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

Published: 19.09.2016

Lokāśāha launched the peaceful (non-violent) religious revolution in Vikram 1508 with only one intention - total obliteration of the degenerative principles and methods that crept in the original Jain doctrine in the post millennia period of V.N., and the pompous and high profile rituals performed by the four-fold congregation in the name of religion, which gave a death blow to the very fundamental principle 'Ahiṃsā' (non - violence) - causing pain to the earth, water, fire, wind and vegetation bodied single sense organisms. The number of his followers grew to millions; even then he did not establish any gaccha or sect. He strongly believed that the peaceful revolution would definitely change the hearts of four-fold order, which in turn unshackles them from the fetters of delusive attachment towards gaccha and they would certainly once again embrace the pure form as propounded by Śramaṇa Lord Mahāvīra. Conforming to his faith, a great scholar monk holding the post of 'Panyāsa' Harṣa Kīrti, many Śramaṇas (whose names were unknown) and millions of laity joined Lokāśāha leaving behind their blemished, faulty conduct as well as gacchas. Setting up a new gaccha or new sub-congregation would only increase the number of already existing big gacchas and aggravate the differences in Congregation. So when people enquired him in this direction, he affirmed himself as Jain or Jinamatī. As Dravya Paramparā received a great setback, both in popularity and income, out of disposal and envy they called the Jinamatī and his followers as Luṃpaka gaccha or Luṃkā gaccha.

The Jains who had immense faith in the great principle of Jainism, in Jineśwara and in the Right Path propounded by him, and in the universal beneficent doctrines preached by him and compiled by his Gaṇadharas welcomed whole heartedly Lokāśāha and his peaceful revolution, which was initiated for a solemn cause. The six kind of life forms, especially the five immobile ones, which had been killed indiscriminately for centuries in the name of Dharma showered their blessings and deep-felt gratitude on Lokāśāha rejoicing silently, as he showed genuine concern for them, by pioneering the revolution to permanently put an end to their slaughter. On the contrary the Śramaṇas who were mired neck-deep in the muck of slack conduct and strong  avariciousness, could not tolerate the abatement in their luxuries and comforts, and accused Lokāśāha using offensive language till they got exhausted (both in words and in strength) and many a times plotted against him. But Lokāśāha was least perturbed. As described in the śloka of Gītā, he remained withdrawn, unattached like a true Karmayogī – 'to perform action renouncing the desire for its fruit, and continued his work'- creating awareness and enlightening the people of the original scripture based right path till the end of his life.

The flesh and blood and every cell of Lokāśāha, the perfect epitome of universal beneficent Jainisms, was filled with the saintly saying 'Mittī me savva Bhūesu, veraṃ majjhaṃ na keṇai' - all living beings are my friends, I do not have any animosity towards any living being.

He even preached and encouraged his followers to strictly adhere to this virtuous saying without nurturing any animosity towards anyone. The seed of 'universal brotherhood' sown by Lokāśāha in the hearts of his followers was well cherished by them. 95 years after his death, his follower Devajī provided shelter to Hīravijaya Sūri, 58th head of Tapā gaccha, a great propagator of Jina order in Vikram 1636 and protected him from the Mugalas. This proves the fact that the followers strictly adhered to the noble path of his preceptor.

All these facts suggest that Lokāśāha led a profound and serene spiritual life. He occupies the first place in the list of reformers of post Devarddhigaṇi Kṣamāśramaṇa period. Even in the most calamitous situation, he never compromised on his principles and never made alliance with the untruthful opponents. Lokāśāha with his zeal, honesty and truthfulness left Ācārya Kuvalaya Prabha, a great reformer of yesteryears far behind.

In ancient Huṇḍāvasarpiṇī times there lived a very sincere diligent Ācārya called Kuvalayaprabha. Narration about him is found in 'Mahāniśītha'. During his times, because of the influence of non-restraint worship (asaṃyata pūjā), the 10th Āścarya (extraordinary event), everywhere the lax monks swerved away from the Holy Path. They were Śramaṇas only donned in monastic garb. However, their conduct and austerities were totally contrary to scriptures. They believed that building of temples, worshipping with materials, pompous and high profile rituals is the real Dharma which bestows liberation. They did not believe in mental / psychic veneration. They stayed permanently and regularly in temples, consumed ādhākarmī food (food prepared specially for them) and kept money with them.

Wandering continuously through many regions Kuvalayaprabha halted in the middle of Temple dwellers. The Temple dwellers were captivated by his serenity and divinity as a result of severe penance, and his analytical explanation about the absolute truth. They pleaded him, "O Best of Ācāryas! Please have mercy on us and make this place as your layover for rainy seasons halt. With your impressive sermons, towering temples will be constructed in every part and every street of our city."

As he knew that their conduct was against that propounded in scriptures, he uttered this with courage, "Bho bho piyaṃvae! Jaī vi Jiṇālae Tahāvi Sāvajjamiṇaṃṇāhaṃvāyāmitteṇaṃ pi Eyaṃ Āyarijjā|".

From then on, the Temple dwellers started calling him scornfully 'Sāvadyācārya' and this disrespectful name became popular everywhere.

In course of time, when Temple dwellers faced with a problem whether 'renovation work can be undertaken by sādhus or not', they invited Kuvalayaprabha, the Sāvadyācārya to the city to resolve the problem. When he reached the city, the Temple dweller Śramaṇas and Śramaṇīs went to welcome him. One Śramaṇī amongst them who was beside herself with joy at the glimpse of the majestic personality of Kuvalayaprabha, kindred of a Tīrthaṃkara, fell at his feet with her forehead touching his feet. Everyone, including Kuvalayaprabha was stupefied. No one could utter a single word.

On a certain day Ācārya Kuvalayaprabha started explaining Mahā Niśītha. While explaining he recited this verse:

Jatthitthikarapharisaṃ, aṃtariyaṃkāraṇe vi uppanne|
Arahā vi karejja sayaṃ, taṃ gacchaṃmūlaguṇa mukkaṃ|

Reciting this, the ācārya fell into a dilemma. The Temple dwellers guessed his problem and forced him to comment on the verse. Left with no option, Kuvalayaprabha explained the meaning of it. Listening to it, they started denigrating him, "Do you not remember? What happened to your basic attribute when on that day the Śramaṇī touched you? Where was it?"

Ācārya Kuvalayaprabha thought, "When the first time I came here, I was given the insulting name of 'Sāvadyācārya'. I don't know what type of disrespectful treatment I will be meted out with this time". As he had no other way to protect himself, he accepted both the exception and 'Utsarga' (going against scriptures) and declared: "ussaggāvavāehiṃ āgame ṭhio tujjheṇa yāṇaha| egaṃte micchattha, jiṇāṇamāṇā aṇegantā |".

The Temple dwellers who were treading on the path of vice, actually wanted Kuvalayaprabha to say the general as well as the exceptional rule, so that they could prove their lax rules as authentic and valid. With overwhelming happiness they started laughing loudly. But the exposition against the scriptures pushed Kuvalayaprabha into transmigration cycle for a long time.

Predominant influence of lax monks, wide use of unrighteous methods in the guise of religion, false obstinate pride, mutual jealousy and giving equal authenticity to the works of ācāryas who did not have any knowledge of prior canons with that of the scriptures by naming them as Paṃcāṃgī resembling the name 'Ekādaśāṃgī', attributing the validity of 'Aṃgas' to them as the name suggests - all such unruly situations encountered by Kuvalayaprabha, were also faced even by Lokāśāha.

Ācārya Kuvalaya Prabha was shaken badly by the name 'Sāvadyācārya' scornfully given by the vicious Temple dweller monks and finally fearing them and their unscrupulous behaviour, he yielded to them by sacrificing the doctrine of eternal truth on the altar of falsehood and heresy, whereas Lokāśāha with unswerving peerless spiritual faith, practicing the principle of 'equanimity' (sthita prajňatā) preached by Lord Mahāvīra in letter and in spirit did not get perturbed by the epithets like 'Luṃpaka' Lopaka, Luṃgā (bandit, dacoit, thief etc) honoured upon him by his opponents, or their other plots and policies to drag him out from the Holy Path. All these had zero effect on him and he carried out his mission steadfastly.

Nevertheless, Lokāśāha led such an ideal and inspiring spiritual life. Had he not initiated the peaceful revolution out of fear or sense of insecurity, or had he left the mission midway out of embarrassment, then the deformities, perversions, fake rituals that prowled into the four-fold order would have soared higher crossing the pinnacle. What would have happened then? Well, one can imagine. We would not have been aware of the spiritual tenets (rituals, austerities, conduct) and methods promulgated in scriptures and would not have been blessed with the diligent serene ascetics with halo and aura as a result of their severe penance and selflessness. Whatever virtues found in the four-fold order today like - the pure scriptural conduct and practices, self-restraint, renunciation and meditations, compassion and amity towards all beings in the universe etc., the main tenets and the vital force of Jain religion are the boon of Lokāśāha, who rekindled all these virtues in the hearts of each and every Jain through his peaceful spiritual revolution. Prior to his religious reform the situation was as follows:

  1. Before an inauguration ceremony which was to be conducted by a ācārya, a married woman (whose husband is alive) gave bath to the ācārya as per the methods prescribed in 'Nirvāṇa Kalikā" [applying and massaging the body with turmeric, oil and ground green gram paste] and dressed him up with expensive and exquisite clothes and a gold ring.
  2. During the inaugural or extramural ceremony celebrated in commemoration of ideal, unparalleled penance of Sati Candanabālā, the devotees used to offer the followers of five great vows, golden lentils' cuffs placed in a golden sieve, delicious khīra (semi-solid sweet prepared with milk) garnished with dry fruits like almond, pistachio nuts, dry grapes etc., decorating the thick cream spread on the surface of the khīra with silver or gold foils, etc., assuming that this type of so-called auspicious offering to a virtuous person would bless them with emancipation. And the Gurus on their part, out of lenity and being moved by the dedication of devotees used to accept those alms, declaring aloud "Generous Alms! Liberal Charity!"
  3. The followers of five great vows - ācāryas used to retain with them, the heavy idols made of pure gold and silver and precious pearls gifted in abundance in alms.
  4. Those five-vowed great ācāryas used to maintain piles of registers under the name 'Bahī-Baṭa' in their temple lodgings. These registers contained the details of all their devotees (spread in every nook and corner) - their names and the names of their family members, the amount payable (as if it were a birth right) on a sacred or joyful occasion with date, time and particulars etc. If any one of those devotees gets their family ceremonies or other religious rituals done by any other gurus or ācāryas, these gurus would make hue and cry.
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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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Aura
  2. Body
  3. Dharma
  4. Dravya
  5. Fear
  6. Gaccha
  7. Jainism
  8. Jina
  9. Mahāvīra
  10. Niśītha
  11. Pride
  12. Pūjā
  13. Sādhus
  14. Tapā Gaccha
  15. Tīrthaṃkara
  16. Violence
  17. Ācārya
  18. Ācāryas
  19. ācāryas
  20. śloka
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