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Jain Stories
Anand Shrävak

Once upon a time, there lived a king named Jitshatru in the city of Vänijya. There also lived a rich householder named Anand in the same city. He was so rich that he had 4 million gold coins, an equal amount of cash, an equal amount already invested in business, lots of jewelry, and many other assets. He also owned 40,000 cows. He was highly respected by the king as well as the people of the town.

One day, Lord Mahävir visited this town and gave a sermon. After listening the sermon of Lord Mahävir, Anand decided to accept the twelve vows of a householder. Anand observed these vows for fourteen years and then decided to renounce worldly affairs. So he talked to his children, handed over all his businesses and family responsibilities to them, and told them not to prevent him in his spiritual pursuit. He was going to spend rest of his life in penance and meditation.

After some time, he attained Avadhijnän (clairvoyance) due to austerities, pure mental state, and the resulting purity of his soul. It just so happened that Lord Mahävir and his disciples were in town at this time. One day, while Gautam-swämi (one of Lord Mahävir’s disciples) went to get alms (food), he overheard people talking about Anand's poor health, and that Anand had attained Avadhijnän. So, Gautam-swämi decided to visit Anand. When Gautam-swämi arrived, Anand offered his salutation lying in bed. He told Gautam-swämi about his Avadhijnän and that he could visualize up to the twelfth Devaloka (heaven or celestial abode). Gautam-swämi told Anand that although such knowledge was possible for a householder to attain, it could not be possible to see that far. He told Anand that he should do Präyashchitta (repentance) for telling a lie. Anand was puzzled because he was telling the truth. He did not want to disobey his spiritual teacher but at the same time, he thought it was not fair to repent for telling the truth. So, he respectfully asked Gautam-swämi, "Guruji, is it necessary to repent even when someone is telling the truth?” Gautam-swämi said, "No.” Gautam-swämi still did not believe Anand, so he went back to Lord Mahävir to get advice.

Gautam-swämi told Lord Mahävir about his conversation with Anand. Mahävirswämi said, "Gautam, Anand is right. He has attained such Avadhijnän that he can see that far. How could a knowledgeable person like you make such a mistake? You are the one who should ask for his forgiveness.” Gautam-swämi realized his mistake and immediately went to Anand to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Anand was very happy that Lord Mahävir took the side of truth and not that of his first disciple, Gautam-swämi. He was also happy that even a great monk like Gautam-swämi, came back to ask for forgiveness. He felt very strongly about his religion and the monks who follow it. Anand fasted until death and was reborn as a heavenly being in Saudharma Devaloka (a heavenly region). After the completion of that heavenly life he would be reborn as a human in Mahä-Videha and would attain liberation from there.

Key Message:

The essence of human life is to practice one or more of the twelve vows in daily life. This story tells us how householders (Shrävaks) should have faith in truth. It also shows how simple, humble and a true follower of Lord Mahävir Gautam-swämi was. When Lord Mahävir pointed out his mistake, Gautam-swämi went to Anand without any argument to ask for forgiveness, even though he was the first disciple of Mahävirswämi. It also shows how impartial, Lord Mahävir was because, even though it was the mistake of his first disciple, he did not cover it up. On the contrary, he took the side of truth and explained to Gautam-swämi his mistake.