The Secret of Past Lives: Incidents quoted from the Scriptures of Jainism

Published: 22.08.2017

It is stated that the ability to recall previous births is not just limited to human beings but even the higher forms of animals also have that capacity. Bhagvan Mahavir was himself the grandson of Bhagvan Rishabh. Chakravarthi Bharat asked Bhagvan Rishabh - "Will anyone be born in this sect who will become a Tirthankar like you?" To which Bhagvan Rishabh said, "Your son Marichi will be born as the 24th Tirthankara Mahavir." Bhagvan Mahavir's account of nearly 27 past lives is narrated in the sacred texts of Jainism. The Jataka tales of Gautama Buddha are also incidents of the Buddha's previous births. If Bhagvan Mahavir and Gautama Buddha are accepted in the present then there is no doubt that there must have been previous birth and rebirth.

Bhagvan Mahavir was in penance and meditation. Quite often he used to pass through villages after villages. On the way he met shepherds. Once, as Bhagvan Mahavir was trying to enter a village the shepherd stopped him and said, "Respected sir, please don't go that side. There is a dangerous serpent. It's eyes burn like fire. On whomsoever it throws its sight, everything turns to ashes. What to talk of human beings, even plants and animals are destroyed." On hearing his warning, Mahavir was not frightened nor did he change his course. Rather he proceeded towards the burrow of the serpent. Cowherds and shepherds continued to warn him but he was fearless. They said the way to Kanakakhala was closed. Even then he did not stop. He moved on. The King Cobra thought, "Who is this fellow who wants to embrace death? I am sure his death knell is ringing. The cobra looked at the bright sun as if to absorb its fire and then turned his poison filled glare to Bhagvan Mahavir. But nothing happened. In anger he hissed violently at him. Bhagvan Mahavir was still unmoving. Overcome by anger he bit the feet of Mahavir with his poisonous teeth. Mahavir's feet started bleeding but he stood uncaring, unperturbed. The serpent bit again and again and again, but Mahavir remained balanced, not unnerved and his pious thoughts and aura started cleansing the wickedness of the King Cobra. He thought, "Who should this be who stands undaunted near my hole?" While thinking thus there was a change in his thoughts, his emotions became cleansed and his aura, brighter.

"Chand Kaushik...what are you thinking?" asked Mahavir politely. The moment the King Cobra heard the word Chand Kaushik there was a flash. He started recollecting the incidents of his past birth. He was able to look back into his previous birth and incidents, not one but three of the past. He was a hot tempered sanyasi. If by chance somebody collected firewood close to his cottage he would axe him to death. People feared to go near him. There was another sanyasi who lived behind his cottage. One day, both the sanyasis were walking outside. It was rainy season. Frogs were hopping around. All of a sudden the disciple said that one of the frogs had been crushed under his feet. On hearing this the teacher got wild and pointed out to many other frogs that lay dead. He said, "Have I killed all of them?" The disciple understood the situation and kept quiet. He thought he would talk to him about it when they go back in the evening. In the evening when the disciple talked about the death of the frog the teacher or guru got angry and told him that he would teach him about repentance. He took a big stick and advanced to strike the disciple. Unfortunately, it was so dark that the disciple had hid himself and the guru in anger did not see the pole ahead of him and straight barged into it resulting in his untimely and unnatural death.

This incident had happened. That sanyasi Chand Kaushik was now reborn as a serpent. When the serpent recollected, his attitude changed. He said, "O great soul, you have really blessed me. Let me take the pledge that I shall not hiss or sting anyone. Nor will I give the poisonous stare." The serpent went into its hole and only the tail was seen." The shepherd and cowherds saw this. Mahavir did not move. All of them gathered courage and came close to Mahavir. After paying respects to Bhagvan they were feeling happy to note the King Cobra had been subjugated. They were sure that the serpent will not bite them any more. They used to bring milk and sweets, etc. and thus worshipped the king serpent. This type of worship created more problems for the serpent as ants used to come in hundreds and gradually the serpent's body was eaten away by the army of ants. As the serpent had pledged so it continued to starve and lead to death. After death it was born as a celestial being. When he was a man he was too cruel and hence was born as a serpent but with the blessings of Mahavir he was liberated as he recalled his previous birth.


Title: The Secret of Past Lives
Authors: Muni Kishan Lal
Publisher: B. Jain Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2017

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anger
  2. Aura
  3. Body
  4. Buddha
  5. Gautama
  6. Guru
  7. Jainism
  8. Jataka tales
  9. Mahavir
  10. Meditation
  11. Rishabh
  12. Sanyasi
  13. Soul
  14. Tirthankar
  15. Tirthankara
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