Amitchandra was the king of Malaypur. His queen’s name was Chandrakala, and that of his son Sagarchandra. The prince had a manly physique and was wholly undaunted by elephants and demons alike.
One day, while roaming in the city, he met a man with a bamboo pole in his hand, atop which there was a piece of paper. On the paper something was scribbled. When he asked the man what it could be, the man said, “The paper has a nice couplet written on it. He who pays five hundred gold coins gets it.”
Delay not they religious practice to tranquilize them.”
The couplet created a stir in the prince and was henceforth uppermost in his mind.
One day, some invisible power picked up the prince and dropped him into the sea. He caught a floating log and was in that state struggling for life for eight days. On the ninth day, he was washed ashore an island named Amar. Once on the shore, he rubbed himself with coconut water to allay his fatigue. Though alone on the island, the couplet was his companion and he did not feel stranded and lonely. His first task now was to pluck some fruits and appease his hunger. then he started to survey the island. Suddenly, he heard a lady crying at a distance, and he hurried his steps in that direction. As he drew near the spot, he could distinctly hear the lady’s voice saying, “In my next birth, at least, I must have Sagarchandra as my husband.”
The prince was surprised to hear his own name in this place. As he drew near her, he saw a lady with a loop around her neck ready to commit suicide. With a swift movement of his hand, the prince cut the loop at once.
The lady was surprised to see a human being in that situation. No less surprised was the prince himself to see a Vidyadhara standing in front of him. The Vidyadhara said, “Sir, you have done me a lot of good by saving this lady’s life.”
The prince felt inquisitive about the whole drama. The Vidyadhara started his account to enlighten the prince: “Sir, on this Amar Island is a city named Amarpur where reigns King Bhuvanbhanu. His queen’s name is Chandravadana, and that of the princess Kamalamala. This young lady is the princess herself. I am her maternal uncle Amitatej. On the basis of very high reports about a certain prince, Sagarchandra by name, this lady is mad after him. She is determined to marry this prince and none else. If the situation proved otherwise, she would not even hesitate to court death. On the other hand, a certain Vidyadhara, Sursen by name, is mad after this lady. It is he who picked her up and brought her here. As he was about to apply force on her, I came here by sheer chance and knocked him out.”
Meanwhile, Amitatej’s wife, Vidyulata, joined them, and she at once recognized the prince. “Why, this is surely Sagarchandra. I know him. It can not be a mistake. I saw him on my way to the Nandishwar Island.”
At the mention of the prince’s name, the lady regained a new life, so to say. Right on the spot, the uncle performed the marriage of the princess with Sagarchandra.
The prince now proceeded to meet his father-in-law, King Bhuvanbhanu, at his own city. The king accorded him a ceremonial reception.
One night, as the prince lay in his bed, some invisible hand removed him, and in the morning when the prince awoke, he found himself on the top of a hill, all by himself, far from Amarpur. He did not know where he was. It was indeed a cruel joke, but he remembered the couplet and was not particularly in distress. He now started getting acquainted with the new situation.
Under an Ashok tree, he saw a Muni in Kayotsarga posture and felt enlightened and enriched from within. After the Muni’s meditation was over, the prince asked him, “Holy Sir ! How does a living being experience happiness ?”
The Muni made sure that the stranger was a right recipient and said, “Religion is the surest road to happiness. In the absence of religion, even wealth and desires do not fructify, let alone happiness. And equanimity is the first step to religion.”
Sagarchandra courted equanimity from that day. He had a few more queries for the Muni, but before he could formulate them, the Muni had disappeared, and he found himself encircled by a large band of soldiers. Their leader ordered, “Hurry up ! Kill this sinful man !”
Sagarchandra was all alone and without any weapons. He at once invoked the couplet and was all strength. He jumped upon a soldier, snatched his sword and chased after the whole group. Many were killed and many fled for their lives. They could not stand for long before a determined fighter.
Seeing the situation going out of hand, the leader, a prince himself, Samarvijay by name, took the field.
Now, this was a duel between equals which lasted for a long time, none yielding the ground. So, to change the situation, Sagarchandra invoked his special skill, which his adversary could not comprehend, and soon he was a captive in Sagarchandra’s hands. Sagarchandra, however, did no disrespect to a worthy adversary, but released him with his own hands.
But one point was not clear to Sagarchandra it was the cause of Samarvijay’s animosity for which he hunted him down in such an out-of-the-way place and challenged him with full force.
Just at that moment, a lady appeared on the scene who threw light on the whole situation: “King Kamalchandra of Kushalvardhan has a daughter named Bhuvankanta. The princess has heard from some good things about Sagarchandra, and she has decided to have him, and no one else, as her husband. Now, at Sholapur, there is another king named Sudarshan, and he has a son named Samarvijay who stands yonder. King Sudarshan sent a request to King Kamalchandra seeking the hand of Bhuvankanta for his son, but the request has been turned down. So Samarvijay marched on the city of Kushalvardhan. He even stole the princess, but she has escaped to this forest. I am her nurse. I have recognized you, and my earnest request is that you accept her and be a source of great joy to all of us.”
Samarvijay hung his head in shame at this double defeat. Sagarchandra accepted the princess, if not for anything else, to establish his superiority and victory on his adversary. The ritual was organized by the nurse.
Now, Sagarchandra started to meet his new father-in-law. On the way, he heard music from some instruments. Proceeding alone in the direction, he soon reached a mansion. On the seventh floor, there were five damsels who received him. When Sagarchandra inquired about the existence of five girls all by themselves in the lonely forest, they told him, “We are, Sir, Kamala, Shri, Rambha, Vimla, and Tara, all daughters of a Vidyadhara king named Singhanada at the Vaitadhya hills. Once an astrologer had made a forecast telling our father that a prince named Sagarchandra, the son of King Amitchandra, would be our husband, and that he would come on his own to this forest without our having to seek him out. So our father has built this mansion, and we are waiting here for the arrival of our man.”
Sagarchandra remembered the couplet. Since destiny had allotted these girls to him, he accepted them.
In the twinkling of an eye, everything disappeared, the girls and the mansion, and the prince stood all alone. He returned to the place where he had left Bhuvankanta, but even she was not there. The whole thing seemed like magic, and the prince did not know what to make of it.
It was now useless to waste his time there, so the prince sat down to rest and to concentrate on the couplet.
The temple became the venue of two very happy meetings.
King Sudharma of Mangalpuri came there with his daughter to offer her to the prince as per a previous forecast. The king knew before hand that he would meet the prince in the temple.
King Singhanada came with his five daughters. As the Vidyadhara revealed, soon after their marriage with Sagarchandra they were stolen by a prince named Utpal, son of a certain king named Amitatej, from whom they had just been rescued by their father. The Vidyadhara king further revealed that the prince’s first wife, Bhuvankanta, whom he had left in the forest, had been carried away by Kamal, who happened to be Utpal’s brother, and that at that moment she was on the Vaitadhya hills struggling to protect herself from the rogue.
Now, the prince’s first duty was to rescue Bhuvankanta. His father-in-law Singhanada equipped him with special powers that might be of help to the prince in the ensuing encounter. Bhuvankanta was duly rescued, and in the company of all his wives, the prince returned to his city to the great joy of his parents and his people.
One day, Kevali Bhuvananand came to the city. King Amitchandra and Prince Sagarchandra came to see him. After the sermon the king made the following submission to the Kevali: “Holy Sire ! We do not know yet how and by whom my son was picked up dropped into the sea, and why ? Can you tell us ?”
Throwing light on the past, the Kevali said, “Oh king ! It is a long story. In Mahavideh, there lived a merchant who had two sons, both highly accomplished. One day, the elder brother went abroad on business. During his absence, the younger one told his sister-in-law in joke one day that his brother had been murdered by robbers. This was a great shock to the lady, who died of a broken heart. At this unexpected incident, the younger brother became terribly sorry.
When the elder brother returned and came to know of his brother’s hand in the premature death of his wife, he became very angry with his brother, and no amount of regret by the latter was able to pacify him. The elder then joined the order of heretical Munis, and at death, he was born as Asurkumar. The younger joined the Jain holy order.
The elder, now as Asurkumar, came to the younger one day to take revenge. He picked him up and dashed him against a rock, killing him on the spot. He earned a heavenly life and is now born as your son, Prince Sagarchandra.
The Asurkumar is still after his younger brother. It is he who picked up Sagarchandra and dropped him into the sea. He is not yet pacified and is likely to cause further troubles, but at no time now will he be able to overpower the prince.”
This revelation of the past gave enlightenment to the royal couple and the prince, all three of whom were initiated into the holy order. Deeply impressed by the great power of the couplet in his possession that always stood by him at the most difficult moments of life, as a Muni Sagarchandra now turned to the holy texts and soon mastered them. Later, he headed the order. Knowing his last moments not very far, Sagarchandra courted fast unto death and sat in deep meditation. At this moment, the Asurkumar caused him great affliction which he bore unconcerned. In this state, at a very supreme moment, he acquired the knowledge of the free and entered into liberation, the most coveted state, whence there is no gliding back and forth by the soul in the cycle of life and death.
In very ancient times there was a king named Ashwasen in northern India. His capital city was Hastinapur. He had a beautiful queen named Sahadevi. When she got pregnant, she saw fourteen dreams that occur to the mothers of Tirthankars and sovereign emperors.
In due course she gave birth to a very handsome lovable son who was named Sanatkumar. Every one liked the boy who turned out to be very bold, brave and intelligent. At school, he quickly mastered all the arts and sciences. He also became expert in use of all types of weapons. Ashwasen was very glad to learn about the accomplishments of his son and the people were pleased and felt happy that they had such a bold, handsome and lovable young prince to succeed the king.
Once in spring season, the prince was happily playing with other princes along with his bosom friend Mahendrasingh. They decided to have a horse ride. Sanatkumar chose to ride a horse that was newly presented to him. As soon as he got on the back, the horse started running. He ran so fast that all other princes and companions were left behind and in no time the horse disappeared from the scene. The king got very much worried by the mysterious disappearance of the prince. Anxious to get him back, he went in search but after going a little distance he lost all the foot prints of the horse on account of gusty wind and terrible storm and lost the track. Thereupon he entrusted the search to Sanatkumar’s friend Mahendrasingh and returned to Hastinapur.
Mahendrasingh started the search with a band of selected followers. After going to various places they entered a dense forest that was infested by wild animals and poisonous snakes. Even pythons were moving here and there. On account of the risk involved, his companions left him one after another. Mahendrasingh had however decided not to return without the prince. He therefore proceeded alone undaunted by the adversities.
For one full year he traveled far and wide but did not get any trace of the prince. During the next spring he came across a lovely area full of water springs, fanciful localities and greenery. There in a garden he saw some lovely maidens singing sweet music. And to his surprise he noticed that his dear friend was playing there with those heavenly girls.
Sanatkumar also saw Mahendrasingh. He immediately approached and embraced his friend. Then he asked one of the girls to take him to bath. Mahendrasingh got refreshed and after taking the meal he came to Sanatkumar who was talking to his favorite girl Bakula. Mahendrasingh requested him to narrate what had happened after the elopement of the horse.
Sanatkumar said that he tried hard to stop the horse, but with every effort of mine, he was increasing his speed. At last I gave up and allowed him to take me wherever he liked. At last the horse stopped in this lovely land near that lake on your right. Since Bakula knows what happened after that, let her narrate the rest of it. Thereupon Bakula stated as under:
“One day I was playing in our favorite lake water along with my sisters and other friends. No male is supposed to come over there. All of a sudden I saw a horse with your friend on the back. The loveliness of your friend enamored all of us. As soon as he got down, some devil appeared there, no one knows from where, and attacked him. The devil used all possible means to kill him, but Sanatkumar was a match for him and knocked down the devil who had to run away.
Highly impressed by Sanatkumar’s strength, we wished to play with him. So we forcibly dragged him into water. After playing with him for a long time, we took him to the city and introduced him to our father Bhanuveg, the king of this heavenly place. He was very pleased to see your friend and decided to make him son in law. Thus we eight sisters got married to him.
Once Sanatkumar alone had been far away. He happened to see a seven storied beautiful building. As he was marveling at the structure, he heard cries of a girl from the top floor. He went inside and saw that a beautiful girl was lying there crying for help. Sanatkumar consoled her and inquired about her problem. The girl said that she was Sunanda, the princess of Vinita. She was engaged to the prince of Hastinapur. She was however abducted by a heavenly being named Vajraveg who wanted to marry her. Sanatkumar gave his identification and assured that he would save her from the clutches of Vajraveg. While they were talking, Vajraveg came there and seeing Sanatkumar he attacked him with all his might. Sanatkumar however successfully faced him and killed Vajraveg. Then he married Sunanda.
Vajraveg’s father Ashaniveg got mad at Sanatkumar for killing his son. He came here with a large army. My father and his colleagues came to help Sanatkumar. There was fierce battle in which Ashaniveg got killed and his entire fortune was gained by Sanatkumar. Ashaniveg’s daughter also married Sanatkumar. That way he married many girls and gained lot of wealth. Since then he has been happily passing the time enjoying every pleasure of life.
After staying there and enjoying heavenly hospitality, Mahendrasingh once said to Sanatkumar that his parents were very much worrying on account of his sudden disappearance. He should therefore better go home. Sanatkumar too felt it worthwhile and proceeded to Hastinapur along with his wives and large band of followers. After a few days he reached Hastinapur. Ashwasen was very pleased to see his son once again. As he heard everything about Sanatkumar’s accomplishments, he decided that it was the time for him to retire. Accordingly he coronated Sanatkumar as the king of Hastinapur and renouncing the worldly affairs he became a Muni.
Sanatkumar ruled very well. All the people were pleased with his administration. He appointed Mahendrasingh as the commander in chief and set upon an expedition. He gained victory everywhere. Very soon he conquered all the territories and became the undisputed emperor or Chakravarti of the entire land. He was particularly known every where for his unparalleled aristocratic appearance. Even the heavenly beings were aware of his extraordinary attractiveness.
Once Indra, the king of heaven praised the exquisite elegance of Sanatkumar in his assembly. Two members named Vijay and Vaijavant got skeptical of the praise. They therefore decided to verify it.
Disguised as Brahmins they came to Hastinapur and asked for permission to see the king. At that time Sanatkumar was getting ready for taking his bath. He was however courteous enough to allow them inside. Coming in, they saw that Sanatkumar was actually more handsome than it was mentioned in the heavenly assembly. They therefore moved their heads in approval of the praise. As the king asked the purpose of that gesture, they said that they had heard about his admirable body. They had been there to verify it and found him more attractive than they had thought. Sanatkumar was proud of his attractiveness. He got highly flattered by those words. He said that he was still not properly dressed or adorned. With an air of vanity he suggested that if they really wanted to see his magnificent attractiveness, they should better come to the court when he sits on the throne properly dressed and adorned.
After getting ready the king came to the court with all the pomp and decoration and sat on the majestic throne. There was precious diamond studded crown on his head. Splendors canopy was hanging over his head and lovely girls were waving fans. He invited those Brahmins to come inside and look at him. He no doubt looked immensely attractive; but his inner self was poisoned on account of his vanity about his splendor and poised body. Those people could make out the difference and moved their heads in disapproval. The king asked about the reason for that gesture. Then they disclosed their identity and said that his attractiveness was highly poisoned that time. The king was not willing to believe that. At their suggestion he therefore spat in a corner. A fly came over it and immediately died. This was an eye opener for him. He realized that all the wealth and splendors are short lived and unreliable. He therefore decided to give up every thing. Soon after he placed his son on the throne and became a possessionless Muni.
As Muni he observed severe austerities. Due to insufficient nourishment he got leprosy, but he did not care for that. He had gained miraculous accomplishments by his spiritual pursuit but did not use any of them for curing the disease. This time Indra praised his sense of total detachment for the body. Once again Vijay and Vaijavant got skeptical.
They came to Sanatkumar in the guise of doctors and suggested that they could cure him by their expertise. Sanatkumar replied that diseases are of two kinds, internal and external. He did not care for the external or physical one but was concerned about the internal disease of Karma that afflicted him since time immemorial. His sole concern was to get rid of that. If they could cure that disease, he was willing to undergo their treatment. Since they showed their helplessness in the matter, Sanatkumar applied saliva on his diseased finger by putting it in the mouth and showed it to them. To their surprise the finger was cured of the disease. Thereupon they disclosed their identity and heartily praised Sanatkumar for his true detachment.
Sanatkumar spent many years practicing austerity and penance. When the end was close, he adopted Anashan (Staying steadfast in the same position without taking food or drink). In the end he attained heaven.
Saran, a well-known dice player, was a resident of the city of Avanti. The game of dice was, so to say, a passion with him, and in this, he squandered his all. He was now literally starving, and yet he could not start any business for want of capital, so he turned into a house-breaker. One day, he reached the house of a merchant where the father and the son were talking, as follows:
Father: “I want to store ten thousand gold coins in some safe place to be used in case of unforeseen contingencies.”
Son: “It is a laudable idea, Sir, but what will be the safe place for this ?”
Father: “I think the cremation ground.”
Saran at once transferred himself to the cremation ground, and, attired like a monk, he controlled his breathing and lay like a corpse in one corner.
Meanwhile, the merchant and his son came there. The merchant asked his son to check around carefully, for he knew that if anybody was in hiding in the neighborhood, his whole plan would fall through. In fulfilling his assignment, the son carefully searched the entire neighborhood but found no living person anywhere, only a corpse. He checked him carefully, touched him, turned him, but found no trace of life, though the body bore no mark of any wound. The son came back and apprised his father. The merchant said at once, “Maybe he is an expert cheat. You go again and examine him once more.”
The son returned and examined the body again, this time more carefully than before, but found nothing to alter his previous finding. Then he held his leg and dragged him to some distance. Saran bore everything with patience and did not give up control of his breathing. The son came back and reported to the father. The father said, “Surely this fellow is a class one rogue. He has carefully spread his trap to cheat us. We need to be very careful about him. So go again, my son, and cut his nose and ears this time. If he is alive, he will give a shriek. If he does nothing, then we shall be fully assured.”
The son did as instructed, but Saran bore even the cut and did neither move nor shriek. Now, the merchant had no doubt that it was a corpse and not a living being. So the father and the son dug a ditch, buried the treasure, and returned home.
After they had left, Saran did his own job. He dug out the entire treasure and brought it home.
Days passed. One day, the merchant sent his son to check if the treasure was intact. But the son discovered only an empty ditch. Very much depressed, he came back home and reported. The merchant said, “Surely, that one was a cheat and not a dead man. He had very effectively spread the trap to rob us. He must be a very strong fellow that he patiently bore the physical pain of the nose-cut and the ear-cut. Now, in the city, we must be on the lookout for a man who is without a nose and ears. That will be the easy way to detect the thief.”
In a few days, the merchant caught the man he was looking for. He held him by the hand, took him aside, and said, “You must be a great man. Such a daring act is not possible for an ordinary mortal. I know, man, how you lost your nose and ears.”
The man was neither ashamed nor alarmed, nor did he strive to hide anything. In a very normal tone, he retorted, “Sir, no pain is high enough to acquire a treasure.”
“Worthy hero ! May I make you a request ? Whatever still remains unspent or unsquandered, you should restore to me. I shall properly reward you.”
“You may take the whole of it, but let it not reach the king’s ears.”
The merchant rewarded the thief and reacquired whatever portion of his treasure was still there.
There was a city named Kshita-Pratishthita in the Southern region of the island Jambudwip. There lived a rich merchant named Dhana, eminent for liberality, serenity, patience etc. Real value lies not in ornaments of gold and diamonds but in the virtues.
One day the merchant thought, “A merchant is popular only when he earns wealth. Therefore, I should still work hard in spite of all my possessions. Let me go to the city of Vasantpur.”
He announced in town that if any one wants to join me then come along with me. Under this proclamation many people joined the merchant. A religious preacher named Dharmaghosh possessing forbearance, self-restraint and patience approached the merchant Dhana. Dhana got up from his seat respectfully to greet the preceptor. He asked about his welfare and asked if he could do anything for him. The preacher said, “Gentleman, I also intend to join you for Vasantpur along with my disciples.”
The merchant said, “It would be our pleasure to have you together. Please join us. I will look after you for all your comforts.” Then the merchant ordered his servants to prepare the necessary food for the preacher and his disciples.
The preceptor said, “No food specially prepared for a monk is acceptable to us. More over, water of the lakes and wells being full of life is not acceptable to us. Fire weapons also are not acceptable to us.”
In the meanwhile a man offered merchant a big dish full of ripe mangoes. Merchant said to preceptor with joy, “Lord, kindly oblige me by accepting these ripe fruits.”
The preceptor said, “Fruits containing life are not acceptable to us.” The merchant was highly astonished and said, “Your vows are difficult to be observed, still please join us. You will be served with the food and water acceptable to you.”
Merchant Dhana left with his grand paraphernalia and the preceptor also accompanied him with his disciples. Crossing fearful forest, streams and rivers, even and uneven grounds they arrived at a vast forest. Monsoon set in and all the roads of passage were obstructed with mud and stones and floods. Progress in journey became impossible so the merchant resolved to stay here in the forest. They erected tents. Someone has rightly declared that the people who act in accordance with place and time do not become miserable.
Preceptor Dharmaghosh took his resort in one of such tent and passed his time in spiritual studies, meditation and penance along with his disciples.
As this stay was sudden and unexpected and lasted longer than expected the most of the food were exhausted and they began to live upon fruits, bulbs, roots etc. Realizing this situation Dhana began to worry for all. He also remembered that Preceptor Dharmaghosh and his disciples who had joined him do not accept any food specially prepared for them too. He had agreed to look after them during this journey; but he could not look after them as promised. He regretted for his negligence and was reluctant to show his face to the preceptor.
In the morning, dressed in white and fine dresses, the merchant accompanied by his followers came to see the preceptor. He found the preceptor as incarnation of forbearance nobility, straightforwardness and contentment. Some monks were seated near him, some were engaged in meditation, some in observing silence, some in fasting till death, some in spiritual studies, while some engaged in sweeping the ground. Dhana was deeply impressed with the spirit of atmosphere. He offered his homage to the preceptor and the other monks. At last with his voice choked with tears he said to the preceptor, “Oh, Lord forgive me for my fault. I have greatly disregarded you. I have not served you properly. I am ashamed and I deeply repent my faults”.
The preceptor replied, “Gentleman, you have guarded us on our way from the fierce animals, thieves and robbers. Therefore, we believe that we are properly treated and honored. Moreover, your people extend to us required food and other requirements. I have no grievance in this matter. You need not regret for anything”.
The merchant said, “Great men always appreciate virtues. Thus you only appreciate my virtues and do not condemn my mistakes. Please show your grace to send some of the monks to accept food from us; so that I shall feel satisfied with such offer.”
The preceptor replied, “As the times would permit.” Then the merchant left for the shelter. Two monks arrived to beg for food but no food which was acceptable to the monk was found. The merchant tried to find something here and there and found a pot of clarified butter. He said, “Is this acceptable to you ?”
The monk replied, “It is acceptable.” The merchant was overjoyed and highly gratified with the acceptance made by the monk. He then bowed down to the monks and benedictions were bestowed upon him. With influence of this charity made by the merchant enthusiastically, he secured right belief, the very seed of salvation. At night after his walk the merchant went to the preceptor. Having bowed down to the preceptor he sat near the feet of the preceptor with full devotion.
The preceptor with serene and sublime voice delivered his preaching, “Religion is the highest bliss, begetting heaven and salvation. It is an excellent guide to cross over the dense worldly forest. Religion is the magnanimous abode of happiness, impregnable armor against the enemies and effective drug destroying stupidity. With the help of religion, one becomes a king, a Baldev, a Vasudev, a Chakravarti, or an Indra or even a prophet worshipped by three worlds. This means all the riches, powers and prowess are to be attributed to the religion.”
No sooner was Right-faith entertained by Merchant Dhana, his soul gradually realized progress, and he could acquire highest bliss for his soul, That is why we have been appraising Right faith so much.
The real value is not in the gold and the diamonds but is in a person’s virtues. Great man always appreciate virtues and do not condemn other’s mistakes. Religion is the highest bliss, begetting heaven and salvation. It is an excellent guide to cross over the dense worldly forest. With right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct one’s soul could acquire highest bliss.
Once upon a time there lived a mother and son in a very poor village. One day, there was a celebration in the village and all the kids, including the poor son, had gone to attend it. After playing, all the kids were talking about the sweets they ate at home. When the young shepherd boy heard the name, “Khir,” he was very surprised because he had never heard it before. He started to cry and ran home, where his mother asked him why he was crying. He replied that he had never had any Khir, so his mother told him to calm down and she would make Khir for him.
Mother went to the neighbor’s house and borrowed milk and sugar because they could not afford any. She made Khir for the child. As the child moved the first spoon of Khir towards his mouth, he heard the words, “Dharma Labh,” which meant that a Jain Muni was at the door. Without any hesitation, the hungry lad gave all the Khir to the Muni. This shows us that it does not matter how much you give but with what intentions you give. In a later life, this boy became the famous Shalibhadra.
Shalibhadra’s mother was Bhadra Shethani and his father was Gobhadra Sheth. His father had left the house when the boy was young and became a Muni. Shalibhadra was a multi-millionaire; it was said that even the demigods and demigoddesses were jealous of his lavish lifestyle. His life was like heaven. He had 32 beautiful wives, and his mother never let him out of the palace in the fear that he might become a Muni like his father.
One day, some merchants from Nepal came to sell some very expensive sarees. They went to King Shrenik’s court where the King told them that he could not afford to use his citizens’ money for his wife’s pleasure. When Bhadra Shethani heard about this, she called the merchants to her house and bought all 16 sarees. She cut them into 32 pieces and gave them to the 32 wives. They used them for wiping their feet and threw them away. This shows how rich he was.
When King Shrenik heard that of this, he felt very proud to know that there was such rich person in his kingdom. He decided to call Shalibhadra to his court to honor him. Bhadra Shethani told the king that her son was very shy and might not come, but the king could come to their palace and honor Shalibhadra. King Shrenik went to Shalibhadra’s palace and marveled at the fact that his own palace was like comparing a rat to an elephant.
Shalibhadra’s mother asked him to come down to meet the king. His mother had kept him away from the outside world for so long that he did not know the meaning of the word “king.” He started to think that he was not free because there was someone of stature than him. He came down to see the king but did not stay with him very long. He consequently gave the king one big hug and left the room in a very upset mood.
He started to think about his father and the real meaning of life. He decided at that moment to become a Muni and told his family about his decision. His mother tried to stop him but he did not listen. His sister Subhadra, her husband, and his 32 wives all became Munis and nuns with him.
What an incredible ending to such a luxurious life ! The poor boy who gave up his Khir in a previous life reaped the benefits of it in a later life. We, like Shalibhadra, should learn to give and not take. This is how Shalibhadra became who he was. After observing the penance as Muni, he ultimately he attained Kevalgnan and was liberated for ever.
Sahashramalla, the son of a merchant, lived in the city of Kaushambi. His life was a pile of sinful deeds. He was an expert in cheating, lying, and stealing. In brief, he was a complete rogue. He spoke several languages and wore diverse dresses to suit each occasion.
There was a jewel merchant named Ratnasar who lived in the same city. Dressing like a merchant, Sahashramalla came one day to his shop and made inquiries about precious stones. Ratnasar spread a part of his stock before him, but Sahashramalla was not satisfied. He wanted to see more. Ratnasar had no doubt about his genuineness, and he took him to be a substantial customer who had come to buy wholesale. So he displayed his entire stock. Sahashramalla appeared to be satisfied and said, “My dear Sir ! I shall take the entire stock, but I shall pay the price tomorrow.”
On hearing this, Ratnasar withdrew the stock, saying, “Sir, I don’t sell on credit.”
Now, during the short time he was in the shop, Sahashramalla made a close observation of the interior. At night, he slipped into the shop through the skylight. At the sound of something falling, Ratnasar’s son, who was sleeping inside, woke up and caught the thief’s leg. The thief tried to escape, and there ensued a severe tussle in which the thief was severely wounded. Then the merchant’s son took pity on him and let him go.
The thief returned home and narrated the sad experience to his mother. On hearing him, the mother said, “My son ! Suffering is common for the thief’s lot. It cannot be that you will usurp other’s treasure and yet remain unhurt. Anyone who is afraid of suffering is unworthy of this profession. And compared with the suffering undergone by Saran, I must say, yours is nothing. It is a pity that you are so much upset.”
On being asked by her son, the mother narrated Saran’s life story (see next story) and added, “Now, you understand, my son, how insignificant is your own suffering when compared with that of Saran. A thief must always be prepared to face situations like this. If you lose your nerve, then you are unsuccessful. If you are confident, success is yours.”
These words of his mother gave him confidence. One night, he broke into the priest’s house and carried away much treasure. Happy at his success, he placed the treasure at the feet of his mother. She was also very happy and inquired whence he could get so much. The son said, “Mother dear ! Don’t ask. Rather, go to the city and get me reports and reactions about the theft. Then you will know everything yourself.”
In the morning, the mother went out to the city and heard people talking about a daring theft in the priest’s house. One lady asked if the thief could be caught, and another said that the matter had been reported to the king.
The king called in the police chief and rebuked him for his inefficiency and negligence to duty. Courtiers and leading citizens present at the court all expressed alarm and promised full cooperation with the authorities in the detection of the thief. The mother collected all these reports from the town and returned home. Warning her son, she said, “My son ! The whole city is now up and alert to catch the thief. You must be very careful in your movements.”
Dressed like a millionaire, Sahashramalla went first to the barber’s shop. The barber welcomed such a lucrative client. After haircut, shave, nail-cut, special massage and bath, the client said, “Barber ! I am highly pleased with you. Send your son with me. I intend to send you a suitable reward.”
This raised high expectation in the barber’s mind. He sent his son with Sahashramalla at once. Sahashramalla now came to the shop of a cloth dealer named Dhanasar, who extended him a very cordial welcome. He displayed all his costly fabrics before him. Sahashramalla selected a few and said, “Sir ! I am taking these with me, and presently I shall return with the money. My son remains here as security.”
While placing the bundle of clothes before his mother, he said, “Mother dear ! Go at once to the city and get me full report about the talk of the town.”
The mother went out and returned with the full report. Meanwhile, the barber and the merchant reported the matter to the king. The thief has made fools of us, they said.
A horse dealer was present at the court. He said, “Your Majesty ! A man whose wealth is increasing must of necessity buy a horse. Besides, a horse is a must for a thief. So the fellow must come to me, and I shall at once get hold of him and bring him to the court.”
A famous harlot, Kamapataka by name, who was also present, said, “Sire ! A man to whom wealth comes as a windfall must visit a public woman. I have no doubt that he will come to me tonight or at the earliest opportunity. Your majesty knows how intelligent I am. Can there be anything which Kamapataka takes up on hand and does not finish successfully ? The thief cannot hide himself anywhere, not even in the nether world. I shall detain him as soon as he comes and send message to the palace.”
Sahashramalla, who had full report through the mother, thought now of crushing the pride of both who had bragged so much at the court. Now, duly dressed as a cavalier, he first called on the horse dealer, who had stayed outside the city. The dealer welcomed him. In a very cordial tone, Sahashramalla said, “How is it, Sir, that you have stayed outside the city ? Worthy man such as you should stay inside the city.”
“Sir ! I am a stranger to this city. I have no particular place in the city where I may stay. So I am comfortable here.”
“What a nice excuse, Sir. You are welcome at my residence. You may use it as your own.”
The dealer wanted to change the topic and said, “Sir ! If a stranger stays with somebody, it creates unnecessary suspicion and gossip. That is not good for the city itself. I am a merchant, interested in selling my things and buying whatever salable merchandise I may get here, so I am quite at home outside the city.”
“Suspicion may be generated, as you say, only if you stay with some well-known notoriety, but where is the scope for this if you stay in the midst of honest people ? If you stay with me, and if that raises unnecessary gossip, then what do I gain in keeping you with me ? I think you should have no objection in staying with me. I can assure you, Sir, that there will be no trouble on either side.”
The dealer was very much impressed by his cordiality, and he accepted the invitation. Sahashramalla now took him straight to the harlot’s home. In confidence, he told the harlot, “This rich horse dealer is a foreigner, and he is now your client. You make suitable arrangement for his reception.”
Kamapataka was in a very high spirit. She allotted a well-furnished room for the dealer’s use. Deeply obliged to Sahashramalla, she even offered to wash his feet with her own hands and make him comfortable. But he said, “Wait ! I must see the king at once. Could you help me with some of your valuable ornaments ? I shall soon restore them to you.”
The harlot had no reason to doubt the man’s credentials who had brought such a substantial client for her. She at once placed all her costly ornaments before him. Sahashramalla placed them in a bag and hurriedly saw the horse dealer, to whom he said, “Sir ! I hope you are comfortable here. I must presently see the king on very urgent business. Meanwhile, my lady will take care of you. Since time is very important, if you don’t mind, may I use your horse to reach the palace ?”
The dealer could not refuse a man who had done so much to make him comfortable.
Thus, with one of the finest steeds in the dealer’s possession and the harlot’s costly ornaments, Sahashramalla turned his steps homeward. He presented the whole booty to his mother and requested her to go to the city again.
When Sahashramalla did not turn up in time, the harlot became restless. She at once reached the palace and made inquiries about a man on horseback, but none of the guards could throw any light. She returned home and made inquiries of the newcomer about his companion. Said the harlot, “You see, Sir, he has taken all my valuable ornaments and has not turned up yet.”
“He has taken my horse, too. Tell me who he is. I am a stranger here. He told me that this was his own house, and so I came here in his company. But now it appears that he was a rogue and I have been deceived.”
Now, both the dealer and the harlot reached the palace. When they reported the matter to the king, his anger knew no bound. He said, “This seems to be an expert thief. He deceives everybody and escapes undetected. If he is not arrested, it will be a great shame for the administration.”
He sent for the police chief and said to him, “I give you five days time to produce the thief. If you fail, severe punishment will be given to you.”
The mother brought the full report to her son. “You must be particularly careful, my son. The police chief is now after you.”
“Mother ! Fear not. He won’t be able to touch me. I shall rob him of all his treasure and make it a gift to you. Then, I am sure, you will congratulate me.”
Sahashramalla now dressed himself like a Brahmin. Passing through the main thoroughfares, he reached a temple. Some people were playing there the game of dice. Sahashramalla joined the group. While on patrol, even the police chief came there, and he could not check the temptation of trying his luck. Now, it was a game between the police chief and Sahashramalla, and the former pawned his ring bearing his own name, which he lost. The thief thus earned the ring. Just at that time, a messenger came from the court and desired the police chief to see the king at once. The police chief departed in a hurry.
With the ring in his possession, Sahashramalla reached the house of the police chief without delay, met his wife, and said, “Madam ! A colossal tragedy has befallen you, and I have hurried here to save you. Pass on all your valuables in my safekeeping lest delay should cause you much harm.”
“Where is he ? What’s the tragedy about ?” “Madam, the police chief is under arrest under orders from the king. The king’s men tied him fast and were taking him when I saw him. For the protection of his valuables, he has deputed me here, and has advised me to remove them to some safe place. If you have any doubt, here is the ring bearing his name.” Saying that, he produced the ring.
The lady now became extremely nervous and handed over all her valuables to him. Sahashramalla took no time to disappear with them.
When the police chief returned home, his wife said, “My dear ! How have you been freed so soon ? Did you get somebody’s assistance ? Has anybody stood surety for you ?”
“Why ? Who arrested me ?” “Well, the king himself, I am told.”
“Who told you a thing like that ?” “Why, just a while ago, you had yourself deputed a man who carried your own ring. He asked me to keep all our valuables into his safekeeping.”
“But have you given him everything ?” “Yes, I have done.”
The police chief’s head was now reeling. He saw darkness all around. Sighing deeply, he said, “I am undone. I had an assignment to arrest him within five days or face severe penalty, and now I have been robbed myself. What shall I do now ? How shall I show my face to the king ?” His grief knew no bound. He went to the king.
On hearing him, the king said, “You are all a worthless lot. Now it is my turn to hunt him out. I shall leave no stone unturned to detect him, wherever he may be on the earth, in heaven, or in the nether world. I have to assure protection to my own people.”
Very humbly the police chief submitted, “Your Majesty ! I have no doubt that you will be able to catch him. When the monarch himself moves, that’s a sure protection.”
Sahashramalla again got the report from his mother and became forewarned. He said to his mother, “How fortunate am I that I have been able to mobilize the king himself.”
Sahashramalla was not merely an expert in changing robes; he was also an expert in many arts. He dressed himself like a masseur and reached the palace gate. He sought an interview with the king. Soon he was in his majesty’s presence. He bowed low before the king and said, “Your Majesty ! I have sought this audience with you to get a chance to lay my expertise at your feet. May your majesty be pleased to allow me to demonstrate my ability !”
The king agreed. He removed his costly robes and ornaments, placed them aside and became ready. He lay on a couch, and Sahashramalla started the trick of his hands. The comfort soon lulled the king to sleep. Sahashramalla did not miss the chance. He picked up the king’s robes and ornaments, put them into a bag, and returned home. He placed the booty at the feet of his mother and narrated that day’s experience.
When the king got up the next morning, he looked around. There was neither the man nor his royal robes and jewelry. The king took no time to perceive that he had been deceived in his own palace. His face turned pale. He came to the court but could scarcely settle his mind on anything.
The ministers, officers, nobles and others did not understand the cause of this change in the king. At last, someone gathered courage and made inquiries about the king’s health. The king then narrated the previous night’s episode. Then the minister said:
“Sire! This is no ordinary thief. He can’t be caught by the power of the police, it seems. Some suitable strategy or enchanted words must be used for this purpose.”
“Minister, until he is caught, I shall find no peace. Think seriously of some way leading to his immediate arrest.”
Thinking a while, the minister said, “I suggest, Sire, in this difficult job, we must seek the assistance of holy men. They have in their possession enchanted words (Mantras), and they are veterans in wisdom. I am sure they may suggest something worthwhile.”
The suggestion at once appealed to the king, and it was given effect to immediately. A number of holy men were called in and were requested to give their advice in the matter. All of them tried their enchanted words, but Sahashramalla was so very intelligent that he escaped.
Repeated successes emboldened the thief and made him undaunted and reckless. There was a panic in the city. Anybody who challenged him lost his life. He had no scruples even to rob the weaker sex, as if he had a complete license. This was a source of great anxiety for the king and the entire administration.
In the midst of this widespread gloom, there appeared a streak of light when there came a Muni Vishuddha, who possessed Kevalgnan. The king came to pay homage to the Muni, and so also came the people from the whole city. Even Sahashramalla did not keep aside.
Kevali Vishuddha said in his sermon: “To kill, to lie, to indulge in sexual behavior, to have reckless acquisition these characterize an impious soul. Such a person behaves wrongly toward others; but he should know that whatever is painful to self is also painful to others. So one must not be bad in his behavior to others. If you have a right to the joys of life, everyone else has a similar right.”
The sermon had a great impact on everybody, but the greatest on the thief, whose whole life now lay before him like an open book, and he felt the highest remorse for all that he had done. The most dominant thought in his mind now was that he had acquired the greatest of sins. In depriving others of their all, he felt, he himself had been the most deprived. The trend of his thought was now inward.
When other people had departed, he came near the Muni and made the following submission: “Very noble Sire ! There is no vile activity on earth that these stained hands have not perpetrated. They have acquired such a notoriety that they now never shrink from them. But I am thrilled by your holy words, and my rock-like heart is now melted. Please save me and show me the way.”
The Kevali said, “My dear fellow ! Religion is a quick and intense remedy even for the worst sinner. Ennoble your soul by restraint, and be pure.”
“Holy Sire ! I am ready to do whatever you suggest. But I have one very humble request. Please take me to another city and there fix me in restraint. The king here is very much after me. If by any chance he comes to know of me, I will forfeit opportunity to improve. I am a well-known thief of this city, and I have thrown dust into the eyes of everybody, including the king.”
The Kevali admonished, “So long as you have fear, my dear fellow, you cannot practice restraint. Have, therefore, no fear from the king or the people. You have to make a frank confession. Confession rightly done changes the whole situation, and you benefit in the end. Even the adversary’s mind changes, and age-old feelings are washed away. Tomorrow you will come at the time of my sermon. You will get a chance to confess and then get fixed in restraint.”
Sahashramalla agreed. The next day, the congregation met as usual, and the king and thousands of citizens were assembled. Through his sermon, the Kevali wiped out the doubts of everybody about the past, the present, and the future. When the sermon was over, the king made his submission about the thief and sought guidance about his detection.
The Kevali ordained, “Oh king ! He is no longer a thief. The agony of your city is now ended. You tried your best to detect him, but you did not succeed. Have no more worry now. He is turned into an honest man.
“Bhante ! How did it happen ?” “Oh king ! His heart is changed. He is repentant and on the way to burn his past sins. He is seated beside you on your left-hand side. You allay your hatred of him and approve of his desire to court restraint.”
The king now cordially received Sahashramalla, and the latter, in his turn, fell at his feet and begged to be forgiven. Both had tears in their eyes, but these were tears of affection. Sahashramalla on his own part invited the king to his own house to receive the entire treasure he had amassed through his lifetime. He said, “Sire ! I have no need of this. I shall be relieved to lay all this at your feet. They may be restored to their rightful owners.”
This was done as desired.
Sahashramalla now came back to the Kevali in the company of his mother, and both were inducted in the holy order as Muni and nun. To wash off his past sins, Sahashramalla went on a fast for a month. The body, which was so long instrumental in the acquisition of sins (Karma), now became ready for liberation therefrom. The vast accumulation of dreadful sins started dispersing, and the soul was on the road to perfection. In this way, through sincere perseverance, clean intentions, and auspicious tinges, the soul became free of the wrappings of Karma and attained Kevalgnan. In that state, he stayed on the earth for some time, and then, plugging wholly the activities of body, mind, and expression, he fixed himself rock-like, ultimately entering into liberation.
Singhaleshwar was the king of Singhal Island. His queen’s name was Singhala, and that of his son Singhalsingh. One day the prince had gone to the garden-house. It was spring, and the trees were in full bloom. As the prince was pacing through, admiring their beauty, he heard a pitiable cry, which appeared to be that of a woman. The prince at once rushed toward her and saw that a young girl was held by an elephant in its trunk. He asked the elephant to release the girl at once and come forward to meet him if he was really strong. On hearing this, the elephant released the girl and rushed upon the prince in full fury. The prince at once took out his wrapper and raised it like a wall with both his hands. The elephant struck on it with its tusks. The prince now caught hold of the tusks and jumped on them, and in no time he was seated on the crest of the elephant striking it severely with an iron hook. This soon pulled the elephant down. The prince then tied him to a pillar.
When the king heard the account, he became happy at the prince’s bravery. This soon became the talk of the whole city. The girl saved by the prince happened to be the daughter of a merchant named Dhana. Her own name was Dhanavati. She was charmed by the prince’s bravery. The merchant, her father, took this chance to settle her in marriage with the prince.
Now, it so happened that the prince’s physical grace and manliness was a pet topic for gossip among the ladies of the city. This was very much detested by the business community. To get rid of the prince, therefore, the merchants made false allegations against him, and, at their suggestion, the king prohibited his open movement in the city.
This was an encroachment on the prince’s freedom of movement, which he bitterly detested, the more so since he never cared to look at women-folk and had no weakness for them. He preferred to leave the city and regain his freedom once again. He took his wife into confidence, and she approved of the idea and offered to go with him.
So the two left the palace one night, and, reaching the seashore, they went on a voyage. Unfortunately, the ship was caught in a terrible storm. The captain tried his best to save it, but then a gust of wind sealed its fate, and the ship was broken to pieces. Most of the people on board were drowned. Separated from her husband, Dhanavati, supporting herself on a floating plank, was washed ashore to a place near the city of Kusumpur.
In that city, there was a temple dedicated to a Yaksha named Priyamelaka. His specialty was that, if propitiated, he helped to bring together people separated by accident. Dhanavati heard about this temple, went there and started her penance to propitiate the deity.
Meanwhile, her husband, prince Singhal, caught another plank and was washed ashore to a place near the city of Ratnapur. There reigned King Ratnaprabha whose wife was Ratnasundari and whose daughter was Ratnavati. About the time the prince had reached the city, the princess suffered from a snake bite, and when all other remedies failed, it was the prince who cured her. this little episode ended in a marriage between the two.
The day there was a shipwreck and the prince was separated from Dhanavati, he undertook the vow to remain celibate until he was reunited with her, and hence the marriage with Ratnavati created a real problem for him. It was the first night after the marriage, and the bride was waiting in her decorated chamber at the seventh floor. The prince came, but he lay on the floor. This raised all sorts of suspicion in Ratnavati’s mind. She could not remain silent for long and asked the prince the reason for his quaint behavior. The prince, however, suppressed the fact and said, “My dear ! When I started on the last voyage, I took the vow not to indulge in sex behavior until I saw my respected father.”
“Sir ! You are noble, you are worthy, to have such a high regard for your parents,” said the princess.
To the king, his father-in-law, however, he tendered a correct account and expressed a desire to go out in search of his first wife. The king heartily approved and lent him the service of a minister, Rudradatt, to assist him in his search. So one day, prince Singhal, his wife Ratnavati, and the minister Rudradatt, all the three were again on board a ship.
Now, as the minister saw Ratnavati, he felt a weakness for her, and soon he hatched a plan to throw the prince into the sea so that the lady would be his. He was only waiting for a chance. The chance came one night when, as everybody else was fast asleep, the prince came on board and stood near the brim, and the minister, unperceived, pushed him into the sea. As soon as the plan was executed, he raised an alarm, but it was too late and no trace of the prince could be found. When Ratnavati came to know of the tragedy, she was very sorry. Rudradatt came to console her and promised her all happiness if she was prepared to live with him.
This was a new danger for the princess. But being alone in the ship, she was helpless. Still she contrived a plan and said, “But I must perform the last rites of my departed husband before I can start a new life with you. Don’t you think, therefore, that I shouldn’t value your offer.
This raised high hopes in the mind of the minister, who started building castles in the air. It was a pleasant thought for him that he would be able to call a princess his own. The ship was now not very far from the coast when it dashed against a hidden rock and broke into pieces. In their bid to save themselves from drowning, the passengers tried to catch at the floating objects and swim ashore. Ratnavati also did the same. With the support of a floating plank, she reached the coast near Kusumpur, and, therefrom, she reached the same temple where Dhanavati was already seated in penance.
It was a coincidence that the minister, Rudradatt, too reached Kusumpur where he accepted service as a minister to the king.
When prince Singhal was thrown into the sea, some unknown power had picked him up and placed him safely into a hermitage. The hermit was highly pleased to see a bright young man in his compound with distinct marks on his body that signified a bright future for him as a king. He had a daughter named Rupavati for whom, he felt, the stranger-lad would make a nice groom. So he made the proposal, and the prince readily agreed. At the marriage ritual, the hermit bestowed on the prince a magic blanket, yielding one hundred coins per day, and a flying cot. The prince now sat on the cot with his new bride and directed it to carry him where Dhanavati was. The cot descended in the central park of Kusumpur.
Life is an arena of unions and separations. At a moment of the greatest expectation creeps in the greatest despair. When the two had alighted in the park, the lady felt thirsty, and the prince went to the well to fetch water. As he threw the bucket inside, he heard a human voice saying, “Please take me out.”
The prince looked in and saw a snake. At once, he hurled his wrapper in, an the next moment the snake was crawling on the ground. The first thing it did was to pin a sting on its benefactor. This was a great setback for the prince, who said, “Oh king of the snakes ! That is a nice gesture of gratitude that you have made !”
“Please don’t mind it, Sir. I shall help you in difficulty.” Saying so, he disappeared.
The prince, however, did not die of the venom, but he turned into a hunchback.
As Rupavati saw a hunchback approach her with water, she refused to accept it, nor would she recognize the man as her husband. She took him to be a rogue who had come to deceive her. So she did not even look at him and started a search for her missing husband. But as she could find him nowhere, she too took the way to the Yaksha temple and started her penance.
Soon it became the talk of the town that three ladies were simultaneously propitiating the deity and would talk with none. The news reached the king’s ears. He himself came to the temple to ascertain the reason of their penance, but the ladies did not open their lips. an announcement was, therefore, issued at once to the effect that anyone who would make the ladies speak would win the princess royal. But no one came forward despite this attractive offer.
At last, the proclamation reached the ears of the hunchback. He now prepared a voluminous book whose pages were filled up with white ink and wrapped it in a fresh cloth. Then he came to the court. He told the king that if he were given a chance, he would try to make the ladies speak. He said, “Sir ! I have this curious book which contains the detailed account of the earth, its past, present and future. Each event is faithfully recorded in it. Now, if the relevant events are read out, I have no doubt that the ladies will speak.”
So they all shifted to the temple where the ladies were on fast and silent. The hunchback started reading from his book.
“Prince Singhal of Singhal Island started with his wife Dhanavati on a voyage and was involved in a shipwreck.”
He stopped. Hearing her own account, Dhanavati spoke out, “Sir ! You are very wise. Please read what happened next.”
Everybody was surprised to hear the lady speak. No less so was the king himself. The hunchback started again.
‘The prince caught hold of a plank and swam ashore near Ratnapur, where he married Ratnavati and again went out to the sea. This time, a minister, Rudradatt by name, accompanied him. But he betrayed the prince to get his wife. He threw him into the sea one night.”
He stopped and started winding up. Now Ratnavati spoke out, ‘Sir ! Please don’t stop at that. What happened next ?”
The king now joined with the lady to repeat the request, and the hunchback started again: “The prince was lifted up by some unknown power even before he touched the water and was placed in a hermit’s compound, where he was married with the hermit’s daughter, Rupavati. The hermit gave him a magic blanket and a flying cot. The prince came with his bride to this very city, Kusumpur, where the cot landed in the park. As the lady became thirsty, the prince went to fetch some water from the well; but as luck would have it, he suffered from a snake bite.”
He sighed a deep sigh and became silent. Now, Rupavati broke the silence and said, “Sir ! It is painful to me that you have stopped at this point. I am interested to know what happened next.”
The hunchback said nothing. He picked up his book and looked at the king who had promised, as per proclamation, to give the princess in marriage to one who would make the ladies speak. He had fulfilled it.
This was an unequal match and was disliked by the members of the king’s household. But the king did not budge and celebrated the marriage at once.
The inauspicious Karma of prince Singhal was now on its way to move out, and his life was to take a major turn. The Deva, the very one who had saved him at the sea, appeared and cured the prince of his physical defect, and the prince was his original self again. Thus it became an occasion of great joy, a happy union of so many, for the three ladies, and for the king in particular who had such a nice young man as the husband of his daughter. The four co-wives embraced each other very cordially as sisters.
As the Deva revealed now, he was the prince’s elder brother in the previous birth. He attained a divine life for offering food to a Muni. His younger brother then, now prince Singhal, had also offered cane juice to the Muni, but he was not very steadfast in faith, and so he suffered so much in his life separation from his wives, shipwreck, physical defect, etc. He also revealed that it was he who had saved him at the sea when his life was at stake. On hearing these, the prince regained his memory and saw his previous birth.
Rudradatt, the minister, was now dismissed by the king as a bad man because of his plot to drown the prince.
The prince, now a happy man, thought of returning home with his wives. They all took leave of the king and mounted on the flying cot, which brought the party to the prince’s insular home, where he was crowned king by his father, who had grown old. King Singhal lived a worthy life and did many things for the well-being of his people.
When the religious discourse of the Acharya was proceeding, a leading merchant entered the assembly a little late. Some fine point on philosophy was being deliberated and the merchant could not catch it, and he found it to be uninteresting and therefore he felt drowsy. The Acharya asked, “Are you feeling sleepy ?” Merchant said, “No, Sire, Goddess of sleep is preparing her aggression and so I am closing the gates of my eyes.”
After a few minutes the merchant started nodding. The Acharya said, “Are you nodding?” Merchant said, “Gurudev, I am not nodding but Goddess of sleep seeks my permission and I agree by nodding.” Light humor prevailed in the audience and the lecture proceeded ahead.
After a while, the merchant actually rolled on the ground in sleep. So the Acharya said, “Hello, have you gone to sleep already ?” Merchant replied, “Oh no, Sir, I did not go to sleep; but Goddess of sleep arrived and I was smashing her on the ground.”
A wave of boisterous laughter captured the entire audience and the preceptor also laughed.
The laughter happens till one does not cherish interest in the spiritual knowledge. So, the blessed ones, cultivate interest in spiritual knowledge. The authors of the sacred scriptures have declared, “Consideration of soul is the true fruit of intellect. I am happy to find your interest in philosophy but enhance this interest and crave for righteous efforts for realizing truth.”
This is a story of the time of Lord Mahavir. At that time, king Chetak was the ruler of Vaishali, and he had a beautiful daughter named Chellana. An artist named Bharat once painted a picture of Chellana and showed it to king Shrenik (Bimbisar) of Magadha. Charmed by Chellana’s beauty, Shrenik fell in love with her. One day, Chellana came to the city of Magadha where she saw king Shrenik and also fell in love. They soon got married.
Queen Chellana was a devoted follower of Jainism while Shrenik was influenced by Buddhism. The king was a good person with a big heart but was not happy with his queen’s devotion to Jain Munis. He wanted to prove to Chellana that Jain Munis were fakes. He strongly believed that no man could follow the practice of self-restraint and nonviolence, and that the equanimity of Jain Munis was just for show. Chellana was greatly disturbed by this.
One day, king Shrenik went on a hunting trip where he saw a Jain Muni, Yamadhar, engaged in deep meditation. Shrenik let his hunting dogs go after Yamadhar but the Muni remained undisturbed. On seeing the calmness and composure of the Muni, the dogs became quiet. King Shrenik became angry and thought that the Muni had played some trick on them. So he started shooting arrows at the Muni but they kept on missing him. Getting very upset, he finally put a dead snake around the neck of Yamadhar and came back to his palace.
The king related the whole incident to Chellana. The Queen felt very sorry and took the king back to Yamadhar’s meditation spot. Due to the dead snake, ants and other insect were crawling all over the Muni’s body but the Muni did not even stir. The couple witnessed the limits of human endurance. The queen gently removed the ants and snake from the Muni’s body and cleaned his wounds. She applied sandalwood paste and eventually Yamadhar opened his eyes and blessed both of them.
He did not distinguish between the king who had caused him pain and the queen who had alleviated his pain. King Shrenik was very impressed and convinced that Jain Munis were truly beyond attachment and aversion. Thus, King Shrenik along with Queen Chellana became a devoted member of the order of Lord Mahavir.
This is a story from the time of Bhagwan Mahavir. At that time, king Chetak was the ruler of Vaishali and he had a beautiful daughter named Chelna. Once an artist called Bharat painted a picture of Chelna and showed it to king Shrenik (Bimbisar) of Magadh. Charmed by Chelna's beauty, Shrenik fell in love with her. One day Chelna came to the city of Magadh where she saw king Shrenik, and she also fell in love with him. They soon got married.
Queen Chelna was a devoted follower of Jainism, while Shrenik was influenced by the Buddhism. The king was very generous with a big heart but somehow was not happy with his queen's devotion to the Jain monks. He wanted to prove to Chelna that Jain monks were pretenders. He strongly believed that no man could follow the practice of self-restraint and non-violence to that extent, and that the equanimity shown by Jain monks was just superficial. Chelna was greatly disturbed by this.
One day king Shrenik went on a hunting trip where he saw a Jain monk, Yamadhar, engaged in deep meditation. Shrenik let his hunter dogs go after Yamadhar but the monk remained silent. On seeing the calmness and composure of the monk the dogs became quiet. king Shrenik got angry and thought that the monk had played some trick on them. So he started shooting arrows at the monk but they kept on missing him. Becoming more upset, he finally put a dead snake around Yamadhar's neck and came back to his palace.
The king narrated the whole incident to Chelna. The queen felt very sorry and took the king back to Yamadhar's meditation spot. Because of the dead snake, ants, and other insects were crawling all over the monk's body but the monk did not even stir. The couple witnessed the limits of human endurance. The queen gently removed the ants and snake from the monk's body and cleaned his wounds. She applied sandalwood paste. After sometime, Yamadhar opened his eyes and blessed both of them.
The monk did not distinguish between the king who had caused him pain, and the queen who had alleviated his pain. King Shrenik was very impressed, and convinced that Jain monks were truly beyond attachment and aversion. Thus, king Shrenik along with queen Chelna became a devoted member of the order of Bhagawan Mahavir. As he realized the truth of his teachings, he became a staunch devotee of the Lord and used to go to his assembly whenever the Lord came around Rajgrihi.
Once, in response to Shrenik’s question about Shrenik’s next birth, the Lord stated that he will go the hell. On further inquiry as to the reason, the Lord pointed out the following incident by which he had acquired that type of Karma.
Once the king had gone for hunting. He spotted a fleeing deer. The king spurred his horse and pursued it. Ultimately he located it taking rest under a tree. He wielded his arrow with all his might. The arrow not only pierced the body of the deer thereby killing the deer as well as the unborn child in its body; but after coming out, the arrow pierced the trunk of the tree and came out on its other side. Instead of getting pained for the violence, the king felt proud and highly elated at his powers. That feeling of too much arrogance for the gross violence had acquired for him the Karma of leading the infernal life.
The king remembered the incident. He felt very sorry for what had happened at that time. He was anxious to wipe out that Karma and asked the Lord what he could do in the matter.
The Lord pointed out that his Karma was indelible and was bound to get operative at the right time. Such intense Karmas cannot be erased without bearing the fruits. Rule of Karma is supreme and no one has any authority over its operation.
Shrenik could not reconcile to the fate. He repeatedly asked the Lord for some way to avert going to the hell. The Lord said that there are ways to avert, but the king would not be able to successfully exercise any of them because of the indelible nature of his Karma. As the king insisted to know about the ways, the Lord suggested to him the following alternatives:
(1) There was a highly religious householder, known as Punia Shravak, in Rajgrihi. He had given up all the desires and was leading purely spiritual life. For his livelihood too he depended upon the innocent occupation of making slivers out of cotton. The Indian word for sliver is Puni. He was therefore known as Punia Shravak. He earned very little out of that but felt contented with whatever he could get. He used to spend most of the time in Samayika.
The Lord suggested the king to obtain the merit of one Samayika from Punia. The king thought that it was very simple. He approached the man and requested for the merit of only one Samayika. Punia said that he had no objection, but how could he do that since the merits as well as demerits happen to be non-transferable ? The king was disappointed.
(2) The king had a maid servant named Kapila. She never gave alms to anyone.
The Lord suggested to the king to manage her to give alms on at least one day. The king therefore asked her to do accordingly. She however replied that she would not even take anything in her hand for giving alms. The king therefore arranged to tie a scoop to her hand and made her to give alms. While doing so, the maid servant murmured that the king’s scoop is giving the alms, not me. That plan also thus failed.
(3) The king had a butcher named Kalsaurik.
The Lord suggested to the king to manage so that butcher Kalsaurik did not slaughter on at least one day. This seemed very easy to the king. He ordered Kalsaurik to avoid killing the next day. The butcher replied that he was so conditioned to kill that he could not even stay one day without killing. The king therefore ordered his men to hang him inverted in a well so that he could not undertake any slaughter. Kalsaurik was however so conditioned that he imagined and drew the animals in the water of the well and slaughtered them. Thus the king could not stop and that effort too thus failed.
(4) The Lord then asked the king to observe the restraint of one Navkarshi in which the one is not supposed to eat or drink anything until 48 minutes after sunrise. The king agreed to do so the next day. In the morning however he went to his favorite garden and saw the ripe berries. He forgot the Navkarshi and ate the berries. Thereby he broke the restraint.
He then realized that his Karma was really indelible and nothing was going to succeed against that. He therefore got reconciled to his fate.
King Singhrath was ruling over Champanagar. By his queen Kamalprabha he had a son named Shripal. The king died when Shripal was five years old. Singhrath’s brother Ajitsen was very ambitious. He took this opportunity and seized the throne. He was keen to get rid of Shripal in order to make his position safe. As Kamalprabha got aware of his vicious design, she fled away from Champanagar along with her son. Learning about her escape, Ajitsen sent his trusted soldiers to pursue her.
How long could the poor lady go, as she had to run on foot with the young kid ? As the pursuers got closer, she could not make out how to save her son. By that time she saw a band of leucodermic people. In desperation, she asked them to take her son in their custody. Those people warned her about the risk of her son contracting the disease. No alternative was however left to her for saving the life of Shripal. She therefore entrusted her son to them.
Shripal was very bold and handsome. Those people got very fond of him and took all possible care for the boy who grew in their company. Unfortunately, Shripal also ultimately contracted leucoderma. As he attained youth, those people made him their leader and he was named Umar Rana. Under his leadership, the group traveled from place to place and happened to arrive at Ujjayini, the capital of Malwa.
King Prajapal was ruling there. By his queen Rupsundari, he had two daughters named Sursundari and Maynasundari. They were very beautiful, smart and intelligent. The king loved both of them and had made adequate arrangements for giving them training in all the arts and crafts. The girls mastered all of them in due course.
Once the king decided to test their knowledge and called them in the assembly. He first asked number of questions to Sursundari who gave satisfactory replies to all of them. At the end, the king asked her by whose favor she got all her skill and also the comforts, amenities and luxuries that she could enjoy. The girl humbly replied that she gained all that by his favor. The king was pleased with her replies and decided to reward her appropriately.
Then came the turn of Maynasundari. She too gave satisfactory replies to all his questions. At the end, the king put the same question that he had put to Sursundari. He had expected that Mayna too would give the identical reply and thus please him. Mayna had full faith in religious philosophy that she had studied at length. She therefore replied that everything that she had got, must have been the result of her Karma. She must have earned wholesome Karmas in the past that resulted in the happy situations that she was undergoing. If she did not have that Karma to her credit, no one on the earth could bestow happiness on her. The king was exasperated to hear the unexpected reply.
He repeatedly asked her to consider how she could have obtained anything but for him. Mayna replied that everything right from her being born as his daughter up to her present situation could occur solely as consequence of her operative Karmas and no one could have made any difference anywhere. The king got wild by this unexpected persistence. He could not believe that the girl could have got anything but for his favor. He could not buy her theory that everything happens according to one’s own Karma. He therefore decided to teach her the lesson, the hard way.
He asked his men to find out the most wretched man in Ujjayini. The men spotted Umar Rana for the purpose and brought him to the court. In utter disdain the king instantly got Mayna married to Umar. He gave them some badly needed things and a small house and asked Mayna to undergo the result of her Karma.
Rupsundari got very unhappy at the sudden turn of events in her daughter’s life, but she could not speak anything against her husband’s will. On the other hand, the king looked out for a suitable match for Sursundari in appreciation of her replies and got her married to prince Aridaman of Shankhapuri.
Mayna was deeply religious. She accepted Shripal in the guise of Umar as the husband destined by her Karma. She took all possible care for him. She used to go to temples and to listen to the sermons of Munis along with him.
Once she happened to go to Acharya Munichandra who was a well known scholar of that time. He advised her that devotional worship of Navpad can cure all types of diseases and advised her to practice that. Accordingly, Mayna and Shripal devoutly observed Navapada worship with all its rigors.
The result was miraculous, Shripal’s skin disease started fading. In due course, he got totally cured of the leucoderma and regained the skin that he used to have prior to contracting the disease. Now he looked like a handsome prince that he had been. Mayna was very happy and blessed her Karma for that change too. Since the change was apparently brought out by devotion to Navapada, both of them continued to observe it even after that.
Once while they had been to a temple, Rupsundari happened to see them. She was shocked to see that her daughter had been with that handsome man instead of the leucodermic one with whom she was married. Mayna understood her anxiety and explained in details whatever had happened. Rupsundari was very much pleased to hear that. Now she could boldly tell the king that Mayna’s persistence about the theory of Karma had proved right. The king could also see the truth. Deep in his heart, he used to curse himself for bringing misery in his lovely daughter’s life. Now, he too got happy and invited the daughter and son in law to stay with him in the palace.
Once there was a royal procession in which Shripal was seated on an elephant along with the king. During the procession someone pointing a finger at Shripal, asked a relative who he was. The man replied that he was the son in law of the king. Shripal heard it. He got sad that he was getting identified by his relationship with the father in law.
It came to his mind that the most prestigious are those who are known by their own names; somewhat prestigious are those who are known by their parents; those known by their brothers are so so and those who are known by their in laws are disgraceful. He thereupon decided to seek power and prestige on his own. He therefore secured permission from Mayna and the king and set off all alone on an auspicious day.
He traveled far and wide, visited many places and boldly faced the adversities that came across. During that period too he did not forsake his devotion to Navapada. Consequently, he successfully came out of all the ordeals. As was the custom that time, he could marry many girls and acquired much wealth and lot of followers. Equipped with that he came back and camped outside Ujjayini. His army was so large that it virtually surrounded the city. King Prajapal thought that some enemy had come with a large force to conquer Ujjayaini. He came to the camp at the instance of Shripal and was pleased to recognize his son-in-law. Then Shripal entered the city where he was given a hero’s welcome. His mother and Mayna were anxiously awaiting his arrival and were very happy to see him.
Shripal happily spent some time with Mayna who was dearest to him. Then he decided to get back his original kingdom of Champanagar. He sent a message to his uncle Ajitsen to leave the throne that he had seized. Ajitsen was however too proud to give up. So Shripal invaded Champanagar with his vast army. Ajitsen gave a tough fight. His army was however not a match for Shripal’s. In a tough fight Ajitsen was captured and Champanagar was taken over by Shripal. He then gracefully released his uncle from the captivity. Ajitsen now felt that his days were over and he decided to renounce the worldly life. Thereafter Shripal happily passed the rest of life as king of Champanagar.
In the city of Ksitipratisthita, there lived a king named Virsen. From his wife, Kamladevi, he had two sons, Sursen and Mahasen. They were lucky and intimate and had a strong fraternal tie.
At times, even the happiest on the earth becomes the victim of pain and suffering. Mahasen had a boil on his tongue. It grew in size and gave him no rest. Soon it became septic. All attempts to cure him failed, and people could no longer bear the sight of his suffering. The doctors at last declared it to be incurable.
The tongue was now rotten and emitted a foul smell. No one could come near the prince, not even his own parents, the king and queen. The only person who did not give him up was his brother Sursen, who always sat by his bed. One day he took the vow not to take food until his brother was cured.
So he brought some water in a cup, chanted the holy words into it and sprinkled it on the affected tongue. What a wonder ! It gave immediate relief. The holy water was sprinkled several times every day and in a few days, the prince was all right. The bad odor was gone and the tongue had regained its normal softness. That was a day of great glory to the religion.
Once, after this incident, Acharya Bhadrabahu had come there, himself possessor of Avadhignan. Sursen and Mahasen came to him to pay obeisance and homage. After the sermon was over, Sursen approached him with a request to be enlightened about the Karma because of which his brother had suffered so much from the boil on the tongue.
The Acharya gave the following account: “In the land of Bharat, there is a city named Manipur. There lived a warrior named Madan who was an ardent follower of the Jina path. He had two sons, Bhir and Vir. One day, on their way to the park, the two brothers came across a Muni lying senseless on the public thoroughfare. On inquiry, they were told by the people that the Muni was in Kayotsarga, when he was bitten by a venomous snake. The snake had escaped into its hole.
On hearing this, Vir said, “You were so many people here. Why weren’t you able to kill the snake ?”
Bhir said, “If the snake has escaped because of the support of his favorable Karma, why do you yourself use such sinful expression about the killing of the snake ?”
Vir said, “But don’t you see, the snake has committed a sin in biting a Muni. It deserved to be killed. I guess that would have been an act of righteousness, not a sin.”
“Now, Sursen,” continued the Muni, “that Dhir is reborn in you, and Vir in your brother. As he had spoken sinful words about the killing of the snake on that occasion, did not withdraw them and never repented; he suffered from a boil on the tongue. You yourself cured him with the help of the holy Namokara.”
The account was over. It awakened the memory of previous birth in the two brothers. They now resolved to cut the tie of mundane life, and so they did, to join the order of Munis and make a full use of their human birth.