JAIN STORIES (Madhubindu to Parasmani)
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MADHUBINDU - THE WORLDLY SOUL’S LUST FOR LIFE
MAMMAN SHETH - A SHRAVAK WHO SPOILED HIS DEATH
PRINCE MEGHKUMAR - Elephant and Rabbit
MRIGAVATI - GREAT FAITH AND PENANCE
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Once there was a traveler named Madhubindu who was passing by a town of strangers. He realized that no one would give him directions to his destination, and many people wouldn’t even open the door for him. As he was passing, four thugs came out of the bushes and Madhubindu ran for the forests, losing the robbers easily.
In the forest, an elephant noticed him and started to chase Madhubindu. He was exhausted and could not run any more. So he jumped down into a well that was nearby to avoid being crushed by the powerful elephant.
As he jumped into the well, he grabbed a branch of a huge tree that protruded into the well. The racing elephant couldn’t reach Madhubindu with his trunk, but Madhubindu faced another predicament. Below him, in the well, were an alligator and four snakes. Then he looked up, where he saw two rats (one black, one white) chewing the branch he was hanging from but at the same time few honey drops from beehive fall in his mouth.
The elephant continued to shake the branch violently. Because of this shaking a few bees stung the poor traveler. As Madhubindu licked the honey, he would forget his problems, the snake and alligator, the elephant, and the rats and the bees.
At that time, an angel couple were flying by. The female angel felt sorry for him and asked her husband to help this man to get out of the troubles. When angel offered him help, Madhubindu asked the couple to wait for a second until he tasted the next drop of honey, so they waited. Then angel asked him again, he said wait for a few seconds and this went on. The couple got tired of waiting and left. A few minutes later, Madhubindu fell to his inevitable death.
This story is symbolic for the plight of any living being.
Madhubindu represents a worldly soul.
The elephant is death, something everyone must face.
The well and the four snakes and alligator represent life with the four passions of anger, pride, greed, and re-birth respectively.
The branch cut by the two rats represents the life-span of a living being, which is continuously being reduced by the bright and dark fortnights of the lunar month.
The bees represent daily problems.
The honey stands for momentary sensual pleasures.
The couple who offered to rescue Madhubindu represents religion, the entity that helps us achieve real happiness and peace. It would be needless to say if he had listened to the angel and taken their shelter, the fate would have been different.
There was a city named Vijaypur. A Kshatriya (warrior) named Maheshvardatt resided in that city. His wife was Gangila. The parents of Maheshvardatt were old and were capable of spending the time in devotion of God and in religious rites, if they so desired; but they were not inclined at all to devote their time in such manner.
How can one be inclined to devotion of God or such religious activities if one has spent one’s life in worldly affairs ? Casual visit to a saint or attending religious lectures or discourses or observance of some religious vow creates greater interest in such practice at a later stage in life and thereby one can improve one’s life.
But the parents of Maheshvardatt never called upon any saint. They were fully concentrated in their worldly affairs. Maheshvardatt also lived the same type of life from morning till night and maintained his family. The family ate non-vegetarian food and even used wine and other liquor.
How choosing of proper and improper diet can be expected when there is an absence of religious atmosphere ? Today also people don’t care about habits of proper or improper diet because religious atmosphere is almost absent. The wise people know that the non-vegetarians and those who consume liquor are bound to go to hell and have to undergo unbearable tortures there.
Once, Maheshvardatt’s father became ill. Despite the best medical treatment he did not recover. Medicines help only when longevity helps. When he found that his days were numbered he worried, “What about my wife, my son, my family and my cattle brought up with great affection ?” He was much worried and uneasy. Maheshvardatt saw this and asked, “Father, let me know anything you desire. I shall fulfill it. You don’t worry at all.” The father replied, “Son, you are very wise and diligent, so you will maintain your family quite well, still times are very critical and so spend money carefully. Look after our buffaloes. I brought them up with great love. Moreover, on Shraddha day as observed by our family, sacrifice a young buffalo. Don’t forget.”
With these words the father died. The cravings entertained at last moments of life, many a times establishes a person’s next life. Thus, after death he was born as a male-buffalo in his own herd.
Sometime after, Maheshvardatt’s mother also died crying, “My house, my family, my world, my fame !” After death she was born as a female dog and stayed loitering near the house of Maheshvardatt.
Funeral ceremonies were over. The caste dinner was over. Maheshvardatt’s reputation swelled and the worldly affairs proceeded ahead.
Maheshvardatt’s wife was beautiful, clever in domestic works but was perverted in character. This immorality suppresses all virtues as a gram of salt spoils a pan full of milk. Her sensuality found no scope when her father-in-law and mother-in-law existed, but now they were no more and Maheshvardatt also traveled out of town for a longer period for business. Meanwhile she indulged in sensual affairs with one fellow. The sin some day is bound to be exposed.
One day due to some need Maheshvardatt had to return home abruptly. He found the doors of his house closed from within. He doubted and peeped through the cracks. He saw a man. Even an animal can’t but be enraged on seeing his mate in communion with another animal. How can a man tolerate this ? He shouted, “Gangila, open the doors !”
Hearing the shouting of her husband, she became very nervous. She thought of concealing her lover, but there was no such place where she could conceal him. Helpless as she was, she opened the doors and stood terrified and trembling like leaves of tree when the sudden wind comes in.
Maheshvardatt entered the room, caught his wife’s lover by neck and began to beat him. The lover was hammered severely in the abdomen and killed. The deceased while dying thought, “I reap the rewards of my own acts. It is no use being enraged with anyone.”
This noble thought conceived at the time of death procured for him the birth of a human being. He was born in Gangila from his own semen. How strange are the designs of fate ! Father is born as the son of his son and a son is born as a father. A mother formerly is reborn as wife and wife returns as mother.
Maheshvardatt kept this affair as a secret, as it might affect his own reputation. The wise people have laid down, that “Longevity, wealth, some family vice, Mantra, medicine, gift, honors and insults, should be maintained as secrets.”
After a few months Gangila delivered a very handsome son and the whole family rejoiced on the event. The birth of a son is always an event of joy for parents.
The day of Shraddha (yearly ritual after the dead) approached and Maheshvardatt remembered his promise to his father. He searched for a young buffalo in the market but could not secure a good one in the price expected. Hence he decided to sacrifice the young buffalo brought up by him in his own house. The buffalo was sacrificed and its meat was cooked and made ready to be served to relatives. In the meanwhile, the female dog entered and started licking utensils for food. Maheshvardatt was very angry at this and he flung a wooden stick at the dog. The ankle of the dog was broken and thereby she ran away screaming.
Still, it was time for the relatives to arrive, Maheshvardatt was waiting at the door with his young son. He was playing with his son. In the meanwhile, an enlightened Muni passing by, on seeing this, nodded. Maheshvardatt saw his nodding. So he approached the Muni and with respect inquired, “What is the cause of your nodding ?” The Muni replied, “Friend, the matter is not worth your knowing.” But he insisted to hear about this. “If you still insist and wish, I have no objection in narrating,” the Muni said. Maheshvardatt said, “Then let me hear it entirely.”
The Muni began, “Good fellow, today you are performing Shraddha of your father; and therefore, you have sacrificed a buffalo. That buffalo was your own father in previous life. While dying he was anxious about his cattle and so he was born as a cattle.” Maheshvardatt was very much shocked to hear these words. He said “Lord, Is it true ?” The Muni replied, “It is true, but the matter does not end here.”
“The dog whose ankle was broken by you just now with a stick, was your mother in previous life. She also at the time of death entertained anxieties as “My house, my children, my worldly relations, etc. and she died with these thoughts.” Maheshvardatt shut his ears to these words.
The Muni continued, “Oh good fellow, now listen to the whole matter in full when you have known part of it. The son whom you love so much is none else but your wife’s lover killed by you with a kick on the abdomen. While dying he entertained noble thoughts and he attained to human birth. He was born in his own semen.”
Hearing these words Maheshvardatt felt disgust for the world. He fell at the feet of the Muni on the spot and requested him, “Oh Lord, relieve me from this delusive world.” The Muni showed him to the path of eternal happiness. Maheshvardatt thus subsequently achieved salvation.
MORAL LESSON: A religious environment at home is very essential to uplift our soul and achieve infinite happiness. Children learn from their parents, therefore, parents must set up a good example. We shouldn’t be worried about death but should prepare for it. Our thoughts should be pure all the time so that at the time of death worldly matters don’t cloud our thinking. We should keep in contact with the enlightened persons or those who can throw light on Kevali’s established preaching so as to attain the right knowledge, right perception and right conduct.
Ripumardan was the ruling king at the city of Ksitipratisthita, and Madanrekha was his first queen. She was a devoted Shravika who was acquainted with the principles of religion. She gave birth to a daughter who was named Mairavati. She was her mother’s daughter, a mixture of beauty, conduct, and intellect. The king made proper arrangements for her education, and very soon she became proficient in all the branches of learning. Her mother was in charge of her spiritual education.
One day, when the court was in session, Mairavati was sent there by her mother. She was in the best of her robes and ornaments. The princess bowed before her father the king, who affectionately received her and made her sit on the throne with him. The king had proud bend of mind. Addressing the courtiers, he said, “Do you think there is another monarch on earth who has as much material prosperity, illustrious court, and gifted kinsmen as I have ?”
“Your Majesty, they can’t conceive them even in dreams, let alone have them.”
The princess, however, didn’t agree. She signified her dissent by nodding her head both ways and saying, ‘Sire, whatever the courtiers have stated is stark flattery, a total violation of truth. On this earth, there are many monarchs who are in possession of equivalent treasure, court, and kinsmen. Are these really things to be proud of ?”
This observation was not palatable to the king, who overlooked it. He asked the courtiers again, “By whose favor are you all happy ?”
“Your Majesty ! Can there be any question or doubt about it ? We are all happy because of your favor. Can anybody shower happiness on others save the Kalpa-vruksh (wish fulfilling tree) ?”
The princess, however, disagreed again. “You are all liars indulging in nothing but flattery. Acquisition of good and evil is the outcome of Karmas. Then, turning to the king, she said, “Father, if you are the real determinant, why don’t you make everyone equally happy ? Some of your courtiers are more happy, and others are less happy. This is the outcome of their respective Karmas. You are only an instrument in its operation. Speaking about myself, my birth in your royal household and the affluence I enjoy are the outcome of inexorable Karmas.”
The king’s rage now reached the highest pitch. He burst out:
“Foolish girl ! Who has taught you all this garrulity ? It seems that in the garb of my daughter lives a real enemy. You should know it for certain that it is my favorable glance that can make a poor man rich, and it is my angry glance that can ruin one forever. If you agree with me, you will be married in some prosperous household; otherwise, you will just be disposed of to some poor man.”
“Father, you are mistaken. If I have not righteous Karmas to favor me, even the best of grooms chosen by you will turn pauper. But if I have favorable Karmas, even a commoner may rise to the acme of prosperity and acquire a kingdom. Pride is the virus of worldly life. So, Sire, get rid of it.”
The king could no longer contain himself. At once he gave the following order to his men: “Go and bring forth one who may be the poorest, the meanest, the lowliest, and one in wretched health.”
The princess sat calmly. The king’s men went to the central square and picked up a man who was gasping because of ill-health. They brought him before the king. His ears were rotten, nose dull and flat, lips long and projected, and cheeks marked by depression. His body was all bones and no flesh with distinct marks of leprosy. The king’s pride was now gratified. He turned to the princess and said, “Well, Madam ! In deference to your Karmas, this man has been brought here. It is my order that you marry him.”
The truly great have no gap in their profession and practice. The princess slowly came down and courted the leper as her husband. The whole court was stunned and mortified, but not the king. His pride and vengeance were fully gratified. The princess was then deprived of her jewelry and rich robes and turned out from the city.
The two took shelter in the precincts of a temple to spend the night there. The leper was truly compassionate. Addressing the princess, he said, “Noble Lady ! Whatever the king has done has been unjust and malicious. This is neither good for you nor for the royal household. You are a lovely damsel of noble birth, and I am only a poor leper. I am not fit for you. So, Madam, I regret my inability to accept you and gladly permit you to give me up. Forget about me and marry some suitable young man. I have no doubt that wherever you go you will be an asset.”
The princess appealed, “My dear ! What do I hear from you ? When sins are up, one is born as a woman, and for a woman to give up purity is more sinful. You suggest I do that. Youth, beauty, wealth these come and go, but purity is a rare acquisition. You may be rich or poor, well or ill, but you are my all in all. In future, may I not hear what you have said just now.”
The leper was happy at this unusual reply. The sun had gone down, and the leper was asleep. Only the princess was awake. She saw an old lady coming toward her. A young man accompanied the old woman. The lady came to the princess and said, “My daughter ! I am the deity of this city. I am deeply mortified at your father’s behavior, so I have come to help you.” Then, pointing to the young man, she said, “This beautiful and lucky young man is meant for you. Give up this leper and be his wife. You will be happy with him. I shall help you in all respects.”
This was really a trap, and how many would come out successfully ?
Mairavati was one of those that are steadfast in all situations. She said, “Mother ! I haven’t enough words to thank you. But I am duly married with this man with the consent of my father. So how do you think I can give him up ? A woman courts a husband but once. He may be a leper, but to me he is the king of kings, everything for me. I only beg and entreat that this man whom you have brought with you may be withdrawn and restored to his proper place.”
The deity took this refusal as an affront. She hurled the princess into the sky, saying, “If you take my advice, you will be happy; otherwise, I shall kill you.”
The princess was helpless, but she was incessantly uttering the holy Namokara. And then a miracle happened. There was neither the deity nor the leper; instead, a divine person stood before her.
He said to the princess, “There is a city named Manipur on the Vaitadhya hill. I am Manichud, its king. Once, while wandering, I heard someone say,
Crows are black everywhere, Parrots are ever green,
Happy are happy everywhere, Misery the wretches are in!
I thought of testing the truth of this and changed myself into a leper. Just then, the king’s men picked me up. The rest of the story is well known to you. You didn’t deviate from your resolve. You are truly praiseworthy and honorable. How lucky I am and how lucky is my city to have in you a wife and a queen, acquired to unexpectedly.”
The princess didn’t know if it was a dream or reality. She could not rely on her audio-visual organs, but she was confident that purity always shines. She had a feeling that it was her purity incarnate that stood before her in body and flesh. The princess conveyed her gratefulness to the divine person, her husband, and acknowledged this turn in her luck to be the outcome of Karmas.
The two now happily lived there for some time. One day, Manichud said to his wife, “My dear, I want to see my father-in-law, your father, and teach him a lesson for all that he did to you. Can you suggest how best this should be done ?”
“My dear, you make him appear before you dressed as a peasant. That will crush his pride forever.”
This was done. By dint of his divine power, Manichud raised a mighty army and laid seize of the city of his father-in-law. Then he sent a messenger to King Ripumardan to tell him in unmistakable terms to dress like a peasant and submit to him, failing which he would be duly punished.
The king became red at once and was about to accept the challenge, but the minister prevailed upon him and said, “Your Majesty ! One should act with due caution even when the adversary is your equal, the more so when, as in the present case, he is a superior. I think that in the interest of the kingdom and in that of yourself, you should act as the messenger desires.” The king realized the gravity of the situation and softened. Now, dressed as a peasant, he came to meet king Manichud.
Manichud, however, fittingly received him and immediately gave him a change of dress. Soon the king’s eyes fell on his own daughter, who was seated on the throne. The king bent his head in shame. Mairavati said, “Father, don’t be remorseful. The leper to whom you gave me away has luckily turned out to be a divine personality. We need acknowledge that this is the play of Karmas.
The king was happy to see the turn in his daughter’s fortune. Manichud apprised him of all that had happened since the princess was banished from the city. Then he added, “Sire, blessed are you that in your royal household has been born such a precious soul as your daughter. And doubly blessed am I that has acquired such a pious thing without any effort.”
After this, the Dev returned to his city on the Vaitadhya hill in the company of his consort. Always steadfast in purity, Mairavati spent the rest of her life devoted to spiritual practices.
One day, Lord Mahavir sent Gautamswami to preach to a faithful follower. After preaching to this man (named Mamman Sheth who was on his deathbed), Gautamswami felt as if Mamman Sheth was a very great soul. On his way back from the village, Gautamswami came to know about the death of that same Shravak.
Upon reaching Lord Mahavir, Gautamswami inquired as to where that person had gone after death, and Lord Mahavir replied, “He has been born as a Beindriya Jiva (life with only two senses, touch and taste) in the forehead of his own wife.”
An astonished Gautamswami asked the reason for this, upon where Lord Mahavir explained that although Mamman Sheth had good thoughts while Gautamswami was preaching, after the departure of Gautamswami, his wife started to lament and weep loudly. She dashed her head against the wall and it began to bleed. Since Mamman Sheth was near death, he thought of her future unhappiness and her tear-stained face. His attachment to his wife was so strong at the time of death that his death was spoiled and he was reborn as a Jiva in the wound on his wife’s forehead.
We, should, therefore, have no attachment to mundane things at the time of our death or if possible, during our life time. We don’t get Samadhi Maran (peaceful death or death with right perception) by getting a boon from God, but by striving for it by deep understanding, study and practice. We must clean our hearts of all sins at the time of death and ask for forgiveness, not create more attachments and evils. Only then can we have Samadhi Maran.
King Shrenik of Magadha had a beautiful queen named Dharini. Once while she was sleeping, she dreamt that a white elephant was entering her mouth. She immediately woke up and told about the dream to the king. Shrenik knew that it was an auspicious dream. He called the fortunetellers who stated that the queen would get a handsome and lovable son who would have marvelous achievements to his credit. The king and queen were very much pleased to hear that.
During the third month of her pregnancy, Dharini got an irresistible urge to ride an elephant with the king during rain, while the sky is full of clouds of different hues and there are frequent flashes of lightening. Now, in most of India, it rains only during the monsoon that occurs from June to October. Dharini however got the urge during off-season. How to satisfy her urge was therefore a problem.
In order to see that she isn’t affected by the dissatisfied urge, the king asked his eldest son and the prime minister Abhaykumar to devise some way to satisfy that urge. Abhaykumar had a divine friend whom he urged earnestly to cause untimely rain etc. for the sake of his step mother. That friend arranged exactly according to Dharini’s urge. She therefore could ride in state on an elephant with the king and satisfied her urge.
In due course she gave birth to a very handsome, attractive boy. Rain in Indian language is called Megh. In memory of the pregnancy urge of Dharini, the boy was named Meghkumar.
At the age of eight he was sent to school where he learnt all the 72 arts and crafts and got known as accomplished youth. He was then married to eight beautiful young girls with whom he was enjoying all the pleasures of the worldly life.
Once Lord Mahavir came to Rajgruhi and camped in Gunashil monastery. Almost every resident of Rajgruhi used to go to his sermon. Meghkumar too went there and was much impressed. Realizing the transitory nature of the worldly situations, as explained by the Lord, he decided to renounce.
But his parents were pained to hear about his intention. They tried every means to stop him from renouncing. He however remained very firm. But in order to satisfy his parents wish, he agreed to become the king for one day and was coronated with all the royal pomp. Immediately after that, he left everything and became a possessionless Muni of Lord Mahavir.
At night he was allotted a place near the door for spreading his bed. During the night, Munis, going out for toilet, etc., had to go by his side. Since no lamps are allowed in the Munis’ residence, they accidentally stepped on his bed and at times his body as well. Poor Meghkumar couldn’t sleep for the whole night. He was raised in all the luxuries and even Munis used to treat him with regards. It was therefore awful for him to face the feet of the Munis and the dirt that was brought all over his bed and body. He was sleepless for the entire night. He felt that he couldn’t bear that sort of miserable life and decided to give up renouncement.
In the morning he went to the Lord for seeking permission to go back home. The Lord was aware of the discomforts that he had faced. He however asked him, “Megh, do you remember the discomforts that you had faced during the previous life ?” Since Meghkumar did not, the Lord described it as under.
“During the previous life you were the king of elephants and were known as Meruprabha. Once there was a fire which you escaped narrowly. That reminded you of the terrible fire you had faced in still earlier life. For a shelter from fire, you therefore opened up a vast stretch of land by removing all plants, bushes and trees so that all animals could get refuge in case of a fire. You also weeded out grass that grew there.
Later on, once again, there was a wild fire in your forest. All the animals came running and took refuge on that stretch. You also were there. During that time, you raised your foot to scratch your body on account of itching. That very time a rabbit was pushed in that space by the pressure of other animals. As you tried to put the foot back, you felt the presence of the rabbit and decided to hold the foot up in order to save it. The fire raged for two and a half day during which you continued to hold your foot up out of the compassion for the rabbit.
At the end of fire as the animals retreated, you tried to lower your foot. It was however too much stiffened during that time. You couldn’t maintain your balance and fell down. You felt agonizing pain and couldn’t get up. That way you spent three days and night facing much affliction and acute pain. Ultimately you left that body and were born here as the prince of Shrenik, as a result of your compassion for the rabbit.
If you could face that much distress for the sake of rabbit and gained the valuable human life in return, how come you can’t face the foot dirt of your fellow Munis in the interest of gaining ever-lasting happiness ?”
Meghkumar was impressed by the Lord’s words and realized that he should stay on in his own interest. He requested the Lord to initiate him afresh since he had virtually broken his vow of the monkshood by strongly desiring the worldly life. The Lord did accordingly and Meghmuni, as he was called after that, started leading rigorous, austere life. Fasting for days together, he stayed, most of time, in meditation in order to eradicate his Karmas. The Lord and Gautamswami too praised him for that.
When his body became very weak and could no longer observe the rigors of monkshood, he decided to observe fast unto death. That he did for a month on mount Vaibhargiri near Rajgruhi and went to heaven. The Lord stated to Gautamswami that at the end of the heavenly life, he would be reborn in Mahavideh and would attain salvation.
There is a city called Pundarikini in Mahavideh. Long back, king Ghanrath was ruling over there. He had two queens named Priymati and Manorama. Both of them gave birth to a son. Priymati’s son was named Meghrath and Manorama’s son was named Dridhrath.
Both the boys started growing and turned out to be brave, bold and handsome. As they attained adult age, they attracted attention of every one.
There was another city called Sumandirpur. Its king Nihatshatru had three daughters named Priyamitra, Manorama and Sumati. They were very attractive. As they grew up, Nihatshatru was concerned about finding suitable matches for them. He heard about the sons of Ghanrath and decided to offer his daughters in marriage. He sent his special emissary to Pundarikini with the proposal of first two daughters for Meghrath and of the third for Dridhrath. Ghanrath willingly accepted the proposals.
Thereupon the emissary requested Ghanrath to send his sons to Sumandirpur for the wedding ceremony. As Ghanrath was agreeable, both the princes set upon the journey to Sumandirpur along with selected band of worriers.
They had to pass through the territory of another king named Surendradatt. He wouldn’t allow them to pass through his land. The wedding party had no alternative route to reach Sumandirpur and therefore insisted upon their right to pass through.
As Surendradatt didn’t give in, there was a war between the two. A fierce battle took place. Both the parties fought very valiantly but in the end Surendradatt lost and surrendered. Meghrath thus got possession of that territory. Thereafter the wedding party safely reached Sumandirpur. There, the king Nihatshatru organized a grand marriage ceremony and both the princes got married.
After some time, king Ghanrath decided to renounce the worldly life. Thereupon he gave his throne to Meghrath and Dridhrath was made the heir apparent. Meghrath ruled over the country very well. He was a just ruler and established complete justice in his kingdom. Everyone lived happily and peacefully under his rule. He was also completely truthful and never broke his promise. His brother Dridhrath had high regard for Meghrath and helped him in every respect.
Meghrath was highly religious and observed all the restraints appropriate to a Shravak. Once it so happened that while he was observing Paushadh (one day’s fasting), he saw a pigeon rapidly rushing towards him. It was very scared and took shelter in his lap. King couldn’t make out the cause of its fear.
As he was curious about it, the pigeon said that it was in dire need of safe shelter. The king guaranteed that and told it not to feel any way afraid.
Soon after a hawk came there and demanded the pigeon. The king told the hawk that the pigeon had sought his shelter and he couldn’t hand it over to anyone. The hawk said that he was very hungry and needed the pigeon for his food. The king suggested that there are many other eatables and the hawk should desist from taking the life of any being for the sake of hunger. The hawk said that he was non-vegetarian and couldn’t eat anything but meat. He added that if the king didn’t hand over the pigeon, he would die of hunger. The king would then be responsible for his death.
The king said that it was not possible for him to betray the promise of shelter given to the pigeon. He however offered to the hawk meat from his own body equivalent to the weight of the pigeon. The people got scared by that offer. The hawk however agreed to the offer.
Thereupon the king called for a scale. He put pigeon in one pan and in the other he started putting meat cut from his body. Amazingly, the pigeon was too heavy and the king had to put more and more meat from his body to counterbalance its weight. As the meat so cut was not found enough, he ultimately put himself in the pan. Then the scale got exactly balanced.
This spread a shriek of terror in the hearts of all present. Everyone felt aghast. No one was willing to accept that so benevolent a king should sacrifice his life for the sake of a pigeon. No one knew what was going to happen next. People wanted to save the life of their beloved king. Within their minds they were earnestly praying for the long life of the king.
Then all of a sudden they noticed a heavenly being. He said that he had heard about the truthfulness and the justice of the king and wanted to test it. Pigeon and hawk were part of his contrivance for the purpose. He was glad that the king lived true to his reputation and deserved all compliments.
Meghrath ruled long thereafter. At the later age he too renounced like his father and became a Muni. His brother Dridhrath and many others also renounced with him. As a Muni he observed all possible austerities and penance. Near the end of his life he observed Anashan (fast until death) and went to heaven. Later on he was born as the prince of Hastinapur. In that life he got known as Lord Shantinath, the sixteenth Tirthankar.
We all know that a Sugari (tailor bird) nest is very well-woven and artistic. One day, the Sugari was sitting in its nest. It was raining heavily. There were many flashes of lightening. At that time, a monkey troubled by the cold and rain came to sit beneath the tree.
The Sugari pitied him and said, “Why didn’t you build a nest to live in ? Your shape is similar to man and you are so clever.” The monkey got angry and told the Sugari to shut up. He once again began to shiver. So the Sugari couldn’t remain silent and said, “Why did you waste your summers in idleness ?”
Upon hearing this, the monkey got enraged and verbally abused the Sugari. The rain and thunder increased and the Sugari once again opened its mouth. The monkey was so mad now that he said, “Be silent, you bad mouth. If you keep murmuring I will break you home. Don’t pretend to be a pundit, a learned man.” Hearing this, the Sugari became silent.
But the cold monkey started to wail again due to the bitter frost and the Sugari once again spoke words of wisdom. At last, the monkey couldn’t contain its anger any more. He said, “Though I have no ability to make a house, I do possess the ability to break one.” Saying so, he climbed onto the tree and broke the Sugari’s nest, making the poor Sugari homeless.
MORAL LESSON: Such cases are common in the world. We shouldn’t point out the faults of others, but remain indifferent to them. Everyone is responsible for what he does, and we have no right to give sermon and improve others when we are not qualified to give sermon. We should try to improve ourselves and get rid of our faults first. This was one of the many messages of Lord Mahavir.
There once lived a king by the name of Shatnik in the city of Kaushambi. His queen was named Mrigavati. King Chandrapradyot of Ujjain was his biggest enemy. King Chandrapradyot was enchanted on seeing queen Mrigavati and asked Shatnik to send her to his harem; if he did not do so, he would face a war.
On getting the message from Chandrapradyot, Shatnik got shocked and died. So Mrigavati got very disheartened and afraid, and she feared molestation at the hands of Chandrapradyot. She was a courageous woman, though, and asked the ministers to shut the gates of Kaushambi. King Chandrapradyot tried to besiege the city and tried to capture Mrigavati.
Then, Mrigavati sent a message to him, which read, “I have a small child. I want to protect the kingdom, but the fort is old, and enemies will invade it. Send me strong bricks that are produced in Ujjain. Make my fort strong with your bricks, store grain for six months time, and then I shall be with you.”
Mrigavati used this trick in her hour of most difficulty. Chandrapradyot agreed to the demands of the queen and deployed his soldiers to carry out the orders of Mrigavati. Bricks were bought to make the fort strong and grains were stored. Mrigavati was surprised at this, and six months later, she asked her ministers to close the city gates again. Soon after, Chandrapradyot besieged the city again, angered with Mrigavati.
Mrigavati then composed herself and sat in a lonely corner of the palace facing the direction of Lord Mahavir and started to meditate. She renounced her body and food and remained in meditation. Whenever there is difficulty, face it bravely. As is your sacrifice, so will be the response.
Lord Mahavir came to Kaushambi and camped outside the city in one of the gardens. Mrigavati came to know this and felt very happy. She finished her meditation and opened the gates to the city. The ministers all feared that Chandrapradyot would invade the city, but Mrigavati was confident that there would be no harm.
She approached Lord Mahavir with a assembly of citizens and ministers. Now, Chandrapradyot was also a great devotee of Lord Mahavir and he also went to hear the sermon of the Lord out of respect.
After the sermon was over, Mrigavati stood up and said to Lord Mahavir, “I want to accept nunshood if Chandrapradyot allows me his permission. I shall, then, entrust my child to him.” Then she put her son in the lap of the silent king. All the evil aims of Chandrapradyot were dashed to the ground. Thus, Mrigavati protected her chastity by accepting nunshood.
This was the result of great faith and penance. There is no peace or happiness in this world. Everyone has great misery and sadness. Hence in this life we should try to free ourselves from this Karmic matter by practicing penance. In no other birth can there be such an availability to practice religious activities. Let us make a beginning in this human birth, to get disassociated from the Karmas that bind us to this miserable cycle of birth and death. It is only then can the soul experience what is God-hood and can be God itself.
There was a city name Munipatika, where reigned king Munipati. He was the very embodiment of justice and power. Prithvi was his first queen and Munichandra was the crown prince.
One day, the king was enjoying the company of the queen in her chamber and the latter was combing his hair. Suddenly she said, “Sir ! A thief is in here !” The king was startled and looked around but did not see the thief, so he said, “What do you say ? Where is the thief ?” The queen pulled out a gray hair from the king’s head, and, displaying it, said, “See, Sir ! Here’s the thief sent by old age.”
This proved to be a very significant observation and turned the king’s gaze inward. He thought, The youth has started fading out. I am still engrossed in attachment, living as a householder. Kingdom, wealth and kinsmen are all like snares. I have wasted a long time with these. Now, it’s time for me to withdraw. Old age is not particularly suitable for spiritual practices, as this age generates physical disability, which is a great handicap. To practice austerities and penance, one must have a good physique. Now, what’s past is gone, but I must take care of what remains and make good use of it.
The king at once shared his thoughts with the queen, who not only approved of them, but suggested that they should be given effect to as early as possible. The king abdicated in favor of the crown prince and went into voluntary retirement.
Now, when you have a sincere will, a way comes of itself. Just about the time the king went into retirement, Acharya Dharmaghosh visited the city. The retired king became very happy. He came to pay his homage and obeisance to the Muni and received fresh inspiration from his words. He joined the holy order and began to propitiate knowledge and conduct. These were duly supplemented by penance and meditation. Having thus acquired considerable scriptural knowledge and many qualities, Muni Munipati obtained permission to move alone.
The life of a Muni is a life of hardship and ordeals, but one who is intent on self-realization relishes these as inevitable to spiritual life. In the course of his wanderings, one winter, Munipati reached a park outside the city of Avanti. In the midst of bitter cold and chilly wind, he sat in meditation in a corner of the park. Totally unmindful of physical pain, he fixed himself on a higher spiritual plane. Just at that time a few cowherd boys were on their way home after the day’s work. When they saw the Muni wholly exposed to the cold, they erected a screen around him with their wrappers. They thought they would pick them up the next day on their way to the pasture. The boys went to their respective homes.
In the same city, there lived a Brahmin named Bodhibhatt, who was rich, popular and kind. Farming was his principal occupation. He was also a big oilseed merchant, which earned him the nickname Tilbhatt (til = oilseed). But his wife Dhanashree was the reverse of the merchant, being cruel, narrow- minded and ill-tempered. But he held his wife in the greatest esteem and love.
Once, to procure some money for her private use, Dhanashree sold out a part of the oilseed stock without the knowledge of her husband. But soon she became afraid, lest he should come to know of this, and, to hide the deal, she hatched a plan at once. In the night of the fourteenth day of the dark half of the month, when it was pitch dark, she went out and reached that portion of the park where Muni Munipati stood immersed in meditation. She removed all her clothes, covered her body with bird’s plumes, darkened her face with ashes and soot, and filled a discarded wine-pot with burning charcoal. With her disheveled hair, she looked like a spirit.
Now, with the charcoal in one hand and a sharp knife in the other, she appeared before Tilbhatt with a great gust. As Tilbhatt started trembling, the spirit terrorized him all the more by giving an occasional puff at the fire. She occasionally uttered, “Should I eat Til or should I eat Tilbhatt ?”
Tilbhatt was wholly upset. He did not know what it could be nor what he should do now. Meanwhile, the spirit thundered: “Oh you wretch ! For long, have I been looking for you. But now you are in my clutches. I would not stop till I kill you. So remember your deity. You shall never escape from me.” Tilbhatt’s only concern now was how to wriggle out of the situation.
He looked around, but he could find nothing to hold any hope for him. So he rolled at her feet and begged for his life, saying, “Goddess ! I am your servant. Have mercy on me. I am helpless. I shall always obey your command. My life is in your hands. Save me, spare me.”
With bloodshot eyes, the spirit said, “Don’t you know me ? I am the well-known goddess who thrives on oilseeds. If your life is dear to you, then make gift of your entire stock of oilseeds to me. Nothing else can save you. If you don’t do what I ask you to do, if your stock is too precious to you that you cannot give it up, then I must have you. Either must I have.”
Tilbhatt agreed to surrender the oilseed stock in exchange for his life. He said, “Take my stock of oilseeds, you goddess, and spare my life. If I live, with your blessings, I can build up stocks again.”
“But then do not ask anyone about the stock, I say do not mention them to anyone. I have accepted them all. Now you are out of danger.”
Having thus achieved her purpose, the lady returned to the place where she had discarded her clothes. She had then a thorough wash in a nearby pool and was dressed again. Now it so happened that there was a cremation ground not very far from that place and a dead body was on the burning pyre. In the glow emitted from the fire, the lady saw a Muni standing, and became apprehensive that this fellow might have been an eye-witness to all her vile deeds. Lest he should give exposure to her character to the people of the city, the lady at once thought out a plan to safeguard her position and became ready to perpetrate a dreadful act. She picked up a burning log from the pyre and hurled it at the Muni. She hesitated not even for once to do such a cruel thing. Then she started back and reached her home.
Soon the screens around the Muni caught fire and the Muni’s body was roasted. He could no longer remain in the standing posture but dropped on the ground, but he was still fixed in meditation and equanimity. Though intensely pained in the body, he did not allow this infliction to touch his soul, nor did he permit any passion to take possession of him.
For the rest of the night, Bodhibhatt had no peace. The incident haunted him like a nightmare and gave him no rest. He told his wife in the morning, “My dear ! I have been cheated by the forest deity. My head is reeling. I cannot sit. I must lie down. Please spread the bed again.”
Bodhibhatt lay down. Soon his temperature ran high, and he was delirious. When his restlessness subsided after a few hours, he was no more.
A sinful act has its own tongue; it never remains a secret. People came to know a good part of the incident leading to the premature death of the merchant, and the lady was turned away from the city. But there was no repentance in her. She started a vicious life and met with a vicious end.
Coming back to the king-Muni, in the morning, when the cow-herd boys came to pick up their clothes, they were shocked to find that the clothes were no more; instead, the Muni’s roasted body lay on the ground. They were bitterly penitent. We had thought of helping the man; instead, our doing has injured him so badly. Without wasting time on the spot, they at once came to the house of a merchant named Kunchika in that city.
Kunchika was a well-known follower of the Shraman path. He was so named because he held every evening the keys (called Kunchi) for many a granary in the city. When the boys narrated the tragic incident to him, the merchant also regretted it very much and hurried to the spot in their company. The Muni still lay unconscious. He was removed to the merchant’s house and placed in a separate room.
As a Muni could be nursed only by some fellow Munis, some Munis in the neighborhood were immediately alerted and they came at once. When asked about the necessary medicines, the merchant told them that all medicines would be available from him except one, Lakkha-paka (meaning boiled one hundred thousand times) oil, which the Munis were advised to procure from one Antukari (meaning never addressed as ‘Tu’ you in a derogatory sense) Bhatta.
To help a fellow Muni in difficulty or distress is a part of a Muni’s spiritual routine. Two Munis started at once to fetch the oil. This helped the quick recovery of the king-Muni. He conveyed his gratitude to the Munis and was about to move out. When the merchant prayed for his stay there during the monsoons, Munipati agreed. A room was allotted to him for his stay. As a routine, he spoke holy words during the days and spent the nights in meditation and Kayotsarga.
In worldly life, wealth is a great separator. It creates a rift between parents and children, between brothers and sisters, not to speak of others. The merchant’s son always quarreled with his father for his own share, and the chunk out of it some day without his knowledge. So he thought to keep a part of his wealth in hiding at some safe place. No sooner did he think of it than he took action. He put a huge treasure in an underground cell beneath the chamber allotted for the Muni’s use.
Somehow, the son got the clue. So, one day, he took out the whole treasure and filled up the vacant space with a huge slab of stone. When the monsoon months were nearing their end and the merchant came to check his treasure, he found nothing there but a big slab. He became very nervous and the earth slipped from beneath his feet. He started thinking who could have done this vile deed, and the more he thought, the more he felt sure that this could not have been done by any other person except the king-Muni. So he charged the Muni in the clearest possible terms. He said, “Like the Sechanak (watering) elephant, holy Sire, you have been ungrateful enough to remove my treasure.”
The Muni was startled at this unexpected charge, but restraining himself, he said, “Good man ! Who was this Sechanak elephant, and what ungrateful act did he perpetrate ?”
The merchant started, “There lived some elephants on the bank of the Ganga. Their leader, an extremely stout fellow, was the very embodiment of desires and passions. He was in the habit of killing all new-born elephants so that he would have all the female elephants exclusively to himself. One female elephant knew his habit and intention. As the time of her delivery drew near, she left the place and took shelter near a hamlet of holy men. The baby elephant was born and grew up into a fine animal (named Sechanak), playing all the time and watering the plants with his trunk.
Life has its rise and fall. The leader elephant was now in his old age, deprived of vigor and strength. Sechanak was in the very prime of youth. So one day, he killed his aged father and usurped his leadership. Now, he thought, some other elephant might be born under the protection of holy men, like himself, and become his rival someday, as he himself had been to his own father. To secure himself against that possibility, he destroyed the cottages of holy men under whose protection he himself had been born and brought up.”
Now, giving a twist to his narrative, the merchant said, “Holy man ! I gave you shelter during the rainfall months, and you have stooped so low as to remove my treasure. This has not been a behavior befitting a Muni. I feel ashamed at your behavior, which reminds me of another episode involving a minister named Krishnpaksika.”
The Muni was himself feeling very awkward but still he said, “Merchant ! Who was this minister, and what was his episode ? How do you compare me with this man ?”
The merchant started, “Oh Muni ! In the city named Prithivibhushana, there reigned a king named Suklapaksha. His first queen was Suklaparinama. Krishnpaksika was his minister, who was ruthless and cruel, unfair and cunning. One day, a merchant came to that city from afar, and presented a fast horse to the king. To test it, the king mounted on its back and put it to gallop. Soon he was in a dense forest. Both the horse and the rider were now out of breath. The horse soon died.
Distressed by hunger and thirst, the king was wandering in the forest. He ate some wild fruits and drank water from a pond. Then he met a holy man who brought him to his cottage. Now, in the cottage, the king saw a lady, who was the very embodiment of beauty and good luck. He felt attracted toward her in a moment. The lady saw the king and had herself a similar feeling toward him. The king cast frequent glances at her. This was noticed by the holy man who at once cautioned him. But the king did not hide his feelings and curiosity. He frankly asked, “Holy Sire ! Who is this lady ? Who are her parents ? How did she come here ? Is she married or still a spinster ?”
The hermit smiled and said, “Oh king ! Her life history is very long. But since you have expressed a curiosity about it, I must make it short for you. Vidyadhar Dharmsen is a king on the Vivekadri mountain. This is his daughter named Nivruti. As she was seated one day at her window high up in her father’s mansion, a flying Vidyadhar saw her and carried her away. As the girl shouted for help, her father at once pursued the culprit. Feeling himself insecure, the flying Vidyadhar dropped the girl on the ground near here and escaped for the safety of his life. But Dharmsen would not stop until the wrongdoer was duly punished. So he left his daughter in my custody here, and has gone after him, telling me, in case he did not turn up within a reasonable time, to settle this girl in marriage with a deserving person, who must be in possession of power to enter into other’s body. But it is long since Dharmsen had gone, and it seems he may not come back.”
The king was happy to note that the lady was not yet married, but he himself was not in possession of the power to enter into other’s body, a very severe condition imposed by her father for a seeker of the lady’s hand. Finding the king in a difficult situation, the hermit gave the following solution: “You may marry her, but until you are in possession of the said power, do not keep her in your harem.”
To this the king agreed, and the marriage was celebrated. By that time, the king’s men also reached that place while searching for him. All were happy to see the new queen. While departing, the king was again reminded by the hermit of the condition, and the king assured him that he was fully aware of it and would duly honor it.
Queen Nivruti was not carried to the palace accordingly. She was housed in the royal park. But the king did not know where and from whom to get the power. He took his minister into confidence, who suggested that an alms-house might be erected soon, and as it would be visited by many holy men everyday, he himself would be on the lookout for one who might be in possession of the power or at least be able to guide as to where and from whom to get it.
The suggestion was accepted by the king and the alms-house was ready. Hundreds of holy men visited it everyday, but none could be detected who was in possession of the power or who could help in giving a clue as to where and from whom to get it.
Six months passed in this way. One day, a carpet merchant came to that city and by talking with him the minister had a feeling that the fellow might be able to help. So he had a discussion with him on the matter. The fellow thought for a while and said, “Surely I did meet such a Yogi, but it is extremely difficult to reach him.”
The minister expressed eagerness about him, telling him that in view of the stupendous problem they were in, no difficulty was big enough for them. So the man started again: “At a distance of about 96 miles from my city, there’s a dense forest, at the entrance of which there are two palm trees. On one of them is sometimes perched a crow and on the other a swan. As you enter into the forest and reach its end, you see a mountain named Lokagra, and on top of it is the seat of Yogi Sadanand, who is always in the Padmashan posture. He has the power you are looking for. If he favors you, you may get it.”
The minister was happy to get the clue, and he informed the king about it. The king said, ‘But what’s the city of the carpet-dealer ? Until we know that, we cannot reach there.”
The minister introduced the merchant to the king. Giving the geography of his city, the merchant said, “Your Majesty ! As you cross the boundary of your realm, you will pass through twelve villages, nine metropolitan cities and five towns before you reach my city.” Now the king understood the exact location. He rewarded the man for the information.
The good news was revealed in time to Queen Nivruti. The lady was very intelligent. She at once told the king that in no case should he take the minister with him, since the fellow was crafty, ungrateful and malicious. She went to the extent of telling him that his own life would be in danger in case the minister went with him. For the rest, she wished him a good luck.
The king too shared the queen’s feeling and he agreed. But the minister did not want to miss this chance and pursued him like his shadow. The king tried his best to dissuade him, but he would by no means stay behind.
The two started, full of enthusiasm, without caring for the fatigue, and they covered a very long distance of 5600 miles. They passed through villages, towns and metropolitan areas and at last reached the great forest. They were now at the very gate of success. The two palm trees were there, with a swan on one of them and so, as per instruction, they entered into the forest. At last, they were on the top of the mountain and saw the Yogi from a distance. What a brilliant forehead, glowing eyes, radiant body, a very embodiment of peace ! The king and the minister could scarcely remove their eyes from him. They came near him and sat down with humility. When the meditation was over, the Yogi opened his eyes, but he did not care for the two strangers who were seated before him. So the king and the minister stayed on.
The two having successfully passed the test of perseverance, one day, the Yogi said to the king, “I am pleased with you. Ask for a boon.” The king humbly said, “Holy Sire ! I have come all the way to this distant place only by your attraction, and I am now at your feet. I entreat your to give me the power to enter into other’s body.” The Yogi agreed, but he said that the king alone was fit to receive it, not the other man, the minister, whom he declared wholly unfit.
This was a great disappointment to the minister, and tears rolled down his cheeks. The king took pity on him and begged for him: “Sire ! If my minister’s desire remained unfulfilled, I shall myself feel somewhat uneasy. So, out of your great kindness for me, please permit my minister to share the power with me.”
Cautioning the king, the Yogi said, “But, king, if I agree to your request, that will do you harm. Take care of your own future. In being too kind to the minister, you will simply endanger your own life. He is no worthy person.”
The king was pure at heart. He would never see bad in another. So he repeated his prayer to the point of being insistent. The Yogi tried his best to caution the king, but at last he gave the power to both.
Having acquired the power, the two started back for their own city. Having crossed the great forest, they reached a pool where they stopped to take the test. The king saw there a dead elephant. With a desire to test the newly acquired power, he entrusted his own body to the minister and entered into the dead animal. Soon the dead elephant stood up and merrily entered into the forest. The minister now entered into the king’s body, destroyed his own, and reached the city. A grand reception was organized and the minister, in the body of the king, had a ceremonial entrance into the city.
All were curious to know what had happened to the minister. To stop the gossip, the minister in the person of the king made it known that as they were coming back after the acquisition of the power, they were chased by a lion, who would have killed him but for the timely intervention of the worthy minister. The minister thus gave his life to save the life of his master. His was a devotion worth adoring and emulating.
As the king in the body of the elephant returned after some time, he saw neither his own body nor the minister. He had his suspicion. He now remembered the warning given by the queen. He also remembered the Yogi’s words to which he had paid no heed. He had now no doubt that he would have difficult times ahead of him. He took the way to the city. He did not have an iota of doubt that this was a conspiracy by the minister to get the queen.
Meanwhile, the minister in the body of the king visited the queen in her apartment. She displayed great joy to receive him. But having talked for a while with him, she realized that this was none other than the rogue, the minister, in the person of the king, and that the king had somehow been concealed or wiped out of existence. But the wicked fellow must be duly exposed. And to do this, she must gain time.
She said to him, “My dear Sir ! I am pretty glad at the successful acquisition of power by you. But when you had gone out, it had appeared to me that you would at least take six months to return. So I started a vow which enjoins a celibate living, sleeping on the ground and restricted diet. Now only a few days remain for the fulfillment of that vow. May I hope that you will permit me to see it through. Until then, Sir, it behooves you not to come to this apartment.” This was not a very unusual request, so the minister agreed and returned to the palace.
The king in the body of the elephant was meanwhile proceeding toward the city at a very quick pace. The minister kept himself informed about the movement of the elephant. As he drew near the city, he asked his men to kill him. The men started at once, and when they saw the elephant, they chased after him. The poor king in the body of the elephant was no match for so many men. So, finding the situation out of hand, he came out of the elephant’s body and entered into the body of a dead deer. The minister at once understood it and ordered his men to kill the deer.
So the king at last transferred himself into the body of a dead parrot and flew away in the sky. The bird perched on a mango tree near the queen’s apartment and was caught in a hunter’s net. As the hunter was about to kill it, the bird said in a human voice, “Why kill me ? Let me alone and I can give you much wealth.” This caused the hunter the greatest surprise. The parrot added, “Take me to the marketplace and sell me for one hundred thousand rupees. You will surely find a buyer.”
So the hunter came to the marketplace at once. Soon there was a crowd around the bird who spoke in the human voice. But the price was too high and hence there was no bidder. The queen’s own maid saw the parrot who recognized her and said, “Good lady ! How is your mistress ?”
The maid reported it to the queen, and the queen felt a curiosity about the bird. She also felt a tie of attachment and kinship toward it. She decided to buy the bird, and in order to have the money from the treasury, she sent the maid to the king. The king told the maid curtly, “Such a fabulous amount may be needed to buy a pedigree horse or elephant, but surely not to buy such a petty thing. I cannot waste so much money on it.”
When the maid reported this, the queen said, “Surely, this man is not my husband. He would not have been so mean and inconsiderate. He would never deny me anything I ask for. This is a rogue and a miser, too. By some means, he has gotten possession of the king’s body.” She took out the money from her own purse and gave it to the maid, asking her to bring the bird at once. She had a feeling that the bird might be able to throw some light on the whole situation.
Although the minister had curtly dismissed the maid, on second thought, he felt that there must be something behind the queen’s interest in the bird. He decided to prevent the parrot from reaching the queen’s hand. He came at once to her apartment. The queen was so angry with him that she did neither receive nor speak to him. The minister, in a hurry, took the bird into his hand and separated its neck. The king at once gave up the body of the parrot and entered into the body of a dead bee.
The queen could no longer check her anger. “Why did you kill my bird ? I had bought it with my own money, not yours, and what right did you have to touch it ? You must restore it to life at once, or I court self-immolation in your very presence.”
The minister felt helpless. He had no words to meet the lady. He did not know what to do. The queen thundered, “There’s no escape now. You must restore my parrot to life at once, or see the consequence.”
The minister now went into another room, placed the king’s body on the couch and himself entered into the parrot’s body. The parrot was alive again, and the queen took it in her hand, patting it gently on its back and displaying great affection for it. This was a chance for the king, who was sheltered in the bee. He came out of the bee and reoccupied his own body. He rushed to the queen at once and she embraced him. The king narrated the whole story and the queen was about to kill the parrot; but the king prevented her from doing so and requested her to leave the minister to his own luck.
The minister realized that he had been badly out maneuvered, but there was no remedy. The parrot was placed in an iron cage.”
Concluding his narrative, Kunchika said, “Oh Muni ! You have behaved with me like the minister who had deceived his own master. I tried to help you, but you have cheated me. Such conduct befits you not.”
“Oh Merchant ! You have misunderstood me. Your surmise is totally wrong. It smacks of a deep ignorance on your part to place a Muni at par with a greedy minister. A Muni’s conduct, his supreme detachment, his freedom from greed, these have been exemplified by the four disciples of Acharya Suhasti.”
“Oh Muni ! Who were these disciples of Acharya Suhasti ? What proof did they give of having conquered greed ?
The Muni started his narrative: “King Shrenik of Rajgruhi had many queens of whom Sunanda and Chellana were well-known. Abhayakumar, a very meritorious person and the minister of the realm, was Sunanda’s son. Once, Lord Mahavir, in the course of his wanderings, came and halted at the Gunasila Chaitya outside the city. The message about the Lord’s arrival was sent to the monarch. Shrenik came there with his whole family to pay homage and obeisance. The congregation was full. Thousands had come to listen to the Lord.
At that time, a leper came to the assembly. His body was rotten and oozing out foul smell. He came to the Lord, place his head on the Lord’s feet and besmeared them with his pus. The king felt a disgust but held his tongue in the presence of the Lord.
Just then, the Lord sneezed, and the leper remarked, “You die.” The king was hot with rage. Then the king sneezed, and the leper observed, “You live.” The king was now in confusion. Then Abhayakumar sneezed, and the fellow said, “Live or die as you please.” A fresh shock to the king’s thought. Now, a butcher, Kalsaukarik by name, sneezed, and the leper commented, “Neither live, nor die.”
To the king, the fellow appeared to be haughty and arrogant who besmeared the Lord’s feet with his pus, who wished him death and made such curt observations about others. He overcame his confusion and asserted his authority. He asked his men to take him into custody as soon as he moved out of the assembly and execute him at once. The leper heard the king’s order but expressed no concern. After the sermon, he quietly stood up and went out. The king’s men were ready outside, but before they could lay their hands on him, he assumed a divine form and disappeared in the sky.
The men at once reported the matter to the king, and the king made the following submission to the Lord: “Bhante ! Who was this leper ?” The Lord said, “Oh king ! His is a very long and complicated story. His curt observations throw light on many secret things.”
“Bhante ! If it suits your convenience, I am keen to know all about him.”
The Lord started. “In Kaushambi, the city of king Shatnik, there lived a Brahmin, Seduka, who was not only poor but also foolish. Priykanta was his wife. He lived on public charity, and so unlucky was he that in order to earn just enough for subsistence, he had to work very hard. Everyday, he took a full trek of seven villages, begging food from door to door. Oh king ! Misery shrinks a man’s life, and any flicker of hope finds hard to strike a root in him.
In this state of misery, Seduka’s wife became pregnant, and as the time of delivery drew near, the Brahmin suggested that he should strive hard to collect necessary provisions, which, he said, would take a long time, and that still it might not be a very easy job for him to collect costly things. The lady suggested an easier course which was to see the king and beg some money from him. The Brahmin agreed with her and started at once. He took a few wild fruits with himself to make an offer to the king.
As he made the offer and stood before the king, the latter asked him who he was and what was the purpose of his coming. The Brahmin made his submission, telling the king that he was poor and foolish too, that life had become unbearable to him for want of wealth, and that he had come to seek some financial assistance to meet the cost of his wife’s delivery. The king took pity on him and ordered that he should supply him with wild flowers and take two coins everyday. This generosity on the part of the king made life easy for the Brahmin couple.
Now, a war broke out between Kaushambi and Champa, in which the former city was seized. The seize continued for months, and meanwhile, the rains started. King Shatnik closed the city gates and continued to fight from the ramparts, thus steadily reducing the enemy’s columns. In the rains, it was a great problem for the king of Champa to maintain the supply line and so he withdrew a good part of his men, keeping a hand-picked few to continue the seize. Seduka noticed this reduction in the enemy’s strength and reported it to the king. Relying on this information, Shatnik collected his men, took the enemy by surprise and route the army of Champa. The king of Champa fled to save his life. Shatnik celebrated the victory and made a triumphant entry into the city.
Here was a turning point in Seduka’s life. The king held a public reception for him and desired him to ask for any gift. The foolish fellow did not know what to ask and begged leave to consult his wife. To this the king agreed.
The Brahmin’s wife was not keen for wealth. She was rather anxious to safeguard her own position with her man. She thought, the Brahmin would get villages and wealth for the mere asking, and with affluence, he would lose his head and take another wife, or have concubines. If such a thing happened, that would lead to great misery for her. So she suggested that since the king was favorably disposed, all that the Brahmin should seek was a comfortable life and free meals so that she herself would be liberated of the drudgery of her domestic work, and the two would be able to live happily. The Brahmin agreed and repeated his prayer as suggested by his wife, adding that the household inviting him to dinner should give him a gold coin for that day.
On hearing it, the king smiled and said, “A real fool you are. You have asked for such trifles. But nothing is lost yet. I give you another chance to formulate your prayer.” The Brahmin said at once, “If you want to give me anything, please give what I have asked for. I seek nothing else. I do not want to entangle myself with villages and treasures. All I want are free meals and a daily gift of a gold coin.”
The king at once issued a proclamation to that effect throughout the realm. Seduka became happy. He was going to new homes everyday, and the kingdom was very big, and Seduka was hardly likely to take his meal twice from the same household in the course of his life. And since the Brahmin had earned the king’s grace, everywhere he received a warm reception, good food, and the gift of a coin. The Brahmin was all praise for his lady’s wit.
Now, this free flow of wealth without effort increased the Brahmin’s greed, and he thought that if he could take a meal at several households everyday, he would earn several gold coins. At once, he gave effect to it. He would take a meal at one household, come back home and vomit it out, then go to another household. This he did several times a day. His acquisition of gold coins multiplied like anything.
With the growth of wealth, his family too became large. But the practice of swallowing food and vomiting it out several times per day made him sick, and soon he developed signs of leprosy. His whole body from head to foot was covered with this ignominious disease, and it emitted a foul smell which would extend over a distance. But even in this state, he did not discontinue his visit to the court. At the minister’s advice, the king asked the Brahmin neither to come to the court nor to visit different homes, but to collect his daily food through his son. The Brahmin agreed but reluctantly.
Thus his son replaced the father in collecting food. The attack of the disease was so virulent that even the members of his family now dreaded his presence and did not like to live with him under the same roof. So they erected a separate hut for him. The poor fellow now became an object of ridicule for everybody, including the members of his own family who freely talked of his behavior in amassing a fortune. He got disgusted at last.
One day, he called his sons and said, “You see, my boys. I am fed up with life. The remaining days of my life I have decided to spend in some holy place. Do you agree ?” There was no reason why the boys should not agree. They were happy to be freed from this burden. But Seduka desired that before setting out, he must sacrifice a goat not only for his own welfare but also for the prosperity and well-being of the family, and he wanted to know if the sons were able and willing to arrange it. There was no reason why they should not.
The plan thus satisfied both the parties, the sons because they would get rid of an ailing father who, in all probability, would never return, and the father because he had some vile plans in mind of which the pilgrimage was only a convenient camouflage.
A goat was brought in, and it was fed with some good green barley everyday so that it would put on flesh before it could be sacrificed. The goat was left in the leper’s home, and none had occasion to know that the leper, out of sheer malice for his own people, mixed up his own pus with the barley which the goat ate so that it became infected itself. The sacrifice was arranged on an auspicious day, and the goat’s meat was served on everybody’s plate. The leper then moved out.
The leper reached a dense forest. As he was wandering, he became thirsty. Just then he saw a pond which had many trees and herb all around it on its bank. In the scorching rays of the sun, the water boiled like decoction and had a bitter taste, but the leper was so thirsty that he drank a large quantity of water and lay down under a tree.
As he woke up, he found himself fairly cured. The wounds were not oozing as before, and there was very much less pain. So he remained on the bank of the pond drinking water from it everyday, and taking a bath in it. In a few days, he was fully recovered, and his skin became brighter than ever before. Now, the memory of his home came up in his mind, and he turned his steps homeward. As he entered into the city, the people were surprised to see him. Everywhere he was confronted with the same question: “How did it happen ?” To which he replied, “In the forest, I propitiated the deity whose kindness has worked a miracle on me.”
At his home, he found that everybody had fallen victim to the disease. This was what he had desired, and he felt very happy. “This is the outcome of your neglecting me,” he said. The members of the family knew well how they got the infection from the goat’s meat, and they censured the old man vehemently. They turned him out of the house, and when the people of the town came to know of it, they sent him into exile. Unfortunate man ! Seduka now sought the royal protection and was living outside the city with the chief guard.”
“At that time,” continued the Lord, “I came to the city, and people came to hear my discourses. Even the chief guard came, leaving Seduka to take his place.
At that time, a startling event took place. Near the city gate, there is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Navdruga, who is propitiated for her power to fulfill the wishes of the people. A rich merchant who was childless came there one day and prayed for a son, for which he promised an offer of three precious gems. But when he had acquired a son, he was not serious to fulfill his promise. The goddess appeared in a dream and reminded him of his promise. When the merchant did not suitably respond, she went to the extent of threatening that she would kill his son. Now the merchant could no longer remain indifferent. In the morning, he bought three gems and reached the temple with the members of his family. He placed the gems at the feet of the goddess, but, shrewd as he was, he did not even spare the goddess to give her a test of it. He said, “Mother Goddess, I have made my offering, but as your true devotee, I must now have a share in it. So I partake one gem for myself, one for my wife and one for my son,” and saying so, he picked up all the three gems and departed.
The goddess was disappointed. She had been deceived. She started thinking how to teach this man a suitable lesson. Just then, a more powerful deity, a Yaksha, came to that place. The goddess narrated the whole story to him, when the Yaksha burst out laughing.
“You are more fortunate, I must say. The fellow took out his own gems. But my experience is still worse.” Then he started his own story which was as follows: “Once a merchant was on a voyage with a whole shipload of cargo, when the ship got stuck against an invisible reef, of whose existence the merchant knew nothing, and in spite of the best efforts, the ship did not move. The merchant remembered me in desperation and promised me a buffalo if I could make the ship move forward. This I did, but after his safe return home, he simply forgot all about the promise. I gave him reminders and threatened him with drastic action.
At last, the fellow procured a wild buffalo from the jungle and came to my temple with the members of his family, friends and relatives, and a band party. Then he placed a loop on the buffalo’s neck and tied the other end of the rope to my image. He did not smite the animal, but dedicated it alive. Then, as the drums started beating, the wild buffalo got terrified and was on its heels, dragging my image with it. I was badly injured. Some people in the crowd were good enough to cut the rope and save me from a further drag. They restored my image on the pedestal. So, you see, goddess, it happens like that when you are in the clutches of a rogue. You are at least lucky that you did not yourself get hurt like me. Teach him a good lesson, if you can.”
What could the goddess do but wait for a chance. One day, she found the merchant’s wife in the street, and she entered into her body. The lady at once started behaving like a lunatic, talking irrelevantly all the time. The merchant became very anxious. All his efforts to cure her or give her some relief failed. At night, the goddess told the merchant in a dream that unless he made amends for his lapses, something even worse was in store for him. She asked him to bring for her a profuse offer of sweet and salted dishes if he cared for his wife’s cure. The merchant did accordingly at daybreak.
Seduka noticed it all from a distance. As soon as the merchant had left, he came to the temple and started eating the offer made by the merchant. He could not check himself, but ate too much. But there was no water in the neighborhood, and he could not go far, since he was holding charge of the city portal. In that state, he died and was born as a frog in a nearby well. Because, before dying, the fellow had thought how happy the aquatics were who always played and lived in water.”
But king Shrink’s question had not yet been answered, and so the Lord started again, “Once as I was in this place, the frog had heard of my presence from the ladies who came to the well, came out and was on its way to my camp to pay homage and obeisance. But unfortunately it got crushed under the hoof of your own horse, Oh Shrenik. But since he had started on a good cause, though he met with a tragic end, he has been born in heaven as a celestial being and is named Darduranak. Once he had heard Indra speaking in very eloquent terms about your equanimity, and so it was he who came down just now to have a test of it. What you saw as pus besmeared at my feet was really a very special variety of fragrant sandal paste. Since your own vision is enshrouded, you could not see it.”
“But, Bhante, why did he use offensive language when you sneezed, though he was less offensive regarding others ? What was its meaning ?” The Lord said, “There’s indeed a deep meaning behind what he said on each occasion. About me, he only expressed a curiosity why I continued to live on earth, though I have been liberated. He desired me, therefore, to terminate the last Karma bondage (viz., bondage of name, lineage, life span, and suffering) and attain liberation. In desiring me death, he only heralded my victory over death.”
“And, Bhante, why did he wish me a never-to-end life span ?” “He did so, because in this life, you are the master of all pleasures, and the longer this span of your life, the better for you, since hereafter your assignment to hell is a certainty.”
“And, Bhante, why did he place life and death at par for Abhayakumar ?” “Because Abhayakumar is an intelligent man, and he has taken good care of his next birth. In this life, as a chief minister, he commands wealth and affluence. So since both his states are equally good, it’s immaterial for him if he lives in his present state or moves out to the next.”
“And, Bhante, how about the butcher ?” “Well, it’s a very simple thing. His is a life devoted to animal slaughter, not a covetable profession by any means. He is, therefore, earmarked for hell, where he would suffer terribly. So whether he is here, or in the other world, it’s all the same to him.”
The king felt perturbed to hear about his own fate. He said, “Bhante ! When I am sheltered by no less a person than you, how is it that I am assigned to hell ?”
“Shrenik ! One has to suffer from the outcome of his Karma, both pious and impious. You already hold an acquisition of Karma that must take you to hell. None can prevent it. But there’s no reason for despair. After you have passed through this infernal life, you will become the first Tirthankar named Padmanabha in the next up-phase of the time-cycle.”
Shrenik was indeed happy to know of his remote future, but this did not minimize his pain about the near future. So he said, “Bhante ! Is it not possible to avert it by any chance ?”
“No, it can’t be so. It is already fixed with your fate. But there may be one chance of escape, provided your maid named Kapila makes one devoted offer of food to a worthy Muni, or provided the butcher named Kalsaukarik desists from slaughter for a day, or provided the merchant named Punya, who practices Samayika very regularly, gives you the pious result of one Samayika.”
This held some hope for the king, who felt that these may not be very difficult to fulfill. He took leave of the Lord and was on his way back to the palace, when the same celestial being, Darduranak, preceded him to take further tests of the king. He appeared as a heretical Muni, who was plucking fruits from a tree on the bank of a pond, and collecting them at the corner of his robe. Shrenik came to the Muni, took him aside, and advised him to desist from deeds which were unbecoming of a Muni.
Hardly did the king go a few steps when he saw a nun of the order of the Jina who appeared to be pregnant. She had decorated her eyelashes with black paste, had her hairs finely arranged in a braid which was attractively dangling on her back. With two sons playing at her side, she was washing her hands and feet in the pond. This was a great shock for the king, who could not think of such a behavior for a nun. So, in a very polite way, he pointed out to her the lapse, which would not only bring down her own soul, but would be a bad example for the whole order.
But the nun was not even ready to express a regret. Instead, she said, “I stand in no need of your advice. I am not alone in this sort of behavior. You will hardly find in Mahavir’s entire group of nuns anyone who indulges not in similar lapses. As an outsider, Oh king, you see only such things as are openly visible, but as one belonging to the order, I know better what goes on inside. So, I wish you bother not about me or the order, but mind your own business.”
But the king did not go. He said to the nun, “Nun ! You have done something which is wholly wrong. Now cover it not by implicating the entire order. The order is pure, I know. All Munis and nuns are sincere to the sanctioned behavior. It may be that due to the coming up of some impious Karma, you have had a slip. But try to rectify. If you like, you may come with me, and, I assure you, I shall arrange for your delivery. After that, you return to the order and adhere to the code.”
But the nun was no more, and the Dev stood before the king, well-pleased at his steadfastness. So said the Dev, “Oh king ! Your equanimity is really worthy of praise. I adore you and bow my head before you. What Indra had said about you in the assembly of celestial beings was no hyperbole. I am pleased. Ask for something.”
King Shrenik smiled and said, “Nicely put, Sire. But what shall I ask for ? Is there anything on the earth which is not available to me ?”
But the Dev gave a divine necklace and two earthen balls to the king, saying, “If the necklace breaks by any chance, then the man who repairs it dies at once.” The Dev disappeared.
The king gave the necklace to Queen Chellana and the earthen balls to Queen Sunanda. Sunanda became furious. The necklace for the beloved queen, and the earthen balls for me. It’s a great insult. What do I do with these ? She hurled them against the pillar and the two went into pieces. From one came out a pair of earrings, and from the other a divine cloth which even the Devs would covet. Sunanda became happy.
Now, the thought of hell haunted the king like a nightmare. He sent for the maid Kapila, and asked her to serve food with pure thought to some worthy Muni. Kapila at once refused to do so. Shrenik tried all inducements but the maid announced her firm determination not to do so even if the king awarded her as much gold as her own weight.
The king then sent for the butcher, Kalsaukarik, and said to him, “Take as much wealth as you like, but do not slaughter for one day the 500 buffaloes that you usually kill.” Said the butcher, “Sire, how can I agree to this absurd request ? This is my family profession. I can’t give it up under any circumstance.” The king requested him, warned him with bloodshot eyes, but the fellow did not agree. In a great rage, the king ordered that the butcher be thrown into a deep well, so that he would be prevented from his cruel deed.
The king then turned to the third, the Shravak-merchant Punya, and begged for the worth of one Samayika. The merchant said, “Sire, It is something which is not in my possession. How can I give you something which I possess not ?”
“With whom does it accumulate, then ?” asked the king. “With Lord Mahavir, Sire !”
So, in the morning, the king came to the Lord and said, “Bhante ! I have thrown Kalsaukarik into a deep well. He would not be able to slaughter anything from there. So, now, I think, I may escape hell. May I not ?” The Lord smiled and said, “Your surmise is not correct. Even inside the well, he has killed 500 earthen buffaloes to fulfill his routine. Though it may be symbolic, he has done it. So you can never escape.”
The king listened with a feeling of surprise. From the Lord’s assembly, he came to the well to verify if 500 earthen buffaloes had been killed, and they were there. Striking his forehead, he said, “Alas ! My past Karma haunts me. Never can it be otherwise from what the Lord has ordained.”
If in the beginning Queen Sunanda was jealous of Queen Chellana for her necklace, now the position was reversed and the first queen became jealous for her co-wife’s acquisition of the rings and the cloth. So, when the king came to her, she said, “Sire, you gave me only one necklace, but to Nanda, a pair of earrings and a piece of divine cloth. I do not understand how you could be so very partial as that. For all the best thing in your possession, I think, my claim should come first, as I am the first queen, the dearest to the monarch.”
Shrenik said, “My dear! To uphold the dignity of the position, I gave you the costlier thing, the necklace, and to Nanda two earthen balls. But if the balls have yielded precious things to her, how can I be blamed for that ?” The queen retorted, “But you can still get these for me. If you do not, it is not worthwhile for me to live. Sire ! You must note that.”
The king was already fed up with the mutual jealousy of the two queens. So very coldly he said, “Do as it suits you.”
Now, Chellana thought of committing suicide. She reached the top of the palace and stood at an opening to jump from there. Just at that moment, she heard three people talking just beneath, which stopped her, and she stood listening to their conversation. So said a lady to one man, “Today is the festival day. I want to put on the golden Champak necklace that you placed around the neck of the king’s elephant. So I must have it. This is my long-cherished desire. If you do not fulfill it, I will put an end to my life.”
So said the man, “This is an impossible request that you are making. The necklace is at the treasury, and if the king comes to know that I have taken it out for you, do you think I shall remain alive ? I cannot do that.”
But the lady would listen to no argument. So the other man said, “My friend ! One who listens not to sweet words, or understands not what is good to self or to another, needs to be censured. There are occasions when softness does not work. Then you must take strong steps. I remember the story of a hermit who had collected some palasa seeds and sown them. The seeds duly sprouted and there grew up a fine tree. But unfortunately, the tree yielded no flower. So he set fire to the tree and did not look at it again. One day he saw that the tree had not only revived, but was full of flowers. This is also the nature of human beings. They respond not to sweet words, but to toughness. So, my friend, you should do the needful. Even the world-monarch Brahmadatt did like that by following the advice of a mere goat.”
“How did it happen ?” asked the first man. The second man then started his story: “Brahmadatt was the king of Kampilyapura. Once he was out on an excursion to the forest regions in the company of many horsemen. But somehow he was separated from them and was in the thickest part of the forest. Being tired, he sat beneath a tree. Later, his men joined and all of them returned to the city.
At night the queen said, “Sire, what new things did you come across in the excursion ?” The king replied, “It was a nice experience. After finishing my bath, as I sat on the bank of a pond, I saw a Naga lass in the very prime of youth coming out of the water. She was tipsy. She came to me, but I curtly declined her company. At once, a Naga lad joined with her, and the two enjoyed under my very eyes in a rather shameless manner. I could no longer restrain myself, and right on the spot, I whipped both.”
After finishing his story, the king came outside his apartment, where stood a Dev ready to give him a boon. The king did not know the cause of this unexpected favor. So said the Dev, “I had come here to kill you, but your words have opened my eyes.” But how, the king did not know. Revealing the facts, the Dev said, “The lady that you saw at the pond is my wife. She has made allegations against you for having molested her chastity, and so I came to kill you. But I have heard from the window the account you gave to your wife, and this has convinced me of your honesty. You are a very worthy person, and it is rare good luck to get a chance to honor one like you.”
“But I seek nothing, since I need nothing,” said the king. But the Dev was insistent, and the king said, “If you must give me something, then give me the power to understand the dialect of the animals.” “Agreed,” said the Dev, “but keep it a secret. If you ever divulge it, you die at once.”
Many days passed. One night, the king was in the company of the queen, who was applying a sandal paste on the king’s body. When the application was over, there still remained a small quantity of the paste in the cup.
This was noticed by a pair of lizards who were seated on the wall. The she-lizard said to her partner, “Get me the paste so that I may rub it on my body and cool it.” “You are a fool,” said the he-lizard. “You are making an absurd request. I cannot honor it. Don’t you see that as I go near the cup, I shall surely be caught and killed ? The paste cannot be more valuable than my life.” But the she-lizard protested, “I have never thought that you are such a coward. The weak have no right to live on this earth.”
The king closely followed the dialogue and smiled. This did not escape the queen’s eyes, who inquired about the cause of his smile, for which there was no visible occasion. The king tried to change the topic, but the queen was insistent on a right reply. The king said, “If I tell you the truth, I die.” “What a nice pretext for not coming out with the truth,” said the queen. “And is that the strength and manliness of which you boast ? I am your wife, so to say, your companion in life as in death. You should not hesitate to share your secret with me.” The night passed like that.
In the morning, the king consulted with the minister, who said, “Sire ! On the one side, the queen’s curiosity, and on the other, your own life and also the welfare of the realm. The matter is very serious and deserving of proper consideration. Considering it from all angles, I feel, you overlook the request of the queen.”
The king was in a dilemma. What the minister had said was right, and yet he could not just overrule the queen, who was so loving and devoted. Ultimately, the king made up his mind: I must fulfill the queen’s wishes, come what may. A lady who has declared herself to be a companion at death cannot be overruled. “Minister ! You prepare a pyre for me.” What could the poor minister do but honor the wishes of the king ?
A pyre was lit and the king got ready. There was a vast crowd of ministers, other dignitaries of the state, and citizens. Their eyes were full of tears.
Now, it is a common experience that appropriate words uttered at the right moment do not miss the target.
As the pyre was lit and the king was about to share his secret with the queen, a cart carrying barley rolled down the street, followed by two goats. The she-goat wanted to eat some barley and asked the he-goat to get it for her from the cart. But the he-goat dared not, since it was a royal cart carrying barley for the king’s stable. Said the he-goat, “Do you take me to be king Brahmadatt that I put my life at risk to fulfill a flimsy desire of yours ?” The she-goat said, “You are cruel. You don’t know the heart. Where heart is involved, both life and death become secondary. If a world- monarch like Brahmadatt is going to lay down his life for the sake of the lady, you cannot just call him a fool. Rather, you should emulate his noble example.” To this the he-goat retorted, “Who can be a greater fool than one who is blinded by a woman ? Brahmadatt may be a world-monarch, but he is not above lapses. It is the greatest folly on his part to sacrifice his life for the sake of a lady’s arrogance.”
The king heard the goat’s words and at once changed his mind. He removed his mouth from the queen’s ear and moved away from the pyre. He returned to his apartment and acknowledged the he-goat as his spiritual master. The pair was brought to the palace. The king placed garlands on them and fed them sweet barley with his own hands. The queen was given lashes for repeating her curiosity.
Giving a sharp edge to his words, the second man said to the first, “Whipping is the best cure for an arrogant woman who is not amenable to reason, as monarch Brahmadatt administered to his queen.”
This was enough for the lady who insisted no more on getting the necklace. This was also enough to pacify Queen Chellana who did no more wish to end her life, but lived on peacefully.
Queen Chellana used to put on the necklace everyday. One day somehow it broke, and the queen was very sad. It would be difficult to get it repaired, for anyone doing it would die. So it would be difficult to find anyone who would be ready to take up the repair. Yet a proclamation went around announcing the offer of a large cash reward to anyone who would repair it. None responded in view of the severe condition attached to this work.
There was, however, an old and intelligent goldsmith who was very poor. He had four sons. Old as he was, he thought of shouldering the risk and sacrificing his life for the sake of improving the financial condition of the family. When he was brought to the king, the latter gave him the necklace for purposes of repair and fifty percent of the reward, with a promise to pay the remainder on the successful completion of the work.
The goldsmith returned home. He tried his best to repair it but could not. It became a stupendous problem for him, and he was anxious throughout the day and night devising ways to pass the thread through the eyes in the stones. At last, he hit upon a device which was to dip the thread end in honey and place it on the ground. This worked well. An ant came there, picked up the thread end and passed with it through the eyes of the stones. When the whole thing was done, the goldsmith picked up the two ends of the thread and tied them together. But no sooner was the work done than his head cracked and he feel dead. He was born as a monkey in a nearby orchard.
The sons of the dead smith brought the necklace to the king and asked for the remaining portion of the reward. The repair was so flawless that the king was happy, but he declined to make the payment on the plea that the fellow who had repaired it was dead, and that the sons were not entitled to the payment. The king’s words pained the son, but what could they do against the king ? They had now a two-fold cause for grief, viz., that they lost their father and that they did not get the full reward.
Now, one day, the monkey came by chance to his former house and his memory at once revived. He became inquisitive to know if the king had paid the remaining portion of the reward, and when he came to know that the king had played false, he was very much pained. He returned to the forest and started thinking on a plan to teach the king a good lesson. He was now hovering near the palace looking for a chance when he could remove the necklace.
One day, Queen Chellana came to the Ashok park and entered into the pond to enjoy some water sports. The necklace and other ornaments were left on the bank in the custody of a maid, who held them in a saucer on her head. The monkey saw it and it was his best chance. He came down to the lowest branch of the tree and picked up the necklace; none, not even the maid, knew anything about it. At once, he came to his sons and passed the necklace on to them, who hid it carefully.
When the queen came out of the water and started wearing the ornaments, she did not find her necklace. She asked the maid but the poor woman was ignorant about it. She was trembling with fear. The queen did not take time to understand that this was not the maid’s doing but there was some deeper cause behind it. She came to the palace and reported the matter to the king, and the king at once asked the minister, Abhayakumar, to find it out and arrest the thief, which the latter agreed to complete in a week’s time.
The minister at once ordered a thorough search of the city, but the necklace could not be found anywhere. Then a proclamation went around to the effect that anyone who had it would go unpunished if he himself surrendered, but would get a death penalty if detected. The proclamation made the smith’s sons very anxious. They knew well that it would be very difficult to hide the necklace, and they dared not to come to the palace to surrender it. So they returned it to the monkey, who carried it away to the forest.
With the necklace in his possession, he spent the whole day in the hollow of a tree. After sunset, he came to a park near a Yaksha temple, sat on a tree and started thinking as to what to do with the precious thing. At that time, Acharya Suhasti, with his five disciples, was seated in the temple. The Acharya thought of spending the night in Kayotsarga, for which, by chance, he stood beneath the same tree on which sat the monkey, and was soon in deep meditation. The monkey considered him to be a worthy person, and so he placed the necklace around his neck and felt relieved.
That day happened to be particularly auspicious for the practice of austerities, and so Minister Abhayakumar, himself a devout Shravak, was in the temple practicing some in the company of the Munis. Now, at the end of the first quarter, Muni Siva, who was attending to the Acharya in his meditation, came back to the temple when the following words suddenly came out of his mouth: “Fear exists, instead of the usual everything okay on such occasions.” When Abhayakumar heard this, he said, “What fear for a Muni, Bhante !” The Muni said, “Yes, for the Muni there is no fear. But when I was in the household order, once I had it. It was the memory of it that was up just now.” “But, Bhante, what was that fear in your life as a householder ?”
Siva started: “In the great city of Ujjain, there lived two brothers, Siva (myself) and Datt, who were poor. One day, they decided to go to Saurashtra to earn a living, and the two set out. But luck did not favor them in their first profession, and they changed it, Datt taking to farming and Siva proceeding to another city with merchandise.
At night, as Siva was proceeding, he saw from a distance four merchants beneath a Banyan tree, who appeared to be strangers from another land. He started watching their behavior. Suddenly he saw a golden man, no bigger than a hand and a half, who jumped down from the Banyan tree and started to run. The four merchants ran after him. The golden man said, “Wealth is the source of all evils.” But these four did not care for what he said. They soon caught him, fixed him on the ground and sat down encircling him. In the morning, two of them went to the market to get some food, and the remaining two were left behind to keep watch on the golden man.
The reflection of ideas, good as well as bad, cannot but fall on others. The two who had gone to the town thought that if they could kill the other two, then there would be only two claimants for the golden man, and they would surely be richer. So they put the idea into action. They ate themselves, but mixed strong poison into the food they had bought for their companions.
The two merchants who were left behind had similar ideas, and as soon as the two returned from the market, they killed them at once. But as they had no meal during the night and were very hungry, they sat down at once to eat and took the poisoned food. These two also joined the former two in their journey to the other world.
As there was none now to claim the golden man, Siva picked him up despite the fact that his words, uttered as a warning, were still ringing in his ears: “Wealth is the source of all evils.” But the pull of temptation was very great within him, which he could scarcely resist. He came back to Datt, who was still employed in hard labor on his farm. He told him of his recent acquisition, which, he said, would give a turn to their fortune, and the two started back for their own city.
As the two were on their way home, an evil thought haunted Siva, which was that the golden man was his own and that he had made a mistake in agreeing to share it with his brother. So he thought of killing him. Simultaneously, the same thought came to Datt also, and both were looking for a chance to execute the design. They had now reached the neighborhood of their own city.
But if bad thoughts come up with a vehemence, they may move out also with a vehemence. Siva took out the golden man and threw it in the pond. Datt was startled as he saw this, but when Siva revealed his mental state, Datt said, “You have done the right thing. In my mind too, a similar idea was creeping in.”
The golden man was swallowed by a fish which was in turn caught by a fisherman. As the fish, with the golden man in its belly, had a great weight, it fetched him a good price. And who bought the fish ? Well, it was bought by the mother of Siva and Datt who had organized a banquet to celebrate the homecoming of her dear boys. She gave the fish to her daughter to prepare a good curry out of it.
As the daughter cut the fish, out came the golden man and she at once hid it in her armpit. But the mother noticed it and inquired what it was. The girl would not divulge the secret. The two started arguing and soon came to blows. In the tussle that followed, the golden man dropped down from the armpit right on the mother’s head, killing the poor lady on the spot. When the two brothers heard the noise, they rushed to the spot. They saw the golden man lying on one side, and the dead mother on the other, and the sister standing in confusion. How true the golden man’s words had proved to be ! The two brothers renounced the world and joined the holy order of Munis. Here am I.”
Concluding his observation, Muni Siva told Abhayakumar, “In the household order, I had experienced fear because of possession, and the memory of it came up just now. So I said, Fear exists.”
At the end of the second quarter, when Muni Subrata came back after attending to the Acharya, there came out from his lips the words “Great Fear”. Abhayakumar repeated a similar inquiry, when the Muni narrated his own account of the experience he had in the household order, which was as follows:
“In Angadesa, during the reign of king Jitshatru, Subrata (myself) lived in a village named Sangram. He was both popular and wealthy, well-behaved and well-disposed to others. His wife’s name was Priyamitra, who was a lady of no very high morals, but the husband didn’t know it.
Once a band of robbers looted the village. Somehow, Subrata moved out and saved his life. But Priyamitra did not move out. She put on her best clothes and ornaments and sat in the open courtyard. As the robbers came and looted the house, she requested them to carry her too, which they gladly did, since she was beautiful. She was taken to the robber chief, who accepted her as his concubine.
After the robbers had gone, everybody returned to check their houses. Subrata also did the same. But, in his own case, he found that both his wealth and his wife were missing. So he started a search for his wife and at last reached the robbers den. He spent the night in the house of an old lady who used to make earthen pots. It was through her that he came to know all about his wife, who was discovered in the chief’s den.
When she told the lady of her husband’s arrival in search of her, she expressed an apparent joy and said, “It’s very nice of him. Tonight, as the chief goes out on his daily business, let him come here. I shall go out with him.” Subrata was happy to get the report, the more so to think that the recovery would be so easy. He reached the chief’s den at the appointed hour, and was received and fed by the lady. But as ill-luck would have it, the robber did not proceed on business that night, since he saw some very inauspicious omens on the way, and so he returned at an unexpected hour. The lady at once put her husband beneath the cot.
After the dinner, as the lady sat on the same couch in the company of the chief, she said, “Sir, if by any chance my husband comes here in search of me, how will you behave towards him ?” “Why ? I shall give him a warm reception, and hand you over to him.” The chief did not understand what the lady really had in mind, and he knew pretty well that there was no chance of her husband’s ever reaching that den. The lady, however, didn’t relish the words of the chief. She cast a very angry look at the chief, which at once put that fellow into proper form. “I was just joking,” he said. “If he comes within my view, he would not go alive.” This pleased the lady very much, and she pointed significantly beneath the cot. The chief understood at once and dragged the man out, tied him with a leather strap, stabbed him half-dead, and hurled him into a deep ditch outside.”
The Muni continued, “Imagine how much pain, both physical and mental, poor Subrata had on the occasion, but he was helpless. For a long time, he lay in that state, and perhaps would have been finished, but for the arrival of a dog, who started eating the leather strap. This restored him his liberty, and he recovered to some extent. He got up and came again to the chief’s den. The chief was fast asleep. Subrata held a naked sword, and signaled his wife to come out at once, on pain of being cut into two in case she disobeyed. She had no time to think and silently followed her husband.
But she was not penitent for what she had so far done and was still keen for the robber to whom she would go if she could. As she ran with her husband, she dropped pieces of her own cloth on the way for the guidance of the robber in case he pursued the fugitives, and this was not noticed by her husband. As the night was nearing its end, the two hid themselves in a bamboo grove in order to escape being noticed and caught.
In the morning, when the robber noticed that the lady had disappeared, he started at once with his men, following the footprints and the pieces of cloth dropped by her. The whole group now reached the grove. They snatched away the lady and inflicted on the man the bitterest torture, nailing his hands and feet. He lay there helpless and in extreme pain. A monkey took pity on him. He brought some water on a lotus leaf for him to drink, took out the nails, applied some healing potion and helped him to cure.
This raised a curiosity in the man’s mind as to why the monkey took all the trouble to cure him, which even a human being would rarely do. He understood the man’s thought and said, “Lucky man ! Don’t you recognize me ? I was your neighbor in your previous birth, a druggist, Siddha by name. I died of Arta-Dhyan and was born in this animal form. As I saw you, my memory revived, and I recognized you at once.”
Subrata was happy to hear these words from the monkey. He conveyed his gratitude to him and said, “You have rendered me a great service and saved my life. What can I do for you ?” These words brought tears in the monkey’s eyes. He said, “You can do a lot for me. In this forest, I was living in the company of 500 she-monkeys. But a powerful monkey has come and ousted me from my position. He is now the master of the whole group. I have been rendered useless. If you kindly help me, I can regain my previous position.”
Subrata started at once. As he saw the rival monkey, he killed him with his sword. His benefactor thus regained his ladies. But he could not forget his own wife, who was still with the robber. Even the thought of it greatly afflicted him. He thought out a plan again and turned his steps toward the den. He found the chief lying asleep and cut him into two at one stroke. Thus he regained his wife at last.
But as he was returning with her, he saw a Muni in Kayotsarga posture. He sat at his feet. When the meditation was over, the Muni spoke some holy words which brought about a change in him and he acquired now, not the worldly life and a lost wife, but something more, his own spirit. He renounced everything just then and joined the holy order. So you see me here. Well, you see, just now my whole past had come up in my mind, and so came out the words, Great Fear.”
At the end of the third quarter came back Muni Joyana, uttering “Extreme Fear” and he too, on the request of Abhayakumar, gave an account of his own experience:
“Joyana the householder was married to a merchant’s daughter in the city of Ujjain. One day, he started to bring his bride from her parental home. He held a sword in his hand. As the sun was already down, he did not enter into the city, but remained outside it. In the neighborhood, there was a cremation ground, and he heard a pitiful wail coming from that direction. Apparently, it signified a lady to be in difficulty. Joyana went there to see a man placed on a sharp sword.
The lady who stood just beneath revealed to him that the man was her own husband punished by the king for no fault and that she was there to feed the man. But as the man was placed too high, she begged to be helped to reach him. It was a very painful sight which Joyana could no longer bear. But he offered his shoulders for the lady’s use, on which the lady agreed to stand on condition that the man did not look upward, to which he assented.
Now the lady was on the man’s shoulders. Very soon, he heard her chewing something and then a few pieces of meat rolled down his own body. He got terrified and looked up to see the devil cutting pieces of flesh from the poor man’s body with a sharp knife and devouring them with the greatest relish. At once, he dropped her and rushed toward the city, but the devil pursued him and caught him just near the city portal, cutting a big lump of flesh from his thigh. Joyana fell down.
Soon a crowd gathered and people advised him to go to the Durga temple, which he did with the greatest difficulty. The goddess expressed sympathy for him and told him that the whole region outside the city wall was haunted by spirits. But being a stranger to the city, Joyana was ignorant of this. The goddess placed her hand on his wound, and he felt considerably relieved.
At last he reached his father-in-law’s house where the door was latched from inside. He stood outside for a while, as two ladies were in conversation. The man had a feeling that they must be his own wife and her mother. The mother said to the daughter, “The meat that you fetched today was very tasteful and delicious. Pray, whose meat was that ?” “Tasteful it must be,” said the daughter, “since it was from the person of your own son-in-law.” Saying so, the lady narrated the entire chain of events which Joyana had himself gone through.
When he came to know that the lady who had cut his flesh was his own wife, the prospect of his life with her suddenly opened before his eyes, and he renounced the world at once and joined the holy order of Munis. Here am I. Well, at this moment, the memory of the entire past had come up and so I did say, without any effort, so to speak, “Extreme Fear.”
At the end of the fourth quarter returned Muni Dhannya, who spoke out, “Fear, Extreme Fear,” and on being questioned, he gave the following account of his part at the request of Abhayakumar:
“Dhannya was the son of a merchant named Sughana who lived in the city of Ujjain during the reign of king Ajitsen. He was married to a lady named Shrimati, who was devoted and loving. Dhannya was so fond of her that he never denied her anything.
One day, he found her depressed and inquired about the cause of it, but the lady would say nothing. But when he was insistent, she said, “I want to eat the meat of a musk deer.” “Where do I get that ?” The wife became very grave and said, “The place is far off and difficult to reach. Besides, it will take a very long time to reach there and return. I can’t bear the pang of this long separation.”
But Dhannya was so infatuated in his love for her that to him the idea of declining the lady’s request was wholly repugnant. So he decided to go at once, regardless of the strain and difficulty of the journey. But, to be very clear about the exact place where to find the deer, he made a further inquiry from the lady, who said that it would be available in king Shrink’s palace-garden, where it had been procured from some distant land.
Dhannya reached Rajgruhi. As he was taking rest under a tree in a public park, he saw a harlot coming there with many attendants. Just then, a flying Vidyadhar saw her and lifted her up. There was an uproar at once. Dhannya shot an arrow, which hit the poor fellow, who fell on the ground. The lady fell into a pond. Dhannya helped her out and thus saved her life. Henceforth, she became extremely friendly toward him and took him to her abode. She inquired about the purpose of his arrival to the metropolis, and Dhannya told her everything.
A woman knows much quicker another of her own sex than a man can do. From the few words that Dhannya spoke about his wife, she had a fairly complete picture of her. “Sir !” said she, “Excuse my garrulity, but the lady for whom you are about to put yourself to the greatest risk and danger is not really devoted to you. To be very frank, you don’t know much about her.”
This was a shock to Dhannya, who protested. “There’s none on this earth as devoted as my own wife. So please don’t repeat your assessment of her anymore.”
That day, the lady was scheduled to dance at the palace, and she took her guest, Dhannya, with her. All people were absorbed in the performance. The musk deer was visible from there, roaming in the neighborhood. This was Dhannya’s chance. He killed it. But luck proved otherwise, and he was caught and chained. The guards waited for the performance to be over, so that they would receive the king’s order about the culprit.
While still dancing, the lady saw that her guest had been caught. When the dance was over, the king made her an offer of three things, for one of which she sought her guest’s life. For, meanwhile, he had been condemned to death for having slaughtered the royal musk deer. Dhannya was thus saved from the jaws of death.
As Dhannya was now preparing to return, the lady started with him. She remained in the park outside his city, while Dhannya proceeded to his home to watch his wife from hiding. He stood in a corner of the house covered by darkness. At about midnight, there came a man to Shrimati, and they were together for a long time. When they were exhausted, they fell asleep. At this moment, Dhannya took out his sword and cut the man very silently. Then he fled. When later the lady got up and saw the man dead beside her, to avoid public notice, she dug a grave in the corner of the courtyard and buried the man.
Dhannya and the lady returned to Rajgruhi since he had no more inclination to live with an unfaithful wife. Many days passed like this. His weakness for his own wife, however, came up once again and he returned to her, who received him well, forgetting not to mention about the long separation which, Dhannya said, had really become unavoidable. He regretted that he could not find the musk deer.
Dhannya noticed that as soon as food was cooked everyday, before it was served, the lady would take out a portion and place it on the grave. This showed that she was still devoted to the dead man. So, one day, he asked her to prepare some special dish for him and forbade her to make the offering. But the lady soon found a pretext. She announced that the first preparation was all spoiled on the oven and deposited the whole stuff on the grave. Dhannya at once took her to task. But the lady was undaunted and she hurled the cauldron full of boiling oil on his body, burning him severely. Dhannya left the house at once and returned to his parents, whose care and affection cured him.
Now, he felt, he had seen enough of the world and it was time for him to renounce. This he did and joined the holy order. Here I am. But just now the memory of the past had come up and so did I say, “Fear, Extreme Fear.”
The sun rose in the east and Abhayakumar was now preparing to depart. He came to take leave of the Acharya and pay him homage, when he saw the queen’s necklace round his neck. Now he realized why all the four Munis had sensed different degrees of fear at different quarters of the night, but he had no doubt in the Acharya’s innocence. The necklace was on his neck by some chance. He picked it up from the Acharya’s neck and restored it to the king.
So, Kunchika, you should understand that a Shraman free from all greed does not even look at another man’s wealth, what to speak of usurping it. You are unnecessarily laying the blame on me.”
“What you say, Sir, is true of the Shamans. They are free from greed and attachment. But you appear to be far apart from them, and so you have been tempted by my wealth. Your temptation has not been less than that of the legendary lion.”
“What lion ? Who was he ? What was his conduct ?”
The merchant then started the story of the lion: “King Jitshatru had a physician named Devdatt who had two sons, Jivanand and Keshav; but the father had no affection for them. Now, it so happened that the physician had grown old and was replaced by another. This reduced his prestige and affluence and the family became poor. One day, as the new physician was going out on horseback attended by the royal guards, Manorama, the wife of the retired physician, saw him and remembered the days when her own family stood in the king’s grace. She began to weep.
When her boys asked her the cause of her tears, she told them her grief, concluding, “My sons! You did not learn medicine. Otherwise, you could have occupied your father’s position.” Both Jivanand and Keshav said, “Mother ! Tell us of a person who may train us up in medicine. We assure you, we shall work hard and learn all about it.” The mother said, “There’s none in this city who may be of much use to you. So, I suggest you go to Champa, where you have your father’s friend, Jnanagarva, who may be of help to you.”
The boys did accordingly and by dint of hard labor, soon became experts in medicine. Now they were on their way home. On the way, they saw a lion who was blind. The elder brother said to the younger, “Let us apply our knowledge and cure this lion. We should help him.” The younger brother did not agree. “Your compassion is misplaced,” he said. “It may be worthwhile to help men, but surely not ferocious animals who have no appreciation and gratitude and who harm you instead.”
But the elder brother did not agree, and threw some powder in the lion’s eyes and cured him at once. As a measure of safety, the younger brother was already on the tree. Now, the lion was starving for many days. As soon as he regained his sight, he extended his paws at Jivanand, caught him between them and satisfied his hunger. Keshav, very sad at the loss of his brother, returned home with a heavy heart.
“So you see, Oh Muni,” said Kunchika, “As the lion behaved toward his benefactor, so you have done toward me.”
The Muni protested, “A Muni never forgets the good one to him. He is even good to his malefactors. To do good to others is a part of him. So it is never possible that a Muni does harm to others. He does good to others not only when he is alive, but he continues to do so, as did Metarya, even after he was liberated from this body.”
Kunchika asked, “Oh Muni ! Who was this Metarya who continued to do good to others even after he was liberated of this mortal frame ?”
Muni Munipati started his account: “There lived one Mehar who belonged to a lowly caste in the city of Rajgruhi. Meti was the name of his wife. The couple lived a happy life. In the same city, there lived a wealthy man, a sheth, and Meti was a regular visitor to his house. The visits were so frequent that despite a wide social gap, there grew an intimacy between Meti and the sheth’s wife. They spent hours in each other’s company, and they never hesitated to open their hearts.
Women have a dominant urge to acquire motherhood. They are so keen to bring forth pregnancy that any obstacle to that is unbearable to them. The sheth’s wife had undergone pregnancy several times, but as ill-luck prevailed, on each occasion, she gave birth to a dead child. In consequence, there was no child alive to make the house cheerful, a great tragedy for the family.
One day, the lady shared her grief with Meti. Meti felt compassion for her friend and said, “If ever we are pregnant about the same time, we shall exchange our offspring so that the world at large will know that the living child is your own.”
The suggestion appealed very much to the sheth’s wife, and she started looking into the future with great keenness. By sheer chance, the two ladies were pregnant about the same time. Meti gave birth to a male child, and the sheth’s wife as usual to a dead one. As per her previous commitment, Meti passed on her child to the sheth’s wife, to the later’s immense joy. She celebrated the occasion with great pomp and festivity. The boy was named Metarya.
Metarya was now sixteen years old. He acquired may arts. Preparations were then set afoot for his marriage. He was betrothed to eight beautiful damsels from well-to-do business families. A suitable date was fixed for wedding. Just a day before the wedding, a friendly Dev came to him and said, “Why are you getting entangled in mundane life ? You can very well adopt the path of renunciation. But once you step into the mundane life, it will be no easy job for you to get out of it.”
For one who has fascination for worldly life, no counsel would strike root. He has his gaze fixed on it, and he never turns away from it. So the words of the Dev did not appeal to Metarya, and he said in reply, “Sir, how do you think I can be indifferent to worldly life until I have known what worldly joys are. So please do not stand in my way.” Thus Metarya refused the Dev’s suggestion in most unmistakable terms. But the Dev was not prepared to accept defeat. He started thinking about some alternative stratagem.
The Dev decided to make use of Meti on the wedding day. He effected a necessary change in her mind. On the appointed day, as preparations were being made for the wedding, Meti suddenly broke in and made everything topsy-turvy. She started shouting, “The boy is mine. I carried him in my womb. I gave birth to him. I shall settle him in marriage wherever I please.” Saying that, to the surprise of everybody, she dragged Metarya to her own home.
Metarya was now in the home of his low-caste parents when the Dev came again and repeated his request. Metarya was this time in tears. He said, “If you are really my friend, as you say, then why did you stand in the way of my happiness and humiliate me ?”
The Dev said, “Why did you decline my suggestion ? I showed you the way to bliss. The world is an empty place. Ideal is the life of a Muni. Turn your step toward this life.”
But Metarya was not ready. He said, “Sir, your suggestion is devoid of content to me until I have known the worldly life. It may be good, bad, or anything, I do not know. I must apprehend it first before I decide to give it up.” He continued, “You have deprived me of something which was ready for me. You have harmed me and humiliated me. How can I survive so much ? If you sincerely desire me to step toward renunciation, you should remedy the two- fold harm done to me. I insist that the sheth should accept me again as his son and that king Shrenik should give his daughter in marriage to me. If, to start with, these two conditions are fulfilled, then I agree to renounce the world and join the order of Munis. But until this two-fold harm done to me is duly repaired, I shall remain downcast and depressed and shall never be mentally prepared for the path of renunciation.”
These words created an impression on the Dev, who agreed to set the thing right. He tied a divine goat at his cottage, and this animal gave forth a large quantity of precious gems everyday. At the Dev’s suggestion, Mehar carried these gems in a saucer as a gift to king Shrenik. This he did for three days to the surprise of all present at the court. On the third day, the chief minister, Abhayakumar, could hold no more and inquired about the source of such precious gifts which appeared to be divine.
At this, Mehar gave a complete account of the goat. This made Abhayakumar all the more curious about the motive of the man, and he asked him flatly about it. Mehar was a sharp-witted man and was never to be taken aback. He said, “Sir, we have acquired this divine goat from a Dev who is friendly to my son, and we get these precious things in profuse quantity from the goat. So, Sir, you can see how lucky my son is. If, for such a worthy son, I seek the hand of the princess royal, I hope I shall not be asking for too much. I hope you see my point and you will readily oblige me.”
The proposal was at once rejected by the king. What an audacity on the part of this low-born ! But Abhayakumar was an intelligent man. He picked up the thread from where it was broken and said, “You see, we need more time to consider your request, but before that, we must see this divine goat with our own eyes. Besides, I hope you agree that such a rare thing should belong to the king.”
Mehar agreed, and the very next day the goat was at the palace. But this change of habitation also changed the goat, and he stopped producing the precious gems. But Abhayakumar had no doubt that there was some mystery behind the whole thing and that that must be revealed. So he said to Mehar, “If a Dev is friendly to your son, let him help us, too. That will convince us about the great connections of your son.” Mehar agreed. Continued the Chief Minister, “You see the rampart around this city of Rajgruhi. Let this rampart be turned into gold. It is also necessary to build a bridge-link between Svarnagiri and Vaibharagiri. It is further necessary that water is fetched from the Ganga, the Jamuna, the Saraswati, and the Milk Ocean (Kshira-Samudra) and sprinkled on your son. Get these done as early as you can, and the princess will be his.”
But great is the power of a Dev, and the things asked for were no bigger than a trifle. All these things were done to the full satisfaction of everybody. The boy was dipped in the holy water brought form the four sources, and the princess was duly married with him. The other eight girls who were already betrothed were also married to him. With the position changed, it was no longer difficult for Metarya to regain acceptance in the sheth’s family. The young man was now happy in the company of his nine wives.
But the Dev was alive to his mission. When he found that Metarya was deeply engrossed in conjugal life, he gave him a reminder to attract him toward renunciation. Metarya said to the Dev, “Sir, is it enough that you have settled me in a married life ? If I am not permitted to see through this life, then why did you settle me in it ? Besides, you should have consideration for these ladies, too. So please don’t talk about renunciation at this time.”
The Dev saw reason in these words and yielded. But he fixed a limit of twelve years, after which, he said, he would come again. To this Metarya agreed.
Now, this limit of twelve years was nearing its end. The Dev came again, but this gave a great shock to Metarya, who did not want to disturb the even tenor of his married life. But the Dev would not agree. So he humbly begged to be spared for another twelve years, and the Dev could do nothing but concede. Metarya was again immersed in the pleasures of life. He belonged to an affluent family, and he got anything for the asking. To him now this was the essence of worldly life, and he had the very best of it.
Soon he forgot all about his promise to the Dev. But the Dev did not forget. He came back in time. Metarya was surprised and sad. He was in no mood to renounce, but this time the Dev was determined to push him out. He issued a stern warning that if he was not yet prepared to move out, he must get ready to face immense difficulties. So, with great reluctance, Metarya gave up the life of a householder and courted the life of a Muni.
Although Metarya had put on the Muni’s white robe, he was not mentally prepared for it. At times he blamed the Dev, and at other times he blamed his own ill-luck. A deep lust for life always pulled him back and blocked his way to penance and restraint. He observed that his fellow Munis happily moved from village to village and lived in an environment of total detachment. What to speak of enjoying physical comforts, the Munis lived far away from them. They were always immersed in studies, meditation, penance, and philosophical discussions.
Metarya observed all this everyday. He was now by force a part of this austere environment, and he had no courage to express his dissent or disapproval of it to anyone. But slowly he began to change and was swallowed up by this new environment. He started realizing that he had too great a craving for life, but that his fellow Munis were free from this craving. They had no attachment, and they did not seek physical comfort. Penance was their perpetual pleasure, restraint was their constant companion. Their area of contentment was very wide. In contrast with them, he always felt small.
Censure has its positive aspect. Metarya felt a great change overtaking him. He was now firmly rooted in the life of a Muni. A way forced on him now became a part of him. He limited his requirements, and his attachment slowly changed into Ahimsa. Many years passed in this way. During these years, Metarya mastered the scriptures and practiced many severe penance. Due to extreme hardship, his body became lean and emaciated. In the proportion his physical power went down, his spiritual power grew brighter, and this power was reflected in his deeds.
In the course of his wanderings, Metarya one day arrived at Rajgruhi. There he practiced a long fast for 30 days. On its successful completion, he rose to beg food to break this fast. He arrived at the residence of a goldsmith. The goldsmith was a great expert in his profession, and he was widely known for his skill. He was also the smith to king Shrenik.
On the day the Muni arrived, the goldsmith was working on a necklace for the king. The specialty of this necklace was that it was made of golden beads of the size and shape of ripe barley. The beads looked so real. When the smith saw the Muni coming toward his shop, he got up to receive him, and then he moved inside to fetch food for the Muni. This was a chance for a Krauncha bird who had been observing these beads for quite some time and had a temptation for this fresh barley. The bird came down, picked up the necklace, and swallowed it. Then it flew back before the smith returned and perched on the same branch of the tree as before. Muni Metarya saw all this happening.
When the goldsmith came back with the food for the Muni, he was surprised to find that there was no necklace there. He was totally upset. He was committed to deliver it that very day to the king. He looked around but there was none in the neighborhood whom he could suspect. So he had a feeling that the necklace must have been picked up by the Muni. As he put it to the Muni, he got no reply. The Muni stood silent. What to speak of uttering a word, the Muni did not as much drop a hint or make a gesture that the necklace had been swallowed up by the bird.
By now, the goldsmith had exhausted all his patience, and he showered all sorts of abuses on the Muni. But when he found that these had no more effect on the Muni, he lost control of himself and tied a raw hide around the Muni’s face and pushed him in the sun. As the hide became dry, it contracted and pressed all around his face. The Muni felt a great suffocation, but he stood firm and calm. He did not allow his mind to sway or swerve in any direction, and he cherished no ill-feeling toward the goldsmith. But he could bear no more and fell down dead on the ground.
Meanwhile, the bird could not keep the necklace in its belly. It was already having a great pain. It could no longer remain on the branch of the tree and dropped down with a crash. This evoked a pitiable sound and attracted the goldsmith’s attention. By that time, the bird’s belly had burst and came out from within it the golden necklace which had been missing. This opened the goldsmith’s eyes, and he could see the reality. He was now extremely sorry for all that he had done to the Muni, and he had only remorse in store for him. He rushed back to the Muni and as he observed him keenly, he saw that he was none other than Shrink’s own son-in- law.
He was now not only sorry but nervous too, and he had no doubt that his own life on this earth was now only a question of time. The king’s men would soon find the culprit, and he would have to pay with his own life. So he must get ready to quit. He could see no way to save himself. But, thought he, if the Muni was generous enough to save the bird by not pointing to it as the real thief, he felt that his own safety too lay in the same hands, even though the Muni was no more in his mortal frame. So he bowed before the Muni’s body, removed his robes and put them on himself.
The news of the Muni’s death took no time to spread all over the metropolis. The people were shocked to hear of this mysterious tragedy and demanded a severe punishment for the wrongdoer. Particularly grieving was the king, who had lost such a worthy kin. He ordered his men to produce the murderer before him. The goldsmith in the garb of a Muni was at once produced before the king. But this was a dilemma. A murderer but a Muni ! A Muni was above all punishments as per the convention of the state. So the king ordered that so long as the fellow was in the Muni’s robe, he should not be touched, but that the moment he gave it up, the law would take its course.
This was a new situation for the goldsmith. He did not really want to be in white clothes for all times, but had used them as expediency to save himself from an imminent danger. But now the position was that he could no longer give them up and would do so at the cost of his own life. Thus wavering between attachment and renunciation, he at last threw his lot in favor of the latter. He came to the Munis and joined their order. He developed a taste for this new life, lived it successfully and was in the end liberated like Metarya.”
On the completion of his account, Kunchika said, “I agree that Muni Metarya was a magnificent personality, and he was free from all greed. But you are a different type. I have my reservations about you, and I have a feeling that you are a wretch like Sukumal.”
“Who was this Sukumal ? I am curious to know all about her.”
Kunchika started again: “In the city of Champa, there reigned king Jitshatru. Sukumal was the name of his queen. The king was immensely fond of her. This affection developed into a lust, and the king never moved apart from her presence. He stopped attending the court or looking after the affairs of the state. This made the minister extremely anxious about the future of the kingdom.
One day, he sought an audience with the king and tried his best to make him realize the situation; but all was in vain. The king asked the minister to disturb him no more, and, in turn, gave the minister the full authority to run the affairs of the state as best as he could.
On this, an urgent session of the council of ministers was called at once, wherein it was decided that at some dead hour of the night, when the royal couple would be fast asleep under the spell of some drug or drink, their cot should be carried to some far-off forest and discarded there. That would be an end of the trouble. Thereafter the crown prince should be placed on the throne. For the ministers rightly felt that a king ceased to be a king if he discharged not the royal duties. Even people of the kingdom were wholly disgusted at the light heartedness and indifference of their monarch.
The decision was given effect to. One night, the carriers picked up the cot on which the royal couple lay and discarded it in a far-off forest. As the king and the queen were under the spell of liquor, they could know nothing. After some time, when the king regained some sense and looked around, he could see nothing in the pitch darkness, but he had some sort of a feeling that he was not in the palace chamber. He rubbed his eyes to make sure about the situation, but there was no improvement. And he did it again. He gave a push to the queen, but she said, “It’s not yet morning. Please don’t disturb me.”
But the king was totally upset. He pulled her up and told her that there had been a total down-turn of their luck. Sukumal now opened her eyes and was surprised at what she saw. She exclaimed, “Is it a trick or treachery ? Have we been exiled ? Are our men and ministers so ungrateful as this ? They depend on their king and yet they have betrayed him. They must have taken advantage of your goodness. You should at once return to the palace and punish all the malefactors.”
Jitshatru replied, “But how can I blame others when all this is the outcome of my own doing ? Had I not been a blind victim of lust, surely I could not have been insulted like this. But, in any case, I can’t return to my kingdom. At nightfall, when we entered into the bed, we were king and queen, but now we are no more than common folk. So long we led a life free from care and toil, but henceforth we have to work hard to earn our livelihood. We should proceed to some city that may be in the neighborhood and try our luck there.”
So they stood up and moved together in one direction. Nothing was visible in the darkness, and the way was so unfamiliar. When the sun was up, it was terribly hot. The queen was oppressed with thirst and could move no longer. There was no water available in the neighborhood. After a great search, the king procured some water for her. They moved a little further when the queen was hungry. With great difficulty, the king procured sufficient fruits to appease her hunger.
At last, the royal couple reached the city of Varanasi. The king sold the ornaments of the queen and had some money on hand. He rented a house and started a small business. As he had no experience of business, he could not amass a fortune, but he could earn just enough to meet the cost of their subsistence.
Time rolled on like this. Jitshatru and Sukumal were now no more than commoners. Life was hard and dull; there was no longer any pleasure in it. One day, Sukumal said to her husband, “We were so happy in the past when we lived at the palace, and you were all the time by my side. I was surrounded by so many maids and attendants all the time. There were sundry objects of pleasure to engage my mind. But here, you go out pretty early in the morning and come back late at night. There is none at home with whom I can even speak. Life has become so dull and meaningless. Could you not do something to relieve me of this loneliness ?”
One night as Jitshatru was coming back from his shop, he saw a musician singing from a sidewalk. His sweet voice attracted many around him. The man was a cripple and supported himself by singing. Jitshatru invited the man to come and live with him. He thought that the company of so jovial a man would make his wife happy. The cripple was a little surprised at this turn of his luck, but he agreed. This was a ready solution of his problem, and it would not be necessary for him to move anymore from place to place. Sukumal also welcomed the new arrangement.
Jitshatru’s financial position was slowly looking up. Now he earned more than he spent, and he could make some saving. But he was gradually losing his grip on the wife. Sukumal spent the whole day in the company of the musician and became fond of him. Her heart was transferred from Jitshatru to this new arrival. One day, the cripple said to her, “My dear ! Our hearts are now united; but if by any chance Jitshatru comes to know of this, we shall be completely undone. So when there’s time, we should do something in the matter.” Sukumal agreed with him and assured him that she was perfectly conscious of this and that at the right moment, they should take the thorn out.
Months passed and seasons changed. Winter was followed by spring. One day, Jitshatru and Sukumal were seated in a happy mood when the latter made a proposal that they should together bathe in the Ganga. Her grouse was that she had not enjoyed this form of pleasure ever since she left the palace. The earlier it could be arranged, the better. Jitshatru also like the proposal, and he readily agreed.
On the appointed day, they left the cripple at home and reached the bank of the Ganga. Hand in hand, they entered into the water. They were now waist-deep in water. “This is not enough,” shouted Sukumal, “We must go deeper still.” Now they were up to their necks in the water. Jitshatru thought that he had not obliged his lady for a long time, and that he should now compensate for this long neglect. He held her in a deep embrace.
Sukumal’s mind was, however, elsewhere planning some mischief. She did not pay much attention to what the king did or said. The few words that she herself spoke contained no warmth. But the king did not notice this. He was busy enjoying himself. They spent some time like this. Sukumal was, however, looking for a chance. When at last she found that the king had lost all control of himself and had completely given himself up to her, she lost no time to give him a severe push into the very depths of the water. She did not care even to see what happened to him, but rushed out of the water, and at a hurried pace, returned to her home to tell the cripple that she had successfully completed the mission.
Finding himself in the depths of the water, the king struggled for life for some time; and as luck would have it, he escaped the jaws of death. But he had now a complete picture of the betrayal. He was convinced that this occasion was contrived to liquidate him. He had now but hatred for the unfaithful woman, and more than that he had a great remorse for his own blindness. Within a moment, he made a complete review of his whole life, as if the whole thing was on a screen how happy he once was in the company of this very woman who was his first queen, how his blind lust for her body turned him away from the position of a king to that of a pauper, how hard he was now struggling for life, and so on.
But this day’s incident opened a new outlook for him, and he felt that this was the most sacred moment of his life, since, at this moment, he was wholly liberated of the company of one who was inherently and basically low. The king was an expert in swimming. Besides, he got the support of a piece of floating log. So he swam for a long distance, came out of the water, and sat down to rest under a tree. He could see from where he sat the skyline of the city, which was not far.
Seated in the shade of the tree, the king could now extend his gaze into the future. He had no one by his side to help him, but he had no one either to obstruct him. He had no more feeling of pleasure and pain. He tried to read into the future, but he could see nothing. It was all hazy from the association of Sukumal, who had betrayed him. Only one feeling was dominant in him at this moment, and it was the feeling of a great relief.
Just then, his eyes fell on a vast group of men who were moving in his direction. An elephant holding a garland in her trunk was moving ahead of them. The king thought that it must be some ceremonial procession approaching the holy river. As he did not like his thoughts to be disturbed by these strangers, he moved himself off to a considerable distance and sat beneath another tree.
But the elephant and the men too changed their course as if he himself was their destination. As they came nearer, the elephant moved at a faster speed, came near Jitshatru and placed the garland on his neck. The men hailed him as their new king and bowed before him. All this happened with such a speed that the king could not understand if it was a reality or a dream. One of the ministers came forward and apprised him of their situation. “Sir, our king has recently passed away and so we are without a king. Hence as per convention for an occasion like this, we let loose this elephant and we ourselves followed her. Now, by her choice, you are our new king. So please accept the position and be a king to us.”
Introducing himself, the king said, “I was once a king, and I am a king again.” “But Sir, how about the time in between ?” asked the inquisitive minister. “I was then a commoner,” said the king.
Meanwhile the elephant raised up the new king with her trunk and placed him on her back. The whole party then moved toward the city. They reached the palace, where the king was duly placed on the throne and given charge of the highest office of the state. The king administered his realm in a very efficient manner, but he had no attachment in anything. The minister suggested that he should take a wife, but the king politely declined.
Elsewhere, Sukumal was spending her days in the company of the cripple. Jitshatru had left some saving behind, and so for some time there was no difficulty; but they could not live like that for long. They were soon faced with the prospect of penury. One day, the cripple asked Sukumal to earn for their sustenance. He said, “You see, I am a cripple and I can’t move. So please do something so that we may have some earning.” “What can I do ?” retorted the lady. “I am a woman. I have no experience of earning money. It is the duty of a man to support his wife. I can’t go to earn.”
Again some days passed like this, but with great difficulty. At last, they came to an agreed solution, which was that Sukumal would carry the cripple on her back, and the latter would sing and beg. They felt that that would be a nice way of living on public compassion.
They were now moving from one city to another. People were attracted by the sweet voice of the cripple, and they took pity on him. When his music was over, Sukumal would tell the people, “I am a devoted and pious woman. But my parents have married me with this cripple. So I carry him on my back, but we lead a very honest and pure life. So be kind to us and help us as best as you can. Your generosity is our only support in this world.” Such pitiable words would dissolve even a rock, what to speak of the human heart. Thus they lived on.
Once they did this in presence of the king. When the music was over, Sukumal made a short speech and started collecting money. As she approached the king, the latter said, “Woman ! Did you ever have another man to call your own whom you pushed into the deep water of the Ganga ?” Sukumal became pale and stiff at once. The flow of her words dried up, and she looked at the king. The earth slipped from beneath her feet. She started shouting and crying, as if she had been possessed or had gone mad.
At last, she fell at the king’s feet and begged for mercy. People who had been happy to hear the music were completely taken by surprise at this melodrama. Said the king to the woman, “You are a woman, so I spare your life. But you get out at once from the four corners of my kingdom. If you ever come again within my realm, you will pay with your life.”
Munipati said to Kunchika, “Oh merchant ! Despite all I have said, it seems that you still have doubts of my honesty. To remove them, all I can do now is to swear like Bhadra Vrushabha.”
“Oh Muni ! Who was this Bhadra Vrushabha and how did he swear ?”
The Muni started, “In the city of Champa, during the reign of king Ajitsen, there was a monastery-owner who also possessed two herds of cattle. Once a cow gave birth to a male calf who grew into a fine bull in course of time and freely roamed all over the city. People loved him and affectionately gave him the name of Suryasanda (the sun’s bull).
In the same city, there lived a merchant named Jindas who was a devout Shravak and was very regular in his spiritual practice, including Kayotsarga meditation. But his wife Dhanasri was just the reverse of him, highly sinful, and a lady of very loose morals. Often at night, when Jindas was in the Kayotsarga meditation, she would be in the company of other men.
One night, it so happened that when she was in the company of some of her admirers, her husband Jindas, who was in the Kayotsarga posture, fell victim to a fatal accident. When in the morning the lady saw her husband’s dead body, she got alarmed, since, she felt, people would suspect her hand in the matter. Just at that time, the bull Suryasanda was passing by that way. The lady put some of her husband’s blood on his horns and started mourning and bewailing. This soon attracted a large crowd of sympathizers.
When they saw the blood on the bull’s horns, they beat the bull severely. The bull turned his head again and again, communicating his innocence, but people did not understand him. So the bull at last came to the police chief and started turning his head in the same manner. Now some people understood his intention and said, “Maybe the bull is trying to convey his innocence in the matter.” At this, the bull signified his profound assent by touching the ground with his tongue. So the people at once arranged a test before they would exonerate him.
They brought an iron ball and heated it red. As they were about to place it on the bull’s head, he extended his tongue and gladly held it. The people were surprised to see that the bull’s tongue remained unburned while the ball cooled. The bull was declared innocent and was greatly honored by the people. Dhanasri was turned out of the city.
“So, merchant,” said the Muni, “as you don’t believe my words, I am prepared to swear and stand by any test to convince you of my innocence, as the bull had done. But something must be speedily done to remove your suspicion.”
But the merchant did not stop repeating his allegation, denouncing the Muni’s conduct in strong words, and comparing him with a lizard. When the Muni asked the reason for this comparison, the merchant said, “A certain lizard had a sore in her eyes. One night, as she was asleep, lots of pus came out of her eyes, and in the morning, in spite of her best effort, she could not open them. Now, many flies started moving around her eyes and ate the pus clean, which opened the eyes at once. But the lizard ate a large number of the flies. You have done like that, oh Muni. I gave you shelter during the rainy season, and you have removed my treasure.” The merchant continued, “For a confirmed criminal like you, swearing is just useless. You have a stiff heart, and so the story of the bull you narrated a little while ago has no impact on me.”
The Muni felt hurt at these words, but he said, “Have you, by any chance, a proof to establish my guilt ? It’s just a suspicion that haunts your mind, and that should not be the basis of so grave a charge. You are intelligent enough to distinguish truth from falsehood, as was the case with the minister Subuddhi.”
“Pray, who was this minister, and how did he distinguish truth from falsehood ?”
Munipati started his story: In the city of Champakmala, there reigned a king named Vasupal who had a very able minister in Subuddhi. In the same city, there lived a rich and very popular merchant named Abhinav. Sundari was the name of his daughter. Merchant Dhanpal was his neighbor, but he was poor. He had a daughter named Kanku. The two girls were friends.
One day, both the girls came to a pond to enjoy water sports. Sundari took out her ornaments and deposited them on the pond before she entered into water. Now, Kanku had an evil design. She came out earlier, picked up the ornaments and left. When Sundari came out, she did not find her precious things. When she reported it to her father, he came to Dhanpal, but the latter, instead of admitting his daughter’s fault, told him flatly that the ornaments belonged to his daughter and that the allegation was baseless.
The matter came up for the minister’s arbitration and he gave proof of his ready wit. He ordered for the production of both the girls and the ornaments before him. When this was done, the minister turned to Kanku and said, “My daughter, you say these are yours. Very good. Please put them on.”
Kanku started, but as she was not used to ornaments or the process of wearing them, she exhibited ignorance about them. Besides, they did not fit well with her person. When Sundari’s turn came, she did wear them at once and with skilled hands, and they fitted in well. Now, the minister took no time to give his verdict: The ornaments belong to Sundari, not Kanku. They may be returned to Abhinav, and Dhanpal is to be punished for their improper acquisition and wrongful possession according to the law of the land.”
Munipati added, “Merchant ! You are shrewd and intelligent, but you are not able to distinguish truth from falsehood. Truth is something different from your notion.”
To this, the merchant replied, “I do not understand what you say. But it appears to me that you are taking shelter behind a jugglery of words like one Brahmin.”
“What Brahmin, pray tell ?” said the Muni.
The merchant started, “In a certain village in Magadha, there lived a poor Brahmin. Once there broke out a terrible famine in that country, and the Brahmin was set to thinking how to survive through the critical time. He brought a piece of wood from the forest, carved a Durga image out of it, and started wandering from village to village. He would sing in praise of the goddess. This had great impact on the village folk. It was a sheer chance that a rich merchant, who was childless, got a son by propitiating the image, and at once its dignity and prestige in the public gaze shot up. With it the Brahmin’s luck took a favorable turn. Henceforth, every day, he got ample offerings in cash and kind and soon he was able to change the wooden image into a golden one. The wooden image was dumped in a garbage bin.
The same has been the case with you, Oh Muni. So long as you were ailing and the monsoon months were before you, you behaved well with me. but now that your interest in me has waned, you have deceived me to an extent which may cost even my life.”
To this, the Muni said, “Merchant ! You are still under a very wrong impression and are not trying to understand the reality. I reiterate that I have not touched your treasure. A Muni always behaves like Jindatt and never stoops to a low level.”
Jindatt was a Shravak, the son of a merchant named Jindas, who was well-versed in the Jain tenets. As an inspired soul ever since his birth, Jindatt never took interest in mundane affairs and had decided not to marry. This was a source of great worry for the family and the near and dear ones. They were waiting for a chance to change his mind.
One day, Jindatt had gone out to the city park in the company of his friends. In a Jain temple in the park, he sat down to pray. It was an accident that at that time a beautiful damsel was already engaged in prayer in the same temple, and Jindatt’s eyes fell on her. This was Jinmati, daughter of one Priyamitra, who had extensive trade with foreign lands. Jindatt felt impressed at the dame’s devotion. As he made inquiries about her from his friends and indeed this was the first occasion when he made any such inquiry they told him all that they knew about her, adding, “The workmanship of the creator will be duly rewarded if you two were united.”
Jindatt did not like the suggestion. “You talk of marriage even in a temple. This is no place for playing pranks or cutting jokes. You know well how little do I care for marriage. I saw her in deep prayer, and so I inquired, without any motive.”
After finishing her prayer, Jinmati stood up to go, and her eyes fell on Jindatt, and she liked his youth, vigor and manliness. She felt a love for him and first sight. Her companions noticed this and secretly reported it to her father, who became happy.
Now, Priyamitra came to Jindas with the proposal of the marriage of his daughter with the later’s son, which the merchant welcomed with joy. When, however, Jindas took the matter to his son, the son said, “Sire ! You know well that I intend to join the holy order.”
This was a very difficult situation. Jindas had already given his assent to the proposal. So he said to his son, “Did you, by any chance, see the girl ?” Jindatt said nothing.
But mysterious is the way of destiny. The town keeper Basudatt saw the girl one day, as she was going somewhere, and he became mad to get her. He sent his proposal to Priyamitra at once but was told that she was already betrothed to Jindatt. Thenceforth Basudatt was on the lookout for a chance to remove Jindatt from this world so that he would have no rival to get the girl’s hand.
One day, the king had gone out on a holiday with the royal household, and, by chance, one of his earrings dropped somewhere on the way. In spite of all his searches, it could not be found. The king entrusted the search to Basudatt, who luckily found it soon and restored it to the king.
When the king inquired how he got it, he said that it had been recovered from Jindatt. The king could not believe it. For Jindatt was well-known for his spiritual leanings. But Basudatt insisted, “Your Majesty ! Religion is just a camouflage for all his misdeeds. So far I desisted from reporting against him to Your Majesty, but Sir, in the whole kingdom, there is none who may equal him in vile deeds.” The king gave orders that such a wicked person should be wiped out as soon as possible.
Basudatt spent no time to arrest Jindatt and took him around the city on the back of a donkey, as was the practice with all the condemned persons in those days. What an irony of fate ! Whoever saw him in this state was not only shocked and shed tears, but openly decried the king and his town keeper. Only the lowbrows talked ill of the pious man.
When Jinmati heard the noise in the street, she came at her window and was shocked to see the pitiable sight. Just at that moment, Jindatt’s eyes also fell on her and he was sorry to see the girl’s plight. For the first time, he felt that the girl loved him and that he did a wrong thing in not agreeing to marry her. He resolved to make her happy if he could escape from this ordeal.
Jinmati at once invoked Shasan Devi and stood herself in Kayotsarga meditation. Pure as she was, her propitiation had an instantaneous effect. Thrice was Jindatt placed on a naked spear, and thrice it broke like a stalk of hay. Then the effort was made to hang him from a tree, but even this proved futile. Basudatt applied his own sword several times, but what could he do when Shasan Devi had herself placed him under her protection.
The matter was brought to the king’s notice, who was alarmed for having tortured a pious man on a false report. He hurried to the execution ground, embraced Jindatt, and took him with himself to the palace on the back of his own elephant. As the king was wholly ignorant about Basudatt’s jealousy toward him, he made a full inquiry about it. Jindatt presented the facts as he knew them. Basudatt now stood exposed, and was condemned by the king. Though his life was spared at Jindatt’s earnest request, he was sent into exile for good.
Jindatt now married Jinmati and lived happily for many years in the household order. Born a pious man, he lived a worthy life, adding more and more to his spiritual assets. Oh merchant ! You should understand that a Muni’s life is a worthy life which adds only to his spiritual assets and nothing to his liabilities. His life is meant to help all, even a malefactor, as Jindatt himself did to save Basudatt’s life. There is no point in saying that a Muni is ungrateful. Be patient and try to understand the situation. I did not touch your wealth.”
At these words, Kunchika retorted, “You compare yourself with Jindatt, but behave like a certain hunter. How do you reconcile the two positions ? They are as far apart as the east is from the west.”
“Who was the hunter you speak of, my good friend ?”
Kunchika started, “King Haripal of the city of Harikanta was the keeper of a thousand monkeys. In the same city, there lived a hunter who was cruel, ruthless, and ungrateful. Every day, he killed many animals in the forest. One day, he encountered a fierce tiger who chased after him, and to save his own life, he got up on a tree. There was seated on the tree a female monkey with her mouth wide agape, and the hunter was between a frying pan and a fire. The monkey at once read into his mind and assured him safety. Slowly, she came near him and sat beside him. So much affection from an animal moved the hunter, who now stretched himself against a branch and placed his head on the monkey’s lap.
The tiger on the ground was helpless. He tried to create a rift between the monkey and the man. Said the tiger to the monkey, “Good lady ! You have extended your protection to the man, but how many in this world give price for it ? That man is particularly known for his ingratitude.
May I tell you a story about it ? In a certain village, there lived a Brahmin named Siva. Once on a pilgrimage, he reached a dense forest. While searching for water, he saw a dilapidated well. He prepared a rope with grass and sought to draw water with its help. At the first chance came out a monkey. He tried again, and this time came out a tiger and a snake. They bowed before the Brahmin and expressed their gratitude for taking them out. The monkey said that all of them, himself, the tiger and the snake, were residents of Mathura, and if the Brahmin ever visited that city, they would be happy to host him. But he cautioned the Brahmin that there was a human being inside the well, and he would be ill-advised to take him out. The fellow was not sinful, but he was ungrateful, he said, and then the three departed.
Now, the Brahmin sat thinking what to do about the man in the well, and after much consideration, he decided to help him out. The monkey was after all an animal, he thought, and he could hardly adjudicate on the value of a man. So he cast the rope again and helped the man out.
When Siva asked him who he was, the man said, I am a goldsmith from Mathura. I came here on business but slipped into this well. There is a tree inside, and I saved myself with great difficulty by holding a branch of the tree. Later, the monkey, the tiger and the snake joined me. In distress, we forgot our natural enmity and lived in co-existence. I shall never forget the service you have rendered to me. If you ever come to Mathura, please give me a chance to be your host.
Thereafter, many years passed. Once Siva remembered the monkey’s words of caution against the man and decided at once to take a test. He set out on a pilgrimage and reached Mathura. The monkey was there.
He recognized his benefactor at once and accorded him sweet fruits. As he proceeded from there, he saw the tiger and the tiger too recognized the Brahmin in a moment. He at once killed a prince who had come there for hunting, took out his ornaments and gave them to the Brahmin.
Now, Siva came to the goldsmith. As the goldsmith saw the Brahmin coming, he recognized him but tried to avoid him. But Siva stood just in front of him and asked if he recognized him or not. In a very cold manner, the goldsmith said that he found it hard to place him. Siva recounted the past story and said, “I have come on an invitation from you, my dear friend.”
But the goldsmith showed no improvement in his manners, and Siva too would not move out. He sat there and said, “Can you help me in an affair ?” “Perhaps I may,” said the smith indifferently. The Brahmin then took out the ornaments given to him by the tiger and held them before the goldsmith. “I want to sell them. Can you give me a fair price for them ?”
Now the goldsmith got interested. He kept the ornaments with himself. The Brahmin went to the river to take his bath. Meanwhile, the report of the prince’s death in the forest spread all over the city, and there was a proclamation to the effect that the prince’s ornaments had been stolen from his body, and that anyone giving a clue to their recovery would be rewarded by the king. The goldsmith heard it and had no doubt that the ornaments lodged with him really belonged to the prince. Maybe, out of greed, the Brahmin had murdered him. So the smith came to the court, surrendered the ornaments and disclosed the Brahmin’s name.
The Brahmin was at once taken into custody on the river bank and produced before the king. The king held consultation with his council of ministers. Although a scholarly Brahmin was involved, the law was to take its own course irrespective of caste and erudition. The council was unanimous in awarding the Brahmin death sentence. The poor fellow was not even given a chance to defend himself. According to rules, red sandal paste was placed on his person and he was seated on the back of a donkey and taken around the city before being conducted to the execution ground. In this critical time, the monkey’s words came up in his mind the fellow is ungrateful. But what could he do now except submit to fate very silently? Suddenly the following couplet came out of his mouth:
Listened I not to cautious words, uttered by a monkey, a tiger and a snake,
Hence for the smith’s ingratitude, my life is now at stake.
The snake, who was crawling nearby, heard these words and at once recognized the Brahmin. He took no time to understand the situation, and, to save his benefactor’s life, he crawled in a hurry to the palace-garden where the princess was at play. The snake gave a sharp bite to her, and she fell on the ground at once. The news reached the king and spread all over the town. The death of the princess so soon after the death of the prince was considered to be a great misfortune and calamity.
Just then, a savant-seer had come to the city, who told the king that the second calamity was caused for his having condemned an innocent Brahmin to death. “But what proof have you to prove the Brahmin’s innocence ?” said the king. The seer narrated the background story, adding in the end, “The monkey and the tiger have been good hosts, but the goldsmith has betrayed him.” “But yours may be a concocted story,” said the king. “How do I believe in your account ?” The seer at once brought the snake in the person of the princess, and the snake gave the account through the princess’s mouth. The king had now no reason to disbelieve. The Brahmin was at once set free, and the princess was restored to her life. The seer now said to the Brahmin, “Sir ! It is the snake who is your savior.” The Brahmin said, “What an irony, Sir, that while animals are grateful, so very ungrateful is the man.”
The king was so impressed by the Brahmin’s scholarship that he gave him the position of a minister of the realm. The goldsmith was exiled from the city. The Brahmin, in gratitude, adored the snake, and worshipped him thereafter every year.”
Concluding his story, the tiger said to the monkey, “So, lady, don’t rely on this hunter. He will put you in danger. Better push him down and let me satisfy my hunger.”
But this had no effect on the monkey, who turned a deaf ear to the tiger. After some time, the man woke up, and it was now the monkey’s turn to lie and take rest. The tiger now addressed his counsel to the man: “Worthy man ! Don’t rely on this monkey. She is ungrateful. She poses to be friendly but will deceive you in time. I am hungry for a week, and you are anxious to return home. But until I get either of you, I shall not go; and until I go, you cannot come down. So I advise you to pass the monkey on to me. I will eat it and go, and then you will be free to come down safely and go.”
The tiger spoke so many words in a single breath, and yet he did not stop. He added, “As a species, the monkeys are ungrateful. Let me tell you the story of an unfortunate king who was killed by his monkey. This was king Pavak of Nagpur who was carried to a dense forest by a misdirected horse. Oppressed by hunger and thirst, he was roaming to and fro. There he saw a monkey who understood the king’s difficulty, gave him some fruits and showed him a pool of clean and cool water. Meanwhile, his men joined him and the party started back, with the monkey accompanying it at the king’s desire. The monkey was given a privileged position at the palace and was supplied with the best of fruits in plenty. Later he was made an ADC to the king, and he followed the king’s person like his shadow.
It was spring. The king had gone out to the palace-garden where he was resting beneath a tree. Just then a drone came buzzing and sat on his body. The monkey tried his best to drive it away, but when he failed, he struck at it with his sword, killing the king. So, man, take my advice and push the monkey down. In doing this, you will reap a greater advantage than I.”
The hunter was influenced by the tiger’s words. He pushed the monkey down, and it was now held by the tiger in his paws. The tiger said to her, “Madam ! This is the outcome of your being in a wrong company.” But the monkey did not lose her wit nor become nervous; instead, she said in a calm voice, “My dear friend, how lucky I deem myself today that my body will be in your service. Have no mercy on me; I beseech you to take my flesh at once. But I have only a little submission to make, which is that in the case of the monkeys as a species, their soul resides only in the tail. So you will be well-advised to start at the tail end. This will make my flesh more tasteful to you, and I shall also be relieved of pain very soon.”
The tiger laughed aloud and was about to catch the monkey’s tail when she escaped and mounted on a tree. The humiliated and disappointed tiger now left the place. But the monkey was so good that she bore no malice or anger toward the hunter. Rather, she told him that the tiger was gone, and she offered to escort him out to a safe place.
The monkey brought the man to her own shelter, where her offspring were at play. She left the hunter there, and she went out in search of some fruits. But the inconsiderate man killed the young ones and put them in his bag. When the monkey came back, she did not find her offspring. She placed the fruits before the hunter and moved out in search of them. The hunter too started with her. Meanwhile, vile thoughts took hold of the man, and he put the monkey to death with his club.
A sinful man has no element of mercy in him. With the dead monkey on his shoulder, the hunter was now on his way home. Again he came across the same tiger. When the tiger saw the dead monkey on the hunter’s back, he said, “You wretch ! What did you do ? You did not even hesitate to kill one who had treated you like her own brother. It is a sin even to look at you. Get out of my sight at once. I intend not to touch you because to touch a man like you is sinful, and I don’t want to share in your sin and ingratitude.
But the hunter’s heart was not touched. Perfectly unconcerned and happy at the big catch, he returned home. Meanwhile, the report had reached the king that one of his pet monkeys had been killed by a certain hunter, and not by a proper weapon but by a club, which was against the law of the land. The hunter was at once taken a prisoner and produced before the king. He was first tortured and was then being taken to the execution ground, with the king coming in the rear.
Just then, the tiger appeared again and cautioned the king not to execute the hunter. He said, “Sire ! The sins committed by this wretch are so heinous and serious that anyone punishing him will also share his sins. It’s more appropriate that he be left to his own destiny.” The king was startled at these words and requested the tiger to give a full account about the man, which the tiger was reluctant to do himself. He directed the king to an Acharya who, he said, was not far from there, and who was a man with great knowledge and power.
The king spared the hunter’s life but ordered him to leave the city at once. He then looked for the Acharya and was soon before him. He said, “Bhante ! Where has the monkey gone ?” “In heaven, of course,” was the reply. “And where will the hunter go after death ?” the king asked. “Where else but to hell,” said the Muni. “Those who are ungrateful, cruel, sinful, malicious, and hard-hearted, for them hell is the right place.” To the king’s inquiry about the tiger, the Acharya said, “That was a divine person in the skin of a tiger who came down to witness the monkey’s behavior, because the monkey is destined to have a place in heaven. While in heaven, the Dev had himself heard a reference to that effect and came down to see what it was that would earn for the monkey a place in the celestial region.”
Concluding his story, Kunchika said, “Oh Muni ! You are like the hunter. Your ingratitude brings back to my memory that incident, and my soul silently weeps.”
The Muni protested, “It is not your soul, Oh merchant, that weeps. That’s my soul. You should not bring a false charge against a Muni like this. Like Devi, a thief’s spouse, you are only extending invitation to repentance. One who causes unnecessary pain to a Muni inevitably repents.”
“How is that ? What is Devi’s story ?”
Munipati started, “There lived in a certain village in Magadha a thief named Vir. Devi was his wife. Vir’s daily profession was to break into other people’s houses. This is how he earned his daily bread. In a hole in the wall of his house, there lived a mongoose who gave birth to an offspring. The little creature was Devi’s pet, and she supplied it with food everyday. Now, Devi also gave birth to a son, and when the son grew up, he played with the young mongoose.
One day, Devi left the sleeping child on a bamboo platform and went out on some domestic errand. The mongoose was there. Just then a snake came out of the hole and crawled near the boy. The mongoose saw it and tore it; to pieces. As the lady was coming back, the happy mongoose met her on the way. When the lady saw blood on its mouth, she thought that her own son must have been killed by it. So she killed the mongoose on the spot. Then she rushed to her bedroom, where she found her boy quite safe, but pieces of a dead snake lay scattered on the floor. The lady was very very sorry for having killed the mongoose, who had in fact saved her son’s life. Thereafter, she could never get rid of her penitence. You are doing the same to me. You are doing something for which you will repent forever. You should think twice before you charge anyone.”
“Sir ! You are like that Bhil who put to danger the life of an elephant who produced pearls.”
“Who was this fellow ? What is his story ?”
Kunchika started, “In a certain forest, there lived a white elephant with a herd of 700 she-elephants. Once, while wandering, an iron nail pricked into his leg. He had so much pain that he could hardly move and lay in one place for days without food and drink. One elephant from the herd saw a Bhil one day, and she induced him to follow her. She brought him straight to the suffering elephant, and the man took out the nail. In gratitude, the elephant gave him many tusks and pearls. By selling these, the Bhil was now a rich man. When people inquired about his sudden affluence, he narrated the whole story.
This soon reached the ears of the king. Out of greed for the tusks and the pearls, the king caught the whole herd and brought the elephants to his city. Sir, you are like that ungrateful Bhil. The elephant had rewarded him, but it was his report to the king that deprived the whole herd of its liberty. By taking out my treasure, you have put me to difficulty in the same manner.”
The Muni did not know how to change the opinion of the merchant about himself. So he spoke in a somewhat rude tone: “Merchant! Even animals are more considerate than you are. They don’t take much time to know the truth, but not you. How very wonderful is that !”
“How do you say that animals are more considerate than am I ?”
“I shall give you an example,” said the Muni. “On the Vaitadhya hill, in a certain cave, there lived a lioness. A she-deer and a she-jackal were her intimate friends. Once the lioness gave birth to an offspring, but after delivery as she became very hungry, she left her offspring with her friends and herself went in search of some prey. The deer lay on the ground and fell asleep. Thus the jackal was alone, and she ate the offspring. She then put some blood on the mouth of the sleeping deer and left.
When the lioness returned, she did not find her offspring and became restless. Meanwhile, the jackal returned after cleaning herself. She said, “My friend ! I had myself gone out on business. The child was all right when I left. The deer was here, and it seems there is blood on her mouth. Maybe she has killed the child.” Now the deer was pulled up from her sleep. But the poor animal said, “I fell asleep, and I know nothing as to what happened.” Then, turning to the jackal, she said, “There was no one else at this place but the two of us, and no one seems to have come. I do not understand what may be the real story.”
The jackal was extremely cunning. She said, “But I see blood on your mouth, so you should know more than I as to what has happened. To be very frank, you may have swallowed up the poor little thing.” But the lioness was intelligent. She knew well that a deer was not accustomed to take meat. So she could not have swallowed her offspring. She had no doubt now that this was the doing of the jackal. So she said, “Don’t quarrel over it. Better both of you vomit and facts will speak themselves out.” This was done, and the jackal was exposed and killed by the lioness on the spot.
Thus, merchant, even animals are considerate. They can arrive at truth and harp not on untruth as you do. You cannot rise above this level until you discard your wrong impression.”
“How do I believe in your words when you are ungrateful like that lion ?”
“There was a concentration of hermits near the Himalayas. In a nearby cave, there lived a demon who, under the influence of the hermits, had given up his sinful activities. It was winter and very cold outside. One night, when the demon had gone out, a lion who was bitterly shivering came there and took shelter inside. When the demon came back and saw the lion, he did not disturb him but lay outside in the cold. At dead of night, when the lion woke up and came out, he saw the demon and devoured him.”
The Muni was very much perturbed at the merchant’s insistence. He said, “I have had no intention to harm you in any way, my dear merchant. But you are adamant. So now I have no other alternative but to extend and expose both my hands, as was done by merchant Katha.”
Katha was a pious, kind-hearted Shravak who lived in Rajgruhi during the reign of Shrenik. He erected a huge mansion for his residence, which took six months to be completed. Then, on an auspicious day, before he made a formal entry into the building, learned priests were invited, and deities were duly propitiated. But as the merchant was about to step in, there were some inauspicious omens, and the priests advised him not to enter at that moment. A new time was fixed for his entry, and this time there were very good and exceptionally favorable omens, and the merchant started residing in that building.
One day, the merchant’s wife, Bhadra, saw a ship floating on the sea in her dream. When she spoke to her husband about it, he said, “It’s a very good dream. We will soon have a boy.” The forecast came true, and the boy was named Sagardatt.
When he was eight, he was sent to school, and on the occasion, many scholars were invited and fed. There were two Munis in the assembly of guests. As they sat to dine, a cock seated on the wall said to the “Merchant, If you feed me, I shall make your son a king.” One of the Munis nodded at this. When the other asked him about the cause of his nod, he said, “It is due to this cock that the boy will get a kingdom.” This conversation fell into Katha’s ears. Food was not only offered to the cock, but the cock was adopted as a pet by the merchant.
One day, king Shrenik asked Katha to procure for him one exceptional fabric from Yavandesh, and the merchant agreed to do so. But the merchant’s wife Bhadra would not let him go. She said, “This means that you will be away from home for a very long time, but I am not prepared to stay without you even for a single day.” “But, my dear,” the merchant tried to argue, “This work has been assigned by the king himself, and I could not decline and refuse him. I shall finish it as soon as I can and come back.”
As Katha was coming to his shop, he saw a Brahmin with a cage in his hand, and inside the cage, there was a parrot couple. The merchant took the cage in his own hand and the couple blessed him at once. This created in him an interest about the birds, and he bought the whole cage on payment of 500 gold pieces. He took the cage to his shop with him.
The parrots revealed that they were Devs under the spell of a curse. The merchant felt curious to know about their past history, and the male parrot gave his account as follows: “My name is Nandavatt, and I belong to the court of Dharanendra. Once my master asked me to go down to the earth where he assigned me the duty of worshipping Lord Parsvanath, whose image had been installed at a temple in a forest near Varanasi. Happily I came down to the earth to fulfill my commission.”
Continued the parrot, “One day, a holy person endowed with certain powers came to that city. A prince of royal blood, a merchant’s son, and many nobles were attending on him. Now, a cowherd came there and prayed for his favor but to no effect. He repeated his request several times, which enraged the man, who, in anger, uttered a few words that made no sense. The cowherd took these to be the holy words given to him by the man, memorized them exactly, sat down in my forest and repeated them on beads. I tried to dissuade him, but the fellow was adamant and did not take to his heels. Then I asked him to seek a boon, and he asked for a house full of wealth.
Now, as I was busy in getting the wealth for him, in my absence from the temple, my master came on a surprise visit and did not find me there. The Lord had not been worshipped for a few days. When he detected this lapse on my part, he became furious, and it was his curse that turned me into a parrot. Since then, I have been living in this forest as a bird.
You can imagine, Sir, what a miserable thing it is for a divine being to live like a parrot. My wife also preferred to join with me in the form of a bird. When we fell at Dharanendra’s feet and begged for mercy, he said that in order to regain our previous state, we must serve and please you. As we were perched on the branch of a tree, this Brahmin caught us and brought us to the market. This has turned out to be a lucky chance for us, since we are now with you. This has improved the Brahmin’s luck, who has got 500 gold pieces by selling us, and this has also brought us nearer to our own liberation. But, Sir, please keep my account in confidence and pass it on to no one. If you do not do it, you put your own life in risk.”
Katha agreed. Just at that time a Muni stood before his shop. As he stood there, a straw from the thatch fell on his head. The Muni was enraged. “In my life,” he said, “I have never accepted a thing not given to me. But this straw has fallen on my head, and I deem it to be a serious lapse on my part. I must cut off my head.” As he was about to do so, people held him fast and prevented him from committing suicide.
This impressed Katha, who felt that this was no ordinary Muni. If he could be induced to stay in a room in his mansion during his absence from home, thought he, then his wife Bhadra would not feel lonely, but will have the benefit of listening to his holy words. So he made this request to the Muni. The Muni would not agree. But the merchant was very insistent, and at last the Muni agreed. Katha told his wife that the Muni would stay in a room at the entrance, and that he should be given his daily food. He also advised her to take good care of the cock and the parrots, and then he departed for Yavandesh to fulfill the royal mission.
As was usual in such a situation, the lady slipped from her pure life and got involved with the Muni. Things went far and expenses increased. One day, the parrots saw the Muni entering into the chamber of the mistress. The she-parrot thought of preventing him, but the male-parrot advised her patience and silence. But the she-parrot protested, “In the absence of our master from home, we must see that the sanctity of the home is not violated. We cannot allow this rogue to misbehave. We cannot allow a drain of our master’s wealth. Something must be done at once.”
Bhadra overheard the conversation of the birds, and she rushed out with a stick in her hand. The she-parrot’s life of servitude ended at this moment. As she took her out from the cage to kill her, she flew away and regained her former state. The male partner remained alone.
One day, an astrologer came to the merchant’s house, and when the lady inquired from him about the merit of the cock, she said, “He who would eat the crest of the cock would become a king within seven days.” The Muni heard this and could not check the temptation of becoming a king. So he became insistent that the cock must be killed and cooked and his crest must be served on his plate. Bhadra declined. “This one is my husband’s pet. How can I kill it ? When the merchant will call for an explanation, what do I say ?”
But the Muni would not listen to any argument and threatened that if his wishes were not fulfilled, he would leave the house at once. The lady was in a dilemma. She thought and thought, and at last she agreed. The cock was killed and cooked. The Muni went out to the pond to take his bath. Meanwhile, Sagardatt came back from the school and asked for something to eat. As there was nothing else, the mother served the seasoned meat, which, by chance, contained the cock’s crest.
Now, the Muni came and sat to eat. He looked for the cock’s crest, but it was not there. “Where’s the crest ?” He shouted. “This is the whole lot, Sir,” said the lady. “I took out a small portion for my son.” The Muni lost his temper. “If you have any attachment toward me, take out portions of the crest from your son’s stomach and give them to me at once. I am not going to pacify until I get them,” the Muni thundered.
“Sir, I cannot do such a vile thing. I cannot kill my own son,” the lady submitted. “I care a fig for how you will do it,” said the Muni, “but do it you must. I must have my thing or I go.” This was too difficult a situation for a mother, but in this difficult situation, the mother yielded and the woman won. The woman in Bhadra agreed to kill her own son.
But destiny is above all. The boy’s maid, Gomati, turned to be an eavesdropper, and she rushed to the school without losing a single moment. She took the boy with her and set out for an unknown destination. Sagardatt did not know what the matter was or where he was being taken. The maid with the boy with her walked non-stop for six days and nights, and on the seventh day they reached the city of Champa. Since they were at a safe distance now, they stopped to rest in a park in the city. Just at that time, the king of that city had died, and he had left no successor. By the consent of the people, Sagardatt was considered to possess the necessary marks of kingship and was placed on the throne, and he took the name Dhattribahan.
At Rajgruhi, Bhadra was in a miserable state in the company of the Muni. The prosperity of the household was gone, and the son was missing. Servants were dismissed. The house wore the look of poverty and distress.
When Katha returned, he could not recognize his own home. Only the male parrot was still there. He narrated the whole thing to his master, and having thus completed the duration of the spell, he too earned his freedom. The eyes of the merchant had opened by now, and he renounced the world and joined the order of Munis. Bhadra had already earned so much ill fame that she could no longer remain in Rajgruhi. In the company of the Muni, she fled and took shelter in the city of Champa. They took a cottage in the suburb of the city. Bhadra now served as a maid in a certain family, and the Muni became a farm laborer.
In the meantime, Muni Katha came to the city of Champa in the course of his wanderings. Bhadra saw him from a distance and recognized him at once. She was alarmed to see Katha there and decided to do something at once. One day, the Muni came to her cottage to beg. Bhadra served him food, but hid her own ring into the food, which she offered. Then, as the Muni moved out, she shouted, “Thief ! Thief ! He has taken my ring !”
The woman’s shouts attracted a large crowd. Even the police chief came. The ring was recovered from the Muni. What an irony ! The Muni was arrested and brought to the police station. Luckily, the palace was not very far from that place. Maid Gomati heard the noise and came to her window to see what the matter was. As her eyes fell on the Muni who was tied fast, she recognized her former master and rushed to the king. Both of them then reached the police station, where the king freed the Muni with his own hands and fell at his feet to beg forgiveness. It was a happy union of the father and the son, one in the holy order, the other head of the state. Bhadra was banished from the city.
On behalf of the subjects, the king welcomed the Muni to his city and prayed for his stay there during the monsoon season. Muni Katha could not decline so earnest a request from a worthy son. The king attended his sermons every day and was greatly inspired. This had a great impact on the people, whose spiritual zeal received a great impetus.
But in the world, there are always some low-brows who cannot tolerate other people’s good acts or good name. They hatched a plot against the Muni. They hired a lowborn, untouchable woman for their vile project. As the monsoon season was over, and the Muni was preparing to depart, he halted outside the city boundary. He was in the midst of his last sermon to the people of that city, when that harlot made her appearance and asked the Muni to arrange for the maintenance of herself and his child whom, she said, she was carrying, before he left.
This came like a sudden bombshell to the assemblage, but the Muni did not lose his equanimity and said in a calm and gentle voice, “Woman ! you don’t know what you say and to whom. All you say is not only malicious but is an utter lie. You should not defile your soul in this manner. You should not talk such things about a Muni.”
But the woman would not withdraw, and the Muni repeated his words once, twice, and several times. But they had no effect. So, at last, he collected the fiery forces that were within him, and looked at the woman with bloodshot eyes. He said, “If this child be mine, then, I say, you have a natural delivery right on this spot. If, on the contrary, it is not mine, let it come out by piercing your belly.” Although such words are unbecoming of a Muni, he had to use them perforce to meet the situation.
Now, as everybody looked on, the child pierced her belly and came out, and in intense pain, the woman fell senseless on the ground. Thus the Muni was honorably acquitted, and the people’s respect for him reached the highest mark. When the lady recovered, the king took her to task and ordered her to tell the truth about the whole conspiracy. The woman, who was trembling with fear, gave out the names of all those who were involved in it. They too were present in the assembly to witness the discomfiture of the Muni and were jubilant over the lady’s performance.
But as the whole thing took a very adverse turn, they looked small, and now fell victim to the king’s wrath. They fell at the feet of the Muni and begged for their own lives. The Muni was pacified and withdrew his fiery forces. He pleaded on behalf of the guilty and requested the king to withdraw his order, which the latter did.”
As the story came to its end, Muni Munipati said, “Oh Merchant ! There’s a clear demand in your words that I too mobilize my fiery forces, as Katha did, to establish my innocence. Although such a thing is not desirable for a Muni, maybe once in his lifetime he has to do it when the situation so demands. May I still expect that good sense will dawn on you and I am spared from taking an extreme step !”
At this moment, the merchant’s son joined with them, and he got alarmed for the sake of his own safety. So he said to his father, “Sire ! You have wrongly charged a Muni who is free from all bonds. This Muni, you should know, is no ordinary person, and he did not give up his whole kingdom to steal your little treasure. He must be in possession of great powers, and if perchance he unleashes them, we may stand nowhere as it happened to poor Namuchi.”
Kunchika said, “Who was this Namuchi, and what happened to him ?”
The son started, “During the times of Lord Munisubrata, there reigned in Ujjain a king named Dharmsen who was modest, unassuming, and pious. Namuchi was his minister. He was a man of great intellect, but at the same time, he was crafty, unscrupulous, and averse to the Jaina path.
Once Lord Munisubrata came to the city with his Munis, and the king came to pay his homage and obeisance. Namuchi was also present in the assembly. Namuchi aired his atheistic views in the assembly and drew a Muni, Khullak by name, into a bitter controversy. The minister was soon cornered by the Muni and ridiculed by the people.
Namuchi took this insult to heart, and set out one night with a sword in his hand to kill the Muni who had defeated him. As he reached the gate of the Muni’s shelter, he was challenged by Shasan Devi, who fixed him on the spot. Even when it was morning, everybody saw Namuchi fixed at the gate with a sword in his hand. People had now no doubt as to why he had come there, and they censured him openly. But Namuchi himself had no escape until he tendered a public apology to Shasan Devi and the Munis. This he did and obtained his release. After this humiliation, however, he could no longer remain there and went to Hastinapur.
Padmottar was the king of Hastinapur at this time. He had two queens, Jwala and Lakshmi, and Jwala was a good Shravika, too. She had two sons, Vishnukumar and Mahapadm, both of whom were fine and accomplished young men. The king was now thinking of abdicating in favor of the elder son, but as Vishnukumar felt no attraction for the kingdom and had himself decided to renounce the world, Mahapadm was named crown prince to succeed the king. Just at this time, Namuchi reached this kingdom and managed to get the minister’s post.
Now, in the neighborhood of Hastinapur, there lived a band of robbers headed by one Samantsingh, who was a notorious character. He had made himself a source of terror to the people of that kingdom, and the crown prince Mahapadm gave orders for his immediate arrest. But all efforts to take him into custody failed. In the meantime, reports came that the robbers had looted a very well-to-do village and molested the merchants. He had even beaten up the guards, which was a big challenge to law and order. In the wake of this tragedy, the crown prince announced a suitable reward to anyone who would help in the arrest of the robber chief, alive or dead.
Namuchi accepted the challenge and responded to the announcement. The prince was happy. He gave him 100 selected men to help him. The whole group secretly moved out one day and reached the neighborhood of the robber’s den at about sunset. The chief had no prior information and lay alone, and was killed in his asleep. The head was at once taken out and placed before the prince. The prince received the minister in deep embrace and was going to give him a reward, but the minister declined, saying he would take it later.
Once Queen Jwala organized a festival, and a Jina image was carried in procession. At this, Queen Lakshmi organized a rival procession in which a Hindu deity was placed on the chariot. The processions were organized outside the city. As they reached the city gate, there cropped up a controversy as to which procession would enter first into the city. As no one was ready to yield, the king ordered that none of the processions should move inside the city, but must terminate at the park outside.
This the crown prince took as an affront to his own mother, and he fled his kingdom. The minister Namuchi joined with him in his excursions. Mahapadm conquered many kingdoms with the help of the minister and became an emperor. Now his father sent an invitation for his early return. When he came back to his city, he was placed on the throne. Emperor Mahapadm fulfilled the wishes of his mother by organizing a grand Jina procession on a magnificent scale.
It was about this time that Lord Munisubrata and his Munis reached Hastinapur, where Namuchi was the most powerful man, next only to the monarch himself. Namuchi thought of taking revenge for the past insult, whose memory still haunted him. So he came to the king and sought his permission to perform a sacrifice. The king agreed. The minister also desired that his reward might be given which the king had promised, and, for this, he requested the king to retire for a specified limited time and leave the administration in his exclusive charge, without bothering during this period as to how he ran it. To this request too the king agreed.
The sacrifice started with great pomp and show. Hundreds of holy men came to take part in it, and thousands came as spectators. Everybody praised highly Namuchi’s spiritual zeal. The only exception was Lord Munisubrata and his group, who did not come, and the minister took it as an insult. At once he came to the Acharya and said, “I order you and your Munis to quit at once. If, by tomorrow morning, anyone of your party be found within the limits of this realm, at my command, he will be put to the sword. I entertain no request or protest from your side.”
The Acharya said that he and his Munis could not, according to the sanctions of his order, move out during the rainy season. “Minister !” he said, “In giving your order you should not disrespect the sanctions of my own order.” “I don’t know this,” shouted Namuchi. “My order will be followed to the very letter, and there will be no deviation from it.” saying so, he departed.
It was now a great problem for the Acharya in which the safety of the Munis, both individually and collectively, was involved. He called all his Munis and said, “Look, we are in the midst of a crisis. Namuchi seems to have some evil design on us. He is bent on wiping out our influence from this realm. What should be our duty in this situation ?” After a moment’s gap, the Acharya said again, “This is really a challenge and affront to the entire order. Is there no one in the order who may teach Namuchi a good lesson ? The very existence of the order is at stake at this moment.”
Discussion started at once within the order as to what should be done in the situation. By unanimous opinion, Muni Vishnukumar, who happened to be the elder brother of the ruling monarch, and who was accomplished in great powers, was considered to be the fittest person for this purpose. But, at this moment, he was on Mount Meru immersed in the Kayotsarga meditation, and the problem was how to reach him there and bring him at once, since time was the most important factor. A Muni stood up and said, “I can fly there and communicate the urgent message to the Muni, but I don’t know how to fly back.” In view of the urgency, the Acharya gave him leave to go at once, saying that the Muni might himself arrange for his return at his convenience.
The whole thing happened as expected. Vishnukumar came with the Muni and stood before Lord Munisubrata. The whole order was enlivened to see him. The Acharya narrated the present difficulty of the order, for which he had been urgently summoned. Vishnukumar at once came to the court. Everyone at the court stood up at the appearance of the Muni, who was himself a prince from this kingdom, but the haughty minister did not move. Addressing the minister, the Muni said, “Namuchi ! You should know that these are the rainfall months when, according to our sanctions, the Munis cannot move out. As the chief minister, it’s your duty to see that the Munis are not inconvenienced in any way and arrange for their sojourn in this city. You have not only not done that; instead, you have ordered the Munis to leave. This is not becoming of a man of your position.”
The haughty minister did not relent; he said instead, “I cannot withdraw my order, but since you have come, I make this concession that I give them space for their stay as big as three steps, if they can manage with it. But you should not make request for more, and you should at once move out of my sight.”
It was by now clear to Vishnukumar that the minister would see no reason and it was useless to argue with him. So he decided to meet him on a different plane. He mobilized his power and expanded his body to a tremendous size and shape. Then he covered the ground up to the eastern ocean by one step and that up to the western ocean by the other, and had yet to place his third step, for which there was no more space. The universe started to quake at this unusual event. So he placed his third step on the minister’s head and pushed him down to the underworld, removing for good the menace from the surface of the earth.
Having fulfilled his assignment, the Muni stood before his Acharya. When the whole episode reached the ears of the king, he came to the Acharya and begged to be forgiven.
So, my dear father, you should know that even Muni Munipati is in possession of great powers, and he can do anything to protect his honor. We should be very careful and not put a false blame on him. Perhaps you know the story of Ghritapusyamitra and Bastrapusyamitra, the two disciples of Acharya Aryarakshita, who were in possession of great spiritual powers.”
The merchant confessed his ignorance about them and desired to be enlightened. The son started: “The specialty of Ghritapusyamitra was that wherever he went to beg food, there was a plentiful supply of clarified butter (Ghee) even in such arid regions as Avantidesh, where the bovine population was scanty. Likewise, the presence of Bastrapusyamitra was capable of creating a plentiful supply of cloth in cities and countries like Mathura and Videh, where there was not much production of cloth. These two Munis not only kept the order well supplied with these things, but the plenty created by their presence benefited the common folks as well. You should know, father, that Muni Munipati is in no way inferior to either of these, and you should stop troubling him any further.”
The merchant: “But what can I do when I am absolutely certain that he has stolen my treasure ? All I want is that he gives it back. I shall have no more reason to cause him trouble.”
The son: “Father ! You need change your suspicion. Your treasure had been removed by me and not by the celebrated Muni. It is in this house. Come with me, and I shall show it to you.”
At these words, the merchant fell at the Muni’s feet, and the Muni, who is usually an embodiment of forgiveness, responded favorably to the merchant’s humble prayer and repentance. The merchant was even inspired by his holy words so that he renounced the world and courted monkshood, wherein the soul is the only treasure to be taken care of.
One day, Nandisen Muni went for Gochari (alms). He saw a white mansion. He entered and uttered ‘Dharma Labh’. The mistress of the house said, “We do not require Dharma (religion), but we require Artha (Money). If you have that then only we welcome you.”
The Muni felt insulted, he wanted to show that he can shower money too. He just whispered something and golden coins dropped from the roof in a moment.
The harlot felt that he is worthy person and should try to keep him here. She said, “Muni, you cannot return without accepting my gift. Please be kind and wait”. She came back dressed sensual and said, “I am all yours and let us enjoy the life. If you spurn at me and leave me, I shall commit suicide and you will incur the sin of death of a woman.”
Hearing these words and her sensual appeal rose the subdued passions of the Muni. He remembered Lord Mahavir’s words who before initiating him as a Muni, told him, “You still have some sensual pleasures to be enjoyed.” But because of his insistence Lord Mahavir initiated him. So Nandisen thought may be this was it. Let me get over this. He decide to live at the harlot’s place.
The Muni stayed at the harlot’s place and got involved into the sensual pleasures. But he maintained such rule that he would eat only after he preached ten people to renounce the worldly life. He enlightened ten people daily and then accepted his food. This continued for twelve years.
One day nine persons were enlightened but he was having problem convincing the tenth person who was goldsmith. Muni Nandisen was striving hard to enlighten him when the woman with whom he stayed arrived and said, “Oh Lord, time for dinner passes away. Please get up and accept food.” He said, “Give me a little more time and see if I can convince him.” She said, “This man does not seem capable of being enlightened.”
The Muni replied: “Wait, because ten people must be enlightened before I can accept food.” With a smile she retorted: “Perhaps you can be the tenth person !”
This triggered the spark in his mind and he started thinking, “What am I doing here ?” His delusion of life was over. He said to her, “Thank you for this. This is it. I am leaving now. Our relationship is over.” Her smile and sarcastic sentence brought about a catastrophe for her. She requested him frequently in vain to refrain from his resolve. He took up the Muni’s attire and materials lying aside and he left.
The Muni approached Lord Mahavir once again and asked for repentance and to be initiated back as a Muni. Nandisen was reinitiated as Muni. He practiced self-restraint and acquired spiritual welfare.
When a person’s ego is hurt, he loses his mission and goal. Sometimes people preach others but forget to practice. However, a situation can arise which could bring a change in one’s life to practice self-restraint. It is never too late to repent for mistakes and practice self-control and acquire spiritual welfare.
By the time of Mahabharat socio-political and religious conditions in India had deteriorated. Standards of restraints, monogamy etc. set up during Ramayan period had given way. Polygamy was almost the order of the day. Rulers and men of means used to marry as many wives as they could afford. Even the old people with grown up sons did not hesitate to marry young girls. There were also cases of polyandry. Rulers were getting powerful. They were maintaining large armies and used to wage wars for expanding their territories.
Jarasangh, the king of Magadh was the most powerful king. He was aspiring to become the lord of the entire Bharatkhand. Most of the other rulers vied with each other for his favor. There were also tyrant kings like Kans who could show utmost cruelty to the persons suspected of being against his interests. Hunting was the favorite pastime of warrior class and gambling was considered respectable game. Animals were sacrificed on the alter of religious rites and non-vegetarianism had become popular. It was the right time for a great saint to come forth and teach religion afresh.
Yadav clan had mostly settled on the bank of Yamuna. Mathura and Shauripuri in the present western UP were their major centers of concentration.
Yadav prince Samudravijay was ruling over Shauripuri. His wife’s name was Shivadevi. Lord Neminath was born to them sometime before Mahabharat and was named Nemikumar. When he was in the womb of his mother, she had dreamt of series of black jewels called Arishta. He is therefore also known as Arishtanemi. He was a cousin and close associate of Shri Krishna.
Under the leadership of Shri Krishna, Yadavs were challenging the authority of Jarasangh who was therefore planning to invade Mathura. Not being able to withstand his pressure, Yadavs migrated to Dwarka in Saurashtra. Nemikumar’s family also migrated with them to Dwarka.
Like Shri Krishna, Nemikumar too was dark complexioned, but handsome and charming. Many girls were attracted towards him. Nemikumar was however introvert and did not develop much attachment for the worldly life. He stayed more introspective as he was inclined towards spiritual life.
At that time, Ugrasen was the king of Junagadh which is situated at the foot of Mount Girnar in Saurashtra. By his wife Dharini he had a daughter who was named Rajimati. She was popularly known as Rajul. She grew to be a very beautiful and graceful young girl. Many princes and other promising youths were eager to marry her.
When she came to know of Nemikumar, she got enamored of him and desired to marry him. Ugrasen thereupon sent the offer of her marriage to Nemikumar. This was a welcome proposal for Yadav chiefs. With considerable efforts, friends and family members of Nemikumar therefore persuaded him to accept the offer. Every one was happy by his acceptance since Nemikumar and Rajul could make an ideal couple. The two were then officially engaged and a mutually convenient auspicious day was fixed for their wedding ceremony.
An elegantly decorated wedding party set off from Dwarka with the handsome Nemikumar as the bridegroom. Large number of people had joined the party because wedding ceremony was going to be gorgeous. Many of them were also keen to climb Mount Girnar. For king Ugrasen, wedding of his beloved daughter was a once in life time occasion. He had therefore made elaborate arrangements for making it as brilliant as possible.
On the way also, adequate arrangements were made for the fun and food of the bridegroom party. When the party came in the vicinity of Mount Girnar and camped on the outskirts of Junagadh. They were appropriately received by Ugrasen and leading men of the city. It was a fine day. Weather was pleasant and cool sweet wind was blowing from Girnar. Every one on either side was in rejoicing mood and was eager to watch the longed for wedding ceremony. Instructions were given for preparing tasty and delicious food for feasting of the bridegroom party.
Nemikumar too was in the pleasant mood. He was getting ready for the wedding ceremony. All of a sudden he heard some frightful shrieks and crying sounds. On inquiring, he learnt that it was emanating from birds and animals that were being slaughtered for feasting of his entourage.
He could not bear the idea of so much violence being caused on account of his wedding. He got pensive and started thinking how to prevent the violence. “Can’t there be a way of life that would extend peace and security to every living being ?” he asked himself. As he thought deep into the matter, it was clear to him that he should better explore the way for well being of all.
He could visualize that after marriage he would get too much involved in worldly life. Then it would be hard for him to embark upon any exploration of that type. He could realize that it was the time for him to explore the truth that would lead to happiness of every being. He therefore decided to avoid getting married and to renounce the worldly life.
Every one on bridegroom’s side was taken aback by his decision. How would they be in a position to explain his sudden decision to the bridal side ? His friends and close relatives tried to dissuade him from his decision. He had however made up his mind. Their efforts therefore came to nothing. He calmly explained that it was his mission to explore bliss for all and they should not come in the way of fulfilling that mission. Thereupon he renounced everything and started for Girnar lonely and possessionless.
Neminath, as he came to be known thereafter, stayed on the mountain intensely meditating about the ultimate cause of all unhappiness. He could realize that ignorance of the true nature of oneself led to wrong perception and consequent wrong action that resulted in all sorts of miseries and pain. He therefore dwelt deep into the matter.
On the 56th day of renunciation he got fully enlightened and attained Kevalgnan (omniscience). He then set up afresh the religious order called Tirtha and became 22nd Tirthankar of the present Avasarpini. Thereafter he lived long enough to show the path of liberation.
At the time Nemikumar decided to renounce, Ugrasen and others were busy making preparations for the wedding. Rajul was being adorned by her girl friends. They were making jokes regarding her wedding and subsequent mating. She too was eagerly waiting for the arrival of her Nemikumar as the bridegroom. Then came the news that Nemikumar was not coming for the wedding. No one could understand his decision to renounce just before wedding.
Rajul was in utter grief, as if a calamity had overtaken her all of a sudden. Her friends tried to console her in that hour of crisis. Some of them started cursing Nemikumar for putting their beloved friend in the awkward position. Some others advised her to forget the unpredictable Nemikumar and look for other suitable match. Rajul had however admitted Nemikumar in her heart as the husband. She could not even think of any other person to take his place. She did not like any one to curse Nemikumar. She too had some spiritual orientation.
When she came to know of real cause of Nemikumar’s renouncement, she could overcome her grief. She realized that Nemikumar had left her for a commendable purpose. She could appreciate his mission. She thought that the best way for her was to follow in the footsteps of Nemikumar. Therefore she also renounced and left for meditation on Girnar.
Once while she was going from one place to another on the mountain, it started raining heavily. She took shelter under a tree but it was inadequate for the heavy downpour. By the time the rain stopped, she was totally drenched. She saw a cave nearby. She went inside, took off her clothes and started twisting them for drying them.
At that time Rathanemi (younger brother of Nemikumar), who had renounced earlier and who had once aspired to marry Rajul, was meditating in a corner of that cave. He opened his eyes at the sound of Rajul’s drying of her clothes. He could not believe that the girl he had dreamt of was standing there nude. He could not resist the temptation of getting her. He therefore left the meditation and expressed his love for her.
Nun Rajul was put in a very embarrassing situation. But she immediately regained her composure. Covering her body, she told him that his desire was not befitting for an ascetic like him. She explained that he should overcome his passion and stick to his renounced life. His succumbing to his instinct amounted to eating the vomited stuff. Even his brother Nemikumar, to whom she was once engaged, had left her in search for the truth. As such he should not deviate from the path that he had selected. Then Rathanemi realized the truth of her words. He begged her pardon and went away. In due course he attained Kevalgnan (omniscience).
Nun Rajul also spent the rest of her life as the head of nuns order of Lord Neminath and in the end attained divinity.
There was a recluse who had a Parasmani which could turn the iron into the gold by its contact. The Mayor of the city came to know this. He wanted to get that. He stopped all his other activities and started serving and worshipping the recluse. He arranged for dining, sleeping etc., with the recluse. He got up early before the recluse did and started serving him. He very zealously served the recluse by preparing his bed, his meals etc., but actually speaking the Mayor was serving the Parasmani and not the recluse. Temptation enslaves the man.
The recluse was very shrewd and he silently observed everything. Twelve years passed away. The recluse was pleased with the Mayor’s services and he said, “I am pleased with your services. So you can ask me for anything you like.”
The Mayor said, “Give me the Parasmani.” The recluse said, “All right ! It lies there in that bag in an iron casket. Bring that bag here.”
The Mayor knew that the Parasmani when touched with iron turns the iron into gold. So he grew suspicious that the recluse desired to give any other thing except the Parasmani. He served the recluse for twelve years. He grew very nervous and still respecting the command of the recluse he brought the bag and handed it over to the recluse.
The recluse took out an iron casket from the bag, opened it and there was some light object kept in the bag. From the bag the bristling Parasmani was taken out. It was placed in the iron casket and the same turned into a golden one. Now the Mayor was satisfied and was fortunate to receive it from the recluse.
The moral is, there was a layer of cotton cloth in between the iron casket and the Parasmani and that is why the iron did not turn into gold. Similarly there is a veil of attachment and ignorance in between our preceptor and ourselves. Knowledge therefore does not dawn upon you. If that veil is set aside, we can realize knowledge at this very moment; and thereby attain highest bliss with progress in our righteousness. Therefore, discard attachments for worldly objects and grow anxious to contact the right kind of preceptor.
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