Mahavira and the learned pandit

In the course of time, Mahavira became very well known. When he gave talks, he used to speak in Prakrit, which was the language of the people. He used simple words that they could understand. Most of the sages and pandits of that time spoke in Sanskrit, which was infinitely more difficult.

People used to flock to hear Mahavira's lectures. He would stay one or two nights in each village and then move on. He never stayed more than a few nights in any one place.

Once he entered a certain village and, as usual, all the villagers left their places of work to come and listen to him speak. In that village there was a very learned pandit. He had studied the shastras and he was a supreme authority on the teachings of the sacred scriptures.

The pandit noticed that everybody seemed to be hurrying somewhere and he asked one group, "What is happening? Is there a circus or something of that nature?"

The men replied, "We are going to hear Mahavira. He is fully illumined."

"What!" exclaimed the pandit. "He is nothing but an upstart! I have read all the scriptures. There is nothing he can tell you that I cannot. I will punish this rogue for fooling innocent people. I will expose him!"

So saying, the pandit followed the crowd to where Mahavira was seated in meditation. Thousands of people had gathered. Mahavira gave a very simple talk. He asked them to pray and meditate, to have more compassion for each and every soul on earth and to renounce the life of pleasure.

Towards the end of his talk, Mahavira started calling out, "Indrabhuti, Indrabhuti!" It was the name of the pandit. Mahavira said to him, "What are you doing there at the back of the crowd? Come closer to me."

The pandit was astonished. He asked, "How could you know my name? I did not reveal it."

"I know your name," answered Mahavira compassionately. Then he continued his talk. Everybody listened enraptured and nobody paid any further attention to the pandit.

When Mahavira had finished speaking, Indrabhuti said to him, "How do you know all these things? Have you studied the scriptures?"

"No, my son," replied Mahavira. "I know these truths because of my inner realisation. Books can never give us illumination. Illumination can only come from prayer and meditation. I want everybody to pray and meditate. This path is for everyone."

"How can it be?" protested Indrabhuti. "How can monks and householders, men and women, all follow the same path and keep the same standards?"

"Everybody can follow the same Truth," said Mahavira. "By forgiving all beings, having friendship towards all and malice towards none, you will realise the Truth."

Indrabhuti felt so much love and compassion in Mahavira that he became his disciple.