Long ago, in the city of Rajpur, lived a man they called Kulaputra. His close friend was Jaindasa, a Jain shravak. Kulaputra and his friend came in contact with the Jain monks and they took the vow not to eat fish.
Once there was a severe draught in the city. The grain became a scarce thing. People in the city started fishing as a source of food. Time came when even the staunch vegetarians changed their diet. Fish became almost the main source of food. This situation challenged Kulaputra’s continuous commitment for his vow. Many days went by when there was hardly any food in the house, but he did not break his vow. One day, his wife got frustrated by this and told him, "Can’t you see our children are starving? Do you not feel for them? please buy some fish, so I can feed them."
Kulaputra told her, "My dear, I can not take away other living beings’ life to save mine. We are vegetarians. I love our children, but in same manner, I love all living beings, too."
At last, Kulaputra’s brother-in-law finally made him go to the riverbank with him so he could catch fish for the family. Kulaputra was very upset and with regrets he threw his net into the water. To his surprise, he caught the largest number of fish. But as he was pulling them out he saw the fish were uneasy and restless. He could not see their sufferings, so he released them back in water. He tried it for three times and he did the same. He could not tolerate anymore catching fish. So, he left and went on a fast unto death. After his death from here, he was born as merchant Manihar’s son, in the city of Rajagriha, and was named Damanaka.
Manihar was a rich man with great wealth and fortune. By the time Damanaka was eight years old, an severe epidemic broke out in the city and his whole family died except Damanaka. There was no one left in the family to look after Damanaka. Within a short period his wealth vanished, and he became an orphan boy. One day, a merchant named Sagarpoat gave him shelter in his house.
Some time passed by, and one day some monks came to Sagarpoat’s house for alms. The oldest monk noticed this boy, and said that his good karmas were going to mature shortly, and he would be the head of the household.
The merchant did not tell anyone about his disliking for the fortune to be inherited by this poor boy, because he wanted his real son to be the head of household. Therefore at once, he decided of a plan to kill him. One day, he sent for the butcher, and ordered him to take the boy into the forest and kill him. The butcher took the boy to the forest, and as he was about to kill him, the look in the innocent face of this boy made him change his mind. He could not kill this boy. But to show the merchant that he had killed him, he cut his little finger and turned him loose in the forest. He told the boy to leave, and to never show his face in that area again. Damanaka started wandering in the forest and he saw a cow herder. He told his story to the cow herder. The cow herder felt sympathetic towards him and invited him to live with them. This started a new chapter and a new life for Damanaka.
Several years passed by, and now Damanaka was a young man. One day, Sagarpoat was on his way for business and stopped by the place where Damanaka was living. He saw the young man and he liked him right away. When he inquired more about him, he figured out that this young man was the same boy whom he wanted to kill. His anger grew again. He immediately plotted a plan to kill him again. He requested the cow herder if he could spare this young man to take his message back home. Sagarpoat gave him a letter to be delivered to his son. Damanaka not knowing, what was in the letter, left to carry out his work.
As he reached the outskirts of the city Rajagriha, he was tired. He saw a temple and he decided to rest some. He left the letter by his side and fell sleep. It so happened, that just after he fell sleep, Bisa, the merchant’s daughter came into the temple. She noticed the letter laying next to him. She became curious to see what it was, so she looked at it. To her surprise it was addressed to his brother. Her curiosity grew even more to read the letter. She was puzzled to find that his father had written his brother, "Yah ladaka jaise hi vahan aye, usko bis de dena." meaning, "As soon as this boy arrives give him the poison (Bis)." She could not understand this. She looked at the young man. He was very handsome and looked innocent. She fell in love with him and decided to marry him. So, she changed the message, "Yah ladaka jaise hi vahan aye, usko bisa de dena." meaning, "As soon as this boy arrived there, get him to marry Bisa (his daughter)." She, then, put the letter back where it was and left.
The young man delivered the letter to Sagarpoat’s son. His son read the message. He was puzzled that why would his father ask him to get his sister married to him. But since that was his father’s wish, he obeyed it. Damanaka was also confused, but he liked Bisa, too, so he went along. Bisa’s brother celebrated his sister’s marriage with a big pomp.
When Sagarpoat came back home and found out what happened, he was fuming in his mind. But he did not express that to anybody. He once again started to plot to kill this man, now his son-in-law.
Sagarpoat, once again, hired someone to kill him. One day, everybody went to their friends house for a celebration. Damanaka went, too. After some time, Damanaka felt tired, so he decided to go home early. As he reached home, he found the house locked. So, he rested in the bed on the porch. The hit man followed him, but he felt that Damanaka was a strong man and it would not be easy to kill him without anything. So, he went home to get a sword. Meanwhile, Damanaka got up and went for a walk. While Damanaka was on the walk his brother-in-law came to the house. He, also found the house locked and he decided to rest in the bed on the porch. He fell far sleep. The hit man came back, and did not know what had gone on. He thought that this person was still Damanaka. So, with all his force he hit his sword on his neck and he cut off his head and he flew away.
After some time, when the rest of the people went home, they found this body in blood. They turned to him, and they were shocked to learn that it was Bisa’s brother who had been killed.
Sagarpoat now realized he was trying to over turn the words of the monk (fate of karmas), and that is why he did not succeed in killing Damanaka. Therefore, he mellowed down. He decided to accept the fate. His wife and he decided to pass over all the responsibilities of home and business affairs to Damanaka.
Damanaka carried out his duty for many years, and then he accepted the vows of the householders and lived happily thereafter.