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Glory of Jainism: Chelana Rani

Published: 19.10.2012


Chelana Rani

It was Chelana Rani who inculcated noble sentiments and love for religion in Shrenik, the king of Magadh. Her life was one of ups and downs. King Shrenik had heard that Chelana’s elder sister Sujyeshtha was very attractive and sent, through a messenger, his marriage proposal to king Chetak. Chetak declined the offer which hurt Shrenik’s pride. His minister Abhaykumar promised him that he would, through deception, manage to accomplish the impossible. Sujyeshtha, then, saw Shrenik’s picture and felt instant attraction for him. She was now eager to marry him. Abhaykumar called king Shrenik to the city of Vaishali and a plan was prepared to abduct Sujyeshtha.

Chelana was sad that she was going to lose her sister. Sujyeshtha suggested that she should accompany her to Magadh. They were ready to depart when Sujyestha suddenly remembered that she had forgotten her ornament-box in the palace. She went into the palace and at that very moment king Shrenik arrived to abduct her. Chelana sa.t in the chariot and waited for Sujyeshtha for awhile for her to return. On seeing the king’s soldiers, king Shrenik drove away with Chelana. Sujyeshtha returned to find that king Shrenik had already left with Chelana. She, then, lost all interest in the worldly affairs and became a sadhvi while Chelana married king Shrenik. Shrenik built a palace, resting on one pillar for Chelana to perform religious rituals. She would make a garland of fragrant flowers plucked from the garden and offer it to the god. Once they both went for Mahavir’ sudarshan and, while returning, saw a monk completely naked, performing penance in bitter cold. Both got off from the chariot and bowed to the monk. Both returned to the palace happy.

In deep slumber at night, queen Chelana’s hand hung out of the quilt and became stiff due to severe cold. She felt terrible pain and remembered the monk performing penance in the cold. She muttered in sleep: “Oh! what would he be experiencing?” King Shrenik heard the words and thought the queen was referring to a person whom she had promised to meet. He suspected Chelana’ s chastity and so he could not sleep the whole night. In the morning he summoned his minister Abhaykumar and said: “Someone has committed an impious act and the palace be burnt with all inside it.” Then he set out for Mahavir’sudarshan. Bhagwan was seated in Samavasarana. King Shrenik was uneasy, his mind plagued by suspicion. He went to Mahavir and said: “Tell me, O lord, whether my wife is chaste or not.” Bhagwan said: “Yes, she is.” Shrenik was stunned. He was now in a state of shock at the thought of Chelana having been reduced to ashes. He hurried to the palace and called Abhaykumar to know whether the palace was burnt down or not. Abhaykumar said: “I have set only the elephant house on fire and the women’s portion of the palace is still intact.” Shrenik heaved a sigh of relief and queen Chelana’s chastity was proved beyond a shadow of doubt. In the Jain traditional literature, the emphasis has been on spotless character. A woman’s character is often tested but she never loses courage and faces the challenge with equanimity. Chelana Rani was one such woman. Merely on a suspicion, king Shrenik wanted to kill her but her piety saved her. When she learnt the truth, she did not show any ill-will towards Shrenik. There was no trace of bitterness and she was willing to pardon one and all. Such was the greatness of Chelana Rani.

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. Equanimity
  2. Magadh
  3. Mahavir
  4. Pride
  5. Sadhvi
  6. Samavasarana
  7. Shrenik
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