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Glory of Jainism: Kosha

Published: 23.10.2012
Updated: 02.07.2015



Kosha, the court dancer of Patliputra, was alluringly lovely and highly accomplished in fine arts. The elder son of Mahamatya Shaktal was Sthulbhadra. He lived with courtesan Kosha in her house. She loved him passionately. After the death of his father, as a result of a conspiracy, he abdicated the title Mahamatya and decided to renounce the world. The initiation (diksha) took place in the presence of Acharya Sambhutvijayji. He was, then, asked to stay at one place, undertake penance and observe austerities, along with three other monks. The three monks decided to spent four months respectively in a lion’s den, in the anthill of a snake and near a well surrounded by women coming to fetch water. Sthulbhadra asked for Acharya Sambhutvijayji’s consent to stay in Kosha’s dancing hall whose walls were covered with attractive pictures inflaming passions. The consent was granted. The idea behind this arrangement was to test the self-control of each - the three monks and Sthulbhadra.

Kosha’s joy knew no bounds when she learnt that Sthulbhadra was to spend four months in her luxurious palace. She was all agog to receive her paramour and the past memories began to crowd her mind. She, then, cooked delicious food and offered it to him. She would dance gracefully and play on the veena (lute) and the whole palace would reverberate but Sthulbhadra was immune to what was happening around him. He was deep in meditation, his heart full of devotion and Kosha’s beauty held no attraction for him. Kosha realised her folly and asked for his forgiveness. Muni Sthulbhadra discoursed on the inner beauty of the soul which, he said, was far superior to the physical one. He also explained to her how worship would make her experience inner happiness which no luxuries could offer. Kosha, then, became a shravika. Acharya Sambhutvijayji was highly pleased and said: “You have attained the impossible!”

The three other monks spent four months in different places in difficult conditions. On hearing their tale of how they survived the ordeal, Acharya said "difficult" but he had uttered the word "difficult" three times on listening to Sthulbhadra’s tale. What it meant was that what he had accomplished was far more difficult than what the three monks had faced and accomplished. The monks were naturally not pleased and said: “What Sthulbhadra had accomplished was very easy.” So saying, one of them went to see Kosha. Kosha fed him delicious food and dressed herself so attractively that the monk fell for her. She, then, asked him to go to Nepal and bring for her the expensive blanket studded with jewels.

The monk went to Nepal and borrowed from the king of Nepal the blanket and gave it to Kosha. Kosha wiped her feet with it and threw it into a puddle of dirty water. The monk was naturally angry as he had borrowed the blanket from the king of Nepal. Kosha said: “O Muni! you are worried to see your blanket being sullied but you are not worried at the fact that you have sullied your character.” Listening to these words of Kosha, the monk realised his folly and returned to the Acharya. He praised the efforts of Sthulbhadra to triumph over the temptations posed by Kosha. Rathakar (charioteer and political advisor) of King Nand showed his skill and managed to bring a bunch of mangoes to where he and Kosha were sitting. Kosha then showed her skill by dancing on a lotus placed on a needle tip. Quite a rich literature, in the form of stories, novels etc. about the live of Kosha and Sthulbhadra exists in Jain folklore.

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. Acharya
  2. Diksha
  3. Meditation
  4. Muni
  5. Shravika
  6. Soul
  7. Veena
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