Glory of Jainism: Durgatanari

Published: 20.10.2012



Jain religion believes that even a small good deed can annihilate karma and pave the way for soul’s liberation. Any religious act, therefore, has to be selfless. Durgatanari was Mahavir’s contemporary and her life symbolize utter selfless devotion. She was extremely poor and eked out her living by collecting small logs in the forest and selling them. Once she learnt about the arrival of Bhagwan Mahavir in a park in Kakandipur city. All roads led to the park. Kings, emperors, gods and common people - all made their way to the park to listen to the discourse of Bhagwan Mahavir in Samavasarana (holy assembly of the Jina). A unique occasion, everyone looked forward to it eagerly. Even Indra also eagerly await Samavasarana. Everybody contributed to the erection of Samavasarana. There were three forts with four gates. One fort was meant for the parking of vehicles of gods and goddesses; one reserved for birds and animals; and the third was meant for· gods and human beings to sit and listen to Mahavir’s discourse.

Mahavir would enter Samavasarana and begin his discourse and all present would listen with rapt attention. Durgatanari also had a strong desire to listen to the soothing voice of Mahavir. She was so poor that she did not have anything to offer to Mahavir. She was worried. She didn’t have enough money to buy even flowers for Bhagwan’s worship. She looked around and saw a wild plant with a flower on it - a plant which grew in barren land. She plucked the flower and made her way to Samavasarana. An old, emaciated woman. Her heart was filled with devotion and indescribable joy and was eager to have a glimpse of Mahavir. But destiny had willed it otherwise. Before she could reach the place, she collapsed and died. Her dream could not be realised. Bhagwan Mahavir alluded to Durgatanari’s intense devotion and said that though her dream could not be realised, her selfless devotion had ensured her a place in devlok (heaven). A god present there was Durgatanari in the previous birth and Mahavir pointed at him. He said: “This god, in his eighth birth, will be free from the cycle of birth and death and will attain moksha (liberation).”

Durgatanari personified virtues like piety, selflessness, utter devotion and simplicity, and yet there was no trace of hypocrisy in her character. She was all humility and love! She neither craved for praise nor for any recognition. A person who does any noble deed without expecting any reward or recognition is the one dearer to god and that was precisely why Bhagwan Mahavir made a special reference to Durgatanari. What god expects of a devotee is sincere devotion and the desire to do a good turn to others without any expectation of rewards. Jain religion lays emphasis on selfless service and devotion. A worshipper may be rich or poor, high or low in status; he is a true devotee or a worshipper only if his heart is pure and full of devotion. That is why Jain religion recognizes no distinctions of caste and class. Karma is the determining factor, not your caste, status or economic condition. Durgatanari had all that the Jain religion advocates and she was an ideal devotee. She was poor but devout and her piety and devotion helped her to attain liberation.

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. Bhagwan Mahavir
  2. Indra
  3. Jina
  4. Karma
  5. Mahavir
  6. Moksha
  7. Samavasarana
  8. Soul
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