Vimalasuri – Author of Jain Ramayanam
Prakrit literature पउम चरियम् (पद्मचरितम् in Sanskrit), in verse form, is the ancient most Ramayanam composed in Jain literature. Vimalasuri is the composer of this poem. He is believed to have lived ~500 yrs after महावीर Mahavir (24th Tirthankar).
Vimalasuri has chosen the word Padma पद्म and not Ram राम in title of this poem. This might be done to keep this poem away from traditional Hindu focus. This is also done to achieve distinction from the popular Valmiki Ramayanam वाल्मीकि रामायणम्. Word Ram still occurs in this poem on specific occasions.
Why Jain Ramayanam ?
Vimalasuri says since Valmiki Ramayanam is full of lies/absurd narratives and contradictions, he is presenting refined Ramayanam. He declares Mahavir (Jain Tirthankar) as the original narrator of this refined Ramayanam.
Thus, he is declaring the last Tirthankar of Jainism responsible for delivering this Jain version.
Setting The Agenda
To set the narrative, Vimalasuri creates an imaginary story that once king Shrenik श्रेणिक of Magadha मगध experiences a dream of Mahavir. Next morning, he meets Gautam गौतम, a student of Mahavira, that Valmiki Ramayanam must be a lie so he should be enlightened about विशुद्ध रामायणम् (Refined Ramayanam).
Vimalasuri, through the medium of king Shrenik, puts up few queries (Verses 3.14-17) to question the authenticity of Valmiki’s Ramayanam –
• It is impossible for the army of monkeys to defeat the mighty king Ravan रावण.
• How Ravan रावण, being a Jain, can eat meat ?
• How a person (Kumbhakarna कुम्भकर्ण) can sleep for half a year ? It is next to impossible.
• How can Indra be defeated by anybody ?
Gautam agrees and narrates refind Ramayanam to king Shrenik. He says he has received this version from lord Mahavir himself.
Valmiki Is A Liar
Verse 3.15 of पउम चरियम् –
न य रक्खसोत्ति भण्णइ दसासाणो णेय आमिसाहारो ।
अलियंति सब्बमेयं भणन्ति जं कुकइणो मईमूढा ।।
Translation – Ravan was neither a monster nor a flesh eater. All that those bad poets have described is a lie.
Meaning – Valmiki & other traditional poets who praised/believed Valmiki Ramayanam (Hindu Itihasa) are all liars.
With Valmiki being a liar, Jain Ramayanam starts.
- पउम चरियम् of Vimalasuri
- Image – Internet