Absent Lord ► Magical Monks A Ritual Subculture ► A Ritual Subculture ► Time and the Dadagurus

Posted: 19.06.2015

Another important difference between Tirthankar-worshipand the cult of the Dadagurus is the temporal frame of reference. Consider the contrast between Parsvanath's five-kalyanak puja and Rddhisar's puja of the Dadagurus. Each rite begins with what we might call its own "prehistory." This establishes a deeper temporal context for the events with which the rite is principally concerned. In the case of the five-kalyanak puja,this consists of Pasvanath's previous births, beginning with his first contact with Jain teachings and culminating in his acquisition of the tirthankar nam karm, which he then carries (with one heavenly birth as a god intervening) into his final lifetime. In Rddhisar's puja, the structural equivalent of this is the establishment of a line of spiritual succession linking the Dadagurus with Lord Mahavir, who is the ultimate source of their sacred power. It is of interest in this context that a succession of transmigratory existences is sometimes called a parampara, a "tradition," which is the expression also used for ascetic lineages. The five-kalyanak puja of Parsvanath begins in "transmigratory time"; its equivalent is "historical/legendary time" in Rddhisar's puja. The transmigratory "lineage" of Parsvanath's soul becomes, in Rddhisar's puja, disciplic succession.

There is another parallel. There are of course no kalyanak's in Rddhisar's puja, nor can there be. Only the Tirthankars have kalyanak's, which indeed are definitive of the status of Tirthankar. In Rddhisar's puja, however, the functional equivalent of the kalyanak's is clearly the miracles. The Tirthankars' puja celebrates kalyanak s; the Dadagurus' puja celebrates miracles. And, as it turns out, both the kalyanak's and the miracles left significant traces behind. One can say that the Tirthankars' kalyanak 's still reverberate in the cosmos. The Tirthankars are completely and utterly gone, but their kalyan - a kind of beneficent power brought into being by their lives - remains, especially in the ascetic lineages that connect our time with theirs and transmit their teachings to us. The Dadagurus -, not so completely gone, have also left behind a miraculous power that is manifested as a benevolent force in the lives of their devotees.

There was, moreover, something else that the Dadagurus left behind in parallel with the Tirthankars: a Jain social order. This involves an aspect of the Dadagurus' miracles that we have mentioned only in passing thus far. Many of these miracles involved the conversion of non-Jains into Jains. Rddhisar's puja, for example, tells of an incident in which Jindattsuri quelled a cholera epidemic in Vikrampur, which resulted in many conversions and initiations. He cured a prince of leprosy, the text says, and the king and ten thousand families then became Jains. He converted Cauhan, Bhati, Pamar, Inda, Rathor, Sisodiya, and Solanki kings. He cured various diseases, and Brahmans, Ksatriyas, and Mahesvaris became Jains. The text asserts - as do the hagiographies - that he created 130,000 laymen linked with the Khartar Gacch (as the text puts it, "130,000 sravak's of the Khartar Sangh").

It is clear that these conversions have a very special place in Rddhisar's text. Although the text is not very well structured, the section leading up to the offering of fruit differs from others. We have already seen that the offering of fruit plays a special role in Jain worship. It is the last act of the eightfold worship, and is said to represent liberation, the rite's "fruit." In Rddhisar's text, the section of the rite in which fruit is offered (phal puja) is exclusively concerned with conversions, and nowhere else in the text are references to conversions so abundant. By implication, Jain clans are the ultimate "fruit" of the Dadagurus' endeavors. This is the subject of the next chapter.

Share this page on: