Article: Story Aṅgas

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Parable 17 – Āiṇṇa

Merchants from an Indian coastal town travel to the island of Kāliyadīva, which might represent Zanzibar. There they see all sorts of marvellous things, especially uncommon types of horses. When they come back to their native town the king orders them to capture these animals and bring them back. Horses of good breeding resist the temptations of attractive things meant to trap them and lead a free life. Those who do not resist enticements are captured.

Parable 18 – Suṃsumā

The merchant Dhanya has one daughter, Suṃsumā, and five sons. The servant Cilāta looks after Suṃsumā, but Dhanya fires him when he proves to be cruel.

Cilāta joins a gang of thieves and becomes their leader. He and the other thieves loot Dhanya’s house. Cilāta kidnaps Suṃsumā while his men steal the family's possessions. The other thieves are soon arrested by the police but Cilāta evades capture.

Dhanya and his five sons go in pursuit of Cilāta, who has beheaded the girl. He leaves her body and dies in the forest. Dhanya and his sons find Suṃsumā's body but are thus unable to catch her murderer.

With nothing to eat in the forest, the father tells his sons to kill him and eat his flesh. They in turn propose that he kills them so he can eat. Finally, Dhanya decides that they should eat Suṃsumā’s body to sustain themselves, as it was already lifeless. They do this and return home. Similarly, mendicants eat only to sustain their bodies and break the cycle of rebirths.

After listening to Mahāvīra’s sermon, Dhanya turns to monastic life. He is reborn as a god in the Saudharma heaven.

The crucial incident of this story has been challenging to Jain authors. Either they suggest that it should be understood metaphorically, not realistically, or, in later retellings, they remove it or transform it (Balbir 1984).

Parable 19 – Puṇḍarīka

This illustration from an Uttarādhyayana-sūtra manuscript depicts some of the qualities of a 'true monk', a perfect ascetic

The 'true monk'
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

After hearing a Jain ascetic’s sermon, King Puṇḍarīka adopts the lay vows and his brother Kaṇḍarīka becomes a monk.

Later Kaṇḍarīka falls ill. He is treated as is proper for an ascetic and recovers, but cannot leave the comforts he has got used to during his illness. He behaves as a bad ascetic, like Śailaka in tale number 5.

At Puṇḍarīka’s request, he resumes wandering life but he is tired of ascetic life. He leaves his fellow monks and sits dejected outside the palace. Kaṇḍarīka finally admits that he wants to enjoy worldly life. Puṇḍarīka makes him the king in his place and initiates himself as an ascetic.

Kaṇḍarīka becomes ill again and dies. He is reborn in the lowest hell, the seventh.

A religious teacher officially initiates Puṇḍarīka. He is a dedicated mendicant, eating even cold or dry food. When he falls ill and dies he is reborn as a god among the ‘Five Unsurpassable’ – Panca Anuttaraheavens.

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