This is a story of King Shrenik, the ruler of Magadh. He had a
well-cultured son named Meghkumar. As a prince, he lived in great
splendor and happiness.
Once, Lord Mahavir arrived at their kingdom. Meghkumar joined
his parents to pay his respects to the Lord. On seeing the Lord's
divinity, he had a strong desire to renounce the world, which he
related to his parents. His parents tried to explain to him that it
would be a very difficult lifestyle. After renunciation, one has to
walk barefoot, eat whatever is offered, sleep on the bare floor,
perform severe penance and one has no comfort or happiness at all.
To this Meghkumar replied, "I desire only the happiness of
salvation and none other than that." Ultimately his parents
relented due to his unflinching resolve and gave him permission to
Meghkumar then took initiation into monkhood and was very happy.
Now he was no longer Prince Meghkumar but Sage Meghkumar. On the
first night after initiation, he made arrangements to sleep besides
the other sages. As the sages were to sleep in line by order of
their age, Meghkumar who was the youngest, had to sleep in the only
space left, near the door. He was unable to sleep all night long,
as the other sages coming in and out of the room, kept disturbing
him by kicking his feet which lay near the entranceway.
While lying on a single quilt, Meghkumar remembered his
palace where until the previous night he had slept on a soft
mattress. He then felt that his parents were right when they had
said that there would be no comfort and happiness here. "Until
yesterday, I stayed in the palace enjoying great honor and respect
but today people are kicking me when leaving the room. How will I
spend my whole life here like this? I want to go back home!" he
fell off to sleep, waiting for the following morning, with these
thoughts on his mind.
The next morning, at the break of dawn, he went to Lord Mahavir.
The Lord being a 'Kevalgnani' knew Meghkumar's intentions for
coming to him. The Lord then made Meghkumar recall his previous
In his previous birth, Meghkumar was a huge elephant in a forest
called Vindhyachal. Once, the forest caught fire and all the trees
got burnt. All the animals ran helter skelter, screaming for their
lives. In the centre of the forest, there was an open patch of
barren land. Since there were no trees there, the fire did not
spread to that area. All the animals gathered there, the entire
space was crowded with animals and there was not even an inch of
space left. Tigers, lions, rabbits, elephants, giraffes, all stood
there together caring for each other as if they were one big
Meghkumar who was then an elephant, also stood
amongst them. Feeling an itch on one leg, he lifted that leg. At
the same time, a rabbit looking for safety from the fire ran into
the empty space under the elephant's leg, and sat there.
As the elephant was about to put his foot down, he spotted the
rabbit. In an effort to save the rabbit, the elephant kept its foot
The fire continued the next day and the day after. All the
animals stood in the same place, feeling hungry and thirsty.
Astonishingly, the elephant was standing in its position, with one
leg raised for two and a half days. And for what reason? In order
to refrain from killing the rabbit. After two and a half days, when
the fire extinguished, all the animals scattered away. The
elephant's leg had become stiff from having stood in this position
for two and a half days. As soon as he placed his leg on the
ground, he fell down. The elephant had no strength to stand up, as
he was weak and in unbearable pain after 3 days of hunger and
thirst. In a few moments, he passed away and was reborn as prince
After relating his previous birth, the Lord explained to him,
that he had undergone such severe penance just to save a rabbit.
Getting kicked on the legs was nothing in comparison to the pain he
had borne in his previous birth. You have such noble understanding.
You are so fortunate and definitely worthy of attaining 'Moksh'.
How can you leave the path of salvation because of such minor
Meghkumar understood everything, asked for forgiveness and
returned to lead a pious life. As a result he was born as a deity
in his next birth.