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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More Sthulabhadra

Sthulabhadra appears to have been born into a life of privilege. His father was the chief minister to the last king of the Nanda dynasty, and his younger brother was the king's personal bodyguard. Unlike his father and brother, who lived lives of service to their beloved king, Sthulabhadra dedicated himself to the pleasures of life, and fell in love with a royal dancer (so far, I am liking your style Sthulabhadra!). He was so devoted to her, it seems that he pretty much ignored everything else, including his family, who apparently wanted him to return home.

After his father's death (of which the circumstances are quite interesting and sudden) Sthulabhadra was offered his father's position -- chief minister -- but he didn't accept immediately. Unsurprising, considering his lifestyle, I suppose. For the last 12 years he'd been living it up with his lady, who clearly was quite talented in her arts. If I had been Sthulabhadra, I would have thought long and hard about taking up the post, too, because in my experience of history, rising that high in government tends to alter one's life dramatically, and judging by the behavior of the rest of his family, it required a certain amount of devotion and self-sacrifice which heretofore he had shown no interest in, content with his dancer-lady-friend. Not that I blame the guy!

In any event, Sthulabhadra thought it over. And thought it over some more. And then he decided that he'd been wasting his life, and rather than take the post and be of service to his king, he was going to GIVE UP EVERYTHING, POST HASTE, and become an ascetic monk.

Evidently, this new lifestyle agreed with him. So much so, that twelve years later, he went to go face his Royal Dancer Ladyfriend, and convert her to his way of life. She tried all her wiles and skill and dancing talents to lure him back to her at the court, but Sthulabhadra was impervious to her charms! After four months, she admitted defeat, and Sthulabhadra returned to his guru, having succeeded not only in proving his own resolve, but in semi-converting her.

But here is where things became sadly tame. It seems the thing Sthulabhadra did which was so objectionable to Bhadrabahu was simply this: he showed off to his sisters by turning himself into a lion.

Sthulabhadra, you had so much promise! If only you were a little bit more awful, and a little bit less awesome at being a monk. Now I'm inclined to think that Bhadrabahu was short sighted, stubborn, and paranoid instead of reasonably terrified by your corruption!

That's not to say that I can't still make this work -- it just means I'm probably going to offend a lot of Jainists if I do.*

*Maybe I should apologize ahead of time for that, too. Practitioners of Jainism, I AM SO SORRY.

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