Story of a Bridegroom who changed his mind suddenly!


Article No. 2096

Written by London swaminathan
Date : 24 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :–  16-22

“All living beings will raise their hands in worship to him who has never taken a living being’s life and has abstained from eating meat: – Tirukkural couplet 260

Nemi was a prince of Shauripur. His father was King Samudra Viajy. Nemi was betrothed to Rajul alias Rajmati, princess of Jungarh. Her father King Ugrasena made elaborate arrangements for the marriage. Both the kingdoms were celebrating the royal marriage with all the usual  decorations and music bands.

On the day of the marriage, Nemi was taken in a big procession with music, elephants, camels and professional dancers. Nemi was travelling in a decorated chariot. Nearer to the wedding hall Nemi heard lot of cries from the animals. He was very curious to know what was happening. Immediately palace officials told him that the cries came from the animals that were bought for the wedding feast. The very thought of slaughtering those animals for a feast made a big impact on his mind. Suddenly he left the procession saying that he did not want to get married. He asked the charioteer to turn it back and drive towards Girnar Mountains which was a holy site for many people including the Jains.


There was a big commotion in the wedding hall. When his would be wife came to know the reason for the commotion, first she felt disappointed and sad. Then slowly wisdom dawned upon her mind. She thought if it could bring happiness and peace of mind to the Prince why shouldn’t I try that too. She also went to Girnar and became a Jain nun.

This Nemi was the celebrated 22nd Tirthankara of the Jain religion Neminath. He is considered to be a contemporary of Lord Krishna. There are many references to Aristanemi (Neminath) in the Vedic literature. Though the story of Nemi-Rajul wedding is not found in the Hindu literature it is found in the Jain Uttaraadhyayan Sutra. His story is illustrated with pictures.

Later Rajul- Nemi story formed the basis of love poetry as well. Later day poets used this story to describe the pains of separation between Nemi and Rajul. According to the later versions Rajul did not become a Jain nun immediately after the bridegroom joined the Digamber sect of the Jains, but waited for long. Some books described that she waited for 51 days and decided to become a Jain nun.

Stories of Rajul and earlier Upanishad stories of Gargi and  Maitreyi show that women saints or nuns were there from time immemorial. Later, other religions followed this system. Emperor Asoka’s daughter Sangamitra was accompanied by hundreds of Buddhist nuns 2300 years ago.


Nemi’s story also illustrated that vegetarianism is one of the basic principles of ascetic life. Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar in his Tirukkural says,

“How can a man be compassionate who, for the purpose of increasing his own flesh, eats the flesh of other animals” – Kural couplet 231


“Grace or sin results from non-killing or killing respectively; it is sinful, therefore, to eat what is obtained by killing” – Kural 254

But one must remember Tiruvalluvar and other saints prescribe vegetarianism only for ascetics, not for common man. Even Asoka, a Kshatria by caste, never stopped killing after embracing Buddhism. He ordered to reduce the consumption of meat according to his rock edicts.

Hindu and Jain saints were strict about vegetarian food. Hindu ascetics, before taking the saffron robes, stood in the water and took a vow not to harm any living creature by word, thought and deed.

Buddhism was not that strict and Buddha Bhikshus eat meat; according to many of them, killing is not good, but meat eating is not a sin.