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Glory of Jainism: Sadhvi Poyani

Published: 04.09.2012



Sadhvi Poyani

It is an outstanding feature of the Jain religion that along with the monks, it has also accorded a respectable place to nuns. A look at the order of Jain nuns would give an idea that women from all castes, creeds and classes have been admitted to it for spiritual pursuit, without any narrow minded considerations. It is not that only women from the royal families, having abundant wealth, have joined this fold but even maid-servants, courtesans and the down-trodden women have also accepted initiation for personal growth. They too have ultimately become respected personalities in the community and the religious culture. All such women have become epitome of knowledge, exemplary character and severe penance. Even the mighty kings and the most leading citizens used to leave their seats and bow down before the sacred nuns. Sadhvi Poyani is one of the sixteen satis (chaste and virtuous wives) whom people bow down even today and whose names are remembered along with the names of the Tirthankars (builders of the ford). These Jain nuns have made significant contribution as authors and have shown their power of memory.

Arya Poyani had helped many religious people, for their safest voyage in the ocean of worldly life, with the help of her ship of jnana-marg - the path of learning and knowledge. She enjoys a unique place in the Jain religion because of her versatility, purity of conduct and quality of leadership. The life of Arya Poyani illustrates the fact that in the manner of Jain monks, the Jain nuns also awakened spiritual consciousness among the people at large by travelling on foot armed with utmost faith, devotion and a spirit of adventure.

Arya Poyani was the head of the order of nuns (Sadhvi-Pramukha) in the times of preceptor (Vachanacharya) Balissahji. An eventful incident relating to Jain history took place during the times of Kaling Chakravarti Mahameghvahan Kharvel. King Kharvel came to know that Pushyamitra, the king of Pataliputra, was persecuting the Jains. Kharvel invaded Pataliputra; Pushyamitra surrendered himself and having pledged not to persecute the Jains in future, he signed a treaty. But in course of time, Pushyamitra again resorted to atrocities. Hence after four years, Kharvel invaded Pataliputra with a large army and he became victorious.

In the annals of Indian history, king Kharvel enjoys a unique place as a Jain ruler having unparallel chivalry, extraordinary spirit of adventure, intense devotion to religion and matchless compassion for co-religionists. Thereafter he invited the four sects of the sangh on the Kumargiri mountain and organised the second Agamvachana conference with a view to systematically compiling and thus protecting the Agams (Jain canonical literature). 300 learned sadhvis participated in this conference under the leadership of Arya Poyani. As Arya Poyani was an authority on the Agam literature, she made a decisive contribution in determining the text of the Agams.

Sadhvi Poyani was scholarly, devoted to sacred precepts and efficient in the management of the sangh. By undertaking journey on foot, she used to create spiritual awakening among the people and she also assisted the sangh in propagating the religion.


Title: Glory Of Jainism

Ashok Saha and Prathana Saha


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

Edition: 1998

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Agam
  2. Agams
  3. Chakravarti
  4. Consciousness
  5. Sadhvi
  6. Sadhvis
  7. Sangh
  8. Tirthankars
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