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Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (4): Paramārhata King Kumārapāla (Vikram 1199 to 1230)

Published: 29.08.2016

From the last year of Vikram 12th century to first three decades in Vikram 13th century, i.e. for 31 years Kumārapāla ruled over the vast territories of Gurjara kingdom with equanimity and integrity and carried out many activities for the glory and progress of Jina order.

In appreciation of his services to Jina Order, the Jain world honoured him with the title Paramārhata. His name along with the title will be written in golden letters in Jain history.

Before ascending the throne, Kumārapāla led a life of anguish and adversity. He mostly remained in disguise, wandered through many places to save his life from Siddharāja's Damocles sword hanging continuously on his head. Many a time, he almost came under the edge of the blade but narrowly escaped. He roamed in the garb of an ascetic. The reason behind it was his maternal lineage and it has already been described in the life history of Siddharāja.

As soon as Kumārapāla ascended the throne, he personally supervised all the administrative activities. He appointed Vāgbhaṭṭa Deva, son of Minister Udayana, as Prime Minister (Mahāmātya). Further showing his gratitude, he made Āliga, the potter as the head of 700 villages near Cittauḍa. His family members were given the status of kṣatriyas and were appointed as 'Pradhānas' (chieftains) of his own dynasty. The farmers, who saved his life by hiding him under the heap of thorn branches, were made as his bodyguards. Thus taking the reins into his hand, within a short time he consolidated his vast kingdom and made it free form troubles and rivals.

'Vāhaḍa' was one of the sons of Udayana Deva. King Siddharāja considered and treated him as his own son. In the far end of Siddharāja's life, Vāhaḍa Kumāra had a very good influence on some of the important officers, workers, attendants of palace and distinguished citizens. Apart from this, as he was noted by King Jaya Siṃha, he knew many secrets of kingdom. He was completely against Kumārapāla's succession to the throne. So to dethrone him, Vāhaḍa Kumāra went to Sapāda Lakṣa (presently Sāmbhara) and joined as a commander in the king's service and attacked Kumārapāla with the army of Sapāda Lakṣa. A fierce battle followed and Kumārapāla emerged victorious. After his victory Kumārapāla punished the treacherous feudatories and commanders severely and appointed his loyal men in their places.

Later, Kumārapāla attacked Koṃkaṇa kingdom with the aide-de-camp of his loyal minister and commander Ambaḍa. In the war, commander Ambaḍa slain King Mallikārjuna and won the battle. From there he brought with him immense wealth and the severed head of Mallikārjuna. Ambaḍa placed the sundered head near the feet of Kumārapāla and stood near him bowing his head in respect. He also gifted the money brought from Koṃkaṇa to the king.

Cālukya king Kumārapāla was propitiated by Ambaḍa's chivalrous deeds and honoured him by gifting him the ownership of many villages.

In order to stabilise the administration and to provide benevolent government to Mālawa, which he integrated it into his empire, Kumārapāla organised royal camps at different places to listen and attend to the grievances of people. At that time, female - monk Pāhinī, Chief of female - monk and mother of Ācārya Hemacandra Sūri, realising the approaching death observed the vow of Saṃthārā with Saṃlekhanā to attain holy death. Ācārya Hemacandra Sūri chanted the Namaskāra Mantra for 10 million times for her. Mahattarā Pāhinī left the physical body in Samādhi. When the body was taken to Vaikuṇṭhī cremation ground, some of the ascetics there, out of envy tried to break the hearse carriage. But they could not do anything in front of the ocean of the people who attended the last rites. Mahattarā Pāhinī's body was cremated peacefully without any unsolicited incidents.

Ācārya Hemacandra Sūri felt deeply hurt by the spiteful behaviour of the ascetics even in such a mournful situation and decided to migrate to Mālawa from Paṭṭaṇa. On the way, he arrived at the royal camp of Kumārapāla. After being crowned as king, Kumārapāla and ācārya met each other for the first time. Kumārapāla requested ācārya, "Lord! I will remain grateful to you for ever. Please have mercy on me and definitely come to me during prayer hours". Ācāryaśrī said, "O King! We are the walkers on the spiritual path of detachment and renunciation. As such, of what use is the association of a king? Kumārapāla pleaded again, "Swāmī! In order to reform and elevate my status in the other world, I aspire to remain in noble company with great souls like you. You can come to me at any time that befits you". That very moment Kumārapāla called his bodyguards and sentinels and ordered them, "Whenever Ācāryaśrī wants to see me, at any hour or time, lead him to my room with respect at that instant."

Thus, almost every day Ācārya Hemacandra Sūri would come to royal camp to give sermons, to discourse and debate spiritual matters with King Kumārapāla. One day Kumārapāla, overwhelmed by devotion started praising the knowledge, detachment and passionless attributes of ācārya. A scholar who harboured ill-will towards Jains said accusingly, "O King, Please forgive me, these followers of Śvetāmbara tradition do not believe the Sun god".

Hemacandra Sūri addressing Kumārapāla said, "O King! Leave aside food we do not even touch a drop of water after sun set. On the contrary, my friend who is passing such a statement in your presence eats six course delicious meals every day. O Righteous King! Please give a just verdict, When sun sets, extending sympathy to Sun god in his trouble, we totally forsake food and water etc. So it is we in fact who respect and honour the sun, and not these people. This is proved beyond doubt by irrefutable direct evidence."

One day Ācārya Hemacandra Sūri entered into Kumārapāla's room. Before spreading a blanket onto the seat, his disciple Yaśacandra gaṇi gently brushed it with the whiskbroom (rajoharaṇa). At that time Kumārapāla commented, "One should perform this task only if any subtle beings are seen, or else it is a futile endeavour". Listening to such logic ācārya explained, "O King! An efficient king, before invading the enemy mobilises his quadripartite army which includes elephants, horses, chariots etc. A king should always keep his quadripartite army prepared with all military strategies to defeat the opponent, this is politics. Just like your political policy, we too have our spiritual policies.  We take all precautions not to harm even the subtlest beings which are invisible by performing activities like cleaning etc. We are always careful not to harm the creatures."

Kumārapāla was extremely pleased with the amazing quick wit and insight of ācārya and with folded hands implored him, "Ācārya Deva! True to the promise that I made to you during my incognito days much before I ascended the throne, I surrender the entire kingdom at your feet. Please accept it."

Ācārya Hemacandra said, "As I told you previously, we are progressing ahead on spiritual path, leaving everything behind. Put aside kingdom, we, the ascetics do not even accept any other charity except ascetic implements (dharmopakaraṇa), because with the possession and acceptance of all these mundane objects, particularly kingdom, we eventually end up in hell."

The remarkable detachment and dispassion of ācārya increased hundred fold reverences towards him in the heart of Kumārapāla.

After staying few days in Mālawa, Kumārapāla set out for Aṇahillapura Paṭṭaṇa. Yielding to his request, ācārya also accompanied him. After a few days they reached Aṇahillapura Paṭṭaṇa.

Encouraged by ācārya, King Kumārapāla took a vow not to eat flesh and meat. The respect and veneration towards ācārya had been constantly increasing in the heart of Kumārapāla. Ācārya was his progenitor, Guru, guide and cherished deity.

One day Kumārapāla opened out his heart to ācārya, expressing his desire, "O Great Soul! Is there any way to make my fame eternal?"

Hemacandra Sūri said, "Yes Your Majesty! There are multiple ways. Somanātha temple was constructed by Vikramāditya making the entire earth debt free. The same wooden (kāṣṭamaya) Somanātha temple is now in almost dilapidated situation as the surging waves constantly thumps against its walls. By renovation and construction of a strong permanent temple, you can earn immortal fame".

Hemacandrācārya gave this counsel to Kumārapāla as he knew his religious bent of mind and inherited trait and zeal to perform religious activities. Within no time Kumārapāla made arrangements for the renovation work.

Observing the increasing devotion of Kumārapāla towards Hemacandrācārya some envious persons started thinking of ways to enrage Hemacandrācārya. A sycophant said to the king, "Your Majesty! Just to propitiate you Hemacandra says things the way you like them to be. As a matter of fact, he does not have even a slightest devotion towards Someśvara and he never pays obeisance to Lord Śaṃkara. Just ask him to accompany you on a pilgrimage to Someśvara. The next moment you will realise the truth in our words."

So, the next day while discussing about Someśvara pilgrimage Kumārapāla asked Hemacandra, "Will you accompany me to Someśvara, please?"

It did not take much time for ācārya to realise the matter. He replied, "Your Majesty! Ascetics are required to carry out pilgrimages. I would definitely accompany you".

After reaching Someśvara, Kumārapāla prostrated many times before the Śivaliṃga in the temple. He wanted to test whether ācārya pays homage to Lord Śiva or not. So he requested ācārya to worship Lord Śiva. Ācārya happily agreed and worshipped the icon (Śivaliṃga) with appropriate rituals, recited two verses in a melodious tone and prostrated to Śiva in front of everyone's eyes. The meaning of the verses was – O Lord! Different philosophies may call you with different names, at different times but I prostrate to thee, the universally venerated Lord, if you are the unblemished one free of karmic flaws. Irrespective of whether he is called Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Someśvara or Jineśvara," I pay obeisance to that Lord who had totally obliterated the seeds of transmigration and triumphed over qualities like passion, envy, etc".

On completion of worship by Ācārya Hemacandra Sūri, Kumārapāla worshipped Lord Śiva as per the method prescribed by Bṛhaspati and liberally gave many types of alms. Later, he entered into the sanctum sanatorium (garbha gṛaha) with ācārya. There he sat composed and humbly questioned, "Ācārya Deva! Each philosophy, based on its beliefs and doctrines, describes its cherished deity in different forms. As such, it creates confusion about the real form of the 'absolute god'. So in this sacred place I openly express my internal emotions and I beseech you to explain the true form of God and true form of religion which can grant liberation."

Ācāryaśrī thought for a while and said, "Your Majesty! I will not talk about epics and different philosophies. I will show you Someśvara so that you yourself can listen and understand the path of liberation directly from him".

After that he sat in a lotus posture (Padmāsana), engrossed deep in meditation and invoked Lord Śiva. At once Śiva manifested as a resplendent ascetic with a halo of extraordinary sanctity and glory on the icon of Śiva (liṃga). Kumārapāla prostrated before him and asked, "O Lord of the Universe! My eyes are sanctified beholding thee. And now I beseech thee to sanctify my ears too with thy pious commandment".

The next moment he heard the Lord's pious voice saying, "O King! This sage Hemacandra Sūri is the incarnation of all the deities. He is such an omniscient theologian who perceives the past, future and the present as if one sees the pearl in his palm. Whichever way he guides you, that is the true and definite path to liberation".

Thus saying Lord Śiva disappeared Kumārapāla was overwhelmed with joy. He came to know the rectitude of Ācāryaśrī Hemacandra through his cherished deity. Shedding the false pride of royalty, he prostrated before ācārya with his forehead touching the latter's feet and humbly said, "Please command me!"

He right away resolved to give up eating meat and drinking wine. Later both of them came out of sanctum and started for Paṭṭaṇa.


Title: Jain Legend: Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (4)
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. Body
  2. Deva
  3. Equanimity
  4. Garbha
  5. Guru
  6. Hemacandra
  7. Jaya
  8. Jina
  9. Mantra
  10. Meditation
  11. Namaskāra Mantra
  12. Omniscient
  13. Padmāsana
  14. Pride
  15. Sanctum
  16. Saṃlekhanā
  17. Soul
  18. samādhi
  19. Ācārya
  20. Śvetāmbara
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