Jain Vidya (2): Arhannaka’s Faith

Published: 25.01.2018
Updated: 29.01.2018

Arhannaka was a devout shravak (layman). He knew the purport of dharma hence dharma was everything for him. Once he was having a sea journey on his ship for business. When his ship arrived in the middle of the sea, a deva (god) appeared before him. He seemed to be very dreadful and haughty. He said to Arhannaka, "I ask you to give up the path of dharma. If you do not do it, I will drown your ship. Arhannaka was plunged in astonishment at this unforeseen occurrence. But he did not feel panicked in his heart. He had known the secret of life and death. Hence he had crossed both fear of death and attachment to life. In a very calm and solemn voice he said,- "Deva! I cannot relinquish dharma. Why should I give it up? It is not something that can be foresaken. I am one with dharma, then how can I leave it."

Deva said in an angry voice- "I have nothing to do with what you are saying. I stress only one thing. You should desert the path of dharma. If you do not do it, I will drown this ship." All the passengers of the ship began to tremble at the ruthless warning of the deity. In a pitiable voice they all said- "We will all desert the path of dharma, please shelter us and do not sink the ship."

They said to Arhannaka- "Why do you become so stubborn, just say once that you have forsaken dharma. What do you lose by saying so? If you say these words, it will save us all and if you continue to persist in your dogmatic attitude, all the passengers of the ship will be killed." Arhannaka found himself entangled in a very difficult situation. He began to explain to his friends- "How can I forsake the path of dharma? I have realized that dharma alone is our shelter. Then, how can I seek something else's shelter? I am sorry that all of you are getting into trouble because of me. I also wish that I bear the brunt of my thinking and you may not have to suffer for my sake. But, I cannot desert dharma and take refuge in something else. Arhanka's tenacious adherence to his vow made the god jittery. He bacame restless. He raised Arhannaka's ship in the sky and said to him- "Even now accept what I say, otherwise all of you will be killed." Arhannaka remained undaunted even when he was in the jaws of death. The deity observed it and read his mind by penetrating into his conscience and found that Arhannaka was still as fearless and devout as before. Deity's heart was changed. The ship halted as it touched the surface and deva (deity) fell prostrate at Arhannaka's feet. All continued to witness this scene with astonished eyes.

He who remains steadfast in dharma, no power on earth can make him deviate from his path. Hence, every one should remain firm in his dharma.

Questions:

  1. Why did the deity ask Arhannaka to give up the path of dharma?
  2. What did the passengers say to Arhannaka?
  3. What did the deity do at Archannaka's firm attitude?

Sources
Title: Jain Vidya (2)
Editor: Muni Sumermal (Sudarshan)
Translation: Dr. Samani Shashi Pragya
Publisher: Samana Sanskriti Sankaya, Jain Vishwa Bharati, Ladnun
20th Edition: 2013
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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Deva
  2. Dharma
  3. Fear
  4. Shravak
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