Wishing you all a very happy Diwali & Prosperous Vira Nirvana Samvat 2545.
Once upon a time in the streets of Polaspur, a six-year-old child named Aimutta was playing with some friends. He was the son of King Vijay and Queen Shrimati. While playing he saw a monk. The monk’s name was Gautam-swami, who was bare-foot and bald and was out getting alms (food). Aimutta ran to him and invited him to come to his palace to get food, which would make his mother and him happy. Gautam-swami agreed and they left to go to the palace. Aimutta's mother, Queen Shrimati was standing in the balcony overlooking the garden. She saw Gautam-swami and Aimutta coming to her palace. She was very happy and came down to receive Gautam-swami. She welcomed him with full devotion and said, "Matthaena Vandami (my salutation to you).” She introduced Gautam-swami as a staunch disciple of Lord Mahaveera to Aimutta. She asked Aimutta to go and get his favorite food to offer to Gautam-swami. Aimutta brought ladoos and started putting them in a pot even though Gautam-swami said he didn't need that many. Aimutta was very happy offering food to the monk.
As Gautam-swami started leaving, Aimutta said, "Your bag is heavy, let me carry it for you."
Gautam-swami said, "Aimutta, I can not give it to you, because it can only be carried by those who have taken Diksha."
Aimutta asked, "What is Diksha?"
Gautam Swami explained to him that when someone takes a vow of Diksha, he renounces the worldly life, his house, family, and all other social and economical ties. Then he becomes a monk. People take Diksha to avoid accumulation of bad karma. In normal every day living, people are involved in various activities all of the time which causes one to accumulate karmas. On the other hand, a monk does not do those things. Thus monks and nuns can avoid most of the activities of householders, and therefore avoid accumulating these karmas.
Aimutta became curious and asked, "Gurudev, you do not do sins! But don't you need to eat? Don't you need a place to live? All these cause sins (i.e. pap karmas)."
Gautam-swami was pleased with the child's interest to learn more. So he explained, "We take food, but we do not accept food, which is made especially for us. We stay in a place, but we do not own it and, we do not stay there for more than a few days. We do not keep money and we do not take part in business or any organizations. This way as a monk we do not have to do any activity, that causes sins.
Aimutta said, "Gurudev, in that case, I want to take Diksha."
Aimutta and Gautam-swami walked to a place where Lord Mahaveera was giving sermon. Aimutta joined others to listen to his teachings. In that sermon, Aimutta learned what life is all about and what one can do if he or she wants to be relieved of these worldly sufferings. Aimutta again expressed his desire to accept Diksha to Lord Mahaveera. Lord Mahaveera said, "We can not give you Diksha without your parents' permission.” Aimutta replied, "That is easy, I will go home and get their permission and come back."
So, Aimutta went home. He told his mother, "Mom, I want to take Diksha. Remember you used to say that our social life is full of violence and causes sins? Gautam-swami and Lord Mahaveera also said the same. I want to be free of sins. Therefore, please give me permission to take Diksha."
Aimutta's mother was surprised by his words. She was happy in her mind for his fear of sins and his desire to take Diksha, because she was also a religious woman. But she wanted to be sure that Aimutta understood what "taking Diksha" meant. So she said, "My son, to take Diksha is not a joke. It is a very hard and disciplined life. You will not have mother or father to take care of you. How will you be able to handle such suffering?"
Aimutta said, "Mother, this social life also has a lot of sufferings. At least we know that as a monk the sufferings will help destroy the karmas and lead to salvation."
His mother was very happy to hear this. But she wanted to test Aimutta’s determination some more. She said, "Son, why are you in such a hurry? Wait for sometime. You need to take care of us when we get old and you will have your own family too."
Aimutta said, "Mother, I learned from Lord Mahaveera that no one is young and no one is old. I also learned that no one knows what is going to happen tomorrow. No one knows who will die first or last. So why wait and miss this opportunity which is available to me today?”
His mother felt very happy that her son fully understood what Diksha meant and what his desire was.
She said, "Congratulations my son. I am very proud of you. You will be a good monk. Do not forget that your goal is to attain salvation and be sure to observe ahimsa (nonviolence) throughout your life. I give you permission to take Diksha."
Aimutta said, "Thank you, Mom. I will remember your advice."
Aimutta's mother blessed him and wished him success in his new life. She also helped to get permission from his father, King Vijay.
After a few days, he took Diksha and became a monk called "Balmuni (young monk) Aimutta."
One day while coming back from outside, Balmuni Aimutta saw some children playing in a water puddle with a paper boat. He became excited about playing and forgot that as a monk he can not play with water. So he ran towards the kids, and asked if he could play with them. The kids also became excited for a monk to play with them, and said, "Yes.” He took the lid off the pot that he had and started playing with it as if it were a boat. He said, "Look, my boat is also sailing.” Meanwhile other monks came there and saw him playing with water. They came to him and said, "Balmuni, what are you doing? Did you forget that as a monk you could not play with water? By playing with water, we cause harm to many water bodied souls. We have taken a vow not to hurt any living being. This is very bad. You have violated your vow and accumulated sins."
Balmuni Aimutta realized his mistake. He immediately started repenting, "Oh! What have I done? I promised my mother that I would not do any sinful activity. How sinful I am? How nice these monks are to remind me of my mistake! What would have happened if these monks had not seen me?” He was truly regretful for what he did. He left with the other monks. Every monk has to recite the Iriyavahiyam Sutra after they come back to their place from outside. So Balmuni also recited this sutra. When he came to the part, "Panakkamne, Beeyakkamne,Hariyakkamane,Osauttinga Panag-Daga-Matti, (if I have hurt any living beings of water, green grass, clay, then I am asking for forgiveness)" his repentance had no bound. He was very sorry for what he had done. He began thinking, "What did I do? I have hurt so many living beings. How can I be free of these sins? How will I face Lord Mahaveera? Oh living beings, I have caused harm to you. Please forgive me of my sins. I will never commit these sins again.” Because of his sincere repentance, all of his bad karmas were destroyed and he attained Kevaljnan (omniscience or perfect knowledge). He became Kevali.
After this, Kevali Aimutta Muni went to Lord Mahaveera’s assembly and started walking towards other Kevalis. Some senior Munis noticed this and told him, "Oh, Aimutta!! Where are you going? That is the place for Kevalis to sit. Come over here where the other monks are sitting."
Lord Mahaveera interrupted them and said, "Monks, you should not insult a Kevali. Aimutta Muni is no ordinary monk now. While reciting Iriyavahiyam Sutra, he destroyed all of his Ghati (destructive) karmas, and became a Kevali."
The monks realized their mistakes, bowed down to him and thought, "There is no age barrier to be a Kevali."
After death Balmuni Aimutta attained salvation.
The pursuit and understanding of Jainism has no age limit but is rather driven by one's own true faith, understanding and passion to learn the principles of Jainism. All of us make mistakes, which causes karmas. Mistakes can be intentional or unintentional. It is possible that karmas, which result from unintentional mistakes, can be eliminated by true and sincere repentance. One should not intentionally make a mistake knowing that they plan to repent later. Such repentance will be in vain since it is not true or sincere.