Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (1) : Cakravartī Sanatkumāra

Published: 08.04.2016

In the city of Hastināpura, in Bharata region (kṣetra) of Jambūdvīpa, ruled the king Aśvasena, He was a man of courage and character. His pious queen Sahadevī during her pregnancy saw the 14 auspicious dreams and was very happy. At appropriate and good time she gave birth to a bright son with a gold-like aura, who was named Sanatkumāra. With appropriate upbringing Sanatkumāra crossed the stage from boyhood to youth. Sanatkumāra had a brave friend of good qualities, named Mahendra.

One day, king Aśvasena received a gift of a very fine breed of horses. Prince Sanatkumāra climbed onto the finest of these. The moment he did so, the horse started to run with the speed of the wind. The prince tried to stop the horse but the horse would only run faster. Mahendrasiṃha and other friends tried to chase him but could not catch up with Sanatkumāra. Hearing the news of his son disappearing thus, king Aśvasena was very unhappy and started on his own too, in search of him. Seeing all his efforts go in vain, Mahendrasiṃha somehow convinced him to return and left alone in search of Sanatkumāra. After searching for one year, there was no trace of Sanatkumāra.

One day, in the forest he heard the sweet sounds of various birds and from the same direction the whiff of a pleasant fragrance came. Hopeful, Mahendrasiṃha started to move in that direction. After going some distance, he heard the pleasant sounds of beautiful women at play. When he went closer he was pleasantly surprised and happy to see his friend Sanatkumāra in the midst of the beautiful women. Sanatkumāra too recognised Mahendrasiṃha, embraced and welcomed him. After mutual exchange of enquiries after each other's well-being, Mahendrasiṃha asked Sanatkumāra about his experiences upon which Sanatkumāra pointed at one of the women and said instead of hearing my story from my mouth it would be better to hear it from the Vidyādhara's daughter, Bakulamatī.

Bakulamatī briefly narrated to Mahendrasiṃha as to how Sanatkumāra defeated the demonic forces of the Yakṣa and accepted them as his companions. Mahendrasiṃha was delighted to hear of Sanatkumāra's heroic exploits and reminded him of his parents at Hastināpura.

Sanatkumāra happily started with his family to meet his parents. Hearing of his arrival king Aśvasena was overjoyed. He welcomed the prince with great pomp and ceremony and at an appropriate time crowned him king. Mahendrasiṃha was appointed the Commander-in-Chief of the army and the king himself took initiation from an elderly monk.

Sanatkumāra ruled the kingdom justly and dutifully. After the emergence of a cakra jewel in his armoury he set out on an expedition to conquer the six khaṇḍa and became a cakravartī emperor. Sanatkumāra's beauty began to be discussed even in the heavens. As a result, two gods came to see him in the guise of Brahmins. At that moment, Sanatkumāra was seated naked on the bathing platform, and seeing his charming form the gods were awestruck. Sanatkumāra said to them, "what are you seeing now? After the bath when I sit on the royal throne adorned with fine robes and jewellery, see me then." The Brahmins did just that; but by then there was a change in the form of Sanatkumāra and the Brahmins began to lament in their minds. When the king asked them the reason for their disappointment they said – "king, worms infest your beautiful body now."

Seeing the transient nature of the body and its destructibility Sanatkumāra immediately became disenchanted and, giving up all the glorious possessions, became a monk. After initiation he started observing many fasts as a result of which he got a lot of powers. Once again his praises were heard in the heaven and one god came to test him. The god disguised as a physician came to the monk. The monk said – "Oh physician! If you can cure disease of the mind (spiritual) then it is fine, else even I can cure the disease of the body." Saying thus, the monk spat on his blood-oozing fingers which at once started to shine like gold. Ashamed, the god apologised to the monk and went back to his place. This way, the great monk Sanatkumāra spent 1 lakh years observing austerities and in the end became enlightened and liberated.


Title: Jain Legend: Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (1)
Acharya Hasti Mala
Shugan C. Jain
Publisher: Samyakjnana Pracaraka Mandala, Jaipur
Edition: 2011
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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Aura
  2. Bharata
  3. Body
  4. Brahmins
  5. Cakra
  6. Hastināpura
  7. Jambūdvīpa
  8. Kṣetra
  9. Lakh
  10. Yakṣa
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