There, once lived a king named Jitshatru in the town of Vanijya. There also lived a rich householder named Anand in the same town. He was a millionaire. He was so rich that he had four millions of gold coins, an equal amount in cash, had invested an equal amount in trade, in ornaments, and other assets. He also owned 40,000 cows. He was highly respected by the king as well as the people of the town.
One day, Lord Mahavir visited this town and gave a sermon. Upon hearing the sermon of the Lord, Anand, at the age of 50 years, undertook to observe the twelve vows.
He observed them for fourteen years, and then, upon holding a dinner for family relations, invited his family to his room. He entrusted his property to his sons and expressed a desire to spend the rest of his life in penance. He also told them that no one should seek his advice in worldly affairs anymore. He thus stopped worldly activities for rest of his life.
One day, when Anand Shravak was meditating in Kayotsarga (meditation), a Dev from heaven, out of curiosity, decided to test Anand Shravak’s concentration. The Dev found Anand Shravak undaunted and was unable to shake his concentration. Because of his pure mental spiritual condition at that time, Anand Shravak attained Avadhignan (limited special knowledge).
Once, while collecting Gochari (food) Gandhar Gautamswami overheard people talking about Anand Shravak’s poor health and he had attained the Avadhignan, so Gautamswami decided to visit Anand Shravak. When Gautamswami arrived at Anand Shravak’s house, Anand Shravak offered his salutation laying in bed and told Gautamswami that he had attained Avadhignan extending up to the twelfth heaven. Gautamswami told Anand Shravak that such knowledge was not possible for any Shravak. Thus, he told Anand Shravak to ask for forgiveness for telling a lie. Anand Shravak asked Gautamswami, “Is it necessary to ask for forgiveness for telling the truth ?” Gautamswami said, “No.” Then Anand Shravak said that he believed that he is not required to ask for forgiveness.
Although Gautamswami could have found out the truth of the matter by applying his own special knowledge, since his Guru Lord Mahavir was there, he went to Lord Mahavir.
When Gautamswami told Lord Mahavir about the incident with Anand Shravak, Lord Mahavir advised Gautamswami that Anand Shravak was telling the truth and it should be Gautamswami who should be asking for forgiveness. Gautamswami realized his mistake and without any hesitation, he immediately went back to Anand Shravak and apologized for his mistake and requested for his forgiveness.
As Anand Shravak approached death, he fasted for a month until death and was born as a Dev in the Saudharma heaven. After the completion of that life, he will be reborn in Mahavideh (another planet) and get liberation.
The essence of human life is to practice at least one or all twelve vows in daily life and thus make our life sublime. This story also tells us how humble Shravak should be in correcting the mistakes of their teachers. It also shows how simple, humble and a true follower of Lord Mahavir, Gautamswami was that once Lord Mahavir pointed out his mistake, he went to Anand Shravak without any arguments or thinking that he being the first deciple (Gandhar) of Lord Mahavir why should he ask for forgiveness. It also shows that how great was the teacher, Lord Mahavir that even though it was the mistake of his first deciple, he did not cover it up but on the contrary he took the side of truth and explained Gautamswami his mistake.
Once king Shrenik went on a horse ride away from his capital. He came to a park known as Mandikux. It was the best part of the spring season. All the trees and entire plant life was lovely green; there were fully blossomed flowers of different colors; birds of multicolor hues were flying here and there and sweet music was emanating from the streams flowing with crystal clear water. Shrenik was fascinated and felt very happy to see the lavish splendor of nature. He enjoyed his ride in various parts of the park.
Then, he happened to see a Muni meditating under a tree. He went closer and noticed that the Muni was very youthful, handsome and attractive. Shrenik could not imagine a reason as to why a person like him would have renounced the world. Bowing to him the king sat in front of him. When the Muni looked at him, the king asked the reason for renouncement in the prime of youth.
The Muni briefly replied that it was because of his helplessness. Shrenik could not believe that a handsome and attractive youth like the Muni could be really helpless. He however offered to extend all kinds of help and shelter, if the Muni intended to go back to the worldly life once again.
The Muni smiled and said that Shrenik himself was shelterless; how could he then provide shelter to others ? Shrenik could not believe his ears when he heard this. He thought that the Muni had not recognized him. He therefore told him that he was the king of Magadha; he had a large army; he commanded respect from all the people; he had beautiful wives and well behaved sons; he had obedient servants; he had enough wealth and other possessions inclusive of many elephants, horses etc. How could he be called helpless or shelterless ?
The Muni again smiled and said that Shrenik had not understood what the Muni meant by calling him helpless. He therefore asked the king to patiently hear why he had become a Muni.
The Muni said that he was the resident of Kaushambi. His father, Dhansanchay, was a wealthy man. He had affectionate brothers and sisters. He had a beautiful, lovely, good natured wife who loved him with all her heart. He had thus all the happiness and material comforts that the worldly life could provide. And he actually enjoyed the life in every respect.
Once however, he got an eye disease. It soon got very acute and unbearable. His whole body was severely afflicted by burning sensation. All his relatives and friends got together. They were very much agitated to witness the pain that he was undergoing. His father immediately called for the expert physicians. They tried hard to stop the pain by administering different medications, but failed to provide any relief. Muni felt very miserable when their expertise could not help even in reducing the pain.
His father was willing to spend any amount for relieving him of the pain. Nothing however helped. His parents tried to console him with affectionate soothing words, but that did not any way help in reducing the pain. His brothers and sisters also could not do anything in the matter. His lovely wife was all the time sitting by his side and was delicately caressing his body. At the same time, she was sobbing and cursing herself that her efforts did not prove to be of any help to her husband. She and others applied sandalwood and other different types of perfumed soothing pastes; but none of them proved to be of any help.
So, he realized that no type of expertise and no amount of love of his beloved or the affection of his close relatives were of any avail to him. When all their efforts and all the wealth of his father failed to produce any relief, he felt the most miserable. A sense of total helplessness overtook him. He could see that such types of afflictions that arise in life, are mostly beyond anybody’s control. Only the afflicted person had to bear the pain.
He could thus realize from his own experience that worldly happiness is short-lived and unreliable. It is fraught with many dangers. He could also conjecture that many types of afflictions, he must have faced on different occasions in the earlier lives. He could not however visualize ultimate end of such afflictions. He therefore decided that if he got cured of the pain, he would renounce the worldly life and seek ever lasting happiness. This decision gave him badly needed internal strength. He could close his eyes and fell asleep.
When he woke up, his pain had almost gone. All his relatives felt much relieved to notice that he was no longer experiencing the pain. After a while, he explained to them what he had decided while undergoing the pain. Eventually, he secured permission from all of them to renounce the worldly life and to become a Muni. Since he had undergone the real helplessness while bearing the pain, he had decided to call himself ‘Anathi’ which means one who is helpless. His sole endeavor was now to seek lasting happiness.
He then asked the king whether he could protect himself or anyone from the physical afflictions and other miseries that come from time to time. The king had to admit that he was helpless in the matter. Muni then pointed out that on that very account he had addressed the king as helpless.
The Muni then explained that people in general try to gain material comforts and other worldly happiness that always will be short lived. They therefore feel miserable when that so called happiness comes to an end. It should always be kept in mind that seeking material comforts cannot be our ultimate objective. We should look beyond the horizon and try to gain spiritual well being that lasts and stays beyond this life.
Seeking worldly happiness, in a way, amounts to pursuing the mirage. People, however, willingly undergo all types of hardships for gaining the ephemeral happiness; while they blissfully stay forgetful of the soul that lasts forever and is the source of enduring happiness.
The king could see the truth of what Muni said. He felt ashamed that he had invited the Muni to enjoy worldly happiness. He therefore begged pardon for his foolish gesture. Then bowing the Muni with all humbleness, Shrenik went back to Rajgruhi.
In the city of Avanti, there lived a merchant named Dhana, whose wife’s name was Kamalashri. He had a daughter born to him after eight sons. She was named Bhatta. She was loved by everybody in the household, and no one ever addressed her by the belittling ‘Tu’ (you). Because of this, she took the prefix an-tu-kari (one not addressed as ‘Tu’) before her name. Her education started at the age of eight, under many teachers, some experts in arts, and others in spiritual matters.
When she stepped into her youth, the merchant started to look for a suitable groom for her. When Bhatta came to know of this, she announced that she would marry only one who would never disobey her. Otherwise, she preferred to remain a spinster. Now, this was a difficult condition, and it was by no means easy to find a man who would be so very submissive to his wife.
Bhatta was a real beauty, and reports about her spread far and wide. Many young men wanted to marry her but were discouraged by her overbearing condition. Years passed, and Bhatta’s youth was now fading out.
One day, minister Subuddhi’s eyes fell on her, and he decided to accept her hand, despite the condition; and made the proposal to her father. The merchant was happy, and Bhatta was at last settled in domestic life.
At her new home, Bhatta started as a severe task-mistress. No one dared to disobey her, not even the minister. Bhatta ordered her husband to return from his office before sundown without fail, and the minister agreed.
The king noticed this change in the minister’s routine and asked him one day about it. The minister was hesitant to come out with the truth and also didn’t want to make a false statement before the king. The other courtiers said in joke, “Sire ! It’s the order of his newly acquired wife which the minister fulfills. He dares not to disobey.” At this, the king turned to the minister and said, “Is that right ?”
The minister did not hide anything. As the minister stood up to go before it was evening, the king detained him. The minister was restless and trembling, but he could say nothing. The king let him to go only at late hours of the night.
Anger blinds and deprives one of all senses. Bhatta was all fire and locked the entrance. The minister knocked and knocked, but there was no response for a long time. Then suddenly the door opened, and Bhatta walked away at a hurried pace without speaking a single word.
This was sheer foolishness. To move alone at midnight could not be a venture free from danger, particularly for a young lady. She fell in the hands of thieves, who were happy to get a nymph-like woman in costly clothes and ornaments. They took her to their den and stripped her of all her valuables. Then, clad in ordinary dress, she was passed on as a gift for the chief’s use.
As the chief approached her, Bhatta thundered, and the chief had no more courage to touch her. But she was not allowed to leave the den either; and she was severely tormented every day. What an irony of fate for a woman who had spent her life in great care and comfort ! Bhatta silently bore physical suffering, but did not deviate from the path of purity. It virtually turned out to be a trial of strength between purity and villainy.
The chief’s mother saw the ordeal of the captive woman day after day. At last, she said to her son, “My son ! This does not seem to be an ordinary woman. In agonizing her, you are committing great sins. If she curses you, I am sure you will be nowhere. So I suggest that in your own interest, you should desist from tormenting her and should not invite unnecessary danger.”
From that day, the chief stopped his tortures, and after some time, he sold her out to a trader in exchange for a handsome amount. Now, it was the trader’s turn to feel attracted toward her, and he started seeking her company. But Bhatta was firm as a rock. The trader then started agonizing her. Every day, he contrived to take blood from her body so that the woman soon became pale and weak. Bhatta had the most miserable time.
One day, Bhatta’s brother came to the same city. He saw her from a distance and recognized her. He came to the trader to make inquiries about how he came to have her in his house, but the trader could not give him true facts. But the little that he came to know about her from the man was enough for him to understand his sister’s misery. He at once paid the price to the trader and recovered his sister. He bought proper clothes and ornaments for her and took her to his home. When the minister came to know of this, he took the lady back with all honor and dignity due to her.
This brought a major change in Bhatta’s life. She was no longer dominant, but became the very embodiment of humility and docility. This earned her great esteem at home and even outside.
Once there was a discussion on this point in heaven, and the king of the Devs spoke in very eloquent terms of Bhatta’s patience and forgiveness. “No one can knock her out from these virtues,” he said. One Dev decided to give a test and came down to the earth and hid in a corner of Bhatta’s house, wholly invisible.
It was at this time that two Munis came to beg oil for Muni Munipati who had been severely burnt. Bhatta asked her maid to bring the container, but the invisible Dev pushed it down from her hand. Bhatta remained calm and asked the maid to bring the second container, which was also pushed down in the same manner; and this happened for the third time also.
Now, the Munis were about to leave, telling the lady not to disturb her mind because of the loss, nor to be angry with the maid after they were gone. Bhatta said, “Oh Munis ! I bear anger toward no one. I have myself drunk the bitterest cup of life on account of this passion (anger), and I know perhaps more than anyone where it leads to and how much it costs. But I am sorry I could not give the oil. If you kindly give me a chance, I shall go myself and bring it for you. “
The Munis waited as Bhatta went in. The Dev tried his prank with her too, but he was no match to her purity and couldn’t bother her. After the Munis left, the Dev made his appearance and begged to be forgiven. He restored the oil in all the three containers, so that nothing was really wasted. While departing, he said, “Great lady ! I am overwhelmed at your purity and equanimity. Ask for a boon.”
To this Bhatta said, “Oh Dev ! Thank you so much for your appreciation and kind words. But I don’t desire anything, and I am content with all that I have. I need no more.” The Dev once again expressed his admiration for her and departed for heaven.
There lived at Palasgram a Brahmin named Agnisharma. He was an expert in sacrificial rites and was thoroughly versed in the four Vedas. His wife’s name was Jvalanashikha. He had a daughter named Vidyutprabha who was extremely graceful.
When Vidyutprabha was eight years old, her mother passed away. This was a great shock to her. Besides, the responsibility of managing the household was now on her young and immature shoulders. She would get up before sunrise, clean the house and the kitchen; then she would follow the cattle to the jungle for their grazing. At midday she would be back home, milk the cows, serve food to her father and take food herself, and follow the cattle to the jungle again. She came back after sunset. After she had finished her daily duties, she would be wholly exhausted. But she would not go to bed before her father, and she would get up before him. Such was her daily routine.
One day Vidyutprabha came to her father and said: “Father, I am somewhat incapable of running the household alone. Even the bulls will break down under pressure of so much work. So my request is that you marry some respectable lady so that she can share my burden and the household will run well.”
This was a good proposal and Agnisharma agreed. He soon married and brought a new wife. Even Vidyutprabha was happy to receive a new mother. But the happiness was not to last for long.
The new mother had no training in household work; besides, she was too lazy and easy-going. So all her expectations were washed away, and Vidyutprabha had only remorse in store for her; but she would blame no one but her own luck. With a deep sigh, she would say: “So long I worked for my father, but now I have the added burden of a mother. I sought happiness but I have lost even what little I had.”
In this manner, four years rolled by, and those were long and unhappy years for the young girl. She was now a lass of twelve. One day while looking after the cattle in the jungle, she lay under a tree and fell fast asleep.
At that time, a big and dark snake with bloodshot eyes slowly approached and addressed her in a human voice: “Charming maid ! Fear me not. Do as I suggest. I have been living in this forest for a long time, and good luck prevailing, I was happy here. But today my ill-luck has come up, and there are some charmers in this forest who are in search of me. If they capture me, they will place me in a basket and make my life miserable. So I seek shelter with you. Place me on your lap and cover me with your cloth. To shelter one in distress is an act of righteousness.”
Vidyutprabha woke up at the approach of the snake. She distinctly heard all this and hurriedly thought that I did not do good Karmas in my previous life, and hence my present misery. If now I don’t help this snake in distress, then the door to happiness will never open for me.
Thinking in this manner, she extended her hand to pick up the snake, placed it on her lap, and covered it with her cloth. No sooner had she finished, the charmers arrived on the scene and made inquiries about the snake. Vidyutprabha told them that she was sleeping and so she had no knowledge of it.
The charmers were convinced. After all, this is a young girl, they thought among themselves. She would have been frightened to see the terrible snake. So it can’t be here.
When they were gone beyond sight, Vidyutprabha told the snake to come out and go its own way. But as she removed her cloth, there was no snake to be seen. She didn’t know what happened but before she could think further, she heard a voice saying: “I am overwhelmed by your courage, Oh charming maid ! Seek a boon.”
Vidyutprabha turned around and saw a Dev who was repeating the aforesaid words. She said: “Oh the best among the Devs ! If you are pleased with me, then be good enough to do something to help my cattle. Please give a forest cover to them. They are much oppressed by the rays of the sun.”
The Dev cast a deep sigh and thought, “What a request ! She could have gotten rid of her poverty. She appears to be ignorant. Whatever that may be, her wishes must be duly honored.” So, he created a forest above her, as charming as the Nandanvan, the celebrated heavenly forest. Then he said to her: “Here is your forest, in it you will get trees yielding all sorts of fruits and flowers. Wherever you go, this will follow you like an umbrella. Like a divine damsel you will freely play in it, and your cattle will suffer no more. If at any time in the future you are in difficulty, think of me and I shall come to your service.”
The Dev disappeared. Vidyutprabha ate sweet fruits from that forest and returned home in the evening. The mother asked her to take food, but she had no appetite. From then on, she would go to the forest early in the morning and return home in the evening. There she would be playing throughout the day while her cattle would be grazing.
One day as she was lying under a thick tree, king Jitshatru of Patliputra with his retinue was passing by that way. He was delighted to see the divine forest and decided to rest there for some time. The king’s throne was placed under a tree; the pack animals were let loose to eat grass; the chariots were parked in a shady spot; and the men were at ease, gossiping and relaxing. This disturbed the peace of the forest and Vidyutprabha’s cattle fled away.
When Vidyutprabha woke up, she found that the cattle had disappeared. So, she rushed forth to find them. Now, as she moved, the forest-umbrella over her head moved too, and the king and his retinue were also moving, all topsy-turvy.
This was a great surprise for the king. He was anxious to discover its secret and came to know that the forest was moving with the girl. So he asked his minister to approach the girl and request her to go back to her original position, assuring her that his men would find her cows. The minister did as per the king’s command. As soon as the girl returned, the forest stopped still. The king’s men and animals were restored to order, and the king was happy.
Then the minister said: “Your Majesty ! The surprise we experienced seems to be all due to this girl.” The king replied: “Truly so. Is she a nature goddess, or a girl from the another world, or even a damsel from heaven ? She would be a precious acquisition for the palace of any king.”
The minister agreed. At the king’s wishes, he went to the girl, told her all about the king, and finding her favorably disposed, at the right moment, he proposed for her hand for his master.
Vidyutprabha was abashed and said: “High-born damsels don’t select their husband. He is selected for her by the parents. You may like to converse with my father. His name is Agnisharma, and he lives in the village nearby.” The minister went to her father and narrated the whole thing. This became a moment of great joy for Agnisharma, too. He was brought to the presence of the king in the forest.
Now, the king didn’t want any delay and so the marriage was celebrated then and there as per Gandharva rites. The king wanted to change the name of his new consort, and as she had a forest umbrella-cover on her head, she was henceforth to be called Aram Shobha (meaning comfort and grace). To put the Brahmin in affluence, the king bestowed on him revenue from twelve villages.
Then the king mounted on the elephant in the company of his wife ready to depart. The forest was still on her head. The minister went ahead of the party to organize the reception of the royal couple at the capital. It was a great occasion. People everywhere, singly or in groups, were talking of the good luck of the monarch. These words, as they reached the king’s ears, made him happy, too. The royal couple were now at the palace, where all comforts were provided for the new queen. The king and the queen lived henceforth a good life.
Now, Brahmin Agnisharma had a daughter from his newly married wife. When she came of age, her mother thought that if somehow Aram Shobha dies, then the king might be pleased to consider her own daughter to be worthy of him; and to kill the daughter of a co-wife is no sin, she said to herself.
So she hatched a plot and one day said to her husband: “Aram Shobha has been at her husband’s home for many years now, but we have never sent her anything. For girls, things from there parental homes are particularly dear.”
The Brahmin smiled and said, “Aram Shobha is no longer poor. She is now a queen and hardly needs anything from us.”
Agnishikha (Brahmin’s second wife) protested: “Even though the father-in-law’s home has affluence all around, anything sent by parents is dear to a girl. Though rich, daughters expect occasional gifts from their former home.” The Brahmin could not argue with that.
The lady prepared Kesariya Modaka (a delicious sweetmeat), poisoned it, placed it inside a pot and sealed it. Then she entrusted it to her husband, saying: “You give it to Aram Shobha and no one else. Even Aram Shobha is not to share the sweets with anyone. If she shares it with others, we shall be put to ridicule, poor as the stuff is, and poor as we are.”
Agnisharma could not read into the evil design of his wife. He picked up the pot and turned his steps toward Patliputra. When he approached the capital city, he decided to rest for a while. He placed the pot beneath a Banyan tree on the wayside and lay down to rest and was soon fast asleep.
A Yaksha used to live on that tree. By dint of his great insight, he came to know of the evil design of the Brahmin woman. He thought that when there is such an able one like me here, can anybody put Aram Shobha to the torture of death ? Has she not accumulated much righteousness in her previous birth ? Thinking so, he replaced the poisoned Modaka with a good one, delicious like nectar.
After some time, the Brahmin got up, picked up the pot, and resumed his journey. At last, he was at the palace gate. His arrival was duly announced, and with the royal sanction, the Brahmin was conducted inside the court. The Brahmin profusely blessed the king. Then there were mutual inquiries about health, after which the Brahmin presented the pot to the king. The king was very happy and ordered it immediately to be carried to the queen’s chamber. The Brahmin was honored by gifts of clothes and ornaments.
Now the king was in Aram Shobha’s chamber. He thought of the Modaka and wanted to have a portion of it. Happily the queen opened the pot, and, what joy, the whole chamber was filled with its fragrance. The king said: “Surely this Modaka is prepared with nectar.” The king cast a lustful glance at the queen and requested her to distribute it to all her co-wives. In deference to the king’s wishes, Aram Shobha did it with her own hands. All the queens were happy to taste it and all spoke in glowing terms of the skill of her mother. When the king came back to the court, the Brahmin made a prayer for his daughter’s going to his home for once. To this, the king smiled and said: “The queen does not see even the sun; so how can she go to her parents home?”
The Brahmin returned on fulfillment of his mission and reported it to his wife. The lady was now waiting to hear about her stepdaughter’s death. But the news didn’t come and she grew restless. Perhaps the sweet was not sufficiently poisoned, she reasoned.
So, she resolved to make a renewed attempt and continue it until her goal was attained. This time she poisoned the Modaka very heavily, packed it as before and dispatched it with her husband with the same sort of message. The Brahmin was again on the road to Patliputra. When he arrived beneath the same Banyan tree, he was tired, lay down and fell fast asleep. As before, the Modaka was changed by the Yaksha, was later taken to the court and delivered to the king. This time, too, the Modaka was tasted by all the queens, and both Aram Shobha and her mother were praised by all.
But the coveted bad news about Aram Shobha’s death did not arrive, and the Brahmin lady was bitter and highly depressed. So she repeated the mischief for the third time, mixing this time the most dreadful Talaput poison with it.
She also insisted that Aram Shobha should be brought once to her parental home, and if the king did not agree, she advised her husband to use his Brahminical power to force his hands. The Brahmin started again and came under the same Banyan tree, where everything repeated as before, so that the Modaka was changed, and once again, at the palace, everyone was happy to taste the divine stuff and spoke in high praise of its sender.
The court was now in full session. Agnisharma made the proposal about his daughter’s going to her parental home and insisted that her first child should, in fairness to the custom prevailing, be delivered there. But the king would not budge. He said: “That has never been so, and that will never be.”
The Brahmin now displayed his Brahminical power and threatened to commit suicide right there if his request was not honored. He said: “If you do not send Aram Shobha with me, then I shall stain you with the sin of murdering a Brahmin. Oh king ! I gave you my daughter’s hand not on this term that she would never see her parents at their own home. She too must be feeling keen to go there once. Will the parental affection thus go unheeded ?”
The minister intervened. “Your Majesty ! Surely this Brahmin has gone mad, but if you do not agree, he will not hesitate to stain you with the blasphemy of killing him. So may it be decided that the queen goes once.” Under so much pressure, the king reluctantly agreed. The queen was given much treasure and was seen off along with her started her forest-umbrella.
Agnishikha had her plot wholly ready. She had a deep well dug behind her house. At the proper moment, Aram Shobha gave birth to a godly child. She was then taken to the backyard of the house for a wash, her stepmother attending. On seeing this well, Aram Shobha asked when it was dug. The mother said: “This has been dug for you. You are now a queen, and there may be jealous people who may poison your drinking water if it is fetched from a distance. Hence this arrangement for your safety.”
Aram Shobha took it all as said and bent to have a look inside. As she did so, the stepmother pushed her into it. As she was going down, her mind went back to the Dev who had once promised her help, and he readily appeared on the scene. He supported her by his hand and made her sit on a comfortable place. He would have punished Agnishikha on the spot for her misdeed but desisted as Aram Shobha held fast his feet. In the nether world, the Dev built a chamber for her stay. The forest-umbrella too stayed with her there.
Agnishikha now dressed her daughter in the clothes of a woman who has recently delivered a child and placed her on the couch. When the maids returned, they expressed surprise to see a lusterless and uncouth woman with a plump frame lying there. False Aram Shobha said: “I don’t know why all this has happened, but it seems some internal disease or disorder is the cause of my physical change.” When the maids reported the matter to Agnishikha, she rushed wailing and striking her chest: “Oh daughter ! How has this happened ? Has anybody cast inauspicious glances at you ? Or is it due to gastritis or some organic trouble ? Alas ! All my sweet dreams may come to an end !” She pretended to make all possible arrangements for her restoration, but none yielded any result.
Now, the minister came to take the queen back. The party started for Patliputra. On the way, when the maids asked why the forest-umbrella was not there, false Aram Shobha said that it had gone to the well to take water and would soon follow.
When the party was in the vicinity of Patliputra, the king arranged a fitting welcome. He was pleased to see a godly son but was sorry at the queen’s plight. When he inquired the cause of it, she repeated the same words as before some internal disease or disorder. The king’s sorrow knew no end. When he inquired about the forest, the lady said: “When I came, it was taking water at the well. So I have left it behind. It will come itself after some time.”
The king had some doubt about the lady. Was it Aram Shobha or someone else who had stepped in her place ? He apprehended that there might be a trick behind it, some sort of mischief. He said to her again: “My dear ! Bring that forest back. I feel so uneasy without it.” And there was the same evasive reply: “Please don’t be anxious, Sir ! It will come back in time.”
The king’s doubt was now largely confirmed. This was another lady, and there must have been some mischief-mongering at his cost. The plot must be unfolded.
At the other end, Aram Shobha was safe and comfortable at her underground shelter, and all her needs were taken care of by the Dev. One day she said to him: “I feel very uneasy for my son. It behooves you, Oh Dev, to do something to relieve me of this situation.”
“This can be done by dint of my power, but only on one condition. At night you may go to your son, but you must return before sunrise. If you fail, then you forfeit my assistance forever. And in that case, a dead snake will drop from your braid, and that will sever our link beyond repair. If you agree, then your desire to meet your son may be fulfilled,” said the Dev.
Aram Shobha agreed. With the Dev’s power assisting her, she reached the palace, embraced the child in her arms and was happy to play with him. When the time for her return approached, she placed the child on the couch, scattered some fruits and flowers from her forest, and left.
When in the morning the matter was reported to the king, he made inquiries about it from the queen who said: “My Lord ! I brought these fruits and flowers from my forest and scattered them here.” The king said: “If that be so, then bring some fruits and flowers from the forest right now.” She replied: “Well, Sir, I shall do so tonight.”
The king had no more doubt about the mischief played on him. The event was repeated on the second night, and then on the third, this time the king himself keeping watch. With a sword in his hand, he sat in the shadow of a lamp.
At the right hour, Aram Shobha came, embraced the child and started playing with him. The king had no doubt as to who she was, but he restrained himself. Aram Shobha left the palace before sunrise.
In the morning, he went to false Aram Shobha and said: “Lady ! If you can restore the forest, well and good. Otherwise, I have no need of you. Go away.” The earth now slipped away from beneath the woman’s feet. She didn’t know what to do. The king rebuked her harshly and returned to the court.
On the fourth night, Aram Shobha came as usual to her son. The king was in hiding. Now, before sunrise, as she was about to return, he held her hand and said: “My dear, why this trick with me ? Come back to your palace. I can no longer abide your absence.”
Aram Shobha was taken aback. She tried to free herself but failed. In a helpless tone she said: “Sir, there is some serious reason behind it. Please don’t delay me tonight. I shall come again tomorrow at the same hour and narrate the whole thing to you. If you don’t release me now, I shall have cause to repent throughout my life.”
The king said: “My dear ! My eyes have been languishing for you for many days. Now that you are within my grip, how can I let you go ? Tomorrow is far off; even a moment would be too long.”
Aram Shobha was between a frying pan and the fire. To narrate the whole thing to the king would take a lot of time, and the sunrise was not far off. If she did not do so, the king would not release her. She could not refuse the king, whatever the risk. She tried to be brief but all in vain.
Meanwhile, the early rays of the sun burst forth on the earth, and the dead snake dropped from her braid, as predicted. “How unfortunate I am ! Alas, I am undone !” These words dropped from her lips as she herself dropped senseless on the ground.
When restored to her senses, she was only moaning and wailing. The king consoled her by saying: “My dear ! Who can avoid the inevitable ? Whatever was destined has happened. Forget the past and look forward to a golden future.”
The king was now rageful toward the false Aram Shobha. She was handed over to the guards and severely beaten. Aram Shobha pleaded mercy for her sister, and the king couldn’t deny it to her. But she was expelled from the city, and her father was deprived of the twelve villages and the treasures bestowed on him. The family was turned out from the kingdom for good.
Aram Shobha was happy once again. One day the king and the queen were in conversation, when the queen thought, my early life has been spent in distress followed by happiness now. These are all the outcome of Karmas, good as well as bad, acquired in a previously. I must know them.
In those days, Acharya Virbhadra with his spiritual family of five hundred Munis was present there, and the royal couple thought of benefiting from the presence of the celebrated Acharya.
After the queen had listened to the Acharya, she fainted. When she recovered, she made the following submission: “Your Holiness ! The account of my previous life as given by you is wholly correct. With my reawakened memory, I can fully testify to it. But I am now uneasy about the worldly existence. With the permission of my husband, the king, I desire to be initiated by you into the holy order.”
Needless to add, the king approved of her noble wishes. He, too, revealed his mind in the following words: “My dear ! Once having known the worthlessness of the worldly life, who wants to remain any longer in it ? I too shall follow you.”
Then, turning to the Acharya, he said: “Your Holiness ! I shall presently return to the palace and crown Aram Shobha’s son Malaysundar as king. Immediately thereafter I shall return to you. Until I come back, may your Holy Grace not withdraw from this city !”
The king went back to the palace and placed the young prince on the throne. Then both the king and the queen were initiated into the holy order. They spent their time acquiring scriptural knowledge and soon became profound.
The king, now a Muni, was nominated by the Acharya as his successor to the holy chair, and under his able guidance, the order flourished. Aram Shobha became the head of the order of nuns.
For many years, they served the order and then gave up their mortal frames through spiritual fasts and attained coveted higher places.
At Champapuri, there lived a very rich merchant named Kuladhar. Kulnand was the name of his wife. The merchant had seven daughters named as follows: Kamalashri, Kamalavati, Kamala, Lakshmi, Sarasvati, Jayamati and Priyakarini. They were as beautiful as they were proficient. They were all married to merchants of very noble birth.
An eighth daughter was born to Kuldhar, but she was less fortunate. The parents were so unhappy at her birth that they did not perform even her naming ceremony. The girl grew up and stepped from childhood into youth. But her father was indifferent to her future happiness and did not bother to settle her in life. If some member of his household drew his attention to this, he would only say that she would be settled as soon as a right groom was available, and that he was on the lookout for one.
One day, as the merchant was seated at his shop, a stranger young man came up to him. His dress was poor and his hairs were disheveled and infested with lice.
The merchant said to him: “ Who are you ? Where do you come from ? What country do you belong to ?” The youth replied: “Sir, I belong to Koshalpur. Nandi is the name of my father and Soma is my mother’s name. My own name is Nandan. I am penniless. I went to Chand Desh to do business but my ill-luck followed me even there. At Chand Desh lives a merchant named Vasantdev who belongs to this city. I am employed in his service. He has sent me with a letter which is to be delivered at his house, but I don’t know its location. It will be a great favor done to me if you could direct me there.”
Kuladhar thought within himself that this would be a right groom for his youngest daughter. If I settle my daughter’s marriage with this young man, then I can get rid of her. He said to the youth: “Young man, you deliver the letter at Vasantdev’s house and come back at once.”
The merchant sent one of his attendants to accompany him. The young man came back to Kuldhar as he was asked to do. After he had finished his shower, the merchant gave him clothes and food, and then, at the right moment, he placed the proposal for his daughter’s marriage to him.
The youth said: “I have to return this very day, Sir.” The merchant replied: “There will be no difficulty. I shall make every arrangement accordingly, and the ceremony itself will not take much time. For your subsistence, I shall later bestow wealth on you.”
The young man agreed, and the marriage ceremony was over within a few hours. The daughter bade good-bye to her parents’ home. The couple then set out on the road to Chand Desh. When they were near Avanti Desh, they took shelter in a temple to pass the night there. It was the dead of night, and the bride was fast asleep. The young man thought that as my wife is with me, I cannot walk as fast as I would like to. And if I go slowly like this, it will be necessary to spend a long time on the way. I have scanty means to support both of us in the journey, and if it is exhausted, I would be forced to beg. That will be highly unbecoming of me. So why don’t I give up my bride here ? This will save me from a probable calamity. Thinking in this manner, he picked up whatever things he could and immediately left the place.
At sunrise, when the wife woke up, she found neither her husband nor the means to support herself. She could hardly think of such a thing happening but was soon reconciled to the hard reality and set her mind on the future.
For a moment she thought of going back to her parents, but then she thought about the life she had lived there and the sort of reception she would receive now, and then she decided to court suffering to going back to a life of scorn. But the very next moment she thought as to who would support her and how she would begin this new life. The prospect of begging was not at all palatable, but she gathered courage and confidence and thought, If all living beings support themselves, I too can do the same. I will take up some work to support myself, but I shall preserve my purity.
The brave lose nothing; instead, they find a way. The woman got up and reached the marketplace of the city of Vishala. She stood in front of the shop of merchant Manibhadra. She looked at him, as he looked at her. She had a feeling that this was a good man. So she came nearer and said: “Father, I am on the lookout for some work. It will be a great favor if you could give me some.”
Manibhadra felt compassion for her, but he hesitated to take an unknown woman into his household. He asked who she was and why she was there. The woman said: “Sir, I am the daughter of merchant Kuladhar of Champapuri. I was on my was to Chand Desh with my husband, but unfortunately I have been separated from him. So, I have come to you to seek some job so that my days of suffering may be easily spent.”
Manibhadra consoled her and showed her affection. He invited her to stay in his household, and she was placed in charge of his household affairs. He sent men in search of her husband, but no trace of him could be found. He also made confidential inquiries about her parents, and they tallied with what she had told him. So she was installed in Manibhadra’s family with full dignity, and, on her part, she won the affection of everybody by dint of her good behavior.
Now, Manibhadra built a magnificent Jain temple with high gates and colorful flags. Kuldhar’s daughter went there daily to offer prayer and worship. She came into contact with the nuns and acquired the knowledge of Nav Tattva (nine doctrines). Now she became a Shravika like the great Sulasa, steadfast in equanimity. Manibhadra was never niggardly to fulfill her wishes and held her in great esteem.
Once she desired to donate three gold umbrellas bedecked with jewels to be placed to cover the head of the Jina image, and this was readily arranged. Much of her time was now devoted to penance, service to the holy order, and sundry religious activities.
One day Manibhadra sat deeply immersed in anxiety when Kuldhar’s daughter came to him and inquired about the cause. In apprising her of the situation, the merchant said: “For the worship of the god, the king entrusted me with the upkeep of a flower garden, and flowers collected there were used daily for worship. But today the garden is suddenly dry. I tried my best to restore it to freshness, but all my efforts have been in vain. I don’t know what hard steps the king would now take against me for this.”
She said: “Father, please don’t suffer with anxiety. Leave the matter to me. I shall set it right. I command rock-like purity, and until the garden is restored to freshness, I give up my four types of foods.” The merchant said, “Don’t say that, my daughter. Please don’t put me to ridicule by taking my anxiety wholly on yourself.” She said: “Father, you know, a vow taken once cannot be broken. You will just see that all the adverse forces will give way to the strength of my spirit.”
Kuldhar’s daughter returned to the Jina temple. Bowing before the image, she immersed herself deep in Kayotsarga (meditation). She touched neither food nor drink. A day passed, followed by a second and then a third. At last, Shasandevi, the controlling Devi of the order, made her appearance on the third night and said: “My daughter, a Dev with a wrong outlook has played havoc with the garden. But he could not withstand your purity and has fled. Your vow is fulfilled, and in the morning you will find the garden restored to its freshness.”
The morning saw the miracle happen. The garden was restored to its beauty and freshness. Manibhadra was astonished. He rushed to Kuldhar’s daughter at the temple premises to break the news and congratulate her. He said: “My daughter, my wishes have been fulfilled by the strength of your purity and penance. It behooves you to break the fast now.”
With the speed of lightning, the news reached every household in the town, and all the men and women of the town, came rushing to the temple. All spoke highly of her purity and the merchant’s good luck who has such a worthy daughter in his house. Kuldhar’s daughter first offered food to the Munis, served the same to the members of her order, and then broke her fast.
This was indeed a great day for the religion of the Jina. Many days passed thereafter. One night, at a late hour, as Kuldhar’s daughter lay awake in her bed, a thought came to her: By good fortune, I am born in the order of the Jina. But I cannot practice the great vows. This will be a severe failure on my part, so I must make the best use of whatever limited capacity I have for spiritual advance.
Now, she changed the course of her life. Sometimes she would fast for two days, sometimes for three days, and sometimes for four days, raising the duration gradually to a fortnight and then to a month. This reduced her body. Then she undertook the final fast and ended her life through auspicious meditation.
Thereafter she was born in heaven and named Saudharmalok. Having completed her life there, she has been born in the house of Brahmin Agnisharma as his daughter and has been named Vidyutprabha.
King Atimardan reigned in the city of Ratnapur. His son’s name was Lalitang. Lalitang was not only a worthy son but was highly accomplished.
It was spring and people had flocked to a public park. The prince was there too, and so was the minister’s young and charming wife. It was an accident that their four eyes met.
The prince sent one of his peers to inquire of the woman when he could meet her alone. The lady sent back the following message:
“Such a thing is by no means easy. My husband is so suspicious that he rarely lets me go out alone, nor does he allow anybody to come to our home. But there is one way. There is a dry well adjacent to our house. Let the prince dig a tunnel linking that well to his palace chamber. Once this is done, I shall take opportunity to quarrel with my husband and jump into the well. I shall then enter the tunnel and be with the prince. That will not be a short meeting, but rather a permanent union.”
The prince did accordingly. When the tunnel was ready, on an agreed day, the woman quarreled with her husband and jumped into the well. From there, she took the tunnel and soon she was at the prince’s chamber.
Now, as the woman jumped into the well, no one had seen her. So they started a complete search of the city and its suburbia. Even the well was not spared, but the woman was found nowhere, dead or alive.
When the matter reached the ears of the king, he held the minister guilty of murdering his wife and ordered for him imprisonment for life and forfeiture of his entire property. When the prince heard of the king’s order, he was afraid and mortified. He knew more than anyone else that he had been the cause of the poor minister’s fall. But more than that he was apprehensive on his own score. His entire reputation would go to mud the moment it were known that the minister’s wife was the prince’s concubine.
Thus thoroughly shaken, the prince fled the palace at once and entered into a forest, where he saw a Muni, to whom he said, “Holy Sir ! I am a culprit. Can I be absolved of my guilt ?”
The Muni saw a qualified soul in the prince and encouraged him to join the holy order. The prince agreed, and thus started a new chapter in his life.
Once Muni Lalitang reached a park outside the city of Khsempur. There, on the bank of the river, he started Kayotsarga (meditation). In the same city, there lived an atheist named Asangmata who had neither respect for parents, elders and superiors, nor faith in the religion. By nature, he was very arrogant.
It so happened that the river at that time was in spate, and the whole area was merged under deep water except the ground where the Muni stood. The news took no time to reach the city, and people flocked to see this wonder. Many touched his feet and many derived inspiration from his conduct.
This aroused a tremendous jealousy in the atheist. Men like him are no better than flies who do not appreciate real beauty but relish sitting on sores. He at once reached the bank of the river, tied the Muni with a chain, piled logs around him and set fire to them. The Muni took at ease the fire-bath, and the flames could do him no harm.
The next morning, when the atheist saw it with his own eyes, he was shaken to the core. He realized the great power of penance and bent his head low in reverence before the Muni. There he stood, calm and fixed, reviewing within himself the whole situation. He was a wholly changed man now, changed in thought and in conduct, and the process was so quick that almost in a moment the shackles of Karmas were destroyed and he still stood, facing the Muni, in possession of Kevalgnan.
Many people wondered: “How can a nation be defended if its people adopt nonviolence ?” It is a rather difficult and hypothetical question. However, an emperor by the name of Ashok ruled India with nonviolence and compassion in the third century, BC. Ashok was the emperor of peace and social justice; he did not rule by force or accumulating material goods and wealth. Rather, he ruled by treating all his subjects equally and justly. His example can guide us in establishing peace and justice in the today’s world.
Ashok was the grandson of the famous Chandragupta Maurya, a stringent follower Jainism (A Shraman). Ashok succeeded his father, Bindusara, in 270 BC, and subsequently inherited a kingdom that ranged from Afghanistan to Madras.
In the first year of his regime, he decided to annex a few small states to his empire, beginning with Orissa (Kaling). However, he was touched by the cruelties, horrors, and evils of warfare. Upon seeing the human suffering and bloodshed, he renounced war and developed an attitude of kindness and humanity.
As his father and grandfather followed Jainism, Ashok rose above religious intolerance and communalism. Many historians say that Ashok was neither a Jain nor a Buddhist, rather a kind ruler who presented a compromising, noncommunal practical religious way to morally uplift and rule his people. Ashok stopped expanding his kingdom and instead followed the principle of Ahimsa.
He spent his days in the moral, social, and economic pursuit of the happiness of his subjects. He treated all people as his children, and built schools and hospitals for men and animals. He had trees planted along the roads and erected rest areas for travelers. He established institutions for medical, religious, and philosophical education. Ashok sent missionaries to Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand and the Far East. Although he favored Buddhism, he was tolerant of all other religions. One of his edicts reads, “All religions deserve reverence for some reason or another.”
Thus, a man exalts his own religion, and at the same time, does service to the religion of other people. To learn here, the foremost is that even an Emperor can be content and follow Ahimsa (Non-violence) to rule Kingdom. We see religious tolerance for others, devotion, and kindness, all these from a man who was the Emperor.
King Narvahan reigned in the city of Kamalpur. His queen’s name was Malti, and his son’s name was Bhimkumar. The prince was well known for his physical vigor. One day, he saw a Muni in the garden and sat down near him. The Muni discovered a qualified soul in the prince and revealed to him the secrets of religion. The prince felt so inspired at this that he took the vows of a Shravak.
One day, a heretical Muni of the Kapalik order came to the prince. He carried some fruits and flowers in his hands. He placed them before the prince and said: “The great do not refuse a seeker. I have come to you with a request. May I hope that you will fulfill it ?”
He continued: “It is twelve years from now as you move back in the past that I started the propitiation of an art. It will reach its completion on the next Chaturdasi (fourteenth day of the fortnight). Now, on that day, I need someone to assist me, and, in my opinion, no one is more competent than you for that purpose. Hence I am here. Will you help me ?” The prince was never afraid of adventures. He agreed.
On the agreed day, he went with him. The minister’s son, who happened to be his friend, tried to prevent him, but the prince could not be dissuaded. With an unsheathed sword in his hand, the prince reached the cremation ground. The Kapalik marked a plot for his use, propitiated a goddess, and extended his hand to catch the prince’s head. The prince, who was very alert, thundered at once: “Stay away and mind your own business. One more step toward me, and your dead body will roll on the ground. You should know for certain that not even the Devs are capable of facing me.”
This upset the Kapalik’s entire plan. So he thought of exerting strength and attacked the prince with an open knife in his hand. The Kapalik shouted: “Prince ! Remember your God ! You didn’t respond to my persuasion, so I must subdue you by force. I must have your head. This is absolutely essential for completion of my propitiation.”
The prince laughed at him without showing any concern. “Fool ! Only the weak have submitted to your threats. The head of a lion is never within the reach of a jackal like you.”
A duel started at once. The prince gave such a severe blow on the heretic’s head that he fell on the ground. The prince was on his neck. Once he thought of severing it, but the next moment he took pity on the poor soul and released him after giving him a good thrashing. Once free, the ungrateful Kapalik caught the prince unaware and hurled him into the sky. The prince was at once held by a Yaksha’s wife, Kamala by name, who was at that moment flying overhead. She liked him very much and brought him straight to her abode on the Vaitadhya hills.
The prince was under a vow of restricted celibacy and did not respond to the lusty overtures of the Yaksha lady. Kamala was a good soul. She appreciated the steadfastness of the prince and praised him eloquently.
When the two were in conversation, the prince heard some musical instruments being played in accompaniment with some chanting. On inquiry, the prince learned that a few Munis were there in the neighborhood. He expressed keenness to see them. As he was escorted there, a demon made a sudden appearance and snatched away the prince’s sword. The prince at once caught him and mounted on his back to bring him down. But the demon had great physical strength. With the prince on his back, he flew in the sky and landed near a temple.
Inside the temple stood the Kapalik, holding a young man by his hair and thundering: “Remember your God. These are your last moments. I shall cut your head off with this sword.” Undaunted by the terrible environment, the youth was heard saying: “I seek refuge with the Jinas, who are free from lust and attachment. Bhimkumar is my savior; I beseech refuge with him, too.” At these words, the Kapalik’s rage reached its peak. He shouted: “Don’t mention his name, you wretch. He is a coward, and you should be ashamed in beseeching refuge with him. Had he been really powerful, he would not have hidden from my gaze.”
Just then the prince made his appearance and said: “You rascal ! Why do you want to kill him ?” When the Kapalik saw Bhimkumar, he released the young man and ran after Bhimkumar. They started a deadly battle between the two. But soon the prince got the upper hand and held the heretic against the ground, telling him: “My dear fellow ! In your life, you have asked many to remember their God. Now it is your turn to do the same. There is no one to save you.”
Just then the goddess whom the Kapalik worshipped, came down from the image, and, addressing the prince, said: “Prince ! I am impressed by your courage. I beseech you to release my devotee. Please spare his life. I am here to give you a boon.”
The prince said: “Goddess ! If you are really pleased with me and desire to give me a boon, then I pray you to desist from this carnage from today on. You should agree that life is dear to everybody. I beseech nothing else.” The goddess agreed and disappeared.
The prince now turned to the young man and was delighted to find that it was the minister’s son. He at once embraced him and said: “My dear friend ! This heretic was no stranger to you. Then how did you step into his trap ?”
The minister’s son answered: “Since you disappeared, we were very anxious. Search was made everywhere and in all directions, but without fruitful result. Then the family deity was propitiated, and we had it from her that you were safe and would soon return home with great laurels. Now, as I was out to hear the talk of the town about you, this scoundrel caught me and brought me here.”
As the two were talking, there appeared a colossal elephant. With its stout trunk, it picked up the two on its back and flew away. The two were placed outside a deserted city, and the elephant disappeared. Leaving the minister’s son outside the city, the prince moved in. There he met a man-lion who had the face of a human being but the body of a lion. He held a man between his teeth, and the man was bitterly weeping. When the prince asked the animal to release the man, the animal said: “I have been very hungry for a long time. After a long gap, I have my food. How can I let it go ?”
The prince said: “It appears to me, my dear fellow, that you have a Vaikriya (fluid) body. I wonder how your body takes a human being as its food !” The man-lion responded: “You are right, Sir. But he is my inveterate enemy from previous life. How do you think I can release him ? I will kill him, and that alone will pacify my anger.”
The prince tried utmost persuasion, but when that failed, he applied force. He rescued the man from the animal’s mouth and stabbed the animal so severely that he fled for his life.
Now, with the same vehemence, he reached the palace. There he was very cordially received by several maids. One produced a jar full of pure water, another washed the prince’s feet, a third offered to take him to bath, a fourth offered him food, and a fifth decorated him in costly robes and ornaments. The prince silently obliged all.
Just then a Dev came, and, on inquiry from the prince, made the following statement: “This city is named Kanakpur, where once reigned king Kanakrath. His priest Sudatt was a fallen man and was very much despised by the residents of this city. Since the priest would not improve, the matter was reported to the king, who severely chastised the priest. Unfortunately, the priest died of depression. That priest is now born as a demon. I am that demon, and sometime earlier, you saw me as a man-lion. The man whom you rescued from my mouth was the king himself. But I congratulate you for your courage. It is I who arranged for your reception at the palace. It is my great power again that has made the residents of this city invisible.”
Just then a Kevali arrived at the city park. The prince, the minister’s son, and the Dev went to him. Even the elephant came there trumpeting wildly and dangling his trunk. The Kevali, who was in the midst of his sermon, changed his topic and said: “This elephant is really a Yaksha who was the grandfather of king Kanakrath. He brought Bhimkumar to this place to rescue his grandson. As Bhimkumar has saved the king, the Yaksha is under a debt of gratitude to him.”
The elephant now changed into a Yaksha and this lent support to the words of the Kevali. The Yaksha then turned to the prince and requested him to return to his city from which he was absent for a long time. His parents were very much in distress ever since his disappearance in the company of the Kapalik. The Yaksha even offered to help him to return.
Then, at the prince’s request, he built an air-chariot on which the prince and the minister’s son mounted. They soon returned to their own city. The king and the queen were very happy to see their lost son. At the right moment, Bhimkumar was placed on the throne, the king abdicating in his favor. Needless to say, Bhimkumar had a glorious reign, and he spent his last days in the holy order of Munis, attaining liberation at death.
In a village named Kanthpur there lived a Brahmin named Bhutmati who was educated at Benaras. He was not married till late in life as he had no proper means of maintenance. He was running a ‘Pathshala’ (religious school) to earn his livelihood.
Some of his followers gave him money for marriage and he married a beautiful Brahmin maiden named Yagnadatta. With the passage of time he became very much attached to her with love and found himself very happy in her company.
Many students from abroad came to his Pathshala for studies. One student named Devdatt was poor and so he was allowed to live with Bhutmati at his place with food provisions. Devdatt made good progress in his studies as he was very clever. Bhutmati also was very fond of him. Devdatt became very friendly with Yagnadatta.
Yagnadatta was young and she found no satisfaction with her husband, Bhutmati. She was attracted to Devdatt. In the meanwhile Bhutmati received an invitation to officiate a ceremony at Mutra city. He was likely to earn some money and fame there, so he decided to attend the event.
While leaving the place he said to his wife: “I cannot bear your separation even for a moment but as we are running short of money I must go. I will return after four months and in the meanwhile you live cautiously and be on your guard.”
Hearing these words, Yagnadatta said: “I cannot live without you even for a day, so postpone your journey for the present.” Bhutmati said: “I equally cannot bear your separation, but grant me leave with pleasure and I will return as soon as I finish my job.” Yagnadatta granted him leave with pleasure and Bhutmati instructed Devdatt to take care of the house and his wife.
Yagnadatta was now alone and she requested Devdatt to enjoy with her sensual pleasures; the only reward of youth. Devdatt was reluctant but later on he stooped to her carnal cravings. Devdatt became proof to all moral consciousness in course of time. Four months had almost passed and Devdatt said: “Now your husband will arrive and drive me out.”
Yagnadatta said: “Don’t worry, I will plan something so that we can live together for ever.” One night Yagnadatta brought from the funeral ground two corpses (male and female) and having placed them on the coach and on the verandah respectively, left the house after setting it on fire.
The fire spread quickly and the crowd tried to extinguish the fire but it took a few hours. They found two corpses totally burnt beyond identification; which were presumed to be the dead bodies of Yagnadatta and Devdatt. The news reached Bhutmati who was simply stunned with regret. He promptly returned to his town to find everything reduced to ashes. He fainted and on regaining consciousness piteously lamented for his beloved wife Yagnadatta and wept for Devdatt too with words of affection.
A Brahmin friend who knew of the illicit communion of Yagnadatta and Devdatt said, “The wise don’t lament after the happenings. Most women are very cunning and so it does not befit you to rely on a woman so much.”
His words were true but a man under delusion could not find them palatable. Bhutmati on the contrary said to his Brahmin friend: “How dare you preach to me ? I am quite clever to judge the character of my wife Yagnadatta. I can’t erase her grace and virtues from my mental screen. Oh, Yagnadatta, when shall I see you ? Oh ! Devdatt, you too have left me.”
That Brahmin friend said: “Even the sense of highly learned men get stagnant under intense delusion as you don’t hear relish my words which are beneficial for you. Whatever her character, you shall not see her now, therefore, cast aside your attachment for her and pray to God for making the best of your life you have left”.
All his well-wishers left after expressing their felt condolences. Bhutmati having packed the ashes of the (presumed) dead bodies of his wife and friend left Kanthpur early the next morning to offer them to the waters of the sacred river Ganga.
Now watch the mysterious designs of fate. No sooner did Bhutmati enter a town near Ganga, he accidentally ran into Yagnadatta and Devdatt, who happened to be living there. They were extremely shocked to see Bhutmati face to face, but there was no alternative for them but to fall at Bhutmati’s feet. They said, “Oh Learned Scholar, pardon us. We repent much for our faults, we were just thinking of coming to you.”
Bhutmati said: “Who are you ? What are you talking about ?” Devdatt said: “Don’t you recognize us ? This is your beloved wife Yagnadatta and I am your favorite student Devdatt. We are talking with the learned scholar Bhutmati who imparted learning to the students of Kanthpur.”
But Bhutmati was not convinced. He said, “Oh, you scoundrels ! Don’t try to cheat me. I am the last man to be taken in by you. My beloved wife and my disciple have been already consumed in a fire that broke out suddenly in my house. I am going to offer the holy ashes to the sacred Ganga. You do appear like Yagnadatta and Devdatt but you are not them. You may be their spirits. Spirits often deceive human beings but bear in mind I am a Brahmin—Bhoo-Dev (earthly god). I can burn you down with my power of incantations. I spare you out of mercy. Leave from my sight or else terrible consequences shall follow.”
Yagnadatta and Devdatt got what they wanted. They immediately left. Bhutmati offered the ashes in Ganga. He said: “Oh, God, Oh Lord, Grant peace and bliss to the souls of the dead. They were so pure and deserved your mercy.”
MORAL LESSON: We can realize to what extent a man under delusion loses his wisdom and sense of truth. Most of time our vision is blinded by preoccupied mind. How can a person understand the religion, when he does not have the right knowledge of it ? Even highly learned people get stagnant under the intense delusion created by too much attachment with others.
Once an elephant came to a small town. People had read and heard of elephants but no one in the town had ever seen one. Thus, a huge crowd gathered around the elephant, and it was an occasion for great fun, especially for the children. Five blind men also lived in that town, and consequently, they also heard about the elephant. They had never seen an elephant before, and were eager to find out about elephant.
Then, someone suggested that they could go and feel the elephant with their hands. They could then get an idea of what an elephant looked like. The five blind men went to the center of the town where all the people made room for them to touch the elephant.
Later on, they sat down and began to discuss their experiences. One blind man, who had touched the trunk of the elephant, said that the elephant must be like a thick tree branch. Another who touched the tail said the elephant probably looked like a snake or rope. The third man, who touched the leg, said the shape of the elephant must be like a pillar. The fourth man, who touched the ear, said that the elephant must be like a huge fan; while the fifth, who touched the side, said it must be like a wall.
They sat for hours and argued, each one was sure that his view was correct. Obviously, they were all correct from their own point of view, but no one was quite willing to listen to the others. Finally, they decided to go to the wise man of the village and ask him who was correct. The wise man said, “Each one of you is correct; and each one of you is wrong. Because each one of you had only touched a part of the elephant’s body. Thus you only have a partial view of the animal. If you put your partial views together, you will get an idea of what an elephant looks like.”
The moral of the story is that each one of us sees things exclusively within one’s point of view. We should also try to understand other people’s points of view. This will enable us to get a proper perspective on different situations and events.
We have to look at religion, truth and reality from a variety of angles of vision. Jainism calls this the relativism or the doctrine of several viewpoints (Syadvad or Anekantvad). Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., have similar theories.
A city caught fire and all the residents vacated the city, whereas a blind man and a lame man could not leave the city. The blind man thought: “Alas, if I could see; I can escape. But, blind as I am, I cannot escape.” The lame man reflected: “Alas ! I cannot walk at all. How can I run away to save myself ?”
The fire was spreading with leaps and bounds and was approaching the place where the blind man and the lame man lived. The lame man was struck with an idea. He said: “Oh blind friend, you are quite robust, you can lift me on your shoulders. And, I will point the way out for both of us to escape. The fire is approaching fast and there is no alternative left for us to save ourselves.”
The blind man welcomed the proposal. He picked up the lame man and both of them with mutual assistance left the city and saved their lives.
Here the blind man can be compared to a man without the right knowledge while the lame man as a man without practicing religious rites. As neither the blind nor the lame man, alone, could get out of the city, similarly, right knowledge or religious rites, alone, cannot rescue the man from this worldly ocean. When both right knowledge and religious rites, jointly operate, one can escape from the cycle birth and death in this world.