JAINISM – THE CREED FOR ALL TIMES
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The Legend Of THE EGGs
This story from the sixth primary canonical volume (Aṅga Āgama) Jñātā–Dharmakathāṅga underlines the importance of steadfast belief and the favourable and unfavourable result that a believer or a doubter earns as a result of his right–belief or the lack of it. This legend brings out, in vivid details, the importance of steadfast belief through the parable of a peahen’s eggs.
Peahen’s Eggs –
In ancient times, in the Subhūmibāga garden of the capital town of Campā, a colourful and beautiful peahen laid two eggs in the shrubbery of Tulsi bushes and started protecting and hatching them with great care.
The Merchants’ Sons –
In that beautiful capital town of Campā, thare lived two prosperous merchants, by the names of Jinadatta and Sagardatta. Their sons were good childhood friends who had played and pranced together and were very fond of each other. So much sothat they met daily, discussed their household and business matters with each other and did everything with each other’s counsel. They never hurt each other’s feelings and never did anything that was against the other’s wishes. Theirs was a perfect friendship where each trusted the other fully and co–operated wholeheartedly.
In Campā, there also lived an extremely beautiful young courtesan called Devadattā who was endowed with all attractive feminine charms. She was the apple of every one’s eyes and even the highly placed government officials and royal personages vied with each other for a favourable glance from her.
Once, the two merchants’ sons decided to go to the sylvan surroundings of the Subhūmibhāga garden and enjoy themselves in the company of charming Devadattā. Accordingly, they arranged for suitable vehicles, a large entourage of servants and followers and equipped themselves with ample foods and drinks and went to the courtesan’s palace and invited her to accompany them to the garden for a tour of its natural abundance. Such was the reputation of the two merchants’ sons that Devadattā accepted their invitation readily and agreed to accompany them to the garden. The three of them mounted the excellent chariot and enjoying the ride they reached the Subhūmibhāga garden. Bathing in the clean spring of the garden they helped themselves to the best food that was served to them by the fawning servants. They enjoyed themselves with various games and sports and when they refreshed themselves with some rest they started to walk down the lawns and shrubberies of the garden.
Walking down the lanes and alley–ways, they chanced to come to the same shrubbery where the peahen had laid her eggs. Seeing them coming towards her thicket the peahen took fright quacked loudly and flew away to perch on the branch of a nearby tree. The two merchants’ sons were surprised at this commotion and decided to investigate the reason behind it. They entered the Tulasi thicket and were happy to see the peahen’s two fine eggs. Seeing the eggs they thought that it would be nice if they took the eggs home and got them hatched by their best hens and get two fine pea–chicks for their entertainment when the eggs hatched. They could also get the chicks trained and play wagers with them when they grew into fine and fully trained peacocks, they thought.
Accordingly, they called their servants and asked them to take an egg each to their respective homes and put them for hatching under the best hens in their respective poultry farms. The servants did as they were bid and took away an egg each and put it with the hens.
Having enjoyed the outing to their hearts’ content, the merchants’ sons also returned home and resumed their respective businesses.
The Doubting Son Of Sāgardatta –
After the night’s rest when merchant Sagardatt’s son woke up in the morning, he thought of the peahen’s egg and went to the poultry farm to have a look at it. He looked at the big and beautiful egg with admiration and started contemplating the gains he could get from the egg in due course. However, he was soon beset by doubt and thought what if the egg did not hatch at all. He picked it up caressed and shook it to check if the egg was still alive. He did so each time he visited the poultry farm. By his meddlesome activities the egg became bad and the foetus died inside. The egg never hatched. Sagardatt’s son became hopeless and cursed his fate.
The Trusting Son Of Jinadatta –
Jinadatta’s son, too, went to the poultry farm and looked at the peahen’s egg with admiration but he was fully assured that the egg would hatch with time and yield a beautiful peachick. He, therefore, left it alone untouched and untampered. When the time was ripe the egg hatched and a beautiful peachick came out of it. As the chick grew the merchant’s son sent his servants tofetch the peacock trainers and asked them to look after the chick well and to train it to become fine dancing peacock that could be shown in fairs and that could be competed against other such peacocks. The peacock trainers did their best by the chick and with the passage of time it became a healthy and handsome dancing and prancing peacock with full shock of beautiful shiny peacock feathers. It danced away to everyone’s pleasure at the mere snap of fingers.
When the merchant’s son snapped his fingers the peacock arched its neck delicately, spread its feather into full drawn umbrella of colours and danced to the tune of music.
Success Through Firm Belief –
The fame of the merchant’s son’s peacock spread far and wide and he was invited to stage its shows at various fairs and to participate in various peacock competitions in the town of Campā and elsewhere as well. He won a number of wagers and earned ample wealth and name and fame.
The Moral Of The Story –
Concluding this tale the Lord Jñātaputra (Mahāvīra) said that O’ blessed ones µ those monks and nuns who remain undoubting and retain steadfast belief in the words of the omniscient Jina earn fame and honour here and noble rebirth or liberation hereafter. However, such monks and nuns as doubt the Jina–words become perplexed and lose even their available gains and misery becomes their fate. Therefore, all of you must develop the virtue of freedom from doubt and steadfastness of belief.
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