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 is the on my informant shared right after talking to her mother and listening again to the story from her childhood. The version she told me, just from her memory, the day before can be found here: http://folklore.usc.edu/?p=30209
“One of the Sadhus, or Saints, was travelling, and the Saints never use cars they never have any personal belongings, they only take as much food from the homes as they need to sustain themselves, they never take more. So it’s a very simple lifestyle they lead.
“The Saint was travelling through the villages and he came upon this home and this lady invited him over to eat food. And so she had cooked this bitter gourd curry. And generally bitter gourd, if it’s not cooked or it’s too bitter, it can be poisonous and it can kill people. But she hadn’t tasted it before she served it to him, and generally you’re not supposed to taste foor but certain vegetables you sh- before you give it to a saint, but you should taste certain vegetables like this to make sure.
“Anyway, so he took one bite and he realized it’s inedible. But when he was eating, a drop had fallen on the ground and the ants had swarmed on it and the ants that ate it died.
“And so he realized he had a choice: he could either consume it and die himself or he could throw it away and whatever animals and living things would crawl on it , they would die in his place.
“And a core principle of Jainism is non-violence or Ahimsa, and so he committed self-sacrifice and he ate this curry or shaak and killed himself in order save the lives of the innocent insects as such. And that allowed him to reach Moksha enlightenment as well because he gained that positive Karma.”