Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (4): 55th and 56th Pontiffs of Lord Mahāvīra Tradition

Published: 12.09.2016

55th Pontiff
Ācārya Jīvarājajī
Mahārāja
56th Pontiff
Ācārya
Gajasena
Birth V.N.1709 V.N.1721
Initiation into monkhood V.N.1722 V.N.1744
Became ācārya V.N.1757 V.N.1779
Heavenly Abode V.N.1779 V.N.1806
Household life duration 13 years 23 years
Ordinary monk tenure 36 years 35 years
Period of ācārya status 21 years 27 years
Complete monkhood 57 years 62 years
Total longevity 70 years 85 years

41st Epochal - ācārya Revatīmitra

Birth V.N.1737
Initiation into monkhood V.N.1746
Period of ordinary monk V.N.1746 - 1762
Period of epochal ācārya V.N.1762 - 1840
Household life duration 9 years
Ordinary monk tenure 16 years
Period of epochal ācārya 78 years
Heavenly Abode V.N.1840
Total longevity 103 years

A great proponent-propagator Votaries Jagaḍūśāha during the tenure of 56th Pontiff of Lord Mahāvīra tradition

A very generous and a sincere follower of Jina Order, a merchant named Jagaḍ ūśāha existed during the period of Ācārya Gajasena (Vikram 17791806), the 56th Pontiff of Lord Mahāvīra tradition and Revatī Mitra (Vikram 1762 - 1840), the 41st epochal - ācārya. During the countrywide famine from Vikram 1315 to 17 i.e. V.N. 1785 - 87 that lasted for 3 years, he set up 112 inns at different places and donated large quantities of grains from his granaries to the victims of famine and thus did a magnificent service to humankind. The glory and generosity of Jagaḍūśāha - 'embodiment of humanity' is sung even today in every nook and corner of the country.

An illustration about the exemplary services of Jagaḍūśāha's to humanity is given below in brief.

In an idyllic village called Bhadreśwara in Pāṃcāla region, lived a merchant called Śāha of Śrīmālī lineage. He was a very loyal devotee of Jina Order. He had a son called Jagaḍūśāha who was considered as one of the chief votaries. Though he was busy with his business, he regularly practised religious austerities like periodic - contemplation penitential recitals etc. One day a Jain monk came to Bhadreśwara with a convoy of his disciples. Jagaḍūśāha served them with dedication and loyalty. Staying in their lodgings to be able to serve them, on a certain auspicious day he observed Pauṣadha vow.

At night, after completing his religious austerities like penitential recitals, obtaining other essential duties of a votary, and observing silence, Jagaḍūśāha sat in one corner of the lodgings and was reciting softly the 'Paṃca Parameṣṭhi Namaskāra Mantra'.

One part (24 minutes) of night had passed. A monk, who sat in the monastery, suddenly looked into the sky. He observed that the moon was piercing through Rohiṇī constellation. He showed it to his peers. They felt astounded. So they approached their guru and said in astonishment, "Lord! Today at this time the moon is piercing into Rohiṇī constellation".

Even the guru observed this. Immediately the Guru enquired, "Is there anyone else in the vicinity apart from you?"

They looked around and declared, "No Lord! There is no one here except us." Because of darkness all over, the disciples could not see Jagaḍūśāha who was meditating behind a pillar.

Relieved with their answer the Guru announced, "It is an inauspicious omen indicating that a country wide three year famine will break out in Vikram 1315"

The disciples asked, "Is there any redeemer who would extend help in such a critical situation?"

The preceptor consoling them said, "The invisible superpower had already said that Jagaḍūśāha will save the people out of this calamity and protect many famine victims."

The disciples questioned in a dubious tone, "Lord! How Jagaḍūśāha has that much money to feed billions and trillions of people and help to keep them alive?" Guru replied, "There is a small garden in the backyard of their house. There is a giant cotton bush tree (āka) in the garden and there are 30 million gold coins beneath that tree".

Jagaḍūśāha accidentally listened to their conversation and thought, "How lucky I am to listen to this type of truth about me, from the Guru himself!" Throughout the night he observed silence and performed austerities. In the morning he went to his house. After Pāraṇa (took the food after fasting) he dug under the giant cotton bush and found the exact amount of money as told by guru. He firmly resolved to buy huge quantities of grain. Putting his thought into action he started buying grains from all parts of the country and hoarded in huge capacious granaries.

The 'Munīmas' (accountants) of Jagaḍūśāha built their huge granary near the granaries of other merchants Malābāra. There was a boulder between the granary of Jagaḍūśāha and that of another merchant. In the morning the accountant of both the parties used to sit on it and brush their teeth. One day it so happened that both the accountant reached the place at the same time. The boulder was sufficient enough to provide seat for only one person, both of them together cannot sit on it. But the accountant picked up a quarrel saying, "I came first, so let me first brush my teeth sitting on it". The quarrel turned into a fight with both the accountant becoming stubborn on their stand. Even the Royal officers tried to pacify them but of no avail.

Eventually the royal attendants came out with a solution and said, "Whoever gives 600 Sparddhaka (an ancient coin with greater value than Dramma), will sit on the boulder first and brush his teeth". Both of them were at once prepared to give the money. But then the second accountant suggested, "I will give 700 Sparddhakas". The accountant of Jagaḍūśāha proposed, "I will give 800".

Thus the competition increased with both of them bidding the amount of money one over the other. Each of them was trying to show the greatness of their respective employers. The place became crowded with accountant and workers of other merchants and the passers-by. Both the accountant did not want to prove their merchant inferior than the other. So they consistently increased their bid. Eventually the accountant of Jagaḍūśāha raised the bid to 2500 Sparddhaka. The accountant of the other merchant did not dare to hike the bid further. So the royal officials took the money from him and declared the ownership of the boulder permanently to the accountant of Jagaḍūśāha. And the accountant gloating over his victory sat on the boulder in front of the crowd gathered there and brushed his teeth.

The accountant narrated the entire incident to Jagaḍūśāha when he came to visit the granary. Jagaḍūśāha was very much pleased and stroking on his back praised him, "Congratulations! You have done a very good job. You protected my well-wisher in this area". That very moment Jagaḍūśāha transferred the boulder to his house and started brushing his teeth sitting on it.

One afternoon when he sat for his lunch, a sage came at the door. Śāha said to his wife, "O Virtuous Lady! Offer to this sage jalebīs enough for a man to feel contented". His wife filled a plate with jalebīs and offered it to sage. But the sage neither took the plate nor moved from the place. She informed the matter to her husband. He said, "Offer him a silver plate filled with 'imaratīs' (Indian sweets)".

The lady obeying his order took a heavy silver plate filled it with sweets and offered it in alms to the sage. The sage was fully satisfied and said, "O Generous One! I descended onto earth and sought alms just to test you. I wanted to find out a genuine generous person. Though wandering for the last 6 months, I could find none. Today, I feel contended beholding a person like you, who is a saviour and benefactor to the world. You are the real donor and one who will fill the scarcity of the world"

Jagaḍūśāha enquiringly looked at him and asked, "O great sage! Where do I possess that much money?"

"O Virtuous Merchant! This boulder is an eternal source of money". Thus saying he looked at the boulder without batting an eyelid.

Jagaḍūśāha went inside to bring him some clothes, and collecting some material when he came out to give to the sage, he was nowhere to be found. He looked around but the sage was not anywhere. Jagaḍūśāha realised that he was not a real sage, but was related to him from his previous births. He came only to inform him the way or give a chance to earn name and merit (puṇya).

Thereupon he closely scrutinized the boulder. After a long scrutiny he could feel a joint in it. He poured some water over it; a small latch was skilfully and artistically fixed in it in such a way that it was not at all visible. He with great difficulty opened the latch. He could not believe his eyes. Not one, but five 'sparśa-pāṣāṇa', i.e. pārasa (a stone which turns iron to gold by its mere touch) was inside it. To confirm, he touched a very big iron weight used for grains with the 'pārasa'. At once the iron weight which weighed some kilos turned into gold. His happiness knew no bounds. Now he felt sure that whatever his guru predicted that night in the lodgings is definitely going to happen. So he resolved decisively that he would collect grains on large scale to save the countrymen from the forthcoming famine.

Then he started executing his plans into action. He appointed accountants and workers at different places all over the country to buy and collect grains. With a noble thought of serving the humanity, he continued amassing food grains. He hoarded grains in such huge quantities before the outbreak of famine that they will suffice to feed the entire nation even in an untoward situation of a prolonged famine. Not even a single person would die out of starvation or hunger.

As predicted by the guru, (on the night when moon was piercing into the Rohiṇī constellation) a nation-wide famine broke out in Vikram 1315. To rescue his countrymen against famine, Jagaḍūśāha opened shelters / inns at different places like Delhi, Stambhanapura, Dhavalakka, Aṇahillapura Paṭṭaṇa, etc. Without any discrimination all the people were served equally in those inns with free, tasty food served along with ghee. People started flocking into those rest houses; staying there with their families they protected their lives during that time of horrible famine. During the famine, which prolonged for a long time, in the morning and evening's people were provided with tasty meals in these houses. Apart from this, he donated 21 thousand Mūḍhaka, i.e. 200 lakh kilos of corn to Suratrāṇa (probably Alāuddīna Khilajī), 8 lakh kilos to King Bīsaladeva, and 12 lakh kilos to King Hammīra and he gave corn to other kings adequate enough to feed the entire population in their kingdoms.

Apart from his excellent and systematic arrangements to see that not even a single countryman remains hungry, he also supplied corn to the kings, merchants and social reformers of distant lands in large quantities whenever they approached him. East to west and north to south, millions of people, had to their heart's content, two meals a day served with ghee and sang in praise of Jagaḍūśāha and showered him with blessings.

Other than serving food in an organised manner regularly, Jagaḍūśāha also opened special houses for alms and started donating corns. With a noble intention that wealthy distinguished families or high born people, who shy away from going to the Choultries and eating there, should neither starve nor face any hardships during that famine, Jagaḍūśāha opened houses for alms and sitting behind a curtain, he started giving alms in the mornings. Wealthy and distinguished people used to come there and stretch their hands into the veil. Jagaḍūśāha sitting behind the curtain used to place either gold or silver coins in aplenty.

Listening to the singular out of the way and tales of benevolence of Jagaḍūśāha, the King of Aṇahillapura Paṭṭaṇa wanted to test him. One day he reached there in disguise and stretched his hand inside the curtain.

On seeing the heated copper coloured strong hand with strong lines of fate, education, wealth, fame, comforts, luxury, etc Jagaḍūśāha thought that he must be belonging to a royal family who has come upon this pathetic state. He thought to himself that he should give him such an object with which he can spend his entire life without any worry, happily and luxuriously. With this thought he took out an extremely expensive gold ring studded with invaluable diamonds from his own finger and placed it on the king's palm. King Bīsaladeva was astonished. For a moment he remained stupefied. Out of curiosity, he stretched his left hand too. Jagaḍūśāha took out one more similar type of ring from his finger and placed it on the king's hand.

Taking both the rings, Bīsaladeva returned to palace. Next day, the king invited Jagaḍūśāha to the court and honoured him. The King in front of his courtiers and the audience praising the generosity of Jagaḍūśāha said, "Śāha! You are the most generous and celebrated person on the earth; so unlike the rest of the people, you need not pay any homage to me from now onwards." Then he stubbornly put back the two rings on Jagaḍūśāha's fingers, made him sit on an elephant and bade him farewell to his house.

Jagaḍūśāha continued his public welfare activities by word, deed, soul and with his money even after the famine came to an end. Thus Jagaḍūśāha, a lay devotee of Jainism served Jain Order sincerely and added a silver lining to the fame of Jainism.

Sources

Title: Jain Legend: Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (4)
Author:
Acharya Hasti Mala
Editors:
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. Contemplation
  2. Delhi
  3. Fasting
  4. Gajasena
  5. Ghee
  6. Guru
  7. Jainism
  8. Jina
  9. Lakh
  10. Mahāvīra
  11. Pauṣadha
  12. Puṇya
  13. Soul
  14. Ācārya
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