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Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (2): Ārya Jambū

Published: 06.05.2016

(Second omniscient pontiff of Lord Mahāvīra's creed)

After the nirvāṇa of the first successor of Lord Mahāvīra, Ārya Sudharmā, his chief disciple Ārya Jambū became the second ācārya of the Dharam congregation in 507 BC, or 20 V.N.

Among the successors of Lord Mahāvīra, Ārya Jambū has become a great and capable ācārya. In his prime youth, abstaining from the rich & vast worldly pleasures available to him, Jambū Kumāra voluntarily chose the thorny path of renunciation. This in itself is an exceptional and phenomenal example, which is seldom found in any other history of the world. Ārya Jambū was considered as the last omniscient and liberated soul of the current Avasarpiṇi (descending) times from Bharata region.

Sixteen years prior to his nirvāṇa, Lord Mahāvīra stayed in a garden called Guṇaśīla in the city of Rājagṛha. Throngs of people walked towards the Samavaśaraṇa (Divine Pavilion) to listen to his sacred preaching. To obtain sight (Darśana), to offer salutations and to listen to his discourses, even Śreṇika, the Emperor of Magadha attended the Divine congregation with great enthusiasm, along with his courtiers and kith and kin. Śreṇika was astonished when he heard the divine sounds and watched the assemblage of the celestial angels. Out of curiosity he enquired about this. The Lord replied, "Rājarṣi Prasanna Candra has attained omniscient knowledge."

Showering five types of auspicious rains, the celestial beings commemorated the event of Prasanna Candra's attainment of omniscient knowledge. Later they arrived at the Samavaśaraṇa to have Mahāvīra's sight. They paid homage to Lord Mahāvīra by touching his Lotus Feet. Amongst the celestial angels, Vidyunmālī with his beauty and radiance, not only excelled all other angels, but also appeared as the most powerful, blissful, pleasant and attractive one. Emperor Śreṇika asked Lord Mahāvīra, "O Lord of the Universe! Who is this most graceful and powerful angel? What virtues did he possess to have this radiant and breath-taking beauty?"

Lord Mahāvīra replied, "O King, in this Magadha district once an Rāśṭrakūṭa called Ārjava lived in a village called Sugrāma. He had two sons, Bhavadatta and Bhavadeva by his wife Revati. No sooner had he entered into his early youth, Bhavadatta became world-weary and took the vow of Śramaṇa from a ācārya called Susthita. He travelled to distant places, cities and villages with his Guru and practiced restraint over the senses.

Once one of the disciples of Ācārya Susthita took his permission and together with some other Śramaṇas set to his village to encourage his younger brother for initiation into the Monk order. But by the time he reached his village, his brother was already betrothed. So he could not give initiation and had to return back without fulfilling his mission. In course of discussions, Monk Bhavadatta told to the fellow monk, "If your brother heartily likes you and has true love of a brother, having seen you after a long time, he would have definitely come running after you."

This statement of Bhavadatta monk was misunderstood by the fellow monk as an attack on brotherly relations and said, "Beloved monk, it is easier said than done. If you have so much confidence in your brother, then why don't you get him to renounce?"

Bhavadatta monk said, "If ācārya Śrī goes towards Magadha District once, then within no time you will see my younger brother in a monk's garb."

Incidentally, Ācārya Susthita who was traversing along with his disciples reached Magadha district. Seeking the permission of his Guru, Monk Bhavadatta had also been to his village along with a few monks. All his associates and acquaintances were very happy to meet Monk Bhavadatta. They provided them with faultless food and felt very grateful. Just Prior to Bhavadatta's arrival to meet the members of his family, Bhavadeva was married to Nāgilā, the daughter of Nāgadatta and Vāsukī. The message of his elder brother Bhavadatta's auspicious arrival was received when Bhavadeva was adorning his newly-wedded bride Nāgilā, who was surrounded by her friends, with vermilion and other ornaments. He immediately set off to meet him and seek his blessings.

Bhavadeva reached his elder brother Bhavadatta as fast as he could, and rejoicing with ecstasy bowed his head at his brother's feet. Bhavadatta Monk handed over a vessel full of ghee to Bhavadeva and along with his fellow Śramaṇas, he left towards his monastery. Bhavadeva, his kinsfolk and other villagers went behind the saints to bid farewell. After seeing them off up to a certain distance, the kinsfolk and the villagers who were returning, asked Bhavadeva also to return. Bhavadeva thought, "How can I return without the consent of my brother?" and instead of turning back, he kept following Bhavadatta. After going a little ahead from the village, Bhavadeva got an idea, that if he starts a conversation with his brother it is quite possible that his brother might ask him to return home.

Thus when Bhavadeva was talking to his brother, Bhavadatta kept answering in only monosyllabic words like 'Yes' and  'I know'! In the course of the conversation, they soon crossed the village boundary and came quite ahead and within no time were in the presence of ācārya Śrī.

Looking Bhavadeva in the costume of a bridegroom, Ācārya Susthita asked, "Why is this charming youth here?"

Bhavadatta answered in an assertive voice, "to renounce!"

Ācāryaśrī turned to Bhavadeva and asked, "Is it really so?" Thinking that his brother might be treated with disdain if he declines, Bhavadeva bowing his head in a consenting manner, said "Yes, Lord!"

Bhavadeva was then right away conferred the monk Dīkṣā by ācāryaśrī. His feet which were set for a luxurious life a few moments before, have now moved onto the path of renunciation. All the Śramaṇas exclaimed that Ārya Bhavadatta did what he said.

In due course of time, Monk Bhavadatta took to meditation along with fasting and discarded the mortal body and became a deity like Saudharmendra.

Even after Bhavadeva took initiation, he was always thinking about his wife. Although outwardly he observed sainthood, inwardly in his heart, dwell his beloved wife. He would think of her over and over again.

After Bhavadatta left for his heavenly abode, Bhavadeva had a strong desire to see Nāgilā. Just like how water gushes out of a broken dam, he rushed towards his village Sugrāma, without even taking the permission of his elderly monks. Reaching close to his village, he rested near a temple for a while.

Sometime later a woman belonging to a respectable family came there along with a Brahmin lady. She bowed to Bhavadeva monk. Bhavadeva monk asked the woman as "Śrāvike! Are Arjava Rāṣṭrakūṭa and his wife Revati alive?"

The woman replied, "Revered Monk! It has been a long since they departed from this world."

Hearing this, the monk's face was covered with the dark clouds of gloom. After a few moments of silence and deliberation, he asked with slight hesitation, "O righteous one! Is Nāgilā, the wife of Bhavadeva alive?"

The woman was taken aback listening to this question. She looked at the monk and had a notion that the monk could probably be Bhavadeva himself.

She questioned, "How do you know Ārya Bhavadeva and what is you doing here alone?"

Bhavadeva replied, "I am Ārya Ārjava's younger son Bhavadeva. As per the wishes of my elder brother Bhavadatta, without even the consent of my newly-wedded wife and with reluctance, I shamefully renounced. Lest name is taken among the despicables, I came here with the motive of fulfilling my long-lasting desire of taking a look at the lotus-face of Nāgilā.  O respectful lady! I am sure that you recognize Nāgilā. How is my Nāgilā? How charming is she? And how does she look like?

The Female-votary said, "She just looks exactly like me. There are no distinctive characteristics in both of us. But I could not understand one thing. All the while, you have been observing the holy monkhood (Śramaṇācāra). Now, why do you now want to meet Nāgilā?


Immediately after our wedding I have left her and went away


Because of the favourable results of your past good deeds, you did very well to accept asceticism.


Does Nāgilā lead an ideal life of a female-votary by being virtuous and pious?


Nāgilā not only follows the idealistic female-votary life but also encourages many other women to do the same.


I constantly think of her; does she do the same?


In spite of being a monk, you have forgotten your responsibilities; however, unlike you Female-votary Nāgilā is sincerely following the path of Spiritual exertion, which enhances her spiritual progress. She constantly & Strictly adheres to the high values of a female-votary and performs severe austerities, drinking the nectar of preaching of great 'Monks and Female monks', she carries out ritualized confession (Pratikramaṇa), accepting not to repeat flaws in future (Pratyākhyāna) etc., in order to uproot the chronic disease of birth and death and to attain liberation.


I would like to see my Nāgilā once with my own eyes.


Oh Great Monk! What purpose would it serve from this impure thought? What is there in the physical appearance? You have already seen me. There is no difference between me and her. I am Nāgilā and Nāgilā is me.


Then tell me the truth O pious Female-votary! Are you Nāgilā?


Reverend Sir! Yes, I am Nāgilā, who took the vow of complete celibacy and whose body is nothing but flesh, blood, bone and other impurities.

Bhavadeva looked at Female-votary Nāgilā without blinking his eyes and stood silently like a picture. Female-votary Nāgilā said, "Mahātmā! This life is like a bubble, destructible in a second. If you Devī ate from Śramaṇa Dharma, your life would be like an endless journey; and hence, get back to your senses. Return to your Guru and repent for your sins (Prāyaścitta) and strictly adhere to the five Mahavratas. By observing austerities and self-restraint eventually you will wash out all the Karma and will successfully attain imperishable, infinite and eternal bliss.

Just then the son of the Brahmin lady who accompanied Nāgilā came there and vomited the rice pudding he ate a little while ago. The Brahmin lady said to her son, "This rice pudding is very delicious and sweet; and so eat the rice pudding you vomited".

Hearing this, Monk Bhavadeva said, "O Righteous Lady! What are you asking the child to do? A person who eats back the vomited food is considered to be very mean and repulsive.

On this comment, Nāgilā told the monk, "Mahātmā! Analyse yourself. Aren't you trying to eat the vomited food? You have come all the way to enjoy this disowned body made of flesh, blood and bones. If you don't mind, may I ask you a question? Don't you feel ashamed of yourself for entertaining the very thought of abdicating the path of renunciation to which you have been attached for so long? If any honour is still left in you, whatever ascetic principles you followed outwardly, at least now follow them wholeheartedly. Go back to Ācārya Susthita and cleanse yourself of the frivolous thoughts that entered your mind.

By the valuable and analytical words of Nāgilā, the clouds of delusion that had engulfed the heart of Bhavadeva were cleared and the darkness of ignorance got dispelled with the light of knowledge of conscience.

Bhavadeva expressed his heart-felt gratitude to Nāgilā and went back to Ācārya Susthita, redeemed for his faults and got engrossed in severe penance. After following the Śramaṇa Dharma for many years, having taken Samādhi, he became a deity in Saudharmendra. Nāgilā too took initiation into monkhood under her religious teacher, practiced self-restraint and attained heavenly abode (Devagati).

Sāgaradatta and Śivakumāra

After completion of his life in Saudharma world, the soul of Bhavadatta got liberated from there and was born to Yaśodharā, the chief queen of Samrāta Vajradatta the emperor of Puṇḍarīkiṇī Nagara of Puṣkalāvatī Vijaya in Mahāvideha region. In due course, chief queen gave birth to a beautiful boy, with propitious characteristics. During pregnancy, she had a desire to take a bath in the sea; hence, he was named Sāgaradatta. After attaining youth, he was married to a number of beautiful, respectable princesses.

On a winter day, Prince Sāgara sat along with his wives in the portico and was enjoying the beauty of nature. At that time the sky was covered with dense clouds. Within a few seconds, a gust of wind blew away the clouds. At the sight of the formation and disintegration of the clouds within such a short time right in front of him, made him realise that life is also ephemeral and he became completely averse to the worldly life. The very next day he along with many of his family members approached Abhayasārācārya and took initiation into monkhood. By rendering services and studying Śāstras, he engaged himself in severe penances. As a result, he obtained clairvoyant knowledge (Avadhijṅāna).

After completion of celestial age (Devāyu) in Saudharma Devaloka, the soul of Bhavadeva was born again as the son of Queen Vanamālā and King Padmartha of Vītaśoka Nagara of Puṣkalāvatī Vijaya. He was named as Śiva Kumāra. After attaining youth, Śiva Kumāra was married to many princesses and was enjoying all the luxuries like those in a heavenly abode.

Wandering through various cities, monk Sāgaradatta reached Vītaśoka Nagara. Prince Śiva Kumāra also went to meet the monk. After listening to the sermons, Śiva Kumāra asked the monk, "Reverend Śramaṇa! From the instance I saw you, why am I feeling jubilant and ecstatic? Are we related in our previous births?"

With his clairvoyant knowledge, monk Sāgaradatta recollected and said, "Śiva Kumāra! In your previous third birth, you were my younger brother Bhavadeva. You have forsaken your newly-wedded wife and renounced reluctantly, just to please me. You have followed the vows of Śramaṇa and on completing your life, you have been fortunate to become a god in Saudharma heaven. Even there, we were very dear to each other. Due to the attachment in those two births, you still have the same affection towards me in your heart".

Prince Śiva Kumāra became ecstatic and bowed his head with respect and spoke in a sweet voice, "O Lord! Whatever you said is a fact. In this birth also I would like to renounce. I want to progress in the spiritual path by practising religious austerities and by serving you. Kindly wait here until I return taking the permission of my parents."

Monk Sāgaradatta said, "O blessed one! It is better not to delay a holy deed."

Immediately Śiva Kumāra went to the palace, and expressed his inner desire to his parents, "O my dear parents! Today I met a clairvoyant monk and I became aware about my previous births. I am totally vexed with this world. I would like to become a monk. Hence, permit me to renounce and help me progress in my spiritual attainment".

King Padmartha and queen Vanamālā were thunderstruck and dumbfound listening to the words of their son and requested him not to renounce.

Even after lot of persuasion and entreaties, Śiva Kumāra could not get the consent of his parents. Hence, he abdicated all sinful and worldly activities with aversion; he sat still like a monk in the palace itself. His parents, kinsmen and distinguished citizens tried to convince him by all means, but in vain. No one could break his firm resolution. King Padmartha was very sad. Finally, he requested a very discerning votary named Dṛḍhadharmā and narrated the entire incident and said, "O reverend soul! Using your wit, somehow or the other you must convince the prince to break the fast and gift us a new lease of life.

The son of a merchant, Dṛḍhadharmā approached the prince and explained that he cannot be free from karma without taking in food and water for a long time. Without food and water, the body will perish within a short time. It is necessary to have at least the required amount of food and water, for sustenance so that you can pursue the ascetic life for long and in turn helps you to successfully wash out all karma. Therefore, it is better for you to carry on with your ascetic life having the minimum required food and water, staying at the palace home, until you get permission from your parents for your renunciation."

"Where do you get blemishes food and water in a palace?" the prince asked, for which the votary replied "From now on, I would bring you pure food, water and clothes, obtained from my alms and like a disciple to a great monk like you, I shall provide you with all the necessary services.

Agreeing to the votary's proposal and reinforcing his firm decision, Śiva Kumāra said, "O virtuous votary! You have advised me to take food and water to sustain my body; hence lifelong I will perform penance of two days of fasting and even on the day of breaking fast, I will carry on the ācāmla vrata (eating dry & tasteless food once a day).

Thus Śiva Kumāra and votary Dṛdhaḍharmā agreed to listen to one another and adhered to their vows.

Despite staying in the palace Śiva Kumāra with detachment led a life performing severe austerities like a great saint for twelve years and breathed his last in deep meditation (Samādhi). He was born with great brilliance, in the fifth Brahmdeva Loka as the deity, Vidyunamālī with a long life of ten Sāgaropama years like that of Brahmendra.

After narrating the four previous births of Ārya Jambū to the emperor Śreṇika, the omniscient Lord Mahāvīra said, "O king of Magadha! Vidyunamālī Deva is the same soul of Bhavadeva. On the seventh day from now, he completes his age as a deity and will come into the womb of Dhārini W/o the chief merchant Riṣabhadatta, in this very same Rājagṛha only. In due course she will give birth to this son and he will be named as Jambū Kumāra. Though married, he will remain a celibate. The very next day after his marriage, abdicating the riches he would become an ascetic together with his newly wedded eight wives, and his parents, in-laws, and Prince Prabhava, and his 500 companions.

Jambū Kumāra will be the last omniscient and the last one to attain salvation in this Avasarpiṇi age in Bharatakṣetra. And after that, in this Avasarpiṇi age there will be none else who would attain the liberation.

After listening to the details about Vidyunamālī regarding his previous and future births from the omniscient Mahāvīra, everyone bowed to him and went to their respective places.

Parents of Ārya Jambū

Śreṇika, the king of Magadha was a just and devout king, loved by one and all. In Rājagṛha, the capital of Magadha, there lived a very wealthy businessman named Ṛṣabhdatta. He inherited justly earned vast riches. He was a very kind-hearted, generous, and abiding to his vows, able, truthful, humble person and a scholar. His wife was Dhāriṇī. She was a sweet tempered and very pious lady. Both of them had faith and devotion in the doctrines of Jainism. Though blessed and happy in all aspects of life, they always felt the void of not having a child, which filled them with sorrow. The pain and agony of Dhāriṇī, being a lady, was more. At the very same time, Ācārya Sudharmā, the fifth Gaṇadhara of Lord Mahāvīra came to Vaibhavgiri. People crowded to venerate him. Even Ṛṣabhdatta and Dhāriṇī too started for Vaibhāragirī to venerate of Sudharmā Swāmī. On the way they met a Nimittajṅa (occult ācārya) Votary called Jasamitra, who was a friend of Ṛṣabhdatta.

When Dhāriṇī expressed her deep desire to beget children, he said, "Your wish will be fulfilled now. You will beget a very brave & great son who will be the last omniscient of Bharata region. However, there is a small hitch for it to happen, which will be eliminated by worship of a deity.

After listening to the prediction by Jasamitra, Dhāriṇī's heart was enthralled with ecstasy. Talking to Jasamitra she arrived at the garden along with Ṛṣabhdatta where Sudharmā Swāmī camped. All bowed their heads in reverence and saluted him. They all took their seats and listened to his sermon.

Later Ṛṣabhadatta and Dhāriṇī returned to their house. Dhāriṇī started worshipping Anāghṛta Deva (who was Ṛṣabhadatta's younger brother in his previous birth) as the family was closely associated with him. She observed 108 ācāmla vrata to please Anāghṛta Deva.

As foretold by Śramaṇa Lord Mahāvīra to Śreṇika, the king of Magadha exactly on the 7th day, Vidyunamālī descended from Brahmaloka and entered the womb of Dhāriṇī Devī. Late night, Dhāriṇī in her dream rather in a state of semi-consciousness, saw a beautiful lion cub, and sweet-adored and fine coloured plum fruits (Jambū), etc.

Immediately she woke up and in a happy mood described her dream to her husband.

Just like the one, who is blind by birth experiences happiness when he suddenly gets sight, Riṣabhadatta experienced the same kind of happiness, hearing his wife's dream. He said to Dhāriṇī, "Devī! As foretold by Lord Mahāvīra, you will beget a chivalrous son".

As the pregnancy progressed, the interest of Dhāriṇī Devī towards religious and spiritual matters also progressed, as an auspicious soul was growing in her womb.

In due course Dhāriṇī gave birth to a lovely son who had radiance like the sun which permeated the entire mansion of Ṛṣabhadatta with happiness. Befitting their financial status and riches, Ṛṣabhadatta generously gave alms to his followers, kinsmen, beggars and destitute that eradicated poverty from their lives forever. The ceremony continued for twelve days with great pomp and show. Then at an auspicious time the naming ceremony was celebrated. As Dhāriṇī Devī had seen rose apple fruits (Jambū) in her dream and as he was born by the grace of Anāghṛta Deva, the king of Jambū Dwīpa, he was named as 'Jambū '.

Sometime after Vidyunmālī Deva's descent from Brahmaloka, his four wives[1] also on completion of their age in Dev lok were born in Rājagṛha as the daughters of wealthy merchants. Their names and their parents' names are as follows:

Name of the Daughter Name of the Father Name of the Mother
1 Samudraśrī Samudrapriya Padmāvatī
2 Padmaśrī Samudrdatta Kamalamālā
3 Padmasenā Sāgaradatta Vijayaśrī
4 Kanakasenā Kuberadatta Jayaśrī

Approximately at the same time four more girls were also born in Rājagṛha in affluent families. Their particulars are:

Name of the Daughter Name of the Father Name of the Mother
Nabhasenā Kuberasena Kamalāvatī
Kanakaśrī Śramaṇadatta Suṣeṇā
Kanakavatī Vasuṣeṇā Vīramatī
Jayaśrī Vasupālita Jayasenā

Jambū Kumāra grew under the able care of five able nurses like a sampling of Kalpavṛkṣa that grows gradually. At proper age he studied under an efficient and scholarly teacher and before attaining youth he became master in all arts and disciplines.

Even the aforesaid eight girls also entered into youth. Being associated with Jambū Kumāra from their previous births, when the young women listened to his famous incidents, they in their hearts decided to marry him. The respective parents came to know the desire of their daughters. They were immensely happy and approached the parents of Jambū Kumāra, asking his son's hand for their daughters. Ṛṣabhdatta and Dhāriṇī gave their consent happily.

Jambū's disinterest in householder's life:

During those days Ārya Sudharmā together with his group of disciples went to Guṇaśīla Caitya in Rājagṛha. Listening to the good news of Ārya Sudharmā's arrival, Jambū Kumāra's happiness knew no bounds. He immediately went in a swift chariot which was suitable for the sacred occasion to serve Sudharmā Swāmī. With deep veneration and ardent devotion he paid homage to Sudharmā Swāmī and seated himself in the religious congregation. Addressing the religious congregation, Ārya

Sudharmā commenced the philosophical discourse. Explaining the significance of human birth in his teaching, he said, "Brothers! Lord Mahāvīra is the well-wisher of the entire world; by following his principles, souls can successfully cross the ocean of delusion. Therefore, mankind should take advantage of this opportunity. A wise man is he who, realising that age, youth, sensual pleasures, wealth and body are perishable, follows the path of - the three gems (Ratnatṛyī) i.e. Right Knowledge (Samyaka Jṅāna), Right faith (Samyaka Darśana) and Right Conduct (Samyaka cāritra)

By practicing these three gems, with devotion, one can try to attain eternal happiness. The one who does not understand this truth, or despite understanding, if he is bound by the delusive bonds and out of negligence and lethargy does not follow the three gems, will not progress in the path of spiritual elevation. He keeps wandering helplessly in the dreadful forest of births and deaths undergoing immense grief and sorrow.

Listening to the poignant preaching of Ārya Sudharmā, Jambū Kumāra felt a sense of detachment. He went close to Ārya Sudharmā and prostrated at his feet and said in a humble tone, "Swāmī! I learnt the true nature of Dharma from you. I found it very interesting and blissful. A deep interest and reverence arose in my heart on the Dharma you have preached. After taking the permission of my parents, I want to be initiated at your feet and uplift myself."

Ārya Sudharmā said, "Oh! Blessed one! Take up that task which brings you happiness. Never hesitate or delay to commence a good deed"

Jambū Kumāra once again paid homage to the spiritual Guru, climbed on to the chariot to return back to his mansion. At the entrance to the city there were so many chariots, vehicles, etc., that blocked the way. Fearing that he would be late, he ordered the charioteer to enter into the city through another gateway. The charioteer turned the chariot and headed towards another entrance.

Harsh oath:

At the entrance, in order to kill the enemies, large boulders and other destructive weapons were hung from strong ropes. Seeing them from a distance, Jambū Kumāra thought, "If any one of these weapons falls on my chariot, I may die without taking the vows, which will result in an unfortunate birth".

The moment this thought passed in his mind, he ordered the charioteer to turn back to Guṇaśīla Caitya. The charioteer obeyed his order and turned the vehicle. Within moments the chariot reached the destination. Jambū Kumāra got down from it, went straight to Ārya Sudharmā and after bowing down to him, said, "I want to remain celibate all my life".

Giving into his repeated entreaties, Swāmī bestowed him the oath of celibacy. After taking the oath he offered salutations with great reverence to Ārya Sudharmā and returned to his mansion.

Expressing his desire to renounce the world to his parents

Immediately after reaching the courtyard of the mansion Jambū Kumāra got down from the chariot and went straight to his parents. He bowed in front of them and said, "O Parents! Today I happened to listen to Ārya Sudharmā's sermons propounded by Lord Mahāvīra"

His mother Dhāriṇī, blessing him with happiness in life, said in an affectionate tone, "Son, you are lucky. With the veneration (Darśana (to see), Vandana (to pay obeisance), and Namana (to bow in veneration)) and also by listening to the speech of the great spiritual master, you not only sanctified your eyes, head, ears and conscience, but also made your life worthwhile."

Jambū once again said, "O Parents! Swāmī's discourses opened the door of my heart, and I realised my duty and my true path. A strong desire to attain eternal liberation devoid of birth, old age, death, grief and disease aroused in my soul.

To confront against the attack of enemies and to protect the city in critical situations, boulders and cannons etc were placed at the city gate. When I saw them today a thought passed into my mind that by chance if any boulder or a cannon ball falls on me, I may have an untimely death without any vow. Hence I went back to Sudharmā Swāmī and took an oath to follow lifetime celibacy. I firmly decided that I would take vows of renunciation from Swāmī and try to attain the ultimate reality - salvation / liberation. Please permit me to take the initiation."

When they heard that their one and only beloved son wants to renounce and remain a celibate all life, both Ṛṣabhadatta and Dhāriṇī were astounded as if a thunderbolt fell on them and they became unconscious for some time. When they regained consciousness, with tears rolling down their cheeks, they uttered these words in a pitiable tone, "Beloved Son! You are the only one to fulfill our soul's desires. Without you our life will become impossible. You listened to the sermons of Swāmī Sudharmā as propounded by Lord; this is indeed a virtuous deed. Our ancestors were also staunch followers and devotees of Jainism; however we never heard any one of them ever sought initiation. All of a sudden what remarkable event occurred today, which inspired you to take this decision?"

Jambū Kumāra: "Reverend parents! There are many people in the world who after passage of a long time realise their duties, while there are others who are quick in arriving at a decision. Giving an example Jambū Kumāra told the parable of the son of a wealthy and distinguished merchant (Śreṣṭhiputra)".

After narrating the parable Jambū Kumāra told, "Just as that Merchant's son received the essence and led a blissful life for a long time; similarly I too chose the much treasured essence (monk hood) from the sermons of Swāmī and desire to acquire infinite, immortal salvation of the soul. Hence please allow me to take up the path of renunciation and help me achieve my aspiration."

The way Jambū Kumāra presented the facts, citing meaningful examples, his parents realised, given any circumstances Jambū Kumāra would not remain a householder. Despite the realisation, out of immense affection towards their son, they entreated him to lead the life of a householder for some more time, "Dear son, for the time being you forsake the thought of renunciation. The next time when Ārya Sudharmā Swāmī visits this place, then you definitely take initiation from him".

Jambū Kumāra: "Reverend parents! If I renounce now I will definitely be able to achieve my goal. How can we rely on time? So, considering my interest please permit me now itself to take to saint hood". Once again Ṛṣabhdatta tried to convince his son, "Son! Owing to the virtuous deeds of your past life, you were born with all the comforts and luxuries in hand. So, first enjoy all the worldly pleasures to the heart's content and thereafter take initiation".

Jambū Kumāra: Dear parents! Because of my very young age, I am still confined to the allurement of eating rich and tasty food only. Sensual pleasure is limited to the tongue, i.e. to taste different types of delicious food, and so I can easily liberate myself of this delusion. But if I get involved in sensual pleasures of all the five organs, I will fall a prey to a miserable and wretched death and will be caught in the whirlpool of worldly bonds and undergo endless suffering. I am scared of the misfortune of the cycle of birth and death. Please let me renounce the world."

Listening to his son's words his mother, Dhāriṇī got anxious and was convinced that her son would surely embrace the path of renunciation. Weeping bitterly she said, "Beloved son! It has been my long cherished desire to behold you in the costume of a groom. If you fulfil my longstanding desire, I shall also take the initiation together with you".

Jambū Kumāra: Oh! Mother! If that is your wish, I shall abide by it and act accordingly. However, there is one condition. On the auspicious day when your heart-felt wish is fulfilled, you should no longer stop me from taking initiation.

A rejoiced Dhāriṇī took a breath of relief as she found a ray of hope to angels her son's mind. She contemplated that when one girl is more than enough to distract great Mokṣa; with eight most beautiful and most virtuous brides, Jambū would certainly be attracted towards sensual pleasures and be lured by their charm and beauty.

In a joyful tone, she said, "Son! Your wish will be fulfilled. We have already given our word to marry you to eight brides belonging to merchant families, who are most good looking and are endowed with all the good qualities. All the eight merchant families are believers of Jainism and affluent. I shall send a word to all of them."

That very instant Ṛṣabhdatta sent a message to the eight merchants, through his trustworthy messengers. In his message, he also made it clear that Jambū Kumāra will become a monk as soon as the marriage ceremony is over. He also requested them to arrive at a decision on the matter and send their reply after thoroughly analysing the pros and cons.

The eight merchants were shocked to listen to Jambū Kumāra's decision of renunciation immediately after marriage. They were discussing the matter with their wives as to how to find a solution to this dilemma.

Even the eight daughters of the merchants heard the message. All of them expressed their decision to their parents, in clear and firm words, "You have already promised us to him. According to dharma, he alone is our husband. We will follow him in whatever path he chooses, even if it is full of thorns and difficulties it becomes the noblest path for us too. Please do not deliberate further on this matter".

Listening to the firm resolve of their daughters, the eight merchants sent their consent through the messengers. Wedding preparations started on both the sides.

Marriage of Jambū Kumāra

On the auspicious day, the groom Jambū Kumāra sat on a magnificently decorated elephant, which was as beautiful as that of a celestial vehicle. Jambū Kumāra, being the only beloved son of the wealthiest Ṛṣabhdatta, all the people of Rājagṛha Nagara dressed in beautiful clothes, gathered to see the groom and his party. In the wedding costume, the bright and dazzling Jambū Kumāra reached the brides' place. The ceremony was performed following all the rituals of marriage. The marriage ceremony of Jambū Kumāra was performed with all the eight brides simultaneously with their eight parents giving extravagant clothes and jewellery, myriad of gold coins to their son-in-law as dowry. The groom with his eight brides returned to his mansion. On the happy occasion of their son's wedding, Sresti Ṛṣabhdatta and Dhāriṇī Devī liberally and generously gave away money and other objects to their kith and kin, friends, and dependents and to the handicapped.

At nightfall, Jambū Kumāra entered into the beautifully decorated bedroom with all his eight brides. In the centre of his spacious room there were nine artistic chairs closely arraṃged in a circle. Jambū Kumāra sat in the centre and in a soft gentle tone asked them to take their places. Being the first meeting with their consort, smiling sweetly and with innumerable yearnings mounting in their hearts, hesitating, and feeling somewhat shy, the eight brides sat on either side of their husband.

Inspiring the wives

The environment, though, extremely charming, sweet and intoxicating, failed to stir the soul of Jambū Kumāra. He sat like a lotus in water, unperturbed, completely detached, indifferent, and free from all the sins and was detached.

Breaking the silence, Jambū Kumāra addressing his wives said, "Oh! Pious souls! You know that tomorrow at dawn I will renounce the world and accept the path of liberation. You may wonder why in prime youth, when one is expected to enjoy all worldly pleasures, I decided to walk on a path devoid of all comforts, relinquishing the affluent life. In order that within short time you can understand the correctness of my decision. First of all I want to make it clear that a person who is inclined towards the familial sensual pleasures will find happiness in them only as long as his heart is wrapped in ignorance, because of the unawareness of fundamental principles. As soon as he understands the tenets of living beings and non-living beings (Jīva-Ajīva) etc., the ignorance that pervaded the heart vanishes; he becomes a knower of truth and his consciousness arouses. At that moment there is no place for sensual pleasure and wrong direction.

By the grace of Sudharmā Swāmī, I have obtained knowledge of fundamental principles. Hence I look upon sensual and all worldly pleasures as hazardous as poison and so worthy of renunciation.

In reality, all these pleasures are transitory. The happiness one derives from these is not only momentary but also causes infinite sorrow, grief, which in turn flings one into the unending cycle of birth and death. The poisonous tree of life bears fruits of birth, old-age, disease, sorrow, torment and ultimately death - all sorrowful fruits.

Sneaking in of Prabhava (and his 500 band of robbers)

While Jambū Kumāra was imparting spiritual knowledge to his wives, a notorious robber called Prabhava, together with his 500 band of robbers sneaked in, to rob the house of Ṛṣabhdatta.

Using the magic art of putting one to sleep 'Avasvāpinī Vidyā', he put all the inmates of the house into a deep sleep and opened the locks of all the doors using the Art of opening locks (Tālodghātinī vidyā).The fellow robbers of Prabhava removed the precious stones and ornaments of Ṛṣabhdatta and his guests; as they prepared to leave the place, Jambū Kumāra, in calm and majestic tone addressed the robbers and said, "Oh! Robbers! How can you steal the wealth of our guests?"

As he uttered these words, the 500 thieves stood motionless in the same place and in the same position like statues. Prabhava was perplexed as to why his Avasvāpinī Vidyā was not effective on Jambū Kumāra. He went close to Jambū Kumāra and asked, "Oh! Son of a Śreṣṭhi! I am Prabhava, the eldest son of Vindya Rāja, the King of Jayapura. I want to be your friend. Please teach me the art to immobilise (Staṃbhinī) and breaking free (Mochinī Vidyā). I shall teach you Avasvāpinī and Talodghatini Vidyas in return.

Precepts to Prabhava: Jambū Kumāra said, 'Prabhava! At dawn I shall renounce all the wealth and family to become an ascetic. I have nothing to do with these sinful arts. As such, I am unaware of any such occult ācāryas. I believe that 'Panca Parameṣṭhī (the five auspicious beings) mantra is the greatest of all mantras.

Prabhava was stupefied by the detachment of Jambū Kumāra and by his unswerving decision to renounce all the wealth. He entreated him not to renounce the riches equal to that of Kubera, (the Lord of wealth) and his newly-wedded brides whose beauty excelled the beauty of celestial angels. Further he advised him to opt for an ascetic life at an old age after fully enjoying the worldly pleasures.

Substantiating his views, Jambū Kumāra, with great skill, gave this sermon to Prabhava; listening to which Prabhava and his companions expressed their desire and asked permission to renounce as well. Taking Jambū Kumāra's consent, they left the house to seek the permission of their parents.

Discussion with the wives

Samudraśrī et al., his eight newly wedded wives tried their best to stop the detached Jambū Kumāra from the path of temperance and requested him to enjoy the riches and comforts inherited by him. They cited eight fables to support their standpoint. In reply Jambū Kumāra also narrated eight parables contradicting the poignant eight fables narrated by his eight wives. The discussions between Jambū Kumāra and his wives are very inspiring, interesting and informative. Besides they open the inner eye that has been enveloped by the ignorance and delusion. His newly wedded wives gave examples and put forth logical arguments trying to entice him towards the worldly pleasures.

Jambū Kumāra replied with interesting instances, illustrating the hollowness of life, transient nature of the pleasures and the dreadfulness of mundane existence. After listening to his gospel and  inner beliefs, the eight wives not only gave up alluring him towards comforts, instead they, who were as delicate as flowers, came out of delusion and were prepared to take up the severe path themselves.  They humbly bowed down to him and requested, "Sir! Due to your grace we have been blessed with true spiritual insight. Now we do not have the slightest attraction towards the comforts of life. The world started appearing like a huge furnace with blazing fumes. Following your footsteps, we want to annihilate all our karma and are anxious to obtain eternal bliss. We realise that the path you have selected to tread upon is the right path for us too. We, out of ignorance, tried to distract you of your path. Please forgive us and permit us to become ascetics along with you and make the worldly pursuit of marriage, meaningful.

After getting the consent of Jambū Kumāra, his eight wives sent a word to their parents that they will also take the oath of asceticism together with their husband at dawn.

The shocked parents at once reached the mansion of Jambū Kumāra. The time was then three hours past midnight and there was only one hour to dawn.

Sermon to the family

In accordance with his daily routine, Jambū Kumāra went to his parents after his sermon to Prabhava along with his band of robbers, and to his wives. He humbly offered them respectful greetings to them and to his in-laws who were also sitting there. Giving their blessings Riṣabhadatta asked his son about his decision, in an affectionate tone.

Jambū Kumāra: "Father! To uplift our soul, I and your eight daughters in-law are determined to take Śramaṇa initiation at dawn with your kind permission. We are just waiting for your consent. Without any hesitation or delay, please permit us to renounce."

Awakening them from delusion, Jambū Kumāra said in a calm, sweet but firm tone, "Just like a sea is filled with alkaline water bodies; the sea of world is filled with infinite physical and mental sorrows and agonies. As a matter of fact there is no substance that provides you with happiness. Deluded in happiness and in sorrow, anticipating happiness the beings engrossed in sensual pleasures, misconstrue the grief-filled happiness as real happiness. On licking the sharpened edge of the sword wetted with honey one might get engrossed or carried away by momentary happiness of its taste, but what about the immense pain of a slit tongue that it leaves behind? The same is hundred percent true even with worldly sensual pleasures. Apart from this, the immense agony of being in the womb is beyond comprehension. That agony is worse than hell and it is more intense than a burning inferno. The world is full of sorrow; happiness is found nowhere even for namesake. If there is any slight desire in your heart to relish true happiness, you too accompany me at crack of dawn and walk along the path of salvation."

The words touched their heart, aroused their inner conscience and opened their eyes. They suddenly experienced a wondrous glow in their hearts. As soon as they realised that the world is a mirage, all the eighteen decided to take initiation.

Initiation of 528 individuals with Jambū Kumāra

As dawn set in, the news of Jambū  Kumāra renouncing all his riches equal to that of Kubera, along with his parents, eight wives, in-laws and also joined by the notorious robber Prabhava and his band of 500 robbers (2+8+16+1+500 = 527) for taking initiation, spread in the entire Rājagṛha like wildfire. Eager to see the grandeur of initiation into monkhood, throngs of men and women hastily finished their morning chores and wore the best of clothes and ornaments.

In the midst of melodious sound of various musical instruments, Jambū Kumāra together with his parents climbed into the palanquin which was to be borne by 1000 men. With the triumphed cheers and melodious music the renunciation journey started. The crowd that had witnessed the marriage procession just a day before, assembled everywhere on the streets to watch the ascetic journey of Jambū Kumāra. Just as the dark clouds of Śrāvaṇa and Bhādo pour down the showers, similarly Jambū Kumāra poured down the showers of precious stones and gold continuously. He donated most of his wealth for the welfare of the people and discarded the movable and immovable property in the same way as the snakes shed-off their skin.

Even the king of Magadha, Kūṇika, along with his four-fold army and courtiers came to witness the renunciation ceremony of Jambū Kumāra. At the same time Prabhava arrived with his companions. The king Kūṇika asked Jambū Kumāra whether he could be of any service to him. Jambū Kumāra said, "Oh! King! Please pardon whatever grave mistakes Prabhava committed in the past. Last night he came to rob our house. Today he is accompanying me to take up the path of restraint". The king replied, "I forgive all his mistakes. He can take the initiation without any interruption."

The procession of Jambū Kumāra moving through all the main streets of Rājagṛha, reached the garden at the outskirts where Sudharmā Swāmī camped with his entourage of disciples. After completion of all the rituals that have to be carried out prior to the initiation into asceticism, Sudharmā Swāmī  according to the rules laid down in the scriptures of Jain Dharma, initiated Jambū Kumāra, his parents, the eight wives, their parents, Prabhava and his 500 companions. Thus Jambū Kumāra giving up 990 million gold coins and his eight precious wives became an ascetic together with 527 inquisitives (Mumukṣas). After the initiation, Sudharmā Swāmī  brought Jambū Kumāra's mother, his eight wives and their respective mothers under the command of Ārya Suvratā (female ascetic head), while Prabhava and his companions were made as the disciples of monk Jambū  Kumāra.

After all these formalities, addressing the new Śramaṇa and Śramaṇīs, Sudharmā Swāmī said, "May you be blessed with a long life, Śramaṇas and Śramaṇīs! The courage you have shown to break the strong chain of sensual pleasures is really praiseworthy. You have accepted asceticism as courageously as a lion, with the same courage like a lion; you should strictly follow asceticism throughout your life. This in turn hastens your m arch towards salvation. Always realise that every moment of your life is very precious and so avoid laziness completely; perform each and every task in your life discerningly, which in turn protects you against sins. As a matter of fact, laziness is the biggest enemy of an ascetic. Even knowers of the fourteen prior scriptures (Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara), practitioners adorned with communication body (Spiritual-practitioners who are Āhāraka labdhi possessors), telepaths (Manaḥ paryavajṅānī) and the great detached spiritual-practitioners also, when influenced by laziness, continue to wander as human beings, animals, hell beings & celestial beings in the sorrowful world.

All the newly initiated ascetics listened to time-honoured gospel of their Guru Sudharmā Swāmī and undertook to follow it. In addition to acquiring knowledge and observing penance, they staunchly followed the principles and rituals of Śramaṇa Dharma both in letter and spirit.

The great intellectual Jambū Kumāra was continually engaged in the service of his Guru. With complete concentration, devotion and hard work, he learnt the Sūtra s, their interpretation, and the analysis of the entire Dwādaśāṃgī.

Ascertaining Jambū Kumāra's time of birth and liberation (Nirvāṇa)

In the light of the aforesaid facts it becomes clear that Jambū Kumāra was born in the 14th year after Lord Mahāvīra became an omniscient.

Seven days before Jambū Kumāra's descent, King Śreṇika asked Lord Mahāvīra, "Lord! After whose nirvana, will omniscience cease to exist permanently in Bharata region?"

Mahāvīra said, "Behold! Vidyunmālī Deva, who was surrounded by goddesses and who is as radiant as Brahmendra, will descend from Devlok on the seventh day from this day. He will incarnate as the son of a wealthy merchant Riṣabhadatta in your city Rājagṛha, and he will be the last omniscient of this Avasarpiṇi Kāla in Bharata region.

If we analyse the facts in the light of this conversation, Jambū Kumāra might have been born during the 14th year of the attainment of omniscience of Mahāvīra. He might be 16 at the time of nirvāṇa of Lord.

Ācārya Hemacandra in the appendix clearly mentioned that Jambū Kumāra attained nirvāṇa, 64 years after Lord's nirvāṇa.

So it is apparent that Ārya Jambū Kumāra got initiated at the age of 16, followed the path of monkhood for 64 years and attained nirvāṇa when he was 80 years old.

Lord Mahāvīra attained nirvāṇa just a few months before the initiation of Jambū Kumāra. Śvetāmbara and Digambara literature are aplenty with this type of references.

Jambū Kumāra was born during the lifetime of Lord Mahāvīra, the omniscient, 24th Tīrthaṃkara. Indrabhūti Gautama, at the time of initiation of Jambū Kumāra, was already an omniscient. Ārya Sudharmā Swāmī became an omniscient 12 years after Jambū Kumāra's initiation; and Jambū Kumāra himself obtained omniscience 20 years after his own initiation.  But with the nirvāṇa of Jambū Swāmī the sun of omniscience forever set from Bharata region in this Avasarpiṇi Kāla.

Liberation of Jambū Swāmī

Jambū Swāmī was born in 543 BC (16 years before V.N.).  After living with his parents for 16 years, he took initiation and spent 20 years in the service of his Guru, acquiring knowledge, performing penance and practising temperance. On completion of V.N. 20, he was nominated as the second successor of Lord Mahāvīra. Jambū Swāmī attained omniscience after he became a ācārya. Doing good to all the people with his infinite knowledge, infinite vision and virtuous conduct, he remained as the second successor of Lord Mahāvīra for 44 years as ācārya. At the end, appointing Ārya Prabhava as his successor, at the age of 80 in V.N. 64 (463 BC) Jambū Swāmī attained liberation / salvation.

Extinction of 10 terms

After the nirvāṇa of Jambū Swāmī, the following terms were lost in Bharata region.

  1. Knowledge of reading Mental modes (manah ̣paryava jṅāna)
  2. Clairvoyance of superior type (paramāvadhi jṅāna)
  3. Pulākalabdhi
  4. Communication body(āhāraka śarīra)
  5. Ladder of spiritual purification emanating from destruction of karmas (Kṣapaka śreṇi)
  6. Ladder of spiritual purification emanating  from subsidence of karmas (Upaśama śreṇi)
  7. Monk living like the Jina (Jinakalpa)
  8. Three types of Caritra, i.e.  purity of non-injury (Parihāravisuddha), subtle passion  (Sūkṣmasamparāya) and perfect (Yathākhyātācāritra)
  9. Omniscience (Kevalajṅāna)
  10. Liberation (Muktigamana)

All these ten distinct spiritual powers have become extinct after the nirvāṇa of Jambū Swāmī.

Both the Śvetāmbara and Digambara sects consider that Jambū Swāmī was the last omniscient. Thus Kevalī era ended in V.N. 64 with the nirvāṇa of Jambū Swāmī.

Kings and their dynasties during the era of omniscient Lords

On the basis of the historical events that occurred sequentially, it is clear that in ancient times, the relation between the rulers and the ruled was mostly very pleasant and deep. Like the ruled, even the rulers also contributed for social, cultural, financial and spiritual development of the society. There is a lot of evidence in the literature confirming the fact.

In ancient times, even the kings toiled hard and gave their full support, wherever it was necessary, on par with the subjects, in all the activities of Jain Dharma starting right from its initial development to propagation, glorification and progression. The following dynasties were prominent in the Kevalī era of V.N. 1 to 64:

  1. Śiśunāga dynasty in Magadha
  2. Pradyota dynasty in Avantī
  3. Paurava Rājavaṃsa in Vatsa (Kausāmbī) and
  4. Cedi dynasty in Kaliṃga.

Jump to occurrence in text


Title: Jain Legend: Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (2)
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. Arjava
  2. Avasvāpinī
  3. Bharata
  4. Body
  5. Brahmin
  6. Candra
  7. Caritra
  8. Celibacy
  9. Clairvoyance
  10. Concentration
  11. Consciousness
  12. Cāritra
  13. Darśana
  14. Deva
  15. Devagati
  16. Dharma
  17. Digambara
  18. Environment
  19. Fasting
  20. Gautama
  21. Gaṇadhara
  22. Ghee
  23. Guru
  24. Hemacandra
  25. Jain Dharma
  26. Jainism
  27. Jina
  28. Kalpavṛkṣa
  29. Karma
  30. Karmas
  31. Kevalī
  32. Kāla
  33. Labdhi
  34. Loka
  35. Magadha
  36. Mahavratas
  37. Mahāvīra
  38. Manah
  39. Manaḥ
  40. Mantra
  41. Meditation
  42. Mokṣa
  43. Nirvana
  44. Nirvāṇa
  45. Omniscient
  46. Padmāvatī
  47. Paramāvadhi
  48. Pratikramaṇa
  49. Pratyākhyāna
  50. Pūrvadhara
  51. Rājagṛha
  52. Soul
  53. Sūtra
  54. Tīrthaṃkara
  55. Upaśama
  56. Vandana
  57. Vidyas
  58. Vidyā
  59. Vrata
  60. jinakalpa
  61. samādhi
  62. Ācārya
  63. Āhāraka
  64. Āhāraka Labdhi
  65. Ārjava
  66. ācāryas
  67. Śreṇika
  68. Śvetāmbara
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