JAINISM – THE CREED FOR ALL TIMES
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The Legend Of Rohiṇī
This story from the sixth primary canonical volume (Aṅga Āgama) Jñātā–Dharmakathāṅga brings out, in vivid details, the importance of steadfastly adhering to the monastic vows and the glory or otherwise that the observers or the shirkers earn as a result of their earnest endeavour or the lack of it.
In the Rājagṛhī town of yore, ruled by King Śreṇika, there lived a wealthy merchant by the name of Dhanya. His wife, Bhadrā, was gentle and beauteous. He had four sons named Dhanapāla, Dhanadeva, Dhanagopa and Dhanarakṣita, in that order. The four daughters in law of the merchant Dhanya were, respectively, called Ujjhikā, Bhogavatī, Rakṣikā andRohiṇī.
Dhanya’s Thought –
Once, while sleeping at night, Dhanya had a thought that he was quite influential in the matters of the state and the society. So much so that even the king consulted him on important social, political and business matters of the state. It was because he wasvery wise and reliable that not only his family and relatives but even the people at large shared their secrets with him and consulted him and sought his advice on their private affairs and he provided them with appropriate guidance that was to their benefit. It was so because he was reliable, authentic, dependable and worthy of their trust. It was so because he always kept their trust, never betrayed them, and never let them down. Truly, he was their friend, philosopher, guide, leader, guardian and well–wisher.
He was, however, besieged by the thought that if something untoward like crippling illness, seizure, losing the trust of the king and consequent deportation, disablement in an accident like falling from a height, falling from grace, getting bed–ridden, migration to another state or death happened to him, who will support his family and friends and keep them together like the string that ties the broom–strands.
“It will, therefore, be proper for me to invite the members of the families of my four daughters–in–law and call a council of all my relatives, friends and well–wishers in the morning and after welcoming them with due respect and ceremony and treating them with ample food and drinks and giving them abundant gifts test their (four daughters–in–law’s) capabilities in front of them so that I and they might know as to which of them is what”, he thought. “By testing them like this I will be able to know as to which types of duties each of them is capable of handling in the household, within the family, amongst the family and friends and in the society, at large”, he went on thinking. “I shall give each of them, five grains of paddy and see as to what each does with them”, his thoughts ran on.
The Council –
Accordingly, in the morning he invited his family, friends, well–wishers and the members of the families of the four daughters–in–law and having welcomed them with due ceremony and respect and treating them with ample food and drinks and presenting them with abundant gifts he called their council.
Then, in front of all of them and the four daughters–in–law took five grains of paddy and called the eldest daughter–in–law, Ujjhikā, to his presence and said, “O’ dear daughter µ here, I have in my hands, five grains of paddy that I wish that you take from me and preserve and protect them and return them to me when I ask for them.” Saying this, he handed over those five grains of paddy to Ujjhikā and asked her to take her seat. Ujjhikā accepted those grains very politely and said, “Very well, father µ I shall do as you command.”
Ujjhikā‘s Logic –
However, taking those five grains of paddy, she went to her chamber and thought that her father–in–law’s stores were full of sacks full of paddy and that she could take out five grains from any of the sacks and return as and when he asked for them. What was the use of going through the botheration of preserving and protecting those very five grains, she thought. Thinking like this, she threw them away and resumed her business.
Bhogavati’s Logic –
Similarly, the second daughter–in–law, Bhogavatī, was also given five grains of paddy and asked to preserve and protect them and to return them when asked for. She, too, took them and retired to her chamber and thought that she could take five grains of paddy from the store and return them when the father–in–law asked for them. However, she did not throw them away but dehusked them, popped them in her mouth and swallowed them.
Rakṣikā‘s Logic –
Likewise the third daughter–in–law, Rakṣikā, too, was given the five grains of paddy with similar instructions. She took them and going back to her chamber thought that there might besomething special about the grains given her if her father in law, a wise man, had asked her to preserve and protect them. She tied them in a neat cloth and put them away in her jewellery–box, put the jewellery–box under her pillow and taking due care to check them three times a day, went about her work as usual.
Rohiṇi’s Logic –
Then, Dhanya, the merchant called the youngest daughter–in–law, Rohiṇī, and gave her the five grains of paddy with the same instructions as he had given to the three elder daughters–in–law. However, she thought that there ought to be some very special reason for the sage father–in–law’s instructions and that the best way to preserve and protect and increase the five grains was to multiply them through cultivation.
Thoughts Into Action –
She, then, called the members of her maidenhood family and requested them that they must sow those five grains in the next sowing season and when the crop came, they must collect the produce there from and re–sow them and keep on repeating the process until she asked for the resultant produce. She also asked them to protect the crop by erecting fence around the plots in which they sowed those grains and the produce from the pests by suitable preservation. They did as she bid them to do. In the very first sowing season, her brothers cleaned and prepared a small plot of land and when the rain fell they sowed the five grains given them by their sister. Gradually those grains sprouted and grew into fine plants with glistening and tender green leaves. The brothers transplanted them in proper plots and they grew into paddy plants with dark green leaves and stout stems. Soon, the plants fructified and were laden with paddy ears. On ripening they cut the stems, with ripened yellowed ears, with freshly sharpened sickles and put them away to dry. When the ears dried they rubbed them to separate the outer husk and collected the fresh paddy in suitable bowls and stored them in a corner of the granary.
When sowed a second time, the paddy so collected became many a bowls full, which, too, they stored till the next sowing season. They repeated the process in the third and the fourth rainy seasons as well and each time the quantity of paddy increased many times.
Dhanya Recalls The Paddy Grains –
When it was the fifth year running since the merchant, Dhanya, gave the paddy grains to his daughters–in–law, he had the thought that he must call the council of his family, friends and well–wishers again and find out as to what each of them (the daughters–in–law) had done with the grains given her.
Accordingly, he invited them and after welcoming them with due ceremony and respect and treating them with ample food and drinks called the four daughters–in–law to his presence and proceeded to enquire of them one by one.
Ujjhikā‘s Insult –
First of all he called the eldest daughter–in–law, Ujjhikā, to his presence and said, “Dear daughter µ is it true that five years ago I had given you five grains of paddy and had asked you to preserve and protect them and to return them to me when I asked for them?”
Ujjhikā – “Yes, father µ it is true.”
Dhanya – “Then, daughter µ return those paddy grains to me now.”
Ujjhikā – “Very well, father µ I shall get them presently.”
Saying this she went to granary and taking out five grains ofpaddy from one of the bags returned to where Dhanya was and said, “Here, father µ here are those five grains of paddy.”
Thereupon the merchant asked her to tell him under oath if they were the same grains that he gave her five years ago?”
Ujjhikā – “No, father µ they are not the same, they are different.”
Dhanya – “Well µ whatever happened to the grains I gave you to preserve and protect?”
Ujjhikā – “Father µ when you gave me those grains I had agreed to preserve and protect them as you had asked me to but when I went to my chamber and thought that the granary was full of paddy, so, what was the use of preserving and protecting merely those five grains. I could give you the grains out of the granary when you asked for them”, I thought. “Thinking like this, I threw those grains away and brought these grains from the granary to give them to you.”
Hearing this, the merchant was very angry and fuming with anger and in front of all the family and friends and well–wishers, admonished her and appointed her the cleaning woman of the house and said, “You are very apt at throwing away things. Therefore, this is the only job fit for you. Henceforth, you will clean and collect all the refuge from the house and throw it away, as is your wont.” Everyone present there also discredited her for her carelessness and frivolity. She accepted her assignation with much shame and censure.
Bhogavati’s Bungling –
Then he called the second daughter–in–law, Bhogavatī, and asked her to return the five grains of paddy that he had given her five years ago. Bhogavatī, too brought five grains of paddy from the store and gave them to her father–in–law. On being asked if those were the same grains as were given to her, she too replied that they weren’t as she had swallowed them and gave the same reason for her action as Ujjhikā had.
Again, the merchant was annoyed and appointed her the kitchen maid of the house and entrusted her with the tasks of cleaning, beating, de–husking, cooking and serving food to the members of the family and the guests that came to the house. She, too was shamed by all those present there and had to look down for her inaptitude and lapse.
Respected Rakṣikā –
The third daughter–in–law, Rakṣikā, when asked to return the grains, could readily bring back the same grains as she was given and gave them to the merchant. When asked, she confirmed that those were the same grains as she was given and that she had preserved them in her jewellery–box and had carefully looked after them for all those five years.
The merchant was happy on hearing her reply and praised her for her careful preservation of the entrusted grains. He, then, appointed her the treasurer of the household and entrusted her all the wealth for safekeeping. All those present there also praised her for her sense of responsibility and careful preservation and perseverance.
Rohiṇi’s Glorious Surprise –
Then, it was the turn of the youngest daughter–in–law, Rohiṇī. When the merchant asked her to return the five grains that he had given her for preserving and protecting five years ago, she said, “Well, father µ kindly provide me with many carts and vans so that I may return those five grains to you.”
Dhanya – “How is it, my daughter µ that you will bringthose five grains of paddy in many carts and vans?”
Rohiṇī – “It is like this, father µ In these five years, through successive cultivation, those five grains of paddy have become hundreds of pots full of paddy. Therefore, O’ father µ I require many carts and vans to fetch them here.”
Then, the merchant, Dhanya, gave her many carts and vans. Taking those carts and vans she went to her parents’ house and brought back those hundreds of pots full of paddy to the place where the council met.
As she drove through the town with those many carts and vans full of paddy, the towns–folks commented, “Behold the wise daughter–in–law of Dhanya, who can return five grains of paddy in so many carts and vans. Dhanya is fortunate to have a daughter–in–law like her.”
When the carts and vans full of paddy were presented to the merchant, he was very happy and contented and accepted them with hearty satisfaction. Then and there he appointed Rohiṇī as the chief of the household and declared her as capable of taking his place whenever the need arose.
The Moral Of The Story –
Concluding this story, the Lord said, “O’ blessed ones µ like those four daughters–in–law of Dhanya, the monks and nuns are also of four types.
Those who take the monastic vows only to throw them to the winds are like Ujjhikā. They not only earn bad names for themselves in this world, but also endlessly wander in the cycle of mundane existence. Many a monk and nun and lay follower also makes fun of them.
The monks and nuns who take the vows, fall prey to the lures of the tongue, and compromise their vows in favour of the worldly pleasures like gastronomic delights are like Bhogavatī. They, too, earn bad names for themselves in this world and transmigrate endlessly. Monks, nuns and lay follower also make fun of them.
The monks and nuns who take the monastic vows and protect and preserve them carefully are like Rakṣikā. They are praised, honoured and worshipped by many a monk, nun and lay follower and they practice flawless monasticism in their lives.
The monks and nuns that not only protect and preserve their monastic vows but also enhance them by steadfast and creative imagination are like Rohiṇī. They earn everyone’s praise and are worshiped by all the monks, nuns and the lay followers in this world; in the world hereafter, too, they gain divine rebirth or altogether liberate from the mundane existence.
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