.

In present times too, hundreds of beautiful gardens of Dādā, popularly known as 'Dādābāḍies' (mostly located in the vicinity of Jain shrines) with his footprints (caraṇas) are found at innumerable places (villages to metropolitan cities) even in the distant lands of India. This bears a testimony to the wide range of activities performed and services rendered during his tenure as ācārya by the most celebrated Jinadatta Sūri to Jina order,. The massive anti-propaganda campaign by the scholars of his opponent gacchas against him was a great fiasco; it could not diminish his popularity and universal acclamation.

 

(In Brief)

Father's Name

Vācchiga (Hummaḍa caste)

Mother's Name

Bāhaḍa Devī

Place of birth

Dhavalakapura (Dholakā)

Birth

Vikram 1132

Initiation in monkhood

Vikram 1141

Initiation name

Muni Somacandra

Attained Ācārya status

Vikram 1169, Vaiśākha Śuklā 1, Saturday

Initiation given by

Śrī Dharmadeva Upādhyāya

Guardian

Sarvadeva gaṇi

Educated by

Bhāvaḍācārya

Āgama teacher

Harisiṃhācārya

 

Śrī Vādideva Sūri

 

(Brief Introduction)

Name in usage

Pūrṇacandra

Father's Name

Nāga (Prāgvāṭa Vaṃśīya)

Mother's Name

Jina Devī

Place of birth

Maddāhata

Birth

Vikram 1143

Initiation in monkhood

Vikram 1152

Initiation name

Rāmacandra

Initiation given by

Ācārya Municandra Sūri

Attained Ācārya status

Vikram 1174

Name as Ācārya

Deva Sūri

Heavenly abode

Vikram Year 1226, Śrāvaṇa Kṛṣṇa 7, Thursday

Period of household life

9 years

Period of ordinary monk

22 years

Period of Ācārya status

52 years

Life span

83 years

 

Comparison with Hemacandrācārya, the Omniscient in Kaliyuga
(Era or machines)

Vikram 12th to 13th century found two great authors, erudite scholars and influential ācāryas of Jina order in Jain history, namely Śrī Vādideva Sūri and Śrī Hemacandrācārya, (who was adorned with the title 'omniscient of Kaliyuga'). Vādideva Sūri was born 2 years before Śrī Hemacandra Sūri, initiation – 2 years after, holding the ācārya post – after 8 years and finally ascending to heaven 3 years before. Thus these two Ācāryas were not only contemporaries of their time, and aware of each other totally, but also had good rapport between them. Vādideva Sūri defeated the proficient debater of his times Ācārya Kumudacandra of Digambara tradition, in a spiritual discourse in the royal court of the gallant King, Siddharāja Jayasiṃha, in Aṇahillapura Paṭṭaṇa. With this jubilant victory besides enriching the Śvetāmbara sect, he also enthroned on the highest elevated throne.

On the other hand, Ācārya Hemacandra left a profound influence in the heart' of Siddharāja Jayasiṃha with his sacrifice, detachment and erudition. He imparted spiritual knowledge about the Jina order through his sermon to Kumārapāla the heir-apparent of Cālukya dynasty and made him a committed worshipper of Jainism. He also authored several holy texts of high calibre and thus enhanced the glory of Jina order.

During that period, a merchant called Nāga of Prāgvāṭa lineage lived in a city called Maḍḍrāhṛta (Maddāhata) situated in a Maṇḍala which was widely known as 'eighteen hundred (1800)' in Gujarat in those days. His wife's name was Jinadevī. On a certain day, chaste Jinadevī dreamt that the full moon was entering into her mouth. When asked about the implication of the dream, Municandra Sūri said, "You will give birth to a virtuous gem-like son who will bring bliss to the hearts of everyone."

After the pregnancy period, Jinadevī gave birth to a son in Vikram 1143. Keeping her dream in mind, the child was named Pūrṇacandra. When Pūrṇacandra was still a child, Maddāhata Nagara was in the grip of an epidemic. So Vīra Nāga and Jinadevī migrated and settled in Bhṛgukacchapura (Bharuca) in Lāṭā region.

Seeing the challenging circumstances, the boy Pūrṇacandra decided to help his father in earning the livelihood. Putting his thought into action he used to prepare appetising delicacies at home and sell them to the rich people. The meritorious boy used to earn a reasonable income with this small errand.

Municandra Sūri contemplated, "This boy will blossom into a legendary personality". After contemplating on this, he asked Vīra Nāga to give the boy to him in alms. Vīra Nāga poured out his heart to the guru with humility, "O Lord! Our lineage has been involved in serving your noble feet. But he is our only son. He is the only support and hope of our lives. In spite of this, if you still want to take him, I will obey your orders happily. You can take him."

Moved by the unparalleled magnanimity and detachment Municandra Sūrisaid, "O Best of votaries! From today onwards, my 500 disciples are your sons. Besides, all the devotee brothers will serve you in all sincerity till the end of your life. Discard all the worries and prepare yourself for the next world by following the true path."

Municandra similarly convinced Jinadevī, the mother of Pūrṇacandra and initiating him into monkhood in Vikram 1152, he made Pūrṇacandra his disciple. He was given the ascetic name Rāmacandra at his initiation.

After initiation monk Rāmacandra studied logic, grammar, literature, law, philosophy, scriptures and attained prodigious scholarship in them.

Apart from Jain philosophy, he extensively studied Buddhist philosophy, Vaiśeṣika, Sāṃkhya etc. and earned fame as an eloquent and eminent debater of his times. The great debater Rāmacandra defeated Dhandha - a Śivādvaita debater in Dholakā Nagara, Sāgara - the great debater of Kaśmīrī in Satyapura, Guṇacandra of the Digambara tradition in Nagpur, Śivabhūti - the follower of Bhāgavata sect in Citrakūṭa, Gaṃgādhara in Gopagiri, Dharaṇīdhara in Dhārā Nagara, Padmākara - a Brahmin scholar in Puṣkariṇī and Kṛṣṇa - a great Brahmin debater in Bhṛgukaccha in spiritual discourses and became renowned as 'champion of discourses.' Erudite scholars like Vimalacandra, Haricandra, Somacandra, Pārśvacandra, Prajṅādhanī Śānti and Aśokacandra became his close friends. Thus the banner of his fame undulated everywhere.

Ācārya Municandra Sūri, perceiving the famous scholar monk Rāmacandra as worthy of the post, ordained him as ācārya in Vikram 1174 and changed his name from Pūrṇacandra to Deva Sūri. On this occasion, Śrī Municandra Sūri gave five-vow initiation in monkhood to Vīra Nāga, father of Pūrṇacandra and designated Pūrṇacandra's mother Jinadevī who had already been initiated into asceticism, as the chief of female-monks and christened her as Candana Bālā.

Śrī Deva Sūri, after being ordained to the rank of ācārya, took the permission of his devout Guru and wandered many regions such as Dholakā etc, installed many Jina idols at various places and sanctified many virtuous people with his preaching, thus glorifying Jainism. As he ceaselessly engaged himself in meditation, austerities and contemplation on self-introspection, Śrī Deva Sūri unquestionably attained many supernatural powers without even endeavouring for their accomplishment.

He stayed on Mount Abu for some time and from there he decided to set out for 'Sapādalakṣa' (Sāmbhara). But he was prompted by some invisible force to postpone the journey to Sāmbhara and to go urgently to Aṇahillapura Paṭṭaṇa, as his preceptor Municandra Sūri was left with only six months' life. No sooner did Śrī Deva Sūri become aware of the future that he promptly started for Aṇahillapura Paṭṭaṇa from Abu. Travelling continuously he reached Paṭṭaṇa and engrossed himself in the service of his Guru.

For nearly five months Deva Sūri served his preceptor loyally with dedication. Śrī Municandra Sūri, knowing that his death was close at hand, observed the vow of saṃlekhanā-saṃthārā and obtained holy death in Samādhi in Vikram 1178.

Encouraged by Deva Sūri, a pious and wealthy merchant called 'Thāhaḍa' started constructing a Jina temple. As it was still under construction, Deva Sūri had to stay back for six months in Aṇahillapura Paṭṭaṇa, even after the Samādhi of his preceptor. After completion, and upon the request of Thāhaḍa, Deva Sūri performed the consecration ceremony of the idol and temple. Thus on the whole, after staying for one year in Paṭṭaṇa, Deva Sūri started for Nagpur.

After reaching Nagpur, King Āhlādana presented himself in the service of Deva Sūri, and welcomed him warmly. He offered obeisance and took him into the city with great pomp and gaiety. The expert of reality, Ācārya Deva Sūri enunciated the sermons and preaching that would uplift not only his own self but that of others as well and guided them in their progress on pure spiritual path.

When Deva Sūri was present in Nagpur, the King of Paṭṭaṇa, Siddharāja Jayasiṃha attacked Nagpur with his huge quadripartite army and besieged it. However, when he came to know that Ācārya Deva Sūri sojourned in Nagpur, he immediately ceased his attack and returned towards Paṭṭaṇa with his army. The King sent his loyal citizens to Deva Sūri and reiterating humble requests summoned him back to Paṭṭaṇa and made him stay there for monsoon. During Deva Sūri's monsoon sojourn in Paṭṭaṇa, Siddharāja Jayasiṃha, with his army attacked Nagpur and within a short time overpowered them and established his supremacy over it.

This incident reveals the unflinching devotion of Siddharāja Jayasiṃha towards Jainācārya Deva Sūri. Despite besieging the fort with his huge army, he ceased his military campaign and went back the moment he came to know about the presence of Śrī Deva Sūri there, without even considering the huge amounts of time and money he had already incurred. He did not invade Nagpur as long as Deva Sūri remained there. Ultimately after making the preceptor stopover in Paṭṭaṇa for the monsoon, he attacked and captured Nagpur.

Yielding to the request of the congregation in Karṇāvatī subsequent to the completion of his monsoon stay, he started from Paṭṭaṇa, and passing through many places preaching and propagating the doctrine and tenets promulgated by omniscient Jina, he arrived at Karṇāvatī. There he stayed in monastery for four months of monsoon.

During the same time Digambara Ācāryaśrī Kumudacandra also stayed at Karṇāvatī Nagara in Vāsupūjya temple (12th Tīrthaṃkara) for his monsoon halt. He was the spiritual preceptor of the King of Karnataka Jayakeśī Deva, the maternal grandfather of Siddharāja Jayasiṃha, the King of Paṭṭaṇa. People flocked even from remote places to behold the Darśana of Deva Sūri and to listen to his preaching. They paid tributes in his glory and were relatively indifferent towards Śrī Kumudacandra. Observing the increasing fame of his opponent, the great debater Śrī Kumudacandra was irate and envious. According to Prabhāvaka Caritra, with the help of his devotees, Kumudacandra won the Vandī clan (a sub caste professionally engaged in the olden times for singing the eulogies of royal patrons) onto his side by luring them with huge amounts of money and with a bait of honour. He wanted to provoke Deva Sūri capitalising them. The people from the Vandī clan would go to the locale where Deva Sūri was preaching and recite a number of prosaic songs with an intent to ridicule and disgrace the Śvetāmbara sect in general, and Deva Sūri in particular in the eyes of the people.

One day Kumudacandra saw an old lady of Deva Sūri's ascetic congregation passing by their temple on her way to seek alms. His devotees started harassing her in many ways. Taking a cue from Kumudacandra, they threw her into a water tank (kuṇḍa). They also forced her to dance. By dint of a proper stratagem, Ācārya Deva Sūri decided to humble the pride of Kumudacandra with the same finesse as the holes are drilled in pearls. So he arranged for a spiritual discourse in the court of Siddharāja Jayasiṃha of Aṇahillapura Paṭṭaṇa.

After making congruous arrangements in the royal court, the King summoned both the parties for the spiritual disputation. The two – the plaintiff and the defendant arrived at the court, where the king proclaimed that whoever is defeated in the debate should leave the great expanse of Gurjara territories of Aṇahillapura Paṭṭaṇa once and for all. The winner may stay within the domain of Gurjara kingdom. With this agreement the spiritual discourse started between the two parties on Vaiśākha Śuklā Pūrṇimā in 1181 in Paṭṭaṇa. Heated contention persisted between the two logicians regarding the liberation of women. Śrī Kumudacandra presenting his argumentation said, "No being born as a woman can attain liberation. Categorically, a woman possesses less stamina, and hence can be considered as a feeble being. All those beings in this world that have less strength and vitality, for example, boys, frail youth and enervated woman, no matter how many they are, cannot attain salvation. Citing these facts, I present my defence that a woman being languid and a weakling cannot attain salvation in the same birth."

When Digambarācārya Kumudacandra presented his line of reasoning, Śvetāmbarācārya Deva Sūri dissenting his opponent's theory put forward his remonstration, "Women are also equipotent with the virile men and have great strength. Hence women also can attain liberation in the same birth itself. Scriptures provide enough evidences to prove this fact. Marudevī, mother of Vṛṣabha Deva attained liberation in the same birth itself. In this Avasarpiṇī age, the first person who got liberation was the mother Marudevī. This is clearly mentioned in the scriptures written by omniscient sages. So the logic presented by Digambarācārya is gratuitous and speculative as they were unsupported by any proven facts. Even today we see that women have great fortitude. The living example is Mahādevī Mayaṇallamā, the mother of the king of vast Gurjara kingdom. Women of great moral sinew like the chaste Sītā, Mother Kuntī, Subhadrā et al, existed in ancient times. Their bravery and courage was eulogised not only in our epics, but also written in scriptures of other religious books written by ancient sages. Is there anyone in this just and equitable court who stands in defiance that the great personalities like Sītā, Kuntī and our own Queen Mother Mayaṇallamā are weaklings? I am sure that even my revered friend Śrī Kumudacandra cannot act impudently. As far as salvation of women is concerned, the instance of mother Marudevī's salvation in the same birth, elucidated in the scriptures is as clear as one's own reflection in a mirror. Apart from this, some women are more capable and stalwart than men. Hence many a great number of women obtained salvation in the past.

In the present times also in five great Videha regions women are en route to deliverance and moreover in the future zillions of women will attain liberation in the same birth itself. I would conclude that my expostulation is not only logical but also substantiated by quoting relevant examples from scriptures."

As he was completely disarmed and could not find any appropriate logical argument or scriptural proof to contradict Deva Sūri, Kumudacandra in order to buy time, mumbled a question, "Yes, what is it that you said, what did you say please?" The perspicuous debater Deva Sūri once again repeated his argument in the same style. Yet again, Kumudacandra repeated the same question, "What is it that you said, what did you say please?" So this time Deva Sūri presented his version in a tone as thunderous as that of a lion's roar.

Even after that as no bee struck his brains and not knowing what to say or what not to say he garbled, "Let the analysis of my defendant be written on a copper plate".

The judge first bowed to the king, and then addressing the audience gave his verdict in a decisive tone, "It appears that Digambara Ācāryaśrī Kumudacandra has been rendered speechless. Śvetāmbarācārya Deva Sūri triumphed over Śrī Kumudacandra in the spiritual disputation."

King Siddharāja Jayasiṃha gave his consent to the verdict of the arbitrator and declared Deva Sūri as the winner. He then ordered his men to write an "epistle of victory."

His order was at once obeyed and King Siddharāja himself presented the 'epistle of victory' to Devaśrī.

Śrī Hemacandrācārya, who was also present in the court, witnessed the entire discourse conducted between the two great ācāryas, its progress and the final outcome. Expressing his appreciation and delight at the amazing debate, logical skill and profound scholarship, King Siddharāja Jayasiṃha wanted to offer 1 lakh gold coins to Śrī Deva Sūri. However, declining the offer Deva Sūri said, "O King! We are passionless and desire less ascetics and should not even touch money as it is a sin for us."

As Deva Sūri refused the money, the King consulted his ministers and got a huge temple of Vṛṣabha Deva constructed with that money. In Vikram 1183, Deva Sūri along with other three ācāryas, installed the idol of Lord Ādinātha in that temple.

Kumudacandra depressed by his crushing defeat disappeared from Paṭṭaṇa like the moon on a new moon day.

Ācāryaśrī Deva Sūri authored a text 'Ratnākarāvatārikā' of Pramāṇa Naya Tatvāloka", which is a commentary on Pramāṇa Naya Tatvāloka. Authoring this he added one more precious gem to the repository of law of Jain order.

Thus with his unparalleled scholarship, logical proficiency and self-confidence Ācārya Deva Sūri extended a great service to and glorified the Jain order. On Thursday, the seventh day in the waning phase of Śrāvaṇa month, in Vikram 1226, in the mid-day, after ordaining Bhadreśvara Sūri as Successor-ācārya, Ācārya Deva Sūri observing Saṃthārā departed for heaven in Samādhi. In the 83 years of his life he spent 9 years as a house holder, 22 years as an ordinary monk and 52 years as ācārya.

He was given the title 'Vādī' (debater) by the litterateurs of Jaina literature. From two verses of Prabhāvaka Caritra it is apparent that after conceding his defeat to Deva Sūri in the court of King Siddharāja, Śrī Kumudacandra himself felicitated him with the title 'great debater'.

Śrī Vādideva Sūri was a very influential ascetic and a great propagator of Jainism in Baḍa (Vṛhad) gaccha. His guru Municandra Sūri was a great sage. According to Tapā gaccha Paṭṭāvalī, he was mentioned as the 40th Pontiff of Lord Mahāvīra and his fellow disciple Ajita Deva Sūri as the 41st; whereas according to Vṛhad gaccha Gurvāvalī, Vādi Deva Sūri was the 41st Pontiff of Mahāvīra. A fellow disciple of Municandra Sūri, Candraprabha Sūri reformed the Kriyās (rituals and austerities) in Vikram 1149 and after 10 years established Paurṇamīyaka gaccha in Vikram 1159.

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