King Shripal and Mayana Sundari
King Singhrath ruled over Champa-nagar. By his queen, Kamal-prabha, he had a son named Shripal. The king died when Shripal was five years old. King Singhrath’s brother Ajitsen was very ambitious and took this opportunity to seize the throne. He was keen on getting rid of Shripal in order to make his position as king secure. When Kamal-prabha became aware of Ajitsen’s vicious plan, she fled from Champa-nagar along with her son. Learning about her escape, Ajitsen sent his trusted soldiers to pursue her. How long could the poor lady go, especially since she had to run on foot with a young child? As the soldiers got close, she did not know how to save her son. She saw a group of lepers. In desperation, she asked them to take her son into their custody. They warned her about the risk of her son contracting the disease of leprosy from them. However, she had no choice if she wanted to save her son, so she entrusted her son to them.
Shripal was very bold and handsome. The leper colony became very fond of him and took great care of Shripal. Ultimately, Shripal contracted leprosy. When he became a youth, the people made him their leader, and named him Umar Rana. Under his leadership, the group traveled from place to place and one day arrived at Ujjayini city, the capital of Malwa region.
King Prajapal was ruling there. He and queen Rupsundari had two daughters named Sursundari and Mayana-sundari. They were very beautiful and intelligent. The king loved both of them and made adequate arrangements for their training in the arts and crafts. The girls mastered all of them in due course. Once the king decided to test their knowledge and called them in the assembly hall. He asked a number of questions to Sursundari who gave satisfactory replies to all of them. At the end, the king asked her by whose favor she got all her skills and also the amenities and luxuries that she enjoyed. The girl humbly replied that she gained all that by the king’s favor. The king was pleased with her replies and decided to reward her appropriately.
Then he asked several questions to Mayana-sundari. She too gave satisfactory replies to all his questions. At the end, the king asked her the same question that he had asked Sursundari. He had expected Mayana to give an identical reply and thus please him. But Mayana had total faith in the religious philosophy she had studied at length. She therefore replied:
“O father! The great king! With due respect to you, all the comfort that you provide me are only because of my meritorious (Punya) Karma. Every one gets whatever is written in his or her destiny due to his or her Karma. You yourself cannot give or take away anything.”
Everything that she had received had been the result of her Karma. She must have earned good Karma in the past that resulted in the happy situations that she was undergoing. If she did not have that Karma to her credit, no one could bestow happiness on her. The king was exasperated to hear the unexpected reply. He repeatedly asked her to consider how she could have obtained anything but for his generosity. Mayana replied that everything right from her being born as his daughter up to her present situation could occur solely as a consequence of her good or bad Karmas, and no one or nothing could have made any difference.
The king grew angry from her unexpected persistence. He could not believe that the girl could have received anything but for his favor. He could not believe that everything happens according to one’s own Karma.
He therefore decided to teach her a lesson - the hard way. He asked his men to find the ugliest man in Ujjayini. The men spotted Umar Rana and brought him to the court. In utter disdain, the king instantly got Mayana married to Umar. He gave them some basic things and a small house and asked Mayana to undergo the result of her Karma. Rupsundari, the mother queen, was very unhappy at the sudden turn of events in her daughter’s life, but she could not speak against her husband’s will. On the other hand, the king looked for a suitable match for Sursundari in appreciation of her replies and got her married to prince Aridaman of Shankhapuri.
Mayana was deeply religious. She accepted Shripal in the guise of Umar as her husband and took care of him. She went to temples and heard the sermons of monks (Sadhus) along with him. One day Mayana-sundari and her husband went to see Jain acharya Munichandra and talked about their problems and his leprosy disease. The Acharya was a well-known scholar of the time. He advised them to go through the penance of Ayambil Oli, known as Navapad (nine pious entities) penance, which can cure all types of diseases. They had to do this for four and half years which results in Nine Ayambil – Oli (one every six months).
The Navapad Aradhana (puja) is observed by meditation and practicing a penance called Ayambil. One meditates upon Arihanta, Siddha, Acharya, Upadhyay, Sadhus (Pancha Paramesthi), Jnan (knowledge),Darshan (faith), Charitra (conduct), and Tapa (penance) known as Navapad. Ayambil is observed by having only one meal a day of very plain food without any spices, milk, sugar, salt, oil, butter, fruits or vegetables. This penance and meditation are to be observed for nine days, twice a year, during the month of March/April (Chaitra) and September/October (Ashwin).
Accordingly, Mayana and Shripal devoutly observed Navapad worship and penance with all its vitality. The result was miraculous: Shripal’s skin disease started fading. In due course, he got totally cured of leprosy and regained the skin that he had before contracting the disease. Now he looked like the handsome
prince that he had been. Mayana was very happy and blessed her Karma for that change too. Since the change was apparently brought about by devotion to Navapad and practicing the penance, both of them continued to observe it even after that.
Once, while they were at a temple, queen Rupsundari saw them. She was shocked to see that her daughter was with a handsome man instead of the leper with whom she was married. Mayana understood her anxiety and explained in detail everything that had happened. Rupsundari was extremely pleased to hear that. She told the king that Mayana’s persistence about the theory of Karma had proved right. The king could also see the truth. Deep in his heart he used to curse himself for bringing misery in his lovely daughter’s life. Now he too became happy and invited his daughter and son-in-law to stay with him in thepalace. Shripal’s real identity was revealed to all, and luckily his mother arrived at the palace and stayed with them.
Once there was a royal procession in which Shripal was seated on an elephant along with the king. During the procession someone pointed a finger at Shripal and asked a relative who he was. The man replied that he was the son-in-law of the king. Shripal heard that. He became sad that he was being identified by his relationship with his father-in-law. He felt that one should gain fame from one’s own efforts and not from association with relatives. He, therefore, secured permission from Mayana and the king and set off by himself on an auspicious day.
He traveled far and wide, visited many places, and boldly faced the adversities that he encountered. During that period, he did not forsake his devotion to Navapad. Consequently, he successfully survived all the ordeals. As was the custom at that time, he married many girls and acquired a lot of wealth and many followers. Equipped with that, he came back and camped outside Ujjayini. His army was so large that it virtually surrounded the city. King Prajapal thought that some enemy had come with a large force to conquer Ujjayini. He came to the camp and was pleased to recognize his son-in-law. Shripal entered the
city where he was given a hero’s welcome. His mother and Mayana were anxiously awaiting his arrival and were very happy to see him.
Shripal happily spent some time with Mayana who was dearest to him. Then he decided to get back his original kingdom of Champa-nagar. He sent a message to his uncle Ajitsen to leave the throne that he had seized. Ajitsen was however too proud to give it up. Therefore, Shripal invaded Champa-nagar with his
vast army. Ajitsen put up a tough fight. However, his army was not a match for Shripal’s. In the tough fight Ajitsen was captured and Champa-nagar was taken over by Shripal. He then gracefully released his uncle from captivity. Ajitsen now felt that his days were almost over, and he decided to renounce the worldly life.
Thereafter Shripal happily passed the rest of his life as king of Champa-nagar.