Acharya Hemchandra was born in 1088 A .D. into the Modha Vanik (merchant) caste, in the town of Dhandhuka, sixty miles from the city Ahmedabad in Gujarat State. His parents were Chachadev and Pahini. When Pahini was pregnant, she had a beautiful dream. She narrated her dream to Acharya Devasuri, who was in Dhandhuka at that time. The acharya said that Pahini was to give birth to a son who would make great progress in the areas of spiritual knowledge, intuition, and conduct. Upon the birth the child was named Changdeva.
The next time Acharya Devasuri was in Dhandhuka, he saw Pahini carrying her son. He said to Pahini, "Let me take care of this brilliant son. He is destined to be a great spiritual leader." However, he could not convince her to give him her son. The acharya kept pursuing and reminding that her son would become a famous monk and would glorify the Jain Order. Again, he requested that she should sacrifice her self-interest and love for the child for the good of the people. Ultimately, Pahini let the acharya take her son with him.
He initiated Changdeva into monkshood and named him Somachandra. The disciple was very intelligent and soon mastered the darshanas, scriptures, nyaya, grammar, etc. At the same time, he cultivated excellent virtues like forbearance, tolerance, holiness, simplicity, discipline, chastity, and generosity. Somachandra was incomparable in administration and efficiency. Acharaya Devasuri made Somachandra an acharya when he was only twenty-one years old. At that time, he was given the name Hemchandra Acharya.
The fame of Hemchandra's efficacy and knowledge gradually spread everywhere. The noble culture was on the rise in Gujarat due to the ability of Hemchandra and the cooperation of King Siddharaja of Gujarat. King Siddharaja was succeeded by Kumarpal. Hemchandra had predicted seven years earlier that Kumarpal would be the king. Also, the acharya had once saved Kumarpal's life. Therefore, Kumarpal considered Hemchandra his spiritual teacher (guru) and benefactor. Kumarpal gave him the exceptional honor and sought his advice in the shaping of his kingdom in Gujarat. In a very short time, Gujarat became a center of non-violence, learning, and good culture.
Hemchandra did not only think of the development of his own career, but always thought of the universal welfare. In spite of this, some Brahmins were very jealous about this and they were trying to disgrace Hemchandracharya and Jainism. Therefore, some Brahmins approached King Kumarpal and said, "Hemchandracharya is a very egoistic person and he does not respect Hindu Gods." King Kumarpal was not ready to accept these views about his spiritual teacher, Hemchandracharya. Brahmins requested King Kumarpal that he should invite Hemchandracharya to come to the temple of Lord Shiva (God of destruction). The purpose of this was to humiliate Hemchandracharya because they thought he would not go to the temple of Lord Shiva and bow down to him. When Hemchandracharya came, King Kumarpal said, "We would go to the temple of Lord Shiva." He accepted the offer without any hesitation. Brahmins were happy in their mind thinking that they would be able to make their point today and glorify their religion. Yet, they were wrong. They underestimated Hemchandracharya. To the surprise of those Brahmins, Hemchandracharya bowed down in front of Lord Shiva but by saying,
"Bhavbijaskurajanana ragadayah kshaymupagata yasya; Brahma va Vishnurva haro Jino va namastasmai." Meaning, "I am bowing down to that god, who has destroyed the passions like attachment (Rag) and hatred (Dwesh) which are the cause of worldly life, whether he is Brahma, Vishnu, or Jina."
This showed that indeed the acharya was genius and had a broad-minded attitude based on basic Jain principles. Under Hemchandra's influence, King Kumarpal accepted the Jainism. He prohibited violence and killing of any animal in his kingdom. King Kumarpal made many laws that nurtured the Jain religion. Vegetarianism was found not only in the Jains, but also in all the people of Gujarat. Jainism became the land of the region.
Hemchandra composed several literary works that included many verses. The acharya was the first one to put non-violence on a political platform. He was the architect of the greatness and unity of Gujarat. In the field of metaphysics, he was a Yogi. His work Yoga-Shastra, a treatise on yoga, is very famous. People called him 'Kali-kala Sarvajna' meaning ‘all-knower in the dark period’. He died in 1173 A. D. at the age of eighty-four. The Jain culture still shines brightly in Gujarat, due to the influence of the literary works contributed by the great Acharya Hemchandra.
The parent who never praised but was quick to criticize. The unfair boss who handed out the pink slip. The spouse who was unfaithful. These are the people who inflicted hurts on us that may take years to overcome, if we ever do. We hold a grudge. We say the worst things to them - or brood over what we wish we had said. We want revenge.
Actually, the best way to feel better is the opposite of getting revenge. Saying the words “I forgive you” could be the most powerful thing you will ever do.
To forgive doesn’t mean to give in; it means to let go. Once you forgive, you are no longer emotionally handcuffed to the person who hurt you. Forgiveness extricates you from someone else’s nightmare and allows you to live in a state of grace.
If forgiveness feels so good, why do so many people lug around so much resentment ? One reason is that it may compensate for the powerlessness they experienced when they were hurt. People may feel more in charge when they are filled with anger; but forgiving instills a much greater sense of power. A rabbi who lost his family in the Holocaust said that he forgave because he chose not to bring Hitler with him to America. When you forgive, you reclaim your power to choose. It does not matter whether someone deserves forgiveness; you deserve to be free.
Another reason we may withhold forgiveness is it can feel like weakness or capitulation. Some think forgiving means saying they were wrong and someone else was right; but forgiveness is not about letting the other person off the hook. It is about pulling the knife out of your own gut. It can free the ex-wife who remains bitter towards her former spouse, the worker passed over for promotion, the relative not invited to a wedding.
In many cases the other person is not even aware of your misery, while you are turning yourself inside out with bitterness, the one who hurt you does not feel a thing.
Forgiving is good for the body as well as for the soul. Reliving past hurts over and over again is bad for your health. Simply remembering an incident that made a person angry has proved to be stressful for the heart. Negative feelings that cause stress have also been linked to high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and increased susceptibility to other illnesses.
While terrible hurts may take only minutes to inflict, forgiving the perpetrator often requires some time. Initially you experience negative feelings such as anger, sadness and shame, then you try to make sense of what happened or take mitigating circumstances in to account.
Ultimately you learn to see the person who hurt you through new eyes. With greater perspective, the hurter becomes one who was flawed, weak, sick or ignorant.
Some people never reach the final stages of forgiveness. Those hurt in childhood by people who they loved and trusted may find the process particularly difficult. Yet, even partial forgiveness can be beneficial.
If you want to move toward a future of forgiving but don’t know how to start, follow these suggestions:
*** PRACTICE ON SMALL HURTS: Forgiving the slights inflicted by strangers - the clerk who shortchanges you or the driver who cuts you off - prepares you for the tougher task of forgiving major hurts.
*** FREE YOURSELF OF BAD FEELINGS: Vent your anger or disappointment with a trusted friend or counselor. This allows you the strengthening experience of being heard. You can let go of your feelings without the danger of saying or doing anything you will regret later. Anger releasing strategies, such as punching a pillow, can help. If you are not so much angry as sad, keep a journal. By all means avoid negative expressions of anger such as driving recklessly, slamming doors or breaking things.
*** WRITE A LETTER TO THE PERSON WHO HURT YOU: Spell out the truth of what happened as you experienced it, without blaming or judging. Use “I” statements: “I feel _____. I don’t understand ______.” Describe the impact the person’s behavior had on you, and express your desire to hear his or her feelings and get the issue resolved. Should you mail it ? If there is a chance for good, send it. If the person who caused your hurt is dead, however, or incapable to listening to what you have to say, some counselors suggest burning the letter, a symbolic way of letting anger go up in smoke.
*** DON’T FEEL CONFRONTATION IS NECESSARY: In cases of incest, assault and other criminal acts, victims may avoid forgiving the perpetrator because a confrontation is not safe. In fact, you need not face that person at all. Forgiveness can occur without anyone else’s involvement or awareness. The people you forgive may never realize they wronged you or never know you forgave them. They may be alcoholics who can not hear what you are trying to say. They may deny everything. What is important is that you let go of your anger.
*** LISTEN WITH EMPATHY: If you do confront your nemesis, listen silently and then relate back what you are hearing. When you do so, you will begin to see behavior from another perspective and become more tolerant. That can lead to forgiveness.
*** MEDITATE OR PRAY: To err is human, to forgive divine. Turn to your spirituality or faith. The act of forgiving may be more than any of us can manage on our own.
*** DON’T THINK FORGIVING MEANS FORGETTING: It doesn’t. We can not forget hurts, nor should we. Those experiences teach us not to be victimized again and about not victimizing others.
*** LOOK FORWARD IN TIME: By peering into the future, you can benefit from the perspective time brings without having to wait years achieve it. Consider the two sisters who bickered over the care of their ailing mother. The sister living close by resented being burdened with her mom’s day-to-day care while the distant sister just sent checks. Finally the angry sister asked herself what she really wanted in the long run. The answer was “I want to have a good relationship with my sister. The only I could do that was to let go of my anger and forgive her.” Today they can discuss their mother without exchanging hurtful words. and the distant sister is more willing to telephone doctors and participate in decision-making.
Forgiveness leads to inner peace. Once you have forgiven you will laugh more, feel more deeply, become more connected to others. And the good feelings you generate will pave the way to even greater healing.
(Based on an article in Reader’s Digest, June 94)
The wealthy merchant Dhandatt was happy in all respects excepting that he had no son. He consulted many fortune-tellers and practiced many religious vows and fortunately by the grace of goddess Ila, he had a son who was named Ilakumar after the goddess Ila.
The family was happy and rich. Ilakumar grew youthful and was always attracted to pretty young girls. One day a band of rope dancers visited his place and Ilakumar was passionately attracted to the very beautiful daughter of the head dancer. He firmly mentally resolved to marry only her. He grew very nervous and upset. His parents tried their best to dissuade him from this resolve and get him married to a very charming girl from his community, but Ilakumar did not budge an inch from his resolve.
Then his parents called the dancers and requested them to give the girl in marriage to Ilakumar and to accept any amount of money in return. The chief dancer replied that he did not intend to sell his daughter, but if Ilakumar stayed along with them to learn all the arts of dancing in order to please a king and win some rewards from him, then only would he give his daughter in marriage to Ilakumar.
This condition seemed highly derogatory and unacceptable to Ilakumar’s parents but Ilakumar was deeply rooted in his crush for the girl; so he abandoned his father’s rich heritage and joined the camp of the rope dancers to learn their art. What humiliation one is prepared to undergo being infatuated with passion for a woman !
In course of time, he became perfect in the art and he arranged a show before the king’s palace in Banaras city. A rope dancer usually dances on a rope with seven pots on head. Sometimes he glides on the rope with a dagger or a knife. Ilakumar also exhibited such performances before the king and the queen. The audience was wonder struck at the marvels displayed by Ilakumar. He was eager to please the king and win a reward from him so he could marry the girl he loved so much.
But the king also was attracted by the beauty of the exact same dancing girl. He thought, “If this dancer falls from the rope and dies, I could take this girl for marriage.” Ilakumar strove his best to make it the best show, the audience was mad with admiration but the king showed no appreciation. The king’s pleasure could only procure the girl for Ilakumar. So he went up the rope to dance again. This time also the king showed no signs of admiration. Thus Ilakumar went up the rope a third time and fourth time. But the king had decided not to show any signs of pleasure.
The audience was surprised at why the king could not be pleased and the queen also entertained doubt about the king’s admiration for the attractive dancing girl.
Now once more for the fifth time Ilakumar went up the rope to dance staking his life. While on the rope, he saw through the window of the nearby house, a Jain Muni though requested by a very beautiful and young woman to accept sweet-balls, did not accept them and did not even care to look up at her face.
Ilakumar thought, “This Muni is young and that woman is also young and highly attractive. Both stand in a lonely place, and still the Muni is not perturbed in the least, while I am loafing here and there, leading the life of a vagrant under infatuation for girl.”
Ilakumar further thought: “I should be condemned. I condemn my passionate intoxication. I put my life at stake to please this king. This is all my stupidity. I should awake.”
Ilakumar realized futility of worldly pleasures and his duty towards his own self. This is real consciousness—real knowledge. There must be some circumstances aiding for the manifestation of Kevalgnan. These circumstances became enough for Ilakumar.
More consciousness led to the consumption of the accumulated past Karmas of his previous births and the present life. He attained Kevalgnan while he was on the rope. His past acts were consumed and rendered fruitless. The bamboo turned into a royal throne to the great astonishment of the people and Ilakumar was found seated on the royal throne. The angels hailed him on his attainment of “highest knowledge.”
The queen also was hurt by the king’s attraction for the dancing girl despite the presence of beautiful queens in the harem. She realized that worldly ways are futile. This light of knowledge spread more and more in her heart and she also attained “Kevalgnan” as her Ghati Karmas (heinous acts) were consumed.
The king also having realized his error highly repented and condemned himself for having entertained such mean thoughts for Ilakumar and for the dancing girl. Consequently his “Ghati Karmas” also were consumed and he also attained “Kevalgnan.”
The dancing girl also thought, “I am the root of all this evil. My beauty maddened Ilakumar and infatuated the king. Shame to this beauty of mine. I shall now resort to nunhood.” Knowledge dispels ignorance, and overpowers infatuation. Thus knowledge brought over great change in her mind and she also attained Kevalgnan.
All the four omniscient souls preached truth and gratified the worldly beings.
MORAL: When an individual is infatuated with passions for the opposite sex, he or she goes through humiliation in life and forgets his or her duties towards parents and self. However, when a person realizes hopelessness of worldly pleasures, he or she attains Kevalgnan (nothing but knowledge) resulting in infinite happiness. Too much emotional attachment towards any living being results in pain and misery.
In Rajgruhi there was a wealthy merchant named Rushabhadatt who was also known as Arhadas. His wife Dharini alias Jinmati gave birth to a very handsome son in 542 BC. The boy was named Jambu. He turned out to be very bright and intelligent. Every one liked him.
As he grew up, many families were eager to get him married to their daughters. Since it was the time of polygamy, his parents selected eight girls of reputed families and Jambu was duly engaged with them.
Prior to the marriage Jambu once went to the assembly of Sudharmaswami and was very much impressed by the sermon. He developed a very high sense of detachment and decided to renounce. His parents were of course not willing to let him renounce at that young age. Parents of the girls engaged to him were also much perturbed. They were worried about their daughters, since no one else would accept them on account of their being already engaged to him.
All of them pressed Jambu to give up his intention. They pointed out the rigors of ascetic life that he would not be able to face. They also told him that it is very hard to lead the life of a Muni and advised him to go in for the comfortable family life. He however remained firm.
The parents thought that he would change his mind, if he gets married. They therefore insisted upon his getting married before renouncing. Jambu agreed on condition that he should be allowed to renounce the day after his marriage. Since the girls to whom he was engaged were very beautiful and attractive, every one thought that he would surely gain attachment for them, once he is married. The elders therefore accepted that condition.
The wedding took place on a grand scale. Jambu’s parents and those of the girls vied with one another in show of their prosperity. No effort was left out to make the wedding a memorable ceremony. Highly distinguished guests graced the occasion. Jewelry and other precious gifts that were heaped on the newly weds, were the envy for the whole city. Rajgruhi had rarely witnessed such pomp and splendor. Every one congratulated Jambu for getting such beautiful and glamorous wives and wished him perfect happiness. At night Jambu was closeted in elegantly decorated bedroom along with his wives and the elders heaved a sigh of relief.
Jambu was however not at all affected by the glamour nor was he overcome by the beauty of those lovely girls. He had made up his mind to renounce the next day and wanted to make use of the night for orienting those girls for the purpose. He sat in front of them and started explaining the purely temporary and transitory character of life and everything pertaining to that.
At that time in the vicinity of Rajgruhi, there was a burglar named Prabhav. He had been a prince of Vindhya but had fallen out with his parents on the issue of some property. He therefore left the place and had embarked upon burglary. He had gathered with him 500 colleagues who were willing to undertake any sort of adventure at his command. He had acquired the art whereby he could put any one to sleep and he could break any type of lock. He came to know of the fabulous treasure accumulated on the occasion of Jambu’s wedding and had decided to grab it.
At dead of the night he came to the place along with his followers and saw that every one had gone to sleep on account of the exhaustion of the ceremony. He asked his colleagues to pick up the valuables and himself proceeded towards Jambu’s bedroom for the jewelry on the bodies of newly weds.
From a little distance he heard Jambu talking to his wives. He could not believe that the newly weds were still awake. He came close to the door and tried to listen expecting exciting love gossip. To his utter astonishment Jambu was talking about the true nature of life. His words were so persuasive that Prabhav could not stop listening.
Jambu’s talk was appealing not only to his wives but also to Prabhav. He started thinking that he had fallen out with his parents and others for the sake of some possessions and was leading the nasty life of a burglar, while here was a young boy planning to give up everything that he had effortlessly gained.
Jambu’s talk was still going on. The more Prabhav listened, the more he hated himself. His men came to him with bundles of valuables, pointing out that it was getting dawn and they should leave.
But Prabhav was not listening to them. He had developed disdain for his current life and was keen to change it. Ultimately he told his followers to leave him alone, because he had decided to give up burglary. They could therefore go on their own. All of them were exasperated at that. They said that they were not to go anywhere without him. If he was giving up the occupation, they were also willing to give it up.
By that time Jambu had finished. His wives were convinced of the futility of the worldly life and had decided to renounce with him. Then Prabhav came inside and said that he had come up for the burglary but had decided to renounce after listening his talk to his wives. He and his 500 followers made up their mind to be Jambu’s pupils.
In the morning news spread everywhere that Jambu was going to renounce that day along with his wives. His parents were disappointed that their intention did not materialize. They did not have any incentive to continue the household life and decided to renounce. And so was the decision of the girls’ parents. A spectacular procession was organized leading all those 500+ people to the assembly of Sudharmaswami. Jambu became his pupil and Prabhav together with his colleagues became Jambu’s pupil.
Jambuswami as he became known thenceforth studied the entire teaching of Lord Mahavir. Many of Jain scriptures are composed in the form of dialogue between Sudharmaswami and Jambuswami.
He became the head of the religious order after Sudharmaswami. He himself attained Kevalgnan in 514 BC i.e. eight years after Sudharmaswami attained it. Jambuswami was the last Kevalgnani of the current time cycle. He attained Nirvana at the age of 80.
In the city of Pottanpur, there lived a wealthy merchant named Jindatt whose wife’s name was Purna. He was not merely a follower of the Jina path but also a great donor and considered any chance to make charity as an omen of good luck.
One day, an Acharya had come to the city, when Jindatt visited him in the company of fellow citizens and accepted the vow to fast every alternate day and recite Pratikraman twice daily.
The goddess of fortune is the most fickle and least dependable, and no one can be sure as to when she comes in and when she moves out. Jindatt was a man of wealth and affluence, but with a turn in his fortune, he became poor and could not have even the barest of subsistence.
One day his wife suggested that it might be worthwhile to go to her parents, borrow some money and start business afresh. The idea didn’t appeal much to Jindatt, but as his wife was insistent, very reluctantly he agreed. Purna gave him a packet of fried chickpea powder for his meal on the way.
The trip did not disturb the merchant’s vow to fast every alternate day. The day he started was for him a day of fasting. On the second day, at noon, he sat down on the bank of a lake and diluted some chickpea powder in a cup of water. Then, washing himself, he sat down to break his fast.
He thought “When at home, I take my meal only after giving a portion of it to some pious seeker. But where do I get a seeker here ? Luckily, however, his thought-process worked, and he saw a Muni coming in his direction. The Muni’s body was very lean and emaciated because of the frequent practice of month-long fasts, and even on that day the Muni had come to seek food after one such fast. Jindatt bowed before him and prayed that the Muni might partake a portion of his meal. The prayer was accepted.
On the fourth day, Jindatt reached his father-in-law’s house. After the usual reception and meal, he apprised his father-in-law of the purpose of this unusual visit. It is a great irony of life that prosperity makes a friend of everybody, but not so adversity, which is a real testing time, when one may distinguish a friend from an indifferent onlooker. The father-in-law held consultation with the members of his family, even the family deity, and regretted inability to extend any financial help.
Extremely disappointed, Jindatt turned his steps homeward. Nearing his own city, he started to guess the reaction of his wife when she would hear of her father’s refusal. He felt somewhat mortified and ashamed. But to avert the first shock of their meeting, he picked up a bag full of pebbles from the bank of the river, placed the bag on his head, and returned home.
Purna eagerly received the bag from her husband and rushed to her bedroom to see what it contained. And what a surprise, it was full of precious stones and gems. She thought: “How very considerate my father must have been. He must have taken pity on our present situation and given all these.”
Then she took one precious stone and went to a grocer’s shop to mortgage it and bring some provisions. She cooked various delicacies and served them on the table.
Jindatt was taken aback to see so many cooked items served on the table. He said, “My dear ! We are already in heavy debt. Why did you borrow again to prepare so many delicacies for me ?”
Purna smiled and said, “Why, I borrowed nothing. My father has given you so many precious stones and gems, and I have sold only one of them to get necessary provisions.”
This was a real surprise to Jindatt, who had actually brought nothing from his father-in-law. So he rushed to the bedroom, and to his surprise he saw that the pebbles he had collected and brought home had all turned into precious stones. Then he turned to his wife and said, “My dear, the gems you see haven’t come from your father’s home; a gift of chickpea to a Muni has turned pebbles into precious stones.”
Eventually, the stones were sold in the market, and this brought the couple a large fortune. They were wealthy once again. This event gave a great boost to their faith in the efficacy of gifts and charities, and henceforth these became an unforgettable part of their daily life.
There was a city named Shripur, of which king Jitari was the ruling monarch. His minister Matisagar was really an ocean of intellect, wisdom, and statesmanship and was held by all in the highest esteem. The king was very fond of his minister, and he took him into confidence even in personal matters.
Often they discussed religion. The king was an atheist, and to him virtue was a myth and penance was a perpetual condemnation into self-created misery. He was a successful man in the modern sense, to whom success meant affluence, amassing a large fortune by any means whatsoever. To court misery in the name of religion was, to him, the height of idiocy.
According to the minister, religion was not a thing that could be imposed, but was something inherent. When one practiced forgiveness, fellow-feeling, etc., he did so not so much to help others as to help himself. And so with penance. It was no invitation to misery, but a supreme means for the purification of the soul, a companion of virtue. As discussions like this were frequent, the king acquired the nickname of Pap-buddhi (one whose intellect is vice), and the minister acquired the nickname of Dharma-buddhi (one whose intellect is virtue).
The king said one day, “Look here. I fight with other kings and defeat them. I subdue their men and usurp their treasure and territory. I go often for hunting. According to your view, these are evil deeds. But what do I get ? Fame, fortune, influence, men and money. You are a pious man, but you haven’t got as much wealth and influence as I have. Even what you call your own, has been bestowed by me. So, you see, good man, where you and your religion stand. In such a situation, how do I accept your contention that religion is the giver of the greatest prosperity ?”
The king added, “If religion really leads to happiness, I want a proof of it. You go from here to some unknown land empty-handed. There you will realize how much religion helps you. If you come back with affluence and influence, then I shall accept your stand as correct.”
The minister at once accepted the challenge and prepared to depart. He moved out without taking anything with him. He was on a long and unknown path walking days and nights.
He came across a demon in a forest who was hungry for seven days. The demon jumped on him, but the minister did not lose his nerves. Rather, in a tone full of affection, he said, “Oh beloved of the gods ! I am at your service. If my body satisfies your hunger, I shall deem it to be a great good fortune on my part. But I have one submission to make to you. I am out on an urgent mission. If you help me in its fulfillment, I shall return to you at once and await your pleasure.”
The demon was hungry, but the minister’s words cast a spell on him. So he released him, and the minister resumed his journey. It was the very early hour of the dawn when the minister reached a park outside a city. There he saw a temple dedicated to Lord Adinath, and so he stopped there and worshipped the Lord.
The guard of the temple was a Yaksha named Kapardi. He was greatly impressed by the minister’s devotion. When the minister had completed his worship and prayer, the Yaksha offered him a wish-fulfilling pitcher named Kamghat and explained to him its specialty.
The minister was happy to receive the pitcher, but he did not know how to carry it. The Yaksha realized his difficulty and said, “Don’t you worry about it. It will follow you without being visible to others. But you will see it quite all right.”
With such an important acquisition, the minister now turned his steps homeward. The demon was waiting for him at the same spot. He recognized the minister at once and said, “Good fellow ! You remember your promise. I have been waiting here for you.”
Minister: “Sir, I am at your service. Please accept my body as your food. But I have one misgiving. You know, this body is a warehouse of impurities, and I feel hesitant to dedicate it for your use. If, however, you kindly agree, I can procure plenty of dainties and delicacies for your consumption, and you can have as much of them as you please until your hunger is fully satisfied.”
Demon: “I don’t mind that. But the supply must be really plentiful. If by any chance my hunger is not satisfied, then I shall not spare you.”
Within a short while, there were hundreds of dishes full of dainties and delicacies served before the demon. He ate to his heart’s content, and still the supply was intact. It was virtually non-ending. The demon now inquired about the magical powers of the man. The minister, who never spoke a lie in his life, gave out the full account about Kamghat, his magic pitcher.
The demon now wanted to have it, but he knew, unless he gave something in return, the man would not be prepared to part with it. So he said, “Fellow ! If you give me that pitcher, I shall give you a more powerful thing.”
The minister: “What’s that ?” The demon: “That is a magic wand before which no weapon is effective. It is capable to carry out your order and return. It is a divine thing. You accept this divine wand and give me the pitcher.”
The demon further added, “You see, with this pitcher supplying me with food and drink, it will no longer be necessary for me to kill living beings. So I shall give up animal slaughter for good and be a good fellow.”
The minister: “Well, Sir, everything is at your service, though I need caution you that because of your impious habits, this may not remain with you for long.” The demon replied: “Don’t you worry about that. You see, from today on, I shall be a pious good fellow. So it must stay with me. You give it to me.”
So the minister exchanged his pitcher for the wand and resumed his homeward journey.
The next day, when it was time for lunch, the minister asked the wand to procure food for him. Expressing its inability, the wand said, “Sir, this is beyond my capacity. Please commission me for something else.” The minister said at once, “Then you go and get me my pitcher back.” The wand rose up in the sky and started at once.
The demon had kept the pitcher in a cave and shut its door, and he himself kept the vigil from outside. All of a sudden, he saw the wand return and start beating him fiercely. This made the demon stand aside to save his skin. The wand then picked up the pitcher and returned to the minister, who was happy to see his things back.
The minister welcomed the pitcher and asked how it was in the custody of the demon during the last night. The pitcher replied, “Sir, he is an impious fellow, and I had no rest with him. In future, please do not leave me with an impious person.” The minister had then a very sumptuous meal after which he picked up the wand and the pitcher and started again.
Success follows success for a pious man.
The minister met a party of pilgrims who were on their way back from Mount Rebata and Mount Shatrunjaya. He thought of entertaining the party with a grand feast. So he made an invitation to the leader of the group, but the leader declined the invitation, for he could not be sure how this man without anyone and anything worthwhile with him could entertain such a big group.
The party now lit the oven to cook food. But, as desired by the minister, there was a heavy shower and the oven went out and couldn’t be lit again.
The minister repeated his invitation. The pilgrims stared at each other. They didn’t know if the fellow was mad or jesting at their cost. But, since, in any case, there would be no food, they agreed to accept the invitation in order to see the outcome of it. The minister then directed them to another place, where, he said, all arrangements were complete. The pilgrims were surprised at the grand reception and sumptuous food that were awaiting for them there. In fact, they had never seen so many dainties and delicacies in their life. Food was served to them in golden dishes, and everybody ate to his heart’s content.
When the feast was over and the pilgrims sat down to rest, discussion started on the grand arrangement which had been made on such a superhuman scale in such a forlorn place. When they asked the minister about it, he told them all about his magic pitcher. At this, the leader of the group said, “Sir, I have in my possession a couple of wonderful things: a Chamar and a royal umbrella. They help one to recover at once from disease, poison and wound caused by some weapon. You take these two from me and give me the magic pitcher. That will help me to feed these people. And besides, you strike a good bargain, since you get two magic things in exchange for one.”
Minister: “Sir, divine things stay with one to whom they have been given. They do not stay with others.”
The leader: “Don’t you worry, Sir. I have so much virtue to my credit that the pitcher cannot get away from me.”
So the exchange was done, and the two departed in their respective directions.
It was noon the next day when the minister was hungry and the wand was commissioned again to recover the pitcher. The wand recovered the pitcher from the pilgrims and returned with it.
With all his priceless acquisitions, the minister was now back home. He had a very effective trip, and he had wonderful things in his possession with which he could achieve anything. All this was the outcome of virtue.
The king heard all this, and now he started thinking about some other plan to test the minister’s luck. He got two shaddocks, and inside one of them he placed valuable gems worth about 1,25,000 gold coins. Then he gave them to one of his trusted valets, instructing him to keep them for sale in some fruit stall, and then to keep his eye on the buyer.
This was done. It was an accident that the minister’s wife had just come to the market. She like the shaddocks containing the gems very much and took it home. She placed it before the minister. As the minister peeled out the skin, the glittering gems came out to his great surprise. He deemed it to be a matter of fresh good luck.
The matter was reported to the king, and he was very much surprised at the coincidence.
One night, when everybody was in bed, there came up a large seven-storied mansion in the city. Even the king’s mansion bore no comparison with this. Sweet music was emitting from the mansion, and this filled up the whole city. The king saw it from his palace window, but he didn’t know how so suddenly the mansion had come up in the city and to whom did it belong.
In the morning, the minister came to the palace and presented the king with a dish full of very costly gems. The king’s surprise knew no limits. He said, “Minister ! Where did you get all these ?”
The minister replied, “From virtue, Sir.”
The king asked, “Last night, I saw a wonderful mansion in the city. It was emitting fine music, and, I guess, some theatrical performances were going on inside. Was it one of your own doings ?”
“You are very correct, Sir, in your guess.” The minister replied.
The king had a curiosity to see the mansion from inside. So he said, “I would like very much to have my lunch in that mansion some day. When it may be convenient to you, please let me know of it.”
“Sir ! It is my good fortune that you intend to pay a visit there. But why should you intend to go there alone or with a few attendants only ? I ask the entire royal household to do me the honor to accept my invitation for a lunch. And if it so suits your convenience, I invite you all this very day. I am sure there will be no difficulty.”
This touched the king’s pride, a small man bragging so much. He accepted the invitation for the same day. Later on the king sent his men to see what preparations were going on. They came back and reported that there was virtually nothing.
The king had now no doubt that the minister must have gone mad. He thought that he had done a foolish thing by accepting invitation for so many. Just then the minister turned up and said, “Sir! Food is ready. I invite you all to come at once.”
“Minister ! Are you joking with me ? I have information that there is absolutely no arrangement there, and you invite such a large crowd for lunch.”
“Your Majesty ! If you will do me the honor to come with me but once, you will see everything with your own eyes. There will be nothing wanting to entertain the royal household. I assure you, Sir.”
The king started, with one thousand men following him. He was giving final touches to a plan to chastise the minister very severely in case he failed. Now they arrived at the main entrance to the mansion, and the whole party was surprised to see its beautiful decoration. There were hundreds of receptionists who received the royal guests.
As the king proceeded in, he had surprise mounted upon surprise. Such a grandeur would put to shame any king on earth. And now at last they were in the dining hall. And what a supply of dainties and delicacies, their quantity and variety ! It was a real wonder.
When the lunch was over, the minister presented everybody with a divine robe. All had the same query in mind: How did it all happen ? It took expression in the words of the king: “Minister ! What divine power do you have in your possession ? What has made possible all this ?”
“Your Majesty ! It’s all the doing of virtue. You sent me abroad penniless, and I have acquired a magic pitcher. It has great powers. All that you see are due to it, and no credit is due to me.”
“But such a precious thing must remain in the king’s palace.”
“But Sir, this does not stay with impious people.”
“Don’t you worry. It will stay with me. If you don’t willfully surrender it to me, I shall use force to acquire it and put you to severe torture.”
The minister handed over the pitcher to the king. The king placed it in a guarded vault. The guards were ordered to keep an all-time vigil.
Next day, the minister commanded the wand to get back the pitcher, and the wand proceeded at once. The guards were no match for the wand. So the pitcher was again restored to the minister. The king now saw that the pitcher would not remain with him. He was sorry at the plight of his guards who had been severely beaten by the wand.
The minister now applied the Chamar and cured the men of their wounds. Then he said to the king, “So, now, Sir, you recognize the merit and power of virtue.”
But the effect on the king was short-lived. One day he said to the minister, “Minister ! What you have demonstrated was a sort of magic power, and I don’t think it has anything to do with religion. Even sinful men can practice magic. However, I shall be convinced of your power if you surrender the pitcher, the wand, the Chamar and the umbrella, go out to some unknown land in the company of your wife and come back affluent.”
The minister was a simple-hearted fellow. He didn’t see through the king’s motives and agreed to abide by the king’s wishes. He surrendered all his things to the king and set out in the company of his wife.
Walking non-stop, they arrived at a city named Nagpur, which was near the seacoast. They halted at the park. There they came to know that a merchant from that city, Sagardatt by name, was soon going out on a voyage to distant islands, and before he set sail, he was offering cash to all seekers. As the minister was penniless, he left his wife in the park and came to the ship.
There was already a long queue of seekers, and before the minister’s turn came, the ship set sail. The minister took a chance and jumped on the ship. The merchant was surprised to see how daring the man was and gave him a few coins. Now, as the minister turned to jump back, the ship was already in deep water. So he had no other alternative but to remain in the ship.
Very soon a deep intimacy grew between the merchant and the minister, and the merchant was impressed by the man’s wit. The merchant gave him the job of keeping the account books in his establishment.
Elsewhere, the minister’s wife, Vinaysundari, was waiting in the park for her husband’s return, but he did not come back. After waiting for a very long time, she moved out in search of him. But all her searches were in vain. At last, she took shelter in the house of a potter in that city. Until the return of her husband, however, she undertook a few vows which were as follows:
She would sleep on the ground. She would take no bath. She wouldn’t put on colored garments. She wouldn’t decorate herself with flowers. She wouldn’t use cosmetics. She wouldn’t chew betel leaves. She wouldn’t take dainties, delicacies, milk and milk products, spices, etc. She would use no cushion. She would never move out of the house except under emergency. She wouldn’t sit in a balcony. She wouldn’t participate in social ceremonies. She would restrain in her talks with others.
Thus she spent her days.
The merchant and the minister arrived at Ratnadvip. In that island, there was a city named Surpur where reigned king Sakrapurandar. The merchant unloaded his wares and stored them in the warehouses. In business matters, the merchant was now wholly dependent on the minister. In fact, the minister was now looking after the whole business, and the merchant was having a nice time in this new city.
Soon the merchant developed a great intimacy with a fallen woman in that city and started living with her. Whatever money he needed was sent to him by the minister. This the woman noticed, and she thought that the man who was actually running the merchant’s business must be very wealthy. She now made plans to develop intimacy with the minister so that she would have no limit to her wealth. But in this she failed. The minister did not respond to her overtures.
Soon the minister became well known in the city for his honesty, uprightness and skill in business.
A lake was being dug in the city at the command of the king. A few inscriptions came to hand, but none could read their content. This increased the curiosity of the king. He announced a reward of half the kingdom and the princess herself to anyone who would decipher the inscriptions. When the minister heard it, he came to the court and read out the inscriptions which contained the following message:
“From where these copper inscriptions are found, as one moves seven cubits towards the east and digs the ground waist-deep, he comes across a slab of stone beneath which is hidden a treasure of 19,99,999 gold coins.”
The king at once came to the spot and acted as per the instruction, and to his great joy, he was in possession of the great treasure. The king now gave half the kingdom and the princess, Saubhagyasundari, to the minister and also bestowed on the couple a vast dowry.
Rarest are those who are happy at their friends good fortune; even those who would be indifferent are not many; but largest in number are those who are jealous of their friends good fortune. Merchant Sagardatt was in the last group.
When he saw the esteem in which his own assistant, the minister, was being held at the court and in the whole city, and the vast amount of wealth he had amassed within such a short time, he felt jealous of him. One day, he sold out the remainder of his wares and announced his decision to leave the city. The minister also welcomed the idea, since he was now keen to return home.
So the ship was filled up with local specialties. The king bestowed on his son-in-law the money-value of half the kingdom, which was as large as eight shiploads. These, added to the minister’s own, made a total of 40 ships. As against these, the merchant had only one vessel. Then on one fine day the ships set sail.
One day the merchant called his friend from his own ship and said, “My friend ! Our intimacy does not grow when we are moving in two separate ships. Let us be on board the same ship, dine together, live together and play together. In this manner alone we can have a good time.”
The minister was a simpleton, and he apprehended no danger from the merchant. So he accepted the invitation and came to Sagardatt’s ship. Throughout the day, they talked of various things. In the evening, they sat on the roof to enjoy the sunset. The night was now advanced, and the entire seascape was covered with pitch darkness. Only the stars were twinkling in the far-off sky. The two friends were still absorbed in deep conversation.
Sagardatt took advantage of the situation and pushed the minister down into the sea. But even in the midst of this great calamity, the minister did not forget to utter the holy Namokar, and soon he felt something floating near at hand. It was a big log of wood. The minister held it fast and kept afloat. Meanwhile, the ships moved on without knowing what had happened to their unfortunate master.
After the ships had gone a great distance, the merchant raised an alarm about his friend. He was searched in all the ships but was nowhere to be found. As it was the dead of night, nothing was visible. So the minister was declared to have been lost.
With his plot turned into a success, the merchant was hilarious. At one stroke, he was now the master of all, including the beautiful princess. But he must first win the princess confidence. He came to her and spoke a few words by way of consoling her. Saubhagyasundari was an intelligent lady, and she took no time to read into the whole situation. Sagardatt now started sending various proposals to the lady, but she turned them down.
At last, the ships entered into the harbor of Gambhirpur. The princess at once alighted from her ship, went straight to the temple of Lord Adinath, took shelter in it and bolted it from inside.
Elsewhere, the minister, supported by the log of wood, safely reached the shore. There was a city nearby, but it appeared to be a deserted one. It was a vast city with many mansions and shops, but there was no human being. He walked through the streets until at last he came to a big palace which apparently belonged to the king. But it was empty, too. On the sixth floor there sat a she-camel. Not far from her there lay two types of collyrium (medicinal lotion for eye) and two sticks. He picked up a stick and applied the white collyrium to the camel’s eyes, and, soon the animal changed into a fine damsel. She asked him to take a seat.
The minister was greatly surprised. In one breath, he asked her many questions as to who she was, who her parents were, what situation she was in, what city that was, and why the city was without a population.
The damsel shed tears of sorrow and said, “Noble Sir ! That would be a pretty long story. But here your life will be in great danger. Flee at once. I don’t desire you to plant yourself into difficulty.”
But the minister was unperturbed. In an undaunted voice, he said, “Fear ? What fear ? For one who is undaunted, no fear is big enough.”
“Sir ! Here lives a monstress. She is very strong and cruel. It is about time for her coming here, so it is best that you go away at once.”
“But I want to meet her. If you know her full story, please tell me about it.”
The damsel gave the account as follows:
“King Bhim of this city was my father. He belonged to the Tapas order.
One day a Tapas Muni came to the palace. I was entrusted to take care of the Muni, but the Muni was not a clean man. He was attracted by my beauty. At night, as he was approaching my apartment, the guards on duty put him under arrest and produced him before the king. The king found him guilty and ordered him to be put to death.
Dying in distress and agony, he has been born as a monstress. She killed my father, the king. The residents of this city fled for their lives. As the Muni had attachment for me, the monstress did not kill me, but you see, I am her captive. When she goes out, she turns me into a camel. But she comes every day and makes inquiries about me. Now, Sir, she may come at any moment. I would like you to hide yourself somewhere.”
The princess stopped for a moment and then added, “One day, I told the monstress that she had spoiled my life and made me lonely and miserable. I asked her to kill me, too. But she told me that she was looking for a suitable groom for me, and as soon as she would find one, she would settle me with him. It is quite possible, Sir, that she may like you. And if that happens, then you ask her to bestow on you some superhuman powers like moving through the sky, and some magic objects, such as an enchanted cot, a pair of garlands made of divine gems, a stick of white kaner, and the priceless Ratna-manjusa.”
Just then, the monstress rushed in. The minister silently slipped aside without being seen by her. The monstress held a friendly chat with the princess. When the princess found that the monstress was in a good mood, she reminded her about her potential husband. Said the monstress, “Ah ! I am still looking for one. But I have not yet found any worthy of you.”
“But I have one in view if you accept him.”
At this moment, the minister made his appearance. The monstress liked him at once and married the princess with him. The minister took the opportunity to ask for the special powers and gifts, which the monstress bestowed on him gladly. Then she went away.
The princess now suggested that they must leave the place at once. She had no desire to live in that deserted city.
“Don’t you worry about that. I have an idea. We sit together on the magic cot with the two garlands around our necks, and you strike the cot with the kaner stick. It will at once go up in the sky and land us wherever we desire to get down. But there is one obstacle. If the monstress comes to know that we have escaped, she will at once pursue us and stop us. But this has to be prevented. As the monstress comes near us, you brandish the kaner stick so that she would not hold on for long but take to her heels. But display no sympathy toward her, or we shall be undone.”
Thus the whole plan was ready and the two started. When at the appropriate hour the monstress came to the palace, neither the princess was there nor her man. She realized at once that she had been fooled, so she pursued them and soon overtook them. But the minister brandished the red stick, and the monstress disappeared.
The cot descended at the park in the city of Gambhirpur. The minister left the princess in the park and went to the town to fix up an apartment. Just then, a prostitute came to the park.
As her eyes fell on the princess, she came to her and said, “My daughter ! Who are you ? Why have you come ? Who is your husband ? Why are you alone ?”
When the princess acquainted the woman with all about herself, the woman said at once, “What a piece of good luck ! You are my own sister-in-law, and the minister is my own brother. I have sent him home and have come to receive you. So you come with me at once.”
So the princess went with the woman to her home. But her first impression about the place was not good. She said, “Where is my husband ?”
“Don’t you worry about a single husband. Many husbands will visit you here every day. Live a happy life and enjoy with them.”
These words the harlot said jokingly, and the princess now realized the real position she was in. She shut herself in a room. The harlot offered her all inducements to open the door, but she would listen to nothing.
Soon the news spread all over the town that a woman had confined herself in a room in the house of the harlot. The king issued forth an announcement to the effect that anyone who would be able to induce the lady to open the door would be duly rewarded. The minister heard the announcement and felt at once that this might be his own wife. So he responded and came to the harlot’s home. There he gave a full account of the lady’s past.
Now the princess had no doubt that the narrator was none other than her own husband. She opened the door and came out to meet him. In recognition of the minister’s power, the king now gave him half of his kingdom and the hand of his own daughter.
With such an important position, it was now not difficult for the minister to institute a search for his other two wives. Soon he came to know that two more ladies were confined in their own rooms, and he felt that these might be his other two wives, Vinaysundari and Saubhagyasundari. When the minister gave them a complete account of each, both the ladies opened their doors to meet their dear husband. In this manner, the minister recovered all his three wives.
When the king came to know of Sagardatt’s treacherous behavior, he compelled him to return the minister’s portion of the treasure. The harlot that had stolen the princess was exiled from the town. The minister was thus happy once again.
One night, he thought of going back to his former king Papbuddhi and teach him a lesson. He took out a vast army and seized his kingdom. The king was taken a prisoner and was brought before the minister. The minister said, “Sir, do you recognize me ? Are you still in need of a demonstration of the power of virtue ?”
The king was very much ashamed to see his minister. Henceforth he gave up his atheistic ideas and became converted to the religious path. Thus the minister’s own life served as the most visible proof of the power of religion in a man’s life, and created an inducement in others to lead a pious life.
The couple, Shripat Sheth and Sundari once visited Shri Shilandhar Acharya and told him that both of them observed daily vows such a counting Navkarshi, doing Samayik, etc. but their son, Kamalsen, kept away from all this. He would watch TV, play cricket, wander about, and chatter on the phone.
Kamalsen’s parents were very upset and anxious about the lack of devotion and spirituality of their son to their religion. They therefore requested the Muni to give some advise to their son, so that his life would improve and he may be happy in this world as well as the next. The Muni willingly agreed.
On reaching home, the merchant said to his son, “Well, my son, a great teacher is in our town. He is very learned and his lectures are worth hearing.” Then the parents took their son to the lecture, and after bowing to the Acharya, they sat down to listen. The Acharya talked about a great many things, including hell, heaven, misery, Kevalgnan, etc. After the discourse, the Acharya asked Kamalsen how he liked the lecture. Kamalsen replied that he was too busy noticing the windbox movements in the throat of the Acharya.
At this, his parents were greatly dismayed and returned home disappointed. Soon after, another great sage, Acharya Gunsagarsuri, visited the town, and the parents repeated the entire process. This Acharya told the audience about interesting stories concerning the nine tastes (rasas); such stories attract worldly people.
Hence the boy began to visit the Acharya every day and listen with interest. After a few weeks, the Acharya was leaving the town. Kamalsen joined the people in sending him off. Many people pledged to observe some vow in their life. Kamalsen was also asked if we wanted to take a vow, and he said, “ I will not tell a lie excepting the dark and bright halves of the month. I shall not put the whole coconut into my mouth nor shall I eat cow dung.”
The Acharya was embarrassed at the boy’s ridiculous behavior. Hence, to make amends, the boy vowed not to eat food without looking at the bald head of Simelo, a potter of the town. The Acharya was very pleased at Kamalsen for taking a vow, even though it was very strange vow.
One day, Kamalsen was about to eat his lunch when his mother reminded him about his vow. That day Simelo had gone out to the forest to dig clay. Kamalsen immediately ran to the forest to find the bald potter. Here Kamalsen saw the potter digging the ground. But while digging, the potter happened to come across a jar full of gems and precious stones.
He started to hide it underneath a heap of soil, when Kamalsen shouted, “Yes, I have seen it.” Kamalsen was referring to the potter’s bald head, but the potter thought that Kamalsen was referring to the jar of gems.
The potter did not want anyone else to know about the jar of gems. So he proceeded to Kamalsen and told him, he will share the pot, fifty-fifty if he didn’t tell anyone else. Kamalsen didn’t know what he was talking about but accepted half the share of treasure and returned home.
Kamalsen thought deeply as he went home, “A vow taken out of joke brought me this wealth. Had I taken this vow in seriousness, I would have been richer.”
This incident changed Kamalsen’s life. He then observed many vows and became very happy. Well, even a small and strange vow brings untold happiness.
(With minor changes adopted from Jain Circular by Dr. Jagdishchandra Jain)
In the city of Kaushambi there lived a learned Brahmin, named Kashyap. He held an important position in the royal court. His wife Shridevi gave birth to a boy who was named Kapil. Kapil’s father passed away when Kapil was fifteen years old. Kapil was a spoiled child. Kapil did not acquire much education. Kapil squandered away all his father’s wealth. His father's post was given to some other scholar.
One day when Shridevi was standing at the door, the newly appointed scholar happened to pass by. Looking at him, Shridevi was reminded of the good old days when her husband was alive. She thought in her own mind, "It is very unfortunate that I have lost all my comfort and happiness, and the real pity is that my son did not get proper education." Overwhelmed by grief, tears came into her eyes and she became very depressed. Soon Kapil arrived and seeing his mother crying, asked, "What is the matter, Mother? Please tell me."
Shridevi reluctantly expressed Kapil her feelings about his father's position being filled by someone else. Kapil replied, "Mother, you know I possess intelligence. I am not dull. Unfortunately, I did not make use of the opportunities that came to me. But now I am prepared to go anywhere you wish and acquire knowledge." Although Shridevi was not very confident about her son's ability to study, she suggested that he should go to Shravasti where his father's friend Indradatt lived and ran a school.
Kapil was very upset at the thought of leaving his mother and going to such a far-off place. However, he composed himself and decided to fulfill his mother's wishes. After taking his mother's blessings, Kapil left for Shravasti.
After traveling a long distance, Kapil reached Shravasti and went to Indradatt's place. He narrated the whole story and expressed his desire to learn. The teacher was very happy to see his friend's son. He welcomed Kapil as his student. He was a little worried about Kapil's expenses. According to the prevalent custom, Kapil had to go to the city to collect alms. As he had to visit several places he could only return in the afternoon. As a result of this, his day was spent and he had hardly any time to study.
One day, Indradatt inquired about Kapil's progress in studies. Kapil said, "Sir, I have to spend a lot of time in collecting alms. Thus I am sorry that I hardly find time to study.”
The teacher realized Kapil's difficulties and suggested that he could go to and stay with a family who can support him. Kapil's food problem was thus solved but as time passed, he got entangled in family matters of his host and started neglecting his studies. He fell in love with a beautiful maid serving at the host’s family. She gave a birth to Kapil’s child. Gradually, the host lost interest in Kapil's well-being. Kapil therefore felt the need for finance.
One day, Kapil heard that the king of the city had the practice of offering two gold coins to the Brahmin who was the first to bless him early morning. Kapil thought it was a good way to earn money. He decided to get up early in the morning and visit the king. He made several attempts but found that he was always too late and missed the opportunity to bless the king.
Finally, he decided to sleep in the courtyard with the idea that he would not be able to sleep soundly in the open. He fell asleep. Suddenly his eyes opened in the middle of the night and seeing the moon he though that it was dawn. He dressed hurriedly and rushed towards the king's palace. Thinking that he should reach his destination on time, he started running.
As he reached near the palace, he thought to himself that he would wait outside the palace gates so that he was sure to be the first to see the king.
The guards seeing a stranger outside the royal gate in the middle of the night, grew suspicious and arrested him. Kapil protested, "I am innocent; I have not done anything. I have only come to see the king." But the guards did not pay any attention to what he said and put him in jail.
Next morning Kapil was brought before the king. Kapil stood stunned at the unfortunate situation. The king asked, "What were you doing outside the palace in the middle of the night!"
Kapil answered, "Your Majesty, I am innocent. I had just come to be the first one to bless you and receive the two gold coins you give to the first Brahmin who blesses you in the morning."
The king said, "You have gone through all this trouble for just two gold coins. Well, you can ask for whatever you desire."
Kapil could not make up his mind and was in a state of confusion. After a little while, he said to the king, "Your Majesty, give me some time to think over it." The king granted him time till next morning.
Kapil sat down in a garden to think quietly. Greed got the better of him. He thought of asking the king for five gold coins instead of two. After a little while, he thought that five coins would not be enough so he should ask for twenty-five. Even these seemed too little so he thought to ask for one hundred. He finally thought of asking for half of the kingdom. But the idea of the king being equal to him did not appeal to him. So he thought to ask for the whole kingdom.
As Kapil was thinking, he felt uncomfortable. He thought to himself, "I am being unfair to my benefactor. He is being so generous and gracious while I am thinking of depriving him of all his possessions. As a result of this, he started to moderate his demands. He thought of asking for half the kingdom, then he came down to one hundred coins, twenty-five, five and finally to just two.
But all of a sudden there was a flash in his mind. He had a second thought in his mind. He said to himself, ""O, how selfish am I? The king permitted me to ask for anything so that I would be no more poor! I jumped from two gold coins to the whole kingdom! How wicked am I to contemplate about pushing that very king into poverty, what an evil retribution for his good act!”
Look at the human mind! It doesn't stop even when it gets what it wished for, its demand goes on increasing. There is no end to it. The world is a myth (fiction) and all desires lead to suffering.
Kapil went on thinking, What should I make out from this? Should one go on increasing one's needs or be free from them? In fact, I need some money to get married. But as the opportunity came my way, my mind gradually went on increasing the desires. Why should I marry? Why should there be all this ignoble display of worldly possessions? Is it all to derive happiness? Can one get happiness in the mundane world (Sansär)?
Kapil went on thinking on these lines and at the end, he felt that to hope for happiness in the world is as futile as running after a mirage. "Happiness," he thought, "lies in renunciation, in the absence of desires. "
He, therefore, decided to be initiated as a monk and pursued the course of self‑control. Then, he went to the king, who asked him for his wishes.
Kapil said, "Your Majesty! It is the nature of human mind to want more and more as one goes on getting things desired by him. You gave me a chance to ask from you. And my mind, which initially wished for 2 coins gradually was not contented even with millions of them. I realized this and so my lord, I wish to be initiated as a monk and want to renounce this world." With these words he respectfully left the king and the court and got initiated as a monk.
From the episode of Kapil we can understood that the more a man gets, the more becomes his greed. So contentment is the most important attribute of a householder.
There was a city named Kamarup ruled by king Vijaychandra. In the same city, there lived a rich merchant named Sanghdatt, who had a son named Kesari. The merchant was famous for his honesty and munificence, but the son was the reverse of it. He had developed into a notorious thief. The merchant tried his best to improve his son, but it was all a useless effort. Then, at last, he brought the matter to the notice of the king.
“Your Majesty! I have nothing to do with this boy. I have tried my best to improve him, but he is incorrigible. If, in future, he commits a theft, let the law take its own course.”
The king sent for the boy and asked him to get out of his kingdom at once. He told him that he would kill him if he saw his face again.
Kesari left the kingdom. While wandering through a forest, he reached a lake and drank water from it. Then, as he was seated in a corner, taking stock of his situation, he saw a man descending from the sky. He further saw that the man had a pair of magic sandals which helped him to fly, and he hid these in a part of the forest and entered into the lake.
Kesari now silently stood up, picked up the sandals and flew away into the sky. He spent the whole day flying, reaching home after sunset. Here his first task was to chastise his father who had reported him to the king. He bit him so severely that the poor man died.
Already a veteran thief, Kesari was now equipped with the pair of sandals which could take him anywhere he liked. So now he could extend his activities over wider regions, and there was hardly a rich man in the lands far and near who was not a victim. He would commit theft at night and come to the forest to hide his booty.
He soon became a source of great terror to everybody. The leading citizens came to the king who, in turn, sent for the head of police. The police chief said to the king, “Your Majesty ! This thief is somewhat different from the usual ones. He comes through the sky and goes back through the sky, and so he is beyond anybody’s catch. Your Majesty may be gracious enough to determine my duty in this situation.”
The king sat silent, immersed in thought. At last, he said, “A king who can’t catch a thief and ensure the safety of life and property of his people is a bad king. I must see what I can do in this matter.” Then, attended by a few competent men, the king set out himself.
The party searched every corner of the kingdom, but could find no trace of the thief. One day, after the search, the king was taking rest under the shade of a tree when he smelt a fine fragrance that came floating in the air. He stood up, and then moving in the direction from which the fragrance came, the king at last reached a temple dedicated to Goddess Chandika. When he entered inside, he saw that the idol was adorned with fragrant objects like sandalwood and deer-musk, and there stood a devotee offering worship. On being asked by the king, he gave an account of himself:
“I am the son of a merchant but am very poor and miserable. I worship this goddess daily in the expectation of wealth and happiness. The goddess is pleased with my devotion. When in the morning I come here, I find lying at her feet precious stones and gems. This has turned my fortune, and so I worship the goddess with fragrant objects every day.”
The king was now almost sure about the presence of the thief in that temple every night. He returned to the forest and waited there until evening. At night, he moved to the temple precincts along with his men and hid there waiting for the thief. At the dead of night, Kesari came through the sky and descended there. With the sandals in his left hand, he entered into the temple. The king silently shut the door from behind.
Having finished his worship, as Kesari came to the door, he was chased by the king. Quickly, he placed the sandals on the floor, but he had no time to put them on. So he left them behind, opened the door and ran out at top speed. The king’s men followed him.
As Kesari was running, there came a sudden change in him. He was now thinking of his bad deeds and accumulated sins. A timely reaction may even change the cruelest of men and build a bright future for him.
As Kesari penetrated into the deepest part of the forest, he came across a Muni immersed in meditation. He stopped there and thought of desisting himself from malice and greed.
He thought of the transitoriness of life, of its sure end. Soon his evil Karmas were destroyed and he became enlightened. This metamorphosis took no time to work out and was complete by the time the king entered into the arena to arrest him.
The king now could not lay his hand on him; instead, he bowed at his feet and said, “My dear friend ! How is it that the thief Kesari has changed into Kesari the enlightened ?”
Kesari responded, “Sire ! It is true that my whole life is a long story of misdeeds; but in the midst of them, I never forgot to sit for one Samayik per day. That is why the bondage of Karmas could not ensnare me very fast. Know it for certain, Oh king, that as much Karma is tranquilized by a short equanimity as by a long drawn penance. That is the charm of equanimity. It is this short course that has helped me in my enlightenment.
The king came back to his city while Kesari courted the life of a wanderer indicating the path of liberation to the worldly beings.
At Kundanpur, there lived a merchant named Jasodhar. His wife’s name was Rambha. They had two sons, Hans and Keshav. There was much cordiality between the two brothers. They used to read and play together.
One day, while taking a stroll, they reached a park where they saw a Muni who was giving a discourse. The two brothers listened to him and were very much inspired by the Muni’s words. In the presence of the Muni, they took the vow of not eating food at night. The Muni heartily approved of their resolve and gave them inspiration to remain steadfast in their vow.
The brothers returned home. Now, before the sun went down, they asked their mother to serve them food. The mother did not understand why. The family was in the habit of eating food at night. When the mother came to know of their vow, she became furious. She not only rebuked them, but told them not to indulge in such odd things.
That night, food was prepared after a quarter of the night was over. As Jasodhar sat for the dinner, he inquired about his sons. They came in but would not touch anything because of the vow. This made Jasodhar furious. He said, “You are just children, and it seems you have turned into agents of religion. This is very bad. I won’t allow this in my family.” But the two brothers remained steadfast and went to bed without food. Jasodhar tried to argue with the boys, “This is neither the habit nor the custom with our family.”
But it was all in vain. So he asked his wife not to serve any food during the day, so that they would be forced into eating at night. The next day, the whole scene repeated itself. The boys asked the mother to serve food before sunset, but the mother said, “Food will be ready at night. There is nothing remaining from the morning which you can take. So, like good boys, you should have your dinner at night with your father. It is your duty to abide by the wishes of your parents.”
The two brothers went to their father’s shop without eating anything and attended their regular duties as always. Jasodhar gave strict instruction to his wife to remain strict and give no indulgence. At night, the father again asked the boys to dine with him, but both of them declined. The next day, the father imposed on them such a heavy load of duties that they had no time to eat food during daytime, and at night they would not take it, though offered. In this way, five days passed.
On the sixth day, Jasodhar sent for both of them. First he tried to persuade them to give up the vow. He said that their mother was also on fast because of them, that everybody in the family was unhappy. He told them that even the learned people took food during the first quarter of the night and that, therefore, there was nothing wrong in it.
Hans was already very hungry, and slowly he was giving way. He looked at Keshav who stood steadfast like a rock. Keshav told his father in most unmistakable terms that it was none of his business to interfere in this religious matter and that he would do as suited him best.
Jasodhar could no longer contain himself. In extreme rage, he burst out, “What do you say, you bad boy ? If you don’t obey me, I won’t shelter one like you to stain my family. Get out at once. I don’t want as much as to see your face.”
The final decision for him was thus given by his father, and it was irrevocable. But Keshav did not waver. He preferred courting hardship to submitting to threat or giving up the vow. He fled the parental home. As Hans was about to follow him, his father held his hand. He induced him not to go, but to give up the fast and live happily. Hans was a weak personality. He submitted and sat down to dine.
After leaving his home, Keshav covered a long distance on foot. He didn’t stop even when it was evening. At last, he reached a Yaksha temple where people were assembled to offer worship. The ritual was over, and they were about to partake of the offerings when Keshav stepped in. Everybody was happy to get an opportunity to entertain a guest after the worship. They welcomed him and offered him some fruits and sweets and begged him to accept them.
Keshav was in a fix. If he accepted the offer, he would break the vow; and if he declined, he would deprive the worshippers of a chance to entertain a guest. But he gathered his courage and said, “Friends, I am under a vow not to eat anything at night, and whatever the difficulty of a situation, I can’t transgress it. It is on this very issue that I have left my home. How can I give up my vow here ?”
People were irritated at these words. “But, Sir, you are our guest, and to entertain a guest is a part of worship. You shouldn’t deprive us of it. On the contrary shouldn’t you oblige us ? All our worship will be in vain if you don’t accept our offer. Besides, unless you eat, no one else can eat, which means that you compel us all to go without food. In the interest of religion and the greater good, therefore, please eat with us.”
But Keshav didn’t waver. When arguments and counter-arguments had reached a high pitch, and they could not agree, just then a giant emerged out of the idol, who advanced toward Keshav with bloodshot eyes and said, “Keshav ! How haughty you must be. My devotees are all on fast, and you make pretext of your vow. Come and eat. Otherwise, I shall wipe you out of existence with my mace.”
Keshav bore this with patience. He was faced with a fire ordeal, but his mind didn’t approve of the idea of transgressing the vow. That would be as good as his sacrificing all. So he stood firm, as if in a trance, and gave no reply. He was ready for the worst.
The Yaksha read Keshav’s mind. He was pretty certain that his power was useless to move Keshav. So he changed his tone and advised his own devotees to get hold of Keshav’s master, the Jain Muni, who had fixed him in the vow and who alone was now capable of changing his mind and induce him to eat.
Some of them started at once and returned after some time with a Muni named Dharmaghosha, who was tied fast with ropes. As soon as he saw Keshav, he began to lament. Keshav looked at him and took no time to understand that this was not his master. It was all a false game which the Yaksha was playing. Now, addressing the Muni, the Yaksha said, “Muni ! You permit this follower of yours to take food. Otherwise, you will be put to death.”
Turning to Keshav, the Muni said, “Keshav, my child. You see that for your sake my life is in danger. You shouldn’t behave like a bigot. In transgressing a vow for the sake of a Dev, one’s own master, and a holy company, one doesn’t really fall from the path. If you have any consideration for me, give up the vow but once and take the offering.”
Keshav replied at once, “My master prescribes not to eat at night. He follows the path of the Jina, who is free from all attachments. The path has no corner for fear. So a man who gives a different prescription out of fear cannot be my master. This is all magic created by the Yaksha.”
The Yaksha was not prepared for this. He shouted, “You wretch ! Eat at once or your master goes rolling on the ground the very next moment !”
Keshav said, “This is not my master. He would never step into a trap set by you. You will never even have the courage to look into his face.”
The Muni said, “Keshav, it is wrong on your part to question my identity. I am the same Muni who gave you the vow. Eat so that I may be saved.”
Tears were rolling down the Muni’s cheeks, his voice was shaky, his lips were quivering, and he was not able even to stand any longer. The Yaksha caught hold of him and dashed him against the ground. The Muni fell senseless. Then, while picking up the mace, the Yaksha said to Keshav, “Keshav ! Nothing is lost yet. If you are prepared to partake of the offering, I shall restore your master to life. I shall even consider bestowing a vast kingdom on you. You will be rolling in luxury, but if this is not acceptable to you, then you will suffer the same fate as did your master. I shall break you into pieces with this mace.”
In a firm voice, Keshav said, “This is not my master. You say you can restore a dead man to life; in that case what prevents you from restoring your own devotees to life who may be dead ? You say you can bestow a kingdom on me. Well, if you bestow it on your own followers, they may be a little better off. I have no need of your kingdom. As to death, it is inevitable to all mortal beings. I am not afraid of it.”
The Yaksha now changed his strategy and became a friend. He took Keshav into his embrace and said, “Truly, this man is not your master. He is the creation of my magical powers to test your steadfastness. It is also true that none can restore a dead man to life, nor can one bestow a kingdom on another.”
Then at a silent hint from the Yaksha, the devotees who stood all around said, “Well, Sir, we understand that you are on fast for the past week. You are tired, too, for covering such a long distance on foot. We are sorry; we too have given you much trouble. We think now that you should enjoy a well-earned rest. If you will take food only after sunrise, we shall also do the same.”
They provided him with a cushion, and Keshav lay on it. Soon he was fast asleep.
After some time, the Yaksha woke him up to announce the sunrise and invite him to partake of the offer. Keshav rubbed his eyes and stood up. He looked around to see light, but he was not sure if the sun was really up. He had a feeling that he didn’t sleep for long and it could not be morning so soon. It must surely be another of the Yaksha’s tricks. But to be doubly sure, he extended his gaze and saw darkness all around. He had no doubt now that it was still the dead of night. So he said to the Yaksha, “The sun is not yet up. It is all a trick by you. But I am strong in my vow, and I can’t accept food before sunrise.”
The whole group headed by the Yaksha was now prepared to coerce him. He stood fast with his eyes shut, as if in meditation. The noise gradually settled down, followed by a dead silence.
When, at last, Keshav opened his eyes, he saw to his surprise that there was nothing neither the temple, nor the Yaksha nor the devotees. Instead, there stood a divine person, who spoke in a solemn tone: “Keshav ! You have passed your test. You are fulfilling the vow with the same steadfastness with which you started it, so you deserve to be congratulated. One day in the assembly of gods in heaven, when the king of gods was eloquently praising you for your steadfastness, all those present agreed with him, with the solitary exception of me. But today I am an eyewitness to your strength. The ordeal you underwent was all my creation, and I am sorry for the trouble caused to you. I crave your forgiveness and pray you ask for a boon.”
Keshav responded, “Bless me, Sire, that I may continue to fulfill my vow until the end of my life. I am in no need of anything else.” The Dev said, “Still I want to bestow something on you. Please do me the favor to ask for something.”
Keshav responded, “But, Sire, as you see, I hardly need anything. I am contented.” The Dev said, “But I am keen to share in the virtue of your steadfastness. How can you deprive me of that ?
“As it pleases you then, Sire.” Keshav responded. “So I give you the boon that the water which washes the first toe of your foot will heal any disease for good. When in difficulty, you will attain whatever you will crave for. Nothing is unattainable for the virtuous.” The Dev then placed Keshav on the outskirts of a city and disappeared.
In the morning, Keshav entered into the city to find that a religious assembly was in progress. Acharya Dharmashri was giving a discourse to the people assembled there. Keshav also sat down to listen.
The name of the city was Saketa. Dhananjay was the ruling king. For quite some time he was anxious to renounce the world and join the holy order, but he was prevented from doing so for want of a son and successor. The king was present in the religious assembly in which the Acharya was speaking.
When the discourse was over, the king made the following submission: “Holy Sir ! I received indication last night in the course of a dream that in today’s assembly there will be present a young man who will assist me in my spiritual design and set me free from my present anxiety. It behooves you to enlighten me how I dreamt such a dream and to indicate if such a person is present in the assembly.”
By dint of his superior knowledge, the Acharya realized the whole situation. Pointing to Keshav, he said, “Here is your young man; his name is Keshav; the Dev who tested Keshav’s steadfastness also gave you the indication.”
The king’s joy knew no bound. He at once came to Keshav, embraced him and took him to the palace. Keshav was enthroned as the king of Saketa. Dhananjay joined the holy order.
One day, as Keshav was seated at the palace window, his eyes fell on an old man in the street who was in tattered clothes, the very embodiment of poverty and distress. Keshav took no time to recognize him to be his own father. He at once came down and touched his feet. The old man was happy to see his son, and more so to see him to be a king.
Seeing his father alone, Keshav inquired about his elder brother. The old man sighed and said, “It is a very sad story. The night you left, I forced him to break the vow. He sat to dine with me, but it so happened that the food he ate was contaminated with deadly poison which soon spread through his body. A doctor was at once called in. He tried his best to save him but could not assure a permanent cure. He has forecast that he would not survive beyond a month, when his flesh would separate from the bones under the impact of the deadly poison. I stayed near him for five days. Then I started in search of you, and, luck favoring, I have so unexpectedly met you. Today I complete a month since I left home, and I know not if Hans still lives in his mortal frame.”
Keshav’s fraternal affection was awakened. By the grace of the Dev, he, along with his father, was beside his brother’s bed in a moment. Hans’s body was emitting a foul smell and the flesh was all dilapidated. Keshav could no longer bear the sight. The Dev at once reminded him of the healing powers he had endowed him with. The potion was made ready and sprinkled on Hans’s body. What a wonder, in no time, Hans was all right.
It was really a day of great rejoicing and family reunion. The story of Keshav’s magical power spread throughout the city, and many came to receive cure for their ailments. Thereafter Keshav took his paternal family to his own city, Saketa. The king issued a special proclamation, which the people gladly courted:
“Desist from eating at night.”
The Mathura was a cosmopolitan city. There lived a courtier, named Kubersena. She was young and pretty and was very popular on account of her beauty and grace. She used to entertain the people.
One day she felt dizzy and could not carry on her performance. Her mother called a physician. After examining, a physician said that she was pregnant and she was carrying twins. As soon as the physician left, her mother said, “Daughter, you are young, these twins shall ruin your charm and our livelihood. You should therefore terminate your pregnancy.”
But Kubersena out of love for her children didn’t agree to terminate the pregnancy and instead she was happy. She decided to carry out pregnancy regardless what may happen to her. After sometime, Kubersena gave birth to twins; a son and a daughter.
Once again, her mother said, “If you spend too much time after them, then you would loose your clients and as time passes by you would lose your charm and that would affect our occupation. Therefore, you should abandon them.”
Kubersena said, “I love my children. Let me keep them for a few days and then I will give them up.” She named son, Kuberdatt and daughter, Kuberdatta and prepared two charms with their names engraved outside. After ten days, she placed them in wooden baskets and set them afloat in the river.
In the city of Suryapur, as usual in the morning, two wealthy merchants came to bath in the river. While swimming, they noticed two baskets floating in the river. They were curious. They pulled them out. They opened up the baskets and were surprised to find young baby in each basket. They were happy to find them since they didn’t have any child. Both of them took out the children from the baskets and a boy and a girl were taken up by them who craved for a son and a daughter respectively.
They entrusted them to their wives and they kept the same names as were on the charms. They were brought up in all the comforts and as family friends. As they grew up together, they developed love for each other and their parents noticed that too. So when they grew up to be of marriage age they got them married to each other.
One day, while both were playing the game of dice accidentally Kuberdatta’s charm fall and opened up. A little piece of paper fell off from it. It had writing saying who was her mother and she had a brother. Kuberdatt said he also has a charm and let us open that too.
They were stunned to know that they were brother and sister. Both of them were deeply pained that they had sexual pleasure with each others. They decided that this relationship can’t go on any longer and she expressed that she has made up her mind to renounce the worldly life and become a nun. They approached their parents and told them everything. Both parents felt bad that they did not check the charms or this could have been avoided. Their parents told them the whole story about how they found them and they never even thought that they might be a brother and sister.
Kuberdatt expressed his desire to leave the town while Kuberdatta expressed that she want to be nun. The parents understood their feelings and gave their permission to what they want to do.
Kuberdatt left the town with some money. He tried his luck in a new land and he earned a fortune.
One day he decided to go back home. While returning, he stopped at Mathura. He wanted to pass some time and asked people about a good place. He was directed to Kubersena’s place.
He came to her place. She was dancing. He was impressed by her charm and her body movements. Their eyes met. He felt in love with her. He stayed behind while others left. He met her. Kubersena also got attracted towards him. Both felt in love with each other. Since, he was rich, she decided to stop her occupation and lived happily with him.
Both of them were engrossed in sensual pleasures and days were passing by. She got pregnant and later on had a baby boy.
Kuberdatta (his earlier wife) on the other hand having realized triviality of mundane happiness renounced the worldly affairs and had become a nun. She practiced severe penance and self-restraint and acquired Avadhignan (limited knowledge).
With this knowledge she saw the city of Mathura, her mother Kubersena and Kuberdatt and their son. She was much shocked and pained to learn that her mother had a child by her own son. In order to enlighten them she arrived in Mathura along with many nuns.
She went to the place of Kubersena. Kubersena was puzzled to see nun at her door, where nothing but sensual pleasures only take place. Though she did not her in particular, she knew how great the nuns were and what kind of life they lived. She settled down and with folded hands and said, “Oh great lady, come in, and kindly accept something from me and oblige.”
Kuberdatta came in. While Kubersena went to get something in other room, the child in the cradle started crying. Kuberdatta, the nun, went to the cradle and started swinging the cradle. The child got pacified. She started singing to him. “Don’t weep my brother, my son, my husband’s brother, my nephew, my uncle, my grand son, don’t weep...”
On hearing these words Kuberdatt came out from the neighboring room. He didn’t recognize her and said, “It doesn’t befit you to speak in this manner.” Then the nun Kuberdatta said, “Gentleman, I am telling the truth, I have taken a vow not to tell lie.”
Kuberdatta, the nun said, “Yes, they are possible and that is why I am singing this song. Let me explain you how: (1) This boy and I have common mother so he is my brother; (2) He is the son of my husband so he is my son; (3) He is the younger brother of my husband so he is my brother-in-law; (4) He is my brother’s son so he is my nephew...”
Kuberdatt suddenly realized who she was and once again he was deeply aggrieved by his new relationship. He got aversion for the worldly life. Kubersena, standing at a distance, overheard everything and so she also deeply regretted.
As a consequence he became a Muni and accepted five great vows. Kubersena accepted twelve vows of a Shravika from Kuberdatta. Kuberdatta, the nun, having enlightened them left for other places, to spread the spiritual welfare to others.
Moral of the story is that if we have to bear the results of our Karmas then the situation would arise. But once realizing what is right and what is wrong one shouldn’t carry out what is wrong. Another thing, under the effects of sensual pleasures, one forgets the ability to discriminate. So one shouldn’t be over powered by sensual and worldly attractions. As a nun, Kuberdatta, carried out her duty to awaken the souls even though situation was very delicate. So we also should build the courage and face the situations and take the right stand. It is never too late to start following the religious path.
King Sankha was the king of Ayodhya. His queen was Dharini. She gave birth to a son. He was named Kuldhwaj who was highly obedient to his parents and bore a flawless conduct.
One day, as he went to the park, he saw there seated Acharya Mantung, surrounded by fellow Munis, under the shade of a leafy tree. The prince paid him homage and obeisance and listened to his holy words wherein the Acharya revealed the virtue of a celibate life.
When the sermon was over, the prince said, “Holy Sire! A wholly celibate life is an impossibility for me, but I take the vow to remain contented with my own wife and never to touch another woman.”
As the prince was coming back, he met two women who were quarreling with each other. When the prince inquired about the source of trouble between them, one of them said, “I am the wife of a blacksmith, and my name is Saubhagya-kandali. I came here to take water from this well. As I was going back, herein came this woman named Kanak-manjari, the wife of a carpenter, with an empty jar on the same errand. It was a narrow lane and we stood face to face. Even though my jar was full and hers was empty, she didn’t clear the way for me. Hence, Sir, this heated exchange.”
She didn’t stop at that but added, “This woman should know how great a craftsman my man is in deference to which alone she should have given me precedence. There is not art on earth of which my husband is not a master.”
The prince said, “Noble lady ! What’s the field of your husband’s specialization ? I am curious to know about it.”
“Sir, the name of my husband is Band-dev. He makes an iron fish which floats in the air, dives in the deep sea, picks up the most precious pearls and returns to its own place.”
Kanak-manjari could no longer hold her tongue. “Is it worth calling an art ? My dear Sir, a real craftsman alone knows what a true art is. This is nothing when compared with the art my husband is master of.”
The prince said, “Lady ! Tender a full account of your husband s expertise.”
Displaying full pride in her husband’s great merit, the second lady started her account. “My husband Kandarp is a great carpenter who makes a wooden horse on whose back one may room in the air for six months.”
The prince was highly pleased to know of the existence of such skilled craftsmen in the kingdom, and he brought it to the notice of the king, who sent for both. He offered them the necessary material and asked them to demonstrate their skill at the court.
The blacksmith produced the fish, fixed a chamber on its back and fitted two keys, and presented it to the king. The blacksmith took the king on its back to give him an aerial view of the landscape, after which it descended to the seashore. The two then entered into the chamber. The fish then went deep inside the water, where it collected precious pearls at its heart’s content, and then it returned to the palace. As the pearls were unloaded, there were piles of them. The king was very much surprised. He asked the smith many questions, particularly on motion and rest of an iron fish, and the smith explained that he had acquired this art from a goddess who had given him two enchanted keys which were fitted on the fish and which were instrumental in collecting so many pearls.
The carpenter now came with the wooden horse, which he presented to the king. He requested the king or the prince to enjoy a flight in whichever direction they wished. The prince expressed eagerness to have it, and the king agreed. To control the flying horse, the carpenter gave the prince the use of two keys. With the prince on its back, the horse now took off and soon disappeared in the sky. The prince was in the air for a long time, and he enjoyed the flight. Then he descended in a park on the outskirts of a city. He took out the keys and lay down, using the horse for his pillow.
Now it so happened that as the horse got fixed, so did the shadow of the tree. This was soon observed by the gardener, who took the prince to be a magician. He came near him and touched his finger at the leg, and at once the prince sat up. The gardener requested the prince to accept his hospitality. The prince agreed and came to the gardener’s house. The horse was placed in a corner in the room.
In the evening, the prince was out to take a view of the town when he reached a temple dedicated to Muni Subrata. He bowed before the image and sat down in prayer. Just then, a lady came in and turned all the men out. Kuldhwaj did not understand the intention of the lady, so he hid in a corner and began to observe what happened next.
Soon another divine-looking damsel became visible inside, who worshipped the image and left. On making inquiry about her, the prince came to know that she was Princess Sundari, whose parents were queen Jaymala and king Vijay of that city, which was named Ratnapur. The prince further learned that the princess, though of ripe age for her marriage, was still a spinster and was under a vow to marry a man or a Vidyadhar who would reach her in her own chamber at the palace.
The prince thought of trying his luck. He returned to his host’s residence, made ready his horse, and flew straight to the princess’s window. The princess was fast asleep. So he spread chewed betel leaf around her bed and came back to his residence, the gardener’s house.
In the morning, when the princess woke up and saw the chewed betel leaf, she had no doubt that this must be the doing of some Dev or Vidyadhar, and he must visit her again. At night, the princess lay on her bed. The prince came, as during the previous night, and started throwing the chewed leaves. The princess at once sat up and caught the border of his cloth. The two were thus together, enjoying a conversation. The princess said, “Sir ! My vow is fulfilled today. I was looking for a daring person, a hero in the true sense, and you fulfill my expectation.”
The two then got married in the presence of the burning lamp. The prince now came to her window daily, and the princess enjoyed his company. She was at the height of her life’s joy.
A life spent in joy gives it a long span, grace and development. Already having a divine frame, her physical grace now multiplied manifold, and she showed signs of pregnancy. Her attendants noticed it and reported to the queen, and she in turn brought it to the notice of the king. The king became very angry and said, “Whoever be the culprit, he must go to hell.”
The king immediately returned to the court to decide suitable action. His untimely appearance alarmed everybody, but none could muster courage to ask. At last, a lady ascertained the reason from the king and said, “Sir ! Have patience. I shall get the culprit arrested and drag him before Your Majesty.”
The lady, Bagura by name, applied her ready wit, and, with the assistance of the princess’ attendants, got a sufficient quantity of vermilion powder spread on the ground around the princess chamber. Since the whole thing was done at night and with due precaution, the prince had no inkling of it. He came as usual in the morning, with his feet reddened. In the morning, the lady came to the princess chamber and examined the footprints. She had no doubt now that this was a human visitor.
Then with the intelligence people of the state, she started the search and before long the culprit was under arrest. He was presented to the king, who ordered his immediate execution. As the prince was being taken for execution, all people felt sympathy for him. A prince of royal blood, he bore the auspicious marks of a prospective king, and people had no doubt that the king had made a mistake by awarding him capital punishment.
They further felt that since the princess was involved the matter should have been hushed up instead of being given this much public exposure. Now, on his way to the execution ground, as the prince reached near the gardener’s house, he said to the executioner, “Look here, my good fellow, my family deity is enshrined here. Since these are my last moments on this earth, please permit me to say my last prayer.”
This was a very normal request, and the executioner agreed. The prince came inside the house, made ready his horse, and soon he was in the sky. He came straight to the princess chamber, took her with him, and was in the sky again. They landed near the seashore.
By this time, the prince was very hungry. So the princess said, “My dear ! You stay here. Let me return to my chamber on horseback and get you some sweets. I shall be back in a moment.”
Man proposes, but destiny proposes otherwise. The princess placed the horse at the window and went in to collect some sweets. When she returned, she found the horse dashed against the ground by a gust of wind and broken into pieces. Now she did not know how to get back to the prince. She started crying and blaming her ill-luck.
When the princess failed to return for a very long time, the prince became anxious on her score. Restlessly he was pacing on the seashore. This attracted the notice of a Vidyadhara princess, who was flying overhead in search of her husband. She came down at once and offered to help the prince. The prince asked her who she was, where she came from, and where she was going. In revealing her identity, the lady said that she was the queen of Vidyadhara Manichud of the Vaitadhya hills. Since her husband had been stolen by his adversaries, she was out to rescue him from their hands.
The prince accepted the offer. The lady was, however, charmed at the prince’s beauty and manliness and made lusty overtures. But the prince, bound by the vow of restricted celibacy as he was, didn’t respond, but told her frankly of the position. This very much annoyed the lady, who picked him up at once and threw him into the sea.
There he was saved by the water goddess, who was charmed by his steadfastness and helped his restoration in the princess chamber. People in the palace soon came to know of the prince’s presence there. When the king came to know the whole situation, even his anger was pacified. The king was convinced that the man courted by the princess was no ordinary person.
Kuldhwaj stayed there for a few days, and then he thought of coming back to his own city. He came back with the newly married wife to the joy of everybody. His father Sankha now abdicated in his favor and placed him on the throne. Kuldhwaj had a glorious reign in course of which he wavered not from the prescribed course of conduct, and attained, at death, a high status.
In ancient times there was a businessman named Dhandatt. He was highly religious. He had a son who also got imbibed with religious perspective.
Once, Dharmaghoshsuri, the highly enlightened Acharya of that time, came to the town, where Dhandatt lived. Thereupon Dhandatt went to listen to his sermon along with his young son. The boy was much impressed by the talk of the Acharya and decided to become his pupil. Accordingly he renounced the worldly life and became a Muni at the very young age. The Acharya could foresee that the boy was destined to be a great entity. He therefore named him as Kulguru. In the native language of that area he came to be known as Kurgadu.
Kurgadu seriously undertook the study of the holy books and correctly grasped their essence. He realized the role of Karmas in the life of every being and thereby he learnt to maintain a high level of equanimity. He also rigorously observed the code of conduct for the Munis. He had however a problem. He could not stay hungry and as such could not fast. He had to eat at least once a day. Even during Paryushana Parva, he could not fast for a single day. When he had to eat on such days of Parva, he felt bad and regretted that he had acquired incapability to fast on account of his previous Karmas. When other Munis observed long or short fasts, he praised them and rendered every type of service to them. He wished, in heart of hearts, that he too could observe fasts.
Jain Munis don’t move from place to place during monsoon that normally sets in June and ends in October. The Paryushana Parva occurs roughly in the middle of that period. While the Acharya was once camping in the monsoon season, Paryushana Parva came. On that occasion, many of the Munis undertook long fasts extending to more than a month. The senior Muni under whom Kurgadu was working, had undertaken one month’s fast. Kurgadu felt sad that he could not undertake such austerities.
Seven days passed and the day of Samvatsari dawned. He wished that he could observe fast at least on that day. Before noon, however he felt very hungry and could not stay without food. He wondered what sort of body he had acquired that he could not fast even for one day !
As it was impossible for him to stay without food, he went to the senior Muni and begged his permission to go for alms. The latter scornfully asked him why he couldn’t survive without food at least for one day. He should be inspired to observe fast at least for that day, specially when all his colleagues have been fasting for more than a day. Kurgadu humbly replied that he did wish to observe fast but very much regretted his inability to fast. The senior Muni pitied his miserable fate and resentfully allowed him to go for alms.
Kurgadu went for alms and most regretfully accepted the food that was offered to him. Coming back, he presented the same to the senior Muni, (as a part of the code of Munis conduct) and begged his permission to eat. He had done that in all modesty. That Muni however got much annoyed by that request. He could not believe that it was beyond the capacity of Kurgadu to fast for one day. He therefore took the humble gesture of Kurgadu as an audacity and disparagingly said that the miserable wretch didn’t deserve to be a Muni. Saying that, he spitefully pushed the food bowl towards him. Kurgadu accepted that scornful gesture as the graceful permission and going to his place he most reluctantly started to eat.
All the other Munis were watching with disgust the eating by Kurgadu on that auspicious day and were pitying that he was acquiring unwholesome Karmas by eating on the day of Samvatsari. While eating Kurgadu himself dwelt deep into the inability of his body to remain without food even for a day.
Learned as he was, he could see that it must have been the outcome of his previous Karmas. He knew that every Karma gets over after extending the appropriate consequence and this Karma too was going to drop off. He therefore made up his mind to dispassionately bear what had been ordained by his Karma. As a result of his study of the scriptures he had gained enough insight about the true nature of soul. His despising himself for not observing fast was functioning as a handicap for the full realization of that true nature.
Now, his willingness to accept what was destined, endowed him the insight of distinguishing the nature of soul from the varying states of the body and mind. That gave rise to the manifestation of the true nature of the soul. His realization was strong enough to destroy all the defiling Karmas on the spot and he gained Kevalgnan, while eating the food.
When one attains Kevalgnan, even the heavenly beings come to the place for offering their obeisance. When other Munis saw the heavenly beings approaching the place for the purpose, every one thought that they must have been pleased by the acute austerities of some of them and were coming to bow to those Munis. Instead, the heavenly beings turned to Kurgadu and offered their obeisance to him. No one could make out how those observing acute austerity were left out, while the one who couldn’t observe it at all, had gained full enlightenment.
In all amazement they went to Dharmaghoshsuri and asked the reason for what had happened. The Acharya said that all of them were feeling too much proud of their austerities and were unnecessarily disparaging Kurgadu for not observing fast. Thereby they got smeared of perception obscuring Karma that obscured right perception.
He urged them to bear in mind that the primary purpose of undertaking austerities or any other religious practice was to gain modesty which leads to right perception and in turn helps in attaining equanimity. They had misjudged Kurgadu who had realized the essence of religion. Earlier, he had acquired austerity obstructing Karma that did not allow him to observe the austerity. He did feel sad and sincerely repented for that Karma which had become operative in his current life. By properly comprehending the role of Karma, he had been imbibed with right perception. He did regret for that but was bearing the consequence of the Karma with equanimity. This could help in wiping out the previously acquired Karmas without incurring new bondage.
All the Munis realized that they were indulging in unnecessary vanity that obstructed the dawn of right perception. The Acharya also explained that the soul had really nothing to do with the state and activities of the body. The body is procured as a consequence of the operative Karmas and should be used simply as an instrument for realizing the true nature of soul. It can be an effective instrument only if it was used purposefully. Understanding the true nature of soul was the essence of religion and that is the main thing worth pursuing in this life.
At Hastinapur, there lived a merchant named Sudharma. A devout Jain, the merchant was very poor and ran a petty business. His wife’s name was Dhanna. One night, as she was fast asleep, she saw in a dream the Goddess Shree (the goddess of prosperity) in the Lotus Lake. Dressed in the best of her robes and ornaments, she was seated on a lotus.
Dhanna woke up after this good dream, and when she apprised her husband of this, he said, “Now our days of woe must be nearing their end. Indications are that a boy will be born in the family, and his fame will go far and near.” With this sweet thought in her mind, Dhanna couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night.
The arrival of a pious soul becomes a turning point in the life of a family. From the day Dhanna had dreamt the dream, there was a turn for the better in Sudharma’s material condition. The profit from business also looked up. But Sudharma’s depression was not yet over. The anxiety about how best to accord a welcome to the incoming pious soul haunted him.
One day, as he was standing in the courtyard with this thought in his mind, a portion of the earth slipped from beneath his feet, and a jar full of gold and gems peeped through it. This was a major turning point. Henceforth, fortune smiled on him, and he was living in a mansion of his own, served by many servants and attendants.
At the right moment, a male child was born to Dhanna. On the third day, he was exposed to the sun and the moon. On the sixth night, the mother kept awake to worship the deity of birth, and on the eleventh day, the house was cleaned in the customary manner. On the twelfth day, relations and friends were invited to dinner and the boy’s naming ceremony was performed. He was to be henceforth called Lakshmipunj.
When Lakshmipunj was eight, he was married to a beautiful damsel from a rich merchant’s family. He was a happy young man enjoying all the pleasures of life. One day, a thought came into his mind:
Where from has all this non-ending treasure come ? On the same day, he had the following revelation about his previous birth.
There was a city named Lakshmidhar where lived a merchant named Gundhar. He was rich, but he was a man of very simple and unassuming habits. One day, he went to the park, where a Muni was giving a sermon on Adattadan, the vow not to acquire anything unless it has been bestowed or bequeathed. When the sermon was over, the merchant came near the Muni, paid him homage and obeisance, and took the vow of Adattadan.
The merchant started with a convoy of 500 carts loaded with merchandise for another country. When the convoy reached a dense forest, the merchant felt that it would be risky for him to move with it, and so on horseback, he separated from it, taking an obscure route made of footprints.
On the way, he came across a costly necklace which he did not even care to look at. As he wanted to proceed fast, he struck the horse with his heels and put it to gallop. At one place, as the earth was removed by the horse’s hoof, the merchant saw a jar full of treasure, but, with perfect detachment, he put the horse to a still greater speed. But ill-luck prevailing, before the horse could go far, it dropped down exhausted and died on the spot. This was a great shock for the merchant, who felt that the horse had met with its end prematurely because of him. So he said aloud: “If anyone can restore the horse to life, I shall give him my whole treasure.” But, as no one came forward, the merchant discarded the dead horse and proceeded on foot.
The merchant was now proceeding alone through the dense forest. He became very thirsty, but there was no water to be seen anywhere in the neighborhood. Soon he discovered a leather-jar full of water hanging from a tree. He came beneath the tree, but as he remembered his vow, he shouted: “To whom does this jar belong ? I am very thirsty.”
At another branch of the same tree, there was a cage from which a parrot responded, “This belongs to a medical man. He has gone in search of herb in the denser parts of the forest. Nobody knows when he may come back. If you are thirsty, you may very well drink from the jar. But neither its owner nor his agent is present here at this moment.”
Gundhar was so badly thirsty that his eyes had almost shot out, and it was not possible for him to speak or to walk. Still he said to the parrot, “Thirst may take my life, but I don’t accept a thing not properly given to me.”
He sat down with his eyes closed. When after some time he opened them, he found to his surprise that neither the leather-jar nor the parrot and the cage were there; instead, there stood a Dev who said, “Sire, I am a resident of Vipula which is located atop the mountain Vaitadhya. My name is Sur, and I am a Vidyadhar. My father, who has joined the holy order, resides in a park outside your city. I had been there to pay respect to him just at the time when you took the vow of not accepting anything not duly given. You are a merchant, and you have to move to far-off lands on business. So I wondered if it would be possible for you to honor your vow. It was for testing you, therefore, that I laid a few traps: the necklace, the jar full of treasure. It was I again who made the horse die. The jar, the cage and the parrot were all placed by me on the tree.”
The Vidyadhar responded, “It was my father who told me to keep away from superfluous riches, but I didn’t care to listen to him, for I couldn’t free myself from attachment. but today I have seen in you one who has conquered attachment, and this has really inspired me. I have now resolved to court total detachment. I hold you as my master, and I want to make a gift of my all to my master.”
The Vidyadhar said, “Well, Sir, all these belong to me, and all these are now yours.”
Gundhar said, “Very good. But I too am under a vow to bestow my all to one who restores the horse to life, and since you have done so, you are henceforth the rightful owner of everything I have.”
The Vidyadhar said, “Sir, you are my superior, and so I can’t accept your treasure; but, as you say, you are under a vow, and so you can no longer retain its ownership. What will happen to all of this, then ?”
Gundhar gave a solution. “Let neither of us use it. Let it be given as a gift for some public, social or religious purpose.” The solution appealed to both.
From that time, Gundhar changed the course of his life. He became immersed in Dharma-Dhyan (spiritual meditation). Thus he spent the rest of his life.
The same merchant has been reborn as Lakshmipunj with so much affluence of wealth and treasure.
This revelation revived Lakshmipunj’s memory of his previous birth. His detachment came up soon, and he renounced everything. He entered the spiritual order and lived therein, enriching his soul by practicing penance and restraint.
Lali was a girl who contracted the habit of stealing wherever she went. She felt happy only when she stole something. Her parents repeatedly advised not to do such thing, but her nature couldn’t be changed.
Onetime, when they were to attend a marriage ceremony, they decided to leave Lali behind because if she would steal there then that would give very bad name to the family. But, Lali promised not to steal and insisted to go. The parents believed her and took her along to the marriage. They cautiously watched Lali to avoid any trouble. The marriage was over and they all left in a cart for their home. The parents felt satisfied with Lali’s conduct as no theft was reported.
The cart began to jolt on the way and suddenly the clothes of Lali’s neighbors in the cart were spoilt with a wet substance. On inquiring it was found that from some earthen pot Lali stole some soup and the pot broke with the jolting of the cart. The parents exclaimed with regret, “Alas, Lali’s habit will never be changed.”
Our soul has frequently listened to the advises of the preceptor and solemnly determined not to commit sins but again and again it goes on committing sins. We need to strengthen our willpower and practice what we learn from our Munis and nuns.
Once upon a time a shepherd came across a newly born cub of a lion. He brought it home and fed it with goat’s milk. Though it was a lion, it always moved, ate and drank with the goats and thus it always believed itself a goat, and it also acted as a goat.
One day it went out in the forest along with the goats. There a lion appeared who roared as usual with its nature. Thereupon all the goats began to elope and the cub also began to run away. On seeing this the lion of the forest said: “Hallow brother, goats would flee when I roar, but why are you running away ? You are a lion as I am.” Thereupon the cub-lion which was brought up along with the goats said: “You tell lies. I am not a lion. I am a goat. I am afraid of you and therefore I run away”.
The lion living in the forest realized that the cub-lion had stayed along with the goats and therefore it had believed itself to be a goat. “Let me clear his doubt,” he said: “Friend, am I wrong ? If from my gigantic physique your conjecture is that I am a big goat, then you are mistaken. Your face is also round as mine. It is not long like that of a goat. Your waist is as slender as my waist, your feet have paws and not the hoofs like those of a goat. Look at your charming tail ! The goat has on the contrary a very tiny and ugly tail. You possess a mane on your neck. The goat does not have such. Thus the goat and the lion are entirely different, in their characteristics. Every goat has two horns on the head and you don’t have any horns on your head. Therefore, you cast aside your false apprehension and I assure you that you are a lion and not a goat.”
These words clarified the cub-lion’s misapprehension. He began to look upon himself as a lion. He accompanied that lion and started leading the life of a lion.
MORAL LESSON: Thus we all have remained in the company of our physical self and other material entities and that is why we presume ourselves as the physical self, and we estimate our power as very much limited. But remember, the material and the physical body don’t constitute our “Self”. We are the soul with infinite powers and with this conviction in our mind let our faculties be developed. To achieve such development we should remain far from passions and other attachments.