After Padam Puran, Harivansh Puran is the most widely read old historical treatise in the Jain community. There are sixty-six chapters and twelve thousand shlokas in it. The life of the twenty-second Tirthankar Bhagwan Neminath has been vividly described in this Puran. Besides, the stories of Krishna Baibhadra and Kaurava-Pandavas have also been exquisitely narrated.
The writer is Acharya Jinsen, different from Bhagvanjinsen acharya, the writer of Maha Puran. He was the acharya of Punnat Sangha. Punnat is the old name of Karnatak. This sangh was active near Karnatak and Kathiawad for two hundred years. The kingly order of Gujarat had a great faith and reverence for and in this sangha.
His preceptor was Kirtisen and he completed this holy book in the Nanna Raj Wasati of Vardhman city in Vikram Samvat 840. No other works of this acharya are available and there are no references of other works in other treatises. This great work, however, is sufficient for his never ending fame and glory.
The commentator of Harivansh Puran is the famous scholar Pandit Daulat Ramji Kasliwal of Jaipur.
The present lesson is based on the said Harivansh Puran of Acharya Jinsen. For detailed information about the Pandvas, Harivansh Puran and Pandava Puran should be studied.
THE FIVE PANDVAS
Suresh : I shall not let you go today, unless you return my money.
Ramesh : Why will you not allow me to go my way ?
Suresh : When you had no money, why did you gamble ?
Ramesh : I did it just by the way.
Suresh : I don’t want to listen to all this. Let me have my money.
Ramesh : I have no money. How can I pay you back ?
Suresh : (catching hold of the shirt)-Then, why did you pledge the amount ?
Teacher : Ramesh, Suresh – why are you fighting ? Good boys do not fight like this. You should settle your matters peacefully.
Ramesh : Sir, Suresh is troubling me for nothing.
Suresh : Sir, why does he not pay me my money ?
Teacher : Ramesh, why don’t you pay him his money ? Good boys do not trouble others after borrowing money from them. You should have returned the amount without his asking and avoided such a situation.
Ramesh : Sir, when did I borrow any money from him ?
Teacher : Then why does he demand it from you ?
Suresh : Of course, he did not borrow money, but pledged the amount and was defeated. Why does he not pay the amount now ?
Teacher : So you indulge in gambling. Good boys do not gamble.
Suresh : Sir, I did pledge the amount, but did not gamble.
Teacher : Keeping victory and defeat in view, to play with money or some other kind of wealth or to pledge the money and do such work on condition of payment of money – are all gambling. This is a very bad addiction. Those who fall a prey to this addiction disturb the worldly life, as also place a hurdle on the welfare of the soul. The very glorious Pandvas had to face many difficulties on account of indulging in gambling by playing the game of the dice. Promise never to gamble by pledging money or wealth.
Suresh : Who were these Pandvas?
Teacher : Many years back, King Dhritraj of Kuruvansh ruled in the city of Hastinapur of Kurujangal Desh in Bharatvarsha. He had three queens -Ambika, Ambalika and Amba. The three queens gave birth to.Dhritrashtra, Pandu and Vidur respectively. Bhisma was the son of Rukman, who was the brother of Dhritraj.
Queen Gandhari of Dhritrashtra. gave birth to a hundred sons known as the Kauravas. Pandu had two queens, Kunti and Madri. Karna was the son of Kunti from her secret marriage with Pandu. He was brought up elsewhere for fear of defarnation. Three. sons, Yudhishthir, Bhim and Arjun, were born later on. Madri bore two sons Nakul and Sahdev. The five sons of Pandu i.e. Yudhishthir, Bhim, Arjun, Nakul and Sahdev are known as the Pandvas.
Suresh : I have heard that a big war was fought between the Kauravas and the Pandvas.
Teacher : There was tension between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, but Bhishma, Vidur and Guru Dronacharya intervened and settled the affairs They gave half of the kingdom to the Pandvas and the other half to the Kauravas. However, the mental conflict did not come to an end
Ramesh : Who was Guru Dronacharya ?
Teacher : You do not know about Guru Dronacharya. He was a descendant of the Bhargava dynasty and a clever archer. He taught archery to the Kauravas and the Pandvas. His son Ashwatthama was as clever an archer as his father.
Suresh : Why was there a war, when a compromise was arrived at ?
Teacher : Did I not tell you that there were mental reservations ? Once when the Pandvas were sleeping in their palace, the Kauravas set fire to it.
Ramesh : This was very bad. Did the Pandvas perish in the fire ?
Teacher : No, hear. The Kaurvas did a great wrong. Such violent tendencies destroy the country and the community. The Pandvas saved their lives by getting away out of a tunnel, but people believed that the Pandvas had perished. The Kaurvas, though defamed, were happy. The tendency of the cruel is to take delight in violence.
Ramesh : Where did the Pandvas go then ?
Teacher : For sometimes they remained in secret confinement and later reached Makandi, the capital of King Drupad. The Swayamber of the daughter of King Drupad was being celebrated there. It was declared that whosoever was successful in archery will wed Draupadi. The Kaurvas led by Duryodhan were also present, but could not place the arch in the bow successfully. At last Arjun did it very easily and Draupdi offered the marriage garland to him.
Ramesh : I have heard that Draupadi was married to all the five Pandvas.
Teacher : No. Draupadi was a great Sati. She garlanded Arjun only. She regarded Yudhishthir and Bhim as her father, they being older than Arjun, and Nakul and Sahdev as equal to her sons, they being younger than Arjun.
Suresh : Then, why do people say so ?
Teacher : When Draupadi was garlanding Arjun, the thread of the garland was broken and some flowers fell on the rest of the four Pandvas. Those who were jealous of the Pandvas and were disappointed started the scandal that Draupadi had accepted all the five Pandvas as her husbands.
The Pandavas were disguised as Brahmins. The kings present there and the Kaurvas including Duryodhan could not recognise them. Duryodhan could not tolerate that an ordinary Brahmin should win the hand of Draupadi in their presence. He invited all the kings present, telling that it was a great insult to them that an ordinary Brahmin should win Draupadi.
Consequently, there was a great war fought between the Kaurvas and the kings present on one side and the Pandvas on the other. When no archer, could stand against Arjun in archery, Guru Dronacharya came to fight with him. Arjun was all humility seeing his Guru before him; he saluted him with an arch and sent his introduction to him thereby.
Guru Dronacharya was very happy to know that the Pandvas were alive and informed all about this. Once again Guru Dronacharya and Bhisma Piitamah brought. The pandvas and the Kaurvas together. They accepted half the kingdom each and began to live in Hastinapur.
Suresh : Sir, you told us that the Pandvas indulged in gambling. That part of the story remains untold.
Teacher : Yes, one day Duryodhan and Yudhishthir started the game of the die. Yudhishthir p1edged.his kingdom for twelve years. Duryodhan won the game deceitfully and the Pandvas had to leave their kingdom for twelve years -and go in unknown exile. It has, therefore, been said that it is a great evil to pledge money or possessions i.e. to gamble. Those who are after the welfare of their soul should never indulge in such practices. Great stalwarts and those destined to achieve Godhood from the present life like Yudhishthir and others had to face untold difficulties on account of this evil.
Ramesh : Where did they live during these twelve years ?
Teacher : They did not stay at one place. They wandered from one place to another in disguise.
Suresh : I have heard that Bhim was very strong and had punished Kichak.
Teacher : Yes. This happened during their twelve-year exile. When the Pandvas reached Virat Nagar, they began to service King Virat in different capacities in disguise. Yudhishthir became a pandit, Bhim a cook, Arjun a dancing lady and Nakul and Sahdev in charge of the stable of the King. Draupadi became a garden woman.
Sudarshana was the queen of King Virat. Her brother was Kichak. He regarded Draupadi as an ordinary garden woman and tried to entrap her by many temptations. Draupadi disclosed this to Bhim who in turn asked her to fix the place and time of her meeting with Kichak, who he thought must be punished for his evil intentions.
Ramesh : What next ?
Teacher : Draupadi fixed the time and place of her meeting with him. Bhim reached there beforehand putting on the clothes of Draupadi.
When Kichak infuriated with love reached there, he was happy to find Draupadi and began to converse with her with affection. He was, however, placed in great distress when his affectionate addresses were returned with smashes of the powerful hands of Bhim. He tried to face Bhim but was badly defeated and beaten severely. Kind Bhirn gave him a warning not to repeat such evil in future and let him free. He was, however, properly Punished for the wrong done.
Suresh : What happened to the Pandvas after that ?
Teacher : They then went to their maternal uncle in Dwarika. The king of Dwarika, Vasudeo, was the father of Krishna and Samudra Vijay, the father of Bhagwan Neminath, were the maternal uncle of the Pandvas. They received their nephews, who were also with their sister, very affectionately and respectfully.
Suresh : Sir, is it right that the Pandvas and the Kaurvas engaged themselves in a great conflict ?
Teacher : Yes. It was not a war between the Pandvas and the Kaurvas only. The whole of Bharat was entangled in it, for Narain Shrikrishna sided with the Pandvas and Pratinarain Jarasandh with the Kaurvas. Thus, it took the shape of a great war. When Narain Shrikrishna won the war and became the lord of the three regions, naturally the Pandvas became the supreme lords of Hastinapur. Yudhishthir was very serious by nature, just and religious in his activities and, therefore, he was known as Dharamraj (king of religion). Bhim had exceptional physical vitality and was matchless in wrestling, while Arjun was famous for his skill in archery. For many long years, they ruled and were happy.
Ramesh : Then ?
Teacher : After a long period, the destruction of Dwarika in fire shattered their faith in this life and they became indifferent towards worldly affairs. One day these Pandvas with their kith and kin went to the religious congregation of Bhagwan Neminath to offer their homage to him. They became unconcerned with earthly existence after listening to the divine message of Bhagwan Neminath. They heard that happiness does not lie in pleasures of the senses; real happiness lies in our soul. The welfare of the soul lies in understanding it and devoting it to itself, that is all consciousness and to discard other non-self entities of the world. Worldly loss and gains are all due to merits and demerits; the welfare of the soul does not lie in them. The soul, for nothing, rejoices in the wake of merits and becomes unhappy in the wake of demerits. The purpose of human life is to cut oneself from the rest of the world and become self centered.
All the five Pandvas, that very moment, accepted Digambar monkhood, that is instrumental to the annihilation of the wanderings of this earthly existence. Their mother Kunti, and queen Draupadi, Subhadra and others got initiated into feminine monkhood of the Digambar order by Rajmati (Rajul) Arjika.
Suresh : What then ?
Teacher : All the five Pandva saints devoted themselves to the pursuit of the soul and indulged in severe penances. One day, when they were thus absorbed in deep meditation on mount Shatrunjaya, Yavrodhan, the descendant of Duryodhan happened to reach there and seeing the Pandvas in that state of meditation, was inflamed by anger. He thought that these same Pandvas had ruined Duryodhan and the other Kaurvas and that they are armless and without any help and therefore he decided to take revenge upon them and teach them a lesson. He got iron ornaments heated red in fire and put them on the bodies of the Pandvas.
Ramesh : Alas, did he burn the Pandvas ?
Teacher : How could he burn the great Pandva monks ? He was himself burning in the fire of aversion. The hot iron ornaments were, no doubt, burning the bodies of the Pandvas, but they themselves were one with their souls and were undisturbed in the eternal peace of their sentient soul substances. The fire of meditation destroyed all their merits and demerits.
Suresh : What happened next ? Were they burnt ?
Teacher : Yes, their physical frames were burnt. The three Pandvas – Yudhishthir, Bhim and Arjun destroyed all the eight karmas after adopting kshapak shreni, a very high stage of spiritual development. They attained omniscience and Siddhahood on the Shatrunjaya mountain, while Nakul and Sabdev got Sarvarthasiddhi, having earned the bondage of heavenly life. They will also obtain Siddhahood after this divine phase, becoming human beings.
Ramesh : So Shatrunjaya is a place of attaining Siddhahood, because the three Pandvas attained liberation from there.
Teacher : Yes, it is just eighteen kilometers from Songarha. We must perform a pilgrimage to this holy place, and should take lessons from the lives of the Pandvas. This is also called Palitana.
Suresh : I went to Songarha once. It is just near Bhavnagar.
Suresh : I have now understood that without the pursuit of the soul, worldly victories and defeats are of no avail. The real victory of the soul is that which destroys delusions, attachment and aversions altogether.
Ramesh : By indulgence in the addiction of gambling, the very brave Pandvas had to face countless difficulties and agonies. We should, therefore, not indulge in gambling.
Teacher : Very good, you have read a true and meaningful lesson. Resolve not to gamble or do anything by pledging money or other possessions.
Suresh & Ramesh (Both)-Yes sir, we resolve not to gamble or pledge money for desired achievements and shall persuade our comrades also not to indulge in such evil games.
By Dr. H. C. Bharill