Shri Amar Muni
ARISHTANEMI BHAGAVAN -
The being that was to be Bhagavan Arishtanemi, in his
earlier incarnation, was Shankh, the eldest son of king Shrishen of
Hastinapur. One day some citizens and wayfarers came to the king and
informed him that the highways approaching Hastinapur and the surrounding
area were being terrorized by bandits and smugglers. No traveler or
villager was safe from the attack of the bandits. Robbery and murder
became a daily routine for them. The citizens requested he king to protect
the masses. the king deputized prince Shankh to go and punish the bandits.
Prince Shankh was an accomplished diplomat and
strategist. He planned and conducted his campaign in such a way that he
apprehended the leader of bandits without any bloodshed. While he was on
his way back he heard the cry of help of a young princess abducted by a
Vidyadhar (a lower god); prince Shankh challenged the Vidyadhar, defeated
him and saved princess Yahomati. when these young people saw each other
they fell in love and got married. In due course prince Shankh ascended
Once a scholarly ascetic visited Hastinapur. King
Shankh went for his Darshan, an asked him, "Why am I so deeply in love
with Yashomati that all my desires to renounce come to a naught." The
ascetic said, "Your marital ties are many a life-time deep. For last six
lives you are being married to each other, this is the seventh birth. That
is the reason for such intense and deep feeling of love for each other."
The king asked, "When these ties will be broken?"
The scholarly ascetic replied, "In your ninth
incarnation you will be born as Neminath and she as Rajimati. In that
birth you will be able to break this tie of love and become twenty second
Tirthankar. Rajimati will also follow you on the path of renunciation and
The Birth as
Knowing all this Shankh had a deep feeling of
detachment. He gave his kingdom to his on and became an ascetic. As a
result of high spiritual practices and deep devotion for Jnan he earned
the Tirthankar-nam-and gotra-karma and reincarnated in the Aprajit
dimension of gods.
Bhagavan Rishabhdev and twenty one other Tirthankars
were born in the Ikshavku clan. The twentieth Tirthankar Munisuvrat was
born in the Harivamsh clan. The great king Vasu was also from Harivamsh
clan. After a long time this clan saw another illustrious king Sauri who
was the founder of the famous Sauripur town. Sauri had two sons Andhak
Vrishni and Bhog Virshni. Andhak Virishni had ten sons, the eldest was
Samudravijay and the youngest Vasudev.
The being that was Shankh descended from the Aparajit
dimension of gods into the womb of queen Shiva Devi, wife of king
Samudravijay of Sauripur. The fourteen great dreams indicated that this
being was to become a Tirthankar. On the fifth day of the bright half of
the month of Shravaan queen Shiva Devi gave birth to a son. As per the
convention 56 goddesses of directions arrived and performed the birth
celebrations after the post-birth cleaning.
During the naming ceremony the king conveyed that as
the queen had seen a disc with Arishta gems, the new born will be called
Vasudev, the younger brother of king Samudravijay was a
charming and handsome person. His senior queen Rohini had a son named
Balram (Padma) and junior queen Devaki had a son named Shrikrishana.
Balram and Shrikrishna were the ninth Baldev and Vasudev.
During those times the whole area of central India had
become a disturbed area due to prevailing conspiracies among various
kingdoms. Cruel Kamsa and oppressive Jarasandh (the Prativasudev) were the
worst of these feuding principalities. In order to be away from these
everyday problems and as per the advise of an astrologer, the Yadav clan,
including Samudravijay, Vasudev, Ugrasen, Shrikrishan etc. migrated from
Mathura sauriur to the west coast. Shrikrishan constructed the large and
beautiful town of Dwarka on the sea coast and near the Raivatak mountain (Girnar).
Its grand architecture and strong fortification made it heavenly beautiful
The Power and Prowess
One day while wandering around, youthful Arishtanemi
reached the hall of weapons of Vasudev Shrikrishna. Seeing the divine
weapons he first lifted the Sudarshan Chakra (the disc weapon) curiously
and whirled it playfully. He then lifted the giant bow, Sarang, and bent
it as if it was a thin cane. After this he lifted the Panchajanya conch,
put it to his lips and blew it hard. The piercing loud sound emanating
from the great conch shocked the town. Shrikrishan rushed to the armory.
Seeing Arishtanemi playfully handling the he giant and heavy weapons
belonging to Vasudev, Shrikrishan was astonished. He asked "Nemi! did you
blow the Panchajanya?" Nemi innocently replied, "Yes brother! It is so
cute I could not contain myself."
Shrikrishan knew that is weapons were beyond the
capacity and strength of any warrior in the world. He was astonished and
pleased at the same time, that his young cousin was so strong and
powerful. He wanted to test Nemi�s strength further; he invited Nemi to
the gymnasium for a friendly trial of strength. First Shrikrishan raised
his arm and held it straight asking Nemi to bring it down. Nemi forced
Shrikrishna�s arm down without any apparent effort. After this Nemi raised
his arm and Shrikrishana, in spite of all his strength could not force it
down. He even put all his weight on the outstretched arm but as if it was
a beam of steal, the arm of Nemi did not move even a fraction of an inch.
Shrikrishan was very pleased knowing about this
unprecedented strength of his cousin. He thought that this great
individual, much more powerful than him, is capable of becoming a
Chakravarti. but how could he become a Chakravarti if he does not change
his attitude of detachment for all worldly activities. Shrikrishan
formulated a plan. He asked Nemi to marry and start his family life. Nemi
still did not show any interest. Shrikrishan now consulted his queens and
organized a spring festival. The ladies dragged Nemi Kumar to the pool for
water games and there they used all their guile to pursued him to agree
for marriage. Shrikrishna also requested once more. Nemi presented a
smiling but thoughtful look. With his divine knowledge he became aware it
was the marriage celebration that would initiate him on the path of
liberation. As such he did not oppose the proposal. His silence was taken
as a sign of affirmation and it was joyously announced that Nemi Kumar had
finally agreed for marriage.
Shrikrishana started the search for a suitable match.
One of his queens Satyabhama, informed hat her beautiful and delicate
younger sister, Rajul, would be an extremely suitable match for Nemi
Kumar. Shrikrishana finalized all arrangements. On the arranged date the
marriage procession started with Nemi Kumar riding the decorated king
elephant. All the kings and princes of the Yadav clan joined the
procession with their royal regalia and retinue. When the procession was
approaching the destination, Nemi Kumar saw that on the side of the road
there were large fenced areas and cages full of wailing animals and birds.
Filled with sympathy and compassion, he asked the elephant driver why
those animals and birds were being kept in bondage. The driver informed
him that the creatures were collected to be butchered for meat for the
large number of gusts attending his marriage.
Nemi Kumar was filled with despair and a feeling of
detachment. He said to the elephant driver, "If I agree to be the cause of
the butchering of so many living beings my life and the one to come will
be filled with pain and misery. So, I will not marry. Immediately arrange
for the release of all these creatures; turn back and head for Dwarka."
The driver looked at him in astonishment. Nemi Kumar said, "This is an
The driver went and opened the gates of the fenced
areas and cages. The animals jumped and ran away into the jungle. They
were saved from the torture of death. The driver came back and turned the
elephant towards Dwarka. On the way Nemi Kumar took out all the valuables
and ornaments on his body and handed them over to the elephant driver.
The news spread panic in the marriage procession. All
the seniors of the Yadav clan tried to change the mind of Nemi Kumar, but
in vain. Even Shrikrishna could not dissuade him from his determination.
Nemi Kumar said to the elders, "As these animals were prisoners in the
cages, we all are prisoners in cages of karma which are much stronger than
these fences. See the feeling of joy evident in the animals released from
the cages. Know that happiness is in freedom, not in bondage. I want to
tread the path of breaking this bondage of Karma and embrace eternal
bliss. Please do not stop me."
When Rajimati, dressed as bride, heard of this act of
Nemi Kumar she could not tolerate the sting of sorrow. she fainted with
shock. When she recovered she started crying and again lost consciousness.
After a year long charity, Nemi Kumar sat in a
palanquin named Uttarkura, and, passing through the town of Dwarka,
arrived in the Raivatak garden. He got down under an Ashoka tree and
pulled out five fistful of hair and after taking off all ornaments and the
royal dress. He became an ascetic along with one thousand person on the
sixth day of he bright half of the month of Shravan. Shrikrishan was
deeply touched by this incident; he blessed his younger cousin and wished
him success in his mission.
Arhat Neminath spent fifty four days in deep spiritual
practices and then went to Vijaynat hill (Girnar). On the fifteenth day of
the dark half of the month of Ashvin, in he afternoon, he was observing a
two days fast and was meditating under a bamboo tree when he became an
omniscient. Establishing he four pronged religious organization (Tirth) he
became the twenty second Tirthankar.
When Rajimati recovered from the melancholy she decided
to follow the path taken by Neminath. Prince Rathnemi, the younger brother
of Neminath, tried his best to seduce Rajimati. But she could not be
distracted from her goal. When Rajimati came to know that Neminath had
become an omniscient, she went to the Samavasaran of neminath along with
many of her friends and took Diksha. She lost herself in penances and
other spiritual practices and in the end got liberated.
Stories of a number of famous ascetic contemporaries of
Bhagavan Arishtanemi are glittering gems in he heap of Jain scriptures.
some more prominent names are child ascetic Gajasukumar, great ascetic
Dhandhan Rishi, Thavaccha-putra Sharman etc.
Bhagavan Arishtanemi got liberated, at the age of one
thousand years, on the eighth day of the bright half of he month o Ashadh.
A number of historians accept that Arishtanemi, he
cousin of Shrikrishana, was a historical figure who greatly contributed
towards vegetarianism, compassion and Ahimsa. This is the point where Jain
prehistory fuses with history.