Recognized by the symbol (laanchhan) of deer, Shantinath Bhagwan is the 16th Tirthankara of the current time cycle. Born in the city of Hastinapur, His complexion was golden and His height measures 40 bows. Garud Dev is His Shaasan Dev and Nirvani Devi is His Shaasan Devi.
Let’s now go through the life stories of the Lord’s past two births, prior to His birth as Tirthankara. Finally, we will go through the story of his last birth as a Tirthankara in which He gave Deshna on the five senses.
11 births prior to becoming a Tirthankara, he was King Shrisen, who had two Queens namely, Abhinandita and Shikhinandita and had two Sons, who were very skilful.
When the two sons grew young, King Shrisen decided to get them married. However, when princesses arrived at the kingdom for their marriage, a beautiful dancer accompanied them too. The dancer was extremely beautiful. Seeing her, both the brothers got so attracted towards her that they started fighting with each other for the dancer, leaving aside the marriage.
A terrific battle happened between the two. Everyone tried to make the princes understand; even King Shrisen explained to them that what they were doing was wrong. However, due to immense attraction towards the dancer, they could not understand anything. On the contrary, they were ready to kill each other.
King Shrisen was extremely sad looking at his son’s dismal behaviour. When he could not find any solution, he finally committed suicide. Seeing this, his queens too committed suicide. King Shrisen had considered one of his subjects, Satyabhama who had come to him seeking help, to be like his sister. Seeing King Shrisen and his queens committing suicide, she also committed suicide.
If committed suicide, very rarely a person gets a good next life. However, while alive, King Shrisen, his wives and Satyabhama lived a pious life marked by lots of penance and meditation. As a result, despite committing suicide, their next birth was not bad.
After committing suicide, the next birth of King Shrisen was as a Yuglik and his previous birth’s wife, Queen Abhinanda was his Yuglik wife.
After completing his lifespan as a Yuglik, King Shrisen’s third birth was in the heaven (devlok).
After completing a long span in the celestial dimension, the fourth birth of King Shrisen was as King Amittej. His sister’s name was Sutara. Sutara was married to Prince Vijay, the son of Tripushta Vasudev (one of the previous incarnations of Lord Mahavir).
The sister of Prince Vijay, Jyotirprabha, was the wife of King Amittej (the previous incarnation of Shantinath Bhagwan). This is how the two Tirthankaras of the current time cycle got connected with each other in their previous incarnations.
In his prior life, Prince Vijay was Queen Abhinanda, the wife of King Shrisen, and Sutara, in her previous birth, was Satyabhama, whom King Shrisen had considered his sister.
Sutara was later kidnapped by Ashnighose, who was the Soul of Kapil. Kapil, in his previous life, was the husband of Satyabhama. Prince Vijay fought a fierce battle with Ashnighose. Ashnighose was very skilful and swift. With his black magic, he made the battle difficult for Prince Vijay. However, King Amittej saved Prince Vijay from Ashnighose.
Consequently, Ashnighose ran away and went to a Muni Maharaj for rescue. He took Diksha from the him and did a lot of penance and devotional worship. Even King Amittej went to Muni Maharaj and adopted Shravak dharma. He sought heartfelt forgiveness for the mistakes he had done in his earlier life and thereafter, ruled his kingdom peacefully.
Then, one day, King Amittej visited Muni Maharaj and asked him to foretell his future. Muni Maharaj said that only 26 days were remaining for his life. Upon learning this, within King Amittej, a tremendous feeling of complete detachment got triggered. All his moha (illusory attachment) vanished, and as a result, he took Diksha from Muni Maharaj.
Even Prince Vijay did a lot of penance and devotional worship with a desire and determination to become a powerful and affluent Vasudev like his father Tripushta Vasudev. Based on his determination, he became a Vasudev in his future birth!
Both King Amittej and Prince Vijay then took birth in the heaven in their fifth birth.
King Amittej, in his sixth birth, was born as Baldev Aparajit, and Prince Vijay, in his next birth, was born as Vasudev Anantvirya. Thus, King Shrisen and Queen Abhinanda once again came together in this birth as well. Both of them were quite attached to each other.
Once, in their young age, they were too engrossed in watching a dancer dancing. In the meantime, Narad Muni entered their palace. Seeing both of them engrossed in the dance, he felt very insulted as they forgot to even welcome him.
Hence, he decided to take revenge. He instigated the Prativasudev of his time, whose name was Damitari, to fight a big battle with Vasudev Anantvirya, making the dancer instrumental. Finally, as per the law of Nature, the Vasudev killed Prativasudev.
On the other hand, Baldev Aparajit became Ardh-Chakravati. Aparajit was a pious Soul who worshipped God with great devotion. As a result, his next birth was in the heaven.
Baldev Aparajit, the Soul of Shantinath Bhagwan, took the seventh birth in the heaven.
In the eighth birth, Baldev Aparajit was born as Chakravarti Vajrayudh. Chakravarti means the one who has won over the entire world. His son was Sahastrayudh, a reincarnation of Queen Abhinanda, the wife of King Shrisen.
The ninth birth of Lord Shantinath was once again in the heaven.
After completing a long lifespan in the heaven, Shantinath Swami in his third-last birth was born as King Meghrath. Once while King Meghrath was seated in the garden, suddenly a pigeon, gripped with fear, came flying from far and fell into the king’s lap.
Soon following the pigeon, a big hawk flew in. It seemed to have pecked the pigeon all the way. Immediately, the fearful pigeon urged to King Meghrath, as if talking in the human language to please protect him from this hawk who has come to kill it.
King Meghrath, by nature, was very compassionate; Moreover, he was also a Kshatriya, whose inherent virtue is to protect anyone who comes seeking protection, even if it means laying down life for the same.
Therefore, he promises the pigeon to protect him at any cost. On the other hand, the hawk pleaded the king that he is too hungry and the pigeon is his prey due to which the king should not take it away or else he will die of hunger.
King Meghrath requested the hawk to eat something else and spare this living creature. He said, “Look, the pigeon is so afraid of you. I will give you something else to eat, but do not eat this living creature who has come to me for shelter.” He tried to explain to the hawk that it’s not right to eat a living creature, but the hawk insisted, “I eat only non-vegetarian food; I cannot eat anything vegetarian.” Finally, King Meghrath proposed, “Okay, if you like that only, then eat my flesh. Fill your stomach with it and spare the pigeon.” The hawk agreed!
The king called for a weighing balance. On one pan of the balance, he placed the pigeon, and on another, he placed his own flesh, which he started removing from various parts of his body. The king kept placing more and more of his flesh; however, the pan of the pigeon didn’t rise at all. The balance was not equalizing. So, at the end, the king put himself on the pan.
Seeing this, all his family members, his courtiers and ministers, and everyone in the kingdom were utterly shocked. They requested the king that he should not lay down his precious life for something dubious like this, as his duty should be to serve the kingdom and protect its subjects and not fall a trap to these suspicious elements. However, the king remained steadfast in his decision to sacrifice his life so as to save the little pigeon’s life.
Just then a miracle happened! The hawk came into his original form of a celestial being. With great respect, he bowed before King Meghrath and apologized for his doing by saying,
“I have made a grave mistake. Owing to some revenge of the past life, the hawk was behind the pigeon, ready to take his life. Seeing this, I, a celestial being, entered into the body of these birds and came to you, as I was a little jealous of you. I had developed some hatred towards you as everyone in the heavens was praising you for your noble compassion. So, I came here to take your exam, and let me tell you, you have excelled. I greatly regret having harassed you.”
Both the birds then flew away and the celestial God too asked for forgiveness and then left.
King Meghrath is a vivid example of such extraordinary compassion he had towards living beings. The Tirthankaras, Acharyas, Gnanis, and several others have emphasized the importance of not hurting anyone and more so not killing any living being. When no living being is caused the slightest hurt by us, that’s when we become deserving of Moksha (ultimate liberation)!
To get there, Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan has advised that every morning, while you pray to God, say at least five times, “May no living being be caused the slightest hurt through my thoughts, words or deeds.’
Yet, if someone happens to get hurt by us, we must immediately ask for forgiveness from God by saying, “Oh God! I made this mistake. Please forgive me and grant me strength so that I do not repeat this mistake.” With a heart-felt repentance, we will be saved from the grave consequences of hurting someone in the form of suffering in our next life.
This episode of King Meghrath’s compassion was considered a big saga in history. If we try to imbibe in us even 1% of this virtue of non-violence and compassion towards living beings, we can live a beautiful life.
After this incident, King Meghrath felt detached from the worldly affairs. Therefore, he renounced the kingdom and took Diksha. Thereafter, he did a lot of devotional worship due to which he bound the Tirthankara-naam-gotra karma!
Thereafter, in the eleventh birth, King Meghrath became a celestial being in the heaven.
After completing his lifespan in the heaven, the Soul of King Meghrath descended into the womb of Queen Achira, the wife of King Vishwasen, who ruled Hastinapur. King Vishwasen ruled the kingdom nicely. He was very simple and used to love his people.
When a Tirthankara is born, the entire world experiences happiness and the celestial beings Gods and Goddesses celebrate it with splendour, dancing and enjoying the birth ceremony of the Lord. Not just that, the atmosphere of the entire world changes; the environment gets filled with happiness and peace.
Prior to the Lord coming into the womb, there was a terrifying epidemic of plague and other diseases in the kingdom of King Vishwasen and it could not be controlled by anyone. However, the moment Shantinath Swami entered into the womb of Queen Achira, the epidemics and other diseases all vanished due to the influence of this pious Soul.
Hence, King Vishwasen named him Shantinath; by just taking his name, one experiences Shanti (peace).
In His childhood, He was given good education and was taught good values and skills. As He grew young, His parents insisted Him to get married. He had a beautiful wife named Queen Yashomati.
Queen Yashomati gave birth to their Son named Chakrayudh. Chakrayudh was the Soul of Queen Abhinanda, the first wife of King Shrisen (Lord Shantinath’s prior birth). In his previous birth, Chakrayudh was Prince Dradhrath, the son of King Meghrath. This illustrates how these two remained together in some or the other relation for 12 consecutive births. Such strong was their bondage, which is otherwise very rare!
Later, King Vishwasen handed over the throne to his son Prince Shantinath, and retired. As a king, the Lord won over the entire world and attained fourteen ratnas to become the fifth Chakravarti. Thus, He became a Chakravarti and a Tirthankara in the same birth!
After ruling the kingdom nicely for many years, upon the request from the Lokantik Devas, He decided to take Diksha. He made massive donations for a year and then renounced the world. One year after Diksha, he attained Keval Gnan!
As He attained Keval Gnan, the celestial beings made arrangements for His Samovasaran, from where He gave an insightful Deshna on the subject of winning over our indriyas.
In the state of ignorance, it’s the indriyas that win over us. There are many who struggle a lot to win over the indriyas, but to win over the five karma indriyas and five gnan indriyas is too difficult.
Let’s assume one is working very hard to win over one indriya, say that of taste, by making everything we eat quite tasteless. Here, the fact is that this practice does not sustain for long. Rather, one must remain aware of each type of taste (without attachment towards any taste) in the particular dish while eating. This helps to ‘know’ everything, the minutest detail of it, pertaining to that dish.
An ordinary person, in the state of ignorance, is eating food, and simultaneously, is executing financial transactions on the stock exchange too. Hence, there is absolutely no clue of what has been eaten, what was in the recipe, how was the taste of each ingredient used in it; the person knows nothing about it.
However, the Gnanis teach us to enjoy what we have (food or any other thing) in hand, and not worry about what’s not before us. This is the best key to live in the present. This also keeps us healthy and happy in life.
Param Pujya Dadashri also advised - Eat as much as you want of whatever you don’t like, but the taste of which you relish, eat less of it. This helps to maintain a good balanced intake.
In many houses, maximum clashes happen on the dining table. There are conflicts with respect to the taste of the food served, and furthermore clashes of ego between the two. In the process, people bind enormous karmas. This shows how just one indriya have so much control over us. There, we must at least, recognize that we have to come out of the clasp of these indriyas.
This is how the indriya or sense of taste binds us.
Next, let us take the sense of touch. People enjoy taking shower for hours together and take pleasure in sleeping over a soft Dunlop mattress upon which is a bedsheet that is silky touch. If one is asked to sleep on a rough bedsheet, one cannot sleep throughout that night. Similarly, one who gets used to air-conditioner is unable to bear even trivial heat.
It’s a principle that as much we indulge in sensory pleasures, that much repayment is bound to arise in the form of suffering. For whatever pleasure we enjoyed, we have to undergo that much suffering for sure.
Suppose if you are accustomed to air-conditioned environment, then you will not be able to bear the heat while attending a wedding in an open space or a funeral. Psychologically, humans tend to further multiply their suffering many more times than what it is. So, the more you pamper your senses, the more they get out of control.
On the other hand, if we remain natural, i.e., in normality, then we will be happy! At the same time, we do not want to control our indriyas through ahankar (egoism), but rather win them over through right understanding. if we try to do it through egoism, then the moment our ego is hurt, all the indriyas will once again start ruling over us, and with double the force this time. Thus, any control through egoism leads to bad reactions.
Rather, if we remain in the awareness that we are indulging in pleasure from these worldly objects, and instead choose to move towards obtaining the permanent happiness from the Soul, then automatically this pleasure from senses and sensory objects will soon tend to wither.
Those who understands that permanent happiness lies in the Soul remain superfluous towards the sensory pleasures. This is because truly speaking it is a mere belief that the sense of touch gives me happiness. The pleasure arises from the belief itself.
Hence, the Gnanis show us the way of changing the belief by understanding the end result of the happiness (temporary) derived from sensory pleasures vis-a-vis the happiness (permanent) derived from the Soul.
One who wants to attain happiness from the Soul should slowly come out of the sensory pleasures. However, leaving the sensory pleasures one after another, step by step is difficult.
The Akram way provides a shortcut to realizing Soul’s happiness. Then, irrespective of whether the sensory pleasures are there or not, the happiness of the Soul remains intact; it remains constant. No matter whatever sufferings exist externally, internally the happiness of the Soul prevails.
Now comes the third sense, which is the sense of sight. When eyes see something beautiful, immediately they get attracted. When eyes are misused for wrong purposes, one gets spectacles.
Seeing too much of TV, using internet on mobile or computer to see wrong things is all misuse of eyes, due to which in the next life, one’s eyesight suffers. If there has been a greater misuse, it could even lead to total blindness of eyes.
When someone sees here and there with sexual tendencies, the chit (inner faculty of knowledge and vision taking photos and viewing previously taken scenes) gets scattered and even the instilled cultural values go down the drain. Similarly, when one tries to attract other’s attention towards one’s self through wrong tactics, that too is equally bad.
However, if we introspect where all such mistakes (of misusing any indriya) is made in this life, and with true repentance, seek forgiveness from God for all these mistakes, and make a firm determination to never indulge in such things in future; then these mistakes will not get carried forward to the next life. We will feel very light and will be freed from them.
The next indriya is the sense of smell. Wherever there is foul smell, we feel so dirty and awkward. It is because we like good smell and that we do not like the bad smell. If, from a tender age, we cultivate detachment towards perfumes, sprays, good fragrance, etc., then we can remain detached towards the bad smell also.
On a different note, when we smell good with the help of scents and sprays, of what use is it? Rather, our character should be such that our (internal) fragrance spreads far and wide; people feel like sitting close to us as they enjoy our company. They feel peace being by our side.
The fifth indriya is the sense of hearing. One misuses this indriya a lot. Ideally, we must listen to the talk that is useful for our worldly life or the meaningful talk that the Gnanis or the Tirthankaras say; then, our listening will bind very good merit karmas.
On the other hand, when one misuses this indriya, one could even become deaf as a result. Whichever indriya one misuses, the result of that karma is inevitable.
Listening to a variety of music on a Walkman is a regular habit of youngsters today. One is lost in it all day; to the extent that even while studying, one needs loud music to concentrate on what is being read.
Then when someone is talking about us, we feel like listening to it. We love listening to talks regarding us. If the other person is praising us, we feel delighted. If someone is abusing us, we try hard to listen even when the other person is hardly audible. Also, we curiously ask those who were present there regarding our talks.
We should never ask people such questions. Don’t we have trust on ourselves? The act mentioned above is one kind of deceit-leading karma; hence, we should never indulge in it. Have the self-confidence that you know what you are; let people say what they wish to; why should you try to know what they said? As long as you are pure, that’s enough!
Sometimes, we tend to doubt that whether these people are talking regarding me or not, and therefore, put our ears onto the door and try to listen to the conversation. This becomes a big reason for our attachment or hatred to arise, due to which we end up binding a lot of karma unnecessarily.
No matter what anyone may envision us to be, we must have the confidence that I am not so. When we have the purity, the other person’s false talk cannot sustain; even if one prints wrong things about us in the newspaper, it shouldn’t affect us.
Even great people had to face wrong accusations, but they did not fear. We too must remain strong and live life with confidence. Let people say anything about us; it should not affect us if we have not done anything wrong. Hence, it is wrong to put our ears onto the door and listen to anything.
If some middleman comes to us saying that this person was talking about you like this and like that, we get quite interested in listening to it. We also begin to like that person who brings such talks to us; we become quite close to them. This is wrong!
We must not listen to such hearsay. We don’t want to be gullible. Hence, do not pay any attention to that which we have not experienced directly; especially when it is some negative talk about us, do not let it affect us at all.
Such desires like what are people saying about me and so on are not worthy to keep. We want to maintain one and only one desire, and that is of going to Moksha (get liberated).
There’s a nice quote of Param Pujya Krupaludev, also known as Shrimad Rajchandra, “We are desirous of knowing only the truth (meaning the ultimate truth, i.e., the Soul)!” He didn’t have any other desire! We too should have only that desire.
This is how the five sensory indriyas rule over us in the state of ignorance.
Most importantly, these indriyas are not such that can be suppressed or controlled. However, with the right understanding, they shed off on their own. If we try to control one particular indriya, then the other indriya will become powerful.
If we try to control that other indriya too, then some third indriya will become extravagantly powerful. Hence, a vicious cycle will continue to go on and on.
It is only when we attain Self-realization that we can go beyond the indriyas.
As Lord Krishna has said, “The senses shall remain in the senses and you remain in the Self (the Soul).” When we remain in the Soul, then these indriyas automatically wither. For instance, the eyes will see a beautiful face, and seeing the face, attraction will arise but we, the Soul, shall play our role of:
We, the Soul, must not get swayed by moha. As much as we will remain separate from this body, that much the indriyas will automatically be in control.
When one realizes, “I am a pure Soul,” that person no more remains the owner of these indriyas. Then, the person is totally separate from these indriyas. Hence, it becomes easy to overcome them.
Therefore, until we are in the state of ignorance, the indriyas rule over us. But when we attain Self-realization, we are able to overcome the indriyas quite easily.
Such was the Deshna of Shantinath Swami on the five senses!
The Lord had 36 Ganadhars (chief disciples of a Tirthankara) in total. His son, Chakrayudh, became His first Ganadhar (the chief disciple of a Tirthankara). After completing the lifespan, the Lord attained Nirvana and went to Moksha from the Sammed Shikharji Mountains with thousands of Sadhus, Sadhvis, Shravakas and Shravikas!