The Jains, like the Buddhists, have many popular morality tales. While entertaining, they also relate some aspect of Jain doctrine. Some are adaptations of traditional Hindu and Buddhist tales, giving them a Jain slant, some are stories of their own. One which I find interesting and well thought out is the story of Siddhi and Buddhi.
Siddhi and Buddhi were both very poor women. They had to beg and do the kind of work which no one else wanted to do. They barely survived, but they were the best of friends, helping each other as much as they could.
One day, Buddhi went to a temple and started to have daily devotions to its deity. After weeks and months of piety, the god appeared to her. He was well pleased by her loving devotion and told her to ask for any boon she wanted. Buddhi said, “I want to be rich.” The god said, “Fine, come back here every day, and under my statue, you will find a coin.” Buddhi did as the god asked, and slowly grew rich, very, very rich. She who used to beg began to have servants doing everything for her, and she lived like a queen.
Siddhi saw the fortune of her friend, and was jealous. She went to Buddhi one day, and asked how she had gained such fortune. Buddhi, not knowing what was in the heart of her former friend, told her. Siddhi went to the temple, and began to follow the example of Buddhi, giving devotion to the god. Eventually he was pleased with Siddhi and came to her, granting her a boon. Siddhi told the god, “I want twice as much as what you have given Buddhi.” And so it was granted.
Buddhi noticed Siddhi’s change of fortune. Instead of being satisfied with her own wealth, she grew jealous of Siddhi’s greater fortune. She could have been satisfied, for she had more than anyone should ever want, but she wanted more, wanted to best her former friend. So she went back to the temple, and started her devotions once again. Eventually the god comes and asks, once again, what she wants for a boon. “I want to be given twice as much as you gave Siddhi,” was her reply.
This went on for sometime, with Buddhi and Siddhi trying to outdo each other. Siddhi, however, grew tired of the struggle. She knew that every time she asks for something, Buddhi would come back and double it. She decided, in her last visit to the god, to do something different. She thought of a way to stop the contest and to make sure she came out on top, which meant, she would have to ask something which, if Buddhi asked for twice as much, Buddhi would come out on the bottom. Finally, she figured out what she will ask: to be made blind in one of her eyes.
Buddhi, seeing Siddhi coming out from the temple, knew that Siddhi had asked for her boon, and so went to the temple and sought, once again, for a boon of her own. Once again, the god came to her and told her to ask for any boon she should want. Buddhi once again asked to be given twice what Siddhi asked for. Siddhi’s trap worked: Buddhi became blind. Buddhi, having been unsatisfied by her good fortune, was blindly led down the path of greed, until, at last, the spiritual blindness which lay behind the greed became manifest even in the flesh.