“Sadhu and the Shaak” – version 1

The informant is a 19 year old Occupational Therapy student at USC.  She was born in Calcutta, as were her parents.  She moved to California when she was young and has lived here ever since.  Her family is originally from Gujarat, an area in Western India, and she suspects that her family stories are from her Gujarati heritage. 

This version of the story is the one my informant told from her memory, before calling her mom to hear her mom’s version.  Her different version after talking to her mother can be found at this link:  http://folklore.usc.edu/?p=30235

“So there was this Sadhu who was a reincarnation of Mahavira who is one of the greatest Sadhus within the Jain religion. And so, how the Sadhus lived back in the day they lived a simple life, they didnt have any personal belongings or items to their name.  They would go house to house asking people for food and they would provide them with shelter and food.

“So one day the Sadhu was doing this and he came to a house and the lady made this shaak for him, and this shaak is a curry.  It was made of a vegetable that, if not cooked properly it becomes poisonous.  So she didn’t cook it properly and he noticed this but he still took it because it would be rude to say no.

“And instead of throwing it away because he didn’t want to throw it in the trash or throw it on the ground and have the ants eat it and have the ants die, because in the Jain religion the main core principle is Ahimsa which is non-violence to all living things, regardless of how big or small.  So even the killing of ants is not condoned.  So what this saint did, what this Sadhu did was he ate this poisonous shaak and he himself died in order to save the lives of these ants.

“So this is just a parable my mom used to tell me, and it just sort of conveys I guess the main core values of my religion which is just absolute non-violence to all living things and just self-sacrifice above all else, and above selfishness and above your own needs.”