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Jain Stories

King Shrenik and Queen Chelna

This is a story from the time of Bhagawän Mahävir. At that time, King Chetak was the ruler of Vaishäli. He had a beautiful daughter named Chelnä. Once an artist painted a picture of Chelnä and showed it to King Shrenik of Magadha. Charmed by Chelnä’s beauty, Shrenik fell in love with her. One day Chelnä came to the city of Magadha where she saw king Shrenik and she too fell in love with him. They soon got married.

Queen Chelnä was a devoted follower of Jainism, while Shrenik was influenced by Buddhism. The king was very generous and had a big heart, but somehow he was not happy with his queen’s devotion to Jain monks. He wanted to prove to Chelnä that Jain monks were pretenders. He strongly believed that Jain monks could not follow the practice of self-restraint and non-violence to the extent that Jain philosophy claims, and that the equanimity shown by Jain monks was superficial. Chelnä was greatly disturbed by this.

King Shrenik testing a Jain monk's equanimity

One day King Shrenik went on a hunting trip where he saw a Jain monk, Yamadhar, engaged in deep meditation. Shrenik let his hunting dogs go after Yamadhar but the monk remained silent and in deep meditation. On seeing the calmness and composure of the monk, the dogs became quiet. King Shrenik got angry and thought that the monk had played some trick on them. Therefore, he started shooting arrows at the monk, but they kept missing him. Becoming more upset, he finally put a dead snake around Yamadhar’s neck and returned to his palace.

The king narrated the whole incident to his queen Chelnä. The queen felt very sorry for Yamadhar and took the king back to Yamadhar’s place of meditation. Because of the dead snake, ants and other insects were crawling all over the monk’s body, but the monk did not even stir. The couple witnessed the limits of human endurance. The queen gently removed the ants and the snake from the monk’s body and cleaned his wounds. She applied sandalwood paste. Sometime later Yamadhar opened his eyes and blessed both of them.

Jain monk enduring pain while in meditation

The monk did not distinguish between the king who had caused him pain and the queen who had alleviated his pain. King Shrenik was very impressed and became convinced that Jain monks were truly free from attachment and aversion. Thus, King Shrenik along with queen Chelnä became devoted to Jainism and Bhagawän Mahävir.

If one cannot perform a comparable level of penance and devotion, one should not doubt the willpower and devotion of someone who is more religious. In fact, one should be very respectful of such individuals. It is important to serve and support these people rather than cause them pain and suffering. This will help to avoid the accumulation of bad Karma. Learn to accept and appreciate virtues in others.