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Enlightenment Can Make You Beautiful

Vivek Jain

While beauty might well lie in the eye of the beholder, there are certain aspects which do mandate conventional assessment by those engaged in the business of judging who is beautiful. There was a time when beauty was actually graded in terms of millihelens — 1,000 millihelens making one helen, measuring beauty in units of Helen of Troy, believed to be the most beautiful woman ever to have existed. Quite in contrast is the glow and brilliance emanating from deep within and rather than being in the eye of the beholder is a more universally accepted trait more felt than seen.

One such legendary figure whose beauty captivated all is Lord Mahavira. A "samava-sarana" traditionally is the palace where every tirthankara delivers his first sermon. Lord Mahavira had his at Pavapuri. A samavasarana is basically a circular structure constructed by gods that consists of linked tiers with surrounding balustrades, in which the audience listens to the tirthankara who is seated in the middle. Incidentally at that very time, Saumil was organising a big yagna nearby, where 11 elite Vedic scholars of the time were to participate. Indrabhuti was the senior most and most erudite amongst them.

Seeing the gods moving their chariots ahead, towards the place of Mahavira's sermon, peeved Indrabhuti. Being deeply immersed in self-pride and fully confident that his knowledge was infinite and that there was no branch of knowledge or scripture that he hadn't studied, he wondered if the gods had lost their balance and become bankrupt in their "avadhi gyana" — knowledge of clairvoyance — to drift past the holy place without bowing to him and listening to his discourse.

This little dialogue between two gods: "We have got to hurry to the samavasarana, so as not to miss even a little part of the discourse of the tirthankara" incensed him still further. Unable to resist the temptation to see for himself who the greater omni- scient could be, he, too, made his way to the place of the sermon.

Seeing the exuberant personality before his eyes, Indrabhuti's ego got the first major blow. There, seated under the Ashoka tree, on a golden throne embedded with jewels and covered with three celestial umbrellas he saw Lord Mahavira. Verses describe him to be in a state of serene calmness, with the glow of a full moon and simultaneously of an intellectual dazzling brilliance like that of the midday sun.

Pages are then devo-ted as to how Indrabhuti started wondering if the personality before him was Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva. Indrabhuti then thought of other gods — Kamadeva, Indra, Kuber, Vidya-dhara — but failed to recognise the beautiful person's identity. The comparison then went on with elements of nature where again it turned out that each had some or the other minor defect — the sea was too salty, the Moon has blemishes, the Sun gets too hot, the Sky is invisible, the clouds are empty at times, but the one before his eyes was devoid of any shortcoming. Though there was not a single ornament on his body he seemed most attractive and handsome. His speech was so powerful and effective that even wild animals had abandoned violence.

Beauty nurtured with diet, cosmetics and exercise pale in comparison with the pristine quietude and sublime equanimity one could experience through contemplating unremittingly on the soul, the ultimate truth of being.


1 comment:

VenusinNYC said...

Enjoyed reading this posting - as we are producing a TV series on JAIN ENLIGHTENMENT - and we have some incredible stories on Jain Dharma to educate Americans and the world community.