The spiritual journey
A handsome prince named Nemi Kumar rides, as a groom, in his marriage procession.
On the balcony, his bride to be, Rajul, eagerly waits to get the first glimpse of her life partner. The band plays. The entire city-state of Junagarh near the Girnar Mountains in Western India is in a festive mood. Not an ounce of sadness, a drop of melancholy, or a pinch of sorrow can be found in the city. until the desperate cries of animals pierce the atmosphere of jubilation.
"What is that screaming?" the prince enquires.
"Sir, those are the animals who are to be slaughtered for the marriage feast.
"The prince\'s attendant replies. "Animals being sacrificed for my sake?
Violence being committed for my guests\' pleasure?" he asks, distraught, walking away from his marriage procession towards the animals. In these animals Nemi Kumar sees the precious-ness of life. Tears come to his eyes as he realizes the uncalled-for violence that there is in the world. Made keenly aware of the reverence one must have towards each soul, the prince frees the animals.
In this moment of self-realization, Nemi Kumar renounces his princehood and kingdom altogether and becomes a muni, a monk.
His bride-to-be, Rajul, is shattered. Yet she acknowledges her destiny and joins the former prince, not as a princess, but as a sadhvi, a nun. Such is the story of Neminath Bhagwan, the 22nd Tirthankara of the Jains.
Nonviolence is the foundation of the entire Jain philosophy and practice. The term used in the scriptures for this first vow that a Jain takes, is pranatipataviramana, which means "refraining from destroying the life force of a living being."
Today, we use the word ahimsa, or nonviolence for this first vow. When ahimsa is put into daily practice it results in compassionate eating, which is a vegetarian diet.