In Jain scriptures we have narration of many “Satis” (noble women) whose chastity, trustworthiness, patience and endurance were put to the test with all kinds of hardships and difficulties in life.
Among the famous “Satis” the story of Chandanbala is well known. Just as Mahasati Brahmi (daughter of the first Tirhtankar, Lord Adinath) became the leader of nuns during her time, Chandanbala became the leader of Jain nuns during Lord Mahavir’s time.
In the year 600 BC, the king of Champa, Dadhivahan and his wife, Dharini, had a daughter named Vasumati. She grew up to be a beautiful girl. Under the influence of her religious mother, she herself became very religious minded. Because of her calm and gentle nature she was called Chandan (Sandalwood) and later known as Chandanbala.
One day the beautiful princess dreamed that the whole kingdom of Champa was drowning in an ocean of sorrow and in the end she saw that she was the only person who could save it. The nightmare was so frightening, it shook her up. She related the nightmare to her mother with tears. Her mother tried to console her by telling her that the gist of religion is “Not to be overwhelmed by happiness, and never to be discouraged by misery. One can’t fight the power of destiny and Karma. It is needless to worry about it so let us just wait and see what happens.”
Her dream was a premonition to the sorry fate of Champa. King Shatnik of Kaushambi suddenly attacked Champa. His soldiers surrounded the town. He disregarded the treaty that he had signed with Dadhivahan and attacked the kingdom. Dadhivahan called his ministers and asked for advice. The ministers were all mad with rage and wanted war but Dadhivahan explained, “Our army is very small and is not organized nor well-prepared for this sudden attack so there will be unnecessary bloodshed on our side. I will first talk to Shatnik and try to reason with him.”
Dadhivahan went to Shatnik and requested him, “Oh Shatnik, first of all we are both related as our wives are sisters and there is no point in destroying two related families. Secondly, be a man of your own promise and don’t break the treaty that has been signed and honored by us for so many years !” Shatnik said haughtily, “I don’t care for our relation nor do I care for the treaty. All I am interested in is expanding the boundaries of my kingdom. Go back and meet me in the battlefield, or like a coward renounce your kingdom and live in exile.”
Dadhivahan. who was a very religiously inclined person decided he would renounce the kingdom rather than fight a war which would bring unnecessary bloodshed when there was no chance to win at all.
When he told his ministers about his decision to give up without a war, the ministers were very unhappy. They felt humiliated that their king had given up his kingdom without a war. They got all the soldiers together and declared war. Many soldiers fought and many of them were killed by the overpowering army of Shatnik. Finally Shatnik and his men were all over Champa, looting the wealth of the citizens and rejoicing.
Queen Dharini said to her daughter, “Vasumati, your dream has come true. The king has left us, the people of Champa are miserable, and there is no one to protect us know. However, it is better to die than to renounce our beliefs and principles of living.”
Suddenly, a charioteer entered the palace looking for wealth to loot. When he saw the beautiful queen and the princess he forgot about wealth and captured them and took them into a deep jungle. His intentions were not honorable.
When the queen realized that this man was overpowered by lust, she pulled her tongue inward (choked herself), and ended her life to save her honor and chastity rather than be a prey to the desires of that charioteer. The charioteer was really surprised and shocked by the queen’s death. He suddenly came back to his senses and was filled with remorse.
As Vasumati (Chandanbala) stood there looking at her mother, she knew that the only way she could save her honor was to end her life. When she started to choke herself the charioteer started weeping bitterly and said, “Oh Mahasati, Oh princess, you are like a daughter to me. I have already committed a big crime, so I beg you to please come with me and give me a chance to repent for my misdeed.”
She was very unhappy and angry but with her strength of religion she learned to suppress her anger and forgave the charioteer, who called her his daughter, and invited her to stay in his house. Then, they both cremated the queen in the jungle and left for Kaushambi where the charioteer lived.
The charioteer’s wife was waiting for her husband to come home with his chariot loaded with riches from Champa but when the charioteer arrived, his wife saw no sign of wealth, but saw a beautiful girl getting off the chariot.
She was confused and angry and asked the girl, “Who are you ?” (Chandan thought to herself, if I tell this woman the truth, the king of Kaushambi, her uncle, will be very angry and kill the charioteer. So she decided to keep her identity a secret. “Oh mother,” Chandan replied, “The charioteer has adopted me as his daughter and brought me here to live with you.”
The wife could not believe that her husband could be so foolish as to bring a girl with him instead of riches. However, she started to think, may be the charioteer has fallen for the girl’s beauty and someday soon this girl might become his wife and then he will discard me.
Chandan began to live with them. Her stepmother ill-treated her and made her do all the household chores. One day, the charioteer said to Chandan, “Daughter, this is your house. Why do you work like a slave ? Eat well and be happy here.”
When his wife heard this she got angry and said, “Oh yes ! Now I know that she is going to become your new wife soon ! The rich city of Champa was looted; but you, you could not bring anything. I had high hopes that you would at least bring 100 pieces of gold. Instead of wealth you brought me this girl, a big problem, to make me miserable forever. Even now you can sell this girl as a slave and get me 100 pieces of gold. Get me wealth or I will spread the rumor around the own that my husband got himself a new wife and then I will commit suicide.”
The charioteer was angry when he heard this and said. “Do as you please ! You can’t hurt my good name by your false rumors.” Everyday there were heated arguments between the two. Chandan started thinking, “Because of me my adopted parents are so miserable !” She said to her father, “Oh father, why are you talking to my mother with such harsh words. I can’t bear to see you both so unhappy. I want to go and be sold in the market so you can get the money to make my mother happy.” With these words Chandan left the house, and the charioteer with a heavy heart, had no choice but to follow her.
This beautiful princess stood on a platform in the center of the marketplace and began to shout. “Oh people of Kaushambi, I wish to be sold as a slave to any man who is willing to give my father 100 pieces of gold. I can do all the work that could be expected of a slave.” Seeing a beautiful girl in the middle of the marketplace, thousands of people gathered around. Many came forward to strike a deal but none could afford the high price of 100 pieces of gold.
In the afternoon a prostitute who had heard that a beautiful girl was selling herself accepted the offer and started to take the girl home. Chandan asked the prostitute, “Madam, what kind of work will I have to do at your place !” The prostitute said, “Oh my pretty girl, all you have to do is adorn yourself in beautiful clothes and entertain men.” Chandan exclaimed, “Oh madam, please forgive me, but I cannot come with you because I have a religious vow of staying a virgin all my life !” The prostitute was angry and said, “The deal is already made. You have to come with me.” Then she told her maids, “Drag this girl home !”
Chandan started worshipping God and asking for his help. Seeing this the charioteer pulled his sword out of the case and told the maids to leave her. All of a sudden from nowhere came a whole army of monkeys who attacked the prostitute. The monkeys started scratching the prostitute’s whole body with their nails. She was screaming for help but no one wanted to get in the midst of these monkeys.
Suddenly Chandan opened her eyes after meditation and said to the monkeys, “Oh monkeys stop hurting this lady !” The monkeys obeyed and disappeared. The prostitute was surprised to see the girl’s power of worship and strength. She thought, “This girl is a real saint,” and fell at Chandan’s feet and said, “Oh Mahasati ! Please forgive me.” At this time Chandan gave her a sermon on the importance of chastity and the power of worship and meditation. The prostitute was so impressed that she gave up her business of ill-repute forever.
After this incident, Chandan was again shouting “Someone please come forward and buy me.” As she was shouting, the charioteer was weeping and saying to himself. “Oh how unfortunate I am that this pure angel, who was in my home, is moving out today !”
It so happened that in the evening a millionaire by the name of Sheth Dhanna was passing by. When he saw this beautiful angel, he knew right away from her appearance that this was no ordinary girl, but a pure angel. He was willing to buy her, but as he started to pay, Chandan asked, “You are buying me but first let me know what kind of work I will have to do at your house.” Dhanna Sheth said, “Oh daughter, all you will have to do is practice your religion and meditation. When some holy men pass by, please serve them meals at my house so you and my family will both have the opportunity to be blessed.”
Shethji gave 100 pieces of gold to the charioteer. When the charioteer refused to accept the money, Chandan tried to force him to accept it for her mother’s sake. She said, “Oh father if you go home without the pieces of gold my mother will be miserable, and as long as she is miserable you will not have peace. Therefore, you must take it.” Chandan told Shethji to send the gold to the charioteer’s house in a cart. When the charioteer’s wife saw the gold, she was very very happy !
The problem that Chandan tried to get rid of, arose here again. Shethji’s wife, Moola, was extremely jealous of Chandan’s beauty. Though Chandan always addressed Moola as ‘mother’, Moola was still jealous and constantly harassed Chandan. She cursed her and called her names. One of the maids tried to reason with Moola and told her “Oh madam, this girl has a pure and good character. Dispel all your doubts about an affair between your husband and this girl. It is just not true.” Moola became angry and twisted the ear of the maid and threw her out of her house.
One day Chandan had just washed her long beautiful hair and was drying it in the sun. At that moment, Shethji came from work and asked for water to wash his feet. As Chandan was pouring the water on Shethji’s feet, her long hair covered her face and hindered her vision. The simple hearted Shethji held her hair back as she was pouring the water.
When Moola saw this, she was convinced that Shethji had plans to marry Chandan and make her his bride. Shethji suspected that his wife was ill-treating Chandan so he always made sure that Chandan had everything and was not ill-treated.
However, one day Shethji had to leave to tend to business in another town. Moola seized this opportunity and began to beat Chandan. Chandan begged Moola to believe her and told her to put her to test. Moola was angry and said, “OK, now I will test you.” Moola cut Chandan’s beautiful long hair, tied chains on her hands and feet, and locked her in a dark cellar of the house. After locking Chandan in the cellar, Moola went to visit her mother who lived in the same town.
It was four full days and Chandan was still tied up in the dark cellar. Despite her predicament, she was neither unhappy nor angry. She considered this an opportunity for self-perception and meditation.
In the afternoon of the fourth day, Shethji arrived from his trip. He found the house locked so he got his keys and opened the door and started to call, “Is someone home ? Chandan where are you ?” When Chandan heard his voice she said, “Oh father, I am here in the cellar.”
When Shethji saw Chandan chained up, he was so shocked that he fainted. After sometime he regained consciousness and began to cry like a child. She tried to get him up on his feet by saying, “Oh father, I have been hungry for the past three days. Please get up and give me some food.”
Shethji got up and wiped his tears and started looking for food in the kitchen. The only food he found was lentils which had been cooked three days earlier. He could not find a dish or bowl so he made a cone from dried leaves and gave her the lentils. As Chandan got the food, she went on aspiring herself, “Oh, I wish I could share this food with some person.” Shethji had left the house to get a blacksmith to unlock Chandan’s chains.
At this auspicious moment, Lord Mahavir suddenly appeared at the threshold. He was in the twelfth year of penance. He had taken a vow of having thirteen requirements met as a precondition for accepting his alms from any lady at any house meaning that if any of these requirements was missing, he would not take food. The thirteen requirements were:
(1) Good character
(3) Should have been bought from somewhere
(4) Should have a shaven head
(5) Should be wearing only one cloth
(6) Have chains on her feet
(7) Have handcuffs on her hands
(8) Should be hungry and thirsty for the past three days
(9) Should have one foot inside and one foot outside the threshold
(10) Should be carrying boiled lentils in a cone made from a dried leaf
(11) Should be happy
(12) Should have tears in her eyes
(13) The time should be the third part of the day
Chandan immediately knew that a saint was at her doorstep. She was so happy and excited that she ran up the steps to greet the Lord. Her chains suddenly broke and she was free ! When the Lord looked at her, he thought that twelve of the conditions of my vow are being met here, but I need all thirteen of them to be fulfilled.
So he started to walk away without accepting the alms. As he walked away, Chandan was disappointed and tears began to flow from her eyes. “Oh Lord, if you can’t be with me today, then who will be on my side ? Oh no ! It is not possible ! If God himself walks away from his worshippers, then who will worship him ?”
As soon as the Lord saw tears in the eyes of the girl, all of his conditions were fulfilled and he returned to accept the food. At this moment, the air was filled with songs of Chandan’s praise. “Oh blessed is the daughter of king Dadhivahan and queen Dharini; princess Chandan is a “Mahasati” who has blessed this world by offering the Lord his meal after a fast of more than five months.”
Suddenly, her hair grew back and her beauty was restored. There was a golden throne on which Chandan was seated. There was a shower of gold coins, flowers and other such heavenly objects from heaven.
At this time Moola heard of the shower of gold and came and began to collect the coins. A voice from heaven said “No one should touch those coins ! They are for auspicious celebrations and are to be used when Mahasati renounces the world to become a nun.” Moola was disappointed and returned home where she found the beautiful princess seated on a golden throne.
Chandan stepped down from her throne and said “Oh mother, please come and be seated on the throne.” At this moment, Shethji arrived with the locksmith and was overjoyed to see this scene. Chandan explained the whole story and invited her father to sit on the throne next to her mother.
The news spread far and wide. The charioteer and his wife came to worship her. Even the prostitute who had already given up her trade came to worship the Mahasati. King Shatnik and his queen, Mrigavati, heard the news and came to worship her. They begged for her forgiveness for their ruthless attack on her father’s kingdom and begged her to return with them and live in their palace.
Chandan seized this opportunity to preach to the king and said, “Those palaces, where for the greed of power, people are slaughtered, where unjust greedy people like you live - are you asking me to come there ? Persons like you who forced my father to leave his kingdom, my mother to commit suicide and me to be sold as a commodity in the market ? Now why are you asking me to go to those palaces ?”
Shatnik was very ashamed and begged her to come to his palace so he could wash all the impurity and sins of his palace with the footprints of this holy princess. When he insisted, she sought permission of her father and begged him to let her go. After her first meal, she went to Shatnik’s palace and inquired about her natural father, king Dadhivahan.
People went in search of him in the forest and when they found him they insisted that he must come home for his daughter’s sake. King Shatnik welcomed him, begged for forgiveness and returned Champa to Dadhivahan. Chandan was very happy and they both talked about their lives in the past few years.
After twelve years, Lord Mahavir was enlightened. Indrabhuti and other Brahmins embraced the monkshood with the blessing of Lord Mahavir.
Chandan heard the news and wanted to become a nun. Her family tried to persuade her to marry a prince but she refused and went to Lord Mahavir. All the royal families got together and gave her permission and had a great celebration for her.
Chandan became the leader of the nuns. 36,000 nuns accepted her supervision and obeyed her. After deep meditation, she was enlightened. All the people gathered and shouted: “Victory to the liberated soul of Mahasati Chandanbala !”
Chetak, the chief of Vaishali republic was the brother of Trishaladevi, the mother of Lord Mahavir. Chetak had seven daughters. Of these, Jyeshtha was married to Nandivardhan, the Lord’s brother, Mrigavati was married to king Shatnik of Koshambi, Dharani also known as Padmavati to the king Dadhivahan of Champa. Dadhivahan and Padmavati were very happy with each other and they had a daughter named Vasumati whom they loved very much. Vasumati was beautiful and obedient. Though she was brought up in royal comfort and luxuries, she was exposed to religious tenets as well.
Once king Shatnik invaded Champa. Dadhivahan fought bravely but he was killed in the battle and Champa fell in the hands of Shatnik. Padmavati did not want to surrender herself. She tried to escape with her young daughter. Unfortunately she fell in the hands of some soldiers of Shatnik. They were attracted by her beauty and wanted to molest her. But Padmavati committed suicide in order to save herself from sexual assault. The soldiers were scared by the horrible scene and were afraid that Vasumati too may try to follow her mother. So they treated her well and took her to Koshambi where they intended to make money by selling her.
In Koshambi there was a kind hearted merchant named Dhanavah who was financially well off. He saw Vasumati in the market and decided to get her because he was childless. He liked the girl and thought that she would be able to help her wife Muladevi. So Vasumati went with him.
She had to undergo varying phases of life within a short period. From Princess she had become a captive and now a maid. She had been raised with proper spiritual thinking and therefore was able to accept all the changes in her life as consequences of her earlier Karmas.
She had decided not to disclose her original identity and adopted her new role without grumbling. She took all possible care for Dhanavah who soon developed fatherly affection for her. He used to call her Chandanbala because she scattered fragrance in his life by her sweet, obedient and accommodating nature. For him Chandanbala was a God given daughter.
As Dhanavah’s affection for her grew, his wife Muladevi started harboring suspicion about their relations. She was aware that she could not give any child to him. She was now aged and not attractive. So she started worrying that her husband may marry Chandanbala who grew to be a very attractive, lovely young lady. Muladevi jealously watched the affectionate behavior of her husband for Chandanbala.
Once as he was coming back from a business trip, Chandanbala was as usual cleaning his feet with warm water. While she had to bend for this purpose, her hairs, hanging downwards, almost touched the ground. He therefore picked them up and put on her back. Muladevi was watching that and she became certain that her husband was in love with the girl and would marry her. She shuddered at the fate that would be in store for her in that case and decided that something had to be done to get rid of the girl.
Shortly after that, Dhanavah had to go out on another business trip for three days. After he left, Muladevi called a barber and a locksmith. Long black hairs of Chandanbala were the immediate cause of her jealousy. Chandanbala’s head was therefore completely shaved. Then, she was put into chains and locked in a dark, remote room without any food or water. Muladevi thought that the girl would die of thirst and hunger. There was another maid who was strictly asked not even to go near to that room nor to report anything to Dhanavah.
True to her religious orientation, Chandanbala did not fight back. She did not blame Muladevi for what she had done to her. She accepted that situation as the consequence of her earlier Karmas. She did not even harbor bad feelings towards Muladevi because she used to respect her as a mother. She decided to use the period of confinement for fasting and spiritual meditation and spent most of the time thinking about the nature of Karmas and reciting Navakar Mantra.
On the fourth day, when Dhanavah returned, he expected Chandanbala to receive him with warm water as usual for cleaning his feet. As she did not turn up, he thought that she might be sick. He, however, could not see her in the family room or anywhere else in the house.
After finishing his bath, as he came to the dining room, food was served to him by his wife. He had to ask, “Where is Chandan ?” Muladevi replied that he had spoilt her by too much pampering; she always roamed outside while he went away and that this time she had gone away, nobody knows where, since the day he left.
It was hard for Dhanavah to digest what his wife was stating. He knew his daughter very well. He could hardly eat. Rising from his seat he started looking all around for Chandanbala who was so dear to him. He went round all the rooms and corners of his house. That solitary remote room however did not even occur to him, because that was treated as condemned and he hardly even went that side. Failing in his search he got too much upset, his heart was crying. He even asked the maid, but she couldn’t say anything, because Muladevi was all the time watching her.
The maid respected Dhanavah; she even had soft corner for Chandanbala. She could not face the miserable condition of her master. When Muladevi got out of sight for a moment, she pointed out that remote room to her master. He immediately rushed there and broke open the tottered doors. It was however too dark inside for anything to be visible at first sight.
After a while he could faintly see the starved body in chains. He could not believe that so tender a girl could have survived for three days without food and water. Luckily for him she was not dead. He picked her up in his arms and brought her to the living room area. To his astonishment he found that all the rooms there were locked.
As Muladevi saw him rushing to that remote room, she became afraid that what she had done would no longer remain secret. She was sure that her husband would punish her for her wickedness. In order to escape his instant wrath, she hurriedly locked the rooms and sped to her parents home.
Her husband was eager to find some food and drinks for Chandanbala but he was nonplused to find every place locked. He lay Chandanbala on the floor of Verandah (balcony) and looked around if there could be something that she could eat. At last he spotted a pot of black peas soaked in water. There was however no serving bowl. He therefore picked up a winnowing pan. Taking out black peas from water in that pan, he gave them to Chandanbala and rushed out to call locksmith for breaking her chains.
Chandanbala took the pan. For a moment she thought about the changes that had come in her life. From being a princess she was reduced to the position of a miserable starved girl who had nothing to eat but the soaked peas and that too in a winnowing pan. She laughed at her fate. Before, however, she put the peas in her mouth, she remembered that she was on fast for three days. Would it be possible for me to offer food to a Muni before I break my fasts ? she thought.
At that time Lord Mahavir was in the renounced state. In his endeavor for seeking truth and ultimate happiness he was continually meditating and observing severe austerities. In that process he went without food for days together.
At that particular time he had imposed upon himself apparently improbable stipulations for accepting food. He had vowed that he would accept food only if soaked black peas were offered to him, from a winnow, by a princess, in chains, with shaved head, who had fasted for three days and who had tears flowing from her eyes. How all these conditions can be operative in one single case ?
For months he used to go from place to place and came back without food because his stipulations could not be fulfilled. But how the fate could allow so great a saint to die for want of food ? The fate had wrought apparent havoc on Chandanbala as if to enable her to fulfill the divine mission of terminating six months fasts of Lord Mahavir !
So the Lord happened to come for alms where Chandanbala was thinking to offer food to some Muni. He saw all his stipulations coming true. Here was a princess in chains with cleaned shaven head, having fasted for three days, offering black peas from winnowing pan. Chandanbala was happy to see the great ascetic in front of her and cheerfully offered the peas. For Lord this was the right situation for accepting food. But nay, where were the tears ? He declined the offer and turned back.
Chandanbala felt intensely miserable that the sage did not accept her offer for food. She started crying terribly and tears began to roll down her eyes as she repeatedly entreated the great ascetic to accept her humble offer. The Lord looked back and saw the tears rolling down her cheeks. Now all his hard stipulations were operative and he willingly accepted the food offered by her.
There was a thunderous cheer outside. For months people of Koshambi were watching the great ascetic moving from place to place and going back without food. There were a number of his admirers who were concerned that he was not accepting food. They used to follow the Lord at some distance since he did not desire any company and wanted to stay alone. All those admirers were filled with joy as he ultimately accepted food from Chandanbala. They rushed in, showered flowers and perfumes over her and offered good food and fancy clothes. There were some artisans too. They were quick in breaking her chains and there was joy and pleasure everywhere.
When Dhanavah came back, his pleasures knew no bounds as he learnt about the miraculous event. Almost the whole city turned out there. Muladevi also dared to come back to see the unbelievable occasion. She requested her husband for forgiveness. But he was too mad at her wickedness to forgive. Chandanbala however persuaded him to forgive. She asked him to think that the fate had perhaps prompted Muladevi to do what she did only to enable her to fulfill the vow of the Lord. He ultimately accepted her request and forgave his wife thus wiping out all ill feelings not befitting that auspicious occasion.
This is a story about Lord Mahavir when he was a Muni. He used to fast, meditate and also perform penance. He was traveling from place to place, village to village.
Once, Lord Mahavir decided to go to the village of Vachala. On his way, there lived a deadly snake named Chandkaushik, a poisonous cobra. All the people of the villages near that forest lived in absolute terror. It was rumored that Chandkaushik could kill just by casting his evil glance upon a person.
When the villagers learned about Lord Mahavir’s intentions to pass through the forest, they tearfully requested him to follow another route.
Lord Mahavir had no fear and practiced supreme nonviolence. He had no hatred towards anyone and considered fear and hatred as violence of the self. He was at peace with himself and all other living beings. There was a glow of serenity and compassion on the Lord’s face. He didn’t deviate from his route even after listening to the warnings from the villagers.
After a little while he noticed the beautiful green land fading out and uninhabited, deserted and poisoned land came. Trees and plants were almost burnt out so he thought that this must be the land what villagers were talking about and here Chandkaushik may be living. So Lord Mahavir stopped here to meditate. Feelings of peace, tranquillity, and concern for the well-being of every living being flowed from Lord Mahavir’s heart.
Chandkaushik sensed that someone has come near his land, so he came out of his abode. He went in that direction and to his surprise he saw a man standing there. He got furious thinking that how dare he could come this close to his territory ? He started hissing to threaten Lord Mahavir, but he did not know the tranquillity of Lord Mahavir. He became angry and came closer to the Lord and swayed his head, ready to strike. He saw no sign that man would run away or even being threatened.
This made Chandkaushik more angry and he blew poisonous venom towards Lord Mahavir three times. Venom neither affected Lord Mahavir not Lord Mahavir was disturbed in his meditation. Chandkaushik was not ready to see no effect of his venom. Now he was really mad and concentrated all his power and bit his toe. When he looked at the man again he was flabbergasted that not only nothing happened to him but instead he saw Pure, white milk flowed out of his toe.
Lord Mahavir opened his eyes. He was calm and there was no fear or anger on his face. He looked at Chandkaushik in his eyes and seemed to be saying to him: “Understand, understand, Chandkaushik and realize where you are going !!!” There was love and affection in his eyes.
Chandkaushik became calm and he felt as if he has seen such person before. He suddenly perceived the special knowledge (Jatismarangnan) through which he saw what happened in his previous lives. Chandkaushik then realized the truth of life that what have anger and ego done to him. He bent his head down peacefully on the ground.
Lord Mahavir left. Chandkaushik peacefully retreated back to his hole. There he spent rest of his life in physical and mental peace. When he died he went to heaven.
Peace and harmony in the society come from the feeling of love and equality of all living beings. This is Lord Mahavir’s concept of non-violence.
Shreshthi Bhanu was a resident of the city of Champa. His wife’s name was Subhadra. They had a son named Charudatt.
Charudatt was so fond of reading from his infancy that he would care for nothing else. He married his cousin Mrigavati. But even marriage did not change his habit. As Mrigavati lit the lamp in her bedroom, Charudatt would sit down with a book and spend the whole night reading it. He did not care for his wife’s presence, nor did he seek her company.
Bhanu and his wife were very much perturbed by the abnormal behavior of their son. They tried various remedies, all without success. Charudatt remained an inveterate bookworm and would care for nothing else in life. After much consideration, his father thought of engaging a public woman to change his son.
It is always a bad thing to indulge in one bad habit to uproot another. this may rid you of one to make you a slave to the other. But in his anxiety to cure his son of his reading habit, Shreshthi Bhanu never looked at this aspect. A well-known harlot, Vasantsena, was engaged for the purpose, and very soon she was successful. Now the young man was having a good time in her company.
Thus twelve years rolled by. During these years, a vast sum of money flowed out from the merchant’s coffer to reach the hands of the harlot. The merchant was now in severe financial strain. The continued absence of the son from home was an additional pain. But Charudatt would not care to look at his father’s business, nor was he ready to give up the company of the woman. The merchant and his wife died of broken hearts.
A harlot would care for a man only so long as he is a source of her earning, and she would throw him out as soon as he went dry. The relation between the two is not based on love, but on money, and so it does not take time to terminate.
Charudatt was penniless, so Vasantsena turned him out of her abode. The young man returned home and saw it in a bad state. His parents were dead, and the mansion was about to crumble down. Affluence was no longer there. It was all a reign of poverty in his one-time prosperous home. This was a great shock for the young man. He sat down on the steps and bewailed for the great misfortune.
When Mrigavati heard the sob, she came out to find her own husband, and she took him in. She consoled him with sweet words, made him take a bath and served him food.
After he was somewhat consoled, she said: “There is no use in lamenting over what is past. I have some ornaments. You may raise money with them and start some business. The goddess of fortune smiles on one who is enterprising.”
To this, Charudatt agreed. He raised a small amount of money and started for another city in the company of his maternal uncle. They bought some cotton, loaded it on a cart and turned their steps toward Tamralipti. On the way, the merchandise was lost in a fire. They had no more money. The uncle thought, Charudatt is very unlucky. “If I go with him, I won’t have a better turn in my fortune.” So he parted company with him and went on his own way.
Charudatt was now without means of support. Even his fortune would not stand by him. Wandering alone, he reached the city of Priyangu. There, a merchant named Surendradatt, who happened to be an acquaintance of his father, who recognized him and took him to his house. There he stayed for some time.
One day, he found that some people of the city were preparing to go on a voyage, Charudatt also decided to go with them. Surendradatt discouraged him, but he would not listen.
The ship with Charudatt and the others on board cast anchor at an island where all the merchants did their business. Charudatt also did the same and earned a sizable amount. He was now anxious to return home, so he started back with the money he had earned.
Luck disfavored him again. The ship was caught in a storm on the sea and was lost. With it went down Charudatt’s entire fortune. He saved himself with great difficulty by swimming ashore with the support of a floating plank. He now reached the outskirts of the city of Rajpur, where he sat under a tree, taking stock of his life.
A traveler was passing by that way. Charudatt saw his brilliant face and felt that this must be some uncommon personality. He folded his palms and wished him a good day. The traveler stopped to look at him. When he saw him in a pitiable condition, he said: “Why do you look so sad and downcast, young man ?” Charudatt narrated his story.
The traveler took pity on him and took him along with him. Charudatt expected no danger from him. Danger, however, comes without giving notice, and it comes in a manner and at a time when it is least expected.
After they had covered some distance, the two reached a dense forest. There was a hill in it, and there was a cave in the hill. The man opened the door of the cave, and the two entered into it. As they proceeded inside the cave, they reached a well which was emitting a very foul smell. The man handed over to Charudatt a hollow gourd and said: “I shall lower you inside the well. You fill this up with the juice that is stored inside and pass it on to me. Then I shall take you out.”
The man lowered Charudatt into the well. Now he was near the juice. As he extended his hand to fill up the gourd, he heard a voice from inside the well, “Gentleman, please don’t take not juice.”
Charudatt replied: “Sir, whoever you may be, I am to inform you that I am Bhanu Shreshthi’s son. At the bidding of a fellow traveler, I have come down to take the juice from this well. You will excuse my disturbing you and be good enough to permit me to take a gourd full of juice.”
The voice replied: “I was a sea-roving merchant myself. Once I was a victim of a shipwreck and saved myself by swimming ashore. I met this same traveler, who induced me to come with him. After we had reached here, he lowered me into this well. Then he took the gourd full of juice from my hand, but he dropped me into the well. Now it is impossible to get out. This juice is dangerous to the body, and my end may not be very far off. That’s why I warned you not to touch it. Give me the gourd. I shall fill it and pass it on to you.”
Charudatt gave him the gourd, which the man filled up and returned. The traveler now pulled up the rope. The traveler said to Charudatt: “Give me the gourd first. Then I shall take you out.” Charudatt said: “You have to take me out with the gourd.”
The traveler was vexed at these words. He took both of them out, but he pushed both back into the well. But he was cautious because of the prior warning. He caught the support of the earthen ring inside and stood halfway from the juice. But, as there was no possibility of his getting out, he started brooding over his past. As he did it, he felt very bad.
But time is the best healer, and after some time, his agony had somewhat abated. It occurred to him that it must be all a play of Karmas accumulated in the past, and it was not known what other hardships were still in store. He went on brooding and at last he thought of giving a turn to his life by changing its course in the spiritual direction. He then thought of the Arihantas, the Siddhas, the Munis and the Religion as taught by the Kevalis. He took the vow to desist from sinful acts, went on fast and became immersed in meditation.
The man who was already in the well said the following soothing words to console him: “On the third day from today, a cow will come here to drink from this well. If, at that time, you can catch hold of her tail very fast, there may be an escape for you.” This gave a ray of hope to Charudatt, and he became more alert not to miss the chance. After passing this information, the man inside the well breathed his last.
On the third day, the cow came there. Having drunk from the well, as the cow was about to return, Charudatt caught hold of her tail and jumped out. He sat for a while to chant the holy Navakar Mantra.
Hardly had he gone a little far when a wild buffalo chased him. Charudatt ascended a hill. The buffalo sat on the passage waiting for him to come down. But good luck prevailing, a huge cobra came out of a cave in the hill and swallowed the buffalo. Charudatt now came down.
After he had crossed through the forest, he reached a village. There he met a friend of his father, Rudradatt, who himself was a merchant. Charudatt stayed with him for some time.
But Charudatt’s luck was still in ferment and would not allow him to settle down. Now he and Rudradatt prepared a plan of going to the land of gold. No sooner was the plan ready than the two set out.
They crossed a turbulent river and reached the region where the way ahead was extremely dangerous for walking on foot. Besides, walking didn’t give them speed. So they bought two big he-goats and continued their journey on their backs, but the land of gold was still very far, so Rudradatt said: “If we proceed at this speed, we shall not reach our destination for a very long time. We should devise some means of reaching there early.”
Both started thinking. Soon, however, Rudradatt hit upon an idea. He said: “Well, I have an idea. Let us kill our goats and use their hides to prepare two bags. Then we get inside and lie on the ground. Some big Bharunda bird, greedy for flesh, may pick us up and drop us up in the land of gold. That will make our task very easy.”
The plan did not, however, appeal much to Charudatt. He said: “We passed through a dense forest on the backs of these goats. Should we now kill them ? Life is as much dear to them as to us. These animals too have a feeling of pain. So we should give up the idea of killing them.”
Rudradatt responded: “Well, I don’t understand your mind. These goats are neither our parents nor our brothers. In fact, they are nothing to us. They are meant for our use, and we need to give priority to our own requirements without bothering about what happens to them.”
Charudatt protested again, but Rudradatt said firmly: “I have decided to kill my goat.” No sooner had he said it than he did it. Then he took out its hide.
Now, turning to Charudatt, he said: “You can’t do it, so let me do it for you.” On hearing this, Charudatt came to the goat and said: “Poor animal ! In your previous birth, you must have killed some animal, and so you are going to be slaughtered now. This is the time for you now to renounce the Ashravas (inflow of Karmas) that bind the soul and take refuge unto the Arihantas, the Siddhas, the Munis, and the Religion taught by the Kevalis. Seek forgiveness of all living beings, give up anger, and cultivate a feeling of fraternity to all.” He uttered the holy Navakar Mantra into the goat’s ears.
Rudradatt killed the goat and used the two hides to prepare two leather bags. He entered into one of them and made Charudatt enter into the other. Then they lay on the ground taking their chance.
Now, everything went as expected. Two Bharunda birds descended and picked up the two goatskins in their claws and flew away in the sky. After they had covered some distance, they came across a few more birds of their species. A quarrel ensued between them, in consequence of which the bags dropped down. Luckily, however, Charudatt’s bag fell into a lake, so he remained unhurt. He now tore the bag and came out.
When favorable Karma is about to come up, it brings hope in the midst of darkness. Charudatt’s unfavorable Karma was in the exit phase now.
While wandering in the forest, he reached the top of a hill, where he saw a Muni who was exposing himself to the blazing sun with his arms stretched upwards. Charudatt sat down near him.
Having finished his Kayotsarga (meditation), the Muni said: “Who are you and why have you come here ? This is an island named Kumbhakund, and this hill is named Kakkoda. No one can come here except the Devs, the Vidyadhars, and the flying Munis who are gifted with special powers. There is a deep sea all around this island. How did you cross it ?”
Charudatt narrated his story. On hearing his account, the Muni said, “In this mundane life, difficulties are abound, not well-being. Not even the king of the Devs is capable of transgressing Karmas without experiencing its impact. It will be advisable for you to prevent the influx of Karmas.”
Just at that time, two persons descended there from an air-chariot. They were the Muni’s sons in the worldly life, both Vidyadhars, now residents of the Vaitadhya hills, and both had come there to pay obeisance and homage to their father.
When Charudatt and these two were in the midst of a conversation, they saw another air-chariot rushing through the air. It was so bright that it gave light to all directions. The air-chariot descended onto the hill and from it alighted a Dev, attended by many others. To the surprise of all, he first paid obeisance and homage to Charudatt and then to the Muni.
Enlightening all, the incoming Dev said: “This Shravak (pointing to Charudatt) is my spiritual master. It is because of his great favor that I have attained this divine status. To me, therefore, in matters of paying obeisance, he is Number One.”
When the Vidyadhars asked how this came to be so, he said: “In my previous birth, I was a goat and he was my master. Now, I was slaughtered by his companion, but before he could kill me, this man did his best to help my spirit and chanted the holy Navakar Mantra into my ears, by dint of which I enjoy this status today.”
Having said that the Dev paid him homage again and flew away. The Vidyadhars, on their return flight, restored Charudatt to his city. But before he departed, on the suggestion of the Muni, Charudatt took the vow of imposing zone restriction on his movement from the time he reach his home city, for he confessed that, for want of a vow like this, he had suffered much in life.
On the return journey, Charudatt spent a few days in the company of the Vidyadhars on the Vaitadhya hills and accepted the hand of a Vidyadhara damsel. Then, back in his city, Charudatt, in the company of his two wives, spent the rest of his life happily and worthily, fulfilling the vow he had imposed on himself.
In the city of Rajpur, there lived a man named Kulaputra. Jaindas, a Jain Shravak, was his close friend. In the company of his friend, Kulaputra came in touch with the Jain Munis and undertook the vow not to eat fish.
Once a terrible famine broke out in the city, and people started living on fish. Even the staunchest vegetarians changed their diet, and there was hardly a household where fish was not a staple food. Now, Kulaputra’s vow was on a severe trial. His wife said to him one day, “Don’t you see, there is no food even for the children, and they are starving ? And yet you are so very indifferent. Why don’t you buy me some fish ? I can’t do without it.”
Kulaputra responded, “You see, my dear, I have no desire to deprive other living beings of their life just to save my own. Grains are our food. I can’t extend my hands to fish. I have affection for my children, but I have a similar affection for everyone else. I can’t overlook this. Above all, I will not break my vow.”
Kulaputra’s brother-in-law forced him to accompany him to the riverbank in order to catch fish. Very reluctantly he went with him and very indifferently he threw his net in the water. But what a wonder ! He had the largest catch. When Kulaputra saw that the fish were very uneasy and restless outside the water, he at once released them in the stream. He tried thrice, but on each occasion the outcome was the same, and he released the fish into the stream on all the three occasions.
Burdened with dissimilar thoughts moving up and down in his mind, he went on fast unto death and was liberated of the mortal frame. He was born in the family of a merchant named Manihar in the city of Rajgruhi and was given the name Dhamanak.
Manihar was a man of great wealth and fortune. But by the time Dhamanak was eight years old, there broke out an epidemic in which all members of the merchant’s family except Dhamanak died. He had now no guardian to look after him, and the vast property took no time to disappear. At last, the orphan took shelter with another merchant, Sagarpoat by name.
One day, some Munis came to Sagarpoat’s house to seek food. The eldest of them, when he saw the boy, casually observed to his fellow Munis that when the boy’s auspicious Karmas would come up, he would be the head of this very household.
Naturally, the observation could not be relished by the merchant, particularly because he had a son to inherit his fortune. So at once he thought out a plan to kill him. He sent for the butcher and gave him the assignment. The butcher took the boy to a deep forest. But as he looked at his face, he took pity on him and could not withhold his disgust of the merchant who had given him a cruel assignment. He pierced Dhamanak’s finger, took a few drops of blood, and released him. He asked him to flee at once and never again to show his face in that region.
When all alone in the forest and deeply afflicted by terror, Dhamanak met a cowherd, who heard his account and took him home. Here started a new chapter in his life. He was now assisting the cowherd, and this work he did not dislike.
Some years passed in this way, and Dhamanak was now a young man. One day, it so happened that the merchant Sagarpoat came to that very place on business. He saw the young man and liked him very much. He learnt on inquiry that this was an orphan whom the cowherd had picked up from the forest years back.
The merchant now had no doubt that this was the boy whom he had himself condemned years ago. His old apprehensions revived, and once more he was determined to wipe him out of existence. So he requested the cowherd to lend him the service of the boy to carry an urgent message to his son.
Dhamanak reached the outskirts of the city of Rajgruhi with the merchant’s letter in his hand. He took shelter in a temple to rest and did not know when he fell fast asleep. The envelope lay beside him.
Just then, the merchant’s daughter Bisa came to the temple. When her eyes fell on an envelope addressed to her own brother, she could not check the temptation to pick it up. When she read it, she found that her brother had been commissioned by her father to administer dreadful venom to the bearer thereof as soon as he reached him.
Bisa looked at the young man, reread the letter, and again looked at him. She did not understand why her father had given such a cruel order. Now, poison is called ‘Bis’ in the north Indian dialects, and the girl, by a gentle stroke of the pen, changed ‘Bis’ into Bisa, which was her own name. Then she put the letter from where she had picked it up and silently departed.
The letter was duly delivered to the merchant’s son, and the merchant’s wishes were duly honored to the very letter of the note. When the merchant returned home, he found to his greatest disgust that the young man he had condemned had turned into the next of his kin. He felt helpless and bitter.
A minor stroke of a pen thus changed into a major stroke of fortune. But the merchant’s thinking did not change. He was still bent on killing the young man, even though that would be a great misfortune for his own daughter.
So he instructed some of his faithful men to be on the lookout for a suitable opportunity to kill him. When auspicious Karma is up, no one can do as much as to bend your hair, let alone kill you. The men were unsuccessful in their assignment.
One day, the whole family, including Dhamanak, had gone to a friend’s house to participate in an occasion. Dhamanak returned somewhat early. But since the entrance door was locked, he lay outside on a cot. Somehow he felt restless, got up and went away for a little walk. Meanwhile his brother-in-law returned. But since the entrance was still locked, he lay on the same cot and was soon asleep.
Now, the merchant’s men, who were after Dhamanak, saw him lying on the cot outside. They went to get their weapons. By the time they returned with sharp weapons, the person on the cot had changed, and thus the most unfortunate victim of the merchant’s order was none other than his own dear son. Thus one does not know how a ditch dug for another may turn out to be a big well for the digger himself.
Having lost his only son, the merchant had now no other alternative but to change his attitude toward his Dhamanak. He discussed the matter with his wife, and the two unanimously came to the conclusion that they can’t change the prediction made by the Muni and accordingly Dhamanak should be entrusted with full responsibility of running the household.
Mysterious is the turn of Karmas. Dhamanak, who was born in a rich family and had lost his all, was again in command of a huge fortune.
For many years, Dhamanak enjoyed the prosperity and happiness of the earthly life. Then he adopted the vows of a Shravak and followed them rigorously, enriching thereby his life on earth, and, at death, finding a place among the celestial beings.
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.
A merchant named Dhanasar used to live in Mathura. He was the owner of a vast fortune of 620 million gold coins, but he was extremely stingy and would not even give as much as a copper or a nickel. He was well known for his wealth as well as stinginess.
Money can be acquired by both honest and dishonest means. Money honestly earned does not become a source of trouble, but not so for the money earned through dishonest means. Besides, the latter does not last as much as money honestly earned.
One day, Dhanasar went to take stock of the treasure kept underground, but to his great shock, he found it all changed into charcoal with reptiles crawling through it. As he was brooding over this great loss, there came the news of the loss of one of his ships loaded with cargo on the high seas. Then followed a third shock about a highway robbery in which a convoy of his carrying precious merchandise had been looted. These made him feel so helpless and wretched that he saw darkness all around. Holding his forehead between his palms, he was bewailing for his ill-luck.
When the unfavorable Karma is prevailing, whatever a man may do will inevitable go against him. Dhanasar borrowed one million gold coins from a relative and went abroad to do business. But as ill-luck would have it, there was a shipwreck, and all his gold went into the sea. He could save himself with difficulty by catching a floating log and swimming ashore.
He spent a day on the seashore, and on the next day he moved to a nearby park. There he saw a Muni under the shade of a mango tree giving a sermon to assembled people. Dhanasar also sat down to listen. When the sermon was over, the merchant came near the Muni, paid him homage and obeisance, and said, “Oh Muni ! For what Karma did I acquire so much wealth, and for what Karma did I lose it all ?”
The Muni said, “Oh merchant ! All these things happen as per Karma, which is powerful. In Dhatakikhand, there was a city named Ambika. Two brothers lived there. The elder brother was always generous helping the needy, but the younger brother was miserly and did not like the charities made by his elder brother. When he saw him making charities, he would even lose his temper.
Such a situation continued for some time, and then the younger brother could tolerate it no longer and separated. But even after this, the elder brother’s wealth did not decrease but rather increased. So the younger brother lodged a complaint with the king and induced him to take custody of his brother’s property and wealth. The elder brother was deeply wounded at this, and he renounced the world. After his death, by virtue of his good deeds, he became a Dev in heaven.
The younger brother was now bitterly criticized by the people, and he could no longer remain in the society. So he joined the order of some heretics, and on completion of his life was born as an Asurkumar in hell. Having completed his life there, he is reborn as you. In your previous life, you disapproved of gifts and charities, and so you are still a miser. You deprived your brother of his rightful wealth, and so you are deprived now. And, well, your elder brother, having spent his life in Saudharmalok, was born as a merchant in Tamralipti. He earned much wealth and gave up all of it to join the order of monks. He is the person now speaking to you.”
Dhanasar was sorry and yet was amazed to hear this revealing account. He fell at the feet of his elder brother, the Muni, and begged to be forgiven. He took a vow not to indulge in sinful acts any longer and to donate three-fourths of his earning, retaining for personal use only a quarter. This had an instantaneous effect. By the mercy of a Dev, all his wealth and affluence that had been lost were restored.
Henceforth, Dhanasar became a devout Shravak who regularly spent his wealth on seven worthy items: Jain abodes, Jain idols, Jain literature, Jain Munis, Jain nuns, Jain Shravaks, and Jain Shravikas. This was a real turning point in his life, and the rest of it was worthily lived.
Two men named Dharmabuddhi (good thinking) and Papbuddhi (sinful thinking) lived in a city. They helped each other and so developed a close friendship.
One day both the friends thought, “We should earn more. We should undertake some business venture abroad. No one could make a fortune unless one travels abroad.” With this thought they left for a foreign country and earned a large fortune and then they decided to return home.
When they were close to their home town, Papbuddhi entertained an evil thought in his mind, “If, by some means, I deprive this fellow of his wealth, I would increase my wealth immensely.” He said to his friend, “Brother, with great difficulty we have earned this fortune, if we take it home, our relatives will demand to share with them and we shall have to part with our wealth. Therefore, let us hide a major portion of this wealth under this tree and carry home only what we presently need. We can always come here and dig out as we need it later on.”
Dharmabuddhi was simple-minded and innocent. He agreed to his friend’s proposal and both of them buried a major portion of their wealth underground near the roots of this tree.
After a while, Papbuddhi got worried about this wealth thinking perhaps, his friend might dig out and take away that wealth. A sinful man’s mind is always under various doubts. One night, he went to that hideout place, dug out all the wealth and filled up the pit as before.
After a few days Dharmabuddhi, feeling a need for the money went to the hideout along with Papbuddhi. On digging, nothing was found. Papbuddhi striking his head against a stone cried and said, “I am ruined. Now what shall I do ? I had all my possessions here. And you came here and stole all my wealth. Return to me my share or else I shall go to the court for justice.”
Dharmabuddhi said: “Oh my friend ! What are you saying ? I would never steal but I feel you may have stolen my wealth. Return my share or else I shall drag you to the court.” But Papbuddhi did not give up. On the contrary, he began to scold Dharmabuddhi. Thus quarreling, both of them approached the judge in the court. The judge, after, hearing both the parties said, “I shall have to rely on mystical evidence in this matter.”
Papbuddhi said: “This is not a proper form of justice. Documentary evidence is the most reliable and then follows oral evidence. In the absence of these two forms of evidences only, the mystical is to be resorted to. In our matter Sylvan God is my witness.” On hearing this plea the judge asked them to come the next morning.
Papbuddhi narrated the entire account to his father at home and he confessed that he did steal the wealth. He also added that with the help of his oral evidence he would succeed in swallowing the whole amount of wealth. His father inquired, “How is it possible ?”
Papbuddhi said, “In that region there is a Khijada tree with a cavity inside the trunk where you could hide. When I arrive there along with the judge, you will be asked by me, “Oh, Sylvan God, you stand as our witness. State, therefore, who could be the thief ?” Then you should say “Indeed, Dharmabuddhi is the thief.”
The father was not so wicked as the son. He said: “This is not proper. I feel this will not lead to any good.” But Papbuddhi compelled his father and added: “If you don’t act so, we shall be doomed. Don’t find fault with me when consequences follow.” A sinful man induces others to commit sin and leads them to calamity.
In the absence of any other alternative the father had to follow the son’s wishes and he lay himself concealed in the cavity of the said tree.
In the morning Dharmabuddhi and Papbuddhi arrived there along with the judge and other officers. The words from the tree resounded meaning that Dharmabuddhi was a thief. The officers were surprised and began to reflect as to what sort of punishment should be inflicted to the culprit.
Here, Dharmabuddhi was immensely embarrassed to find this strange development. He was deeply pained to find himself convicted as a thief considering he was innocent.
Suddenly an idea flashed in his mind. He piled grass round the trunk of the tree from where the voice came and set it on fire. The tree caught fire in no time. A man, partially burned, came out of a tree and he was screaming. The judge was surprised. He asked him, “Who are you ?” and ordered him to tell the truth.
The man said with faltering words: “My wicked son degraded me to this plight.” With these words he fell on the ground and died. The judge was convinced that this was the plan of Papbuddhi to prove Dharmabuddhi as a culprit.
Papbuddhi confessed that he compelled his father to stay in the cavity of the tree and made him utter the words: “Dharmabuddhi is a thief.” So they found Papbuddhi guilty of the theft. They searched his house and found the wealth and gave all of it to Dharmabuddhi. Papbuddhi was punished for the offenses of breach of trust, false representation, cheating and producing false witness.
MORAL LESSON: See what consequences follow when one tries to obtain wealth by sins, injustice or unrighteousness. Papbuddhi lost his wealth, and also got punished. His father died of burn to go along with his culprit son. Remember greediness is a curse.
Prince Sura lived in the city of Dhara. His wife, Chatura, was a shrew with a sharp tongue. Sura was very sorry for her behavior. He tried his best to improve her, but there was no fruitful outcome. So he thought of taking another wife and was on the lookout for a suitable bride.
One day, he reached the house of an old woman in the city of Avanti. She had a beautiful daughter named Sundari. When Sura made the proposal to marry her, the woman said, “I shall give my daughter to one who agrees to look after me. This daughter is my only support.”
Sura agreed, got married, and brought the new wife home. Chatura became furious to know this, but she was helpless, so now she applied the only instrument at her disposal. She would torture the co-wife, often quarrel with her and use harsh words. Soon Sundari became disgusted.
The prince then housed them in separate buildings, but still there could be no peace. Chatura would often come to Sundari’s house to quarrel with her, to beat her, to bite her with her teeth, and to scratch her skin with her nails. The situation was out of control.
Sura now housed Sundari at a distance of 20 miles. The mother lived with her, Sura often visiting.
One day, as Sura was about to go to her house, Chatura came to know of it. She lauded the idea in so many words and gave her husband some Modaka (sweetmeat) to be eaten on the way. When Sura reached the bank of a river, he sat down to rest and ate the Modaka. This was an enchanted stuff, and no sooner had he taken it than he changed into a dog.
Now, instead of proceeding to Sundari, the dog returned to Chatura. She tied the dog and beat him half dead. “Will you go again to Sundari ?” She said in anger. Then she restored the dog to human form. It took Sura a whole month to recover.
But he could not check the temptation of visiting Sundari for long, nor could he keep his plan a secret, so that this time Chatura gave him another sweet named Karamba to be eaten on the way. As previously, Sura reached the bank of the river and was about to eat the sweet when a hermit with matted hair came there and sought the whole of it. Now, no sooner had the hermit taken it than he turned into an ass, and the ass took the road to Chatura’s house, Sura following from behind.
As the ass reached Chatura’s house, she tied it fast and showered all her passion on its back. The animal brayed bitterly, but Chatura would take no respite until it was half dead. Then the ass was released and turned into a human being. And lo behold ! It was a hermit with matted hair. Chatura was terrified on the realization of what she had done to a holy man. She fell at his feet and begged sincerely to be forgiven. These are the only words the hermit uttered while departing: “Correct is the saying, whosoever eats Karamba undergoes pain.”
Fear always haunts a sinful soul. Chatura was afraid that whatever her machination, her husband could not love her. This anguish always tortured her. So she hatched a plan at once to get rid of her husband. She arranged a sacrifice to propitiate the deity, and she was successful. As she dropped her offerings into the fire, a snake came out and said, “What can I do for you, Madam ? I am pleased with your propitiation and I am at your service.”
Chatura was happy. She said, “My husband goes to another woman. I cannot bear this. So you deprive him of his life.” The snake said, “I shall do this as you desire, but it will take a little time. I promise you that at the end of six months, your husband will be a dead man.” Then the snake departed.
Sura witnessed the whole thing from a distance and thought, how mean is this woman’s conduct; not even the Brahma can fathom its depth.
After all this, he had no courage to return home, and he went to Sundari’s residence, where he started living from that day, and decided not to see Chatura anymore.
Sundari tried her best to make him happy through conversation, dance, and music, but Sura remained indifferent all the time. If someone is unhappy in the family, even other family members can’t be happy. So one day, Sura’s mother-in-law said, “My son ! What’s bothering you ?”
“Mother ! What’s the use of stating it when it’s beyond cure ?” “But, my son, sometimes the affection of the near-and-dear ones may hit upon something that may help. What’s the harm in your telling me ? Maybe when the disease is diagnosed, a remedy may come up.”
Still Sura wanted to suppress, but in the face of an overwhelming affection, he could not. He gave a full account and said, “On the completion of six months from that fateful day, I will die.”
“Don’t you worry about it. You leave it to me, and I shall set it right. Be happy from now. My own ward’s happiness is linked up with you.”
Sura felt somewhat relieved but could not be fully assured. Chatura’s words would often ring into his ears, and he could find no rest.
Sundari and her mother painted two peacocks on the wall outside. They were very lifelike. The two ladies worshipped them daily. Thus six months passed, and the fateful day arrived when Sura was to die of a snakebite. he was restless, but the two ladies gave him courage, and Sundari said, “You will see our power, my dear. If there’s some power on earth that kills, there’s a greater power that saves.”
The ladies now cleaned a spot in the room and purified it. Then they placed a cushion at the center, and on it sat the prince. The two ladies now, with enchanted rice in their hands, looked around for the snake. Soon their eyes detected one, and at once they hurled their rice at the peacocks. What a surprise !
They were no longer a coat of paint, but one of them actually descended from the wall, picked up the snake, and flew away in the sky. Sura witnessed all this speechlessly. He saw the infallible power of the enchanted words. He felt as if he had acquired a fresh life.
Chatura’s plan was thus upset. She got a report from a traveler that Sura was hail and hearty, living happily and making charities daily. She now turned herself into a white cat and reached Sundari’s house. When the mother and the daughter saw the cat in their house and read into its intentions, they themselves became two black cats and chased the white one. But the white one jumped on both, tearing each with sharp claws. Even the combined strength of the two was no match for the strength of the white cat. After scratching them severely, the white cat returned home.
When Sura asked all about it, the ladies said, “The cat was none other than your first wife, who had come to chastise us. But as it commanded a greater power, it overpowered us both and escaped unhurt.”
Sura was again depressed and wanted now to get rid of all the three ladies. Hardly a month had passed when the white cat appeared again and the same scene repeated, with similar outcome. After the encounter was over, Sundari came to her husband and said, “My dear ! When the white cat comes next time, you will have to help us. When we shall be fighting, you only say, “Black cats, kill the white cat.” At once our power will increase and we shall throw it on the ground.”
This time the white cat came earlier. It had gained confidence by her previous successes. Now, as soon as the fight started, Sura came up and said, “Black cats ! Kill the white cat.”
At once their power increased tremendously and the white cat was down rolling on the ground beneath them, and the black cats pressed so hard at its neck that it was about to die. Now, Sura thought, if my words can give strength to the black cats, similar words may give strength to the white one, and I may be rid of all the three. Let me try. And he said aloud, “White cat ! Kill the black cats.” And the black cats soon lay dead. Even the white cat didn’t live long thereafter.
When all the three were thus dead and gone, Sura felt relieved. He performed the last rites for all the three and came straight to his brother’s house where he was received by his sister-in-law. Destiny is so powerful that it pursues a man wherever he may go.
One day, as Sura was at his brother’s house, a man came from the farm to announce the death of a bull while plowing the land. He said that if it was not immediately replaced by a new bull, the work of cultivation would suffer. As soon as his sister-in-law heard this, she at once showered some powder on Sura’s head, which at once turned him into a bull. It was then led to the farm and yoked to the plow.
Poor Sura ! What a miserable life started for him ! Days passed. One day, the hook in his nose broke and fell down. This at once dispelled the charm, and Sura regained his human form. At once he slipped away from the farm.
On the highway, he met his brother who expressed a deep concern at the severe wounds on his body and requested him to accompany him home. Declining the offer, Sura said, “My brother ! Let your home be sweet to you. My sister-in-law is a devil incarnate. She turned me into a bull and yoked me at the plough. The wounds you see have been derived therefrom. Now I shall go to your home only when I desire to be changed into a bull. Until then let me keep far from your home. For me, even life in the forest is more covetable. It seems that all homes are haunted by the devil.”
After saying that, Sura started walking toward the forest, and soon he was in the very depth of it. There he saw six men attired in costly robes with a load of grass on each head. He was surprized. When he made inquiry, the men said, “Here lives an old lady in the forest, who is crippled in body, but is the very embodiment of kindness. At her bid, we take these bundles of grass for her, and in exchange, we are given rich and fresh robes. This has made our life happy.” Sura said, “My dear friends ! I want to meet the lady. Will you be good enough to introduce me to her ?”
They agreed. Sura now gathered a load of grass and started walking with them. When they reached the lady, she inquired about the stranger. The men said, “Madam ! We met him in the forest. We have it from him that his name is Dhista. He desires to join with us in supplying you grass. May we hope that you will kindly accept him ?” The lady looked very much pleased. She patted on Dhista’s back and said, “My son ! You are very weak. You stay with us and have a nice time.”
Dhista said, “Mother ! I am very unfortunate. In rolling through a hard life, I have reached here. Now, I want to spend the rest of my life at your feet.” The lady cast a very affectionate glance at him, at which Dhista felt obliged. He took a bath, wore fresh clothes, and ate delicious dishes.
A mood of inquiry invariably unlocks fresh avenues of knowledge. Dhista felt inquisitive as to what the lady did with such a huge quantity of grass. At night, he lay with his companions but did not sleep. At midnight, the lady got up and checked everybody. She made sure that everybody was fast asleep. Then, with the help of chanted words, she changed herself into a mare, ate the whole stock of grass, and thereafter became a beautiful damsel. Dhista followed her in disguise keeping certain distance. She now reached a cave where she was received by a few other female spirits, who asked, “What offer have you prepared for us ?”
She answered, “Have patience. I have gathered seven men for you, six of whom are fat and plump. Only the seventh man is lean and weak. He is a recent arrival. However, I have started feeding him well, and I have no doubt that he will put on sufficient flesh by the fourteenth day (of the fortnight). He is also meant for you.”
The devils were highly pleased, but Dhista was alarmed at death following him so closely on his heels. He had no doubt that this lady, herself a devil, would put him to death at the earliest available opportunity.
In the morning, as usual, they all started for cutting grass. On the way, as Dhista narrated his night’s experience, all the six protested, “We have not detected any evil intention in the woman’s behavior so far.”
Dhista replied, “My dear friends ! A comfortable life has blinded you, but you won’t escape from her trap, I assure you. I am not going to stay here even for a moment.” They said, “Stay for a day more, and let us make sure of what you say. If your apprehension proves true, we shall go with you.”
Dhista agreed. The day passed as usual. At night, all the seven did not sleep, and, following the lady incognito, they had a corroboration of what Dhista had said. They now sat thinking about a suitable plan. Dhista suggested that such an evil character must not be allowed to live, and since she was too powerful for any one of them, they must pull up their whole strength together and put her to death.
There was unanimity among all the seven, and they decided to take the action at once. Two men held the woman by her legs, two held her head fast, and one of them beat her so severely with a club that the poor witch breathed her last.
Now there was nothing to be afraid of, and so the seven friends started from there. Passing through a forest, they reached the bank of the Sipra, and therefrom, a fine city on its bank. But to their surprise, they found it wholly deserted. They entered into it and reached at last the palace gate, where sat an old woman. The woman at once received them and said, “Good fellows ! Here are seven beautiful damsels for you. Please accept them.”
Dhista said, “But, mother, tell us first who they are, and where do they come from “ The whole city is deserted, and the presence of seven damsels in such a lonely place causes us both surprise and suspicion.”
The woman responded, “My good fellows ! These are Vidyadhar girls. One day, their father had inquired of an astrologer about their prospective husbands. The astrologer suggested that the girls should be entrusted to me and that the husbands would come without seeking. So I am here. You now relieve me of my charge by accepting the girls.”
Continued the woman, “Here you have everything that makes life pleasant; the finest cushions, dressing rooms and bed chambers, and the most beautiful damsels. Enjoy life in their company. There are seven fine steeds in the stable; enjoy a ride on their back in any direction save the East. I bid you strictly not to go in the Eastern direction even by mistake.”
The offer seemed attractive, and the seven agreed. It was a pleasant life for them in the company of the Vidyadhar girls. Sometimes they would be on the swings dangling in the air, sometimes in the garden plucking beautiful flowers, and sometimes in the lake enjoying a swimming in the company of the girls.
One day the seven got together to consider the taboo imposed on their movement in the Eastern direction, and they decided to go there to unfold the mystery behind it. They started on horseback, all the seven together. Hardly had they gone some distance when they saw piles of human bones as far as the eyes could reach. They now looked at each other.
Just at that moment, the hoof of one of the horses struck against a skull, and the skull at once laughed aloud and said, “I too once enjoyed the same horses and the same girls.”
Everybody was afraid and surprised. But Dhista gathered courage and said, “Who are these horses, and who are these girls ? Who was the woman we met at the palace gate, and how is this place so much infested with human bones ?”
The skull responded, “This shameless witch is a notorious devil. She has killed us all. If you have love for your life, run away at once.”
At these words, all the seven got so much terrified that they ran at once. Without so much as turning their faces even once, all the seven were on their horses until the sun was high up in the middle of the sky.
Finding that the men had not come back, the seven girls at once reported to the guardian woman. She at once picked up her enchanted drum and reached the top of the mansion. Therefrom she could detect at a great distance all the seven men fleeing. She started beating on the drum to turn the horses, and she was readily effective. The seven tried to jump down from their horses but could not. They now sat helpless on their horses and the horses started back to the palace. As the woman recalled them near her and thundered, “Fools ! Why did you try to flee from my trap ? Don’t ever try it again !”
Saying that, she displayed her long, bloody tongue, and with an unsheathed sword in her hand, she trampled Dhista beneath her heels and said, “Confess, you fool ! Where were you going on horseback ? These are your last moments on the earth. Remember your creator.”
For a moment, Dhista felt nervous, but soon he gathered courage and said, “Old devil ! Tell me first, who cut your nose ?”
The question pleased the lady, who released him at once and said, “Lucky man ! Let me give you an account. In the land of Bharat, there is a city named Manorama, where reigned King Manorath. His queen, Manimala, gave birth to seven sons and one daughter. I am that daughter.
When I reached the threshold of youth, I developed a test for spells and enchantments and soon mastered all the arts, leading to hypnotism, mesmerism, slaughter, maddening, demon-arts, moving to heaven, hiding in the nether world, attracting planets, etc. I also acquired the art of making alive a corpse.
With these special powers, I reached one day the court of Indra, the king of gods, where I met many heavenly stage-players, and learnt from them the art of dramatics. This soon brought me a chance to dance at Indra’s court, and I pleased him by my performance. When he asked me for a boon, what else could I ask for but seek Indra as my husband ? And to this he kindly agreed. Henceforth I became a regular visitor to heaven and had a very nice time there.”
The lady further continued her account: “You don’t know, my dear fellow, how life at times takes a major turn without giving any notice. One day, my gardener, whom I liked, desired to go to heaven with me and see the stage performance there with his own eyes. I couldn’t refuse him. I turned him into a black bee who stuck at my petticoat, and with him thus I reached heaven. The performance started and I was on the stage, but I could not fully exert myself because of the load on my petticoat, and my dance was thus spoiled. This infuriated Indra, who cursed me not to go to heaven anymore but to live on the earth and suffer for my error. At that time, he cut my nose.
I was perplexed and couldn’t conceive for a moment that I could be in a situation like that. I fell at Indra’s feet begging pitifully to be forgiven, and humbly sought about the time of my deliverance. At this, Indra took pity on me and prescribed human flesh for my daily intake and said, “The day a human would ask you woman, who cut your nose that day you will attain deliverance.”
So I descended on this city, and with the help of these girls and horses, I deceived all the residents here and lived on their flesh. I didn’t even spare the strangers visiting the city. But no one so far did dare to ask me the question but you did today. No one had ever thought of it. You did a very right thing, and by dint of it, you are my deliverer. I am grateful to you. I now very gladly bestow on you the use of these girls, the horses, and the city.”
The woman said, “Sir ! With my arts, if I know how to kill, I also know how to make dead men alive. The kingdom I offer you can’t be a desert.” The lady now applied her art, and the city was back to life again.
She handed over the administration to Dhista and disappeared, never to be seen again. Dhista took over the reign of the highest office and gave very high positions in the state to his companions.
One day, an Acharya came to that city. He gave his sermons, after which king Dhista expressed his inquisitiveness about the devils traps that were so often laid in the course of his life. The Acharya said, “Oh king ! In your previous birth, you were a Brahmin named Haridatt in the city of Pratisthanpur. The Brahmin had six servants. His daily hobby was to attract spirits and tease them, in which the six servants were his accomplices. Fortunately, a Muni came to that city, whose words influenced all the seven and gave them a chance to acquire pious Karmas. Now you see, you seven are brought together here, and since in your previous births you so much teased and troubled the spirits, they paid you back in your own coins in this life.”
These words restored the previous life’s memory to Dhista, who could find a corroboration of the Muni’s words. This gave a mighty turn to the course of his life, which, needless to add, he made a worthy living, and at death, attained a higher stage.
There was a city named Kamalpur. There reigned a king named Sahasraksa. One day, as the king was seated in the court, there came an astrologer who uttered benediction and resumed a seat. The king said, “Astrologer ! If it pleases you, do enlighten us about what is going to happen in the near future.”
The astrologer remained silent. When the king repeated his request again, he said, “Your Majesty ! A severe famine is about to break out, which is to last for about twelve years. This will strain the administration and wipe out the people.”
The king was very much perturbed. He said, “We should take remedial measures immediately.”
He discussed the matter with his entire cabinet and arrived at the decision to empty the treasury to fill up the granaries. The work started at once. Many who could afford it, however, fled the country and moved elsewhere, some even across the sea.
It was the month of Ashadha. A patch of cloud was visible in the sky. The king was happy. This will give us the much-needed water, he thought. It is a very auspicious omen.
And so it was. The cloud soon spread all over the sky. It gave a good shower, and the fields had enough water. There was a bumper crop. People were relieved. The famine had been averted, and the astrologer proved wrong.
One day, the keeper of the king’s parks came with the following message: “Muni Yugandhar has camped for his monsoon stay in a park. He will remain without food for all these months. By dint of silence, meditation, and Kayotsarga, he has already acquired the Kevalgnan.”
The king duly rewarded the keeper for this message and started with his people to welcome the Muni and pay him obeisance and homage. After the king had met the Muni and heard his holy words, he made the following submission: “Bhante ! How did it so happen that the astrologer’s words proved untrue ?”
The Muni responded, “Oh king ! The famine was really unavoidable due to the influence of the stars. But the reason it has been averted was not clear to the astrologer.”
The king: “Bhante ! I am eager to know the reason, if possible.”
“In this land of Bharat, there is a city named Purimatala. There lived a rich young man who suddenly became ill due to the coming up of some inauspicious Karmas. No amount of substantial food intake would cure him, and his ailment was worsening daily.
One day, in the presence of his spiritual master, he gave up all rich food, sweets, and milk products and resolved to live on a coarse diet and physical exercise to control the stomach. He also courted a celibate life. Very soon, he recovered and was in the very best of health. This helped him even to take greater care of his business and add to his wealth. But he did not change the course of his life nor deviate from the vow about food and sex.
Once, there was a severe famine in the land, and all his wealth was spent to help the people. Now, on completion of that life, he was born as a Dev and has now been reborn as the son of Shravak Subuddhi. Because of the birth of this pious soul in your kingdom, Oh king, even the inevitable has been averted.”
The king took leave of the Muni and proceeded straight to Subuddhi’s house. He saw the child, who was the embodiment of divinity. He blessed him from the core of his heart and named him Dharmakumar.
Dharmakumar grew up to be a worthy lad. He was married in a respectable family. He had a happy life, and in his old age, he joined the holy order of the Munis. There, in the end, he attained Kevalgnan.
There, once lived a boy named Ajit who worked very hard during his student life. He was the smartest student in the school and had big dreams of becoming a doctor. Finally his dream came true and he became a very fine doctor. He lived in a big city in a big house where he established a huge practice.
One day, an old woman came to him from a nearby village. She was very poor. She asked him, “Doctor, please help my son. He has a very high fever and has been sick for a few days.” The doctor said, “I am sorry, but I must have the fees first and then I will help you,” in a very mean manner. The lady promised to work really hard and then pay him back later but the stubborn doctor refused. The old woman started to cry and told him that a son is always very important to the parents and that money is not the only thing in life. Still, the doctor would not listen. The woman left with her son and went home.
A few days later, the doctor was cleaning his gun which he kept for the protection of his family. His son was playing nearby him. Suddenly, the cloth he was cleaning the gun with, got stuck in the trigger and the gun went off striking the boy in the head. He rushed his son to the hospital. A team of doctors tried feverishly to save the boy’s life but the child died on the operating table. Dr. Ajit was stricken by grief.
He knew that he had a lot of money. The hospital had fine doctors and was well-equipped. He had all these facilities but still could not save the life of his son. The doctor realized that neither skill nor money could help him. He felt very helpless and full of remorse.
He then remembered the incident of the old lady who had pleaded him to help her son. He then realized how wrong he had been to turn her away just because she could not pay him the fees. He understood the feelings of the young boy’s mother. It dawned upon him that his uppermost duty was to care for human lives without any regard for money. His mission in life was to serve mankind.
This unfortunate incident had a profound impact on Dr. Ajit’s life. He started to go to remote villages and caring for the poor and needy. He started a charitable hospital where the poor and rich could all be served without discrimination.
The instinct to amass wealth is very strong in all humans. Jainism teaches us to not be greedy because this passion is a big obstacle to salvation. The more one has, the more one wants. Greed really does make monsters out of us.
A poor man is unhappy because he does not have enough to live properly. A wealthy man is sad because he is not satisfied with what he has. This is the reason why monks and saints first renounce all possessions in their pursuit of salvation. Because of our good Karmas, which include intelligence, skill, and hard work, we should share it with the poor and needy.
There was a big tree of Shalmali on the bank of river Godavari. A crow named Laghupatanak dwell on that tree. One morning, he saw a hunter in that area. The hunter scattered the rice grains, and spread the net to trap the birds and concealed himself in the neighboring bush.
After a little while, some birds were flying over this area and saw these grains and thought to come down to eat the grains. Old leader of the birds, Chitragreev said, “Think properly before you act. How are the grains of rice possible in this forest. This looks fishy.”
But the young birds felt as if they were more smart and did not care for the advice of the aged leader. They wanted to enjoy the white pearl-like grains and they came down. They were trapped as soon as they tried picking up the grains. They felt sorry but it was late. Now, they were concerned and discussed among themselves about how to get out. Chitragreev, old leader, said, “The hunter will arrive soon and we will be caught. Let us waste no time and put all our efforts jointly to fly up with the net to save our lives”.
Task which cannot be accomplished by an individual can be done if many people work together. That’s why unity or union is solicited. In the second world war when England was under apprehension of being bombarded by Germany, prime minister Churchill expressed that only a union of states would bring them victory and not the unnecessary debates. England got victory.
Here the pigeons also followed the advice of their old leader and with joint efforts uprooted the net-trap from the ground. They flew into the sky with the net. The hunter was disappointed and he left. That crow followed the pigeons to see what would happen next.
Having covered some distance the leader said, “We are out of danger completely, let us come down on the bank of the river Gandaki. There is a rat named Hiranyak. He is our friend who will help us out of this calamity.” So all the pigeons came down on the bank of the river Gandaki.
Hiranyak greeted his friend and his companions cordially. He snapped the net-threads with his sharp teeth and liberated them all. The pigeons were happy and then they returned home.
Observing this incident the crow thought, this rat Hiranyak seems to be very intelligent. I am fickle minded by nature. I don’t trust any one and though I haven’t been cheated by anybody, it would be still better to have a friends like him. A friend comes to rescue in the state of helplessness.
He came near the hole of Hiranyak and said, “Oh Hiranyak, I am a crow Laghupatanak by name and have come to make a friendship with you.”
Smart Hiranyak said, “Oh friend crow, normally I am the victim of crows, how is friendship possible between two of us ?”
The crow replied, “You are right but I have not come to you with the evil intention. You helped Chitragreev today and similarly you also might help me someday in the future. So I seek your friendship. Please fulfill my wish and oblige.”
Hiranyak said, “You are very fickle by nature and it is no use loving a fickle person. It is said, “One should not trust in a cat, a he-buffalo, a sheep, a crow and a coward man. So I am reluctant to be your friend.”
Laghupatanak said, “Yes, you are right and we can argue both ways. But, you should consider my feelings. I sincerely crave for your friendship. If you don’t agree to make me your friend I shall starve to death.”
Hearing such words Hiranyak accepted him as his friend. One day Laghupatanak said, to Hiranyak, “There is no rain here. There is famine and it is very difficult to feed our belly so I will leave for southern region. There is a lake Karpurgaura wherein my friend Mantharak, a crab resides.”
Hiranyak said, “I wouldn’t enjoy here without you so let me also follow you.”
The crow carried the rat in his beak and both of them arrived at the lake Karpurgaura. Both of them were accorded a warm welcome by the crab Mantharak who expressed, “This is your place, you both live here, eat, drink and enjoy life here.” A real friend welcomes his friend and helps him in adversity to his best.
All the three friends stayed on the bank of the lake and passed their time talking about various things. One day a deer named Chitrang came there to drink water. Mantharak, very hospitable by nature said, “Welcome, dear Deer, I hope you are quite hale and hearty.”
Chitrang said, “Not so, I was chased by a hunter’s dog and I have luckily escaped myself.”
Mantharak said, “If the place you live in is infested with fear and apprehension of death, then you had better come over here and stay. Graze green grass and sip the cool clear water of this lake.”
Chitrang said, “I extend my compliments for your hospitality. I wish the world abounds in good fellows like you. But I am a stranger here. I would enjoy this place if you make friendship with me.”
Mantharak said, “Friend, you are very frank hearted and sincere. I would certainly enjoy your friendship. From today onwards we are friends.” Thus the crow, the crab, the deer and the rat became close friends and passed their days happily.
One day Chitrang, the deer did not return long past sunset and all the three began to worry about him. Laghupatanak, rose high up in the sky in search of the deer. He found the deer trapped on the bank of the lake. The crow asked, “Friend, how is it that you are so trapped ?”
Chitrang said, “There is no time to explain all this. You call over here Hiranyak without delay and he would soon relieve me from this trap.”
Laghupatanak returned carrying the rat in his beak. Mantharak also arrived there. Hiranyak said, “Mantharak, (a crab) you should not have left our place. While he was cutting the net, he said the deer will run off, crow shall top the tree and I shall creep in the hole, but it will be very hard task for you to escape.”
Mantharak said, “When I found our friend in difficulty I could not keep patience and came over here to help the friend to my utmost. Now let me face my fate.”
Hiranyak began to snap the trap very speedily but in the meanwhile the hunter approached. The rat crept into the hole, the crow flew away in the sky and the deer with all his might ran away. Only the crab could not escape. The hunter found the crab and thought, “Good that I lost the deer but I found a crab.” The hunter caught the crab tied it with a string and began walking with the crab hanging at the end of his bow on his shoulder.
All the rest of the friends decided to save Mantharak. They made out a plan and according to the plan Chitrang kept himself laying dead on the bank of the lake. Laghupatanak posed as if it was wheedling out his eyes. The hunter seeing the sight threw aside the crab and rushed forward to catch hold of the deer. The rat Hiranyak at that very moment cut off the ties of Mantharak who crept away into deep waters of the lake. Here Chitrang jumped off and ran away in the forest. Laghupatanak flew in the sky crowing loudly and Hiranyak entered a hole nearby.
The hunter returned to find the string cut off and the crab was lost for ever too. All the four friends with mutual co-operation and aid enjoyed life.
Such friends can be rightly called true friends; but friendship of ‘right faith’ is the best of all types of friendships, as it smoothens the path of the soul to get out from the endless worldly miseries.
MORAL LESSON: Youth can benefit by listening to older people. Task which can’t be done by one individual can be done if many people work together. A real friend helps his friends in adversity to his best.
One preceptor named Ghan-Tunga moving along with his disciples arrived at a small village. Monsoon had began and it was drizzling, so he decided to stay there. Vankachul, a Kshatriya (a worrier) by caste was the chief of this village. He maintained himself by robbing the people of their valuables. The preceptor asked him for a place to stay and Vankachul arranged for some place. He also instructed the preceptor not to preach religion while he was in the village. He feared his accomplices might leave their ‘trade’ after listening to the moral preaching of the preceptor. The preceptor agreed and stayed there through monsoon.
The preceptor was very learned, possessed of self-abnegation and he practiced penance. By watching him, Vankachul developed high regards for him. When the monsoon was over, the preceptor got ready to leave. Vankachul walked along with his family to send them off. After walking some distance, the preceptor asked, “Vankachul, whose land is this ? Is this yours ?”
Vankachul said, “No, this land belongs to some one else. My territory is over.”
The Preceptor said, “We were bound to you with the condition not to preach till we were on your land; but now I request you to accept some vows for your own welfare.”
Vankachul said, “With pleasure, you can give me any vows you like.” The preceptor gave him four vows: (1) Not to eat any fruit of unknown nature. (2) To retrograde seven steps before attacking anyone with a weapon. (3) Not to cohabit with a king’s wife (queen). (4) Not to eat a crow’s meat.
Vankachul himself felt that the vows were easy to maintain. He accepted the vows and the preceptor left.
Once while returning after robbing a village, Vankachul and his men were lost in the forest and his accomplices were overpowered with hunger. His men found attractive fruits on an unknown tree. They brought them over to Vankachul. Vankachul asked, “What are these fruits ?” They replied, “We don’t know.” Vankachul said, “I can’t eat them as I observe a vow not to eat unknown fruits.” All his companions ate the fruits and all of them died in no time as they were poisonous, ‘Kimpaka’ fruits. He was wonder struck and he said, “Such a small vow saved my life. I will minutely observe the vows given by the preceptor.”
Once during his absence, a group of actors came to his village. They thought of inviting the chief of the village before they started with their play. They came to Vankachul’s place where Vankachul’s sister realized that the actors were from the enemy’s town. If they realize Vankachul is absent, they would inform the enemy who would raid their town and plunder it to ruins.
She said, “You may start the play. Vankachul would arrive shortly.” Then she wore Vankachul’s attire and sat in the audience along with Vankachul’s wife. The play ended late at night and after having paid some gratification to the actors, she returned home. She was tired and slept with her sister-in-law, Vankachul’s wife, without taking off her attire.
By fate, Vankachul returned home the same night at dawn. He found his wife seemingly sleeping with some man. He was furious with rage and was about to strike his sword; but he remembered the vow of going back seven steps before he would strike any one with a weapon. As he retreated seven steps, his sword struck against the wall with a loud noise. His sister awoke from sleep and said, “Good Morning, my brother.” Then his wife also got up and Vankachul was highly astonished to see all this. His sister explained everything that happened and Vankachul was pacified. The second vow proved very beneficial and he was very happy. If he had not been bound by the vow, his own sister might have been murdered by his own hands.
One day Vankachul entered the royal palace to commit theft. Due to some reason the king slept in the adjoining chamber and the queen was sleeping alone. Her maid servants slept in the Verandah. Despite creeping cautiously, his hand touched the queen and she got up from slumbers. Finding seclusion and a young man she was inclined to enjoy sensual pleasure with him. She said gently, “Oh, young man, why have you come here ? If you want wealth I shall grant you ample but enjoy with me.”
Vankachul said, “I am bound by a vow, and I can’t do so.” A infatuated queen with youth, loaded with ornaments, privacy and her temptations, all these factors were enough for an ordinary man’s downfall. But Vankachul knew well the importance of a vow and he decide not to break it at any cost. So he did not stoop to the queen’s demand.
The queen, irritated by refusal, started shouting and the security guards came running instantaneously and tied Vankachul with a rope and brought him before the king. The security guard said, “Your Majesty, this wretch has entered the harem and has attempted to violate the chastity of the queen.”
Fortunately, the king had heard the entire conversation from the adjoining chamber at night and he said, “Release the prisoner. He has of course entered the royal palace but has not attempted to violate the chastity of the queen. He has acted in the manner befitting a noble soul. I have personally witnessed the incident with my own eyes. I appoint him as the chief of my army.” The king punished the queen for her misbehavior.
Vankachul was simply struck with wonder on hearing these words. He apprehended the death sentence but was rewarded with enviable post and position. He was convinced that all the miracles were to be attributed to the vows he was maintaining rigidly.
As time passed Vankachul won grace and pleasure of the king. One day Vankachul was attacked with some sort of disease which could not be controlled. No remedies proved efficacious. At last the king made proclamation, “One who will cure Vankachul shall be heavily rewarded.”
One old physician having diagnosed the disease of Vankachul prescribed crow’s flesh as an unfailing cure. Vankachul said, “Let my soul pass away from the body, but I would not touch the crow’s flesh.”
The king highly applauded his strength of character and determination of clinging to the vow, he engaged Jindas in the service of Vankachul.
Jindas said to Vankachul, “Brother, soul descended on this earth alone and shall depart alone. Relatives and friends, companions, wealth and riches are only the traps of enticements. Do not therefore, keep your soul entangled in them. Five great gods are the only resorts. I therefore, recite the hymn which contains prostration to the great five gods. Listen to it patiently.”
Then Jindas recited divine phrases one by one to Vankachul. He died in piece to be reborn as angel in the twelfth heaven. Just watch, what benefits are rewarded by maintaining the vows once undertaken.
MORAL LESSON: The rites and vows which are ordained by the great monk for acquiring religious merits are difficult forms of religion. Thus it becomes difficult to enumerate all the forms of religion, but all these forms of religion aim at one common spiritual bliss - welfare of the soul and long-term happiness.
In times of Lord Mahavir there was a well known trader named Dhanyadev in Rajgruhi. He used to import and export variety of articles and his caravans used to go to distant places. Indian term for caravan is Sarthavah. The trader was therefore known as Dhanya Sarthavah. His wife Bhadra used to take care of his manifold household affairs. He had four sons who used to attend to the different aspects of his vast business. All of them were married in well reputed families.
After the loss of his wife, Dhanya was thinking to distribute the work among his daughters-in-law. He wanted to know their inclinations, knowledge and wisdom. He was particularly keen to find the most intelligent and capable of them who could be the caretaker of his entire household.
For this purpose he once called them, one after another, and gave to each of them five grains of paddy. He told them to take the best care of the grains and to return them when he asked for the same.
The eldest was Ujjika. She knew of the large storage of paddy in the house. She was not much concerned for five simple grains handed over by her father-in-law. She thought that the old man must be getting crazy to ask her to take care of five grains. She threw them away thinking that she could give him the five grains from the storage whenever he asked for it.
The second eldest was Bhogavati. She too did not find any significance for the five tiny grains. She had however some regard for the old man. Instead of throwing away the grains given by him, she ate them as Prasad from the father-in-law. Like Ujjika, she also thought that she could give him the five grains from the storage when he asked for it.
The third was Rakshika. She had more regard for the old man and thought that whatever he did must be significant. She was used to obeying his instructions. She decided to keep the grains in perfect safety so that she could give the same back to him whenever he asked for. She therefore carefully placed the five grains in a silk cloth, made a neat knot of the cloth, put the cloth in her jewelry box and kept the box in safe custody.
The youngest was Rohini. She had a high regard for her father-in-law and knew that he would not do anything without purpose. She wanted to find out the purpose of his instructions. She remembered that he had asked her to take best care of the grains. What can be better care of the paddy apart from sowing ? she thought. She therefore sent the grains to her father and requested him to sow them in a carefully prepared field.
At the end of the season there came out five neatly grown ears each bearing about 100 grains. Rohini sent the message to grow all of them in a properly hedged section of a field. At the end of another season there came about 500 ears bearing too many paddy seeds. During the next season all of them were sown in a vast field resulting in tons of grains. Rohini instructed her parents to store them properly.
By that time Dhanya once again called all daughters-in-law and asked them to return the five grains that he had given.
Ujjika went into the store, selected five neat grains and handed over to him. Upon inquiring by Dhanya whether they were the same five grains that he had handed over, she confessed that she had thrown them away as useless and she had brought the grains from the store. Dhanya said, “Is that so ?”
Then he called Bhogavati who too brought the grains from the store. Upon inquiring by Dhanya she confessed that she had eaten away the original grains and the grains that she was giving were from the store. Dhanya didn’t say much to her.
Then he called Rakshika and asked for the five grains. Rakshika went to her treasure chest, opened the jewelry box, took out the cloth and untying it she took the carefully preserved grains and handed over to the father-in-law. On inquiry by Dhanya she said that they were the same five grains that she had carefully preserved in her jewelry box. Dhanya complimented her for preserving the grains in safe custody.
Then came the turn of Rohini. When Dhanya asked for those five grains, she replied that she had sent them to her father and needed cart loads for bringing the same back. Dhanya feigned amazement and asked her why she needed that much transportation for bringing back those five grains. Thereupon Rohini told him how they were grown season after season. Dhanya was very pleased. He was sure that the girl would not only maintain the prosperity and reputation of the family but would also extend the same. He said that she had taken true and proper care of the grains. He congratulated her for rightly understanding the purpose of his handing over those grains.
The next day he called all the family members for distributing the household work. The entire management and planning was entrusted to Rohini; custody of the treasury and other valuables was entrusted to Rakshika who had properly preserved the grains; kitchen work and cooking were entrusted to Bhogavati who had eaten away the grains and the work of cleanliness and garbage was handed over to Ujjika who had thrown the grains away.
This story tells us how the discretion and wisdom can lead to growth and prosperity.
There is however a special religious significance of this story. Five grains stand for the five Anuvratas and the father-in-law stands for the preceptor who asks every one to carefully and meaningfully observe those Vratas (vows).
Some people are like Ujjika who do not attach any importance to the Vratas and cast the teaching of preceptors to the wind.
Some are like Bhogavati who listen to the preceptors but do not realize the usefulness of the Vratas. Most of the people, who go for the sermons, belong to this category. They carefully listen and like the sermon but do not take home anything.
Some are like Rakshika. They understand the importance of the Vratas and carefully observe the same. But they do not realize that Vratas are meant for the realization of true self.
Very few people are like Rohini who realize the importance of Vratas. For them external observance of Vratas is only a means to the true realization of self. They observe them to an ever increasing extent and try to figure out to what extent they are helpful in getting rid of the inner enemies of craving and aversion. As the grains sown in the ground lose their identity and develop into a plant, so the observance of Vratas too is meant for the growth of the spiritual values.
Sudharmaswami tells Jambuswami at the end of the story that only the souls belonging to the last category proceed on the path of liberation.
King Hans reigned at Rajpur. He was famous as a just and fair king. Being a Shravak, he never resorted to falsehood in any situation. Thus he was reputed for his devotion to truth.
On the summit of Mount Ratnasring, there was a beautiful temple dedicated to the first Tirthankar, Lord Adinath. On the full moon day in the month of Chaitra, there used to be a special ceremony in honor of the Lord, when people from far and near flocked there. King Hans thought of visiting the temple on that day. He gave temporary charge of his kingdom to his ministers and started with the members of the royal household and others for the fulfillment of his spiritual mission.
After the departure of king Hans, another king, Arjun, who was his adversary and who was on the look out for this opportunity, he seized city of king Hans. Hans’s army was not only defeated but was routed, and some of the leading generals lost their lives on the battlefield. The rest fled the country. There was none to protect the city or the citizens. The victor-king captured the palace and the treasury, sat on the throne and rigorously enforced his authority all over the kingdom.
When king Hans was only halfway to his destination, the news of this misfortune reached him. A messenger sent by the minister, Sumati, narrated the developments at the kingdom and said in conclusion: “Your Majesty ! It may now be for your graciousness to consider what needs to be done.”
The king’s courtiers were very much perturbed. They said, “Your Majesty, we should drop the idea of pilgrimage and reverse our steps toward the city. No enemy, however powerful, would stand your presence. After the enemy is thrown out, we may resume our pilgrimage.”
The king did not take much time to give his decision. He said, “Prosperity and adversity are beyond human control. The real factor determining them are Karmas acquired in the past. Pious deeds are often obstructed by idleness and doubt. Since we are out on a holy mission, I do not consider it worthwhile to retrace our steps. We shall think of the city on our return. It can be reacquired.”
So the king and his party went on. But his men were not very happy at the decision, for they had their families in the city and they were anxious about their safety. So one by one they began to drop out. But the king did not waver from his goal. At last, only one umbrella-bearer was left with him.
The king had no more a guide with him and was now on a wrong route. He was in a forest, whose density increased as he proceeded. He became anxious about his own safety in the hands of the aborigines living in that forest. So he took off his costly robes and jewelry and entrusted them to his companion. The two were now moving separately.
The king had not gone very far when a deer came running and disappeared in the forest. It was followed by a hunter with a raised bow. When he asked the king about the deer, the king was in a dilemma. He thought: “If I express ignorance, I break my vow. If I speak the truth, the poor animal will be in danger. It will be good if I can avoid both the situations.”
Meanwhile, the hunter repeated the question and the king said, “I have lost my way.”
The hunter said, “I am asking about the deer. Did it pass by ? If it did, which way did it go ?” The king said, “I am king Hans.”
The hunter was irritated by this evasive reply. “I did not ask, Sir, who you are. I am asking about the deer. Tell me, if you know, where it has gone.” The king didn’t waver from his plan and calmly replied, “I belong to Rajpur.”
The hunter was now enraged. “Why don’t you give a straight reply to my question ? What do you gain by talking irrelevant things ?” The king said, “I am a Kshatriya.”
The hunter said, “Are you deaf ? I ask you something and you say something else.” The king said, “I shall go the way you indicate to me.”
The hunter said, “You get out of my sight. I have no need of you. I have for nothing wasted my time with you.” Saying so, the hunter went on his way, and the king went on his own.
After he had gone some distance, the king saw a Muni, which he deemed very unusual in this dense forest. The king paid his respectful homage and obeisance, and the Muni went away.
Immediately thereafter, two Bhils (aborigines) came running to the king and said, “Here in this forest lives our chief, Sura. As he was about to set out today with his men to commit theft, he came across a man with a bald head. This he considered very inauspicious, and so he has sent us to kill that fellow. Tell us which way he has gone.”
The king was in a fix again, but to avoid the situation, he said, “Beg you pardon. I did not exactly follow what you said.”
“Well, Sir, did you see a man with a tonsured head passing by this way? We are keen to know which way he has gone. If you give us the direction, we shall follow him and kill him.” The king came out with a beautiful reply: “Men ! One who sees tells not; one who tells sees not.”
The Bhils thought that the fellow had failed to understand them, so they repeated what they had said before. The king also repeated his own statement. The Bhils said, “You are a madman. Get out of our way. We are unnecessarily wasting our time with you.”
It was evening when the king stopped beneath a tree to take rest. In a nearby grove were hidden a few thieves who were discussing their plan. After two nights, they said, they would raid a holy company of monks and their followers that would be passing by that way. The king heard this and became anxious about the safety of the monks.
When the king was thinking about this, a party of policemen came there in search of the thieves. They had prior information about their plans, it seemed. At first, they took the king to be of their party, but soon they realized their mistake and thought of using him, if possible, for their own purpose.
They came to the king and said, “Sir, in the course of the next few days, a group of holy people is scheduled to pass by this way. We have information that some thieves have plans to plunder the group. There is a city called Shrinagar which is 10 Yojans (20 miles) from here. King Ripumardan reigns there. He has deputed us to look after the safe movement of this group, and we have orders to arrest the thieves and even kill them, if necessary. So we are here in search of them. If you have any information about them, we shall be glad to have it.”
The truthful never transgress their vow, yet they don’t open the door to harm, unpleasantness and injury to others. The king was in a very similar situation. He had to uphold truth and the safety of the holy group, and yet he could not expose the thieves to harm.
So after a moment’s thought, he said, “Friends, why do you bother about the thieves ? Your assignment is to guard the group, and this will be done if you stay with it. If the thieves raid it, you can see them right there and do what is necessary.” The policemen were impressed by these words, and they turned their steps to where the holy group was.
Religious behavior has its impact even on the most cruel. The thieves heard everything that the king had said, and they were very grateful to him. “Surely, this must be a God among men,” they said. “It seems he knows of our presence here, and yet he dropped no hint about it.”
They all came out of the grove and stood before the king. They saluted him and said, “Sir, you are our savior, and we are very grateful to you. You knew about our presence in the grove, and yet you gave no hint. This surely reveals your greatness. We are now, Sir, at your service. What can we do for you ?” The king offered them good counsel and advised them to desist from theft. Thieves by profession, they couldn’t agree to it, but they promised not to touch the holy men or render any harm to them.
A more rigorous ordeal still awaited the king. This concerned the safety of his own person. Hardly had he traveled some distance than a party of horsemen stopped him and said, “Did you see king Hans passing by this way ?” The king said, “Why are you interested in him ?”
Narrating the purpose of their mission, the horsemen said, “We are the very trusted men of king Arjun. He is now in occupation of Rajpur, and king Hans of the republic has fled for the safety of his life. We are now in search of him, and we have orders to kill him. Tell us soon if you have seen him.”
It was now no easy task for the king to give a reply or to evade it, and yet he was determined not to transgress his vow. Even at this moment of the greatest danger to his own person, he placed truth above self and said in a calm and steadfast voice, “Friends, the man before you is king Hans himself, after whom you are here. He is in your hands. Do as may suit your purpose.”
Saying so, he stood fast, with his eyes shut. He chanted the holy Namokara within himself and withdrew the attachment to the mortal frame. Spiritual power grew tremendously. This was a moment of triumph for the king. Just at that moment, a Dev of right outlook made his appearance there and said, “Oh king ! I am overwhelmed by your steadfastness. I have thrown out your enemies from the city. It is safe now. You are out on pilgrimage, and today is the proper day to worship the idol. The place is yet far off, and you can by no means reach there in time for the worship. My chariot is ready. May I take you there ?”
The king was overwhelmed at the miraculous turn of events. Now, in the company of the Dev in the later’s chariot, the king reached the summit of Ratnasring in time for the worship. This was the fructification of his mission for which he started and because of which he underwent hard ordeals.
The Dev then escorted the king back to his own city, where his adversary, king Arjun, had already been thrown into the prison. At the king’s earnest request, the Dev released him. After this, the Dev deputed four of his trusted lieutenants to look after the safety of the king and the kingdom and departed for his celestial home.
Vasantsen was the king of Kanchanpur. His chief queen was Vasantaseni. After a long gap following their marriage, a daughter was born to them. She was named Vasantashri. She was a notable mixture of beauty and intelligence. When she attained her youth, the royal couple became anxious to settle her in marriage.
In the same city, there lived a fisherman named Haribal. He was very simple, polite and industrious and was happy even in his poverty. His wife Prachand (meaning violent ) fully justified her name, and she was very ugly, harsh in voice, and impolite in her behavior. Haribal was always afraid of her turbulence and never enjoyed her company.
One day, Haribal had gone to the bank of the river to catch fish. A Muni was just then passing by that way. As if induced from within, Haribal bowed before him. The Muni blessed him, but, finding him engaged in an impious profession, he said, “Friend, do you also practice pious deeds ?”
“I view my family profession as a pious deed, and, believe me, Sir, honestly do I fulfill it. Daily I come to this river bank and spread my net. I view as my own whatever catch I have. I don’t know any other pious deeds.”
The Muni, who had a natural serenity on his face, charm in his voice and equanimity in his eyes, said, “Oh fisherman ! Family profession is not the only pious deed one should perform. These professions vary with individuals. Dharma is based on Ahimsa. Anything that strengthens Ahimsa is Dharma, and everything else is a sin. Every living being wants to live. Life is dear to all. So don’t torture anyone, give no pain to anyone. What you call your family profession is at every stage a sinful act. You need to take a look at yourself.”
Haribal felt a stir within himself. His thoughts got encouragement. The seed of piety hidden in him came up. As if spontaneously, the following words mixed with awe came from his mouth: “Oh great Muni, save me. I am deeply immersed in acts of killing. It is not possible for me that I get out of them. Show me the way.”
The Muni looked at Haribal. Pity was taking shape on his face. The Muni wanted him to desist wholly from acts of killing, but this was too much to expect. So he found a way out for him, and said, “Fisherman, I suggest that you spare your first catch. Don’t kill it. This should be easy for you. Don’t you think so ?”
Haribal thought for a moment and then, mastering courage, he said, “Oh Muni, I accept this. From this day on, I shall not kill my first catch.”
The Muni went on his way, and Haribal turned to his work. The power of spiritualism, when it is awakened, knows no limit and is capable of washing away all sins. Haribal threw his net in the river. As he pulled it, he felt it to be heavy.
The catch was a big fish, but he remembered the vow, so he tied a shell around its neck and restored it to the stream. He cast his net for the second time, but as luck would have it, the catch was the same fish. This happened several times, and on each occasion he restored it to the stream. It was already noon, and the fisherman had no catch for himself.
So he changed the place. But the fish too did the same, and even there he caught the same fish in his net. He changed the place several times, but with no better result, as if at every point in the stream there was no other fish. The sun was now on the western sky, but the fisherman had not earned his day’s subsistence. But he remained steadfast in his vow and did not repent for it.
Even a small vow sometimes becomes pretty difficult, but the difficulty is resolved by steadfastness. Seeing that Haribal would not deviate, the fish said in a human voice, “Oh pious man, I heartily congratulate you for your steadfastness. You did not care for your daily bread in fulfilling your vow. This has impressed me very much. Ask for a boon.”
Haribal was surprised. “You are only a fish,” he said. “What boon can you give me ? Between man and fish, you should know, one does not help the other.”
“Oh lucky man, why do you see only a fish in me ? I am the Master of the Salt Ocean. I came here to test your steadfastness, and I am happy to declare that you have successfully got through. Most people don’t take any vow. Few take but don’t fulfill. There are very few like you who are truly steadfast. So I urge you again to ask for a boon. I will deem it a great privilege to be able to help you.”
Haribal was very happy to notice the instantaneous effect of a vow. Thinking for a while, he said, “Oh great one ! I am grateful to you for your kindness. I pray that whenever I am in difficulty, you extend your help to me.”
It was already evening, but the fisherman had no money in his hand and was hesitant to return home. So he went to a temple and lay there in a corner engrossing himself in his own thought: I have fulfilled only a fraction of a vow and what a good return it has given me. Fortunate must be those who practice Ahimsa to the full.
It was a striking coincidence that on the same night fisherman Haribal took shelter in the temple, a young merchant with the same name was scheduled to meet Princess Vasantashri at the same temple.
This was desired by the princess herself who, while seated one day at her window, had seen the young merchant Haribal passing by that way and fell deeply in love with him. She at once scribbled a brief note suggesting the meeting and dropped it from her window. The note from the princess suggested the meeting at the temple on the fourteenth night of the dark half of the month wherefrom, it was suggested, the two would proceed to some unknown destination.
On the plea of visiting the temple for purposes of worship, Vasantashri started from the palace on the appointed night. She was in the best of her clothes and jewelry and carried many other essential things. But merchant Haribal did not turn up on account of a mental conflict. He had never known the princess before, and her love was only at first sight. This, he apprehended, might be a cause for trouble later on. Besides, he believed that women are by nature crafty, and secretly they perform many things.
There was no response except the echo. The princess called out again. Fisherman Haribal heard it, and finding somebody calling him by his name, he responded from where he lay. The princess said, “Hurry up, my dear. We have to go a long distance.”
Fisherman Haribal did not take much time to understand the situation. He understood that somebody bearing the same name as himself, had failed to turn up. So he thought of playing the necessary role. He at once came up and mounted on the chariot. The chariot proceeded at top speed.
In his hurry, Haribal had left his fishing net behind. After they had gone some distance, the princess discovered that the man accompanying her had hardly any clothes on. Did he come in disguise, or did some miscreant rob him of his wear, she thought. When the princess asked him about his clothes, he said, “Hmmm.”
So she gave him some out of her own stock. Then the princess induced him to enter into conversation with her and conveyed her deep love to him, but he would only repeat as previously, “Hmmm.”
Now, the princess felt some doubt about the man in whose company she had eloped, and many a question disturbed her mind. Is he proud ? Doesn’t he understand what I say ? Is he angry ? Why doesn’t he talk with me and convey his love to me ?
She was now sure that she had come out with a different man, that she had taken a wrong step or she had been deceived. She was pretty sure that this was not the man whom she loved.
When it was dawn, she could clearly see the man seated beside her. Her dreams now vanished and the ground almost slipped from beneath her feet. She had only scorn and remorse for what she had done. Her mind went back to the palace, to her parents, the king and queen, their great affection for her, her own comfortable life all these were left behind and for good, and she had stepped into a great uncertainty. The princess could no longer bear it and fainted. When she regained consciousness, she bewailed and lamented, to become senseless again.
Haribal didn’t know what to do. He read into her mental agony. He realized that he couldn’t live with her in peace and comfort. He wondered of the Dev if he could do something to save the situation.
Time is the best healer. With the passage of time, the princess became somewhat consoled. She could blame none save herself. All that had happened was her own doing. It was no use lamenting for what had been left behind; wiser it would be to look ahead and build up the future.
If an arrow, haphazardly cast, hits the target, it becomes a source of joy for the archer. Such a thing now happened to the princess. She opened her tired eyes to look at the man and wanted to ask him about his family, profession, residence and many other things. Just at that moment she heard a voice from the sky: “Princess, you are lucky. It would be a folly on your part to look down on this man. His luck is to take a favorable turn very soon. Who can be a better consort for you except him ?”
Now a feeling of joy replaced her remorse, and she began to feel love for the man. She looked at him again and tried to read into his mind. But Haribal sat calm, grave, placid. With hesitation, the princess said, “I am thirsty. Please fetch me some water.”
Haribal got up at once and proceeded toward the jungle. After a short time, he came back with a jar full of water. The princess drank to her heart’s content. Then she looked at him again. She was convinced that a man who could bring water within such a short time in such a lonely place could not be just ordinary.
The sun was now high up in the sky, and Vasantashri could fully see the man. What wonder, the ugly man was totally changed and was now all beauty and youth. Vasantashri was immensely delighted. She said to him, “My dear, it is time you accept my hand. The desire that goaded me here in your company may now reach its fruition.”
The two were married there as per the Gandharv rites.
It was the beginning of a new chapter in the life of Haribal and Vasantashri. They resumed their journey and reached the city of Vishala. As they entered the city, they met with a merchant from whom they came to know all about the city. They decided to settle there. They purchased a seven-story mansion for their residence, took four horses and many attendants to make their life comfortable. Theirs was a very happy life.
All along a man of active habits, Haribal maintained them even now. Daily, he would receive the needy at his house, listen to their difficulties and extend whatever help he could, including financial. Though a newcomer, he soon became well known on account of his generosities, a very respected citizen of the city of Vishala. Stories of his charities soon reached the ears of king Madanbeg, who invited him to his court and honored him. He was admitted to a high rank by the king and soon became his friend and favorite.
To strengthen the tie of friendship, the king one day invited Haribal and his wife to dinner. As the couple came to the palace, they were duly received by the king, who served them food at the table with his own hands. But Vasantashri’s beauty captivated the king’s eyes, who lustily longed for her company.
From that day on, the only thought that haunted the king was how to get her. He conceived many stratagems, but none helped him to realize his end. At last, he took his chief minister into confidence. For the chief minister, this was a good chance, since he was very jealous of Haribal’s popularity. Within the three or four days, he submitted his plan, which the king liked and accepted.
When the court assembled the next day and all the courtiers were present, the following announcement was made by the king:
“You all know, gentlemen, that the princess is now grown up, and I have to arrange for her marriage in the very near future. This will be a nice opportunity to establish contact and friendship with leading kings in countries far and near. Now, it will be the responsibility of our courtiers to go and extend invitations personally. I have in mind to invite the great king Vibhishan of Lanka with the members of his royal household to grace the occasion by their august presence. Someone from among you is, therefore, to go there as my envoy. May I know from you who may be entrusted with this very important and responsible mission ?”
There was silence all over the court. Courtiers were looking at one another, but none was ready to shoulder the mission. Then the chief minister stood up and said: “Your Majesty ! You are a favorite of fortune. You have in your court assembled people of all caliber. Going to Lanka to invite king Vibhishan is indeed a difficult job, but we may have someone to fulfill even this.”
Then the minister looked all around and suggested Haribal’s name. He spoke about him in very glowing terms. The king now turned to Haribal, who felt elated. So, even though he was not keen, the mission fell on him. The king was delighted at the success of the plan. Haribal returned home and narrated the events at the court to his wife.
Vasantashri at once saw in it a trap. She said, “My dear, you have been deceived. There must be a plot behind all this. The king has some evil design. Ever since we went to dinner at the palace, he must have been hatching it. He wants to remove you forever so that he can have me. It will be better if you somehow get out of it.”
Haribal’s pride was hurt. He said, “I may die, but I can’t decline an assignment that I have accepted. So I must go. The outcome is in the hands of destiny, but to make the best of exertions is within my capacity.” Then, casting a deep sigh, he added, “I am not as much worried about myself as I am for you. I don’t know what may happen to you after I leave.”
Vasantashri on her part was not prepared to show any weakness. She said, “My dear ! May you safely return after the fulfillment of your mission. May there be no difficulty in the way. Please don’t be anxious on my score. I am fully capable to guard my purity. All the designs of the king will be baffled.”
Haribal started on an auspicious day. He passed through many villages, towns, and countries; he crossed through many rivers, forests, and mountains. At last, he reached the seashore. He had to cross it to reach his destination, but there was no ferry, nor did he know how to swim. He was now convinced that it was a plot to kill him.
In this difficult situation, he remembered the Dev who appeared at once, and on hearing about the difficulty, he turned himself into a fish to carry Haribal through the sea. Comfortably seated on the back of the fish, Haribal now enjoyed the first experience of a voyage. Swimming through the limitless waters, the fish at last reached the shores of Lanka. Haribal’s joy knew no end. He had never thought that such a difficult job would be so easily accomplished. He thanked the Dev for his services and bade him good-bye.
From the shore, Haribal moved into the city. It was a different world altogether which presented itself to him. Lanka was a magnificent city with wonderful buildings and parks, the like of which Haribal had never seen before. There, inside the city, he came across a wonderful mansion, which, however, wore a deserted look.
He entered the mansion and freely moved through its chambers. On the sixth floor, in one of the chambers, he saw a young woman lying senseless. This surprised him all the more. He looked around, and in one corner he saw a jar full of nectar. He sprinkled a few drops from it on the woman, and what a surprise, the lady sat up as if awakened from a deep sleep. She was, however, somewhat surprised and abashed at the presence of a stranger and foreigner in her chamber. She asked him who he was and how he came there.
After Haribal had narrated his part of the account, the lady gave the following account about herself: “My name is Kusumshri. My father Pushpbatuk is a gardener to king Vibhishan. The king has much wealth and grains, but his ideas are not lofty. My whole family is unfavorably disposed toward him. The quarrel has gone so far now that no one from my family, except me, can go to the king. As for myself, I don’t want to go to him, but I can’t help. It is my father who has made me the pivot of the whole game.”
Haribal’s curiosity was fired. Kusumshri continued: “Once my father had consulted an astrologer about my future. The fellow had predicted a bright future for me and said that my husband would be a king. My difficulties really started from that day. My father has been dreaming now of the arrival of a king and doesn’t arrange for my marriage to any other young man. What a dilemma for me and ignominy for my father ! For this very reason, everyone in the family is now opposed to him. When he goes out, he makes me senseless, and when he comes back, he restores me to sense by sprinkling this nectar. Mine is a miserable life. It is good that you have come and I may now have the fulfillment of my wishes.”
Thus concluding her account, she looked at Haribal. The four eyes met. Kusumshri proposed, and Haribal accepted. The two were married right there.
Now Kusumshri said, “My dear, it is not safe for us to stay here any longer. If my father returns, we shall be in trouble.” Haribal said, “But the purpose for which I have come remains unfulfilled.”
“My dear, you drop the idea of inviting King Vibhishan. Your coming to the country has been as good as inviting him. King Vibhishan will never go out of Lanka. You may say so to your king,” said Kusumshri.
She managed to procure the Chandrahas sword which belonged to the king and gave it to her husband to carry as a token of his having come to Lanka. Then they collected all useful things from that mansion, including the jar of nectar, and hurried to the seashore. The Dev was remembered again and he arrived, helped them to cross the sea and placed them right in the park in the city of Vishala.
After Haribal’s departure, the king became active again to win over Vasantashri. Daily he would send his maids to bring her to the palace, but this had no effect. So one night, the king himself arrived. She could not be discourteous and so received the king.
The king now tried his best to attract her. He told her that he had sent her husband to Lanka on an important mission, and his return was likely to be delayed. On his own part, he could not leave her alone. So he proposed that she should go with him to live at the palace.
Vasantashri silently listened. This was a trap to catch her, and she did not know how to keep out. The king continued his overtures and denounced Haribal openly as a bad man. Vasantashri bore all silently. But as the king was about to transgress the limit of decency, her whole purity burst forth: “Whatever you do, I shall not deviate from my path.”
The king too raised his voice and said, “You foolish girl ! You are unaware of the consequences of transgressing my order. If you don’t favorably respond to me, I shall not hesitate to apply force.”
Vasantashri was terrified, but to save the situation, she said, “Your Majesty ! What is the hurry about it ? If there is no good news about my husband, I shall do as Your Majesty will be pleased to suggest.”
When all this was happening, Haribal, who had already returned, was watching the whole thing from behind a pillar. He had left his newly wedded wife in the park and had come to see Vasantashri when the king was there. He was happy at the purity and steadfastness of his first wife.
Now he stood before her. It was a moment of great joy for Vasantashri. She reported all that the king had tried to do during his absence and that all had been in vain. Haribal was boiling with rage, but this was no occasion to take revenge. On his own part, he narrated his journey to Lanka, his voyage, his experience at the capital of the demons, and his marriage with Kusumshri. Vasantashri now made preparations to receive her co-wife. When the two met, they were locked in deep embrace.
The news of Haribal’s return from Lanka spread with the speed of lightning, and the king came to know of it. He had not only come back after inviting King Vibhishan, but had won his daughter’s hand. This was highly disheartening, but the king suppressed his real feeling and informed the court as follows:
“Gentlemen ! It is great news today that our good friend and courtier Haribal has returned and will enter the metropolis today. This is a great personal honor to me, to the people, and to the country at large. We have to accord him a fitting welcome, for which the city has to be properly decorated. I shall myself receive him in full audience.”
Within a few hours, this announcement reached every corner of the city. People were happy, and they thronged at the park to celebrate the homecoming of the hero. He was duly received there by the king, who then brought him to the palace.
The court was overflowing with the people. The king said cordially to Haribal, “My worthy friend ! How did you perform this most difficult job ? We are waiting to receive the full account from you.”
The following account was given by Haribal: “Your Gracious Majesty ! The course of events is too long to be narrated within such a short time, but I shall make the long story short. I started for the south, and after having left behind many a dense forest and difficult mountain I at last reached the sea. As I had no aid to cross it, I stood on the shore thinking.
At that time, a terrible giant who was very hungry came to me to use me as his food, but I could read his intention and so humbly said that it would be a great occasion for me when my mortal frame would serve as his food, but, I said, my only regret would be that the body would end before it had fulfilled a promise.
The giant became impatient and shouted, “What is your promise ? I shall help you to fulfill it.” But when I told him about it, even the giant was taken aback. “It is not easy for a human being to cross the sea, but let me think.” With folded palms, I waited.
At last, the giant said, with his dreadful tongue visible, that a pyre is burning in the forest. Go there and jump into it. You can’t go with this body into Lanka. That may be the only way. I got alarmed, but I held my assignment above everything, even life; so without thinking, I jumped straight into the pyre. Soon my body was turned into a pile of ashes. The giant then collected my ashes in a piece of cloth, carried them himself to Lanka and placed them before king Vibhishan.
When the king heard the whole story from the giant, he was amazed at my devotion, and at once restored me to life, imparting in the process more beauty than I had before. I bowed before the king, who received me very cordially and at once proposed his daughter’s marriage with me.
When I sought audience with him to unfold the purpose of my mission, he was pleased to let me go. After I had suitably done it, the king accepted invitation from Your Majesty and promised to be here at least two days before the ceremony.”
Haribal added before concluding, “With great eagerness, he gave me his daughter’s hand and bestowed on me this Chandrahas sword which belonged to him. When I was making preparations to return, he lifted both of us up and sent us here in a moment.”
Everywhere there was a murmur of praise and joy. All spoke highly of Haribal’s ability, personality, and shrewdness. The solitary exception was the chief minister, who had no doubt that the king had fallen victim to a humbug. So he started hatching another plot against him, and, of course, he had the king’s knowledge and consent.
He arranged a reception for the king at Haribal’s residence, which Haribal couldn’t decline. On the appointed day, the king arrived with his ministers. Wonderful dishes were served to the guests. The king saw the two ladies, and his lust was again aflame. He was now anxious to invite both of them to the palace.
Impending evil changes men’s ideas. The king again held consultation with the chief minister, who suggested that the king alone was entitled to the best things in the kingdom. If the king would so desire, Haribal would have no other alternative but to send the two ladies to the harem.
“But he is my friend,” said the king, “Besides, he has rendered important services to the state. It will not be fair on my part to issue such a rude order.” The minister said, “ Your Majesty may again give him an assignment more difficult this time than previously and thus get rid of him.”
The minister gave him a plan which was to send Haribal to invite Yam, the king of death, and Haribal had no other alternative but to agree.
Haribal came home and narrated the whole thing to his wives. He was very sad, but the wives consoled him. “Even though this time it will be a play with death,” they said, “everything will be okay. The king will be taught a lesson, and our purity will remain unmolested.”
A huge pyre was erected outside the city. At the right moment, the king came there followed by all the people of the city. Haribal too was there. Everybody was unhappy, and there was a suppressed discontent about the king’s behavior. No one had any doubt that the king was intent upon killing a very capable man. Haribal had became a hero in the eyes of the people, who praised him in all directions for his merits, for his charities, and for his keen intellect and personality.
The Dev was invoked by Haribal at the right moment. He arrived at once. He heard about the new difficulty and said, “You go back to your own mansion, and I shall replace you here. I shall jump into the fire, and the mean ideas of the king will not materialize.”
This was immediately put into effect. At the proper time, a figure looking like Haribal jumped into the pyre. Soon the body was reduced to a pile of ashes. The king was happy. He was sure that Haribal would return no more.
It was midnight, and Haribal was talking with his wives. The king unexpectedly arrived. Haribal hid himself in an antechamber, and the two ladies got ready to receive the king and teach him a proper lesson. The king came in and said, “Now Haribal has returned to the city of Yam, and there is no one to protect you here. So I have come to invite both of you to the palace. You are very lucky, for you shall be my queens.”
The two ladies now shouted with rage, “The king is expected to suppress the wicked. But when the king himself is a rogue, who is to suppress him ? You are not our savior. You want to ruin us. We don’t even want to look at you. Why do you then come here again and again ?”
But the king would not see the right way. He went on repeating his overtures, but they were repeatedly turned down by the two ladies. Kusumshri gave a final warning. The king was now ready to apply force. She at once invoked her special powers, tied the king up, and hurled him headlong down. The king lost some of his teeth.
The king lay there helpless and unattended for several hours. He was in extreme pain with blood and saliva oozing from his mouth. But much more than that was the humiliation to which he had been put. When he had somewhat recovered, the women took pity on him. They made him promise not to repeat such behavior in the future, and then he was set free.
Wounded and humiliated, the king returned to the palace. In the morning, he took the chief minister into confidence and narrated the whole thing to him. The chief minister was now afraid for his own safety and resolved never to tender any more counsel to the king.
Haribal was highly pleased at what his wives had done. He said, “Never tolerate any torture. If it is there, get rid of it. Otherwise, it gets prolonged.”
Haribal now remembered the Dev for consultation, and he appeared at once. They prepared a plan as to how best to present the whole thing at the court the next morning. The Dev imparted a great glow to Haribal’s body and dressed him in divine robes and ornaments. A dreadful attendant was created to accompany him to the court.
In the morning, Haribal, duly attended, appeared at the court. The king was taken aback to see Haribal come back to life from the other world. The whole court was astonished. Hadn’t everybody seen Haribal turned into ashes the previous evening ?
On behalf of everyone, however, the king said, “Haribal, we are all very happy to see you back. We are now anxious to know how you reached the abode of Yam, how you were received there, what special things you noticed, if the king of death has been kind enough to accept our invitation, and who is this man with you ?”
Haribal now displayed the marvel of his intellect and imagination. He started his narrative, “Your Majesty ! After my mortal frame had been turned into ashes, I went to the abode of death, where at the main entrance I met its keeper, Baidhata. He announced my arrival to Chitragupt, the keeper of records. Chitragupt was somewhat surprised to see me there before my time. When I told him the purpose of my coming, he welcomed me and arranged an interview with Yam. I was conducted into the presence of His Majesty the Yam by two attendants named Chand and Mahachand.”
Taking meticulous care to provide the details, he continued. “One who goes on a mission to an auspicious man gets unexpected results. This happened to me. Death usually never looks at a stranger with grace. His big and red-shot eyes, his curved brows, long teeth, curled hairs, pitch-dark complexion like a new moon night, fat limbs all generate fear. If he emits a shout, that causes instantaneous death to many. I was very nervous to see all this.
But in a moment, when his eyes fell on me, he was a changed person. His eyes showered nectar on me, and he was in a happy mood. At once, I and the two attendants bowed before him. Then the attendants submitted my file before him for his perusal. Its top flap contained a note as follows:
Haribal is exceedingly faithful to his master. He never cares for his own life for the fulfillment of even the most difficult of assignments given by the master. It is in fulfillment of one such assignment that he is here as his master’s envoy.
Yam was mightily pleased to read this note. He cordially received me and gave me a seat in the midst of his own courtiers. He asked me many questions about my family, Your Majesty, the chief minister, and the country. At the right moment, I unfolded the purpose of my visit, and Yam was gracious enough to accept the invitation. A note to this effect was taken by his secretary, Tamrachud, who was in attendance with writing materials ready at hand.”
To make the story still more fascinating, he added, “Then Yam introduced me to the members of his royal household. His parents, Surya and Sanjnavati; his principal queen Dhumorna; his brother Sani; and his sister Jamuna were all present. They were very kind to me and gave me company for several hours. Then I was shown around the capital city. I saw so many things in such a short time that it is difficult to recount them all.
When after this it was time for me to return, Yam was gracious enough to send through me immediate invitation to Your Majesty, the chief minister, and the dignitaries of the state to see him in his own citadel. He was keen to bestow on Your Majesty much wealth and the hand of his daughter. He offered me very valuable gifts of robes and ornaments and hundreds of dancing girls, of which I accepted only very few. Yam was insistent to make me accept at least one dancing girl, the very best of the lot. To guide me in my return journey and to convey a formal invitation to Your Majesty on behalf of himself, Yam has commissioned me this envoy of his own.”
As previously arranged, the envoy now came forward and repeated the invitation. He requested the king to honor it without delay. The courtiers didn’t know what to make of it, but at last, with the consent of all, the king accepted the invitation.
At the king’s order, a big pyre was set ablaze outside the city around which were assembled the king, his chief minister and other ministers, high dignitaries of the state, and the citizens. Now, who was to plunge first into the flame and be the first to reach the citadel of Death ?
After much consideration, the chief minister became the recipient of this signal honor and was soon turned into a pile of ashes. Next was the king’s turn. As he proceeded toward the pyre, Haribal could no longer contain himself. He was sorry to think that so many would die in ignorance and foolishness by simply relying on his words.
He caught the king’s feet and said, “Your Majesty ! The culprit has been punished and Your Majesty need not take the plunge. All the wrong steps you took were at the advice of the chief minister, and he can no more do any further mischief. Repent not about what is dead and past; strive to make the future glorious.” The king was thus humiliated in public and was deeply ashamed for all that he had done.
Gradually, he found a profound indifference overtaking him. He returned to the palace and married his daughter with Haribal. Then he gave charge of his kingdom to him and renounced the world in order to spend the remaining portion of his life worthily in spiritual pursuits.
When Vasantsen, Vasantashri’s father, came to know the happy turn in the fortune of his daughter, he had no more reason to remain angry with her. Besides, he had grown old and wanted to retire, and none was more suitable than Haribal to take charge of his kingdom. So he entrusted his kingdom to him and renounced the world.
Despite so much good fortune, Haribal never forgot about his vow. Often his mind went back to the day when the Muni had induced him to accept a fraction of a vow. It was this small thing that had helped him to rise to the pinnacle of glory and earthly prosperity. So, he thought, if he would practice the whole vow, how much more would he not achieve !
Although a king, he always cherished high thinking, he would not only himself remain immersed in lofty things, he would even inspire his three wives to do the same. He brought his first wife, Prachand, to live at the palace. In his old age, he renounced the world and through the practice of penance and austerities attained a very high degree of knowledge.