STORY OF SRĪPĀL RAJA
The work is a religious tale based on the lives of two lay Jain devotees, King Śrīpāl and his wife, Queen Mayaṇā, who together endure several adventures, continue to worship the nine padas and despite having to face several vicissitudes, will attain liberation. The book states that Gautama Ganadhara, the senior-most disciple of Bhagavan Mahavir gave a religious discourse on the Navapada to the religious assembly including King Shrenika. To make the audience enthusiastic and eagerly desirous of worshiping Navapada, enlightened them on extraordinary achievements, fulfilment and prosperity attained in this life and lives to come, by its worship.
It was during this discourse that he related the story that has become known as the Śrīpāl Rās. This unparalleled work of devotion and spiritual ecstasy is adorned with spiritual knowledge and religious history. The ethos of Jainism and its facets have been lucidly revealed in the form of this tale, making it an easy and pleasant read. Consequently, even though it is a Jain tale, it appeals to a wide audience.
Authored by Upādhyāya Vinayvijayjī Mahārāj and Upādhyāya Yaṡovijayjī Mahārāj in the 18th era of Vikram, Śrīpāl Rās is a significant and unique gift to Gujarātī literature. One experiences great joy in reading, listening to or narrating the great saga. This interesting and enjoyable creation bestows upon its readers and audience the simple but unfailing knowledge about wordly, ethical, religious and spiritual values through the medium of story-telling.
While ascribing an educational viewpoint to these popular values, it is seen that both the Queens of King Prajāpāl of the city of Ujjayiṇī,Saubhāgyasundarī and Rūpasundarī have taken upon themselves the responsibility of imparting an all-rounded education to their respective daughters,Sursundarī and Mayaṇāsundarī.Both the Princesses become proficient in sixty four female arts, grammar, vocabulary, poetry, playing musical instruments, singing, astrology, medical science and various other subjects. Moreover, as a part of her religious education, Mayaṇāsundarī also studies principles of religion, Anekāntvād (Doctrine of manifold predications), the nine fundamental substances, the treatise on the theory of karma and after an in-depth scrutiny of the deep subjects of the scriptures, absorbs them in her mind.
From the point of view of ethics or religion, when King Prajāpāl raises the question about the attainment of merits, Mayaṇāsundarī replies beautifully , “With merits, one attains an intellect adorned with fair-mindedness, pure demeanour, morally sound conduct and company of a virtuous Guru.”
When King Prajāpāl, who is intoxicated with ego says, “The person, who I am pleased with, is able to fulfil all his wishes whereas the person, who I am annoyed with, is totally ruined”, all the courtiers concede. At this, Mayaṇāsundarī unhesitatingly and fearlessly but with utmost respect, retorts back with truthful and well-meaning words. Having imbibed the principles of karma, she says in no uncertain terms that a person becomes happy or unha
ppy only because of fruition of one’s own karmas accumulated during this life or previous lives and not due to someone’s favour or wrath.
When Prince Ṡrīpāl, who is wedded to Mayaṇāsundarī, is identified as the son-in-law of the King by the citizens, he reflects thus, “The one who is known by his own virtues is the most super
ior person, the one known by his father’s virtues is a man of moderate virtues. The one known by his maternal uncle’s virtues is a lowly person, whereas the one known by his fathers-in-law’s virtues is a man of extremely inferior or no virtues”.
By categorizing all the sons-in-law who roam around with arrogance acquired due to their father-in-law’s fame, respectability or prosperity as the lowliest of the low, ṠrĪ Vinayvijayjī has highlighted a worldly view.
As the story progresses, the readers become totally engrossed in it. The conclusion, as revealed in the story
that, ‘A noble person never forsakes his goodness whereas a rogue never gives up his wickedness but at the end, the rogues (Rāvaṇa, Kansa, Duryodhana) are defeated and noble men (Rāma, Kṛṣṇa, Yudhiṣthira) become victorious’, is manifested. This concept has been presented very deftly and interestingly by the authors by describing virtuous character of Ṡrīpāl and wicked character of Dhaval.In the entire saga, the poet has not left any stone unturned in vividly describing the worship of Ṡrī Navpad or Siddhacakrajī, its majesty, all the prosperity, achievements, respect and fame begotten by it, reverence for Navpad, superiority of Navpad etc. from a religious point of view. Along with the above, he has also interwoven the principles, as preached by the omniscient
Lords, in the thread of the story by categorizing them as either worth-knowing, worth abandoning or worth accepting.
In the last part of the epic, Upādhyāya Yaṡovijayjī Mahārāj has described King Ṡrīpāl’s concentrated meditation, immersing the self in each of the nine dignities. He has thus concluded the saga by establishing Ṡrīpāl’s superior spiritual inclination.