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Bhaktambar Stotra: 01 ►FOUNDATION FOR BHAKTAMAR STOTRA

Published: 20.11.2019
Updated: 04.12.2019

-1-
Bhaktaamara-pranata-mauli-mani-prabhaanaa-
Mudyo-takamdalita-paapa-tamo-vitaanam|
Samyakpranamyajina-paada-yugamyugaadaa-
Vaalam-banambhavajalepatataamjanaanaam||

I duly bow down to Lord Rishabh's feet - which increases the shine of the crown jewels of the deities who bow down to his feet; which has the power to eradicate the darkness of sin; which became the savior of beings falling in the ocean of samsar (transmigration of soul from one birth to another and so on, on account of karmas which are created by the soul itself) in the beginning of era.

-2-
Yah sanstutahsakala-vaangmaya-tattva-bodhaa-
Dudbhoota-buddhi-patubhihisuraloka-naathaih|
Stotrair-jagat-tritaya-chitta-harai-rudaaraih
Stoshyekilaaha-mapi tarn prathamamjinendram||

I too shall eulogies the first teerthankar (Lord Rishabh) who has been extolled through great stotras, appealing to the beings of all three realms by the wise celestial lords, who have acquired all wisdom from scriptures.

Bhaktamar Stotra is revered as one of the most profound and significant stotras. It finds equal acceptance by all followers of the Jain religion. Devotees of both, Shvetamber and Digamber, recite this stotra with reverence.

Dealing with Turbulence in life

Many circumstances occur in our lives which cause turmoil. These turbulences are rendered ineffective when one is in a state of adhyalma (spirituality). Only when we move away from our soul and ignore self-realisation, does havoc occur. A lyapli (universal concomitance) can be deduced here - when we reside in the soul we are free from the whirlpool of turbulences and when we live at the level of the body, we are entrapped in the whirlpool of turbulences.

One is always seeking for ways to protect themselves from turbulence. They strive to stay unaffected from them. Life is full of obstacles, impediments, flaws and problems. One needs strong willpower to confront them. A person devoid of will power cannot stand against turbulences and is caught in a spiral of anarchy. No one is free from difficulties in life. If their life is devoid of difficulties, then their existence or non-existence is immaterial. Whoever can combat problems is great. One gains victory over problems through willpower and consequently enjoys the moments of happiness, peace and bliss. Everyone needs a boat that can carry them across the ocean of difficulties.

Acharyas in ancient period have composed stotras to provide support to one and all. Many stotras and mantras have been composed in the Jain, Buddha, Vedic, Islamic and other religions. They help to overcome the various problems, obstacles or difficulties caused by man, planetary positions, circumstances and mental attitude. Bright light of the sun always gets concealed by the clouds. However, just like how the sun disperses the clouds and shines again, these stotras help to dissolve difficulties and show a new ray of light.

Legend of the Bhaktamar Stotra

The Bhaktamar Stotra was composed by Acharya Maantung. There are many popular anecdotes surrounding this. Miraculous incidents accompanying a powerful stotra are often narrated. Such miraculous events have been associated with Bhaktamar too.

One legend is as follows - Acharya Maantung was imprisoned in the basement of a four-storey building. All doors were locked, and his limbs were shackled in iron chains. Under such adverse conditions, Acharya Maantung, an erudite scholar of mantras, composed the Bhaktamar Stotra.

Bhaktamar Stotra consists of mantras, whose syllables formulated in such a manner that its recitation results in the fulfillment of desires. Later, other Acharyas designed the modus operandi suggesting particular methods, mantras and tantras (Mystical formula having spiritual power) for each of the shlokas (verses). Many mantras related to Bhaktamar have been developed, including specific ways to practice them and with elaborate explanation of its benefits.

Bhaktamar is certainly a powerful stotra. It is recited daily by thousands of Jain sadhus (ascetic), sadhvis (female ascetic), sravak (laymen) and sravikas (laywomen). Following is a reflection upon its' first two shlokas.

-1-
Bhaktaamara-pranata-mauli-mani-prabhaanaa-
Mudyo-takamdalita-paapa-tamo-vitaanam|
Samyakpranamyajina-paada-yugamyugaadaa-
Vaalam-banambhavajalepatataamjanaanaam||
-2-
Yah sanstutahsakala-vaangmaya-tattva-bodhaa-
Dudbhoota-buddhi-patubhihisuraloka-naathaih|

The Power of the Feet

In the first shlok of Bhaktamar, homage is paid to the feet of Lord Rishabh. The shlok conveys the significance of paying homage to the feet. Although brain is considered to be the most powerful organ of the body, here, reverence is given to the feet, the most inferior part that rests on the ground. This practice is followed across all Indian religion, which proclaims that homage should be paid to the part which stays connected to the ground. Human body is similar to a tree; where roots have their due importance. In our lives we tend to ignore the roots and only acknowledge the leaves, flowers and fruits. How can all these come into existence without roots? In reality, roots are the real strength and bedrock of the inner beauty of a tree.

Homage is paid to the feet as they are the foundation of our body. A person who pays homage, to any other part of the body ignoring the bottom feet is basically attempting to touch the pinnacle disregarding the foundation. Analogous to the trees, simply watering the leaves and fruits, ignoring the roots will lead to an under-nourished tree. Nothing will flourish until the roots are nourished.

Those who know the theory of acupressure will be acquainted with the importance of feet. What is an eye? Eye is not merely through which we see the world. Its corresponding point lies in our feet too. All neurons leading to sight, taste, auditory, vocal cord and organs like heart, liver, spleen etc have their nerve points in our feet. There isn't any part of the body whose corresponding pressure point does not exist in our feet! Feet represent the entire body and are hence powerful.

A doctor who specializes in acupressure remarked, "Jain Acharyas have always been wise scholars". They recognized the fact that feet are the foundation of our body and have formulated a rule to walk bare feet. Many health issues are resolved naturally by direct contact of feet with the earth. They did not overlook it; rather they incorporated feet in the process of paying homage. Thus, the tradition of paying homage to the feet by devotees came into practice.

Bowing down to the feet is a sign of politeness and humbleness.

This tradition is accepted in society too. For example, daughter-in-law pays respect to her mother-in-law, and son pays respect to his father by touching his feet. Modern generation may consider this gesture to be insignificant and usually hesitate, but it depicts their lack of knowledge. If we bow at the head, there is a chance of colliding with each other's head and egos also come into the equation. If our head bow down to someone’s feet, it clearly demonstrates humility. Bowing down to the feet is a sign of politeness and humbleness.

According to Samkhya philosophy there are five Gyanendriya (Five senses of knowledge) - medium of knowledge and five Karmendriya- organs of action.

  • Skin, tongue, nose, eyes, ears are the means of knowledge.
  • Anus, genital, speech, hands and legs are the means of action.
  • Feet symbolise movement and act as a medium of motion.

People tend to follow the customs and practices laid out by their ancestors and great scholars. They attempt to walk on their footprints. These footprints become indestructible. To follow them one needs to move, and feet are the medium for this movement. Bio-electricity, which is the prime source of energy for all its functions, flows in our body. Electricity is supplied to our homes by means of power lines, from the power plants. With a click of the switch a light bulb turns on. Similarly, our bodily functions depend on bio-electricity. It activates organs of the body. Bio-electricity flows out from the big toe of the feet and fingers of the hands. Acharya Maantung discovered this fact and expressed it in the first shlok of Bhaktamar.

Significance of the Feet of Lord Rishabh

Why are the feet of Lord Rishabh significant? Responding to this, Acharya Maantung says - "Indra, the king of deities, was the bhakta (Devotee) of Lord Rishabh. He bowed down to the feet of Adinath {another name of Lord Rishabh). Rays emerging from divine jewels of Indra's crown reached the Lord's feet, especially the big toe. These rays were tinted with delusion; with anger and lust. When the deluded rays of the crown came in contact with the pious, pure, divine and enlightened radiance from the feet of the Lord, the entire crown illuminated. That which was not completely enlightened, bearing darkness in itself, was now illuminated."

To produce light in darkness is comprehensible, but to illuminate an already enlightened beam is indeed astonishing. The jewels did not possess absolute luminosity as they embraced the darkness of Indra's delusion. Delusion can exist in infinite forms and with delusion comes darkness; the inner darkness. Filled with delusion even Arjun had asked Yogiraj Krishna, "O lord, what inspires a man to indulge in sinful activity? Everybody wishes to do good deeds, but the inner stimulation of instincts motivates a man to commit sin. What is that inner stimulation?"

To produce light in darkness is comprehensible, but to illuminate an already enlightened beam is indeed astonishing.

Shri Krishna replied -

Kaamaeshakrodhaesha, rajoguna-samud-bhavah |
Mahashanomahaa-paapmaa, viddhyenmihavairinaam||

Man unintentionally indulges in sinful activity inspired by lust and anger germinating from rajoguna (the element that breeds fickleness). Light conceals darkness within itself. There is a saying - There is darkness under the lamp'. If we delve deep into this, we will realise that darkness remains not just under the lamp but also in the lamp.

Darkness does not prevail only in the absence of light but exists in the presence of light too. Even the source of light cannot be free from darkness until it is enlightened by a pure soul. Light cannot exist without darkness. Similarly, darkness cannot exist without light. Acharya Maantung says - "By the touch of the pious feet of Lord Rishabh, the jewels of the crown were illuminated. The darkness in the delusion of Indra vanished and his consciousness was illuminated."

Indra paid homage to the feet of Lord Rishabh with right faith and in the right manner. Paying homage is an art. It is a symbolic gesture and needs to be done correctly. It is important to feel humble when paying one's respect, and to do it by gently touching the feet with the hand or head. Impolite manner of paying homage may cause harm to whomsoever it is paid to and not bring the desired result.

Paying Homage; to Whom?

You may ask me - Who are we paying homage to? Homage is paid to the feet of Lord Rishabh, who was the founder of a society at the threshold of the formation of a new era. Rendering support for the upbringing of a society is laudable, but to be the foundation of a society in the beginning of a new era is great phenomenon.

Lord Rishabh was born in an era when yugal (A couple or a pair of five sensed sub human beings, which is born as a twin brother and sister and die also simultaneously) were born. Basic necessities of life were fulfilled by Kalpa-Vrksha (wish fulfilling trees) including the need for food and clothes. Rustling of leaves of trees used to quench the desire of listening to music. Every need of life was fulfilled by those trees. Gradually, the needs of people began to inflate, and the power of those trees started to deplete.

The order of nature was disturbed. The need of the hour was a new social system. In such circumstances Lord Rishabh formulated a foundation for the beginning of a new era. He formed societies, developed methods for them to progress and taught various skills such as farming, engineering, defence, commerce, language etc.

He presented a new path by providing social, administrative and economic system. He believed that these were the primary needs essential for sustaining life. However, if one remains entrapped only in mundane activities throughout their life, then life will get monotonous. Most people ignore this fact and spend their lives doing mundane activities. A Sanskrit poet rightly said -

Prathamenaarjitaavidyaa, dviteeyenaarjitamdhanam|
Triteeyenaarjitodharmah, tasyajanmanirarthakam||

Average age of human being has been assumed to be hundred years. Life is said to be meaningless if one does not acquire knowledge in the first twenty-five years, earn money in following twenty-five years and practice spirituality in the later part of life. One cannot acquire knowledge, earn money nor can they acquire spiritual wealth during old age. This shlok depicts a pragmatic philosophy for leading a meaningful life and preparing a platform for samadhimaran (peaceful death).

Lord Rishabh is the originator of spiritual science in the Indian tradition. This fact is believed not only by Jain Acharyas but has references in the SrimadBhaagvad too. Describing Lord Rishabh and his sons it is said - 'Aatmavidyaavishaaradadh' - which means Rishabh's sons were scholars of spiritual science. Every historian will accept that the first philosophy of spiritual science has been propounded by Lord Rishabh. He was the initiator of a civilized era, religion, spiritual practice, society, and liberation. AchaiyaMaantung has composed a significant shlok in which he paid homage to the feet of the person who became the foundation of human civilization.

Life is a whirl of transmigration. It is a whirlpool of problems. Lord Rishabh assisted all who were drowning in an ocean of problems. Acharya Maantung paid homage to his pious feet who, had the following three salient features -

  • One which enlightens
  • One which supports
  • One which destroys sin

Physical and Mental Shackles can be Broken

In the second shlok of the Bhaktamar Stotra, Acharya Maantung makes a resolution - "I wish to write a Eulogy on Lord Rishabh." After paying homage to Lord's feet he resolved to eulogize his Lord and immediately immersed himself in the task. Physical shackles as well as the mental bondages like fear, anxiety, negative instincts, etc. cannot be broken without being immersed or engrossed in prayer. Through intense concentration thoughts can turn into reality. Here too, shackles were broken by such concentration.

Whenever Taansen used to sing in the court of King Akbar, the king would get immersed in the music and would begin to sway to the tunes. Involuntary moving of head is a physical sign of being immersed; following the king's lead, many of his courtiers would sway their heads too. The king had knowledge of music and so enjoyed Taansens music. However, the courtiers followed suit simply to make the king happy or show their respect to him. One day, the king got curious- how many of my courtiers actually understand music? Do people in my assembly have any knowledge of music? To identify true connoisseurs of music, the king made an announcement that he will behead anyone who sways their head while listening to Taansen. Now, who would swing his head? Taansen started to sing. People who were only imitating the king now sat still, but those who appreciated music forgot the warning and started to sway their heads. Thus, the king identified those who truly understood the intricacies of music.

When a person is engrossed, he does not remember anything else. That person becomes one with the object of concentration.

Acharya Maantung was immersed in the stuti of Lord Rishabh. However, a thought crept up in his mind - "Lord! I wish to eulogize you, but I have come across a difficulty: Indra has already eulogized you. In the abode of deities, there is a place called "VyavasaySabha (study room of Indra; the place where the Indra consult the books for making decisions)".This place has a huge collection of books and scriptures. King Indra, who is well versed with the literature and scriptures, has already created a eulogy dedicated to you. My knowledge and power are inferior compared to Indra's profound knowledge and prowess. What should I do now?

Deep concentration and focus gave Acharya Maantung his solution. He concluded- "I may not be Indra, king of deities, but I am indeed your disciple and follower."

This phrase "I am also" combines 'I - the sign of ego' with 'also —the sign of humility'. Here, when Acharya Maantung says -will also pray to you' we can see his humility. Acharya Maantung concluded that while he may not be as powerful and profound as Indra, yet he still has the right to eulogize the Lord because he is also a devotee, just like Indra.

Acharya Hemchandra and Acharya Siddhasen had faced similar predicaments. Ultimately, they all found the solutions. Though an athlete can run, it does not mean that a child does not have the right to walk. When a child learns to walk, he may fall down multiple times, but doesn't give up. The child gets up and tries to walk again and again. The learning process of walking is possible only by falling repeatedly. If a child thinks - I will walk only if I never fall, will he ever walk then?

If Acharya Maantung would have thought that the Lord has been eulogized by King Indra and therefore he will only venerate after he becomes a Lord too, the holy BhaktamarStotra would not have been composed. Instead Acharya Maantung said - "O Lord! Your devotee is standing in front of you with an excuse to create a eulogy in your name. I believe you will bestow me with knowledge and I will definitely be able to do so magnificently." This firm faith became the foundation for composing this powerful stotra.

Through intense concentration thoughts can turn into reality.

Sources

Title:  Bhaktambar Stotra
Author:  Acharya Mahapragna
Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Edition: 
2019
Digital Publishing: 
Amit Kumar Jain

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Hemchandra
  3. Acharyas
  4. Adinath
  5. Akbar
  6. Anger
  7. Bhakta
  8. Bhaktamar Stotra
  9. Body
  10. Brain
  11. Buddha
  12. Concentration
  13. Consciousness
  14. Digamber
  15. Fear
  16. Gyanendriya
  17. Indra
  18. Karmas
  19. Krishna
  20. Rishabh
  21. Sadhus
  22. Sadhvis
  23. Samkhya
  24. Samsar
  25. Sanskrit
  26. Science
  27. Shlok
  28. Shlokas
  29. Soul
  30. Sravak
  31. Sravikas
  32. Stuti
  33. Teerthankar
  34. Vedic
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