Bhaktambar Stotra: 20 ►ARMOR OF PROTECTION

Published: 09.12.2019

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Kumtaa-gra-bllinna-gaja-shonim-vaari-vaaha, Vegaa-vataara-tamnan-tura-yodha-bheeme |
Yuddhejayamvijita-durjaya-jeya-pakshaas, Tvat-panda—pankaja-vanaa-shrayinolabhante ||

In the fierce battle, where brave warriors are eager to plod over the streams of blood out of the bodies of elephants pierced by sharp spears, the devotee having sought protection in the forest of your lotus-like feet ultimately embraces victory against the enemy.

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Ambho-nidhaukshubhita-bheeshana-nakra-chakra, Paatheena-peethwbhaya-dolvana-vaadwvaagnau |
Rangat-tarangwshikhara-sthita-yaana-paatms, Traasamvihaayabhavatahsmara-naadvrajanti ||

Aboard a ship caught at the crest of giant waves and infested by dangerous alligators, fear inducing oceanic creatures — patheen and peeth, and marine fire, the people can overcome the sudden fear reach the shore by merely remembering you.

Two of the most important elements of protection are – Strength and Devotion. Some people are strong enough to protect themselves, while those who are not as formidable take refuge in devotion. Devotion is the complementary element for power. Devotion increases strength, averts obstructions and induces safety. Where there are two living beings, struggle is inevitable. Conversations also occur when there are two or more people. There are countless dualities in this world and where there is duality; there is struggle, obstructions and obstacles. Not everyone has the determination to face these problems. Devotion, amongst other things, is an important element to develop strength.

Today war has become endemic. There is no era where wars were not fought. Even during prehistoric ages, Bharat and Bahubali, sons of Rishabh, were at war with each other. War leads to destruction of life, society, community and mankind. It is a social curse that we all have to bear. Everyone faces difficulties duringwar, yet wars continue. The main outcome of war is that one of the side is defeated and other side gains victory. The powerful side wins. The weaker side is enslaved and subjected to pain andsuffering.

Devotion increases strength, averts obstructions and induces safety.

Every king aspires to win. Strategically various methods are devised to subjugate the enemy and be victorious. Every king tries to acquire powerful weapons, valiant soldiers and a strong army with abundance of resources. Moreover, some rites and rituals are also followed. While some worship their gods before going to war, others worship their weapons. When Chakravarti Bharat started off to war, he worshipped Chakraratna (one of the fourteen gems of Chakravati; the most powerful among all armaments which can win an invincible enemy). Weapons and warriors are worshipped and given due respect as they lead to victory.

Understanding Worship

Acharya Maantung is suggesting a way to be victorious in War - ‘When you go for battle, you prepare for everything, but don't forget Lord Rishabh at that time. Remember him and pray to him.’ It may seem strange that when someone is off to war and ready to kill the enemy, Acharya is asking them to pray to a Veetarag! It seems appropriate to pray to a Veetarag when someone is on the path to attaining veetaragata. However, even an ordinary person worships a Veetarag when in trouble.

In the present shlok Acharya Maantung describes the scenario of war in his era as –

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Kumtaa-gra-bllinna-gaja-shonim-vaari-vaaha, Vegaa-vataara-tamnan-tura-yodha-bheeme |
Yuddhejayamvijita-durjaya-jeya-pakshaas, Tvat-panda—pankaja-vanaa-shrayinolabhante ||

The head of a spear is very sharp and pointed. Elephants are attacked with these pointed spears. It is difficult to over-power elephants. In war, the dominating elephants were attacked with such pointed spears and blood streams flowed out of then wounds. The brutal warriors were desperate to be part of this bloody affair. There were bloody streams on one side and sharp weapons on the other: In such a fierce war, it is difficult for a weak army to win. But, one who takes refuge at the Lord's Lotus—feet can triumph against even an undefeatable army.’

Lord! Protect Us

It's a strange dilemma. There is worship and victory but there is killing too. Spears and destructive weapons are in everyone’s hands. One may wonder how to consider worshipping under such situations? It is easier to relate to your prayer in avoiding or pacifying war and murder. But this result of worship poses a question. How can a prayer that leads to victory by taking lives of others be considered a prayer? How meaningful can such a prayer be? Should this be the efficacy of prayer? This surely does not seem logical. It could be explained if there is an attacker on one hand and a protector on the other hand. Then praying to the Lord seems obvious. However, it would be preposterous for a warrior to believe that - "I have an infallible weapon, I will pray to Rishabh, I will kill everyone and be victorious.”

In the context of this shlok, the devotee is considered as a defender and not an attacker. The devotee is in a dangerous situation and wishes to worship the Lord to protect him. The devotee prays to the Lord to defend himself and in such a situation the meaning of stuti is pertinent. The core of the shlok is — "Lord! Help me protect myself, remove this obstacle and end this War.”

Clearly it demonstrates the purpose of ending conflicts and ceasing wars. In times of trouble, a person establishes Lord Rishabh in their heart and prays to him. This is natural and such a prayer is irreproachable. The shlok presented by Acharya Maantung leads to an obvious question - Unlike deities, Jain teerthankars have always been without weapons. They are the symbol of nonviolence. Considering that teerthankars admonished weapons how is it that these epitomes of nonviolence are worshipped when people are being attacked?

One, who believes in non-violence, understands the context to comprehend its meaning. When a person faces a situation where he needs to protect himself, he takes refuge in Veetarag, the infinite power. This is what Acharya Maantung has explained in this shlok. By praying to Lord Rishabh, a warrior protects himself from another warrior and gains victory in the war which was otherwise difficult to win. It is always the powerful who attacks the weak. In such a situation the weak can pray to the Lord and win against the powerful. However, one who contemplates of misusing the power of mantra with the view of harming others, in reality, will only harm themselves. Harming others or becoming aggressive and aspiring to be victorious is against the tenet and conduct of nonviolence. What is acceptable is to protect oneself when attacked. One must defend oneself against the on slaught of attack.

Sacrifices Made to Save Others

In the ancient era travel was a challenge. The most common mode of travelling large distances was by sea. Storms and whirl winds claimed many lives on sea. Nonetheless, even two thousand five hundred years ago people travelled for trade all the way to Sri Lanka, Java, Sumatra, North and South Korea, Indonesia and other islands by sea. Jain shravaks used to travel extensively. Motichand Shah has written a beautiful book on this topic ’Saarthvah’. It describes in detail Jain shravak's ventures and adventures by sea for trade and their stay in foreign land. They also made settlements overseas. For example, in Vietnam there is a town named Champa, similar to a city in India. It was formed by an Indian living in Vietnam. Archaeological findings illustrate the connection between India and these islands. Ramayana is extremely popular in Indonesia. Most Indonesians have converted to Islam, yet Ramayana is prevalent there. A number of symbols have been found which attest to the fact that these islands have had contact with Indian culture.

Today, sea-voyage is not as frightful as it used to be. Huge ships did not exist then. Those who travel by sea know the dangers of storms and whirlwinds. Acharya Maantung describes the fierceness of the troubles and suggests a way to get rid of them by the following shlok


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Ambho-nidhaukshubhita-bheeshana-nakra-chakra, Paatheena-peethwbhaya-dolvana-vaadwvaagnau |
Rangat-tarangwshikhara-sthita-yaana-paatms, Traasamvihaayabhavatahsmara-naadvrajanti ||

’The sea is full of fierce crocodiles, huge sharks and fish which can engulf an entire ship. Sea creatures are ferocious. Moreover, the ship is on fire. It is jostling on the zenith of the waves. At first the ship was sailing on the surface of the water, but later due to a whirlwind, the ship was riding on turbulent waves. Tidal waves lunge the ship high in air. High tides and storms sink the ship. Only those who can swim can save themselves.’

Here, Acharya Maantung describes how seas and oceans are full of dangerous sea creatures. Also, unpredictable tidal waves can topple even the largest of ships. Acharya asserts that in such situations, when a person is swinging between life and death, praying to the Lord lead to safety. In times of trouble, prayer helps to redeem oneself. The shlok affirmed the illustration of war and voyage - The one, who prayed to you, overcame the danger posed by both. Prayer aids protection and becomes the means to solve problems!

Faith in Nonviolence

Once a Jain sliravak from Tamralipti (ancient name of Kolkata) decided to go to Sri Lanka for business. In those times many people achieved prosperity by trading items from Sri Lanka. Jain shravaks decided to travel by sea. Goods were loaded onto the ship; they worshipped the sea and set to sail. After the ship reached the Indian Ocean, the sailors said

— ’We will have to offer a sacrifice here.’

The shravak said — ’Why should we offer sacrifice?’

’Sir, the deity governing this ocean harms those who do not offer sacrifice.’

’I am a Jain shravak. I believe in nonviolence. I cannot offer sacrifice.’

’Sir, if you do not offer sacrifice, the ship will be destroyed, and all our lives will be in danger.’

’Whatever happens, I shall not offer sacrifice,’ the shravak repeated.

’Sir, to protect many, sometimes it is imperative to sacrifice one life. There are multiple incidents where sacrifices have been offered to save a clan. It is also true that for a village’s safety, one family can be sacrificed, and to save a district, a village can be sacrificed.’

Shravak - But, where there is question of protecting the soul, everything can be renounced.

Tyajedekamkulasyaarthe, graamasyaarthekulamtyajet |
Graamamjana-padasyaarthe, aatmaarthesakalmtyajet ||

The shravak continued— This is not a question of protecting a family, village or district. It is a question of saving my soul. I shall not betray my self-righteousness; I shall not leave the path of nonviolence even at the cost of losing everything else. My basic concern is to uphold my faith in nonviolence.

The shravak then sat in meditation and immersed himself in prayer. It is said that the deity appeared and said - ’Offer a sacrifice or I shall destroy the ship.’ The shravak stayed motionless and immersed himself in the chanting of the above shlok.

Watching the tenacious faith of the shravak, even the deity faltered and thought –What happened? Why is he so calm? Why am I afraid?The deity used her power but could not harm him. Disappointed, she said — ’I have recognized your power. I cannot defeat you. I am leaving. Please look at me once.’

The shravak slowly opened his eyes. The deity said Amogham dev darshanam’ i. e. witnessing a deity cannot go fruitless. I want to give you something. Ask for anything you wish.’

Amoghaa vaasare vidyut, amogham nishi garjanam– Lightning flashes at night is not a sign of assured rains, however when there is lightning during the day it usually rains. Thundering clouds do not assure rain during the day, but at night it is almost sure of bringing rain. Lightning during the day and thundering clouds at night are not false signals. Similarly, presence of a deity certainly bears fruit — Amogham dev darshanam.

The shravak said — ’I f you really want to give me something stop asking for sacrifice. Do not solicit sacrifice from any traveler.Committed to her words, the goddess accepted his proposal.

The Jain shravak stayed firm in his resolve of nonviolence and even made the goddess non-violent. She stopped the custom of sacrifice. Such an effect of prayer was possible because of shravak’s oneness with Lord Rishabh.

Power of Atoms

Since Acharya Maantung understood that people in his era had to face the fear of sea voyages, he presented a method to overcome it. If it would have been a matter of air travel or automobiles, he would have created the shlok to safeguard against these modern accidents. I am sure that if today, there was another scholar commensurate to Acharya Maantung, he would compose Bhaktamar shlokas to overcome the obstacles related to modem forms of travel and fears.

Powerful energy is awakened by reciting these shlokas. They defeat all negativities. It is the power of matter and power of atoms which destroys all obstacles.

In reality, Acharya Maantung has composed extremely powerful shlokas. Powerful energy is awakened by reciting these shlokas. They defeat all negativities. It is the power of matter and power of atoms which destroys all obstacles. Acharya Maantung has discussed the effect of such a powerful recital. It helps in emerging victorious in fierce wars, safeguards the person from various fears and even helps in crossing fierce seas.

This is a powerful effect of sound, vibration, emotion and hymn. It's not an isolated case, many such incidents have occurred. This can happen and has happened. Thus, it is not an exaggeration. The present stotra is an example and demonstration of the powerful efficacy of prayer. If we can comprehend this truth, many new surreal experiences can manifest in our lives.

Sources

Title:  Bhaktambar Stotra
Author:  Acharya Mahapragna
Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Edition: 
2019
Digital Publishing: 
Amit Kumar Jain

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Bahubali
  3. Bharat and Bahubali
  4. Chakraratna
  5. Chakravarti
  6. Fear
  7. Islam
  8. Kolkata
  9. Mantra
  10. Meditation
  11. Non-violence
  12. Nonviolence
  13. Ramayana
  14. Rishabh
  15. Shlok
  16. Shlokas
  17. Shravak
  18. Shravaks
  19. Soul
  20. Stuti
  21. Veetarag
  22. Veetaragata
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