Glory of Jainism: Sadhvi Sukumalika

Published: 02.09.2012



Sadhvi Sukumalika

Princess Sukumalika was extremely beautiful. Both her brothers had accepted initiation from the Jainacharya and their faces too glowed with the luster of sainthood. The princess also desired to follow the path of her brothers. Great and glorious is the path of penance. It destroys the karmic bondage and leads to the path of salvation. Leaving behind the luxury and pleasures of royal life, princess Sukumalika preferred the path of renunciation.

Princess Sukumalika became sadhvi (nun) Sukumalika. But even the white robe of a sadhvi could not disguise her alluring beauty. Her incomparable beauty attracted the sight of many lustful men. Sadhvi Sukumalika realized that the entire world was mad after outward physical beauty. Her own beauty caused infatuation and lust among men. She decided to transform her outward physical beauty to inner elegance by means of renunciation and penance.

Penance is like spring season wherein the inner elegance blooms at its best and is never followed by any autumn. Sadhvi Sukumalika abjured food and water and resorted to severe penance and both her brothers were guarding her constantly during the course of her penance. The incessant and unobstructed journey of penance came to its climax and consequent upon her penance, sadhvi Sukumalika fell on the earth. Both her brothers thought that their sister had died; hence they left her body behind and returned to the town.

After some time, as the result of cool breeze in the forest, Sukumalika woke up and she had a new life. She looked all around but did not find her brothers and was terrified with the thought as to what would happen to her in the deep and dense forest. Meanwhile a Sarthvah (leader of a caravan) was passing through the forest with his goods-loaded caravan; he saw this sadhvi crying lonely in the forest. Impelled by compassion, he took her to his home and attended upon her with selfless love and innocence. Close acquaintance generated affection between them and Sukumalika became Sarthvah’s wife and started looking after the domestic affairs. The path of renunciation and penance is difficult like that of a high-rising mountain; whereas deterioration and downfall are easy and quick.

Once two monks came to this city and by chance they happened to arrive at Sarthvah’s residence for alms. They could not recognize Sukumalika who was dressed like a worldly woman but Sukumalika immediately recognized her brothers both of whom had thought that their sister had died in the forest. After a while they too recognized their sister as a married woman. They came to know about everything that had happened. Both of them were shocked to see their sister, thus transformed into a worldly being.

Sukumalika remembered her glorious past and the immense joy she had attained by severe penance. She then repented the change in her life. The monks preached her the worthlessness and vanity of worldly life and great significance of salvation. Sukumalika once again resorted to the strenuous path of penance. She abjured food and water. Having attained spiritual growth, she made her present birth full of dignity and worthy.

Title: Glory Of Jainism

Ashok Saha and Prathana Saha


Shri Anilbhai Gandhi (Trustee),
Palitana - 364270 (India)

Edition: 1998

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