A very unusual but interesting story is narrated about Mahavira, the Jain saint. It is said that he used to fast, meditate, perform penance and walk barefoot from one village to another to preach. Once he decided to visit a village named Vachala, where a poisonous snake called Chandkaushik had made the villagers’ life miserable.
On hearing about Mahavira’s imminent visit, the villagers sent emissaries to inform him to take a different route when visiting their village, but Mahavira refused. He was convinced that as he had harmed nobody, so no one would harm him either. Mahavira started on his journey and reached the spot where Chandkaushik resided. Mahavira immediately went into meditation but the snake was furious to see the audacity of a human being to enter its domain. “How dare he step into my territory?” the snake hissed and raised its hood with the fangs to strike at Mahavira, but the latter stood still. This made Chandkaushik angrier still and it blew poisonous venom three times at Mahavira. But nothing happened. Thoroughly irritated, it bit Mahavira’s toe, but still Mahavira stood firm in his determination. What shocked the snake was that where it had bitten Mahavira on the toe, milk had started to ooze out, instead of blood.
Meanwhile Mahavira opened his eyes and said to the snake, “Calm down Chandkaushik. Realise what you are doing.” On hearing the calm words of affection, Chandkaushik suddenly remembered his own previous two lives when he had caused harm to two lives out of sheer anger. So Chandkaushik lowered its head regretfully to the Lord and quietly slithered back into its hole. The villagers came out and surrounded Mahavira, happy to see him alive. They also noticed that the snake now lay inside its hole, without causing any harm to anybody. Some of the villagers began to worship it by pouring milk on it, while others, who had lost their loved ones to it, threw stones and sticks at it. But it remained calm at such behaviour and this destroyed his bad karma. After death, it is said that Chandkaushik took birth in heaven in his next life.