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Glory of Jainism: Subhadra Sati

Published: 04.11.2012


Subhadra Sati

Subhadra was having deep and intense religious devotion and unfading fidelity to her husband but suddenly there was an unexpected calamity in her life. An incident took place which brought a blot on her pure virtuous name. When everyone deserted her, her innate honesty and virtuosity stood by her and saw her through the greatest test of life. Subhadra was the daughter of Jindas, a minister of king Jitshatru of Vasantpur. She was wise, cultured and religious minded. Buddhadas, a non-Jain, was attracted by her beauty and desired to marry her. With a view to getting married to Subhadra, he studied Jain religion and he used to observe all the rituals and ceremonies of Jain religion. Subhadra was married to Buddhadas who had deceived her by pretending to be a Jain.

Once one ascetic monk, having performed a month's fast, came to collect alms at Subhadra's residence and she saw that there was a little blade of grass in his eye and if that be not removed he might get blind; so she removed it from the monk's eyes with her tongue. It so happened that in so doing the pigment mark (bindi) on her forehead got stuck on the monk's forehead. The mother-in-law was always in search of something to defame her daughter-in-law and now an opportunity had come her way. She alleged that Subhadra had an affair with the monk. Even her husband began to doubt her chastity and started neglecting Subhadra. Though innocent, Subhadra thus had a blot on her name. She made up her mind that unless the ruling goddess would manifest herself and remove the blot, she would live in a stage of kayotsarg (meditation in a standing posture).

At this time a strange incident took place in the town of Champanagari. The gates of royal palace got closed and nobody could open the gates despite numerous efforts and contrivances. Then there was a divine oracle (voice in the sky) that if any chaste and virtuous woman would fetch water from a well with the help of an unprocessed yarn and a strainer and if the same water were sprinkled on the gates, then only they would open. The queen herself and many other women sprinkled water and tried their utmost but of no avail. Subhadra told her mother-in-law, "If you permit me, I may try." At this the mother-in-law lost her temper and said, "You have already brought disgrace to the family by your infatuation for the monk. Aren't you satisfied with that? Still you want to bring bad name to us publicly in the whole state? Shame on you!"

Subhadra kept quiet, despite such heart-rending and bitter words of her mother-in-law. Politely she said, "O mother! You are right that if I failed I would be a disgraced daughter-in-law of the family but I shall ask a question to the sky and if there be an answer 'open the gates' you would let me go." Facing the sky Subhadra asked the same question and there was a divine utterance - 'open the gates'. Now Subhadra felt reassured of all the protection and help from the ruling goddess. She fetched water from the well with the help of unprocessed yarn and sprinkled it on the gates of the royal palace. Soon the three gates opened one after another but for the fourth gate the ruling goddess said that the fourth gate would open if there be any other chaste and virtuous woman. Many a woman tried but the gate did not open; till today it remains closed. The king and the people at large were greatly impressed by Subhadra's religious devotion People all around realized the greatness and impact of Jain religion. Subhadra's mother-in-law and husband asked to be forgiven and adopted Jain religion. In course of time Subhadra accepted initiation and, having achieved absolute knowledge, attained 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. Kayotsarg
  2. Meditation
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