Absent Lord ► Magical Monks A Ritual Subculture ► Dadagurudevs ► Jincandrasuri "Manidhari"

Posted: 13.06.2015

The second Dadaguru is named Jincandrasuri, but he is popularly known as "Manidhari" because there is said to have been a jewel (mani) in his forehead from which some of his magical power emanated. He was Jindattsuri's successor, but the personality he projects as a Dadaguru is completely distinct from that of his illustrious predecessor.

According to one account (Nahta and Nahta 1971: 26) - a version strongly reminiscent of the Tirthankars' birth narratives - Manidhari's advent was known even before it occurred. It seems that a wealthy merchant named Ramdev once asked Jindattsuri to say which among his disciples was worthy of becoming his successor. The monk replied that such a worthy one had not yet appeared. Ramdev then asked, "If he's not yet here, then is someone coming from heaven?" "Just so," the monk replied. "How?" Ramdev asked. Jindattsuri answered that on a particular day the soul who was qualified to be his successor would, having descended from devlok (devlok se cyav kar), take birth (avtiranhoga) in the womb of the wife of Sresthi Rasal of Vikrampur (a village near Jaisalmer). After a few days Ramdev arrived at the house of Sresthi Rasal. When asked why he had come, he told Rasal to call his wife. When she appeared he garlanded her and paid her homage. Ramdev then explained about Jindattsuri's prediction.

Manidhari was born in 1140 in Vikrampur. His birth name was Suryakumar and his clan was Mahatiyan. He came into contact with Jindattsuri early in his childhood. Jindattsuri had spent the rainy season retreat in Vikrampur, and Suryakumar's mother was a daily attendee at his discourses. Jindattsuri saw the boy with his mother and instantly knew (by means of his jnanbal, "knowledge-power") that the boy would be his successor. A slightly different version places this encounter in Ajmer where Suryakumar had been taken by his mother and father.

Suryakumar was initiated at the age of only six by Jindattsuri himself, and because of his brilliance in his studies he gained the status of acarya (also conferred by Jindattsuri) and the name Jincandrasuri at the age of eight. At that time Jindattsuri warned him never to go to Yoginipur-Delhi (Delhi is usually called Yoginipur in these accounts) because he knew that Manidhari would meet his death there. His subsequent career was very similar to that of other great ascetics. His wanderings took him to many towns and villages and his rainy season visitations were sources of inspiration in the communities blessed with his presence. He propagated Jainism, admonished backsliders, defended the faith, and consecrated numerous temples, including Jindattsuri's memorial in Ajmer. He seems to have done relatively little writing, but is reputed to have been quite learned, and is said to have been victorious in a religious debate (sastrarth) held at Rudrapalli. He converted large numbers of new Jains, and his teachings inspired many laypersons to take initiation as mendicants.

As did Jindattsuri, Manidhari possessed formidable magical powers, which - as is the case with all the Dadagurus - he employed for the benefit of Jains and Jainism. His most famous miracle occurred when he was traveling in the direction of Delhi with a pilgrimage party. When the group halted near a village named Vorsidan, some bandits came near. The monk told his companions to calm their fears because Jindattsuri (that is, his guru) would protect them. With his stick he drew a line around the whole group, and the bandits could not see them even though they were able to see the bandits.

As Jindattsuri had predicted, Manidhari's life ended at Delhi. When he and his party came near Delhi,[1] King Madanpal arrived at the spot on an elephant to receive darsan. In the age-old pattern of kings falling under the spell of great mendicants, he became influenced (prabhavit) by Manidhari's teachings and invited him to enter the city. Remembering Jindattsuri's order not to enter Delhi, Manidhari at first remained silent. But the king repeated his invitation, and at last the monk agreed to fulfill the king's wish.[2] As a result, he spent the rainy season of 1166 in Delhi.

One of his more notable achievements during his sojourn in Delhi was his subjugation of a non-Jain goddess.[3] On the ninth day of Navratri[4] while on the way to the latrine he suddenly saw two mithyadrsti goddesses (goddesses holding false views) fighting over some meat, and he was able to bring one of them under his influence. She became pacified (sant-citt) and declared that she would give up animal sacrifice. He told her to take up residence in a pillar in a particular Parsvanath temple, and later he instructed his leading lay disciples to have an image made for her. They did so, and he performed the consecration rite at which time he bestowed the name Atibal on the goddess. The laymen made arrangements for a fine food offering (bhog) for her, and afterwards she was always ready to fulfill the wishes of her worshipers.

Manidhari died in Delhi on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month of Bhadrapad (August/September) in the year 1166. Before his death he had told his disciples that his funeral procession should not stop on the way to the burning grounds, and he also said that a patra (an ascetic's alms bowl) of milk should be kept ready to receive the gemstone that would emerge from his forehead when the burning began. In addition, he predicted that Delhi's populated area would never grow beyond the point at which his body was burned. When he died his followers forgot the injunction not to set his bier down, and they lowered it to the ground to take rest at a place called Manek Cauk near Delhi. There his bier stuck to the earth, and not even the combined efforts of four elephants could move it. The king ordered the body burned on that spot, and this is where the Mehrauli dadabari is located today. It is said that his followers had also forgotten about the bowl of milk for the gemstone, and that when it emerged it fell into the hands of some other "yogi". According to one account, it was later recovered by his successor, Jinpatisuri (Nahta and Nahta 1971: 17-18). The ultimate destiny of the gem is unclear.[5]

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