Once upon a time, there lived a poor woman and her son in a small
village. One day, there was a festival in the village and all
the kids, including the poor boy, came together to play. After
playing, everyone started to eat khir (sweet rice pudding and
milk), that they brought with them. This poor boy did not have
anything with him. He felt bad and ran back to his mother. He
asked her if she would make him some khir since all the other
children were eating it. His mother said that she could not make
khir and told him to eat whatever she had cooked. He started crying
and insisted on having khir. His mother could not bear to see
him cry. So she went to the neighbor's house and borrowed some
milk, sugar, and rice to make the khir for her son. She poured
the khir into a dish and left to fetch water from the well. As
the boy was about to start eating, he heard the words, "Dharma
Läbha," (meaning, may you be blessed of spirituality,
usually spoken by Jain Sädhus). He saw a monk at the door
for the alms (food). Without any hesitation, the hungry boy invited
the monk in and offered him the khir. While pouring the khir,
all of it slipped into the monk's pot. He was happy that he could
offer this to the monk even though nothing was left for him to
eat. His good intention brought him good karmas, and in his next
life, he was born as Shälibhadra.
mother was Bhadra Shethäni and his father was Gobhadra Sheth.
His father had renounced the world to become a monk when Shälibhadra
was a young boy. Shälibhadra was born a multi-millionaire.
His life was like being in heaven. It was said that even the heavenly
angels were jealous of his lavish lifestyle. He had 32 beautiful
wives. His mother never let him out of his palace out of fear
that he might become a monk like his father.
day, some merchants from Nepal came to sell some very expensive
saris. They went to king Shrenik's court where the king told them
that he could not afford to use his citizens' money for such expensive
saris. They were going back with disappointment because they had
high hopes of selling saris in this city. When Bhadra Shethäni
came to know about this, she sent for those merchants. The merchants
were reluctant to go because if the king could not buy, how could
any of the residents buy such expensive items. But they went there
anyway. Bhadra Shethäni asked, "What do you have?”
They said they had sixteen saris. She said, "Only sixteen?
I need thirty-two saris because I have thirty-two daughters-in-law.”
The merchants thought she was joking and would not even buy one.
She said, "What are you waiting for. Take out those saris.”
They took out those sixteen saris. The merchants were surprised
that without any second thought she bought all sixteen saris.
They were further dazed to see her tearing such precious saris
into two pieces in front of them and giving a piece to each of
her daughters-in-laws to wipe their feet. The merchants were stunned
but left with joy. The daughters-in-laws used these pieces once
and threw them away.
of the servants at Shälibhadra’s place liked the queen,
so she took one piece for the queen. The queen was baffled but
happy that such rich people lived in her kingdom. She told this
to king Shrenik. He also felt very proud of such rich people who
uphold the good name of his kingdom. He invited Shälibhadra
to his court to honor him. When Bhadra Shethäni found out,
she went to the king and told him her son was very shy and invited
the king to come to their palace to honor Shälibhadra. King
Shrenik accepted the invitation and went to Shälibhadra’s
palace. When King Shrenik reached there, he realized that his
own palace was nothing compared to Shälibhadra’s palace.
Bhadra Shethäni offered him a place to sit and asked Shälibhadra
to come down to see the king. Shälibhadra did not know anything
about king or kingdom and thought that there was some sort of
merchandise that his mother wanted to show him. So he said, "I
do not want to see that but go ahead and buy it.” His mother
said, "This is not the merchandise. He is our king, our master,
and you need to come down to greet and honor him.” The word
"master" started ringing in his ears. He wondered, "Why
should I have a master over me. I should be the master of myself.”
While thinking like this, he came down, and paid respects to the
king, but he could not stay there very long and went back.
kept on thinking that he was not free because there was someone
over him. He started to think about his father (who had became
a monk) and the real meaning of life. He decided at that moment
to become a monk and told his family about the decision. His mother
and wives tried to convince him to spend some more time with them.
But he was determined to renounce the world. But, he agreed that
instead of renouncing all thirty-two wives at once, he will renounce
one wife at a time and then he would definitely become a monk.
He started to do that the very same day.
few days passed by. One day, his sister Subhadra was giving her
husband Dhanna a bath and suddenly tears rolled down from her
eyes and fell on him. He looked up and saw his wife crying. He
asked her why she was crying. She told him that her brother had
decided to be a monk and he had been renouncing one wife every
day. Dhanna laughed and told Subhadra, "Her brother was a
coward. If he wanted to leave his wives, why wait?” Subhadra
was upset to hear that, and told her husband, "It is easier
said than done.” This sparked awareness in Dhanna's mind,
and he told her, "I am leaving all eight of you right now,
and I am leaving right now to be a monk.” Subhadra was taken
by a surprise. She told him that he must have been joking. But
Dhanna said, "It is too late now. I am determined to be a
monk. If you all want to join me you are welcome.” Seeing
Dhanna determined, Subhadra and the rest of his seven wives also
decided to become nuns.
Dhanna came to his brother-in-law Shälibhadra’s place
and challenged him, "Hey Shälibhadra! If you really
want to leave the family and become a monk, then what are you
waiting for? Join me."
heard and accepted the challenge. He told his wives, "Sorry,
but I am leaving you all today.” He went down to join his
brother-in-law. His wives joined him too. All of them went to
Lord Mahävir and accepted Dikshä.
observing the penance as monk, he was born as an angel in heaven.
From there, he would be born in Mahä-Videha Kshetra and ultimately
attain liberation, Moksha.
service always pays off. Neighbors helping neighbors reflects
a caring society. The virtue of a charitable act in the life of
a little boy has multiplied in the life of Shälibhadra. As
a result he was able to leave everything easily. Good deeds always
leave an imprint on the soul. Good deeds and practicing penance
as a monk ultimately leads to liberation of the soul.