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THE PATH OF ARHAT

Justice T.U.Mehta

Poisonous Fangs of Canda Kausika

A hermitage at Kanakkhal near the township of Vacala was managed by a Rsi called Kausika. Some boys repeatedly damaged the fruit trees and flowers of the garden of this hermitage which angered the Rsi very much. Once when the boys were seen damaging the fruit trees. Rsi Kausika chased them to punish, but stumbled over something, fell in a nearby well and died on the spot. Story says that as he died when he was full of anger he was born at that very place as a deadly poisonous serpent whose breath as well as sight emitted poison which would kill all living things on which they were thrown. The result was that people ceased to frequent that place and the hermitage was converted into a deserted mess of wild shrubs and trees.

Once Mahavira during his wanderings, was going towards ‘Vacala' and was found passing by the way which was going to the abode of the above referred poisonous serpent who was known by the name of ‘Canda Kausika' (angry Kausika). People warned Mahavira not go by that way and to take another alternative way to avoid an encounter with the serpent. After hearing the story about the serpent, Mahavira decided to pass by the same way to the astonishment and dismay of others who persuaded him to take the other way.

On seeing a daring human being coming towards him, Canda Kausika became furious at his audacity and emitted deadly poison from his breath and sight. When this had no effect on the peace and equanimity of Mahavira, the serpent became more furious and rushed to him to inject him venom through his poisonous fangs on one of the toes of his bare legs. When the serpent tasted the blood, coming out of the injured toe, he found its taste somewhat different than usual (mythology says that it was sweet milk and not human blood which flowed from the toe). Mahavira was all compassion and love for the violent creature and hence it was but natural that his compassion which ran through his blood had a different effect on the violence of the unfortunate creature. Mahavira had developed a short of communion with all objects of the universe and it was for this reason that he could see life even in the earthly objects such as earth, air and water. He, therefore, could easily communicate with the disturbed soul of Canda Kausika -- "Be aware, Canda Kausika, be aware of what you were and what you are", he said. Under the influence of graceful divinity and compassion of the Yogi like Mahavira, Canda Kausika was reminded of his past life and realized to what depth he had fallen. He repented and adopted a non-violent peaceful attitude which resulted in people taking revenge to kill him. His spirit was however purified and he is said to have trans-migrated to much higher level of life.