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Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (4): The Life of Lokāśāha

Published: 18.09.2016

This great soul was born in Arahaṭavāḍa to Oswal lineage Chaudhary Aṭakanā Śetha Hemābhāī and pious wife Gaṃgābāī in sāka 1482 (Vikram 1472) on full moon night of the month of Kārtika. Probably at the age of 15, in 1497 (Vikram 1487) in the month of Māgha, his parents got him married to a girl named Sudarśanā, who was the daughter of Śāha Odhava of Śīrohī town. They both had a son named Pūnamacanda. Lokāśāha was an honest and principled person without any vices. He used to obey the commands of his parents even if they were very difficult. He was a voracious reader, and read many books on philosophy, renunciation, etc. Every day he used to meditate for hours and was keen on performing religious rites and rituals. Even after his marriage, sometimes he used to sit alone and contemplate - O Dear Man! All the things in the world are mortal. Every minute they keep changing their forms. O Consciousness! Time and again you are witnessing the change in the forms of birds, animals, human beings etc.  Whom are you associated with from among these?  Who belongs to you? What is your existence? What will accompany you? Just contemplate on all these questions. Now, a doctrine exists promulgated by an omniscient who won victory over the bodily passions to save the soul burning in the fumes of passion. Lokāśāha was very devout person both in mind and body. His writing was extremely beautiful. He migrated to Ahmadabad from his native place and started a small business there. Meanwhile he was acquainted with Bādaśāha Mahaṃmada Śāha and the later realised that Lokāśāha was an objective and impartial person. So he appointed Lokāśāha as the treasurer in Pāṭaṇa. Bādaśāha used to treat him like a friend. Hence he once again called him back to Ahmadabad posting him the treasurer of Ahmadabad in Vikram 1501. He commanded respect in the Royal court. In Vikram 1507, a frightened Mahaṃmada Śāha resolved to flee to Diu harbour. When his son Jamāla Khāna came to know about this, he killed his father by poisoning him and ascended the throne, changing his name to Kutubadīna Śāha. This incident deepened the feeling of aversion towards the world, in the heart of Lokāśāha. He felt that everything was of transient nature in the world. On the outside, everything appears very beautiful, it is only superfluous; but the deeper you involve, the more inflicting it is.  Being bound by the delusive love and attachment towards one's son, daughter or wife is ignorance. Contemplating thus he took the permission of his kith and kin and went to Pāṭaṇa in Vikram 1509. At an auspicious time, star and yoga on Friday, the bright 11th day in Śrāvaṇa month, between 8-30 and 10-00 A.M (Second Caughaḍiyā of first Prahara), he took Yati initiation from Yati Śrī Sumativijaya Mahārāja. In spite of his preceptor bestowing upon him the ascetic name 'Śrī Lakṣmīvijaya', the people continued to call him as Lokāśāha only. At a particular time Lokāśāha found that the customs of the Yatis were against the scriptures. He observed that Śrī Sumativijaya Jī used to go to all the places, enjoying all the luxurious comforts - sitting in the palanquin with staff, canopy and cāmara (yak tail fan). He used to visit the houses of laity and got his footprints made there. He performed even Navāṃgī pūjā in their houses and accepted money from them. He entertained feudatories and kings with his knowledge of astrology, medicine and occultism and accepted gifts from them. He visited royal courts frequently and accepted the money offered by the courtiers. He got a lodging constructed after his name and started living in it permanently. After becoming Yati, Lokāśāha started reading the doctrines thoroughly. He obtained profound erudition in Sūtras. His unblemished and pious mind could grasp the sacred ideals of Jina in depth. With this, the third eye opened and realised that there was heaven and hell difference between the methods of asceticism followed by the Yatis and those propounded by Śrī Bhagavāna Mahāvīra. Yatis preached false doctrines contrary to scriptures. The idols of Mahāvīra installed by Digambaras were totally different from that of Śvetāmbara traditions. On the pretext of following Mahāvīra, the Jain congregation was going entirely in the opposite direction. Lokāśāha felt compassionate and pity towards the people (as they were misled) and the light of strong inspiration kindled in his heart. Thereupon he openly and fearlessly started explaining the original tenets of Jainism. The truth always has a miraculous attractive power. So the number of his devotees attracted by him increased day by day. He travelled many places like Siddhapura, Pāṭaṇa, etc. and elevated millions of souls. Once in Vikram 1531 a certain group of Yatis halted at Jhaverīvāḍa in Ahmadabad for the monsoon. Influenced by his preaching, a certain Yati wanted to become an ascetic of scripture based Jain order. Even Lokāśāha too started realising the different attributes of an ascetic and that of a householder. This was written by Kāntivijaya, disciple of Yati nāyaka Vijaya of Tapā gaccha, Pāṭaṇa, 1636 on Vasanta Paṃcamī. I copied exactly whatever was written in them.

From the voluminous text 'Luṃpaka Vṛddha Huṇḍī' written by the scholar Rāmākarṇavedhī to oppose the doctrine of Lokāśāha and from the extraction of Paṭṭāvalīs of contemporary gacchas like 'Halābola Ḍhūṃḍhaka Thayo' - meaning wherever you see, you will find only the followers of Lokāśāha-, it can be inferred that Lokāśāha was a great orator and had a magic spell in the presentation of truth which attracted the people towards pure form of religion and pure code of conduct. With a view to totally and permanently eradicate any type of violence in any form caused either by Jain congregation, by the rituals and activities, or by the austerities, Lokāśāha in his sermons, cited examples from Ācārāṃga and explained their meaning to the people in simple language. Thus he made it very clear that Jain religion never allows nor gives scope for any type of harm to any being out of Ṣaḍjīva Nikāya. The doctrine gave topmost priority to protection of life, non-violence and compassion. Omniscient and Omni percipient Lord Mahāvīra during the time of inception of Holy Path preached the same – "One should not inflict pain to any Ṣaḍjīva Nikāya beings even for protecting his own life, or for attaining liberation, or for liberation from transmigration, oldness or diseases. The person who does such an inflicting act would undergo the cycle of transmigration for infinite times with inexplicable pain and agony". The truth and the sermons enunciated by Lord Mahāvīra to the people while establishing the four-fold order do not require any testimony. The Temple dwellers following the lines like 'Vedikī Hiṃsā, Hiṃsā Na Bhavati' (violence or the use of force to uphold the righteousness cannot be considered as violence.) expressed that 'Dhārmika Hiṃsā, Hiṃsā Na Bhavati' [(hiṃsā in miniature like violence against subtle beings by using conscious water, flowers etc during worship etc); spiritual violence cannot be termed as violence]. Lokāśāha protested and fought against such non-scriptural debase rites throughout his life and endeavoured to make the people understand the eternal truth through examples, narrations and evidences.

Giving away all their wealth and possessions, three Ācāryas Ānanda Vimala Sūri etc. embarked on a counter campaign against Lokāśāha. They adopted 4 types of policies - Sāma-Dāma-Bheda and Daṇḍa to put an end to Lokāśāha's movement. Treacherously the enemies of Lokāśāha took initiation into Lokā gaccha, so as to make it hollow from within, by creating internal strife. Claiming themselves as the followers of Lokāśāha they started performing activities like idol worship etc., exactly opposite to the doctrine of Lokā gaccha and started proving that Lokā gaccha was in favour of idol worship.

This was the greatest victory of the opponents of Lokāśāha They heaved a sigh of relief patting their own backs in praise as 'at last'. But in spite of this unscrupulous treachery, the divine torch lighted by Lokāśāha continued to glow, emitting radiance. As an answer to their perfidious manoeuvrings, Uttarārddha Lokā gaccha was originated. The great personalities like Lavajī etc. started preaching and spreading the message of Lokāśāha - scripture based pure path with renewed vigour and enthusiasm in every nook and corner of the country.

The great fact is that Lokāśāha neither started a new tradition nor preached a new gospel. He humbly preached the gospel propounded by the omniscient in its true form and asked the people to analyse and judge the preaching of Mahāvīra with an unbiased discernment. He did not force or lure the people to accept the great commandments of Mahāvīra, but only advised them to analyse and then decide the line of action. Presenting a Sūtra from Ācārāṃga Sūtra, 4th chapter and 1st Uddeśaka, which is considered as the pillar stone of Jain religion, in one of his 58 dictums he asked not kill any being out of the six kinds of life forms for reasons what so ever, and not inflict any type pain to anyone. I (Śramaṇa Lord Mahāvīra) am proclaiming this truth. All the Tīrthaṃkaras of the past, present and future, do preach the same. This doctrine of ahiṃsā is immaculate, immutable and eternal truth. Lokāśāha did not add a single word of his own to it.

Pārśvacandra Sūri, who lived 56 years after Lokāśāha, was a great scholar in scriptures and wrote Tabbas (literal translation into the local language of Gujarat) on scriptures. He not only described the above mentioned Sūtra in his 'Utsūtra Tiraskāra Nāmā - Vicāra Paṭaḥa' text, he went a step ahead to Lokāśāha and even wrote

Buḍḍhaṃ jajjara theraṃ, jo ghāyai jamala muṭṭhiṇā Taruṇo |
Jārisī tassa veyaṇā, Egiṃdī Saṃghaṭṭaṇe Tārisī ||

i.e. - If a sturdy and robust youth hits with all his might on the chest of a feeble, decrepit old man, the old man experiences unbearable, inexplicable pain. The single-sense being undergoes the same terrible pain when it gets stamped or even when it is just touched.

The type of infliction the single-sense organ living beings experience, when they are being tortured is clearly mentioned in the scriptures as when a dumb, deaf, lame, disabled person by birth cannot speak out (express), yell or flee when he was pierced by the sharp edge of a spear, but experiences similar severe pain that a healthy man with all organs intact experiences when pierced. A single-sense organ living being undergoes similar type of infliction when being meddled. In a verse in the first aṃga - Ācārāṃga of 12 Aṃgas, in the context of prohibiting violence, it is mentioned 'Buḍḍhaṃ jajjara theraṃ', the meaning of this verse is - just by mere touch, the immobile single-sense organ being experiences excruciating pain. Hence even the immobile single sense organ beings also should not be inflicted for any purpose, even for attaining heaven and salvation, and even others should be discouraged from such acts; one should not consent to do so and should not approve it as a good deed.

Here the point of contemplation for a neutral reader or person is - in any tyrannical country, even a hypocritical person, who makes a law, feels that certain points need some exceptions. He makes a counter-provision for that particular point providing exception. Similarly if hurting a single-sense organ living being is essential to perform idol worship, that exception would have been a special mention in Ācārāṃga.

If while making law, even if a hypocrite, the law maker takes full care and ensures that no error is omitted in that law. When this is the case with a normal human being, attributing negligence to omniscient Tīrthaṃkara, Lord Mahāvīra, and saying that he might have ignored or forgotten to mention those exceptions while revealing the nature of Dharma to the people during his first preaching at the commencement of Holy Path, is illogical. Only vicious and mendacious persons can utter such things.

Śramaṇ Lord Mahāvīra said that inflicting pain to six kinds of life forms, i.e. earth, water, fire, air and vegetative beings is ignorance and evil and becomes a cause of appalling transmigration cycle.

If there is even a remote chance of attaining salvation for an observer or non-observer of vows, by inflicting pain to or killing any of these six kinds of life forms, then Lord Mahāvīra, who had commenced the path of liberation to relieve the human beings who were crushed under the infinite sorrows of mundane world, would have in his first sermon, mentioned the exception that immobile 5 nikāya beings may be injured or killed for attaining liberation and that in such context, they will neither acquire any sin, nor is it a fault. According to the sacred statement 'Savva Jaga - Jīva - Rakkhaṇa - Dayaṭṭhayāe Bhagavayā Pāvayaṇaṃ sukahiyaṃ' Praśna Vyākaraṇa Sūtra, 2nd part, 1st Saṃvara dwāra, during the inauguration of Holy Path, Lord Mahāvīra did not mention any such type of exception. Instead, he proclaimed in clear words that earth bodied etc, five immobile single sense organisms should not be killed for any purpose, even for attaining liberation, as violence causes great sin which in turn makes the person wander through the transmigration cycle, which is full of agonies – birth, old age, death, diseases, ailments, etc.

Pārśvacandra Sūri moved two steps ahead of Lokāśāha and wrote after the abovementioned extract in Ācārāṃga Sūtra, 1st chapter, 5th Uddeśaka in clear words:

"Sūtra Matiiṃ Utsarge Naīvyavahāri nathī dīsatī"

i.e. no exception and no omission is found - in the meaning of the verse.

Thus Lokāśāha threw light on the eternal truths of Jineśwara compiled in scriptures. Pārśvacandra Sūri also presented the same scriptural facts to the ācāryas of Śrī Congregation of Pāṭaṇa, ācāryas of other gacchas and to the Jain world. He even going a step further of Lokāśāha, wrote those faults of the then Śramaṇas which completely destroy the first vow of non-violence, 4th vow of absolute celibacy and 5th vow of absolute nonattachment, out of the 5 great vows and presented the paper to the fourfold congregation. But the strange thing is, in Lokāśāha's case, all the gacchas came close and unitedly confronted Lokāśāha, apart from spreading false rumours about him. Whereas in the case of Pārśvacandra Sūri, in spite of his preaching and actions against lax-monks, they have not reacted even one-hundredth of how they did to Lokāśāha. The then ācāryas, their successors and further generations spread venomous rumours and false tidings against Lokāśāha.

In Lokā gaccha, no Yati existed with the name Bhānucandra, but yet the lax-monks published a book with his name, in which all false things, which do not make any sense at all were written against Lokāśāha that he did not believe Sūtras, etc, that he protested against the practice of 'periodic contemplation of the self' (Sāmāyika): vow to spend a day and night without food or water (Pauṣadha) and charity. The scholars of other gacchas of that period also did not lag behind. They contributed their share by writing books like 'Caupāī'.

If the narrator has no brains, at least the listener should have some discerning ability. If any debased person or a person deluded by the traditional illusions, says without thinking about pros and cons, that Lokāśāha never had belief in scriptures, that he was against periodic self contemplation (Sāmāyika), Pauṣadha and charity, then at least the reader or the listener should think that 'does anything worth mentioning remain as Dharma, when periodic self-contemplation (Sāmāyika), Pauṣadha, vows, pratyākhyāna (formal renunciation of certain activities), regulations, study of scriptures and charity, renunciations of certain foods are proscribed from it? A big no! Then what did a person who denied all the spiritual matters mentioned above preach the hordes of people who flocked to listen to his sermons and on the basis of which religious text or theology did he substantiate his preaching when he himself did not have any faith on the scriptures?

As far as the question of believing or not believing the scriptures is concerned Lokāśāha's 58 dictums, 13 questions, 34 dictums and 54 questions related to traditions undisputedly indicate that Lokāśāha had immense faith in scriptures, more than all the members and monks of all the gacchas of his times. After reading scriptures, Niryuktis, Cūrṇis, Vṛttis and Bhāṣyas of scriptures and after acquiring profound knowledge in them, he felt totally sure that most of the matters found in other books, were in total contrast to the scriptures. Then he firmly believed that the scriptures, propounded by omniscient Mahāvīra and compiled by his Gaṇadharas, and 'Niryūḍha Āgamas' extracted from Dwaddaśāṃgī and prior canons by Knowers of 14 and 10 prior canons as authentic, while declaring that the Niryuktis, Cūrṇis, Vṛttis and Bhāṣyas, which were written after the loss of prior canons or after the demise of Devārdhigaṇi Kṣamāśramaṇa, i.e. - post millennium period of V.N. as invalid and unauthentic.

If ancient works of both Śvetāmbara and Digambara traditions are viewed objectively the scriptures written by Gaṇadharas, Knowers of fourteen or at least ten prior canons on the basis of preaching and sermons delivered by Tīrthaṃkara can be termed as Aṃgas. Amongst the scriptures, the 'Gaṇipiṭaka' is called as 'Dwādaśāṃgī'. To call the works authored by the ācāryas, thousand years after Vīra Nirvāṇa as Aṃgas, giving them the same status and significance of scriptures and mixing them with scriptures and naming them as Paṃcāṃgī is an offence tantamount to insulting the scriptures propounded by the omniscient. Material offering based traditions to establish authenticity to the customs were introduced and incorporated into the original Jain doctrines by them and a word Paṃcāṃgī was created, and they themselves proclaimed it to be having an equal status to Niryuktis, Cūrṇis,Vṛttis and Bhāṣyas to that of scriptures. The words Dwādaśāṃgī and Ekādaśāṃgī were mentioned in the scriptures,but the word 'Paṃcāṃgī' is nowhere to be seen.

Lokāśāha apart from condemning the four Niryuktis etc. even declared that the very word "Paṃcāṃgī' is invalid and spurious. The very existences of material based religious rituals are based on Paṃcāṃgī. Hence they were very much fond of Niryuktis etc. than scriptures. And as Lokāśāha touched their weak and sensitive point, they intentionally circulated false rumours that Lokāśāha never believed scriptures.

With regard to charity or giving alms – material based religious rituals was done with an evil intention of exhibiting their grandiose by distributing gold and Raupyas Rupee coins to the people on the eve of celebrations of oath ceremony etc. Yes, Lokāśāha undoubtedly opposed this type of pretentious alms.

Next are the issues of Sāmāyika and Pauṣadha. Lokāśāha never ever either opposed or forbade them. An event was described in the Paṭṭāvalī of Kaḍuvāḍ sect, which says that Kaduvāshah, approximately the contemporary of Lokāśāha, defeated Ācārya Sage Bhāṇā of Lokā accha, follower of Lokāśāha in a spiritual discourse in Vikram 1539 in 'Nāilāī" (Nāḍolāī) city, and proved that idols are authentic as per scriptures and converted him to his sect. Kaḍuvāśāha was a staunch supporter of Pauṣadh and practitioner of periodic self-contemplation (Sāmāyika). Had Lokāśāha opposed Pauṣadha and Sāmāyika even a little, Kaḍuvāśāha would have discoursed about this with Sage Bhāṇā and it would have been mentioned in his Paṭṭāvalī too.

A scholar disciple of Kaḍuvāśāha, Rāmākarṇavedhī wrote 'Luṃpaka Vṛddha Huṇḍī', a volumetric text consisting of 329 leaves (657 pages). In it he elaborately discussed about the belief of Lokāśāha regarding idol worship. But in the entire text, not even a single word is found which indicates that Lokāśāha was against the sacred rituals of periodic self-contemplation and ritualised confession (Sāmāyika - Pratikramaṇa) and Pauṣadha.

In the Paṭṭāvalīs of Tapā gaccha and other gacchas it is mentioned that 'Tadānīṃ ca Luṃkākhyāllekhakāt vi. Aṣṭādhika Paṃcadaśaśat 1508 varṣe Jina Pratimotthāpana paraṃ Luṃkāmataṃ pravṛttam' ('Thereupon, by an author called Luṃkā, opinion about idol installation has been expressed in Vikram 1508'). This quotation also clearly points out that Lokāśāha never opposed Sāmāyika, Pratikramaṇa, Pauṣadha and charity. Agitated by the growing popularity of Lokāśāha, the capricious authors wrote this type of false and baseless statements to mar the image of the religious lover Lokāśāha in the hearts of loyal spiritual aspirants.

In spite of conspiracies, rumours against Lokāśāha - the great religious reformer and progenitor of modern revolution, he continued his work with zeal and marched forward cleansing the varied deformities cumulated over in religious congregation proving the adage 'the Sun never hides for long behind the clouds' appropriate. The true followers of Jain religion will remain indebted forever for his services.


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. Ahiṃsā
  2. Bhagavāna Mahāvīra
  3. Body
  4. Celibacy
  5. Consciousness
  6. Contemplation
  7. Cāmara
  8. Dharma
  9. Digambara
  10. Digambaras
  11. Gaccha
  12. Gujarat
  13. Hiṃsā
  14. Jainism
  15. Jina
  16. Jīva
  17. Mahāvīra
  18. Nirvāṇa
  19. Non-violence
  20. Omniscient
  21. Oswal
  22. Pauṣadha
  23. Pratikramaṇa
  24. Pratyākhyāna
  25. Pūjā
  26. Saṃvara
  27. Soul
  28. Sāmāyika
  29. Sūtra
  30. Tapā Gaccha
  31. Third Eye
  32. Tīrthaṃkara
  33. Uddeśaka
  34. Vimala
  35. Violence
  36. Vīra
  37. Yati
  38. Yatis
  39. Yoga
  40. Ācārya
  41. Ācāryas
  42. ācāryas
  43. Śramaṇ
  44. Śvetāmbara
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