Story of the Barber and Jain Monk
The fifth strategy begins with the
“Whoever without judgment
Does what the foolish barber
In this chapter did
Comes to eternal grief.”
This is the story that shows how true is
the above verse. Manibhadra was a merchant living in the southern city of
Pataliputra. He was a man of principles who had lost all his wealth. His
poverty made him very sad and one night he reflected on his condition and
“Neither character nor patience
Neither humility nor pedigree
Dispels a poor man’s gloom.”
Even if a man has merit, the pressures of
earning a livelihood overshadow such merit. The need to look after the
family wears out one’s brilliance. A poor man’s house is like a sky without
stars, a lake without water.
“A poor man is shunned even if
He has character and pedigree.
A wealthy man shines in society
Without merit and caste roots.
What he does is never shameful
But to be poor is always a crime.”
After thinking a lot about his condition,
Manibhadra decided that death alone could solve his problems. With these
thoughts he fell asleep and saw a dream. In his dream, a Jain monk appeared
and said, “O merchant, don’t give in to self-pity. I am Padmanidhi, the
treasure collected by your ancestors. Tomorrow morning when I will visit you
in this guise, you will hit my head with a stick and I will turn into gold.
You can live happily ever after.”
When the merchant woke up next morning he
wondered whether what he saw in the dream was real or unreal. “This may not
be true. It could just be an illusion because I have been thinking about
money all the time,” he thought and remembered the following poem:
“Their dreams never come true
Who are sick, grief stricken,
Lovelorn and infatuated.”
Meanwhile, a barber came to the
merchant’s house because his wife had called him for pedicure. Very soon
came the Jain monk who appeared in the merchant’s dream. Manibhadra was
happy to see him and at once reached for the stick and struck him on his
head. The monk turned into a statue of gold. The merchant then gave clothes
and money to the barber and told him not to pass this information to anyone.
The barber went home and thought, “if a
monk turns into gold if I strike him, I will invite all the monks and kill
them and I can have lots of money.” He passed the night with great
difficulty. Next morning he went to the Jain monastery, went round its
precincts three times and prostrated before the idol of Jinendra and sang
the praise of the Jains thus:
“Victory to the Jain monks
Who keep lust and love at bay
Who turn the mind into a desert
Where desire does not grow.
Blessed are the hands that worship
The enlightened Jinendra
And blessed is the tongue
That praises the great Saint.”
After this prayer, the barber met the
chief monk and knelt before him seeking his blessings. The monk blessed him
and asked the barber the reason that brought him to the monastery. The
barber pleaded humbly that the chief monk and others should accept his
The chief monk said, “O my son, we are
not Brahmins who are invited home to be honoured. We are mendicants who
visit Jain homes and accept what is necessary to keep us alive. Please go
away and don’t embarrass me.”
Disappointed, the barber said, “O great
seer, I have made all preparations to receive you. Yet I cannot press you.
You will do what you think is best.”
The barber went home and kept a stick
ready after checking the exits of the house. He went to the monastery again
and stood there pleading with the monks to accept his offerings. Taking pity
on the barber, the monks agreed to visit his home. The elders have rightly
“Man becomes old and infirm,
Loses his hair and teeth and
Cannot even hear and see properly.
Everything in his body
Degenerates but not desire.”
When the poor monks trooped into his
house, the barber closed all the exits and began assaulting them. Some of
them died while some were crying with pain. The sheriff, passing by, heard
this commotion and asked his men to immediately find out what was happening.
The men saw what the barber had done and presented him before a magistrate.
The barber admitted that he had killed some of the monks. The magistrate
ordered that the barber be impaled.
The judges then said that no one should
do like the barber without understanding the situation.
the Story :
He (or She) who does things without discretion or prudence regrets his