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Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (1) : Lord Śrī Śāṃtinātha

Published: 09.04.2016

The 16thTīrthaṃkara after Lord Dharmanātha was Lord Śāṃtinātha. His life was beneficial to the world and very inspiring. He had gained the Tīrthaṃkara status after many past lives. Among his incarnations as Śrīṣeṇa, Yugalika, etc., here is given a brief description of his past life as Vajrāyudha:

In the eastern Videha, in the province called Maṃgalāvatī Vijaya was a city named Ratnasaṃcayā. Vajrāyudha was born to Ratnamālā, queen of king Kṣemaṃkara of Ratnasaṃcayā. When he grew up he was married to Lakṣmīvatī Devī. After some years Lakṣmīvatī gave birth to a son who was named Sahasrāyudha. At some point in the heavens, in the presence of gods, Indra praised Vajrāyudha's samyaktva (right belief). All the gods were pleased to hear this from Indra but one god named Citracūla expressed desire to test him and appeared in Kṣemaṃkara's court. In the court he said there is nothing called soul, the other world, good, meritorious and bad deeds (pāpa, puṇya), etc.; people fall into blind beliefs and bear with pain as a result. Vajrāyudha replied, "Oh God! If you used avadhijṅāna (clairvoyant knowledge) you will find that you have done some special deed in your past life as a result of which you have attained a god's position. The present affluence / accomplishment are the result of a past merit. The god was impressed by Vajrāyudha's firmness and asked him to make a wish. Vajrāyudha said to him – I only wish that you would adhere to samyaktva (right path). Pleased with Vajrāyudha's selflessness the god gifted him with a divine adornment and praised his samyaktva.

After some time Kṣemaṃkara left the royal affairs in the care of Vajrāyudha and became a renouncer, attained pure knowledge and was called as psychic Tīrthaṃkara. Here a cakra jewel appeared in Vajrāyudha's armoury and he conquered the six parts of the world and gained the title of universal emperor (cakravartī) and made Sahasrāyudha the crown prince. In time, giving him the kingdom, he took initiation and self-discipline and observing pādopagamana fast, became a Graiveyaka god. Descending form Graiveyaka, he was born as a son from the womb of Priyamatī, queen of Ghanaratha, king of Puṇḍarīkiṇī city. He was named Megharatha. Megharatha was very courageous, brave and compassionate. When king Ghanaratha took initiation, Megharatha became the king. He performed his religious duties even as a king.

One day, observing a vrata he was in his pauṣadhahall (hall of observing austerities). A pigeon / dove came and fell on his lap, trembling with fear. The king lovingly ran his fingers over its back, and reassured it. Then a hawk came and demanded that the dove be given to it. The king expressed inability to return someone who had taken his refuge. To this the hawk said – "I cannot stay alive without fresh flesh. This way, protecting the dove you are forcing me to die. If you are truly a great person, protect both." Hearing this king Megharatha said – "if it is so, I shall give you my flesh equivalent to the dove, eat it and let the dove go." A weighing scale was brought. On one side the king placed the dove and on the other side of the scales he started to place flesh sliced form his body. When the dove's scale did not move at all, the king gladly placed himself on the other side. Seeing this unique sacrifice the hawk presented itself in its true form and said –"I disbelieved Indra and caused you pain. Please forgive me. Your dedication and compassion are worth emulating."

After sometime, Megharatha again took the Aṣṭama-tapa (fast) in his fasting hall. Indra of Īśāna respectfully bowed to him from the heaven but his consorts, the Indrāṇīs, wished to test his determination. Entering the fasting – hall they tried in various ways to disturb Megharatha's concentration but failed to do so and accepting their defeat, left. At the end of the fast when the king resolved to take initiation he left the kingdom to his son and took initiation along with many companions from the monk Dhanaratha. In the past by showing compassion towards living beings and from austerities and restraints, having stopped the influx of karmas, he gained the Tīrthaṃkara nāmakarma. At the end, with a fast unto death, he became a god of 33 sāgaras life-span in the Sarvārthasiddha palace.

Lord Śāṃtinātha's father was the king of Hastināpura, Viśvasena. His mother was the queen of Viśvasena, Acirā Devī. The soul of Megharatha descended from Sarvārthasiddha vimāna and entered queen Acirā's womb on the seventh day of the dark fortnight of Bhādrapada under Bharaṇī constellation. The queen saw the auspicious 14 dreams that night. At the end of her pregnancy at the midnight hour on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of Jyeṣṭha under Bharaṇī constellation, she gave birth to her son.

Before Śāṃtinātha entered the womb, the region around Hastināpura was struck by a plague. Everyone was worried. The moment queen Acirādevī became pregnant the plague began to recede and gradually normalcy returned. Hence the parents named the boy Śāṃtinātha.

When the boy Śāṃtinātha was 25 thousand years old, and entered youth, king Viśvasena got him married to various princesses. Soon after this, leaving the kingdom to him he became a monk and took the path of soul cleansing. Śāṃtinātha became the king and from his queen Yaśomatī a son was born who was named Cakrāyudha. Having ruled as provincial king for 25000 years, upon the emergence of the cakra jewel in his armoury, he established his suzerainty over six parts and became a cakravartī. After managing his empire as cakravartī for 25000 years he wished to take initiation.

Upon the request of the lokāntika gods he started a year of charities and upon its completion on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of Jyeṣṭha under Bharaṇī constellation, along with 1000 kings, observing a fast (chaṭṭhabhakta), accepted initiation. Surrounded by gods and men, reaching Sahasrāmravana with Siddhas as witness, giving up all bad deeds (pāpa), he became an initiate. The next day he broke his fast at the home of the king of Maṃdirapura, Sumitra, with rice pudding. The gods showered the blessings of five substances. After initiation he wandered about for one year observing austerities. Thereafter, he came to eth Sahasrāmravana and Hastināpura and became engrossed in meditation. Having mounted the kṣapakaśreṇi in deep meditation he destroyed all the obscuring karmas and on the ninth day of the bright half of Pauṣa, under Bharaṇī constellation, attained pure intuition and pure knowledge.

As an omniscient Lord Śāṃtinātha said in his sermon in the assembly of gods and men – "The soul is the loftiest in this world, and that work which raises the level of the soul, is the best. Wasted and fruitless is the life of that person who, having attained human life, does not work towards salvation." Hearing his excellent religious discourse thousands accepted the saṃyama dharma (the path of self-restraint). Establishing the four-fold creed the Lord became Tīrthaṃkara.

The Lord spent 1 year less than 25 thousand years as an omniscient and spread the message of self- awareness / welfare among people. Sensing the end of his life, along with 900 monks, he observed a month's fast and on the 13th day of the dark half of the Jyeṣṭha month under Bharaṇī constellation, destroying the four non obscuring karmas also, attained enlightenment, liberation and nirvāṇa on Sammetaśikhara.

His life span was 1 lakh years. His congregation had 36 gaṇas and Gaṇadharas, 4300 omniscient, 4000 telepaths, 3000 clairvoyants, 800 14pūrvadhārīs, 6000 vaikriyalabdhidhārīs, 2400 vādīs, 62000 monks, 61600 female-monks, 290000 votaries and 393000 female-votaries.


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. Bharaṇī
  2. Body
  3. Cakra
  4. Concentration
  5. Dharma
  6. Dharmanātha
  7. Fasting
  8. Fear
  9. Graiveyaka
  10. Hastināpura
  11. Indra
  12. Karmas
  13. Lakh
  14. Meditation
  15. Nirvāṇa
  16. Nāmakarma
  17. Omniscient
  18. Puṇya
  19. Pāpa
  20. Samyaktva
  21. Soul
  22. Tīrthaṃkara
  23. Vimāna
  24. Vrata
  25. siddhas
  26. Īśāna
  27. Śāṃtinātha
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