In Rajgruhi there was a wealthy merchant named Rushabhadatt who was also known as Arhadas. His wife Dharini alias Jinmati gave birth to a very handsome son in 542 BC. The boy was named Jambu. He turned out to be very bright and intelligent. Every one liked him. As he grew up, many families were eager to get him married to their daughters. Since it was the age of polygamy, his parents selected 8 girls of reputed families and Jambu was duly engaged with them. Prior to the marriage Jambu once went to the assembly of Sudharmaswami and was very much impressed by the sermon. He developed a very high sense of detachment and decided to renounce his worldly life. His parents were of course not happy about his renouncing at such a young age. Parents of the girls he was engaged to were also very perturbed. They were worried about their daughters, since no one else would accept them because of their being already engaged to him.
All of them pressed Jambu to give up his intention. They pointed out the rigors of ascetic life that he would not be able to face. They also told him that it is very hard to lead the life of a monk and advised him lead a comfortable family life. However, he remained firm. The parents thought that he would change his mind, if he gets married. They therefore insisted upon his getting married before renouncing. Jambu agreed on the condition that he should be allowed to renounce the day after his marriage. Since the girls to whom he was engaged were very beautiful and attractive, every one thought that he would surely gain attachment for them, once he is married. The elders therefore accepted that condition.
The wedding took place on a grand scale. Jambu’s parents and those of the girls vied with one another in show of their prosperity. No effort was left out to make the wedding a memorable ceremony. Highly distinguished guests graced the occasion. Jewelry and other precious gifts that were adorned upon the newly weds, were the envy of the city. Rajgruhi had rarely witnessed such pomp and splendor. Every one congratulated Jambu for getting such beautiful and glamorous wives and wished him perfect happiness. At night Jambu was in elegantly decorated bedroom along with his wives and the elders heaved a sigh of relief.
Jambu was however not at all affected by the glamour nor was he overcome by the beauty of those lovely girls. He had made up his mind to renounce the next day and wanted to make use of the night for orienting those girls for the purpose. He sat in front of them and started explaining the purely temporary and transitory character of life and everything pertaining to that.
At that time in the vicinity of Rajgruhi, there was a burglar named Prabhav. He had been a prince of Vindhya but had a falling out with his parents on the issue of some property. He therefore left the place and had taken up burglary. He had gathered with him 500 colleagues who were willing to undertake any sort of adventure at his command. He had acquired a device to put any one to sleep and he could break any type of lock. He came to know of the fabulous treasure accumulated on the occasion of Jambu’s wedding and had decided to grab it.
At dead of the night he came to the place along with his followers and saw that every one had gone to sleep because of the exhaustion of the ceremony. He asked his colleagues to pick up the valuables as he proceeded towards Jambu’s bedroom for the jewelry on the bodies of newly weds. From a little distance, he heard Jambu talking to his wives. He could not believe that the newly weds were still awake. He came close to the door and tried to listen expecting exciting love gossip. To his utter astonishment, Jambu was talking about the true nature of life. His words were so forceful that Prabhav could not stop listening.
Jambu’s talk was appealing not only to his wives but also to Prabhav. He started thinking that he had fallen out with his parents and others for the sake of some possessions and was leading the nasty life of a burglar, while here was a young boy planning to give up everything that he had effortlessly gained. Jambu’s talk was still going on. The more Prabhav listened, the more he hated himself. His men came to him with bundles of valuables, pointing out that it was getting dawn and they should leave. But Prabhav was not listening to them. He had developed disdain for his current life and was keen to change it. Ultimately he told his followers to leave him alone, because he had decided to give up burglary. They could therefore go on their own. All of them were exasperated at that. They said that they would not go anywhere without him. If he was giving up the occupation, they were also willing to give it up.
By that time Jambu had finished. His wives were convinced of the futility of the worldly life and had decided to renounce with him. Then Prabhav came inside and said that he had come up for the burglary but had decided to renounce after listening his talk to his wives. He and his 500 followers made up their mind to be Jambu’s pupils. In the morning, news spread everywhere that Jambu was going to renounce that day along with his wives. His parents were disappointed that their intention did not materialize. They did not have any incentive to continue the household life and decided to renounce. And so was the decision of the girls’ parents. A spectacular procession was organized leading all those 500+ people to the assembly of Sudharmaswami. Jambu became his pupil and Prabhav and his colleagues became Jambu’s pupils.
Jambuswami as he became known henceforth studied the entire teaching of Lord Mahaveera. Most of Jain scriptures are composed in the form of dialogue from Sudharmaswami to Jambuswami. He became the head of the religious order when Sudharmaswami attained omniscience. He himself attained it at the age of 36. He was the last omniscient of the current time cycle. He attained Nirvana at the age of 80.
Jambuswami firmly believed in renouncing the worldly life from the start. In fact, his words/sermons were so powerful that it ultimately led hundreds of others to follow him in the pursuit of omniscience through the disciplined life of an ascetic. He realized that marital happiness, and enjoyment of physical beauty (of his 8 wives) is all superficial and temporary. The key is to focus on purifying the soul and helping others do the same.