Puniä Shrävak and his wife were poor villagers by their own choice. They lived in a small hut made of mud and grass. Puniä had taken a vow not to earn more than the minimum needed to survive, which at that time was 12 Dokadas (1/12 of a rupee) a day, which he earned by spinning and selling cotton yarn. He had also taken another vow to offer food to virtuous people daily. As they could not afford to have more food to satisfy this vow, he would fast one day and his wife would fast the next day. In spite of their being so poor, they always offered their hospitality to fellow beings. In this way, the couple helped deserving people every day.
Puniä Shrävak did Sämäyika (48 minutes of meditation and equanimity) daily. Once during Sämäyika he could not meditate properly. He wondered what he had done that was disturbing his meditation but could not think of a reason. Therefore, he asked his wife, “What have we done different today that I cannot meditate properly?” At first his wife could not think of anything either. But as she continued thinking, she remembered that while returning from the market, she had picked up dry cow manure from the street and used that as cooking fire. She told Puniä about this. He told her that they should not take anything from anywhere unless it is bought from their own daily earnings. Even though dry cow manure lying on the street has no value and does not belong to anybody, they did not have the right to take it. Puniä could do a true Sämäyika because he lived a life of such high morals. Even Lord Mahävir praised his Sämäyika ritual in his sermon.
compared to the Sämäyika Punya of Puniä Shrävak
Once King Shrenik asked Lord Mahävir how he could destroy his bad Karmas to avoid being born in hell in his next life. He was ready to give up his entire kingdom for that. Lord Mahävir knew that it is not possible to change such Karma (birth Karma of the next life) once acquired by a person. However to convey this message properly to the King, he said, “If you can buy the Punya Karma of one Sämäyika from Puniä Shrävak then it may be possible to change the birth Karma of your next life.”
King Shrenik went to Puniä Shrävak and requested the Punya Karma of one of his Sämäyika. King Shrenik was ready to give his entire kingdom for this purchase. Puniä Shrävak said, “Sir, I do not need any money. You have given us all the things we need in our life. I am ready to give everything I possess including my life for you. You are a great and merciful king. However I do not know how to give my Sämäyika Punya to you. Good Karma cannot be purchased. One has to do good Karma personally.”
from Puniä Shrävak
Now King Shrenik realized that all his wealth could not buy Punya Karma of even one Sämäyika from a very poor man of his kingdom. King Shrenik left disappointed but with admiration for Puniä’s real faith in religion.