I had read this story in Hindi when i was a little child. My grandfather used to have several Hindi books in his room. Most of them were religious books on Jainism and few of them were story books too. Through these stories, some of which were real incidents from history, many valuable lessons of life were taught. Many of the stories left deep impression on me at a very young age. Among them this story of Elaichikumar is very interesting one. Sharing the story in English written by Dr K Desai. Hope you like it.
Elachikumar was the son of a rich Jain merchant. He was young and ambitious, but he lacked foresight. Once an acrobat and his family came to the town. They performed amazing acts and tricks. The acrobat’s daughter could do tight-rope walking. The father used to play a dholak-drum whilst the daughter did the tight-rope walking. This act was very popular and was the favourite of many people.
Elchikumar went to see the acrobats. He too was interested in tight-rope walking. The young daughter of the acrobat was very beautiful. Elachikumar liked her very much. He went to see her acrobatic acts again and again. He fell in love with her and blinded by her beauty.
Elachikumar went straight to her father and asked for her hand in marriage. The acrobat’s father said, “Well, it is not easy. You will have to stay with us. You will have to be like us. You will have to learn our acts and tricks first; then I will think about your marriage with my daughter.” Elachikumar agreed to stay with them and learn all the acts. Elachikumar thus left his home. His parents were very sad indeed, they urged him not to leave the house.
Elachikumar, could not think about anything except that girl. He left home and joined the acrobats. He began to learn all the acts and became an expert in a short time. He learned tight-rope walking whilst the girl played the drum. Elachikumar went from village to village and town to town showing off his skill as an acrobat. The girl’s father was quite happy about his act but he wanted more money too. So the father put forward one more condition to Elachikumar….. “You will have to please a king with your act in order to get a big prize from him. You will have to earn more money to support all of us. Once you do that, you will be able to marry my daughter.” Elachikumar was determined to do this. They went to a town whose king was interested in acrobatics. They invited the king to come and watch them perform. The king came with the other prominent men of his court. The act began. Elachikumar climbed up the poles and started walking on the tight-rope. The girl played the dholak as usual.
Elachikumar balanced himself with a long bamboo pole whilst walking. He walked the entire length of the rope without any difficulty. Everyone applauded loudly once he had finished. Elachikumar came down and bowed to the king, hoping that the king would give him a prize. But instead the king said I have not yet seen your act properly, do it again. Elachikumar was tired but he had no choice, so he went up again and started his act.
The girl played the dholak again. Actually the king was thinking to himself that if this man fell on the ground and died, then he could take this girl and have her as his queen. The king was also blinded by the beauty of this girl. He asked Elachikumar to go on to the rope again and again. The king hoped that Elachikumar would fall and die. Elachikumar went up the poles, for the fifth time. By now he had guessed what the king was trying to do. He hated king and also hated himself.
It was his love for the girl that made him leave his parents; it was this love made him, a young businessman, an acrobat. Where was he going ? What was he doing ? And the king ? He too is bad, he wants me to die in order to have this girl. Elachikumar was thinking this whilst trying to balance himself on the rope. He was now very unstable and very tired.
Meanwhile his eyes fell on a house nearby. In that house, there stood a young monk who had come for his food. A young and very beautiful woman of the household was offering him food. The monk only accepted what was necessary for survival. He would not even take specially prepared sweet dishes. Elachikumar saw that the monk did not even raise his eyes to see the woman who was giving him the food. The monk was obviously not attracted or disturbed by this young and pretty lady.
Elachikumar could not help comparing his deed with the monk’s. “Indeed, I have fallen !” he thought, “How low can one sink ? This monk has denied himself all the comforts and luxuries of life. He would not think of marrying or even looking at this young woman.” Elachikumar attained true knowledge. And he did come down. He came down to the earth of reality. He later chose to become a monk and spread the ideals of Jainism.