Lord Shantinath's soul in his previous incarnation was Meghrath, son of King Dhanrath of Pundarikini town in Mahavideh area. King Dhanrath gave his throne to his son and became ascetic.
Meghrath was a religious ruler. He was compassionate and protected all living beings. Being a Kshatriya and a warrior he had the courtesy to sacrifice all he had in order to protect those in trouble.
One day while observing the partial renunciation vow (Paushadh) he was about to start a discourse on the religion propagated by Tirthankars. All of a sudden a pigeon, trembling with fear, fell in his lap and uttered in choking human voice, "Save me, O king! Give me refuge, take me under your protection!" The compassionate king comforted the bird and took it under his protection.
The pigeon was followed by a falcon who too uttered in human language, "O king! This pigeon is my food, leave it alone." The king tried to explain, "It has taken refuge with me, as such I am duty bound to protect it. I will give you any type of food you want; why kill a living thing just to fill your stomach?"
The falcon insisted, "If you will not leave it I may die of hunger. I am a carnivore; who will provide me food. If I die, you will be responsible and bear the sin."
When the falcon did not yield, Meghrath said at last, "O falcon! As long as I exist, I will not allow you to die. I will cut out flesh from my body equivalent to the weight of this little pigeon and give it to you. You may satisfy your urge to eat. But under no circumstance I shall allow you to kill the bird that has taken refuge with me."
The falcon agreed to this proposal and the king put the pigeon in one pan of balance and in the other started putting pieces of flesh cut out from his own body. Every body present on the seen were spellbound and full of tears.
Surprisingly, the weight of the pigeon continued to increase and king continued putting flesh in the pan. Witnessing this pathetic scene, the queens and the members of the assembly were moved to tears. They requested the king not to sacrifice his precious life for a mere pigeon. The falcon, was also requested relent but he too declined.
The king continued to cut flesh from his body and put it in the pan of the balance. At last, when the pieces of flesh were not enough, the king got up from his seat and sat down in the pan. Everyone present was dumb struck at this lofty compassion and chivalry displayed by the king. Suddenly there was a flesh of divine light and a divine personage appeared. The pigeon and the falcon disappeared. The god addressed the king, "Maharaj! The king of gods was praising your compassion and courage, in his assembly. I could not contain myself and came around to test you myself. All this was my creation. You come out with flying colors. You are worthy of the praise bestowed on you by the King of gods. Please forgive me." The god filled Meghrath’s wounds instantaneously and left for his abode.
Whenever there is a talk about chivalry and compassion king Meghrath’s name is taken with respect. King Meghrath’s uncommon purity and determination made gods to bow to him with reverence.