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Durgandha

There was a town by the name of Shripur, so beautiful that it was like an ornament for mother nature. Therein lived a Kshatriya named Pruthu. His wife was called Chandramukhi. But just as the white moon has stains, Chandramukhi unfortunately gave birth to a girl named Durgandha, whose body would naturally stink of an obnoxious odor. Pruthu was in search for a compatible match for his daughter, but all his efforts seemed to go in vain as no one could bear the smell Durgandha emitted. After persistently searching for a partner, Durgadha was married to Somdev. Somdev was also highly troubled by continuous odor emitted by Durgandha’s body and once secretly walked out on her in the middle of the night, leaving her alone. Unfortunately, Durgandha was not only ridiculed by her husband but was also rejected and condemned by her parents and relatives.

Who would show compassion to the one ridiculed by bad karma? The constant humiliation caused her intense grief. She decided to leave her house and proceed towards different holy places for pilgrimages, in order to destroy her bad karmas. She paid homage to several Hindu shrines but that did not reduce or relieve her from the result of the bad karmas that she had built. She started losing faith in God and herself and thus decided to put her life to an end by proceeding towards the sea so that she could drown herself. On her way to the sea, she saw an austere saint in a forest and bowed down to him with respect. The austere saint retracted his steps, unable to bear the odor of Durgandha’s body. Embarrassed and guilty, Durgandha asked the austere saint, “O divine soul! If a saint like you, who is free from all desires, goes away from me, then where should I go? How will I be able to get rid of all my bad karmas?” The austere saint replied, “Young lady! You may meet my spiritual mentor, Kulpati, the head of the hermitage, who is residing in this forest. Do speak to him about your problems; he will surely help you solve them.”

The words of the austere saint comforted Durgandha and she followed him to the hermitage in the forest in order to meet his spiritual mentor. Kulpati was sitting poised, deeply meditating on Lord Adinath. Durgandha came closer to respectfully bow down to Kulpati. Kulapti was a little disturbed by the foul odor of her body. He asked her, “Dear child! Why does your body smell so bad? What are you doing in this dense forest? Why have you come here?” Durgandha broke down into tears on hearing the soothing and compassionate words of Kulpati. She narrated to him her entire life’s unfortunate story, starting from her childhood days. Frustrated with her forlorn life, Durgandha requested Kulpati to give her a remedy, in order to get rid of her anguish and suffering. He replied, “Dear child! I am not an omniscient person who would be able to tell you about the bad deeds that you committed in your previous lives – as a result of which you are suffering pain in this life. I suggest you devotionally touch the holy mountain of Siddhachal as well as make a pilgrimage to the pious mountain of Girnar. Many omniscients have given great importance to the grandeur of Gajendrapad pond, which is on the pious mountain, Girnar. Your bad karmas will be destroyed upon bathing with the water of the holy Gajendrapad pond!”

Durgandha was overjoyed and was filled with deep gratitude on hearing Kulpati’s nectar like words. She bowed down to his lotus feet and travelled to the holy mountain of Siddhachal. She reached the top of the holy mountain and devotionally worshipped Lord Adinath. From there she continued her journey towards the pious mountain, Girnar. She started climbing the mountain from the northern side. She was neither allowed to bathe in the Gajendrapad pond nor was she allowed to enter the temple at the top of the pious mountain, Girnar, due to her foul body odor. But her fighting spirit did not let her give up that easily. She managed to bathe everyday with the water that was brought from the Gajendrapad pond. On the seventh day she realized that the foul odor that emitted from her body had completely vanished; in fact her body had a sweet scent emanating from it. She immediately ran to the temple and respectfully paid homage and worshipped Lord Neminath with a lot of exuberance.

Durgandha was floating in an ocean of bliss and as soon as she came out of the temple she saw an omniscient sage. Durgandha curiously asked the omniscient sage about her previous birth’s description. The omniscient sage replied, “O kind lady! You were born to a Brahmin family in your former birth. You were extremely proud about your cleanliness, which lead you mock a Jain monk for his uncleanliness. You commented on him by saying ‘Oh! oh! Look at these Jain monks who roam around the forest and become all dirty! They don’t even take a shower! This is why their bodies stink so much. Moreover, the bright white clothes that they cover themselves with, turn filthy due to the perspiration and dirt that comes out of their bodies!’ Due to the mockery and condemnation of Jain monks, you accumulated a lot of bad karma that led you to take birth in hell. Thereafter you were born as a hen, an untouchable, a pig, etc. and in this way you continued to bear the results of the bad karmas, by transmigrating to such inferior lives. On destroying these bad karmas you got this precious human birth. Due to the strength of the bad karmas earlier built by you, you had to suffer in this life too and thus you were born with body having a strong foul odor. Oh Durgandha! All your evil karmas have vanished as an effort of this powerful pilgrimage and you have attained Samayak Darshan (right belief). The Bodhi Beej (the seed for attaining right conduct, belief & knowledge) has been sowed in you. Your reverence of this great holy place will water your soul and will take you to liberation, thus putting an end to the cycle of birth and death in this world.”

Listening to the pleasant words of the omniscient sage, Durgandha was filled with gratitude overflowing from her heart and with immense joy bowed down at the omniscient sage’s feet.

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Declan Whelan
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ADW Accountants and Business Advisers
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