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Glory of Jainism: Sadhvi Sunanda (Rupsen)

Published: 15.09.2012


Sadhvi Sunanda (Rupsen)

The life-sketches of Sunanda and Rupsen show the unusual way in which the theory of Karma operates. Having been a Sadhvi, Sunanda had imbibed the virtue of renunciation. As a result of her penance she had acquired clairvoyance. As she knew about her previous births, once she told her Guruni (female spiritual teacher) that she wanted to give sermon to a person named Rupsen, who was entangled in the cycle of births because of his infatuation for her. Sadhvi Sunanda added that if the Guruni would permit her to go to Vidhya Dwip, she could emancipate Rupsen who was then born as an elephant. Having been permitted by the Guruni, Sadhvi Sunanda along with four other Sadhvis arrived at Sugram for a rainy residence.

Sadhvi Sunanda came to know that having been born as an elephant Rupsen had become a threat to the civic life. Whoever happened to cross his way, was crushed to death under his feet. If people happened to see him from a far, they used to run helter-skelter. Because of his terror, people avoided to go to the outskirts of the town. With a view to imparting sermon to this elephant, Sadhvi Sunanda boldly went near the elephant, despite people’s warnings. As Sadhvi Sunanda dauntlessly went forward, the screaming elephant came rushing towards her but as his eyes met with those of the Sadhviji’s, he calmed and stood quietly, as if remembering his love for her in the previous birth.

Sadhvi Sunanda told him: “How long do you intend to suffer for your infatuation? You have wasted as many as six births and you are just on the verge of wasting this seventh birth too.” Then Sadhvi Sunanda told the elephant about his previous births. She said: “0 Rupsen! When you had a birth as a human being, you lost your senses out of your infatuation for me and instead of getting me, you were crushed to death under a wall. Your dreams remained unfulfilled. Driven by your attachment for me, you came to me as an embryo but at that time I was an unmarried woman, and the embryo was destroyed skillfully. In your next birth you were born to a female-serpent living in a garden of king Pruthvivallabha, ruler of Kshitipratishthit. That time I happened to be the queen of king Pruthvivallabha and you chased me but finally my husband Pruthvivallabha killed you. In the fourth birth you were born as a crow. While I was enjoying a music party along with my husband king Pruthvivallabha, you created nuisance by your disturbing crowing. The king tried to drive you away, but as you happened to have great attachment for me, you did not go away. Hence the king ordered his men to kill you. Your next and the fifth birth was that of a swan. Once I was sitting under a tree with thick foliage in the company of the king Pruthvivallabhai while you were sitting nearby as a swan. Out of your sheer joy you were singing sweetly. Just at that time, a crow excreted and flew away. The excretion of the crow fell on the king and believing that it was the swan’s doing he became so angry that he killed the swan. In the subsequent sixth birth you were born a deer. The deer was killed and was cooked for our meal and when I was having my meal with the king, just at that time a Muni (wise man) told me the story of our previous births. Having come to know about the unfailing operation of Karma, as also the results of infatuation, I accepted initiation for the redemption of my sins.” After listening to the stories of his six previous births, the ascetic-like elephant died in deep meditation and acquired the status of a god of the eighth Loka (world). In course of time, he attained salvation. So, with the redemption of her Karmas, Sadhvi Sunanda acquired absolute knowledge and immortal status.

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. Clairvoyance
  2. Karma
  3. Karmas
  4. Loka
  5. Meditation
  6. Muni
  7. Sadhvi
  8. Sadhvis
  9. Vidhya
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