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Jain Stories
Punia Shrävak

Punia Shrävak and his wife were poor villagers by their own choice. They lived in a small shack made of mud and grass. Punia had a vow not to earn more than 12 dokadas (1/12 rupee) every day. He did that by spinning cotton yarn in the house and selling it. They also had another vow to offer food to a Sädharmik. As they could not afford this , he would fast one day and his wife would fast on the next day. Even during such difficult situations, they always offered their hospitality to fellow beings. In this way, the couple did Sädharmik Bhakti (helping deserving people) every day.

Punia Shrävak was known for his practice of Sämäyika. Once during Sämäyika, he could not concentrate on meditation. He started thinking to himself that what had he done that was disturbing his meditation. He could not think of anything that would disturb his meditation. Therefore, he asked his wife, "What have we done differently that I can't concentrate today.” At first, his wife could not think of anything either. But as she kept on thinking, she remembered that today while coming back from market, she had picked up dry cow-manure and used that as fuel to cook. She told Punia about this. He told her that she should not have done that even though it did not belong to anyone. We should only use things, which are bought from our daily earnings. Punia could do true Sämäyika because he lived a life of such high morals.

Even Lord Mahävir praised his Sämäyika. Once when king Shrenik asked Lord Mahävir how he can destroy his bad karmas to avoid being born in hell in his next life, Lord Mahävir said, "If you can buy Punia Shrävak’s Sämäyika then it may be possible.” King Shrenik went to Punia Shrävak and asked him, if he could buy his Sämäyika. He said, "I do Sämäyika not to sell, but to uplift my own soul. Religious rituals can't be purchased. One has to do for himself.” King Shrenik left in disappointment but with admiration for Punia's real faith in religion.

Key Message:

This shows that one can live a content life even with limited earnings. We should not take anything, which is not given to us. We should not accumulate more money than necessary because it will create more problems. Vows or rituals are done for spiritual uplift and not for monetary gain. In order to gain benefit from Sämäyika and other forms of meditation and penance, it should be motivated by one’s inner self and not by any motives that conflict with Jain principles.