Journey into Jain Aagam: Austerity Overcomes Casteism

Published: 29.11.2017

Shankar, the king of Mathura, became a Monk and while moving from one place to another, he happened to reach Hastinapur. He wanted to go to the town for alms, so he enquired about the path leading to the town from one of the passers-by. There were two roads leading to the town. One of the roads was a shortcut but it was too hot to walk on that path. Just for the sake of fun, the passerby indicated that hot path. The monk walked on that path willingly and since he had divine power within him, the way immediately became cool just by the touch of his feet.

The passerby, who was Brahman, saw the monk walking on that path without any hesitation. He started following the monk and found that the road had become cool. He realized that this had happened due to the penance of the monk. The Brahman repented for his folly and ran up to the monk to apologize for his behaviour. The monk, then preached him about religion, which created a feeling of detachment in the latter's mind.

The Brahman was influenced by the monk's preaching and was later initiated. He was named Somadeva. Even after initiation, the feeling of pride about his caste, continued and often he would say, "I am a Brahman and born in a noble house." After some time he died and was sent to heaven. Next, he took birth in a Chandal's house after having lived in heaven. In his present birth he was well known as Harikeshbala. One day, while playing with his companions, he started quarreling and his friends pushed him out of the game. The other children continued playing, but he could only stand and watch them playing. Meanwhile a dangerous serpent came there. People threw stones at it and killed it.

People throwing stones at serpent and Harikeshbala standing at the side, watching the scene.

After a few moments, an Alsiya was seen at that place. But this time, the people were not bothered and did not kill the Alsiya. Harikesh watched the whole incident from his place. He thought, "People suffer because of their own faults. If I have poison within me like a snake, then it is natural that people will kill me and if I were like an Alsiya, which is devoid of poison, nobody would torture me." He pondered over this for a while and finally achieved Jaatismaran. He remembered his former birth when he used to be proud of his cast. This incident developed a feeling of detachment in him and he accepted the path of initiation.

Now Muni Harikesh began observing the vows of a monk and was engrossed in meditation and penance. Due to the penance, many Yaksha were at his service. Harikesh used to meditate in a Yaksha temple. Once, while he was absorbed in meditation, princess Bhadra, the daughter of king Kanshika, came to Varanasi to worship the Yaksha. There, she happened to look at the monk in deep meditation, but seeing his dirty clothes, she became furious and spat on the monk. The Yaksha saw this and thought, "This princess has insulted a monk and so she should be punished." The Yaksha entered into the body of the princess. She became mad and started blabbering. The servants took her back to the palace. She was given a lot of treatment but all in vain. Finally, the Yaksha said, "This princess has disparaged a monk. Therefore, I shall come out of her body, only if she accepts to marry that monk." The king accepted this condition. The king, along with his daughter, went to the Yaksha temple. He bowed his head and requested the monk to accept his daughter. When the monk finished his meditation, he said, "I am a monk. Woman is an obstacle in the path of emancipation. I can't even touch her." Saying so, he started meditating again.

Leaving his daughter beside the monk, the king came back to his palace. The Yaksha took the form remembered his former birth when he used to be proud of his cast. This incident developed a feeling of detachment in him and he accepted the path of initiation.

Now Muni Harikesh began observing the vows of a monk and was engrossed in meditation and penance. Due to the penance, many Yaksha were at his service. Harikesh used to meditate in a Yaksha temple. Once, while he was absorbed in meditation, princess Bhadra, the daughter of king Kanshika, came to Varanasi to worship the Yaksha. There, she happened to look at the monk in deep meditation, but seeing his dirty clothes, she became furious and spat on the monk. The Yaksha saw this and thought, "This princess has insulted a monk and so she should be punished." The Yaksha entered into the body of the princess. She became mad and started blabbering. The servants took her back to the palace. She was given a lot of treatment but all in vain. Finally, the Yaksha said, "This princess has disparaged a monk. Therefore, I shall come out of her body, only if she accepts to marry that monk." The king accepted this condition. The king, along with his daughter, went to the Yaksha temple. He bowed his head and requested the monk to accept his daughter. When the monk finished his meditation, he said, "I am a monk. Woman is an obstacle in the path of emancipation. I can't even touch her." Saying so, he started meditating again.

Leaving his daughter beside the monk, the king came back to his palace. The Yaksha took the form

Harikesh accepts the food of Brahman and Bhadra and the God pouring scented water and flowers.

on the earth and declared his fast a wonderful one.

It is the penance that is great and not one's caste. Thus, one should not be proud of one's noble caste, for caste is only secondary. It is one's own karma, which should be given primary importance. It is our own 'karma', which ultimately decides our fate.

Sources


Jain Stories

Title: Journey into Jain Aagam
Author: Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha
Publisher: Jain Vishwa Bharati
Edition: 2001

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Bhadra
  2. Body
  3. Brahman
  4. Hastinapur
  5. Karma
  6. Mathura
  7. Meditation
  8. Muni
  9. Pride
  10. Varanasi
  11. Yaksha
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