Shining Savior of the Shrine – Pethadshah
" May I always reminisce Raivatgiri,
Which is situated in Sorath desh;
May I contemplate about it numerous
times,In this life as a human being. "
Many saints, leaders of pilgrim groups and noble men from faraway lands used to visit the beautiful
soil of Sorath in order to pay their obeisance to this land, made supremely pious due to the renunciation, enlightenment
and/or salvation of infinite Tirthankar lords. Being here afforded them the luxury of experiencing bliss and peace like
Learned men of the past have said that a pilgrimage is instrumental in destruction of all karmas, it effectuates the pilgrim’s birth and enables the achievement of Tirthankar naam karma1.
Thus understanding such remarkable and astounding result of pilgrimage, minister Pethad who was a great philanthropist, a renowned beneficiary of the ability to convert matter to gold (suvarna siddhi), was a beloved of his teachers and a stalwart of the earth, along with many members of the Jain community embarked on a pilgrimage to the pious shrines of Siddhachal and Raivatachal, the two jewels of Sorath. With great enthusiasm he admired the mountain shrine where innumerable Jain monks attained salvation. He worshipped Lord Adinath perched above the Siddhachal peak. He carried out other rituals with reverent devotion and embellished the temple of the first Lord of this era, Lord Adinath with 25 ghadis2 of gold.
After several days, on one auspicious morning, they commenced their journey towards the great shrine of Raivatachal (Girnar). Their days passed with an increasing desire to reach the divine Girnar mountains, the pious place where infinite Tirthankars announced their renunciation and attained omniscience and salvation. They yearned to make their lives blessed by touching the sacred land of the Raivatgiri shrine (Girnar). Seeing the peaks of Raivatgiri from afar, they were swept with boundless joy.
At the crack of dawn, the group along with minister Pethad, arrived at the beautiful foot hills of Raivatgiri. Camping there with his group at the same time was a wealthy trader named Purna, who lived in Yoginipur – Delhi and was born in the Agrawal clan. He was counted in the inner circle of emperor Allauddin and was a staunch follower of the Digambar3 sect.
Both groups set out for their ascent to the mountain shrine early in the morning amidst the moonlit and cool breeze. Right then, the sentries of the Digambar group yelled and prevented the Shwetambar group (Pethad minister’s group) from proceeding. Ignoring the Digambar call, the Shwetambars continued their march forward. Purna was enraged and with the support of his soldiers, roared- “Beware! Dare not move a step forward or we will sever your heads without a moment’s delay!”
Realizing that trader Purna was boiling with anger, astute minister Pethad decided to use his brains instead of brawns. He tried hard to convince Purna by reminding him of pages after pages in History bearing testimony to Shwetambar ownership of Girnar, but to no avail. A war of words ensued. At that time, some wise old men from both the groups came forward with a proposal, “You both drop this discussion and ascend the mountains together at the same time, so there remains no conflict about who goes first. For now, bear in your minds that this shrine belongs to neither the Digambars, nor the Shwetambars. With these thoughts, reach the court of Lord Neminath. Then, when time comes to wear the celestial garland, the ownership of this shrine will be awarded to the one who bids to offer the most wealth! Traders fight using their wealth. Since we are traders, it is only justified that we resolve our argument using our wealth.
All pilgrims from both groups commenced their ascent to the mountain top. They were left spell bound at the sight of the lotus face of Lord Neminath. Bowing with great deference, they got engrossed in performing various devotional rituals like worshipping, hoisting the religious flag and singing lord’s praises. It was now time to wear the celestial garland. Both sides became prepared to offer all their wealth at the feet of the Lord.
To stake their claim over the ownership of Girnar, both sides started offering gold; first gold coins, succeeded by shares of gold and eventually followed by ghadis of gold. Minister Pethad bid 5 ghadis of gold for the celestial garland.. trader Purna bid 6 ghadis; minister Pethad came back with 7 ghadis, thus escalating the bidding war with incremental offerings of gold. Minister Pethad finally bid 16 ghadis of gold! Hearing this, trader Purna started seeing stars in broad day light! He requested minister Pethad to grant him a grace period of 8 days.
Trader Purna then began the process of collecting gold from all members of his supporting group. As it was for ensuring their ownership of Girnar, everyone started generously giving their personal ornaments like bangles, gold coins, necklaces, etc. and soon a mountain of gold ornaments was formed. Upon measuring the weight of the ornaments, the total came to 28 ghadis. As they could sense how close they were to attaining the ownership of Girnar, the entire Digambar groups was ecstatic.
On the other hand, minister Pethad also gauged the optimism in the Digambar group and with great alacrity, dispatched a female camel with an ability to cover a distance of 1 yojan (12 km) in 24 minutes to bring gold from Mandavgadh.
With the passage of days, the grace period to bid for the celestial garland came to an end and trader Purna challenged minister Pethad to play the final round in this high stakes game to answer the question of the shrine’s ownership. “28 ghadis gold”, snarled trader Purna. Today, even for minister Pethad, being the guardian angel for this shrine was the mantra that constantly echoed in his ears. Like lions roaring in the mountains of Girnar, minister Pethad thundered, “56 ghadis gold (1200 kilos of gold)”.
Everyone was stunned and for a moment there was pin drop silence. All eyes were now on trader Purna. He was dumbfounded. To defend his position, he appealed to his group for more gold but the Digambar group spoke without mincing any words, “We have no ability to support you now. Why the futile exercise to burn our houses to build the shrine?”
Trader Purna felt let down, his face turned pale. With a heavy heart, he said,” Minister Pethad! Now you wear the celestial garland”. The mountains of Girnar reverberated with the joyous cries of “Hail Neminath”, coming from all ten directions. The celestial garland which had now turned victory garland fell in the neck of minister Pethad. Today minister Pethad was filled with pride. His life was effectuated and fulfilled by this invaluable opportunity to guard religion and shrine. His joy was boundless. Wearing the celestial garland, he descended the mountains.
At that time minister Pethad pledged that, “I will not consume anything (food or water) until I am able to gather 56 ghadis of gold which I bid for the celestial garland and offer them at Lord’s feet!”
Everyone was stunned! They extolled the minister’s conviction and bowed down to him. What an unyielding pledge- where lies Girnar and where Mandavgadh; they are so far off! When would the 56 ghadis of gold arrive and when would minister Pethad break his fast. Everyone waited with bated breath for the arrival of the female camel. How could Pethad even think of putting a morsel in his mouth when he had the debt of Lord’s wealth hanging over his head?
He thus fasted on the day of the bidding for the celestial garland. On the next day as well, it was past noon and it was now only 48 minutes for the sun to set when everyone heard the sounds of the female camels galloping. They soon reached the foothills of the Girnar mountains. At once, everyone offloaded the female camels and weighed 56 ghadis of gold. Minister Pethad used to have his last meal of the day at least 48 minutes before sun set, in confirmation with Jain principles and therefore had to fast for 2 days without food or water.
Next morning, amidst melodious music playing and in the presence of the four fold Jain community, minister Pethad broke his two-day fast. That day a feast was arranged for all the people there.
Thus shone the sparkling star of the Shwetambar community!