Gems from Jain Literature-4; Burglar Story (Post No.11,144)


Post No. 11,144

Date uploaded in London – –    27 JULY 2022         

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The following slokas are from Mahavira Vacanamrutam (Pronunciation- Mahaaviira vacanaamrutham)

“As a burglar caught in the breach of a wall, perishes by the act, he himself had performed, even so people, in this life and after death, can never escape the fruit of actions performed by them.”


The thieves in the ancient India used to make holes in the wall to enter the houses. While doing so they used to make different designs. They had professional tools and guides for that. 2000 years ago, Shudraka wrote a drama named ‘Mrcha Gadika/ The Clay Cart’, in which he gives us more details about the Art of Stealing. The thieves were fascinated with artistic designs. At the dead of night, they examined the type of wall and selected suitable flower or bird or animal design to make holes and enter the house.

Now look at the explanation,

Here again the inexorable law of Karman is stressed. There is no escape from the fruit of actions, and one has got to suffer the consequences either in this life or in the next.

Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar compare the karma to one’s own shadow. It will follow him without fail. Buddha in Dhammapada compared Karma to the wheel of a cart.

The commentator Devendra relates two stories of burglars.

  1. A burglar is caught in the breach of a wall he himself had caused, by the owner of the house, who caught hold of the feet of the burglar as he was trying to enter the house (Thieves put feet first in the hole). The burglar’s accomplice, who is standing outside, started to pull him out of the breach, by catching hold of his head. But in the tug of war, the burglar lost his life, being buried under the debris of the wall which collapsed.

Another scenario: –

  • A burglar entered a house by a small, probably an artistic breach in the wall. Next day people gathered in front of the house, and started wondering how the thief could have managed to get access inside the house through such a small hole. The burglar also apparently, could not resist the temptation of visiting the scene of his crime, and on hearing the remarks of the people, he started casting furtive glances at the breach in the wall and his own body. The vigilant police officers that were keeping a watch there immediately, captured him, and thus he was caught by his own action.


More slokas

The body is said to be the boat and the soul s said to be the sailor. The samsara/worldly existence is said to be the ocean which is crossed by great saints.

The sloka in the Ardhamaagadhi language is as follows –

Sariiramaahu naava ththi jiivo uchchayi  naavio

Samsaarii annavo vutto tam taranti  mahesino

The phrase samsaara saagaram/ ocean of birth and death is  used in the Bhagavad Gita by Lord Krishna. Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar also used it in his very first chapter (Kural 10).


appa nayi veyaranii appaa me kuutasaamalii

appaa kaamaduhaa dhenuu appaa me nandanam vanam

my own self is River Vaitarani; my own self is the Kuutasaalmali tree; my own self is the desire yielding miraculous cow (Kaamadhenu) and my own self is the park Nandana (Paradise; the park in the divine world/ Indra loka)

Vaitarani is a river in hell, whose waters are saline and very bitingly cold like the blade of a razor. The Kuutasaalmali tree is also in hell, whose leaves are very sharp and piercing.

The meaning is that one’s own Self is responsible for the tortures in hell or pleasures in hell.

You are the one who makes or mars.

It can be compared to Bhagavd Gita sloka

उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् |
आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मन: || 5||

uddhared ātmanātmāna nātmānam avasādayet
ātmaiva hyātmano bandhur ātmaiva ripur ātmana

BG 6.5: Elevate yourself through the power of your mind, and not degrade yourself, for the mind can be the friend and also the enemy of the self.

Source – The Teachings of Lord Mahavira, Pandit Dhirajlal Shah, 1967 (with my inputs)

To be continued…………………………………………

tags- burglar, Jains, story, Mahavira, Vacanamrutam, Gems ,

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