Mithilanchal: A Cradle For Jainism

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Mithilanchal is perhaps one of the most blessed and pious lands that has seen the confluence of three religions- Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. This land holds different but equal importance in the spiritual life of the people belonging to all the three religions. People and wisdom-seekers might come from diverse backgrounds to Mithilanchal but all come to seek the same; the truth of life and knowledge.

Mithilanchal has been a cradle for the 19th Jain Tirthankara Mallinatha and 21st Jain Tirthankara Naminatha. In 6,584,980 BCE a phenomenal event occurred in the history with the birth of 19th Tirthankara Mallinatha to King Kumbh and Queen Prabhavati in Mithila. mallinatha-emithilahaat-comWhile the Shvetambars believe that Mallinatha was a female, giving her the distinction of being the only female Tirthankara; the Digambars disagree and believe that Mallinatha was a male perhaps because nakedness and non-attachment are the two most import things that help in liberation and women are assumed to be dearly attached to their family and their children and the idea of nudity associated with women is quite alien. The legend goes that Mallinatha was king Mahabal in previous life. He along with other six kings who were his best friends embraced asceticism. But his desire to be better than his friends propelled him to practice penance secretly. Since he was deceptive, he was reborn as a woman. It is also believed that when Queen Prabhavati was pregnant she had a strong urge to smell the fragrance of flowers and slept in a bed of five different flowers and thus when she gave birth to a girl, the child was named Malli Kumari. She preached about equanimity and showed the world that the path for liberation and Nirvana was open to all irrespective of their gender.

Equally interesting are the legends about the birth of 21st Tirthankara Naminatha who was born to the rulers of Mithila King Vijaya and Queen Vipra in 584,979 BCE. tirthankara-emithilahaat-comQueen Vipra had seen 14 auspicious things in her dream during conception and thus the soothsayers predicted that the child born would be a Tirthankara. When he was still in his mother’s womb, Mithila was attacked by a group of kings and King Vijaya was perplexed as he had no idea about the situation. A soothsayer advised the queen to glance at the enemies. As suggested she complied with the advice and it is said that the aura of the unborn child was so powerful that it pacified the entire army and the kings bowed and surrendered before King Vijaya. Naminath was married and became the ruler of the kingdom but later on in his life Naminath quit the kingship and became an ascetic. After nine months he attained Nirvana under a Bakul tree. He taught the world about right perception and indulged in numerous spiritual activities.

Mithilanchal shall bear a unique place in history for cradling the two important and powerful spiritual souls who were the followers of Jainism and has changed the course of world history forever. Their teachings and philosophies still inspire and form the core principles of the life of many who are still in search of the true essence of their existence.

You might also consider going through this wiki and BBC page about Jainism. Do let us know your views in the comments below.

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A student of RamanujanCollege, Delhi University pursuing Bachelor Degree in English(Hons). She is also an active member of the innovation projects initiated by Delhi University.

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