Illustrated Tirthankar Charitra
Shri Amar Muni
Mallinath Bhagavan – 19
In the Aparvideh area there was a city named Vitshoka. It was ruled by a powerful king Mahabal. He was very intimate with six other kings who were his childhood friends. Influenced by discourses of ascetics, king Mahabal decided to follow the spiritual path. he sought opinion of his six childhood friends with the remark-I want to became an ascetic, do you also?
All the six friends replied, “We have been together during both good and bad times. When we have been together during both good and bad times. When we have enjoyed the mundane life in company, it would be shameful if we part company on the spiritual path. We shall become ascetics together and we shall do all spiritual practices together.”
The seven kings took Diksha from Varadharma Muni and started the spiritual practices earnestly. Mahabal was bitten by the bug of ego. he thought, “I have always been ahead of my friends. Now, if I do the same practices I will remain at the same level. As such I should do a little more and be ahead as before.” With this feeling Mahabal started secretly doing more practices than the others. All the seven friends would formally take vow of some specific penance together but when on conclusion, other friends broke their fast, Mahabal would continue his fast on some pretext. The desire to be above the ordinary inspired this competition. As a result of this deception Mahabal feel from the lofty spiritual level he had attained due to his intense practices and acquired the Karma that would result in being born as a woman (Stri-ved). However, as he still maintained the purity and intensity in his practices he later also earned the Tirthankar-nam-and-gotra-karma. All the seven ascetics breathed their last after sixty days fast and mediation. They reincarnated as gods in the Anuttar dimension.
Birth of Malli Kumari
The being that was Mahabal, leaving the abode of gods, descended into the womb of queen Prabhavati, wife of king Kumbh of Mithila town. During the third month of pregnancy the queen had a desire to sleep on a bed made up of fragrant flowers of five colors and to smell a bouquet of flowers (Malladam) all the time. It is said that if a pious soul resides in the womb all the desires are fulfilled. On the eleventh day of the bright half of he month of Margshirsh the Queen gave birth to a pious and beautiful girl. It was unprecedented that a Tirthankar be born as a girl; everyone was surprised. But even the almighty is helpless when the Karmas precipitate into action.
The mother’s craving for flower bouquet inspired the king to name the girl as Malli Kumari. She was very fond of having a bouquet of flowers. Florists from far and near used to bring attractive and beautiful bouquets to present her and get desired gifts in return. Strange yarns about her infatuation for flowers and bouquets spread all around.
Once a famous and rich merchant, Arhannak, of Champa town, went on a sea voyage with some other people. After earning heaps of wealth when he was returning, a god appeared. In order to test Arhannak’s devotion for his religion, the god created a variety of afflictions. Even in the face of death Arhannak did not yield. His devotion for the path shown by Jina was absolutely unwavering. The god was pleased with this unrelenting determination of Arhannak. He gave the merchant a pair of divine earrings as gift.
On the way back the ship stopped at Mithila. All the merchants went to King Kumbh’s assembly with gifts. Arhannak gifted the divine earnings for Malli Kumari. The king and his ministers became astonished at the divine beauty of these earrings. Once a joint in these earrings broke. king Kumbh called expert goldsmiths to weld this joint but none of the artisans had skill enough to do its work. In annoyance the king exiled many of these artisans. Wherever these artisans went they talked of the divine beauty of Malli Kumari.
Once Mallidinna, the younger brother of Malli Kumari, constructed an entertainment room in the palace premises. One of the working artists was highly talented. This artist had a glimpse of a toe of Malli Kumari who was standing behind a lattice. This enable the highly gifted artist to paint a fresco of the princess on a wall of the room. he was under the impression that the prince will be pleased to look at he exact replica of his sister and richly reward him.
When the room was complete, the prince came with his wives to look at and approve the beautiful paintings, some of which were erotic as well. While he was enjoying these works of art, he came across the painting of Malli Kumari. He could not believe what he saw. Ashamed of himself he said, “My elder sister is here and I am shamelessly enjoying these sensual paintings along with my wives.” His governess explained, “Prince, You are mistaken. this is not your sister but her life size portrait.” The prince carefully examined the painting and was astonished at the realistic work of art and the skill o the artist. However the feeling if anger overtook the sense if appreciation. He was annoyed at the mindless effrontery of the artist who had pained such a live portrait of his respected elder sister in the entertainment chamber.
The angry prince called the painter and asked him when and how he saw the princess. The artist humbly submitted, “Sire! I just saw one toe of the princess from behind a lattice. But I am endowed with this miraculous skill that when I start painting even a part of a thing I automatically complete the thing perfectly.”
This explanation did not pacify the prince. He exiled the artist after amputating his right thumb. The vexed artist made another painting of the princess and sold it at a very high price to king Adinshatru of Hastinapur. Adinshatru was attracted towards Malli Kumari, as many others who had heard about her divine beauty.
Discussion with Choksha
one day a female mendicant named Choksha came to Mithila. In order to influence the royal family she came to Malli Kumari. choksha was a scholar of Vedas and other scriptures and her interpretation was that keeping the body clean, indulging in charity and the annointment of Tirth (sacred place)were the only religious activities that lead to liberation. She started preaching her ideas to Malli Kumari, who heard all this with patience. When Choksha had nothing more to say, Malli Kumari said in her magnetic voice, “With due respect to your attire, I am surprised at your ignorance, Choksha. Know that every charity is not done with religious or pious intent. Even cleaning the body and annointment of a Tirth are not sacred if they are not done with equanimous and pious feelings or if they cause any destruction of any living organism. A blood stained cloth will never be cleaned by washing it with blood. The basis of religion is a discerning attitude. To an irrational person, even penance causes discomfort and irritation.” This irrefutable logic of Malli Kumari silenced Choksha, but she became angry and decided to take revenge.
Choksha decided that, in order to shatter the pride of this princess it would be best if she could be manipulated into marrying some king who already had many wives. Cooking up her plan, she approached the king of Kampilyapur in Panchal state. She gave a titillating description of the divine beauty of Malli Kumari and provokingly said to the king, “Your life and palace both are lack luster as long as you do not marry and bring this divine beauty to your palace.” King Jitshatru was highly impressed. He decided to seek the hand of Malli Kumari in marriage.
Change of Heart of the Six Kings
The six friends of Malli Kumari’s earlier birth were born in six different royal families and inherited the kingdoms.
1. King Pratibuddha of Saketpur,
2. King Chandrachhay of Champa,
3. King Rupi of Shravasti,
4. King Shankh of Varanasi,
5. King Adinshatru of Hastinapur, and
6. King Jitshatru of Panchal (Kampilyapur).
The fame of the beauty of Malli Kumari inspired all these six kings to send proposing kings and returned the emissaries. These kings felt insulted and marched on Mithila with their armies and lay a seize.
When king Kumbh got the challenge he became worried. Malli Kumari asked about the cause of her father’s anxiety. Kumbh replied, “Daughter! All these kings want to marry you. My refusal has irked them and they have surrounded Mithila. I am anxious about what I should do now!”
Malli Kumari was already aware of all these activities through her Avadhi Jnan (the capacity to know all about the physical world). She made a plan to enlighten these friends of her last birth. In the palace garden she got a chamber made and in its center installed a life size statue that was her exact replica. It’s inside was hollow and there was an opening hidden under the neck. Six adjacent chambers were also erected around this central circular chamber. These six chambers had windows opening in the main chamber. These windows were so designed that a n onlooker could only see the statue and nothing else. Making all these arrangements, Malli Kumari started putting one handful of the food she ate every day inside the hollow statue.
When the stink of decomposed food, coming out of the statue on opening the lid became intolerable, Malli Kumari went to her father. She said to her father, “Stop worrying, father, and inform the kings individually that I want to meet them to discus about marriage.” The king did likewise. Believing that only he had been invited, everyone of the kings accepted the invitation. At the predetermined time they all came one by one and were led to the six chambers allotted for them separately. From the windows in their chambers each one of them gazed at the divinely beautiful statue considering it to be Mali Kumari. Everyone was dreaming of the marriage and the happy moments thereafter. All of a sudden Malli Kumari removed the concealed cover from the hole in the neck of he statue. The obnoxious smell of decomposed food filled the chambers. The hellish smell hit the peeping kings and they were jolted out of their state of day dreaming. Their faces distorted with revulsion.
Panic stricken, the kings shouted, “What is all this? Why have I been locked in this chamber? It is impossible breath here. Please open the doors.” It was then that Malli Kumari appeared and said, “O slaves of passions! You are totally infatuated with female beauty. A moment ago you were admiring this earthly beauty and were nurturing a desire to possess and enjoy it. Now a hatred for the same is evident on your distorted faces. What sort of love for beauty is this?”
The kings shouted, “Why are you trying to make fools of us? It is impossible to tolerate this stink?”
Malli Kumari asked the attendants to open the gates of the chambers. All the six kings rushed out and were surprised to see each other. Finding the right opportunity Malli Kumari said to them, “The stink caused by just a few handfuls of food is intolerable. Mind you, this body is nothing but a statue made of bones and flesh and maintained by the same food. Why such infatuation for such decomposed thing? You are all friends of my last birth. Rise above this infatuation and commence once again the terminted pursuit of purification of the self.”
All the six kings acquired Jati-smaran Jnan, They sought pardon from king Kumbh as well as Malli Kumari. Resolving to follow the path of renunciation they left for their respective kingdoms.
Malli Kumari also announced her decision to become an ascetic. After the great charity she became an ascetic along with three hundred males and equal number of females. Immediately after her Diksha, she acquired Vipulmati Manahparyav Jnan (the ultimate Pra normal capacity and started deep meditation. The same afternoon she attained omniscience. In her first discourse she discussed on the subject of philosophy of equanimity. The six kings took Diksha during this first discourse. After enhancing the spread of religion for a long period she attained Nirvana on the fourth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra at Sammetshikhar.