Absent Lord ► Magical Monks A Ritual Subculture ► Dadagurudevs ► Jinkusalsuri

Posted: 14.06.2015

The third Dadaguru, Jinkusalsuri, was born in 1280 in the Marwari village of Garh Sivana. His name was Karman and his clan was Chajer.[1] As it happens, his paternal uncle was an acarya named Jincandrasuri (not to be confused with Jincandrasuri" Manidhari"),who at that time was the leader of the Khartar Gacch. The boy fell under his uncle's influence, and in the year 1920 (some sources say 1288) he took initiation in the village of his birth and acquired the name Kusalkirti. He excelled in his studies and got the title vacanacarya (one who interprets texts) in 1319. When Jincandrasuri realized that his end was near, he designated Kusalkirti as his successor. Kusalkirti achieved the status of acarya and acquired the name Jinkusalsuri in 1320 at Patan.

His career consisted of the usual travels, rainy season sojourns, temple consecrations, and initiations with which we have become familiar. As did the other Dadagurus, he performed many miracles on behalf of Jains and Jainism. Most accounts of his life give special emphasis to two great pilgrimage parties (sanghs) of which he was the spiritual leader.[2] The first was organized by a Srimal businessman of Delhi named Raypati. He had obtained a farman from the emperor Ghiyasuddin Tughluq saying that all necessary assistance should be given to the pilgrimage party, which would be under the leadership of Jinkusalsuri and would be traveling to Satrunjaya and Girnar. Having obtained the farman, and also Jinkusalsuri's approval, Raypati brought his party from Delhi to Patan. There Jinkusalsuri joined with his group of monks. It is reported that the expedition included seventeen monks, nineteen nuns, 500 carts, and 100 horses (Vinaysagar 1959:154). En route he performed various image consecrations, and when they arrived at Satrunjaya he consecrated images of Jinpatisuri, Jinesvarsuri, and other gurus of the past.[3] After proceeding on to Girnar, the pilgrimage was completed. Jinkusalsuri then returned to Patan, and the pilgrimage party returned to Delhi. Later a rich layman from Bhimpalli obtained a farman from the emperor for a similar pilgrimage party which he took from Bhimpalli to Satrunjaya under Jinkusalsuri's leadership.

There were serious problems of backsliding among the Jains of Sindh at the time of Jinkusalsuri's life. He was invited to go there by local Jains, and apparently succeeded in bringing about a major revival. It is said that because of his extraordinary charisma (prabhav) he was able to convert 50,000 new Jains. He was also able to bring White and Black Bhairav, two somewhat sinister Hindu deities, under his control. These are often pictured with him - White Bhairav on his right hand, Black Bhairav on his left - each with his mascot dog and each with hands folded in the standard gesture of supplication and homage. This again reflects the theme of competition with Saiva or Sakta traditions.

He died in Sindh in 1332. He had gone to Deraur (Devrajpur) to spend the rains there, and - knowing that his end was near - he stayed on. He named a fifteen-year-old disciple as his successor, and died on the fifth day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month of Phalgun (February/March).[4]

Since then he has been particularly prone to appearances in visions. The most celebrated of these occurred in Sindh when a certain Samaysundarji and some companions tried to cross the "five rivers" in a boat. A great storm blew up and the boat was on the verge of sinking. Samaysundarji meditated on Jinkusalsuri and immediately the monk's devatma (soul in its current deity status) appeared and saved the boat. This episode is a staple of the hagiographies and is frequently portrayed in the illustrations of the Dadagurus' deeds that adorn temples. It reflects an abiding metaphor in South Asian religions, namely that of a devotee's "rescue" from the "ocean of existence" (samsarsagar). Also, after his death he is said to have appeared in a vision at Malpura, where an important dadabari was subsequently built, a point to which we shall return later.

Share this page on: