King Shrenik of Magadh had a beautiful queen named Dhärini.
Once while she was sleeping, she dreamt that a white elephant
was entering her mouth. She immediately woke up and told the king
about the dream. Shrenik knew that it was an auspicious dream.
He called the fortunetellers who stated that the queen would get
a handsome and lovable son who would have marvelous achievements
to his credit. The king and queen were very much pleased to hear
the third month of her pregnancy, Dhärini had an irresistible
urge to ride in the country on an elephant with the king during
rain, while the sky is full of clouds of different hues and there
are frequent flashes of lightening. In most of India, it rains
only during the monsoon, which occurs from June to October. Dhärini
however had the urge during off-season. The fulfillment of her
urge was therefore a problem. In order to see that she is not
affected by the unsatisfied urge, king asked his eldest son and
the Prime Minister Abhaykumar to devise some way to satisfy that
urge. Abhaykumar had a friend who could make miracles. He exhorted
that friend to cause untimely rain etc. for the sake of his step
mother. That friend arranged exactly according to Dhärini’s
urge. She therefore could ride on an elephant with the king and
satisfied her urge.
due course she gave birth to a very handsome, attractive boy.
Rain in Indian language is called Megh. In memory of the pregnancy
urge of Dhärini, the boy was named Meghkumar. At the age
of 8 he was sent to school where he learned all 72 arts and crafts
and became known as an accomplished youth. He was then married
to 8 beautiful girls with whom he enjoyed all the pleasures of
the worldly life. Once Lord Mahävir came to Räjgruhi
and camped in Gunashil monastery. Almost every resident of Räjgruhi
used to go to His sermon. Meghkumar went as well, and was very
much impressed. Realizing the transitory nature of the worldly
situations, as explained by the Lord, he decided to renounce his
worldly life. But his parents were sad to hear about his intentions.
They tried every means to stop him from renouncing. He however
remained very firm. But in order to satisfy his parents’
wish, he agreed to become the king for one day and was coronated
with all the royal pomp. Immediately after that, he left everything
and became a possessionless monk of Lord Mahävir.
night, he was allotted a place near the door for spreading his
bed. During the night, monks going for bathroom had to walk past
his side. Since no lamps are allowed in the monks’ residence,
they happened to trample his bed and at times his body as well.
Poor Meghkumar could not sleep for the whole night. He was raised
in all the luxuries and even monks used to treat him with regards.
It was therefore awful for him to face the feet of the monks and
the dirt that was brought all over his bed and body. He had to
stay sleepless for the entire night. He felt that he could not
bear that sort of miserable life and decided to give up renouncement.
the morning, he went to the Lord to seek permission to return
home. The Lord was aware of the discomforts that he had faced.
He however asked him, ‘Megh, do you remember the discomforts
that you had faced during the previous life?’ Since Meghkumar
did not, the Lord described it as the following:
the previous life you were the king of elephants and were known
as Meruprabha. Once there was a fire, which you escaped narrowly.
That reminded you of the terrible fire you had faced in still
earlier life. For a shelter from fire, you therefore opened up
a vast stretch of land by removing all plants, bushes, and trees
so that all animals could get refuge in case of a fire. You also
weeded out grass that grew there.
there was a wild fire in your forest. All the animals came running
and took refuge on that stretch. You also were there. During that
time, you raised your foot to scratch your body because of an
itch. That very time a rabbit was pushed in that space by the
pressure of other animals. As you tried to put the foot back,
you felt the presence of the rabbit and decided to hold the foot
up in order to save it. The fire raged for two and a half day
during which you continued to hold your foot up out of compassion
for the rabbit.
the end of fire as the animals retreated, you tried to lower your
foot. It had however stiffened during that time. You could not
maintain your balance and fell down. You felt agonizing pain and
could not get up. That way you spent three days and night facing
much affliction and acute pain. Ultimately you left that body
and were born here as the prince of Shrenik, because of your compassion
for the rabbit. If you could face that much distress for the sake
of rabbit and gained the valuable human life in return, how come
you cannot face the foot dirt of your fellow monks in the interest
of gaining lasting happiness?”
was impressed by the Lord’s words and realized that he should
stay on in his own interest. He requested the Lord to initiate
him afresh since he had virtually broken his vow of the monkhood
by strongly desiring the worldly life. The Lord did accordingly
and Meghmuni, as he was called after that, started leading rigorous,
austere life. Fasting for days together, he stayed, most of time,
in meditation in order to eradicate his Karmas. The Lord and Gautam-swämi
too praised him for that. When his body became very weak and could
no longer observe the rigors of monkhood, he decided to observe
fast unto death. That he did for a month on mount Vaibhargiri
near Räjgruhi and took birth in heaven. The Lord has stated
to Gautam-swämi that at the end of the heavenly life, he
would be reborn in Mahä-Videha and would attain salvation.
is a great example of compassion. An elephant bears discomfort
and pain to save a little animal. We are more developed and rational
beings. We should learn from these animals to be helpful to each
other. Besides, when one takes an oath to lead the life a monk,
one should not revert to worldly life. This is a very tough and
rigorous life meant to give an understanding of the true nature
of the soul. In order to achieve this understanding, one must
put aside the worldly life permanently because it tends to distort
thing. Suffering occurs because of one’s past karma so one
should accept it and focus on the soul and self-realization.