Monday, April 23, 2007

Bhaktamar Stotra

Among many literary works relating to Jain religion the “Bhaktamar stotra” stands out as the first Sanskrit composition written by Acharya Mantunga Maharaja in the 3rd century A.D. Its first commentary appeared thousand years later. According to a legend narrated in “Prabhavana Chintamani”, this poetical composition was completed in a cell. The legend says that once Acharya Mantungaji was camping in a garden in Ujjain. When King Bhoja of Malwa heard of this, he sent for him and requested him to deliver a sermon to his court. But the Acharya was reluctant to do so. Angered by refusal, the King put him into prison of 48 cells and chained him with 48 locks. The Acharya remained calm,showing great equanimity and started composing “Bhaktamar Stotra” the fourth day ,he completed the 48 verse, the last verse. Soon there after,the chains started breaking off his body and 48 locks broke open one by one to enable the Acharya come out of the prison. The sentries were greatly surprised and they rushed to the King to inform him about his miracle. The king too felt repentant and respectfully invited him to the court where he delivered his sermon.

The “Bhaktamar” has been translated in many Indian languages. It has also been translated into English , German and French. While its first English translation appeared in 1632, its German translation was done by Dr. Hermann Jacobi in 1976. The French translation is awaiting its publication. Many Europeon writers like Maxmuller, Keith, Webber,Winternitz and Chalott Krause have eulogised the mystical verses of “Bhaktamar”.

Essentially, the “Bhaktamar stotra” is a poetry wrapped in devotion to Lord Jina. It contains prayers of devotees who, surrendering themselves before God appeal to Him to bring succour to them against many adversities and difficult situations. In response, each verse is connected with a yantra which contains the prescription guiding the devotee how to chant a mantra, how to prepare a mystical diagram, the method of self preparation for recitation of the syllables of the riddhi. In the end it informs the devotees about the advantages which will accrue after proper performance of the mantra. In brief, the mantras contain magical power and are a great solace to the devotee in trouble. Those who have practiced them with due faith have experienced their gainful results. Like “Seeing is beliving”. It is “Practising is beliving”.

Another attractive feature of this work is an anecdote attached to each mantra. It contains an account of certain adverse incident in the life of devotee and how he gets out of it successfully by reciting the mantra in the prescribed manner. They are not fictitious stories but personal experiences of the devotees.

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