Beautiful Vasumati was daughter of king Dadhivahan and queen Dharini of Champapuri. One day a war broke with the king of nearby Kaushambi. Vasumati's father could not win the war, so he had to run away in despair.
When Vasumati and her mother learned that they had lost the war, they also decided to escape. While they were running away in the woods, a soldier from the enemy's army spotted them and captured both of them.
The soldier told the older lady (mother) that he would marry her, and that he would sell Vasumati. Upon hearing this, the queen went into shock and died. The soldier took Vasumati to Kaushambi to sell her.
When Vasumati's turn came to be sold as a slave, a merchant named Dhanavah saw Vasumati being sold and felt that she wasn't an ordinary girl. So out of compassion for her, Dhanavah bought Vasumati, and took her home.
When they got home, the merchant told his wife, Moola, about Vasumati. "My dear," he said,
"Please, treat her like our daughter." They named her Chandanbala.
While staying at the merchant's house, Chandanbala's attitude was like that of a daughter. This made the merchant very happy. Moola, on the other hand thought that he would marry her because of her beauty. Therefore, Moola was never comfortable with Chandanbala around.
One day, when the merchant came home, the servant who washed his feet was not there. Chandanbala noticed this, and felt delighted to get a chance to wash his feet. While she was busy washing the merchant's feet, her hair slipped out of the hair pin.
The merchant saw this and lifted her hair and clipped it on the back of her head. Moola saw all this and was outraged. She felt that her doubts about Chandanbala were true. Moola decided to get rid of Chandanbala.
When Dhanavah went on a three day business trip, his wife called a barber to cut off all of Chandanbala's beautiful hair. Then she tied Chandanbala's legs with heavy chains and locked her into a room. Then Moola left to go to her parent's house.
When Danavah returned back from his trip, he didn't see either Moola or Chandanbala. He asked the servants about them. The servants told him that Moola was at her parent's house, but they didn't tell him where Chandanbala was because of their fear of Moola.
An older servant thought, "I am an old woman and will soon die anyway because of age. What is the worse Moola can do anyway." So out of compassion for Chandanbala and sympathy for the merchant she told him all about what Moola did to Chandanbala.
She took the merchant to the room where Chandanbala was locked up. Dhanavah unlocked the door and saw Chandanbala. He was shocked when he saw her. He told Chandanbala, "My dear daughter, you must be hungry, let me find some food for you." He went to the kitchen to find food for her. He found that there was no food left, but only some dry lentils in a pan. The merchant decided to feed her that for the time being. So he took them to Chandanbala. He told her that he was going to get a blacksmith to cut off the heavy chains and so he left.
Chandanbala was amazed at how things were going. She started wondering how fate can change the life from rich to almost helpless.
Chandanbala saw a monk (Lord Mahavir) passing along the road. She said, "Oh respected monk, please accept this food which is suitable for you."
But Lord Mahavir had taken vow to fast until a person who met certain conditions and offered him food. His conditions were,
1) the person who would be offering should be a princess,
2) she should be bald headed,
3) she should be in chains,
4) she should offer uncooked lentils, with one foot inside the house and other outside,
5) and she should be in tears.
Therefore, Lord Mahavir looked at her and noticed that one of his pre-decided conditions was still missing. She met all conditions except the tears in her eyes, and therefore Lord Mahavir went on.
Chandanbala felt very sad and tears started running down her face. In her crying voice, she once again requested the monk to accept the food. Lord Mahavir saw the tears in her eyes, and came back to accept the food knowing that all his conditions were met. Chandanbälä offered the lentils to Lord Mahävir and was very happy.
As Lord Mahävir had fasted for five months and twenty-five days, heavenly beings celebrated the end of Lord Mahävir’s fast. By magical power, Chandanbälä’s shackles broke, her hair grew back, and she was again dressed as a princess.
There was music and celebration that drew the attention of King Shatänik. He came to see Chandanbälä with his family, ministers, and many other people. Sampul, a servant from her father’s kingdom, recognized Chandanbälä. He walked towards her, bowed and broke out in tears.
King Shatänik asked, “Why are you crying?” Sampul replied, “My Lord, this is Vasumati, the princess of Champäpuri, daughter of King Dadhivähan and Queen Dhärini.” The king and queen now recognized her and invited her to live with them.
Later, when Lord Mahävir attained Keval-jnän (perfect knowledge) he reestablished the fourfold order of the Jain Sangha. At that time, Chandanbälä took Dikshä and became the first nun (Sädhvi). She became the head nun of the Jain order. Later on, she attained Keval-jnän and liberation from the cycle of life and death.