Pratishthanpur was a city on the coast. There lived a trader named Dhanasar. By his wife Shilavati he had four sons named Dhandatt, Dhandev, Dhanchand and Dhanyakumar. The first three were selfish and unintelligent, while Dhanyakumar who was fondly called Dhanna was smart, bright, intelligent and attractive. Dhanasar loved him very much. The other three were therefore feeling jealous of the younger brother. Dhanna was lucky too; whatever venture he undertook, turned out to be successful.
Once a ship came to Pratishthanpur with lot of merchandise. The owner was in urgent need of selling the merchandise. He therefore sent a message to his regular customer. As it was however the time of that customer’s lunch and afternoon nap, he deferred it for the next day to go to the port.
Dhanna happened to go to the port and saw that the merchandise was available at low price. He therefore instantly contracted to buy it. When the regular trader went to the ship the next day, he was disappointed to learn that the merchandise was already sold. He needed it any way. He had therefore to buy the same from Dhanna who could make fancy profit from the transaction. Dhanna bought valuable jewelry from that profit and presented to his sisters-in-law, who were very pleased with the young brother-in-law.
On another occasion, he saw shining sand outside some premises. He could make out that it was Tejanturi and was very valuable for certain purposes. The original trader who had bought it, had died and his sons were not aware of the use of sand. They had therefore dumped it outside. Dhanna asked them whether they would like to sell it. They replied that it was of no use to them and he was at liberty to pick it up. Dhanna did accordingly and stored it in the warehouse. His brothers considered this act of Dhanna as foolish and were repeatedly telling Dhanasar to throw it away.
Once however a trader came to Pratishthanpur in search of Tejanturi. As he could not find it anywhere, he requested the king to help him in getting it. Dhanna was a friend of the prince. When Dhanna heard from him that some trader was looking for Tejanturi, he offered to supply it. The trader willingly paid fancy price for the sand and Dhanna became a wealthy man. He again bought fancy gifts for every one in the family. His father was pleased and very much appreciated the insight of Dhanna. But that made his brothers all the more jealous.
Getting sick of his brothers jealousy, Dhanna once decided to migrate to some other place to try his luck. He therefore left the place leaving everything for his brothers. He traveled far and reached Ujjayini which was being ruled by Chandpradyot. By his intelligence and good luck he acquired lot of money and soon became the right hand man of the king.
Meanwhile his brothers had lost everything that he had left. His parents therefore came to Ujjayini in search of work along with the three sons and their wives. Dhanna invited all of them to stay with him. His brothers however could not appreciate his magnanimity and again started envying him. In disgust, Dhanna once again left everything to them and proceeded towards Rajgruhi.
On the way while he was meditating on the bank of river Ganga, he gained Chintamani Ratna, which is a jewel that fulfills all desires. Equipped with that he came to Rajgruhi.
When Dhanna reached Rajgruhi, he was very tired. He decided to rest on the outskirts of the city in a park. It was owned by Kusumpal but was deserted, because all its trees and plants had gone dry. How nice this park would have been, if it was green ? Dhanna thought and by virtue of his Chintamani jewel the entire plant life was revived. People passing by were surprised to see the park green. Kusumpal also came there and noticed that the miracle had happened on account of Dhanna’s presence. He was pleased with that lucky young man. He had only one daughter named Kusum. He thought that Dhanna would be an appropriate match for her. He therefore took Dhanna to his place and got him married to his daughter.
Shrenik, the king of Rajgruhi, had an elephant named Sechanak. It was known all over the country for its boldness and extraordinary performance. Shrenik was very fond of it. Once that elephant went mad. His keepers were unable to bring it back to control. Abhayakumar was in captivity of Chandpradyot at that time. The King therefore felt very much helpless.
As Dhanna learnt about the problem, he volunteered and brought the elephant in control with the help of his Chintamani jewel. The king was very pleased with him. He was in need of a capable advisor in absence of Abhayakumar. He saw Dhanna as the right man for the purpose. He therefore appointed Dhanna as his advisor. He also gave him his daughter Shobha in marriage. In those times, polygamy was an accepted way of life.
In Rajgruhi there was a wealthy man named Gobhadra. By his wife Bhadra he had a son named Shalibhadra and a daughter named Subhadra. Attracted by his status and wealth, 32 people had given their daughters in marriage to Shalibhadra who was leading the most luxurious life. Meanwhile, Gobhadra was conducting his lucrative money lending business and Bhadra was efficiently managing the family affairs.
Once a rogue planned to gain money by playing a trick. He had only one eye. He complained that he had mortgaged the other eye to Gobhadra and now wanted it back. The king was exasperated to hear such bogus claim but the rogue produced his accomplices as witnesses to the mortgage. The king therefore entrusted that knotty problem to his new advisor.
Dhanna called that rogue and said that Gobhadra had many eyes mortgaged to him. It was therefore hard to identify the complainant’s eye. Dhanna therefore asked him to give his other eye so as to properly identify his mortgaged eye. The rogue had to withdraw his complaint and was appropriately sentenced for the attempted fraud.
Gobhadra got sick of the worldly life by this incident. He however wanted to get his daughter married before leaving the worldly life. He was very pleased with Dhanna for the way he had solved the problem. Gobhadra therefore gave Subhadra in marriage to Dhanna and became a Muni leaving a vast fortune for his son Shalibhadra.
Dhanna’s brothers again lost everything that Dhanna had left in Ujjayini. His parents therefore came to Rajgruhi along with the sons and their wives. Dhanna once again welcomed them to stay with him. The brothers however could not bear the high status and prosperity of Dhanna and started creating problems. Their wives advised them to live happily and peacefully with Dhanna, but they were picking up quarrels every now and then.
In disgust, Dhanna left Rajgruhi with the permission of the king and went to Kaushambi. There too, Dhanna could soon please the king and became his favorite. During that trip he happened to marry three more girls and then came back to Rajgruhi.
Meanwhile Gobhadra had died and was reborn in heaven. On account of his attachment for Shalibhadra, he used to supply all his needs, heavenly jewelry, divine apparel etc. Bhadra was taking every care to see that the luxuriously happy life of Shalibhadra does not get any way affected. Most of the time Shalibhadra used to stay along with his wives in palatial building where all his needs were taken care of by his mother.
Once some traders from Nepal came to Rajgruhi to sell diamond studded blankets. They went to the king’s palace, but Shrenik declined to buy any because they were too costly. They couldn’t t get any other buyer as well.
In despair, they happened to pass by Shalibhadra’s place talking about their failure in selling the blankets. Bhadra heard it and called them inside. She offered to buy 32 blankets for her daughters in law. They however had only 16 blankets. Bhadra bought all of them at the demanded price. She cut them into halves and gave one piece to each of her daughters-in-law. It was the custom in their household that they would use anything for only one day and the next day even the most costly materials were to be discarded.
When queen Chellana heard about the Nepali blankets, she asked king Shrenik to buy at least one for her. Shrenik accordingly called back those traders who told him that all their blankets were sold to Bhadra. Shrenik therefore sent a messenger to Bhadra with a request to spare one blanket for his queen.
The messenger came back with the reply that they were halved and every half of the blankets was in use by her daughters-in-law. The next day all the pieces of blankets were discarded and picked up by the servants. One of them used to work for Chellana too.
She went to the palace for work with a stitched blanket on her shoulder. Chellana could not believe her eyes when she saw that the blanket which the king couldn’t buy, was adoring the maid. When she inquired, she came to know of all the details of Bhadra’s household.
She told it to the king who was surprised by the affluence of Shalibhadra. He was inquisitive to see him and invited him to the court. Bhadra however sent the reply that her son never got down from the upper floor of her palace and in turn invited the king to her place.
Shrenik accepted her invitation. As he came, she took him to the fifth floor, from where she called Shalibhadra to come down from the seventh floor to see the king. Shalibhadra had never heard anything about king. He thought that king was some thing that his mother wanted to buy. He therefore replied that she could decide about the king herself.
Then Bhadra went up and explained that king was the lord of the Magadha and was accordingly his lord too. Shalibhadra therefore came down to pay his respect to the king as advised by his mother. He had always thought that he was the lord of everything that concerned him. The idea of having a lord over him therefore hurt him.
Once along with a friend, he happened to go to Acharya Dharmaghosh. After listening his sermon, Shalibhadra asked the Acharya how he could gain a status where he would not have any overlord. Acharya replied that as long as he desired something, he had to depend upon others and dependency creates an overlord. The only way to become really independent was to give up everything and to lead renounced life like his father.
Shalibhadra therefore was inclined to renounce immediately but his mother told him that renunciation meant leading a very tough life. As he was brought up in heavenly luxury, it would be very hard for him to give up everything all of a sudden. It would be better for him to give up his attachment for everything gradually. Shalibhadra had maximum attachment for his wives. He therefore decided to leave them one after another and planned to renounce on the 33rd day.
The news of his intention soon reached his sister Subhadra. After that her husband Dhanna once saw tears in her eyes. When asked about the cause of her grief, she told him about the intention of Shalibhadra to renounce. Dhanna told her that if her brother was really serious about renouncing, he should better leave all of them immediately. Subhadra was unable to say anything, but another wife replied that it was easy to say so and asked whether he could leave even one of his six wives.
Dhanna had already developed a high sense of detachment and was really thinking to renounce. He saw this opportunity. He instantly decided to leave all of them. Then approaching Shalibhadra he asked him to join him in renouncement.
Shalibhadra was very much encouraged by what Dhanna had done. He also left everything at once and went to Lord Mahavir along with Dhanna. They adopted monkshood. Both of them very soon got well versed in all the Agams (Scriptures). They were keen to follow the path of salvation and were observing severe austerities.
Once they came back to Rajgruhi along with the Lord. They were due for the termination of one month’s fast. They therefore went to Bhadra’s place for alms. When the Munis came to her house, Bhadra was getting ready to go to the camp in order to see them. As the Munis had become very slim on account of severe austerities, none of her servants could recognize them. Thus they did not get any alms. On their way back, they however got yogurt from a milkmaid who happened to be Shalibhadra’s mother in the previous life; and thus they terminated their fast.
After that with the permission of the Lord, they went up the nearby Vaibhargiri hill and resorted to Anashan (fast unto death). At the end of Anashan, they attained Sarwartha Siddhi heaven.