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Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (2): Ācārya Śrī Bhadrabāhu

Published: 12.05.2016

Bhadrabāhu was the seventh Pontiff. He was born in a Brahmin family of congregation Gotra in 94 V.N. in Pratiṣṭhanpura. He spent 45 years with the family as a householder and after that in 139 V.N. he was initiated into Nirgraṃtha Śramaṇa monkhood by Ācārya Yaśobhadra Swāmī, the 5th Pontiff. Serving his great & learned Guru, he concentrated & learnt Dwādaśāṃgī and became a Śrutakevalī. In the year 148 V.N. at the time of demise, Ācārya Yaśobhadra Swāmī appointed him also as the ācārya of the congregation together with Śrī Saṃbhūtavijaya. During the period from 148 to 156 V.N. under the leadership of his elder co-disciple Ācārya Saṃbhūtavijaya, apart from teaching the canonic literature to Śramaṇas, he greatly served the congregation.

After Saṃbhūtavijaya, the sixth Pontiff departed for heaven, he took complete charge of the congregation in 156 V.N. He did a great service to the congregation by composing the four Cheda Sūtras.

Many subsequent ācāryas have believed that this last Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu wrote commentaries for the following Sūtras: (1) Ācārāṃga (2) Sūtra kṛatāṃga (3) Āvaśyaka (4) Daśavaikālika (5) Uttarādhayana (6) Daśa Śruta skaṇdha (7) Kalpa (8) Vyavahāra (9) Surya Prajṅapti and (10) Ṛṣibhāṣita, considered as a person with great occult ācārya  powers, he is also ascribed with the creation of Upasargahara Stotra, Bhadrabāhu Saṃhitā as well as Vasudeva Caritra consisting of 1,25,000 verses. This will be discussed further wherever the context demands. Ācārya Bhadrabāhu Swāmī imparted the knowledge of ten pūrvas, minus two topics, along with its meaning, and the last four Pūrvas in its original text without meaning to the virtuous Śramaṇa Ārya Sthūlabhadra and thus saved the ancient knowledge from being lost.

Ācārya Bhadrabāhu was a great ascetic, a wonderful religious teacher, a transcendental scholar in all the canons, and a great yogi of his time. For 12 years, he practiced intense yoga in the form of Mahāprāṇa-dhyāna. In Indian history, examples of such extensive yoga Spiritual-exertion are seldom found. From 156 to 170 V.N., for 14 years, during his tenure as the ācārya of the congregation, he travelled far and wide, spreading the message of Lord Mahāvīra and extolled Jainism in all aspects.

The importance of Bhadrabāhu in Jain order

Both the Digambara and Śvetāmbara wings of Jainism accept Bhadrabāhu as the 5th and the last Śrutakevalī. Due to his services to the congregation, and to the sacred scriptural knowledge of Jainism Bhadrabāhu secured a very high place for himself in Jain history. For those desirous of attaining salvation, the scriptures composed by him are like beacon of light for more than 23 centuries till date. For his selfless work to the congregation and his invaluable scriptures, he is considered as one of the torch-bearers in the Order of Lord Mahāvīra, and is greatly cherished and deeply regarded.  Many ācāryas & scholars have appreciated his services.

Different opinions about Bhadrabāhu

Last Śrutakevalī, Ācārya Bhadrabāhu occupies a prominent place in Jain history. In some of the religious texts of Digambara sect, it is mentioned that the division into Śvetāmbaras and Digambaras occurred in Jainism during the last phase of Ācārya Bhadrabāhu's life. From this perspective also, his life is of historical importance in Jain religion. There is no doubt a difference of opinion exists between these two sects regarding Bhadrabāhu's life. But his life sketch related scriptures of both the sects reveal an amazing fact that there is no unanimous opinion about his life even among the different authors of Śvetāmbara sect and among the different authors of Digambara sect as well. Studying the texts of both the schools in regard to the life history of Ācārya Bhadrabāhu, an objective reader finds out that probably the events in the lives of two to three different persons bearing the same name might have got mixed up and attributed to and included in the life history of the All canon knowing (Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara) Ācārya Bhadrabāhu. A comparative study of the texts written by the succeeding ācāryas with the texts written by the preceding ācāryas clearly brings out the fact that some of the succeeding ācāryas have included some events in the life sketch of Bhadrabāhu, out of their own imagination.

A comparative study and analysis of the texts is not only helpful for the research scholars and for those who have passion for history, but it also aids in bringing forth the true historical facts into light. With this intention, whatever data is available in the scriptures of both the schools about Ācārya Bhadrabāhu is given below.

Life before initiation into monkhood

Even though Ācārya Bhadrabāhu's life before he took initiation is discussed in both Śvetāmbara and Digambara texts, they do not corroborate with the facts and the chain of events that occurred in his life. In such a scenario, the only thing one can talk about the household life of Ācārya Bhadrabāhu with certainty is that he was born in 94 V.N. He was a Brahmin of Prācina Gotra and at the age of 44, impressed by the sermons of Ācārya Yaśobhadra was initiated in monkhood.

Śvetāmbara traditional information

Information about the post-initiation life of Bhadrabāhu is available in brief in scriptures like Titthogāliya Painnā, Āvaśyaka Cūrṇi, etc. His life prior to his initiation into monkhood is described in modern texts like Gacchācāra Painnā in the commentary of 82nd stanza, in Prabaṃdha Cintāmaṇi and in Prabaṃdha Kośa written by Rājaśekhara Sūri etc. which is as follows:

According to Titthogāliya Painnā

The following information is available in the ancient scripture of "Titthogāliya painnā" written approximately in the early 5th century of Vikram era:

Jasabhadra, who was gifted with all virtuous attributes, was the disciple of Ācārya Sayyaṃbhava. Śrī Saṃbhūta, who was born in a noble family, was the disciple of Jasabhadra. And then, with wide forehead, long arms and handsome Śrī Bhadrabāhu held the office as the seventh Pontiff. He was also well known as Dharmabhadra. He was a Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara. He practiced yoga for 12 years and composed the Cheda Sūtras.

During that period due to severe drought, central India was struck with famine. With the intention that there should not be any slight violation in the observance of vows, or they should not acquire new Karma, some of the religion-fearing ascetics took the strenuous vow of fast unto death and through Saṃlekhanā (ritual death by gradual fasting and overcoming all passions) died in Samādhi. The rest of the monks migrated to other places especially coastal areas or places near to the rivers & sea and wandered with detachment. Ācārya Bhadrabāhu went to Nepal and there he engaged himself in Yoga Spiritual-exertion. When the famine was over, the remaining monks returned to Central India.

After the aforesaid incident, the following events are mentioned in Tithogaliya Painna:

At the time of the first discourse and writing of Āgama in Pāṭalīputra, the congregation sent a group of ascetics in the service of Ācārya Bhadrabāhu at Nepal with a prayer to teach the knowledge of 14 pūrvas to the ascetics. At first rejection of the congregation's prayer by Bhadrabāhu and ultimately yielding to the command of the congregation to impart the discourse to Sthūlabhadra etc., Sthūlabhadra's flaunting of knowledge to his sister ascetics like Yakṣa etc. in Pāṭalīputra because of which Bhadrabāhu's firm resolution not to teach the last four Pūrvas; appeal by the congregation to Bhadrabāhu to forgive Sthūlabhadra and its persuasion to instruct the four Pūrvas, Bhadrabāhu's disclosure of the reasons as to why he decided not to teach the last four pūrvas to Sthūlabhadra and eventually Bhadrabāhu giving discourse on the text of the last four pūrvas to Sthūlabhadra etc. All these incidents will be discussed appropriately in the chapter of Sthūlabhadra Swāmī.

Āvaśyaka Cūrṇi

Out of the aforesaid facts mentioned in Titthogāliya Painnā some are discussed in Āvaśyaka Cūrṇi in a very brief manner. In other Śvetāmbara texts-Gachācāra painnā, (Doghaṭṭhivṛti), Prabaṃdha Cintāmaṇi, Prabhaṃdha Kośa, Guru Paṭṭāvalī and Gaccha Paṭṭāvalī etc., Ācārya Jayabāhu is introduced in the form of two brothers Bhadrabāhu and Varāhamihira - sometimes in similar manner and at times in different manner.

In the scriptures of Digambara sect, information on Ācārya Bhadrabāhu is given on the basis of 'Bhāvasaṃgraha'. The gist is as follows:

Through the stanzas of Bhāvasaṃgraha, Ācārya Devasena made his belief very clear that in Vikram 124 years (594 V.N.) Ācārya Bhadrabāhu had forewarned the Jain community (congregation) of a 12year-famine and counseled the monks to leave Ujjain (Avantī) and to migrate to other distant places. Following his advice a ācārya called Śānti and his several disciples migrated to Vallabhīpurī in Soraṭha Deśa and started living there. There, under calamitous conditions resulted due to the famine, Śānti Ācārya and his disciples were compelled to use blanket, stick, clothes and vessels and started eating at the place of the householders. When the situation returned to normalcy, Ācārya Śānti advised his disciples to revert back to their original blemish less Digambara traditions. But the disciples straightaway rejected his command. So Śāntācārya reprimanded them far they went against the principles propounded by Lord Mahāvīra. Enraged on this, his chief disciple struck him on head with the stick. As a result, Śāntācārya died. After his death, in the Vikram 136 year, (V.N. 606) his disciples composed new scriptures to suit their less-Strict conduct and established a new sect called Śvetāmbara.

Thus in V.N. 606 the first difference of opinion into Śvetāmbara and Digambara began. This is commonly accepted opinion of Digambara sect. Hence the above mentioned opinion of Devasena may be considered as 'opinion 1' of Digambara sect. But in other texts of Digambaras like 'Bṛhata Kathā Kośa' written by Ācārya Hariṣeṇa and 'Bhadrabāhu Caritra' written by Ratna Nandi and Mahāvīra Carita written by Rayadhū, the life of Bhadrabāhu was illustrated in different forms.

From different texts of Digambara School it is apparent that five ācāryas with the same name of Bhadrabāhu existed at different times:

  1. The last Śrutikevalī Ācārya Bhadrabāhu and the 8th Pontiff who attained heaven in V.N. 162.
  2. 29th Pontiff Ācārya Bhadrabāhu, also known as Yaśobāhu, was well-versed in eight Aṃgas and whose tenure is believed to be from 492 to 515 V.N.
  3. First Aṃgadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu whose tenure was estimated near 1000 V.N.
  4. According to the Paṭṭāvalī of Nandi congregation Balātkāra Gaṇa, Ācārya Bhadrabāhu whose tenure was mentioned as V.N. 609 to 63.
  5. Nimittagṅa (occult Ācārya) Bhadrabāhu who existed after the eclipse of Ekādaśāṃgī. According to the author of Śruta skaṇdha, his time was estimated as the third century of Vikram. Because, his name was mentioned after the eclipse of Ekādaśāṃgī in V.N. 683.

After profound analysis of the facts mentioned above, not only historians but even normal students also will derive the conclusion that these are all based on rumors, legends and folk tales. Actually these facts are not backed up by any substantial evidence. Many evidences to refute the above facts are found in Digambara sect itself. One of the strong and solid proofs among them is the inscription of Pārśvanātha Bastī which was engraved in 522 Śaka era, i.e. Vikram 657 years and 1127 V.N. The following names are mentioned in it: Gautama, Lohārya, Jambū, Viṣṇu, Deva, Aparājita, Govardhana, Bhadrabāhu, Viśākha, Proṣṭhila, Kṛttikāya, Jaya, Nāga, Siddhārtha, Ghṛtiṣeṇa and Buddhila. After citing these 16 ācāryas, the name of the occult Ācārya Bhadrabāhu is mentioned among their succeeding ācāryas, describing that he with his power of cognition intimated the congregation about a future twelve year famine, after which the congregation migrated towards the south.

Confusion due to similarity in name

Just because of the similarity in the names of the mothers of Gaṇadhara Mandita and Mauryaputra, many ancient scholars and Ācārya Hemacandra, the author of Āvaśyaka Cūrṇi etc. described Mauryaputra as the younger brother of Manḍita and further stated that even before the birth of Lord Mahāvīra, the tradition of widow remarriage was prevalent in some places in India, among high-caste Brahmin families. Similarly, regarding Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu who held the office from 156 to 170 V.N., and who is the author of Cheda Sūtra is confused with Bhadrabāhu who lived during 1032 V.N. (427 Śaka eras) and who was the brother of Varāhamihira. How and when this confusion, which was prevalent from many years, had originated in the minds of scholars cannot be ascertained clearly.

The author of Cheda Sūtra - Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu

This fact is now being unanimously accepted by all the scholars that the author of the Cheda Sūtra s was indisputably, the Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu only. Though there was no mention of the author anywhere in Cheda Sūtra, at the beginning, middle or at the end, yet on the basis of the writings of the succeeding authors, it is evident from their commentaries that the author of the Cheda Sūtra s is undoubtedly the Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu only.

The commentator of Daśa Śruta Skaṇdha at the beginning of the commentary wrote "I salute the author of Daśa Śruta Skaṇdha, Kalpa and Vyavahāra Sūtra, who is the last Śrutakevalī Mahṛṣi Bhadrabāhu of congregation Gotra".

Both the authors of Niryukti and Paṃcakalpa Mahābhāṣya, described Ācārya Bhadrabāhu as the author of Daśa Śruta, Kalpa and Vyavahāra Sūtra s. In the Pancakalapa Bhāṣya, he was credited with the writing of even Ācārakalpa i.e. Niśītha Sūtra.

Thus, it is evident that the last Śrutakevalī Ācārya Bhadrabāhu, without any doubt, was the author of the Cheda Sūtras.

Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu is not the author of Niryukti

Now the foremost question arises whether Śrutakevalī Ācārya Bhadrabāhu was the author of the ten Niryuktis or was it some other ācārya by the same name.

As a matter of fact, the seventh pontiff of the Jain order, Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu is different from Naimitik Bhadrabāhu, the author of presently available Niryuktis. To prove that these two different great personalities are one and the same, few scholars cited the references of the ancient ācāryas. Except for Śāntācārya, the scholars who considered that Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu was the author of Niryuktis did not present any argument in support of their stand. They simply stated that Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu Swāmī was the author of Niryuktis.

Śāntācārya, supporting his standpoint that only Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Bhadrabāhu was the author of Niryukti, put forward the argument that Bhadrabāhu in his commentary of Uttarādhyayana mentioned the names and events of great souls of much later period. Based on the above, one should not have misgivings that the commentary on Uttarādhyayana was not written by Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu Swāmī but by somebody else or the examples were included later in the text by someone else, because, Ācārya Bhadrabāhu Swāmī being a Śrutakevalī, could see through the past, present and future and so was able to cite the names of succeeding ācāryas and events related to them.

The following arguments uphold the stance that Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Bhadrabāhu Swāmī cannot be the author of Niryukti:


Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Bhadrabāhu is not the author of Niryuktis; had he been its writer, he would not have saluted, addressed and praised his disciple Ārya Sthūlabhadra as 'Lord Sthūlabhadra'.

In the first stanza of Dasa Śruta Skaṇdha Niryukti, the author offered his salutations to Bhadrabāhu Swāmī in the following verse:

Vaṃdāmi Bhadrabāhu, pāiṇaṃ carimasagala suyanāṇiṃ| Suttassa kāragamisiṃdasāsu kappe ya vavahāre || 1||

In Cheda Sūtra s the Dasa Śruta Skaṇdha is famous as the first composition of Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu and for this reason the author of Niryukti in his commentary on Dasa Śruta Skaṇdha offered salutations to Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu.

In the commentary (Niryukti) to Uttarādhyayana Sūtra, the commentator honored Ācārya Sthūlabhadra by giving him the Title of Lord and praised him in the following manner:

Bhagavaṃpi thūlabhaddho, tikkhe caṃkammio na uṇa chinno| Aggisihāye vuttho cāummase na uṇa daḍḍho ||

After going through this stanza of Niryukti even a person with an average intelligence will also derive a conclusion that if Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu was the author of this text, he would not have compared his disciple with or saluted him as the Lord himself.


The second evidence to support the fact that Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu Swāmī is not the author of Niryuktis is that, in the stanzas Nos.762, 763, 773 and 774 of Āvaśyaka Niryukti it is mentioned very clearly that till the tenure of Vajra Swāmī, 584 V.N. (Vikram 114 years), the Kālika Sūtras were not divided into separate expositions (Anuyoga). After Vajra Swāmī, Ārya Rakṣita who was revered by even celestial beings, keeping in view the ensuing odd times, and with the intention to facilitate the weak retentive faculty of his scholarly disciple Durbalikā Puṣyamitrā, had classified the Sūtra s into four types.

According to the Paṭṭāvalīs, Ārya Rakṣita's departure to heaven was dated to 597 V.N. The Sūtras were divided into four expositions between 584 and 597 V.N.  So it is neither possible nor wise to hold a view that Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu mentioned the division of the Sūtra s, as he went to heaven in 170 V.N. itself.


In the stanzas Nos. 764 to 769, 773 to 776 of Āvaśyaka Niryukti, the ācāryas of post Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu period - Sthavira Bhadragupta the teacher of Vajra Swāmī, Ārya Siṃhagiri, Śrī Vajra Swāmī, Ācārya Tosaliputra, Ārya Rakṣita, Phalgu Rakṣita etc. are mentioned with details of connected events, and salutations were offered many times to Vajra Ṛṣi. So Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu Swāmī should not be confused with the author of Niryuktis. Because he would not have ever offered humble deferential salutations in this way time and again, to the ācāryas of distant future.


The 498th stanza of Piṇda Niryukti discusses about Ācārya Pādalipta Sūri; the incidents pertaining to Ārya Samita Sūri - an uncle of Vajra Swāmī, the Śramaṇa initiation of Brahma Dwīpaka ascetics and the origin of the branch of Brahma Dwīpaka are described in 503rd to 505th stanzas. These stanzas describe the ācāryas who came much later than Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu and the events that took place during their times.


The events that took place in the life of Kālikācārya, who succeeded at a much later time after Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu are described in stanza No. 120 of the commentary on Uttarādhyayana Sūtra.


One strong evidence, which proves that the Niryuktis available in the present time were not written by Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu is that in the commentary of Uttarādhyayana Sūtra (Akāmamaraniya) the author, clearly mentioned that he was not a Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara.

Savve yeye dārā maraṇavibhatīī vaṇṇiyā kamaso |
 Sagalaṇiuṇe payatthe, jiṇa cauddasapuvvi bhāsaṃti ||

Which means that, I have explained in sequence the doors related to death? In fact, only the omniscient and Caturdaśa Pūrvadharas are capable of describing the complete and minute details.

If the author of Niryukti was a Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara, he would not have written the statement that only the omniscient and Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara can describe the objects completely in minor detail. This stanza of Niryukti itself is self-evident that the author of Niryukti was not Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Bhadrabāhu but some other ācārya with the same name.


That Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu Swāmī is not the author of Niryuktis is proved by the seventh evidence, that in the 778 to 783 stanzas of Āvaśyaka Nivrutti, the details pertaining to the "seven Ninhnavas" (non-believers) that existed between the 14th year of Lord Mahāvīra's discourses and upto 584 years after his nirvāṇa, and even the origin of Digambara sect in 609 V.N. are given. If the Niryuktis were written by the Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu who went to heaven in 170 V.N., then the events that took place in V.N.Y 609 would not have been mentioned in that at all.


Similarly, in stanza nos. 164 to 178 of Uttarādhyayana Sūtra Niryukti (4th chapter) the seven Ninhnavs (non-believers) and the origin of Digambara sect are described in a more detailed way than that of Āvaśyaka Niryukti.


In the stanzas of Daśavaikālika Niryukti and Ogha Niryukti, both Kālika Saṃbhūtavijaya lika Sūtra and Ogha are incorporated in Caraṇa Karaṇānuyoga. The division of Sūtras into expositions (Anuyogas) had taken place between V.N. 590 and 597. Accordingly after the demise of Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu, during the intermediate period of 420 to 427, Ārya Rakṣita splitted them into expositions.


Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu was not the author of Niryuktis. This view can once again be proved by the following example from a stanza in Dasa Śruta Skaṇdha Niryukti:

Egabhaviye ya badhāue ya abhimuhiya nāma goye ya |
 Ete tinni vi desā, davvammi ya poṃḍrīyassa ||46||

Three instructions of the substance (dravya Nikṣepa) were analysed in this stanza. According to the commentator of Bṛhatkalpa sūtra there are three different beliefs among these three Sthaviras - Ārya Maṃgū, Ārya Samudra and Ārya Suhasti.


The elaborate analysis that is substantiated with many literary and historical evidences proves that these Niryuktis were not written by Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Bhadrabāhu, but were written by some other ācārya with the same name.

Who is the author of Niryuktis?

After thus proving that Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Bhadrabāhu is not the author of the now available Niryuktis, the question that arises next is, who is the author of these Niryuktis? Before bringing out an answer, we have to first determine in all how many ācāryas were there with the same name Bhadrabāhu and which period they belonged to.

According to the literary evidences of both the Digambara and Śvetāmbara traditions and inscriptions, it is obvious that there were many persons with the name Bhadrabāhu. According to Digambara sect there were five ācāryas with the name Bhadrabāhu at different times. Whereas, as per the texts of Śvetāmbara sect, there were only two ācāryas with the name Bhadrabāhu, of which one is Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Bhadrabāhu and the other, occult Ācārya Bhadrabāhu. The following folk tale about occult Ācārya Bhadrabāhu is quite famous:

Pāvayaṇī 1, dhammakahī2, vāī 3, ṇemittio 4, tavassi 5 ya, vijjā
6, siddho 7, ya kai 8, atteva pabhāvagā bhaṇiyā ||1||

Ajjarakkha 1, nandiseṇo 2, sirigutta viṇeya 3, bhaddhabāhu 4 ya
Khavaga 5, jjakhavuḍa 6, samiyā 7, divāyaro 8, va ihāharaṇā || 2||

Among the eight influnetials, occult Ācārya Bhadrabāhu was considered as the fourth influntial ācārya. From the ancient times, there has been a unanimous opinion in the Śvetāmbara sect that the four Cheda Sūtras Daśa Śruta Skaṇdha, Kalpasūtra, Vyavahāra Sūtra and Niśītha Sūtra, the Āvaśyaka Niryuktis etc., the ten Niryuktis, Uvasaggahara Stotra and Bhadrabāhu Saṃhitā, these 16 texts in all were written by Bhadrabāhu Swāmī  (earlier in this book). Out of these 16 the four Ched Sūtra s were written by Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu is already proved with evidences. In such circumstances, the rest 12 texts might have been written by occult Ācārya Bhadrabāhu, because in Śvetāmbara literature, except for these two, there is no mention of a third Bhadrabāhu.

In the ancient scriptures of Śvetāmbara sect, as Bhadrabāhu and Varāhamihira were described as siblings, the information about them is given together. Hence if the period of Varāhamihira is decided it automatically resolves the period of Bhadrabāhu.

In the end of his text 'Paṃcasiddhāntikā', Varāhamihira wrote a sloka, and mentioned that it was written in 427 Śaka era. On the basis of this, it can be certain that along with Varāhamihira, occult Ācārya Bhadrabāhu must have lived around 427 Śaka era (vikram 562 year and 1032 V.N.).

A profound analysis of these facts makes it clear that the biographies of Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu who held the ācārya rank between 156 to 170 V.N. and Bhadrabāhu, the great occult ācārya (Naimittika) who lived around 1032 V.N. were in course of time mixed up with each other and in the process all the events of both their lives, were attributed to the first Bhadrabāhu alone, completely forgetting the second one. The confusion, that Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Bhadrabāhu was the author of the Niryuktis and the Saṃhitās cropped up, as the incidents in the lives of both these ācāryas were clubbed together. When once the misconception is clarified, it becomes very clear that Caturdaśa Pūrvadhara Ācārya Bhadrabāhu was the author of Cheda Sūtras and occult Ācārya Bhadrabāhu the second, was the author of Niryuktis, Upasargahara Stotra and Bhadrabāhu Saṃhitā.

Significant political & historical events of Śruta kevli era

Important Dynasties: In 60 V.N., after Udāyī, the King of Śiśunāga dynasty, Nandvardhana ascended the throne of Pāṭalīputra. The kings of Pāṭalīputra, right from Nandivardhana to the last King Dhananda are described as 'Navanandas' in both Jain literature and in other literature.

At the commencement of Śrutakevalī era, the first Nanda was already ruling over Pāṭalīputra since four years. The details of the nine Nandas as their respective period of rule as given in the brief introduction of 'Duṣṣamā Śramaṇa congregation Stotra' are as follows:

S.No. Ruler Reigning Period Ācārya and the tenure of ācārya
V.N. Years
1. Nanda First (Nandivardhan) 60 - 71 11 Ārya Jambū  4 years + Ārya Prabhava 7 years
2. Nand Second 71 - 81 10 Prabhava 4 years + Sayyaṃbhava 6 years
3. Nand Third 81 - 94 13 Sayyaṃbhava 13 years
4. Nand Fourth 94 - 119 25 Sayyaṃbhava 4 years + Yaśobhadra 21 years
5. Nand Fifth 119 - 144 25 Yaśobhadra 25 years
6. Nand Sixth 144 - 150 6 Yaśobhadra 4 years + Saṃbhūtavijaya 2 years
7. Nand Seventh 150 - 156 6 Saṃbhūtavijaya 6 years
8. Nand Eighth 156 - 160 4 Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu 4 years
9. Nand Ninth (Dhanananda) 160 - 215 55 Śrutakevalī Bhadrabāhu 10 years + Sthūlabhadra 45 year
Total 155

From the above table it is clear those four years before the commencement of Śrutakevalī era, Nandivardhana, the first Nanda started ruling over Pāṭalīputra; and by the end of Śrutakevalī era in 170 V.N., Dhanananda, the ninth Nanda had already completed 10 years of his reign. This implies that 45 years after Śrutakevalī era, the 155 years' regime of the Nandas came to an end and Candragupta Maurya became the emperor of Pāṭalīputra.

From 64 to 170 V.N., stretching to a span of 106 years of the Śrutakevalī era, only the Nanda Kings held power. Nandivardhana, the first Nanda conquered many kingdoms and expanded both his power and the boundaries of his kingdom. During the regime of Nandivardhana the kings of Avantī, Kauśāmbī and Kaliṃga accepted his sovereignty and became the vassal kings of Magadha.

Upakeśa gacha (congregation)

According to Upakeśa gaccha Paṭṭāvalī, etc., Ācārya Ratnaprabha Sūri observed rainy season halt in 70 V.N. in Upakeśa Nagara (Osiā) and made the kṣatriyas of that region into Oswals.

Maṇiratna, the Vidyādhara king, came to Bhinnamāla to pay reverences to Ācārya Svayaṃprabha Sūri of the Pārśva tradition. After listening to Ācārya Svayamprabha Sūri's sermons, he handed over the crown to his son and took initiation. Along with him 500 other vidyādharas also took initiation. After initiation, Ācārya Svayaṃprabha Sūri renamed him as Ratnaprabha Sūri.

In 52 V.N. monks Ratnaprabha Sūri was made ācārya of the congregation. Wandering from place to place he reached Upakeśa Nagara.

At that time, he had to face many hardships as there was not a single householder in the town who followed Jain Dharma. As they could not receive any alms, he and his disciples did penance (starved) for days together. In spite of these hardships he decided to observe rainy season halt (Caturmāsa) in Upakeśa Nagara along with his 35 disciples. He sent the remaining disciples to Koraṇṭa and other towns and villages asking them to observe Rainy season halt there.

After the completion of Rainy season halt, Ratnaprabha Sūri and his disciples could not get food and water, yet, facing the situation with equanimity, they incessantly kept practicing their Spiritual-exertion. A few days after Rainy season halt, Utpala, the son-in-law of King Trailokyasiṃha of Upakeśa Nagara was bitten by a deadly poisonous snake. As all the efforts to save his life were in vain, he was taken to the burial ground for cremation, believing him to be dead. There, when the 'Carṇodaka' (water touching the feet) of Ācārya Ratnaprabha Sūri was sprinkled on his body, the poison got expelled and thus he was blessed with new life. The grief Stricken royal family and the entire city once again was filled with joy and happiness.

Influenced by this astounding event, the king, ministers, kinsmen and citizens etc., in great numbers, adopted Jainism. As they were all the dwellers of Osiā, these novices of Jainism were termed as 'Oswal' and they became famous with the same name. It is said that Ratnaprabha Sūri made 1, 80,000 non-Jains as Jains and in 84 V.N. left for heavenly abode.

It is said that after Ratnaprabha Sūri followed by consecutive ācāryas like Yakṣadeva Sūri and others, the Upakeśa gaccha ācārya tradition continues in the same way, uninterruptedly.

Disciples of Ācārya Bhadrabāhu

Ācārya Bhadrabāhu had four chief disciples. They are:

  1. Sthavira Godasa
  2. Sthavira Agnidatta
  3. Sthavira Yajṅadatta
  4. Sthavira Somadatta.

All of them belong to Kāśyapa Gotra. Godasa Gaṇa originated from Sthavira Godasa. It consisted of the following four branches:

  1. Tamilitiyā
  2. Kodivarisiā
  3. Panduvadhaniyā (Pondavadhaniya)
  4. Dasi Khabbadiā

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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