Teacher: Students are informed that the great festival of Raksha-bandhan falls tomorrow. On this day the infliction of physical torture on Akampanacharya and his seven hundred disciples was stopped. As such this is a day of rejoicing for us. The school shall remain closed tomorrow on account of this.
Student – Sir, who was Akampanacharya, what sort of physical torture was inflicted upon him and how was it stopped? Please explain in brief.
Teacher – Listen. Akampanacharya was a Digamber (nude) monk; he had seven hundred disciples in his assembly of monks, and he was their Acharya. Shriverma was the king of Ujjain, then. He had four ministers-Bali, Namuchi, Brahaspati and Prahlad.
When the king knew of the arrival of the monks, he went there with all his paraphernalia for their Darshan. All the four ministers were with him. All the monks, then, were absorbed in contemplation. Therefore, there was no talk or discourse.
The ministers had no faith in Digamber (nude) monks. They, therefore, wanted to insinuate the king against them and told him the silence of the monks was a sign of their foolishness, and that it was a good instrument for hiding their ignorance. It was on account of this that the monks had kept silent.
Monk Shrutsagar was coming back after taking meals. Seeing him one of the ministers called him an ox and entangled him in discussion. On his turn, the monk by his strong reasoning shattered their pride to pieces. Their sense of pride was hurt in the presence of the king. They departed from that place in silence, but all the four visited the spot in the night and raised their swords altogether to attack the monk, but their hands, as if nailed, remained in that position only. When the king and the people learnt all this in the morning, they arrived there. All offered their prayers to the monk and the king exiled all the four ministers.
Student – How did the particular monk stay on that spot in the night? He should have kept himself busy in meditation, where the whole company of monks was staying ?
Teacher – When he told the Acharya the discussion he had with the ministers, the Acharya told him that he should not have indulged in any dialogue with them. Even when we offer milk to a snake, it transforms the milk into poison. Similarly, discussion with cruel, passionate, worldly-minded beings inflames their wrath only. The Acharya also thought that the ministers might inflict physical torture on the monk, and, therefore, he asked him to go to the spot and keep busy in contemplation throughout the night there.
Student – Then….
Teacher – All the four ministers went to Hastinagpur and began to serve King Padamrai. Having been pleased with them for some good achievement, he asked them to demand Any gift whatsoever. They requested the kingto bestow the gift on them on some other occasion, according to their convenience.
Once Akampanacharya with his seven hundred disciples arrived in Hastinagpur. The four ministers demanded seven days’ ruling powers from the king, for themselves. Having assumed the right of governing the kingdom, they started inflicting severe tortures on the monks.
Monk Vishnu Kumar, brother of King Padamrai, who had accepted the order of monkhood before, saved the monks from that torture.
Student – How did an armless monk (Vishnu Kumar) offer protection to the monks from the tortures of strong and cruel administrators ?
Teacher – Vishnu Kumar had the power of assuming different forms and shapes. He left the order of monkhood and assumed the shape of a dwarf and reached the court of Bali. Bali asked him to demand any gift. He demanded three steps of land, the measure being his own feet. Then he assumed the form of a formidable human being and measured the whole land in two steps only. This way he defeated Bali and saved the lives of the monks. That was the last day of the month of Shravan. The day began to he observed as Raksha-bandhan since then. Lives of the saints were saved and Bali was put in chains.
Student – Can somebody in the role of a monk do all this ?
Teacher – No, you have not listened to the story with attention. 1 told you that Vishnu Kumarji had left monkhood and assumed the shape of a dwarf. All this was not befitting his position. Therefore, he offered repentance and got initiated into monkhood for the second time.
Student – Glory to monk Vishnu Kumar !
Teacher – In fact, glorious were Akampanacharya and his disciples, who were not detracted from their spiritual state of contemplation in the face of inhuman torture inflicted upon them.
Student – Blessed is monk Shrutsagar, who shattered the pride of Bali and other ministers in discussion.
Teacher – His erudition of spiritual matters is praiseworthy, but he should not have entangled himself in discussion with those wicked ministers. Those who are engaged in the pursuit of their souls, should not indulge in discussions with wicked people.
Student – Why so ?
Teacher – So much trouble arose on account of such indulgence only. Therefore, one striving for self-realisation should engage himself in metaphysical thinking, leaving aside all worldly affairs. That is the only way to emancipation from the bondage of worldly life.
Dr. H.C. Bharil