Born to Prabhavati Devi who was the consort of King Kumbh, Lord Mallinath was the 19th Tirthankara. She is the only female Tirthankara of the current time cycle. Despite being a female, She became a Tirthankara. This is considered as one of the 10 wonders in the spiritual world, as usually only males can become Tirthankaras according to the Jain texts. Usually, a Tirthankara is married to thousands of queens, but Mallinath Bhagwan and Naminath Bhagwan are exceptions. This is because they were unmarried Tirthankaras.
Kumbh is Her symbol. Kuber is Her Yaksh Dev and Aparijita is Her Yakshini Devi. She had thousands of followers in the form of Sadhus and Sadhvis. She has set an example for all females by proving that even a lady can go to Moksha and can get rid of all attachments (Moh).
Let’s now go through the life stories of the Lord’s past two births, prior to Her birth as Tirthankar Bhagwan Mallinath.
In Her third-last birth before being a Tirthankar, the Soul of Mallinath was a King whose name was Mahabal. True to his name, Mahabal was very strong and powerful. He had six friends. The bond of friendship between all seven of them was so strong that they had vowed to stay together in all that they did. When Mahabal became an adult, he was crowned the King. He got married and had a son.
When his son reached adulthood, Mahabal gave him the crown. Then, Mahabal, along with his six friends, started spending time in religious activities. After some time, all seven of them took ‘diksha’ (renunciation). They took an oath that whatever spiritual practices and penances they would do, they would do it all together and in the same manner. Whatever penance one of them would do, the others would also do; no one would do less or more and nor would anyone start before or after.
After some time, Mahabal, who was more intelligent than others, started cheating his friends. He did penance with his six friends. However, when the penance would end and the other six would take their meals, he would continue to do his penance by making an excuse that he was not feeling well. In this way, he began to deceive his friends and performed more penance than them.
Mahabal, thus, bound karmas to be born as a female. He lost his male gender as a result of deceiving his friends and breaking the oath. On the other hand, as he performed his penance with a pure intent, he bound karmas to become a Tirthankara.
In this manner, all seven friends continued to worship religiously. When their life ended, they were reborn as celestial beings. After completing the lifespan as a celestial being, Mahabal’s Soul was reborn as a Tirthankara Lord.
King Kumbh and Queen Prabhavati of Mithila gave birth to a girl whom they named Mallikuvri. It is unprecedented that a Tirthankar is born as a girl. Thus, everyone was surprised. On the other hand, King Mahabal’s six friends were born as Princes to the Kings of different kingdoms. All six princes were crowned as Kings when they grew up.
Mallikuvri or Mallinath was born and brought up with great love and all comforts. Her beauty was matchless and beyond description. She was so beautiful and intelligent that anyone who used to see Her immediately got lost. Her father was worried to get Her married.
On the other hand, Mahabal’s friends were ruling their kingdoms. One of those had a Queen, who one day, wished to visit a temple to worship God. The King gave her the permission and he went along with her too. When the Queen got ready, she looked so beautiful that the King asked his Mantri (minister), “Is there anyone in this world as beautiful as her?” The Mantri replied, “You are not aware, but as you have asked, I am telling this to you that Mallikuvri, the daughter of the King of Mithila Nagri, is the most beautiful. No one can be compared with Her.” The Mantri described Her beauty as he had seen Her. Upon hearing this, the King thought of marrying Her. He asked the Mantri to send a message to the King of Mithila stating that he wanted to marry his daughter.
On the other hand, the second King had a very beautiful daughter. She had a very luxurious bathroom. Once, while praising his daughter, the King asked his minister, “Is there anyone else more beautiful than her?” The minister talked about Mallikuvri’s incomparable beauty and said that Her bathroom is more luxurious than hers. Upon hearing this, the second King sent the message to the King of Mithila stating that he wanted to marry his daughter.
In the kingdom of the third King, there was one shravak on whom the celestial beings were too happy for his devotion. As a result, they gave him a pair of earrings. The shravak gave one earring to King Kumbh for Mallikuvri and another one to the daughter of this third King. The King asked the shravak about the earrings and he narrated the full story. Then, in the conversation, he described the beauty of Mallikuvri. Thus, the King wished to marry Her and sent a marriage proposal to King Kumbh.
In the fourth King’s kingdom, there was an artist. That artist had the power and skills to draw the picture of a lady as is. Once he happened to see the toe of Mallikuvri. With this image in mind, he drew Her entire picture as if the Princess is really standing in front of him. The artist placed the picture in one of the gardens. Mallikuvri’s brother, Mallikumar, saw it and thought that She is standing there in real and runs away from there. Later, he realized that it was just a picture. He scolded the artist and asked why did he make him a fool. He was so angry that he cut the hands of the artist. The artist was so disappointed that he went to another kingdom. This was the kingdom of the fourth King. The artist narrated the entire incident to the King. Upon hearing this, the King sent a marriage proposal to King Kumbh.
Now comes the story of the fifth King. There was one tapasvini who had come to the kingdom of Princess to get some donation. She was going to use that donation towards a task, which would increase attachment (Moh). Mallikuvri or Mallinath who was present there discussed about it with the tapasvini and told her that what she was going to do was not right and that she would bind bad karmas. Upon hearing this, the tapasvini got so frustrated and jealous of Mallikuvri that she decided to take revenge by getting Her married to a King who would have many Queens.
The tapasvini left the kingdom of Princess and reached the kingdom of the fifth King. That King had many beautiful and fair Queens and he praised their beauty. However, when tapasvini conveyed to the King that Mallikuvri is the most beautiful of all and no one can be compared with Her, the King sent a marriage proposal to King Kumbh.
Now comes the story of the sixth King. Once Mallikuvri broke Her earring by mistake. She then sent it to the goldsmith but it could not be repaired. In anger, King Kumbh banished him from his kingdom. The goldsmith then went to the kingdom of this sixth King and narrated this incident to him. During this conversation, the goldsmith described the beauty of Mallikuvri. Immediately, the King sent a marriage proposal to King Kumbh.
This is how the six Kings, who were six friends of Mallikuvri or Mallinath in the previous life, sent a marriage proposal for the Princess. King Kumbh was now into a dilemma about what he should do now. If he would say “No” to anyone, then that King might not like it. Further, as all were more powerful than him, rejection would prepare them for a war with his kingdom. However, the King could not say “Yes” to any of the Kings.
When King Kumbh rejected all the proposals, the six Kings attacked the city of Mithila. With the help of ‘Avadhignan’ (transcendental knowledge of material things within the limitations of physical elements of space, time and feeling), Mallikuvri recognised the six Kings as six friends of Her previous birth. Thus, She told Her father not to worry and just send a message to each of them. She would then take care of the rest of the arrangements.
Mallikuvri was very intelligent apart from being beautiful. She commanded to make a golden life statue, which should exactly reflect Her in terms of body shape and form. Then, the Princess got the top of the statue fitted with a lid and covered with a golden lotus. The artisans had prepared such a look-alike statue that onlookers would feel that it was Mallikuvri Herself standing there. The Princess threw one food morsel into the hollow statue every day before she ate.
Along with this, Mallikuvri also instructed to build a chamber with partitions. She asked to place the golden statue in the middle of this chamber. Six doors to the chamber were made such that anyone from any of these doors could see Mallikuvri’s golden statue but would be unable to see who is at the next door.
As per King Kumbh’s instructions, all six Kings secretly arrived at the partitioned chamber and arranged themselves at their allotted doors. Assuming the statue to be the real Mallikuvri, each of them gazed steadily at it and got attracted towards it. All the Kings ran towards the statue, saw each other and started fighting for Mallikuvri. Mallikuvri came from behind and pulled the lotus lid on the top of the statue with its string. As soon as the lid opened, an unbearable stench came out. Unable to bear the stench, all the six Kings threw their sword, turned their faces away and started running away from the chamber.
At that moment, Mallinath stepped forward and addressed the six Kings by saying, “Within the beauty for which you all were fighting is this stench only. A morsel of food was thrown into it daily due to which you are experiencing this unbearable stench. So, why are you attracted towards a body in which morsels of food are put daily, a body that is made of bones, flesh and blood? Why are you getting into this Moh for which you all are fighting with each other and are ready to kill each other? This will take you to hell. Intelligent people would never be attached to such a body at all. O Kings! Why have you forgotten that all six of you were my friends in the previous birth? Please recall that.”
Upon hearing these powerful words of Mallinath, all six friends got astonished. They attained Jatismaran Gnan (Knowledge with the help of which one can recall previous births). They all recollected their previous birth in which they all were friends and had decided to do penance together.
With the enlightening words of the Princess, all six Kings overcame their worldly attachments. They were grateful to Mallinath, begged for forgiveness and were ready to do whatever She would ask them to do. She asked them to return to their respective kingdoms for now and said that She will let them know what to do when the right time would come.
This Mallinath Bhagwan story is truly enlightening; it tells us that infatuation and attraction are just illusions!
She did not marry and lived a celibate life. The celestial deities requested Mallinath to help people to attain Moksha and spread the knowledge of Self-Realization. Thus, She took renunciation and on that same day, She attained “Keval Gnan” (Absolute knowledge).
When Lord Mallinath gave deshna (the divine speech of a Tirthankar) after Keval Gnan, all six Kings were present. They also took renunciation and attained Self-Realization. She had 28 disciples. She preached true religion for a long time and then went to Sammet Shikhar from where She attained Nirvana.