Glory of Jainism: Panchakhya Bharvahak

Published: 04.10.2012


Panchakhya Bharvahak

Out of the five hundred labourers, who transported heavy loads, the most strongest was Panchakhya. He was also the leader of the group of labourers. A man of extraordinary strength, he could carry huge load on his head. The king was proud of him. He called him once and said: “When you lead the team of your labourers and walk along the road, you must not move aside and give way to others; be it an army, elephant, horse, chariots or  carts. Even when you face me on the path, you must continue to walk along without moving aside and making way for me. I hold you in the highest esteem as you symbolise dignity of labour.” The king also said that anyone violating his order would be severely punished. Labourer Panchakhya was highly pleased at the honour done to him. Panchakhya always walked along the road holding his head high, followed by his troupe of five hundred labourers. Nobody dared to cross his path; everyone would move aside making way for him and his companions. Not only nobody ever thought of violating the king’s order, but all bore great respect for him.

Once Panchakhya and the five hundred labourers were entering the town heavily loaded. He himself had five heavy pots on his head. It so happened that some monks were coming his way. He said to himself: “The load on my head is physical, but what about the load of these Jain monks. They observe the vows of non-violence, truth, non-stealing, non-possession, celibacy and the accumulated load of these five vows is far greater than the load I carry. I must, therefore, bow to them and give way to them.” He, then, moved aside and so did his five hundred labourers. Some of them did not approve of Panchakhya’s gesture and said: “Why did you do it? You have violated the king’s command.” The king came to know about it and Panchakhya was summoned to appear before him and explain his conduct. Panchakhya said: “0 king! These monks carry far more greater load than I do, and therefore I gave them way.” The king was astounded to hear this and said: “Very strange! These people do not carry the kind of load you carry.” Panchakhya replied: “On the contrary they carry far greater load than I do. They observe the five difficult vows and observe them scrupulously. I am a sinner. I commit violence and my sins accumulate and from which I see no liberation. Once I did try for diksha (renunciation) but the load of five vows was difficult for me to carry. I find it easier to carry the load of five pots on my head but not that of five vows. Since the monks’ load was heavier than mine, I gave way to them.”

Panchakhya Bharvahak said that the monk observed five mahavrat (the five great vows of a mendicant) and each one of the vratas served to purify life continuously. Not only that each vrat was accompanied by five bhavana (five deep reflection) and thus the monks carried the load of twenty five bhavana. To carry such a heavy load was really difficult. The king asked Panchakhya: “Why did you give up the five mahavrat - non-violence, truth, celibacy, non-stealing and non-possession? These can be easily observed.” In response Panchakhya said: “It is difficult to give up love of gold, women and throne and lead a life of restraint and self-denial.” The king, on hearing these words, decided to renounce the world to observe the five mahavrat. Panchakhya, thus, himself did not become a Jain monk but succeeded in making others, including the king, to follow the path of renunciation. By following an ethical code, Panchakhya himself earned for himself a great reputation.

Title: Glory Of Jainism

Ashok Saha and Prathana Saha


Shri Anilbhai Gandhi (Trustee),
Palitana - 364270 (India)

Edition: 1998

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Bhavana
  2. Celibacy
  3. Diksha
  4. Non-violence
  5. Violence
  6. vrat
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