Here in UK (Leeds) luckily met Prof K.V.Mardia. who is a statistician by profession and has passion for Jainism. He has written “Scientific foundation of Jainism” in 1990 and now he is working on his next book about “Negative emotions management”. This story is written in Hemachandra’s Parsistaparavan. Which Prof. k.v.mardia has mentioned in his book with pictures as well.
I heard such stories in my childhood. So, just wanted to have that in my diary(blog). I am sure this will help you in your spiritual life journey.
Human life and self deception.
Jainism is full of illustrative parables to depict it’s ideas.The story of the blind men and the elephant as used to express Anekantvad (the holistic principle) is well known.
Here I will share one another story which is also an eye opener when we are blindly running after something.
Once upon a time there was a man who was traveling with a party which happened to pass through a thick forest full of wild beasts and robbers. In the middle of the forest, they were attacked by a band of these robbers. The party fled for their lives in all directions; the man became separated from the group and lost his way.
When he looked back to see where he was, he saw a mad elephant running furiously towards him. He realized that if he did not find shelter, he would be killed instantly by the elephant. Noticing a well, he thought, “This elephant is sure to kill me, but I may perhaps save my self by jumping into this well”.
So he jumped into the well, grasping one of the branches of a banyan tree which overhung it. At the bottom of the well, the man saw a huge python ready to swallow him should he fall and at the bottom, on the four sides of the well, he could see four cobras hissing at him.
Two rats, one white and one black, were eating away the branch of the banyan tree that supported him. At the top of this branch there was a beehive with bees circling around him. The elephant stood on the brink of the well, and as it tried to capture the man with its mighty trunk, it caused the branch to move to and fro causing some drops of honey to fall on the man’s lips.
At that moment, a monk happened to arrive on the opposite side of the wall to the elephant and offered to help rescue the man from the well. However, the man seemed to be momentarily satisfied with the situation whilst he had the sweet taste of honey on his lips.
He did not realize that the branch of the tree would be eaten away by the rats and then he would have no support at all or the whole tree would be uprooted by the elephant and he would fall down to swallowed by the python.
Symbolism and Interpretation:
This whole drama is symbolic of the delusional state of man. The forest is the cycle of birth and death, and the man in the forest is the ordinary worldly man. The mad elephant is that ran after him is death. The well is his earthly life; the python is the symbol of the lowest state of existence (Hell). The four cobras are the symbols of Anger, Greed, Ego, and Deceit (the four main passions).
The two rats , white and black , represent time, the bright and dark halves of the lunar month, which exhaust his earthly span. The monk represents the true religion. The branch of the banyan tree represent the short duration of his earthly life.
The bees in the hive are organs of the senses and the honey drops represent sensuous pleasures.
So, the whole drama comes down to this: the common man, ignoring the fact that his life may be cut off at any time by death, satisfies himself by enjoying sensuous pleasures and is oblivious to the truths offered by philosophy: he is being influenced by Anger, Greed, Ego and Deceit.
In a modern context, this parable warns against self indulgence in a very broad sense. The warning includes keeping away from top negatives such as smoking, drugs, and anything sparked by Anger, Greed, Ego and Deceit. It emphasizes that the true solution exists in “religiousness”.