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Turning snakes into gods through jain philosophy of detachment the 22 nd tirthankara lord parshwanath

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Turning snakes into gods through jain philosophy of detachment the 22 nd tirthankara lord parshwanath

  1. 1. 5/16/2012 TURNING SNAKES INTO GODS THROUGH JAINJAIN PHILOSOPHY OF DETACHMENT - THE STORY OF 22ND TIRTHANKARA LORD PARSHWANATH Life of the great Jain Tirthankara Parshwanath | Dr. T.K. Jain, jain.tk@gmail.com
  3. 3. Human life is divine life. This is the life that gives us an opportunity forupward movement. This life enables us to use our will power, decisionsand actions for our liberation. This is the life that can transform ourfuture. Through our determination, we can liberate ourselves from thecycle of birth and death. It is said that even gods take birth as humanbeings in order to liberate from the cycle of birth and death. Human lifehas the biggest advantage in the form of the power of thinking and thecapability to withstand suffering through focus on soul anddetachment. Human life gives us choices and opportunities for rightknowledge, right conduct and right vision. It is the human being, whocan enable others also to liberate and to elevate.There are many stories in Jain literature. These stories were known toevery Jain person earlier, but now these are getting limited to booksand libraries. These stories have a message hidden in them. Themessage is about self control, self regulation and ultimate goal of life.These stories also tell us about the rich tradition of Jain Saints, whichcan certainly inspire the next generations to lead a life of principles andcommitments. One such story is presented here for the guidance of theyounger generations. It is the story of Lord Parshwanath, who enableda couple of snakes to rise to the level of gods (through re-birth).When a being dies the soul (jiva) goes to its next bodyinstantly. This body may not be human or even animal.The quality of its next life is determined by itskarma at that time. The mental state of the beingatthe moment of death is also im portant: a calmand contented death, with the mind focussed on spiritual
  4. 4. matters, is the best. A beingachieves deliverance when it isfree from all karma. This is not the same thing asenlightenment. An enlightened bei ng is free of allharmful karma, but still subject to the non‐harmfulkarma. Howe ver, a delivered beingcannot attract anyharmful karma, and they cannot do anyt hing bad. Sucha beingis called an arihant. Despite being stillhuman, an ar ihant has perfect knowledge, andhappiness.All the tirthankaras were arihants (but not viceversa). A tirthankara is an arihant who founds a religiouscommunity of monks and nuns . An enlightenedbeingdoes not achieve deliverance until all the non‐harmfulkarma has expired. During this time it continues to beembodied and can live in the world. Presently, you willnot find a fully enlightened beingeven among the most holyof Jain monks, as Jain teaching states that no‐one hasor will achieve enlightenment in the present time (inJain terms, no person can become Tirthankara or KewalGyani duringthe 5t h and 6th spokes of the current time cycle).This story is about the period when Parshwanath was a prince. Fromthe childhood, he had supernatural powers and perceptive ability. Hischaracteristics made him distinct and different from others. Once whilesitting in the window of his home, he saw that there was someonedoing some magic in the road and lots of people were gathered there.He was filled with a curiosity. He immediately rushed to the spot withhis servants. He saw a Tapas person buring some wood and displayinghis magistic powers. Parshwanath was not impressed by him. Thesupernatural powers of Parshwanath enabled him to see snakes getting
  5. 5. burnt in the wood. He asked the person to save the snakes. The person(called Kamath Tapas or Tapas) didn’t agree and said that there was nosnake. Parshwanath immediately got the snakes removed from thewood and tried to give them sermon and recited Navkar Mahamantrabefore them. They couldn’t survive for long and died. But the healing ofParshwanath worked in some sense. As per Jain philosophy, rebirthtakes place as per the wishes and ideas at the time of death and on thebasis of accumulated karmas. The snakes became Gods in their nextbirth and their names are Dharmendra and Padmawati. The Tapas wasinfuriated at the foresight of Parshwanath. He lost his image in thepublic and ultimately he had to leave the city. He died after some timeand he also became a God.Later the King Parshwanath became monk and started doingmeditation as per Jain systems (he used to do Kayotsarga in standingposture for days). Once he was doing Kayotsarga, suddently the Tapas(who was now a god called Meghmali) came there and started creatingall types of problems for the monk. Parshwanath remained calm andengrossed in his meditation. Tapas created heavy rains and floods, andat that time Dharmendra and Padmawati came to rescue Parshwanath.They created a platform for Parshwanath and protected him from rainsand water. They also repelled Tapas. Parshwanath remained engrossedin meditation. He had no hatred for Tapas and no attachment forDharmendra and Padmawati.Jain stories tell us about 9 previous lives of Parshwanath and in each ofthe life he had some incident of encounter with Tapas. Thus the lifeParshwanath was affected by Tapas in each and every life in the pastnine lives and in each case Parshwanath remained firm on principlies ofequanimity.
  6. 6. Parshwanath presents a life of calmness, determination andcommitment before us. He focused on his goals of attaining salvationand therefore remained detached to the worldly incidents. Heharboured no feelings (neigher hatred nor attachment) was thus ableto liberate himself from the bondage of the world.The story of Parshwanath tells us how we can attain supreme status bypracticing detachment, equanimity and concentration on the ultimategoals of life. Parshwanath became the 23rd Tirthankara in Indian history.He re-established the Jain systems. He established a Tirtha (Tirthdoesn’t mean a place of worship, but a group of people who becomeliberated due to sermons and ultimate knowledge that is imparted.Thousands of people became Kewalgyani under him and thus gotliberation).