CELEBRATING WOMEN’S CONTRIBUTION IN JAINISM POST LORD MAHAVIR’S MOKSH KALYANAK SADHAVI WHO KNEW THE ART OF PERSUASION?

April, 2022 by Virati Jayesh Visariya

When you listen to the stories, how often do you try to analyse them?

No, not the story and its morals but the characters’ personalities present in them.

Let’s climb down one more step – What if it’s a female character in the story? Hardly, right?

Women’s contribution has been exemplary. Sadhu, Sadhavi, Shravak and Shravika, the four pillars that keep the monument of Jainism upright, have an equal role to play in each other’s lives. Each one of them is dependently independent.

  1. Mata Marudevi, the first human of this Āra got rid of all her attachments and entered the moksha, leading the way to several others (as per Shwetambar Parampara).
  2. Brahmi and Sundari were not only well versed in language and mathematics, respectively, but also burst the bubble of the ego of their brother Bahubali and helped him attain enlightenment.
  3. Malli Kumari (the soul of Mallinath) is a Tirthankar. What more to explain?
  4. Rajimati or Rajul explicated the importance of the path of liberation and the life of renunciation to her then brother-in-law Rathnemi and saved him from committing a dreadful sin. Since she was not married, he was not a brother-in-law! Possibly a “would be brother-in-law”.

Apart from these benevolent personalities, we have 16 satis and instances of Meyanasundari and other rectitudinous women till Lord Mahavir’s regime, whose beneficence cannot be forgotten.

But are you aware of any prominent female figure post Lord Mahavir’s regime who immensely contributed to Jainism?

Well, there are many. One such significant contribution of the renowned sadhaviji uplifted Jainism’s honor. She is none other than sadhaviji Yakini Mahattara – who gave us a gem of a person, Acharya Haribhadrasuriji.

Acharya Haribhadrasuriji

A brahmin by birth and an intellectualist, Haribhatt hated Jainism. Yes, that’s right!

Then how did he turn into a Jain saint? It happened so –

Haribhatt, who has achieved a prominent place in Indian literature, was a person of excellent knowledge. Having a broad spectrum of expertise, hardly anyone could challenge his wisdom and win a debate against him. He was truly invincible.

Once, while passing through a street, he heard a melodious voice reciting a Sanskrit verse. Applying all his knowledge to the verse, he tried to decipher its meaning. Unfortunately, he failed to do so. So, he entered the upsharay and saw a Jain Nun (sadhaviji) teaching her disciples. He entered and asked,

“Can you please explain to me the meaning of what you just recited?”

Instead of explaining the meaning of the verse, sadhaviji there asked him to come tomorrow when her guru will be present. The next day Acharya. Jinbhattsuriji explained the verse, which talked about the order of Tirthankaras and Vasudevas in this avasarpini kaal. From that moment onwards, he regarded Acharya. Jinbhattsuriji his guru.

Another incident so happened that Acharya. Haribhadra’s nephews Hans and Paramhans were killed by the Buddhist monks. Listening to the news, acharya was furious and planned to kill Buddhist monks. He boiled oil and planned to throw each monk who got defeated by him.

When sadhaviji became aware of his plans, she came over there and said,

“O Acharya, while walking on the road, I accidentally hurt the frog.”

“How can you be so careless? Now you need to repent for your mistake,” said an infuriated acharya.

“I’ll surely repent, o sage, but will you be able to repent on the mistake you’re about to commit?”

The acharya was dumbfounded over this and immediately gave up the idea of harming the monks. He then went to his guru Jinbhattsuriji, and on his advice, he channelled his anger into writing 1444 granths.

Who was such a fierce lady who could change the mind of the great personality?

Shresht Shramani Shri Yakini Mahattara

 

She was none other than Sadhaviji Yakini Mahatttara!

Sadhaviji like every other sadhaviji, yet so powerful. What made her so distinct?

1.  Dedication: When we first meet Sadhaviji in the story, she is seen teaching her disciples the structure of Jain order making sure they learnt it. This shows how dedicated she must be to her duty of educating the upcoming generation of the fourfold path.

We again come across her sheer dedication towards Jainism when she made Acharya Haribhadrasuriji consciously realize the spine of Jainism – Ahimsa and saved him from committing a barbaric crime.

2. Foresightedness: Yes! She had an ability to know probable outcomes and, therefore, knew the steps to take. How do we come to know about this trait of hers?

Well, when she was teaching the verse to her disciples, she surely knew its meaning. Yet, when Haribhatt asked her to explain the verse, she asked him to visit her next day and get clarity from her guru Acharya Jinbhattasuriji. Why? Probably because she knew about Haribhatt’s intelligence and his hatred towards Jainism. And took this situation as a chance to mold hatred into respect for Jain Philosophy.

Had Sadhavi Yakini Mahattara not found a way out to end the hatred in the mind of Haribhadrasuri, we wouldn’t have received such a jewel of a person!

3. Eloquence: Sadhaviji had a natural flair for weaving words in such a way that they become easily understandable and acceptable by others.

The way sadhaviji took an example of her hurting a frog while walking to explain his sinful act making him realize the grave mistake he was about to commit in his anger.

It was only after this incident that Acharya Haribhadrasuriji’s anger was channelled into writing by guru Jinbhattsuriji and we got 1444 incredible shastras. The journey of anger to forgiveness would have been hardly possible without Sadhvi Yakini Mahattra making Acharya realize the cruel mistake he was about to commit.

4. Confidence – Sadhavi Yakini Mahattara was really a confident woman and did not hesitate to voice against what was wrong. The act of killing Buddhist monks would have been a satan’s act and could have worked against the Jain.

Sadhaviji’s unwavering confidence and doughtiness helped her stand against the great Jain monk of his time. Without worrying about. Haribhardrasuriji’s anger and its consequences, she dared to tell him that the act he was about to do was utterly wrong!

Let us all take inspiration from such a dynamic persona and contribute whatever is possible to society. And salute the intelligence, dedication and responsible attitude of Sadhaviji Yakini Mahattara.

About Author

Virati Jayesh Visariya

writeunwritten@gmail.com

A freelance copywriter by profession and an avid reader by passion. Acquired Master’s Degrees in English Literature, and Jainology and Comparative Religion. She is a Sanskrit teacher and teaching Sanskrit to all age groups. Also associated with an NGO called Sanskrit Bharati. Apart from that also holds a diploma in Handwriting and Signature Analysis.

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BHUSHAN KUMAR JAIN
BHUSHAN KUMAR JAIN
28 days ago

Very nice and inofoformative

BHUSHAN KUMAR JAIN
BHUSHAN KUMAR JAIN
28 days ago

DR.BHUSHSAN KUMAR JAIN