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Who is a Jain Shravak: 34 ►Some Distinguished Shravaks of Aagamic Era

Published: 30.03.2020

1. Anand

Upasakdasha Sutra gives a description of the ten great shravaks of BhagawanMahavira. ShravakAnand holds the prime place among them. He belonged to Kollaga-Sannivesh of a village named Vanijya. He was a rich farmer who owned 12 crores (120 million) gold coins as well as 40,000 cows. Once, he went to listen to BhagawanMahavira's sermon. Immense respect and unconditional faith aroused in his mind towards the nirgranth-pravachan (preaching of monk). He accepted the twelve vows (Five anuvrats, four gunavrats and three shikshavrats). Later, his wife Shivananda accepted the 12 vows as well.

Anand was observing the shravak-vows meticulously. Later, he accepted eleven pratima (the intensive course of sadhana prescribed for a shravak) one after another. While attaining these pratimas, he practiced different types of austerities. At a favourable time, he accepted santhaara i.e. complete

prohibition of food except water thereby spending life in spiritual quest, not desiring death or life. Because of his pious determination and pure mental state, he attained avadhigyaan (clairvoyance).

Those days, BhagawanMahavira and his disciples stationed themselves at the outskirts of Vanijyagram. That day Gautamswami was supposed to break his two days fast. So, he came to the city during the third prahar (afternoon) for seeking alms. He heard about Anand accepting the santhaara. He decided to visit him and thus proceeded towards the paushadhashaala where Anand was meditating.

The following verses describe spiritual life of Anand and the dialogues between Gautamsvami and Anand which is explained below:

Anand Shivananda saha dasa pramukhon mein,
pahala shravak samabhaavak sukhon dukhon mein.
kya jeevan jeeya sanyam shrama samata ka
vaha maut bhavaambudhi-pot pavitra pataaka.
de darshan 'Gautama' animisha-nayannihaare,
yahavadhitumhe! mamrisha-vachansanthaare.
prabhu-nirdeshan, 'Gautam'! tum sahi nahin ho,
pratikaar bhul ka kshmaayaachana hi ho.
aaye 'Gautam' apana parimaarjan karane,
Anand-hridayAnand-srota se bharane.
kaisa vah kshamaayaachana ka avasar tha,
adbhutatmaalochankaantah-svar tha.

Seeing Gautamasvami coming, Anand was overjoyed. He requested Gautam, 'Bhagawan! I am physically incapable of visiting you and perform Vandan-Namaskara by touching your feet. Please come close to me so that I can fulfill my earnest desire.' Gautamasvami came forward and Anand bowed down his head three times at the feet of Gautamasvami while performing Vandan-Namaskara.

Anand enquired, 'Bhagawan! Can a householder residing in his house attain clairvoyance?'

Gautam said, 'Yes Anand, he can.'

Anand then said, 'Bhagawan! I can see area up to 500 yojans (ancient measurement of distance, almost equivalent to eight thousand miles) in the south, west and east directions of the Lavansamudr (ocean), up to Chull-himavantVarshadharParvat (hill) in north directions, up to Loluyachyut of Ratna-prabha (the first hell) in the upper direction.

Gautamaswami got astonished and replied, 'Though a householder residing in his house can attain Avadhigyaana, it is not possible to attain it to this extent. You should seek pardon for your falsehood and accept penance as repentance for your mistake.'

Anand: 'Bhagawan! Does a person need to atone when he is speaking the truth?'

Gautama: 'No you don't need to accept repentance for speaking truth.'

Anand: 'Bhagawan! Then, you will have to accept repentance for such statements.'

Without arguing further, Gautamasvami left with a doubtful mind. With imprecise understanding of the situation, he came to BhagawanMahavira and narrated the whole incident and asked, 'Bhagawan! who should repent for falsehood - me or Anand?'

Bhagawan Mahavira looked upon his disciple and said, 'O Gautama! Anand has attained such a huge Avadhigyaan. So, you should go there and seek forgiveness and repentance.'

Gautama was noble and humble at heart and a true devotee of Mahavira. He followed the advice of BhagawanMahavira with modesty saying, 'tdhatti'. Immediately, he went to the paushadhashaala of Anand. With humility, he accepted his mistake, agreed to the fact of Anand attaining Avadhigyaan and asked for forgiveness for his mistakes. Anand bent his head before the generosity of Gautamasvami. After one month of observing anashan (lifelong fasting), his soul took birth as a celestial being (dev) i.e, he was born as a god in first Sudharma heaven. He lived his life as a Jain shravak for around twenty years.

2. Saddalapuztra

Once upon a time, there was a city named Polaspur. There lived a prosperous potter whose name was Saddalaputra (Shakdalputra). He belonged to Aajivak sect. His main business was to make pot from clay and sell them. He had a factory with five hundred shops in the city. His wife was Agnimitra. One day he was sitting at Ashok-Vanika (garden) and contemplating deeply over religious matters. Suddenly a celestial being appeared and said, 'Devaanupriya! Mahaamahan (great saint) will be visiting your city tomorrow. He is sarvagy (omniscient) and sarvadarshi (perceives everthing). You go to him, bow down to him, do his paryupaasana (worship) and provide him peedh, phalak etc. to sit or to sleep.' Saddalaputra thought, 'My guru (preceptor) is MankhaliputraGaushalak. He is Mahaamahan, sarvagy and sarvadarshi. Perhaps, he will be coming tomorrow. It is my fortune. If he comes I will serve him my best.'

Next day, after the sunrise, Saddalaputra was waiting for the arrival of Gaushalak. Then, he came to know that BhagawanMahavira had come to Sahasraamravan (an orchard) of the city. For some time, he got lost in a dilemma. He started thinking adversely over the voice of the divine soul. Immediately, he concluded that BhagawanMahavira is also 'Mahaamahan'. It might be possible that divine soul was suggesting to me about him only. I should go.

sur-prerit shreeprabhuvar-charanam pranamaami.
nirmul ho gai niyativaad ki dhaara,
shree Vardhaman Bhagawan atal dhruvataara.

Saddalaputra went to BhagawanMahavira and heard his sermon. After the sermon, BhagawanMahavira asked him, 'Saddalaputra! Yesterday afternoon a celestial being informed you regarding arrival of Mahaamahan and you assumed it to be Gaushalak's arrival sign. Is it right?'

Saddalaputra agreed it.

Then Bhagawan added - 'Now have you understood that those words were not for Gaushalak.'

Saddalaputra even agreed to this fact of Mahavira.

Saddalaputra requested BhagawanMahavira to come to his pottery factory. Bhagawan came there and stayed after taking his permission. Saddalaputra was taking the pots outside the factory to dry them. Bhagawan asked, 'Saddalaputra! How are these clay-pots prepared?'

Saddalaputra replied, 'Bhagawan! First, the clay is made wet by adding water to it. Then, carbon-dust and cow dung are mixed with it. Then, it's (the mixture) kept on potter's wheel. Through this process clay-pots of different shapes and sizes are manufactured.'

Bhagawan asked second question - 'Aren't the clay pots made because of utthaan (progress), karma (action), bal (strength), viry (power), purushaakaar (effort) and paraakram (courage)?'

Saddalaputra replied, 'Bhagawan! utthaan, karma etc. are not required in its construction. Their formation was predestined, and thus is made by destiny.'

Bhagawan asked third question - 'Saddalaputra! If any person steals or breaks the pots whilst they are getting dried outside or behaves unchastely with your wife Agnimitra, then what punishment would you give them?'

Saddalaputra replied, 'Bhagawan! I will curse that person, beat him and kill him.'

Bhagawan asked fourth question, 'Saddalaputra! How can you do this? You believe that everything that happens is destined. Then who is the one to break your pots? Who is the one to misbehave with your wife? And, who is the one to give punishment? If any person behaves such manner and you think of punishing him, then does the theory of destiny not go wrong?'

The questions asked by BhagawanMahavira created doubts in his mind regarding the philosophy of destiny. At an opportune time Bhagawan explained him true philosophy and he understood it. Then, he desired to listen to religious sermons from Bhagawan. Bhagawan preached him. Saddalaputra showed his unconditional faith towards nirgranth-pravachan and he became a shravak observing twelve vows. He even inspired his wife, Agnimitra to accept those. Getting inspiration from Bhagawan, she became shravika. Thereafter, BhagawanMahavira departed from there.

Gaushalak came to know that Saddalaputra had changed his religion. He went to his pottery-factory to make him understand, but Saddalaputra did not pay heed to him. Gaushalak had not expected such cold welcome, so he got disappointed. Then Gaushalak started praising BhagawanMahavira to impress Saddalaputra. Saddalaputra asked Gaushalak, 'Devaanupriy (O dear)! Can you participate in religious discussion with my dharmaachaary Bhagawan Mahavira? 'Gaushalak expressed his incompetency. Saddalaputra said, 'Devaanupriy! Since you have praised my dharmaachaary, therefore I request you to stay at potter factory.'

Gaushalak stayed there. He made a lot of effort to change his mind but failed. After getting disappointed, he left the place.

From the above-mentioned incident of Saddalaputra, two points can be deduced:

  1. Non-obstinacy
  2. Unwavering faith towards truthfulness

Initially, he was a true follower of Aajivak sect so he had keen faith in the doctrine of destiny. When BhagawanMahavira proved the invalidity of the concept of destiny, he accepted the nirgranth pravachan. If he would have been persistent then he would not have changed his faith despite realizing the truth. He was flexible in behaviour but persevered for the truth. He achieved the truth from Bhagawan Mahavira. Gaushalak tried his best to divert him but he remained unmoved. The shravak, who after understanding the truth remains firm to it, can become the icon of inspiration for others.

3. Sudarshan

Rajgriha was a famous town in Magadh. There was a flower-garden in the outskirts of the town where there was a temple of demi-god named Mudgarpani. There lived a gardener named Arjun with his wife Bandhumati. He used to worship demi-god and sell flowers. One day, Arjun was praying to demi-god and his wife Bandhumati was gleaning the flowers. At that time, six men who lacked moral character came to the garden from the town. They saw Bandhumati and became intensely lustful. They tied Arjun to the idol of demi-god. Bandhumati got nervous. They came after her and gang-raped her. Arjun was so helpless that he was standing there and watching helplessly without being able to save his wife. He became furious and lost his temper.

In anger, Arjun shouted at the demi-god and warned loudly that if revenge for this despicable incident did not take place, he would break down the temple of the demi-god. The anger within Arjun stimulated the demi-god and it entered Arjun's body. Now, Arjun became mighty. In a spur of the moment, he broke all his shackles. He took the club from the hand of demi­god and ran after the culprits. He killed the six men one after the other as well as Bandhumati with the club and yet his anger did not subside. He rushed to the town. Whoever came in his way was instantly killed. The whole city was in a state of uproar. This news spread throughout the town and king Shrenik also came to know about it. He ordered to close the entrance door of the town.

At the other end of the city Arjun resolved that he would kill six men and one woman daily. Focused to fulfill his resolution, he started roaming around the four-walls of the town with a club in his hand. He started killing everyone who came before him.

It so happened that BhagawanMahavira arrived at Rajagrih. He stayed in a garden at the outskirts of the town. People of Rajagrih were eagerly waiting to visit Mahavira and king Shrenik too. Nobody dared to open the doors of the town fearing Arjun. Yet they thought that Bhagawan was omniscient and knew the circumstances of Rajagrih. They decided to worship Mahavira from their own homes and satisfy themselves.

In Rajagrih, there was a wealthy merchant named Sudarshan. He also heard about Mahavira's arrival. A wish aroused in his heart to visit BhagawanMahavira. He informed his parents and asked for permission to go to the garden. His parents said, 'Son! Arjun (under influence of demi-god) is in the same direction where Mahavira is staying. So, we cannot grant you the permission to go there. You pay vandana - namaskar to Mahavira from here.'

Sudarshan did not concur with his parents. He said, 'How is it be possible that BhagawanMahavira comes to our city and I do not go to him? Please give me permission so that I can go and pay my obeisance.' Sudarshan eventually convinced his parents who half heartedly granted their son permission.

Sudarshan left for Mahavira's sojourn. Arjun (under the influence of the demi-god), standing close to the temple of demi-god, saw Sudarshan approaching towards him. With his incessant anger he raised the whirling club and walked towards Sudarshan who despite seeing Arjun approaching him menancingly he did not get frightened. He was firm fearless, bold, courageous and stood firmly. He accepted saagaarianasan (lifelong fast with exceptions) with kayotsargpratima (intense relaxation). The demi­god threw the club in the sky towards Arjun, but Sudarshan remained unaffected. The demi-god was unable to stand in front of Sudarshan's firm determination and ran away leaving Arjun's body. Arjun became unconscious and fell. Sudarshan finished his kayotsargpratima.

After a while, Arjun came to consciousness. He asked Sudarshan to introduce himself. Listening to the entire episode from Sudarshan, Arjun also went to the samavasaran (the place of sermon) of BhagawanMahavira. After listening to his blissful, Arjun's inner consciousness got awakened. He became a monk and engaged himself in special spiritual practices. The entire story is summarized as:

Arjun-aatankRajagrihmein, us paar veer kasamavasaran,
bhayabitmauta-bhay se shravak, tatrasthvandanacharan-sharan.
chalpadasudarsansaahasdhar, 'Mudgarpaani' paani- paani,
pahunchaaya veer padaambujmein, ithihaasabhaykisahanaani.

This context highlights the power of faith and resolution of Sudarshan. Despite seeing the upsarg(uprising), he did not tremble in fear. This incident portrays his will power. Sudarshan knew many techniques to overcome upsarg and he undertook kayotsarg. Such type of kayotsargis called 'abhibhav kayotsarg'. With this kayotsarghe immediately overcame the demi-god. This not only freed Sudarshan from the upsarg, but the entire town became free from terror.

4. Shankh

There was a city named Shravasti which was inhabited by many shravaks of BhagawanMahavira. Among them, Shankh, Pokhali were prominent. Once BhagawanMahavira arrived there and stayed at Koshthakchaity near the outskirts of the city. Citizens visited him there. Bhagawan delivered his sermon and after listening to it people went returned though Shankh, Pokhali and some others went to Bhagawan. They asked few questions and after getting the solutions from Bhagawan, they came out of Kosthakchaity. Addressing all the shravaks, who were ready to go to their homes, Shankh said, 'Devaanupriyo! We should arrange food and water in large amount, have feast, do paakshik (fortnightly) paushadh1 and practice religious activities 'during night.'

Everyone liked Shankh's proposal. They went to their homes and returned to the mutually agreed location with their preparations. Almost every shravak reached there except Shankh. The shravaks present there mutually agreed to call for Shankh. Pokhali volunteered and said, 'Friends! You all sit here peacefully and take rest. I will go and bring Shankh.'

After reaching his home, Shankh had a change of heart. He thought, 'Today is the day of paakshikpratikraman. Thus, I should refrain from violence and should go to paushadhashala (place to do dopaushadh) to perform paushadh to practice spirituality. After this thought, he informed his wife Utpala and accepted paushadh at the paushadhashaala. Being occupied in spiritual practice, he was not able to reach for the feast at the decided place.

Pokhali reached Shankh's house to take him. Shankh's wife Utpala1   To practice sadhanalike a monk for one day and night welcomed him. When Pokhali asked about Shankh, she replied that he is performing paushadh at the paushadhashaala. Pokhali immediately went to the paushadhashaala. He requested him to come along to the decided place convincing him that all the shravaks are waiting there for a long time for the meal. Shankh replied, 'Friend! I have accepted paushadh for eight prahars (24 hours), and hence I am unable to come with you.' Pokhali did not like his attitude and immediately returned to where other shravaks were still waiting. He informed the people about the impossibility of Shankh to join them and said, 'Now you people are free to have the food.' All the shravaks had food, did paushadh and engrossed themselves in religious activities.

Shankh decided to complete his paushadh after visiting BhagawanMahavira. Next morning, he arrived where Bhagawan was on time. Pokhali and other shravaks were also present there. BhagawanMahavira preached them and the shravaks became blissful. After paying salute to Bhagawan, they went to Shankh and complained, O Shankh! How royally you cheated us! We got the food prepared as per your direction and you did not come.'

Interrupting the conversation among shravaksBhagawan said, 'Aaryo! You should not disrespect Shankh or blame him. ShravakShankh is priydharmi (who loves spirituality), dridhadharmi (having firm devotion and determination) and is aware of sudrashtakijaagarna (the awakening of seer). Hearing the words of Bhagawan, all the shravaks became ashamed. They all bowed down to Bhagawan with heartfelt politeness. After that, they went to Shankh and apologized with courtesy. AcharyaTusi in ShravakSambodh has illustrated the incidence as:

Shankh pokhali ki katha, sutra Bhagawati saar,
khamatakhaamana saral man, antahshalya nivaar,
mat heela ninda karo, sushravak hai Shankh,
sudakkhu jaagariya satat, dridhadharmi nihshank.

If the above incident is analysed, casually it may be concluded superficially that the behaviour of Shankh was deceiving, but if one thinks deeply, the acceptance of complete paushadh by Shankh was inspired by intense spiritual feelings. That's why Bhagawan had approved and supported his spiritual performance. Bhagawan had neither the attachment towards Shankh nor aversion to shravaks. By appreciating Shankh, Bhagawan proved that Shankh's outlook was not wrong. Just because of spiritual inspiration, he accepted paushadh at the paushadhashaala. The asking of forgiveness from Shankh by all other shravaks teaches us that wherever there is transgression in one's behaviour, the superior way to rectify is forgiveness.


Title:  Who is a Jain Shravak?

Acharya MahaPragya


Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha

Publisher:  Adarsh Sahitya Vibhag, JVB
Digital Publishing: 
Amit Kumar Jain

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anand
  2. Anashan
  3. Anger
  4. Anuvrats
  5. Body
  6. Clairvoyance
  7. Consciousness
  8. Darshan
  9. Fasting
  10. Fear
  11. Gautama
  12. Guru
  13. Karma
  14. Kayotsarg
  15. Magadh
  16. Mahavira
  17. Omniscient
  18. Pahala
  19. Pratima
  20. Pravachan
  21. Sadhana
  22. Samata
  23. Samavasaran
  24. Sanyam
  25. Sarvadarshi
  26. Shravak
  27. Shravaks
  28. Shravika
  29. Shrenik
  30. Soul
  31. Sutra
  32. Vandana
  33. Veer
  34. Violence
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