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Journey into Jainism: The Value of Kindness

Published: 28.09.2017

The Raghu and the Yadu dynasties in India were well- known for their culture and civilization. Since then many Sanskrit poets have been portraying the great leaders of these two dynasties in their poems and stories. Ayodhya was the city which was related to the Raghu Dynasty, arid Dwaarika was associated with the Yadu Dynasty.

The history of the Raghu Dynasty has cherished the memory of Rama, an ideal ruler and Sita, his pious queen. In a similar way, the Yadu Dynasty has attained the distinction of producing the 22nd Tirthanker, Lord Arishtanemi, and Krishna, Vasudeva and Rajimati.

Two of the most important kings in the Yadu family were Andhakavrishni and Bhojavrishni. Andhakavrishni had ten sons namely Samudravijay, Vasudev and others who were called 'Dashaarha'. Samudravijay's wife Shivaa had two sons named Aristnemi and Rathanemi. Vasudev's wife Devaki had one son by the name of ShreeKrishna.

Aristnemi and Krishna were cousins who spent their childhood together. Being so friendly, they read, played and made plans for future lives together. In games, however, revenge was always in ShreeKrishna's mind as he was often defeated by Aristnemi. Although he was endowed with more energy and physical strength, Shreekrishna could not hurt Aristnemi. In reality, however, they had deep love for each other. When they grew up, Aristnemi came to be known as the propounder of religion and Shreekrishna, the propounder of ethical code.

Bhojavrishni, another king in the Yadu family, ruled over Mathura. His son, the daughter-in-law, and the grand-daughter were named Ugrasen, Dharini and Rajimati respectively. One of the brothers of Bhojavrishni ruled over Mritikaavti. He had a son and a daughter named Devak and Devaki. The same Devaki was the mother of Shreekrishnna.

Rajimati was stunning and matchless in beauty and behaviour. When she was mature, her parents made efforts to find a suitable match for her. Aristnemi seemed to be fitting the criteria from every perspective except for the fact that he had been harbouring feelings of detachment from the worldly pleasures right from his childhood. He never tried to encumber himself with worldly matters. Ugrasena and his wife Dharini were spell-bound at the handsome personality, virtue and modesty of Aristnemi, but felt discouraged to choose him as a match for Rajimati due to his feelings of detachment.

King Samudravijay and Queen Shivaa, parents of Aristnemi, wanted to get him married as soon as possible but the feeling of detachment checked them to get him married. Whenever they put forth such a proposal, Aristnemi ignored it with a casual smile. One day, King Samudravijay went to Shreekrishna and disclosed his problem. Shreekrishna gladly took on the responsibility and declared that he would not rest till his brother was married.

Shreekrishna discussed the matter with Satyabhaama, a woman of great skill in persuasion and who had the power to impress others by her eloquence. He placed the task in her hands and she also gladly accepted it.

It was a pleasant day of Spring. Satyabhaama got the permission of Krishna to celebrate the Basant Mahotsava (function). She decided to celebrate it on a mountain named Raivatgiri (now popularly known as Girnar). It was a famous hill known for its abundant natural beauty. Shreekrishna, Baldeva and other Yadavas, together with Satyabhaama and her friends reached there as had been planned before. Shreekrishna persuaded Aristnemi to accompany him. All of them were extremely pleased by the atmosphere. Queen Satyabhaama and others sur­rounded Aristnemi and passed many sarcastic remarks, and made fun of his adolescence. All that appeared very odd to Aristnemi. When the ladies transcended the boundary of respectability and decorum, Aristnemi burst out laughing at them. Satyabhaama, very tactfully and publicly interpreted this laughter as Aristnemi's desire for marriage. Shreekrishna gave this message to Samudravijay, who entrusted Krishna with the responsibility of finding out a suitable match and making all the marriage arrangements.

Satyabhaama proposed the name of her sister Rajimati for Aristnemi. It was, of course, a beneficial proposal. He himself went to Mathura for Rajimati. Ugrasen had already made up his mind for the marriage, so he was pleased at its accomplishment. Both sides made preparations in full swing. On the destined day, i.e., Shravan Shukla Saptami, the marriage party reached Mathura, where King Ugrasen ruled, in the midst of its pomp and splendour.

At that time the Yadavas were addicted to wine and meat. The meal was considered incomplete without these items. They were necessary for the purpose to show off affluence. For this purpose the king had procured many fat animals and birds in cages. They were crying out in terror pitifully and trying to get into the route through which the marriage party was passing.

On one side the band of orchestra was creating a delightful atmosphere and on the other side thousands of helpless animals were screaming mournfully.

On one side, the band of orchestra was creating a delightful atmosphere and on the other side thousands of helpless animals were screaming mournfully. Thousands of people passed through the path, but none of them were even moved by the cries of those defenceless animals. As soon as Aristnemi's chariot reached the path, his heart was replete with compassion towards the animals. Puzzled, he asked the charioteer why those animals and birds were screaming and bleating in horror.

The charioteer replied, "O Lord, these animals have been brought here to be slaughtered and provide food during the feast of the marriage party." The heart of Aristnemi revolted against this type of abuse of animals. Suddenly words erupted from his mouth, "Killing of such animals for my sake! It is not for my welfare. What, what, can possibly be the reason for this senseless killing of animals? It is inexcusable and absolutely absurd." He ordered his charioteer to turn the chariot back. The charioteer could not understand what the order was for and looked at Aristnemi. Aristnemi demanded, "Why aren't you moving? Turn back at once."

"But Lord, thousands of people are awaiting your arrival. How can I turn back? The marriage party will be without the bridegroom," said the charioteer politely.

"Whose marriage party? Whose marriage? I refuse to go forth with this nonsense. Take me to Sauriyapur as soon as possible," ordered Aristnemi to the charioteer.

The charioteer, following his orders, turned the chariot back and headed for Sauriyapur. The people of Mathura and the members of the marriage party were puzzled. No one figured out the reason why Aristnemi had changed his mind. Not even a single person was able to decipher the overpowering feelings of nonviolence in Aristnemi's heart.

Shreekrishna, Samudravijay, and Ugrasen rushed to him to find out the cause. The prince, Aristnemi, said frankly, "Neither side is at fault, but I do not want any animal to be butchered for my sake. I enjoy pleasure and so do all creatures of the world, but to kill them for the mere sake of satisfaction of the tongue is not morally legitimate. Nonetheless, I did not even want to get married but when Satyabhaama and Shreekrishna persuaded me, I really could not refuse. Now, my soul is not ready for it. I would prefer to follow the path of self-restraint and strive to attain liberation."

Rajimati, was considering herself lucky all the time to receive a husband like Aristnemi. It was the happiest day of her life. She dreamed day and night of her bright life of love and happiness. What she did not know was how soon those dreams could dissolve into thin air.

When Rajimati received the news, she was jolted and was knocked to ground senseless, as if her life had just come to an end. Her companions tried to console her and said, "What is the big difference if he has left you? You will get another husband. You need not worry because the actual ceremony has not taken place. As long as the marriage ceremony has not been performed, a woman is not bound to stick to a man. Don't feel nervous. You are learned, tolerant, and our guide too. If a lady like you behaves so foolishly, what will common ladies do?"

Rajimati merged very deep into grief, but when she heard those words from her friends, she awoke and replied, "Is merely going in circles around a fire regarded as the marriage celebration? I was really married from the moment when I decided Aristnemi to be my husband.

From that day I was his and he was mine. All men except Aristnemi are like my fathers and brothers. Aristnemi himself came here with a view to marrying me. The formal celebration is meaningless. It is given importance only by commoners. I attach more value to the union of the heart. That is the reason why I am very anguished at the news of his retreat. These things cannot be explained in words. For he is lucky because he is proceeding on the path of liberation, however, I lament the fact that he did not let me accompany him."

Finally she made up her mind to give up the household life and be initiated as a nun.

Sources

Title: Journey into Jainism
Author:
Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha (Samani Smit Pragya)
Publisher: Jain Vishwa Bharati, Ladnun, India
Edition: 2012

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Arishtanemi
  2. Ayodhya
  3. Girnar
  4. Krishna
  5. Mathura
  6. Nonviolence
  7. Rama
  8. Sanskrit
  9. Shravan
  10. Shukla
  11. Soul
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