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Short Inspiring Jain Story on Devardhigani Kshamashraman

 

In A.D. 453 in the city of Vallabhi, under the leadership of Acharyadev Shrimad Devardhigani, three unprecedented religious tasks were undertaken which turned out to be landmarks in the history of Jain religion. These tasks were preservation of shruta gyana (scriptural knowledge), a more systematic compilation of the texts and conversion of those texts into written script.

Devardhigani Kshamashraman guiding the task of preservation of shruta gyana and it’s conversion into written scripts

Owing to a famine some years ago many shrutadhara shramans (ascetic) had died and this had made the collection and compilation of the shruta gyana inevitable. At this time Vachanacharya Devardhigani Kshamashraman invited the shraman sangh in Vallabhi to consider the issue of preservation of the scriptures.

The task was daunting and in the beginning Devardhigani sat with shramans and listened to the texts of agama and he memorized them all and scripted them systematically. There were two texts, Skandili and Nagarjuniya. Acharya Kalaka - IV represented Nagarjuniya text, whereas Skandili text was represented by Acharya Shri Devardhigani. Both the agama (Jain canonical literature) texts had variations because Arya Skandil and Arya Nagarjun had never met. This type of variations in the two texts had created a situation leading to division of the Jain sangha itself. As a gesture of nobility, Devardhigani noted the Nagarjuniya text as a variation. In this task full co-operation was made available by Acharya Kalaka. The prime urgency was about agamalekhan and reading of texts made the simultaneous writing of agama possible.

As regards Devardhigani’s life, numerous anecdotes are available. Devarshi was a Kshatriya of Kashyapa gotra (family lineage) and he was known by the two names of kshamashraman and devavachak. Once Bhagwan Mahavira had told Saudharmendra in a holy assembly in Rajgruhi city, “Harinaigmeshi transferred me during my state of embryo from the womb of Devananda to the womb of Trishala and after 1000 years of my nirvana (emancipation) he would live again by the name of Devardhigani and he would be the final authority on the twelfth anga of Darshtivada (a title of twelfth anga work).

Devardhigani requesting the Lord to save his life

When Devardhigani was in the state of embryo in the womb of his mother Kalavati, she saw the lord of Ruddhi and she named her son Devardhigani. In his youthful days, he was very fond of hunting. Many efforts were made to divert him from this sport. Once when he had gone for hunting, he was faced by a roaring lion and behind him he saw a deep ditch; moreover he was surrounded on either side by wild animals with elephant-like tusks. The earth under his feet seemed to move and it was raining heavily. Terror-struck Devardhigani heard a voice, “You still have the time to realize your condition of helplessness, otherwise your death awaits you.” In a tone of utmost helplessness, he said, “Do whatever you can but kindly save me. I am ready to do whatever you want me to do.”

The Lord saved him and sent him to Acharya Lohityasuri and having sincerely listened to the sermons of Lohityasuri, Devardhigani became Muni. By acquiring the knowledge of one dashangi (a knower of ten anga works) and one purva (early canon) he became ‘acharya’, ‘ganacharya’ and ‘vachanacharya’. In A.D. 473 he passed away and with his death the tradition of ‘shruta gyana’(scriptural knowledge) came to an end.

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Om Namah

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