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Words of Wisdom

From the Sacred Jainism Scripture “Uttaradhyayana,” Part 1 of 2: Lecture 21 – Samudrapala

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We now invite you to listen to excerpts from the twenty-first lecture of “Uttaradhyayana,” one of the most important scriptures in Jainism. This lecture, called “Samudrapala,” describes how Samudrapala, on his way to the palace, became enlightened at once after seeing a man sentenced to death.

“In Kampa there lived a Sravaka (disciple), the merchant Palita, who was a disciple of the noble and venerable Mahavira. Once he went by boat to the town of Pihunda on business. A merchant gave him his daughter while he was doing business in Pihunda. When she was big with child, he took her with him on his returning home. Now the wife of Palita was delivered of a child at sea; as the boy was born at sea (samudra), he was named Samudrapala.

Once upon a time he saw from the window of his palace a man sentenced to death, dressed for execution, on his way to the place of execution. Agitated by what he saw, Samudrapala spoke thus: ‘Of wicked actions this is the bad result.’ He became enlightened at once, the venerable man, and he was immensely agitated; he took leave of his parents and entered the state of houselessness. Abandoning the great distress to which the worldly are liable, the great delusion, and whatever causes fear, one should adopt the Law (Spiritual Precepts) of monks, the vows, the virtues, and the (endurance of) calamities. One should keep the five great vows, namely not to kill, to speak the truth, not to steal, to be chaste, to have no property whatever; a wise man should follow the Law (Spiritual Precepts) taught by the Ginas (Arihants).

The great sage (Samudrapala), understanding the sacred lore and practicing completely the best Law (Spiritual Precepts), shone forth like the sun in the sky, being possessed of the highest knowledge and glory. Having annihilated his Karma, both meritorious and sinful, being steadfast and free from all fetters, Samudrapala crossed the ocean-like flood of worldly existence and obtained exemption from transmigration. Thus I say.”
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