Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Curious Case Of Vimalsha

If you've visited the Jain Delawada temples of Mount Abu you'd know what ‘poetry in marble’ means. The intricate and minute carvings of this 11th century AD temple are absolutely breathtaking. This is a story about the man who built it.
The actual Jain story has multiple layers and learnings but what fascinated me was this aside. So here it is with a bit of a preamble.

Vimalsha was the well-respected commander of King Bhimdev’s kingdom in Gujarat.  Due to a misunderstanding created by few of the king’s close aides, he decided to leave the capital city of Patan and move to Mount Abu (known as Chandravati at that time) as a governor. 

It was the best of times and he enjoyed the peace and bliss around him. One day Vimalsha’s guru, a Jain Acharya, asked him to construct a temple at Chandravati that would inspire people. Vimalsha agreed to build a grand temple and prayed to the Goddess, Ambika Devi, for her blessings. She was pleased with his sincerity and asked him what he wanted. Now Vimalsha had a beautiful, loving wife, Shridevi and they were enjoying their time in Chandravati.  But there was one issue, which was, that that they had no ‘issues’. Having no children made them feel incomplete. So he asked Ambika Devi for a son as well as the capability to construct the temple. But the Goddess, being a Goddess, could grant him only one wish so he opted for the temple.

It took 14 years to build the temple on top of the mountain. The workers were paid in gold for their efforts. The artisans would collect the marble dust that they had carved for the day. This stone powder would get weighed and an equal amount of gold would be given to them!  Vimalsha was indeed loved by all.

His life was perfect but for want of a child. The story goes that Ambika Devi was extremely happy with the couple and wanted to grant them one more wish. She came in Shridevi’s dream and the Goddess, being a Goddess, asked her to go to the temple at midnight along with her husband. They both were thrilled and went to the temple right away. 

It was a long wait for the clock to strike twelve and the couple felt thirsty. So Vimalsha went to a nearby step well to fetch water. The steps inside the well led to the water level. There were beautiful carving on the inner walls and he was mesmerised by its beauty as he walked down. Suddenly, a man stopped him and demanded a toll. Vimalsha was shocked. He said, ‘Why would you demand money for water?’  (Yes those were the days …)  The man replied, ‘This well was built by my grandfather and so now it belongs to me. I don’t have any other source of income and I feel I’m entitled to charge for it’ 

This made Vimalsha very uncomfortable. He thought, ‘What would happen if one day some of my own children or their children tried to collect a toll for the temple that I’ve built?’  He shuddered at this and wondered if it was better to remain without a child. He asked his wife for her views. She was in agreement. (Yes those were the days …) So, at midnight when the Goddess asked them what they wanted, Shridevi replied, ‘We want to lead a childfree life. We don’t want any children.’ Ambika Devi was stunned! This was the first time she had received such a strange request. 

The Goddess, being a Goddess, granted them their wish to remain childfree. And, they lived happily ever after :) (Yes those were the days ...)