Article: Mayṇāsundarī

Contributed by M. Whitney Kelting

Religious faith is rewarded

This manuscript painting shows three episodes in the colourful adventures of Prince Śrīpāla. A favourite Jain hero, Śrīpāla is closely connected with the worship of the navapada or siddhacakra, which aids him when he faces danger

Śrīpāla's adventures
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

After everyone was healed, Śrīpal and Mayṇāsundarī returned to his mother and touched her feet in a gesture of honour. Queen Kamaḷprabhā was thrilled to see her son healthy again and to meet her lovely and auspicious daughter-in-law.

When Mayṇāsundarī's mother arrived she did not recognise her now-healthy son-in-law. She wept, ashamed that Mayṇāsundarī had brazenly taken a new husband. After she realised he was really Śrīpal, Queen Kamaḷprabhā told her the story of how Śrīpal had come to be a leper. Mayṇāsundarī's mother insisted that they teach her husband he had been wrong to fault Jainism by showing him what a great husband Śrīpal had turned out to be.

Mayṇāsundarī then went to live in her uncle's house with her mother-in-law, who loved her like a daughter, while Śrīpal sailed off to make his fortune.

While he was away Śrīpal had many adventures, during which his knowledge of the Navkār-mantra protected him. Aided by the mantra and his worship of the siddhacakra, Śrīpal achieved great wealth, and both he and Mayṇāsundarī enjoyed good health and happiness. They remained devoted to Jainism and, after eight happy lives as a married couple, Śrīpal and Mayṇāsundarī finally reached liberation.

References in Jain writings

There are numerous forms of the story of Śrīpal and Mayṇāsundarī, including songs, dramas and novel versions. The most widespread one is the 17th-century version by Vinaya-vijaya and Yaśo-vijaya. The availability of the story in modern technologies such as video and audio demonstrates its continued popularity.

‘Srīpal Rājā no Rās’

The tale is widely known from the Śrīpal Rājā no Rās, the version written in Gujarati by Vinaya-vijaya and Yaśo-vijaya in 1682. This extended epic poem is often recited as part of the daily sermons during the Āyambil Oḷī festival and festival participants must study it. The centrality of the tale in the Āyambil Oḷī festival and the links between the festival and the Navpad Pūjā account for much of the story's popularity over the centuries.

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