There was once a wonderful kingdom, Shravasti in Bharatkshetra that was situated in Jambudveep.
The realm of Shravasti was ruled by a kind & gifted King Vajrasen. He devoutly worshipped holy Jain Gods and justly protected
the interests of the dwellers of Shravasti. He was married to a chaste lady Subhadra. Unlike the parents, their son Prince
Bhimsen was very cruel and full of malice. He profusely indulged in the vicious seven addictions1.
King Vajrasen was extremely reluctantly on declaring Bhimsen as the Prince of Shravasti, but he was bound by circumstances to do the same. Since then Bhimsen had his greedy eyes on other’s wealth and laid his immoral hands on other women, thus creating many woes for all in the peaceful kingdom. Troubled by the horrors inflicted at the hands of Bhimsen, the citizens pleaded to the King.
Hearing the woes of his beloved citizens, King Vajrasen summoned Prince Bhimsen in private urging him to bring a positive change in self. But it was like pouring water over ducks as Prince Bhimsen only kept sinking deeper by increasingly inflicting his hatred and malice on others. Tired of seeing this, King Vajrasen imprisoned his own son. Misguided by his ill-advising companions, the Prince murdered his own parents, thus becoming the King. King Bhimsen drowned himself in the evil vices and deliberately harassed the citizens of the Shravasti.
Weary of seeing all the wrongdoing of Bhimsen, the royal advisors, ministers and family members started discussing a solution to dethrone the unfit King & bring an end to all of this. They made a plan, held Bhimsen captive and left him in a deep forest, thus dethroning him. Jaysen, the younger brother was then elected to take over the throne. An astute, prudent and citizen-beloved Jaysen soon saw his coronation as King Jaysen.
On the other side, the exiled Bhimsen strayed across the land continuing to commit his misdoings and being punished till once he landed up entering the city of Prithvipur in the land of Magadh. There, Bhimsen finds an employer in a businessman named Ishwardatt. Once when Ishwardatt was leaving for a travel abroad, Bhimsen driven by greed also went abroad along with him.
They sailed for a month. One night, the bulbous bow of the ship hit the coral reef and got stuck in it. The captain of the ship along with the help of his crew tried all ways in which they could find a solution to this problem, but all their efforts were in vain. The ship remained stuck in the same spot for several days and this led to depletion of food and water reserves on the ship. The crisis was so severe that Ishwardatt meditated deeply on the five supreme ones, that are the Arihants, Siddhas, Acharyas, Upadhyayas and Sadhus and considered ending this life by plunging into the deep waters of the sea. However, at that moment a parrot (presiding deity of the mountain in the form of a parrot) flew aboard and spoke to Ishwardatt, “One of you must be prepared to jump in the sea at the cost of your live. A massive bird, called Bharand is residing on the top of those mountains. The Bharand bird will fly soaring towards the man who jump in the sea. The wind from the beating wings of that creature will release the ship and in this way one person’s sacrifice will save the lives of all the others that are on the ship.”
On hearing the parrot, Ishwardatt made an announcement on the ship, “if someone is ready to let go of his life I will give him 100 dinars. Driven by greed for money, Bhimsen agreed. He jumped in the dangerous waters and things started to happen in the sequence described by the parrot, and at last the ship was released, set free to sail.
Now Bhimsen sought life-saving advice from the parrot. The parrot replied, “You have to be patient and do deep diving in the sea. Large fish will swallow you, and take you towards the shores. When they start bellowing, you must put this medicine in their throat. That will create a hole in their throat making way for you to get out of the large fish and make your way to the shore. Then you are free to go wherever you want. ”
Bhimsen followed the parrot’s advice and ended up on the seashore. Hungry and thirsty, he then roamed the forests living off the fruits and water wherever he found them. Once he ran into a sage ( who is tridandi2 ) and paid obeisance. The tridandi sage blessed him and asked, “Hey stranger. Who are you? Why are you wandering in this forest?” Considering him as the frontrunner when it came to all the miseries and misfortunes of live, he went on to narrate the history of his troubles and woes.
“What more can I say? Wherever I go, I do not achieve what I need. Even if I am dying of thirst, I will not find water in a sea! My misfortune is such that if I were to approach them, fruits of lakhs of trees, water from hundreds of rivers, gems from Rohangiri (name of a mountain) will disappear! Even though I am without any liabilities of a brother or a sister or parents or a wife, I still can’t feed myself!”
But alas! The tridandi sage was a cheat and he only pretended to get artificial tears in his eyes listening to Bhimsen’s miseries. He said, “Do not feel sad any more. It is because of your great deeds in the past that you have found me here. Your sorrows and poverty will bother you no more. We sages are roaming this land only to shower our kindness on others. You must now join me in my travel to Siha-dweep3. I will take you to a jewel-mine so you can take all you want and rid yourself from your poverty.” Carried away by the false promises of the deceiving tridandi sage, Bhimsen joins him in his journey as they reach the mine. On the fourteenth day of the dark half of a lunar month4, the imposter tridandi sage lowers Bhimsen in the mine, supporting him from one end of the rope. As soon as the sage collected the precious jewels from Bhimsen, he cut off the supporting rope, sending Bhimsen crashing down in the mine. The imposter fled with all the jewels.
Filled with sorrow, Bhimsen wandered in the mine and encountered a feeble man in a corner. The man also caught sight of Bhimsen and asked, “O sir! How did you land up in the mouth of this devil? Did you also get conned by the imposter tridandi sage, who lured you into finding gems? He conned me in the same way. ” Bhimsen sighed as he accepted the truth and asked the feeble man if he knew of a way out of the mine. The feeble man answered, “Tomorrow morning Ratnachandra, the deity of this mine will be worshipped by many demigods in the form of many songs, lots of music and dance. When everyone is busy worshipping and lost deep in the song and dance, you can join the serving demigods on their way out to find your escape.”
Bhimsen was overjoyed upon hearing this and spent the entire day in conversation with the feeble man waiting for the next morning. As the feeble man had predicted, many deities descended in their heavenly crafts and eventually got immersed in the musical worshipping tribute for Ratnachandra. Finding the right opportunity, Bhimsen mingled with the crowd to escape without being noticed. He wandered for days before he reached Kshitimandanpur – the capital of Siha-dweep. In time he was employed at a businessman’s warehouse as an assistant.
Old habits die-hard! Bhimsen’s treacherous habit of stealing had not come to an end. He started robbing his employer. Once other workers and caretakers of the warehouse got to his theft at work. They tied him up and dragged him all over the streets of the town, announcing that he is a thief. As they were about to hang him, Bhimsen’s immensely virtuous deeds in some past life came to his rescue. His old employer Ishwardatt happened to pass by. His gaze fell on Bhimsen and he remembered how his life was saved from the perils of the stuck ship at the sea by Bhimsen’s sacrificial move. He spoke to Bhimsen and gathered the facts of the situation there. As a gesture of repaying the debt, he pleaded the King for mercy and got Bhimsen released. Together they sailed back to Prithvipur.
Once Bhimsen got engaged in conversation with a stranger from a distant land. As Bhimsen shared the woes of his life, the stranger said, “Do not grieve. Come with me. We will go to Rohanachal mountain and search for precious stones. ” Bhimsen agreed with him and they began their journey. As they travelled, they happened to meet an aged sage by the name Jatil. As they paid their respect by bowing to the sage, one of the sage’s disciples named Jaangal descended from the sky. Jaangal too paid his respect to the sage by completely bowing to the sage. Seeing Jaangal after such a long time, sage Jatil asked him, “Dear Jaangal, where have you been for so many days?” Jaangal replied, “O great sage! I am returning from a pilgrimage to Saurashtras’s holy shrines that are Siddhachal as well as Girnar. Who can really be capable of providing a comprehensive description of the two holy shrines? Only the omniscient have the potential to describe it’s purity and piousness and only they would know how the faithful devotees continue worshipping these shrines, but even they can’t fully describe the shrines’ true essence. It’s something words fall short in describing and it can be understood on the basis of one’s own personal experience. Furthermore, I have personally heard and seen the devotion with which people worship the pious mountain Girnar. By worshipping this holy shrine, people attain happiness, peace, fame and glory equivalent to lord of celestials beings and in a short span of time they even reach salvation.”
This way, hearing the praises of the holy shrine of Girnar from Jaangal, all the other sages were delighted. Bhimsen along with his companion were also amazed with what they learned and decided that after visiting Rohanachal, they would embark on a pilgrimage to the pious mountain Girnar. They both travelled further, coming across many towns, villages and forests before they finally reached the mountain of Rohanachal. They both duly paid their respects to the deity of the mountain and obtained permission to take precious stones from the mine there. Bhimsen stayed awake all night and at dawn he forayed in the mine with necessary equipments and obtained two highly precious stones. They tendered one of the precious stones, to the royal treasure and took the other on board along with them on their journey to a distant land. They were sailing on the night of the full moon5 when the splendor of the moon was at its peak. Bhimsen wondered if the light of the moon was more radiant than that of the precious stone. In order to make the comparison; Bhimsen took out the precious stone. Owing to the unabated onslaught of his bad karmas, it slipped from his hands and sunk deep into the sea underneath. It is often said that one can’t get more than what one deserves and neither does one get less than what one deserves. It’s the law of destiny! Gloominess emerged from the words of unfortunate Bhimsen who echoed his misery and collapsed after losing his consciousness. After a long wait and attempt of revival by others, Bhimsen woke up to the splashes of cold water. He moaned to the fellow passengers of his voyage, “I lost my precious stone in the sea! I lost my precious stone in the sea! I am so damned!” Seeing his utter wretchedness, the co-travelers tried to console him, but to no avail. His companion, the other stranger tried soothing him and gave him assurance by saying, “Dear friend, if we live we will be able to gather many other precious stones and gems, so do not grieve. But for the time being, it is more appropriate to head towards the pious mountain Girnar – the place that can take away the sorrow of the miserable, the danger out of the damned; the most profound place ever! Your wishes will be fulfilled there, or else you can keep my precious stone! ” Bhimsen’s distress abated with the assurance.
Bhimsen gathered more composure in time as they crossed the sea and headed towards the great shrine of Girnar. But the bad karma gathered in their past seemed undeterred in hounding both these men. Its incursion continued as both of them got robbed of their belongings, clothes, food and all. Suffering various hardships and struggles, they proceed further in their journey. Encountering Jain monks on their way, they were elated and paid their obeisance to the Jain monks and went on to narrate their hardships and ill fortune, “Oh Swami! Foremost in bad luck and poverty, criticized by everyone, suffering insolence and ill treatment, we seek freedom from our troubles! Kindly help us end the misery or we see no option left other than committing suicide by jumping off the mountain.”
Extremely kind and compassionate monk consoles them saying, “Young men! You failed to follow the religious path of meditation and worship in your past lives. Thus today you experience so much pain and suffering. As mentioned in our ancient scriptures, it is only and only by following the true principles of Jainism (i.e. Jain Dharma) that all beings attain birth in a good caste, a disease-free body, good fortune, immense happiness, wealth, long life, fame, education, comforts & riches, horses, elephants6 and service from many attendants, life in a religious land, divine power as a human or deity!
The monk continued, “Therefore, dear Bhimsen, stop the tradition of building bad karmas with your evil and inauspicious thoughts! In your past life, you had brought suffering to a Jain monk for duration of eighteen ghadi7. Ideal men should be striving to take care of the physical and psychological well being of Jain monks instead of causing them any pain or trouble. Serving them will destroy all troubles and vice versa. It is because of your misdeeds that you are constantly facing such hardships. Worshipping the holy mountain Girnar, will destroy the rest of your bad karmas, making you the owner of wealth and riches and instrumental in adorning the world with holy Jain temples and ultimately helping you achieve liberation. So, stop mulling about your grief and head towards the pious mountain Girnar, to begin your worship with all sincerity. ”
Hearing such kind words from the monk, Bhimsen paces forward to the pious mountain Girnar with great enthusiasm. He felt the divine influence of the pious mountain Girnar that triggered him to undertake extremely difficult meditation with fasts and give up all the bodily desires. He chanced upon meeting his younger brother, now king, Jaysen paying his respects around a temple on the pious mountain Girnar. Jaysen and his company of the royal advisors and people of his kingdom recognized Bhimsen at once and greeted him heartily. With teary eyes, Jaysen spoke to him, “Dear Bhimsen, there is no place that I haven’t searched for you. My people have spent months looking for you, only to return empty handed. Where were you all these months ? Please return with us and accept your kingdom! ” Melted by such kindness, Bhimsen gave in to their urging and agreed to undertake the responsibilities. With joy overflowing from their hearts, they all duly worshipped Lord Neminath and began their journey back home.
Being praised and revered by various kings on the way, they made a grand entrance back into their kingdom. The citizens too are overjoyed with the turn of events, decorating the streets and filling them with music and artful dances. King Bhimsen had given up all his vices and was duly performing his duties, aided by his younger brother Jaysen as his heir and his stranger friend as a treasurer. With the support from his group of ministers, he was able to rule impartially, just like his father. In time, the whole kingdom was free not only from crimes, but also from threats like attacks, battles, famine, overpopulation etc. All this while, Bhimsen was deeply repenting within and was extremely guilty of murdering his own parents. As an attempt to wash his sins, he embarked his mission of building temples in every village of his kingdom. He worked on achieving his goal as he continued adorning the land with divine temples, serving Jain monks as well as followers, helping the poor, serving the people.
In time came a day when Bhimsen saw a Vidhyadhar8 in his palace and enquired where he came from. The Vidhyadhar replied, “Mighty King! I am returning after worshipping Shatrunjay Mahagiri9 and the divinely influential Ujjayant Mahagiri10. I now seek to worship the Lord here.” Hearing this Bhimsen felt a sudden disgust for himself. He felt ashamed that he did not even spare a thought for Holy Raivatgiri11, the very shrine that made him the ruler of such of comforts & luxuries. Guilt took him over, as he realized that he never went back to Raivatgiri to even acknowledge the turning of his destiny. He gave up the kingdom & its responsibilities back to Jaysen. With a minimal number of helpers and possessions, he began his journey back to Raivatgiri. He celebrated and worshipped Lord Adinath continuously for eight days12 at Siddhagiri13 and proceeded towards Raivatgiri. There, he duly worshipped Lord Neminath with superior items such as camphor, saffron, sandalwood, Nandanvan flowers etc. He followed the four fold religious principles namely donation, right conduct, austerity and good thought14.
At an opportune time under the guidance of Gyanchandramuni’s pleasant and influential preaching about religion, Bhimsen ordained sainthood (diksha) and began practicing extremely difficult meditation & penance. Bhimsen strived as he destroyed his past karmas. Such intense was the divine influence of Raivatgiri that by the eighth day of his sainthood he achieved the onmiscience knowledge (Kevalgyaan). Post that his soul was liberated by attaining salvation.
Raivatgiri is such a holy place that even the most heinous sinners could find the true path to liberation. Even the smallest of good deeds done here bears exponentially large returns as one meets salvation. This is how countless saints have destroyed their bad karma and achieved omniscience here. Be victorious the extremely pious mountain Girnar.
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