Bhagwan Parshwanath


(Samvat 1750-1806)

Bhudhardasji occupies an important place amongst the old Jain poets of spiritualism and detachment. His verses and lyrics are sung with great respect in the religious community.

He lived in Agra and was born in Khandelwal Jain community, as is clear from the last verses of his Jain Shatak.

He was a great scholar of Hindi and Sanskrit. Three of his writings are available at present, Jain Shatak, Parshwapuran and Pad-Sangraha. Jain Shatak includes one hundred verses which are very easy and conducive to detachment.

Parshwapuran can be included in the list of great epics of Hindi literature. It describes the life of the twenty-third Tirthankar Bhagwan Parshwanath. It is of great poetic value and has very interesting exposition of many principles of Jainism.

His spiritual lyrics which are dear to the public, easy to follow and full of poetic qualities regale the minds of the people even today.

The present lesson is based on his Parshwapuran.


Teacher – Ramesh, what do you know of Parshwanath ?

Ramesh – Sir, it is the name of a railway station.

Teacher – Stand up on your seat. You don’t know how to reply. You should stand up first and then answer. Learn good manners. I asked you about Bhagwan Parshwanath, you point out to the name of a railway station.

Ramesh – Sir, I went to Calcutta. In the way I came across a railway station named Parshwanath. If I have made some mistake, I want to be excused.

Teacher – It is also the name of a station, but do you know why that station is named Parshwanath ? There is a hill named Sammedshikhar nearby, from where the twenty-third Jain Tirthankar Parshwanath obtained complete liberation. That is the reason why that station is named Parshwanath and the hill is also called Parshwanath Hill.

This is a great religious place of the Jains. Lacs of people come here on pilgrimage. This place is in the district of Hazaribagh in Bihar, near Isri. Besides Parshwanath, so many other Tirthankaras also attained complete liberation from this place.

Student – Where was Parshwanath born ?

Teacher – In Kashi, which is called Varanasi these days. About three thousand years back prince Parshwa was born at the palace of king Ashwasen of the Kashyapa clan of the Ekshwaku Kshatrjya family from the womb of his learned queen Wamadevi, on the eleventh day of the first fortnight of Paush. His auspicious birth was celebrated not only by his parents and subjects, but also by the heavenly beings and their lords, the Indras, with great dignity and pomp.

He was a genius, full of brilliance and having clairvoyance (Awadhi Jnan). In his boyhood he was possessed of many auspicious physical signs and vitality of a very high order and a very attractive personality.

Student – Since he was a prince, he must have been equipped with all worldly facilities.

Teacher – Undoubtedly so. Besides being a prince he had great merits to his credit and heavenly beings attended and served him. He did not feel the absence of any worldly possessions, but meritorius possessions and kingly pomp had no place in his heart. He did not have any desire for the pleasures of the senses. He remained unaffected with the worldly pleasures, like a lotus in water. When he attained youth, the parents tried to persuade him to marry, but they could not do so. He remained a celibate since boyhood.

Student – Why so ?

Teacher – He was conversant with the intricacies of the soul. He was indifferent towards the activities of this earthly existence. One day, an event touched his soul to the quick and he accepted the order of Digamber monkhood and engaged himself in the conquest of the self.

Student – What was that event ?

Teacher – One day, he was on a morning walk with his comrades. In the way he saw his maternal grandfather, a monk engaged in penance, surrounded by fires. The wood on fire had a pair of snakes burning inside. Parshwanath knew of their presence in the log of wood by his divine consciousness and requested the monk to extinguish the fire. Nobody believed in what he said, till everybody saw the half burnt pair of snakes in the log of wood.

Student – Were they completely burnt ? What afterwards ?

Teacher -Prince Parshwak addressed the snake, who breathed their last with auspicious feelings. They were born as Dharnendra and Padmawati in the heavens.

Student – It was good they attained a higher life phase.

Teacher – There was nothing good in having attained the life span of heavenly beings. The real good was that they were attracted towards the path of spiritual development.

This heart-melting event turned Parshwakumar into a detached person and he became a Digamber monk on the eleventh day of the first fortnight of Paush.

Student – Did he engage himself in hard penances ?

Teacher -Yes, he observed unbroken silence and absorbed himself in deep meditation. Once he was in the state of contemplation in the Ahichhetra wood. Samvar Deo, his enemy of some previous lifewas going through the sky. Old passionate anger overpowered him and he began to torture monk Parshwanath in many ways. Showers, hail and tempest and stones fell on him, but he did not move from his meditation. The same day, the fourteenth day of the first fortnight of Chaitra, he attained omniscience. Samvar Deo became repentant and fell on his feet.

Student – We have been told that Dharnendra and Padmawati had offered protection to Parshwanath.

Teacher – How can ordinary heavenly beings protect the Lord of the three worlds ? He was completely protected with his pursuit of the self. The fact is that Dharnendra and Padmawati attempted to offer protection to the Lord, who did not need any such protection, out of feelings of compassion.

After that he moved from one place to another with the religious congregation called the Samavsharan, throughout the country and preached the principles of detachment to all for seventy years. He always emphasized self-attainment in his talks. He told his audience that this soul is full of eternal consciousness and bliss. Without knowing and having faith in it and without merging oneself with it, nobody can attain real happiness. Lacs of people got peace of the soul from his teachings. Poet Bhudhardas has given expression to this effect :-

“Many accepted the order of Digamber monkhood, many accepted the rules of conduct of the householders and many animals accepted lower abstinence rules. Women accepted the status of she-monks and left for the woods with their husbands. Right faith dawned upon many human, heavenly and animal beings. This way all the beings in the religious congregation of the Lord listened to the divine preachings of the Lord and got happiness.”

Thus, propounding the gospel of non-violence, Parshwanath obtained complete liberation on the seventh day of the second fortnight of Shrawan, from Swarnbhadrakut top of the Sammedshikhar hill, at the age of a hundred years.

Dr. H.C. Bharill