Jain Legend : Jain Dharma ka Maulika Itihasa (4): Personal and Family Life of Lokāśāha

Published: 20.09.2016

Śrī Sundarajī (Gorajī), Yati of small (Nānī) Kaccha sect had the copy of Kalpa Sūtra of 16th century. These two letters[1] were attached to that copy. They throw ample light on the life of Lokāśāha. The disciple of Śrī Maṃgalajī Swāmī of Līṃbaḍ ītradition, Śrī Kṛṣṇajī scribed it and sent its duplicate copy to Monk Śrī Maṇilālajī. Based on this copy Śrī Maṇilālajī included the life history of Lokāśāha in his work called "Ancient history". It is as follows:

In a city called Arahaṭavāḍā in the Sirohī kingdom lived a couple - Śrī Hemābhāī of Osawāla caste who held the honourable post of Chaudhari and his virtuous and chaste wife Śrīmatī Gaṃgābāī. After long years of married life, they had a child on full moon day in the month of Kārtika in Vikram 1482 (assiduous study of historical facts pushes the date back to Vikram 1472). Their happiness knew no bounds. Gaṃgābāī, who regularly practiced spiritual austerities like periodic self-contemplation (Sāmāyika), ritualised confession, and resolutions not to commit faults (pratyākhyāna), Pauṣadha etc., had increased the time of her practice after begetting a son. When the boy was 5 years old, they sent him to school in Arahaṭavāḍā. Perspicacious Lokacandra started learning with fondness. His fondness and interest grew with the age, and at the age of 15, he completed studies at the local school.

Lokacandra inherited spiritual and moral virtues from his parents. He used to go to behold sages and saints and listen to their sermons along with his mother when he was a child, and with his devout father when he became an adolescent. Even when he was a boy he learnt by heart, self-contemplation (Sāmāyika), Pratikramaṇa, devotional Stavanas, Stotras etc.  He had good writing skills from childhood itself. He was such a staunch piety that at regular times, on a daily basis, he used to practice Sāmāyika and during 'Pākṣika Parva' he used to be the first for evening ritualised confession. Whenever he found time he used to help his father in his business. During 'Sāmāyika' practice, the time he spent on studying the scriptures increased gradually.

Chaudhari (merchant) Śrī Hemābhāī was a distinguished wealthy merchant of Arahaṭavāḍā. They had cows, buffaloes in their courtyard. Milk, curd, ghee, everything was in plenty. The word 'scarcity' was unknown to that wealthy family.

At the age of 15, as the radiant Lokacandra, with his heavy built body used to appear like a young man. Many alliances for marriage started pouring in from many merchants. By that time Hemābhāī had entrusted the written work of his business to his son, as his writing was very beautiful and the alphabets looked like pearls. Often Hemābhāī had to go to Sirohī on some business related work. Initially he used to take his son along with him and introduce him to different merchants. When Hemābhāī realised that his son was able to run his business, to maintain amiable relations with co-merchants in Sirohī and to win the hearts of the people with his firm but soft spoken words, he handed over the complete responsibility of the business in Sirohī to his son. So Lokacandra had to go to Sirohī alone, several times. As a matter of fact he had the yearning to learning the secrets of all trades, but somehow he was fascinated by the business in pearls. Whenever he went to Sirohī, he used to spend some time with the jewellers, discussing about how to find out the quality of pearls and tried to learn it. Gradually he mastered the art.

One day while Lokacandra was examining the pearls in a certain jeweller's shop, a merchant of Sirohī of Oswal caste, called odhavajī saw Lokāśāha who was engrossed in testing the quality of pearls. Somehow the merchant felt attracted towards him. He decided something in his heart of hearts, when he saw Lokacandra sorting out and keeping the very precious pearls one side and the normal ones on the other. When Lokacandra left the shop, odhavajī enquired his details - name, village, caste, parents, business etc. from the jeweller. Giving all the details the jeweller added, "The boy is very intelligent".

After gathering full information about Lokacandra, odhavajī told his wife that he had seen a very handsome and worthy groom for their daughter Sudarśanā. After listening about Lokacandra, she too was delighted. Both of them decided to go to Arahaṭavāḍā and fix the alliance next day.

The next day, odhavajī with a firm belief that his auspicious desire would be fulfilled, reached Arahaṭavāḍā and went to Hemābhāī's house with a Śrīphala (a full coconut without removing the external fibre) and one rupee (both coconut and one rupee are considered as auspicious for commencing any good work) next day. As the merchants already knew each other, the parents of Lokacandra accepted the proposal of odhavajī without any hesitation. Odhavajī applied vermilion kuṃkuma (auspicious fruit) with few grains of rice on the forehead of Lokacandra and placed Śrīphala and one rupee in his hands. Both the families were happy and the marriage took place in Vikram 1487 in the month of Māgha. Lokāśāha started leading his family life with his virtuous wife. His spiritual activities and study of scriptures also kept going smoothly. He enthusiastically participated in religious activities too. With the study of religious scriptures and regular meditation and contemplation, he soon realised the illusionary and ephemeral nature of familial bonds. The seed of renunciation and detachment had sown in his heart at that young age itself. But so as to fulfil his responsibilities, he carefully struck a balance between the spiritual practices, profession and family. When he was 18 years old, he became father of a son. The grandparents felt ecstatic happiness and named the boy 'Pūrṇacandra'. Lokāśāha lost his mother when he was 23 years old. The next year his father Hemābhāī also breathed his last.

Lokāśāha's important work involved transactions with farmers. When the crops of the farmers were destroyed due to famine, his conscience used to prick him while collecting the loaned money from them. Compassionate Lokacandra, confronted by this dilemma while collecting the money lent to the farmers, wanted to wind up these transactions with the farmers and settle down in a city as a jeweller. In those days the Sirohī king had strained relations with the king of Candrāvatī, near Abu. Due to sudden attacks by the enemy, anarchy, plundering, looting, massacring became a routine. Finding it difficult to continue his spiritual practices peacefully, and to carry out business in such unruly and unpleasant environment, Lokāśāha decided to migrate to some other place.

After his parents' death, he started winding up transactions with the farmers. With whatever amount he could collect, he migrated to Ahmadabad with his wife and son when he was 25 years old (in Vikram 1497). They took a house with all amenities and he started his jewellery business. A few days later, Mohammada Śāha ascended the throne of Ahmadabad (Gujarat) in 1497 Vikram. As he wanted to buy new ornaments, he summoned all the jewellers to his court. So, Lokāśāha too went to the court along with other stalwart jewellers. All of them placing their precious gems before the king explained their significance and novelty. The king liked two big quality pearls from among them, shown by a jeweller of Surat. The merchant told the price of those two berrysized pearls as 172000 each. Mohammada Śāha asked the rest of the jewellers to check their quality and fix the rate. After testing them every one of them declared, – 'These two pearls are of best quality and the price is reasonable".

An ironical smile appeared on the face of Lokāśāha with the thought 'Had these jewellers gone blind?' Mohammada Śāha observed it and felt that something was fishy. He kept both the pearls into Lokāśāha's hands and ordered him to evaluate them.

Lokāśāha placing one pearl in the king's hand said - "This is perfect and best one. But the other is a defective; it has the mark of fish. So it is useless". Immediately a microscope was brought and the pearl was examined. Mohammada Śāha was astonished to see the fish mark in it. The Bādaśāha ordered the other jewellers to examine it. All of them saw the fish mark clearly in it and every one praised the neophyte jeweller and his skill in testing the gems.

Mohammada Śāha developed an instant fondness towards Lokāśāha. He bought the jewellery taking the advice of Lokāśāha. He sent away all the jewellers except Lokāśāha, and having come to know all the details about Lokāśāha, appointed him as the Royal Treasurer of Pāṭaṇa.

Lokāśāha shifted to Pāṭaṇa with his wife and son. He carried out his duties honestly and sincerely. Impressed by his honesty and workmanship, Mohammada Śāha within a short time summoned him back to Ahmadabad and appointed him as his personal officer. In spite of holding a distinguished rank Lokāśāha never behaved arrogantly. He always tried to help the distressed and endeavoured to see that justice is rendered to them. His benevolence and generosity continued to increase. His spiritual practices like periodic contemplation, study of scriptures and self-analysis etc. continued unhindered.

Thus he served under Mohammada Śāha for 10 years in Gujarat. Śrī Rāma Nīlakaṇṭha in his text "Gujarāta no Saṃkṣipta Itihāsa' (Brief history of Gujarat) mentioned that - nearly in Vikram 1507 Mohammada Śāha attacked Gaṃgādāsa of Cāpānera and besieged Pāvāgaḍha from all four sides. On being informed, the Sultāna of Mālawa marched towards Pāvāgaḍha with a mighty army to help Gaṃgādāsa. Hearing this news, a frightened Mohammada Śāha retreated from Pāvāgaḍha with his army. Enraged by his cowardice, some of his officers killed him giving poison. His son Kutubaśāha succeeded him to the throne of Ahmadabad.

Lokāśāha was moved and distressed by this type of treacherous politics. The detachment and aversion which was in a dormant state manifested itself in a mammoth form with this inhumane incident. He resigned from his post with a firm resolution to endeavour towards self-realisation and emancipation. In spite of reiterated enticements by the newly- crowned Bādaśāha and his efforts to retain him by increasing his salary and promoting him to a higher post, Lokāśāha resigned and shifted to Pāṭaṇa with his wife and son and settled there. Every cell of his body, mind and soul was filled with detachment and yearned for renunciation. He persuaded his wife and son and took initiation into Yati Dharma from Monk Sumati Vijaya in Vikram 1509 in Pāṭaṇa. His Dīkṣā Guru named him as Lakṣmī Vijaya. He studied scriptures from his Guru. While involved in the study of scriptures, he became cognizant of the fundamental pure form of Jain doctrine and religion. So he left Sumati Vijaya and started expounding the fundamental Dharma as propounded in scriptures to the people. Wandering through many places - villages, cities, Ahmadabad, Pāṭaṇa etc., he propagated the original tenets of Śramaṇa Bhagawāna. People enlightened by his explanations, followed him giving their support for the noble cause. Many yatis also became his followers and started living with him. Lakṣmī Vijaya Lokāśāha propagated the pure Jain doctrine for many years.

Once in Vikram 1530-31 the monks of Arahaṭavāḍā, Pāṭaṇa and Surat Congregations who set out on a pilgrimage, fortuitously met in Ahmadabad. Because of rains and some other disturbances on the way, the monks of these Congregations stayed back in Ahmadabad. When they were informed that Lokāśāha explains the original pure form of Jain doctrine, they all went to the venue along with their respective Congregations to listen to him. Listening to his commentary, and explication of the pure tenets, they got enlightened on the very first day itself. They could appraise the gross difference between the original and the one they were practising – on one side was the nature of scripture based pure code of conduct of Śramaṇas that should be observed with a lofty pursuit of attaining the salvation, and on the other was the distorted form of asceticism, blemished entirely by the heretic practices, material possessions of titular yatis. Thus they got perturbed and disconcerted immensely on the very first day itself. They continued to go to listen to the explanations of Lokāśāha regularly.

Their loyalty and fondness towards the pure scriptural Jain doctrine and tenets increased in multitude and they became the ardent followers of Lokāśāha.

Footnotes
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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. Body
  2. Contemplation
  3. Dharma
  4. Environment
  5. Ghee
  6. Gujarat
  7. Guru
  8. Kalpa
  9. Kalpa Sūtra
  10. Lakṣmī
  11. Meditation
  12. Oswal
  13. Pauṣadha
  14. Pratikramaṇa
  15. Pratyākhyāna
  16. Rāma
  17. Soul
  18. Sumati
  19. Surat
  20. Sāmāyika
  21. Sūtra
  22. Yati
  23. Yatis
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