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Journey into Jainism: The Value of Humbleness

Published: 23.09.2017

Once upon a time there was a Guru who had two pupils. Both of them were intelligent and hard working, but one of them was polite, very humble and obedient while the other was rude. Once, on the way to a village, they saw the imprints of a hand and a foot on the soil. The impolite pupil at once spoke: "This is the footprint of an elephant." After thinking deeply the polite pupil said, "This is the footprint of a female elephant and she is blind in one eye. A queen was riding it and she was pregnant." They argued until they reached the village. There the festivities were in progress. The pupils asked someone the cause of the merriments going on there. The villager answered that the king had just gotten a son. Then the polite pupil inquired about the information he had inferred from the prints, and he was pleased to find that his assumptions were all correct.

A few minitues later, both the pupils were sitting on the bank of a river. An old woman came there to fetch water. Considering the pupils to be astrologers she asked them, "My son has been living in a foreign country for twelve years. Please, tell me when he will return." After uttering these painful words, the woman burst into tears and began to tremble with sobs. The pitcher she was carrying on her head fell down. The impolite pupil said to the old woman, "Your son has died and he will not return home." When she heard so, she was deeply grieved. But at the next moment the polite pupil said to her

After uttering these painful words, the woman burst into tears and began to tremble with sobs. The pitcher she was carrying on her head fell down.

"Mother! don't worry, your son has returned home!" Hearing this happy news, she hurried back home and she found her son there. To congratulate the polite pupil, she took him home and extended to him a hearty welcome.

After some days, when both the pupils returned to their teacher, the impolite disciple accused his Guru of partiality. The Guru subsequently tried to understand what circumstances had brought about that accusation. About the first situation the impolite pupil said that he had seen a large footprint on the soil and thought that it was the footprint of an elephant.

When questioned about the print, the polite pupil answered, "There was a little wetness in the sign which is only possible in the footprint of a female elephant, so I told him that it was clearly the footprint of a female elephant. The leaves of the tree only on one side of the road had been eaten, and so I knew that she was one- eyed. Because only royalty ride on elephants, and the elephant was a female, it must have been a queen who was riding the elephant." Asked about the queen's pregnancy, he replied, "when the queen got down from the elephant, she left imprints of her palm on the ground; since the lines of her palm were vivid on the soil, I thought that she was expecting a child."

The guru asked about the second incident. The impolite pupil said that while the old woman was talking with them, her pitcher fell down and so he thought that her son had died.

The polite pupil said, "I saw that the water got mixed with water of the river and the pitcher, made of soil, got mixed in soil. The place was clean, so I knew that the old lady would meet her son."

Having heard the explanations of both the pupils the Guru reprimanded his impolite pupil: "I never taught these things to your colleague. He used his own wisdom which he attained through humbleness and so he was successful in his work. Because of your rude behaviour, you could not develop your wisdom." The impolite pupil bent down his head and stood there feeling ashamed.


Title: Journey into Jainism
Sadhvi Vishrut Vibha (Samani Smit Pragya)
Publisher: Jain Vishwa Bharati, Ladnun, India
Edition: 2012

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