Article: Story Aṅgas

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Parable 2 – Saṃghāḍaga

This painting from an Uttarādhyayana-sūtra manuscript is of a Śvetāmbara monk in the kāyotsarga – 'rejection of the body' – meditation posture. He has the third eye and the bump of wisdom on his head. Four-armed gods and a lay man pay homage to him

Right monastic behaviour
Image by Victoria and Albert Museum © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

After a long married life without children, the wife of the merchant Dhanya gives birth to a son, as a result of praying to a god. The infant is cared for by a young boy servant. While the servant plays with other children, the richly adorned baby attracts the attention of the thief Vijaya. He kidnaps the baby, kills him and throws the body in a well. The police discover the child’s body and arrest the thief, who is put in jail.

It so happens that Dhanya, who has been accused of offending the king by fellow merchants, has been jailed as well. Dhanya and Vijaya are chained together as a pair – saṃghāḍaga – and cannot move without each other. The first time Dhanya is brought food, he eats alone and refuses to share it with the thief. However, when he wants to go to relieve himself Vijaya refuses to go unless Dhanya shares his food with him.

Later on, Dhanya is released from jail on the payment of a fine. His wife is angry that he has shared food with the thief who murdered their son. The merchant explains that the only reason he had done so was to satisfy the needs of his body. Similarly, ascetics take food only to sustain their bodies, not for any other purpose, such as pleasure.

The thief is later reborn in the hells, while Dhanya takes monastic initiation after hearing the teachings of a Jain ascetic.

Parable 3 – Aṇḍaga

Two friends happen to discover two peahen eggs in a garden and bring them home to hatch.

Out of impatience, one man moves the egg. This disturbance kills the chick inside.

The other man just waits peacefully and patiently. In due course a chick is safely born, which is brought up and trained. It develops into a beautiful bird that wins competitions.

Parable 4 – Kumma

Two jackals seek prey near a pond where two turtles live. When the turtles see them, they draw in their limbs so the jackals go away.

However, the jackals do not really leave, but hide instead. After some time, one of the turtles extends a flipper. The hiding jackals tear it to pieces, then go away.

Again, the jackals hide instead of truly leaving. Eventually, the injured turtle extends one flipper after the other, and the jackals eat her up entirely.

Since the other turtle keeps her limbs retracted, the jackals have to give up hope of eating her too. The second turtle remains safe. The cautious turtle is an analogy for ascetics who keep their five sensory organs disciplined.

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