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Jain Stories

Mahävir-swämi and the Cow herder

One day as Mahävir-swämi was going from one place to another, he stopped near a big tree to meditate. While he was meditating, a cow herder came with his cows. He needed someone to look after his cows so he could go for some errands. He asked Mahävir-swämi if he would look after his cows for a few hours. Mahävir-swämi was in deep meditation and did not respond to the cow herder. However, the cow herder went away thinking that Mahävir-swämi had heard him and would look after his cows.

In the meantime, the cows started wandering away looking for grass. A few hours later, the cow herder returned and found all his cows were missing. He asked Mahävir-swämi, “Where are my cows? What did you do with them?” Mahävir-swämi was still in meditation and did not reply. The herder started wondering where the cows could have gone. Since Mahävir-swämi did not reply, the cow herder searched for them everywhere but could not find them. While he was looking for the cows, the cows returned to the place where Mahävir-swämi was meditating.

When the cow herder came back, to his amazement all his cows were standing near Mahävir-swämi. Mahävir-swämi was still meditating. The cow herder became very angry with Mahävir-swämi because he thought that Mahävir-swämi had been hiding his cows. Therefore, he took out his rope and was about to whip Mahävir-swämi with it. Just then, Indra came down from heaven and held the rope.

Indra preventing an ignorant cow herder
from assaulting Bhagawän Mahävir

“Can you not see that Mahävir-swämi is in deep meditation?” Indra asked.

“But he tricked me!” said the cow herder. The angel replied, “He is in meditation and did not hear you. He was prince Vardhamän before becoming a monk. He did not do anything to your cows. You would have acquired bad Karmas for hurting him.”

The cow herder realized that he had made a mistake. He apologized to Mahävir-swämi and went away silently.

Then, Indra bowed down to Mahävir-swämi and requested, “Oh Lord, I would like to be at your service as you will have to undergo many hardships during your spiritual journey.”

Bhagawän Mahävir denying Indra’s protection

Mahävir-swämi answered, “One cannot progress spiritually and attain Keval-jnän using others help and support. To attain Keval-jnän and become an Arihanta one has to undertake all the efforts personally on the journey towards omniscience and liberation.”

Indra went back to heaven feeling happy that he could stop Mahävir-swämi’s suffering. Mahävir did not have any bad feelings towards the cow herder because he held no anger towards anyone.