Shri Anathi Muni Jain Story
Magadh King Shrenik Bimbisar set out for forest-outing riding a horse. As he entered Mandikuli garden, he saw a saintly person in meditation under a tree. He was surprised at the sight of such a pleasant face with glowing forehead and was impressed by the monk. The king wondered as to what heart-rending and shocking experiences of worldly life might have led him to forsake joys and pleasures of youthful life and resort to a saintly way of life dedicated to penance.
The king bowed before the monk and asked politely, “I request you kindly to set at rest the doubt agitating my mind. What has compelled you to take diksha i.e., way of life full of penance and abdication by abjuring worldly joys and pleasures, in the prime of your life As I look at the unusual beauty of your body, and face as also your youthful age, I am prompted to ask as to what has compelled you to forsake your family, wealth and dear-ones at such a young age.”
In a loving tone the monk said, “0 king, I was absolutely lonesome and a helpless being in this world. There was neither any protector, nor friend. I abjured the worldly life because of such helplessness.”
King Shrenik laughed and said, “0 monk, If you feel so insecure and unprotected (anath), I shall be your protector (nath). Moreover a person like me as your protector will make all the difference and there shall be no problem in having sincere friends, near-ones and dear-ones and the whole retinue would be in your attendance. In their company you shall be able to enjoy all the pleasures like wealth, power and peace. You won’t miss any of the worldly pleasures. From now on I am your protector. Renounce this sainthood accepted in your youthful age and come with me to my grand palace filled with all kinds of pleasures.
To this the monk said, “0 king of Magadh, how shall you be my protector when you yourself are unprotected I also possessed invaluable wealth and riches, as you do. But once when I had severe pain in my eyes and burning sensation in my limbs none could help me – neither the riches of my father nor any medical help nor the sweet love of my mother. My devoted wife renounced all the ornaments and my brothers and sisters wept and wailed helplessly. I was helpless. They were helpless too. With a view to avoiding such helplessness, I decided to go for initiation (diksha) which, I thought, was an unfailing remedy to all my pains. I made up my mind to renounce the world if during that night my pain subsided. To my utter surprise it started subsiding immediately. By the time the day dawned, the pain vanished completely. I was perfectly healthy. As per my decision of the earlier night, I took diksha and thus one totally unprotected (a-nath) found his protector (nath) in Lord Mahavir.”
Deeply impressed by the preachings of Anathi Muni, king Shrenik decided to seek refuge of Lord Mahavir; Anathi Muni went his own way.
The character-sketch of Anathi Muni shows that a person suffering from worldly pains and tortures, despite his numerous near-ones and dear-ones and immense riches, can feel unprotected and helpless too. A person having his soul awakened is indeed a sanath – a protected person forever. Scriptures say that having attained the ultimate state of spiritual bliss, Anathi Muni achieved siddhi pad, the ever-lasting state of being sanath.
1. Glory of Jainism by Kumarpal Desai