Jain literature is a rich source of information about the Jain way of life and the teachings of the Tirthankaras.
(A) Stories Of Bhaktabar Storta
- Blessings From The Goddess
- The Scattering Of The Serene Moonlight
- From Devala Carpenter To Multi Millionaire
- The Dull Headed Becomes The Learned
- The Calm Of The Tempest
- The Wealth Bestowed On Dhanapala
- The Lotus Blooms In The Void Lap
1. BLESSINGS FROM THE GODDESS
There was a clever thief named, Sudatta. Once, he was caught red-handed while stealing. He was brought before the king. The intemperate king rebuked the thief and asked, "Tell me where do you keep the stolen goods"? As he was a thief, he knew all about the crooked policy. He thought that if he named some rich person, the king would be pleased on having attained great wealth and he would be free. Hence he said, "The stolen material is with Seth Hemadatta."
The king sent a messenger for the Seth immediately. No sooner did the Seth receive the message than he came to the royal palace. On seeing the Seth the king spoke, " Bravo! O Seth! I thought you to be the religious one. But today I have found that your worship, adoration, fast, chastity and donation are all hypocrisy merely. Tell me where have you hidden the stolen wealth?" The Seth was wonderstruck, "O King! What are you saying? I do not know about any stolen wealth. I am seeing this person for the first time." No sooner could the Seth finish his speech, than the thief spoke in a logical style, "O king sire, be kind to this poor man. O Seth! If you do not wish to give the wealth, you may not give but please do not lie." The thief spoke in such a style that the king firmly believed in him. He spoke, "So much of atrocity on this poor fellow, in spite of being religious! Throw away this hypocrite into a dark well in the forest." The Seth tried to explain the situation but that foolish king did not pay any heed.
The king punished the Seth without any consideration. But the Seth did not lose his patience. He was completely sure about his religion and believed in the Lord. He remembered Lord Adinatha, the first founder with full faith and adoration. He chanted the first and second verses of the Bhaktamar with all the rituals. Consequently the Vijaya Deity appeared. She appreciated and praised the Seth. She took him out of the black well and got him decorated on the golden throne with garments. She further told," If you allow me I can punish the tyrannical King." The Seth replied, " O Goddess! It is not necessary. What is the fault of the king? This was the fruition of my previous karmas which I have to endure. The King is the instrument alone." As soon as the King learn about the wonderful event, he immediately came there. The Goddess made him ashamed of his doing and warned him not to commit any atrocity on the religious in future without justice." The King begged pardon from the Goddess as well as from the Seth. He took him to the royal palace with great respect and pomp. The thief was called and his face was blackened. He was then taken round the city on an ass and banished from the land. This severe punishment awarded to him served as a lesson for the public.
But the kind hearted Hemadutta prevented the king from doing so and asked him to pardon the thief. This was done so as to make them possible to lead the religious life on having seen such wonderful glory of the religion. The common folks present there raised slogans of the victory and longevity of the Seth. "Long"! "Long"!! Live the Seth and "Victory"! "Victory"!! For Jainism." The king adopted Jainism as a consequence.
2. THE SCATTERING OF THE SERENE MOONLIGHT
The devoted merchant Sudatta got disposed from the morning routine of a layman. Soon he received a good news. Ascetics were visiting and people were welcoming them as they were the ones beyond love and malice. He came out of this house with full devotion for inviting them for food. He fed them with full awareness, devotion, and worship, as is done for the best invitee. After the meals were done, he requested them to preach and bless. The great hermit taught him the third and fourth stanzas of the Bhaktamar with ritual chants along with spirit of welfare for others. They gave and went ahead.
After a few days, the merchant loaded a ship full of merchandise for commercial purpose. He sailed towards the Ratna Island from Swastimati city along with his co-businessmen. But who could have prepared them for the ill fate that befell them. Soon storm clouds gathered around the ship. There was a great chaos in the ship. Rama, Rahim, Allah and Christ were remembered and hailed by one and all. Cries of "Help! Save our life", filled the sky.
The loud cries drew attention of the merchant. He was absorbed in prayers in one of the corners of the ship. No sooner had he opened his eyes he understood the whole situation. He immediately began to chant the poetic magical words taught by the great ascetic. Due to his chanting, the great Goddess Prabha appeared. While singing songs of praise of the merchant she gave him a moonlit jewel and disappeared. Due to the effect of the moonlit jewel, there scattered a clam moonlight in the sky and the atmosphere calmed down. All the people on board the ship reached the island safe and were happy. They worshipped the Lord Jina in the Jain temple and raised the slogans, "Victory for Jainism".
3. FROM DEVALA CARPENTER TO MULTI MILLIONAIRE
While returning from his school Somakranti, the son of Sudhana Merchant, saw his friends playing stick and bail. He felt sad as he had no wooden stick to play with. However, one of his friends, having known his intention gave him his own stick. Somakranti began to play joyfully. Suddenly the stick broke. His head hung low in shame. What reply would he give to his gratifying friend? He said, "I shall get you a new rod". Having said that he went to the Devala carpenter. He said, "Please make a stick for me as I broke the one belonging to my friend."
The carpenter was pleased with the innocence of the boy. He said, "Yes! Yes!! Why not? Please be seated, I will give you a stick. O Son! It seems you are coming from school. Which book is it in your hands? Will you show it to me? The young boy said, "No! I shall not allow you to touch the sacred book, as you are unbathed. This is our sacred text, Bhaktamar Stotra." Devala said, "Never mind", and gave him two rods, saying, "Take! One for your friend and the other for yourself." The boy was pleased to see two rods, and handed over the sacred book. He told him not to tell his father about the book.
The carpenter began to read the pages one. Suddenly he stopped at the fifth stanza. He began to learn the poem along with Riddhi Chants by heart and wore washed clothes and started chanting with all the rituals. Goddess Ajita appeared and questioned in sweet words, "Speak, O carpenter! What do you want?" The poor carpenter distressed due to poverty answered simply, "Wealth". The Goddess asked him to go towards Northeast where there was a pipal tree. She asked him to dig there. The Goddess vanished away and the carpenter ran straight to the spot. He got innumerable diamonds and gems after digging a pit. He was surprised and his joy knew no bounds. He vowed that until he built a Jain temple he would not touch even a single piece of the wealth he received. He then built a beautiful Jain temple and got the fifth stanza along with Riddhi Chants carved on its walls.
4. THE DULL HEADED BECOMES THE LEARNED
King Hemawahana ruled in the capital Kasi of contemporary India. He had two sons. Bhupala and Bhujpala. But as luck would have it, the elder was dull headed and the younger a sharp intellectual. In spiritual language too if one was the dull the other was sharp. One was deterministic and the other more sociable.
Pundit Srutadhara with great efforts taught Bhupala for twelve years. When he found that he could not grasp anything he gave up. On the other hand, prince Bhujpala became dexterous in all subjects in the twelve years. Consequently one became popular and the other remained disrepute.
The distressed Bhupala advised by his brother, began to enchant the sixth stanza of Bhaktamar along with the Riddhi chant. After twenty-one days the predominant deity Brahmi of Jinasasana appeared. She graced Bhupala and he then became a great-learned man. He is mentioned in the Puranas even today.
5. THE CALM OF THE TEMPEST
Dhanapala was the king of Kasi. There was a wealthy merchant, Buddha, in the kingdom. He had a virtuous son Ratisekhara in the same city. There was an ascetic, Dhuliya who command many Vyantara deities. He used to influence people through his miracle. Even the king Dhanapala came under his influence.
Once, one of his disciples came across Ratisekhra and the ascetic did not even look at him properly. His temper was high. He spoke to his teacher against Ratisekhra. He called a deity thought Betali power and commanded her to kill Ratisekhra. As soon as the deity reached there, she began to tremble on looking at the great Jain Ratisekhra. She returned and said, "O fool!, There is no one, neither I nor you, who can kill him by any means." With folded the hands the hermit spoke, "O mother!" Do this at least that his building is destroyed by a tempest."
The deity obeyed and the tempest filled the whole palace by dust and soil. On seeing the fierce tempest, all the people were frightened. But Ratisekhra could guess that it was the miracle of the cruel and notorious ascetic. He bathed and after meditation began to chant the seventh stanza of Bhaktamara with Riddhi Chant and all the rituals. Due to its influence, there appeared the Jambha deity. She rebuked the Betali power so much that she immediately ran back to the ascetic and retorted, "Now neither you nor I will be saved. Go to Ratisekhra immediately and beg his pardon." The ascetic ran to Ratisekhra and fell on his feet. He took the vows of a layman. The king Dhanapala was also impressed that he adopted Jainism. Thus, there arose a great glory of Jain religion.
6. THE WEALTH BESTOWED ON DHANAPALA
There lived a merchant Dhanapala in Basantapur of Kanchana State. He abstained from all kinds of sin. He was a religious person. Although his name was Dhanapala he had not a single penny. His wife Gunawati, true to her name was a virtuous.
Once, a monk couple Chandrakirti and Mahakirti came to their door. Dhanapala and his wife offered them food with great faith and devotion. After their meals, Dhanapala’s wife told about her anguish to the couple-monk. She sought their blessings. The hermit taught them Eight Stanzas of Bhaktamar with the ritual chants. They gave their blessings to the couple and went away.
Dhanapala clad in washed clothes and sitting in lotus posture chanted the Mantra for three days continuously in an isolated place. Consequently, the Mahima deity appeared and asked the reason of her worship. Dhanapala told that he worshiped her for son and wealth. The deity asked, "Which one you want at present?" Dhanapala thought, if he had no money for filling his belly what pleasure could he get with a child. Hence, he asked for money. She disappeared after giving him her blessings.
From that day, Dhanapala was not only Dhanapala by name but also a multimillionaire.
7. THE LOTUS BLOOMS IN THE VOID LAP
King Hemabrahma and his obedient queen Hamesri ruled over the Bhadrawati City of Kamarupa. One day they went for sporting in forest. In the jungle, there was a great ascetic meditating on a piece of rock. They went to his refuge and sat near his feet after having a vision. The queen wanted to tell him about her miseries and her desire for a son.
But before she could speak to the ascetic-king, he read her mind through telepathy. He spoke to the king, "Raise up a new Jain temple with a golden summit on top. After decorating the temple, establish the images of the twenty-four founders. Apart from this, write the ninth stanza of the great effective Bhaktamar in the disc of gold, silver or bronze with saffron and drink the water with devotion after washing it. Your wish will be fulfilled."
The King accepted the advice with devotion as taught by the great ascetic and practiced the same in his palace. It was fifth of spring. The flowering queen Hemasri conceived and her fortune bloomed. After nine months, a child was born. He was named Bhuvanabhusana. The royal palace resounded with greetings and the whole city celebrated a festival with trails of lamps.
(B) Stories related to Jain Dharma
- Mahavira And The Cow Herder
- Story Of Ahimsa
- Chandanbala: First Head Of Women Disciples
- Change Of Heart
- Importance Of Namokar Mantra
- Result Of Vegetarianism
- Legend Of Gullikayaji
1. MAHAVIRA AND THE COW HERDER
One day as Lord Mahavira was going from one place to another, he stopped near a big tree outside the village in order to meditate. While he was meditating, a cow herder came there with his cows. He needed someone to look after the cows, so he could run some errands. He asked Mahavira if he would look after the cows for a few hours. Lord Mahavira was in deep meditation and did not hear the cow herder. However, the cow herder went away thinking that Lord Mahavira had heard him and will look after the cows.
In the meantime, the cows started wandering away, looking for and grazing grass. A few hours later, the cow herder returned and found all his cows missing. He asked Mahavira, "Where are my cows? What did you do with them?" Lord Mahavira still deep in meditation did not reply. The cow herder started wondering. "Where could they be?"
Since Lord Mahavira had not replied, the cow herder searched for them everywhere in the valley, but could not find them. While he was looking for the cows, they returned to the place where Mahavira was meditating. When the cow herder came back, to his amazement, all his cows were standing near Lord Mahavira and he was still meditating. The cow herder became very angry at Lord Mahavira, because he thought that Lord Mahavira was hiding his cows. So, he took out his rope and was about to whip Mahavira swami with it. Just then, an angel from heaven came down and held the rope.
"Can't you see that Lord Mahavira is in deep meditation?" asked the angel. "But he tricked me!" said the cow herder. The angel replied, "He is a God. He does not care for your cows or anything else in this world. He was in meditation and did not hear you. He did not do anything to your cows. You would have gotten bad karma for hurting him."
The cow herder realized that he had made a mistake. He apologized to Lord Mahavira and went away silently. The angel went back to heaven feeling happy that he could stop Lord Mahavira's suffering. Mahavira didn't have any bad feelings towards the cow herder, because he held no anger towards anyone.
We should not make hasty decisions, because we can be wrong. We should also not hurt anyone, and should observe forgiveness instead of anger. This way we can stop new karmas from coming to our soul.
2. STORY OF AHIMSA
Shri Kuladananda Brahmachari in the book Sri Sri Sadgurusanga, Part III, pages 125-126 writes as follows:
“Mr. Anderson a European gentlemen, saw a sage in the forest of Jayadebpur, where he went out for a hunt. The elephant, on which Mr. Anderson was riding, got frightened seeing a tiger and threw him down. Mr. Anderson fired twice or thrice at the tiger, but missed his aim. He then began to run followed by the tiger. He saw a naked sage in copse and ran to him. The sage asked him to sit and waving his hand forbade the tiger to advance. The tiger sat at a distance, wagged its tail and growled for some time and then went away. Mr. Anderson was astonished to see the wonderful phenomenon and asked the sage how he was able to pacify the tiger. The sage replied: ‘Tigers or snakes, never injure one who has no Himsa. Because you have a feeling of Himsa in your mind, you are attacked by wild animals.’ Mr. Anderson from that day became a vegetarian and gave up shooting. He was seen by many people in Dacca and Chittagong when this change had come over him.”
According to Jainism there was a King named Mahabal. Once, in a religious festival, he prohibited the hunting in the state, but his son killed an animal secretly. When the gardener told the king about his son killing an animal, the King became very angry and ordered to hang the Prince. The King sent his servants to fetch the hangman Yampal Chandal. The King ordered him to hang the Prince.
Yampal Chandal requested the King, "Oh lord I shall not kill the Prince because it is Chaturdashi today. I had taken a vow from a Digambar saint not to kill anybody on Chaturdashi. Hearing this the King became angry and ordered his servants to bound Yampal and the Prince and throw them into the sea. But the Gods were impressed by Yampal's vow and saved him from drowning.
4. CHANDANABALA: FIRST HEAD OF WOMEN DISCIPLES
Chandanabala was the princess of the king of Champa. After defeat of King of Champa in a battle, the princess was taken as a slave and finally purchased by a wealthy merchant called Dhanna, who mercifully treated her as his daughter. The merchant's wife, however, suspected the intentions of her husband. So when the merchant had gone to Kausambi, Chandanabala was put in fetters, her head was shaved, and she was starved for three days, at the end of which she was given roasted black grams to eat.
In the meantime Mahavira, who was undergoing very difficult penances, was moving from house to house to accept some alms to eat in order to break his fasts of more than five months. But he returned back from all the houses without accepting anything. People were anxious to offer anything, he wanted to break his fasts but he did not utter a single word and returned back after seeing the situation and the food offered to him. This attitude of the saint was very perplexing to the citizens of Kausambi because, by that time his reputation as a great ascetic had spread far and wide. It was considered a great honour for those whose offering of food was accepted by him.
Mahavira's method of performing penances was very peculiar. He often used to resolve to take only a particular type of food if offered to him under particular circumstances by a particular person. Others were knowing nothing about such resolves with the result that the conditions under which the offer was to be accepted were not satisfied and his fasts remained unbroken for a number of days. In fact, during the course of 12 years of his penances he is said to have taken food only on 349 days. Idea was that if nature wanted him to remain alive, it was bound to satisfy his resolutions. Now when Mahavira was in Kausambi in the eleventh year of his penances, he had resolved to accept the offer of roasted black grams from an unmarried princess in captivity with the shaven head and locked in fetters and also with tears in her eyes. It was obviously difficult to satisfy all these conditions at a time. For five months and twenty-five days, the master wandered from one house to the other in Kausambi and silently returned and went without food, his conditions unfulfilled.
Candanabala knew this story of master's wandering and after her own fasts for three days when she got roasted black grams to eat, her first thought was to offer these grams to the master if he was kind enough to accept the same. When she saw the master approaching her on his usual visit to take alms, her joy knew no bounds as she offered the rare morsels of food which she got after three days.
When the master approached her, he found that all the conditions of his resolve, but one, were fulfilled. The one condition which remained unfulfilled was the absence of tears in the eyes of his donor. When he noticed this, he began to retreat without uttering a word. This shocked the enthusiastic devotee whose enthusiasm and joy evaporated. Deeply dejected, she began to cry and tears rolled her check. A back glance at her, convinced the master that all his resolves were fully satisfied. He returned back and accepted the alms of roasted grams from her and broke his famous fast.
Chandanabala then renounced the world. She was freed by her master and was made the first head of the order of Jaina nuns.
5. CHANGE OF HEART
Once a businessman was travelling in a bus. There he found a purse on the seat. He picked it up secretly. When he reached home, he found one thousand rupees with an address slip in the purse and became very happy. After some days he lost a hundred rupees note. He searched for it but could not find. On the same day his sweeper came to him and told, "Oh babuji, I found this note from your garage. Please take it". At the same time he thought, "I am worse than my sweeper, because I have stolen the purse of a gentleman. I must return it to him". At once he set out to the owner's house and handed him the purse. When the owner thanked him, he said,"Do not thank me but thank my sweeper who had changed my heart". He then told the whole story. The moral is we should always remain honest in our life.
6. IMPORTANCE OF NAMOKAR MANTRA
Once, a man was going to the market. On the way, a hurt ox was lying there. Seeing the ox, the man became restless. He felt that the ox was about to die, so the man sat near it and began to recite the Namokar Mantra. Hearing the Namokar Mantra, the heart of ox became calm and it died with good feelings. In the next birth it became the son of a King. There he got many palaces, beautiful cloths, ornaments, etc. If an animal gets a good life by hearing the Namokar Mantra, then why will we not get the peace and happiness by reciting the Namokar Mantra? Everyday we should recite the Namokar Mantra to destroy our sins.
7. RESULT OF VEGETARIANISM
According to Jainism there lived a hunter in the forest. Once there came a Digambar Saint. He preached to the people about vegetarianism. Most people took an oath not to eat meat in their life. When he asked the hunter to leave the eating of meat, the hunter said, "Lord, the meat is our main food and we can't live without it". At the end he decided to leave eating meat. Once he became very ill. The doctor advised him to eat meat as medicine. He refused and did not take meat because of his oath. He was born in the heaven. So we should remain pure vegetarians and never eat meat.
8. LEGEND OF GULLIKAYAJJI
In Shravanbelgola next to the Bahubali colossus there is an image of a woman called Gullikayajji. This women forms an important episode in the Bahubali legend. It is a legend that when the great military leader Chamundarai decided to bathe the Bahubali image with milk he mobilized enormous quantities of it. On a scale worthy of a great warrior. But to the amazement of everyone present on this occasion, all that milk could barely wet the body as far down as the waist. A simple, modest, woman called Gullikayajji then expressed a desire to pour her humble offering over the god's image. It is said that her thimbleful of an offering did not simply drench the entire height of Bahubali, but went down to flood the whole basin. The moral of this miracle dawned on the mighty Chamundarai who had Gullikayajji's image carved and installed to show respect for a simple old woman, who destroyed the hubris (ahankar) of the mighty Chamundarai.