Justice T.U.Mehta

States of a Digambara

During all his wanderings, Mahavira was moving nude (Digambara - clothes beings the four directions). The story how he remained nude is interesting. After he became a recluse and went to forest, one poor Brahmin approached him, and as Mahavira had given away all his wealth to the poor before renouncing the world, the Brahmin begged of him something as he could not receive any donation from him previously. Mahavira told him that he possessed nothing except a garment which he had put on, and that he could give a portion of it if he so wanted. The Brahmin knew that it was a valuable piece of cloth and willingly accepted half of it and went away satisfied. His tailor, however, told him that the cloth was so valuable that if he could get the other half, he would stitch both the pieces into a whole which would fetch a price which was likely to remove his poverty. The Brahmin thereupon again went to the forest in the chase of the Lord. While Mahavira was proceeding further, at one place his half garment got entangled in a thorny shrub making Mahavira's body totally nude. Mahavira looked back at the entangled cloth but did not turn back to take it and silently passed on further in his meditative mood. Brahmin who was following him took away the entangled cloth but thence forward Mahavira did not cover his body and moved on everywhere in his Digambara state. His absolute detachment did not admit of any of the earthly considerations to which ordinary humans like us are adapt.