Mahavir was passing through a village with his disciple, Goshalak — who later became his opponent — when they came across a small plant, and Goshalak said to Mahavir: “Listen, here is a plant. What do you think? — will it grow to produce a flower, or will it die before it can flower? What is its future?”
Mahavir immediately closed his eyes and sat in front of the plant.
Goshalak cunningly said: “Do not avoid the issue. What will happen by closing your eyes?”
He did not know why Mahavir had become silent and closed his eyes — that he was looking for the essential. It was necessary to go deep down into the being, into the soul of that plant. Without doing so, it would not be possible to say what was going to happen.
After a while Mahavir opened his eyes and said: “This plant will survive to flower.”
Goshalak immediately pulled the plant up by its roots, threw it away and laughed mockingly. There was no better way to refute Mahavir’s statement.
Mahavir had nothing more to say now, because Goshalak had uprooted the plant and thrown it away as a challenge. He was laughing, Mahavir was smiling, and they continued their journey.
Then it began to rain heavily. There was a storm, and for seven days continuously torrential rains fell, so they were not able to go out for seven whole days.
When the rains had subsided and they were returning, on the way they reached the same spot where seven days previously Mahavir had closed his eyes to know the inner being of the plant. They saw that the plant was again standing with its roots in the ground. Due to the heavy rains and winds, the earth had become wet and loose, and the roots of the plant had dug in.
Mahavir again closed his eyes and stood beside the plant. Goshalak became very embarrassed — he had uprooted and thrown away the plant. When Mahavir opened his eyes, Goshalak said: “I am surprised and confused. I uprooted this plant and threw it away, and it is growing again.”
Mahavir replied: “It will survive to flower. I closed my eyes to see the inner potentiality and the condition of the seed: whether it was capable of taking root again even though it was uprooted, whether it was suicidal or not, whether it had a strong instinct or desire for death. If its instinct was suicidal it would have used your help to die. I wanted to see whether it was yearning to live; if it was determined to live, it would live. I knew that you were going to uproot it and throw it away.”
Goshalak asked: “What are you saying?”
Mahavir said: “When I was looking into the inner being of the plant with my eyes closed, I also saw you standing by, determined to uproot it. I knew that you would uproot the plant. That is why it was necessary for me to know the inner capacity of the plant to live, how much self-confidence and willpower it had. If it was waiting to die and looking for an excuse, you would have been excuse enough for it to die; otherwise, the uprooted plant would take root again.”
Goshalak lacked the courage to uproot the plant again. He was afraid. Previously Goshalak had gone laughing to the village; this time, Mahavir walked ahead smiling.
Goshalak then asked: “Why are you smiling?”
Mahavir said: “I was watching and just thinking about your capability — whether you could uproot the plant a second time or not.”
Goshalak said: “You could see whether I would do it or not?”
Mahavir replied: “It was nonessential. You might have uprooted it, you might not have uprooted it. But it was essential and unavoidable that the plant still wanted to live. Its whole being, its whole vitality wanted to live. That was essential. What was nonessential was your throwing it away or not, and that was dependent on you. But you have proven weaker and less determined than the plant. You have been defeated.”
Mahavira trecea printr-un sat impreuna cu un discipolul sau Goshalak – care va deveni mai tarziu oponentul sau – cand au trecut pe langa o mica planta, si Goshalak ii spuse lui Mahavira: “Uite, aici e o planta. Ce crezi? va creste ea sa produca flori, sau va muri inainte sa infloreasca? Care e viitorul ei?”
Mahavira si-a inchis imediat ochii si a stat in fata plantei.
Goshalak spuse cu viclenie: “Sa nu eviti problema. Ce se va intampla daca inchizi ochii?”
El nu stia de ce Mahavira devenise linistit si isi inchisese ochii – ca el cauta esentialul. Era necesara sa se adanceasca in fiinta, in sufletul plantei. Fara sa faca asta, nu era posibil sa spuna ce se va intampla.
Dupa o vreme Mahavira isi deschise ochii si spuse: “Aceasta planta va supravietuii si va inflorii.”
Goshalak imediat a scos planta din radacini, aruncand-o si razand batjocoritor.Nu exista cale mai buna sa dezminti spusele lui Mahavira.
Mahavira nu mai avea nimic de spus, pentru ca Goshalak scosete planta din radacina si o aruncase ca o provocare. Radea, Mahavira zambea, si si-au continuat calatoria.
Apoi a inceput sa ploua cu galeata. A fost o furtuna, si timp de sapte zile a continuat sa ploua torential, asa ca nu au putut sa plece vreme de sapte zile.
Cand ploaia s-a mai oprit si se intorceau, pe drum au ajuns in acelasi loc unde cu sapte zile inainte Mahavira isi inchisese ochii ca sa afle fiinta interioara a plantei. Au vazut ca planta statea drepta cu radacinile in pamant. Datorita ploilor torentiala si vanturlor, pamantul devenise ud si alunecos, si radacinile plantei sapasera in el.
Mahavira din nou si-a inchis ochii si a stat langa planta. Goshalak era foarte rusinat – el smulsese planta din radacini si o aruncasa. Cand Mahavura si-a deschis ochii, Goshalak spuse: “Sunt suprins si confuz. Am scos aceasta planta din radacini si am aruncat-o, si acum creste din nou.”
Mahavira raspunse: “Va supravietuii si inflorii. Mi-am inchis ochii ca sa vad potentialul intern si conditia samantei: daca era capabila sa isi prinda din nou radacinile desi a fost scoasa din radacini, daca avea tendinte sinucigase, daca avea un instinct puternic sau dorinta de moarte. Daca instinctul ei era spre sinucidere ar fi ales sa folosesca ajutorul tau. Am vrut sa vad daca avea dorinta de a trai, daca era determinata sa traiasca, atunci urma sa traiasca. Stiam ca vrei sa o smulgi din radacina si sa o arunci.”
Goshalak intreba: “Ce spui?”
Mahavira spuse: “Cand m-am uitat in fiinta interiora a plantei cu ochii inchisi, te-am vazut si pe tine stand langa, determinat sa o scoti din radacina. Stiam ca ai sa scoti planta din radacina. De aceea imi era necesar sa stiu capacitatea interioara a plantei de a trai, cata incredere in ea si voita avea. Daca astepta sa moara si cauta o scuza, tu i-ai fi oferit una.; altfel, planta dezradacinata se va inradacina iar.”
Goshalak nu a mai avut curajul sa scoata planta din radacina inca odata. Ii era frica. Mai inainte Goshalak plecase razand in sat; acum Mahavira merse inainte zambimnd.
Atunci Goshalak il intreba: “De ce zambesti?”
Mahavira spuse: “Ma uitam si ma gandeam la capabilitatea ta – daca vei putea sa scoti planta din radacina a doua oara.”
Goshalak spuse: “Voiai sa vezi daca as putea sa fac asta sau nu?”
Mahavira raspunse: “Nu era esential. Tu puteai sa o scoti iar din radacini sau nu. Dar esential si inevitabil era ca planta tot voia sa traiasca. Toata fiinta ei, toata vitalitatea ei voia sa traiasca. Asta era esential. Ceea ce era neesential era ca tu o vei dezradacina sau nu, si asta era dependent de tine. Dar tu te-ai dovedit mai slab si mai putin determinat decat planta. Tu ai fost invins.”