Long ago in the city of Champapuri, there
lived a very rich merchant named Kuldharand his wife Kulnanda. The merchant
had seven daughters. He named them Kamalashri, Kamlavati, Kamla, Lakshmi,
Sarasvati, Jayamati, and Priyakarini. All his daughters were married to rich
merchants and were very happy. Kuldhar and his wife Kulnanda gave birth to
their eighth daughter, but somehow they were not happy, at her birth. They
did not perform a naming ceremony. The eighth girl was less fortunate. As
she grew up, her father did not care to find her a husband. If someone
brought this matter to his attention, he would only say that she would be
settled as soon as he found the right groom for her. He was not worried
about her happiness at all.
One day while Kuldhar was at his work, a
strange young man came up to him. The man was dressed poorly, his hair was a
mess, and he was covered with lice. The merchant asked him, "Where are you
from? What are you doing here?" The young man replied, "My father's name is
Nandi and my mother's name is Soma. They are in Koshalpur. My name is Nandan.
I went to Chandadesh to look for work. One merchant gave me a job to deliver
this letter to a man named Vasantdev who lives in your city."
Kuldhar was not listening to him, All he
was thinking about was giving his daughter to this man. He told the young
man "I am going to send someone with you, and as soon as you deliver the
letter, I want you to come back and talk to me." Meanwhile, Kuldhar arranged
his servants to prepare a bath, some clothes, and some food for this young
man. When Nandan returned, he took a bath, changed his clothes, and finished
eating. After that Kuldhar offered him his daughter to marry. Nandan said,
"I was to return to Chandadesh immediately." The merchant said, "Young man,
it will not take long to arrange the wedding. I will give you money for both
of you until you get to Chandadesh."
A few hours later they were married, and
the time came for his daughter to say goodbye to her parents. The couple
then headed to Chandadesh. It was getting dark and they were getting tired.
They found a temple and decided to spend a night there. After his wife went
to sleep, Nandan thought, "I will not reach Chandadesh in time because my
wife can not walk as fast as I can. Also, it would take too much money for
us both to live. So, what would happen later on? I would have to beg." He
did not like the idea of begging, so he decided to leave his wife behind.
At sunrise when the daughter of Kuldhar
woke up, she realized that her husband was gone, and he took all the money
with him. She started thinking, "What will happen to me without my husband."
At first she considered going back to her parent's house. But then she
thought that she was not treated well there either, so what was the use of
going back there? Thought of begging sent chills through her body. She
decided that she would look for work and support herself. But she did not
know where to go or which town she may reach next. She did not have any
choice. She started on the same road they were going before.
After sometime, she reached the city named
Avantidesh. She went to the market place to look for work. The first person
she saw was a merchant named Manibhadra. She stood there and looked at him,
and developed a good feeling about this man. So she asked him for work. At
first Manibhadra felt sorry for her, but was afraid to employ a stranger.
The merchant decided to find out who she was. So he asked her, "Who are
you?" She told him, "I am the daughter of Kuldhar from Champapuri. I was on
my way to Chandadesh with my husband, but we were separated on the way. So,
now I am looking for work to support myself till I find him."
Manibhadra felt comfortable with her now.
He invited her to stay in his house and appointed her in charge of his
household affairs. He sent several men to search for her husband but they
could not find him. He also checked on her parents, and found out that she
was telling the truth.
As time passed, everyone in the family
began to like her, and show her a lot of affection. Later on, Manibhadra
built a big Jain temple with large gates and colorful flags. Kuldhar's
daughter went to the temple every day to worship Jina, and there she met
many nuns. As she became involved with the nuns, and learned the Jain
doctrine and nava tattva (nine fundamentals), she accepted the vows of a
shravika, and felt much better about her life.
One day Kuldhar's daughter noticed that
Manibhadra seemed depressed. She asked him the reason. He said, "The king
has trusted me to upkeep the garden, and supply him with flowers everyday. I
don't know how but suddenly the garden has turned dry. I do not know how am
I going to provide flowers for the king. I am afraid the king will become
upset, and I do not know what he will do." Kuldhar's daughter made a
resolution that until the garden was restored with flowers, she would not
eat any food, or drink any liquids. So she returned to the temple.
After she bowed to Jina, she went into
deep kayotsarg (penance). Two days went by, and on the third day, the
goddess appeared and said, "My daughter, your vow is fulfilled and in the
morning the garden will be restored."
The next morning, a miracle happened. The
garden was more beautiful than ever. It had more fresh flowers than anyone
could hope for. The merchant now accepted her as his daughter in his mind.
He rushed to the temple to congratulate her for the beautiful garden. The
whole town rushed to the temple after they heard the surprising news, and
everybody praised her.
After realizing that the garden was
revived, she broke her fast after offering food to the nuns. One night while
lying in bed, Kuldhar's daughter thought, "By good fortune, I came into the
contact of temple and nuns. I must make the best of this." So she changed
her life. She would fast for two, three or four days. Sometimes she would
fast for a month. She lived a very pious life. When her life came to an end,
she went to heaven.