Bhagavati-sutra (Viyaha-pannatti)

by K. C. Lalwani | 1973 | 185,989 words

The English translation of the Bhagavati-sutra which is the fifth Jaina Agama (canonical literature). It is a large encyclopedic work in the form of a dialogue where Mahavira replies to various question. The present form of the Sutra dates to the fifth century A.D. Abhayadeva Suri wrote a vritti (commentary) on the Bhagavati in A.D. 1071. In his J...

Part 2 - Account of Mahāśilākaṇṭaka battle

Q. 143. The Arihanta (Mahāvīra) knows about it, has heard about it, has especially known about it. Bhante! Which one of the two parties won the Mahāśilākaṇṭaka battle, and which one of the two lost?

A. 143. Gautama! The Lord of the Thunder (Indra) and Videhaputra (Konika) won the battle, and the nine Malla chiefs, nine Licchavi chiefs, and eighteen gaṇa-rulers from Kaśī and Kośala lost it. Having known that Mahāśilākaṇṭaka battle was about to break out, King Konika called his officers and said unto them,

“Oh beloved of the gods! Prepare at once the royal elephant named Udāi, mobilise the four-fold army consisting of the infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants, and report back to me at once.”

Being ordered like this by King Konika, the officers who were dose to the king were highly delighted and pleased. They touched their forehead with folded palms and made the following submission:

“Thy Majesty! As it may please thee!”

Thereafter they prepared the great royal elephant Udai in a manner described in the Aupapātika Sūtra, making him ready for the ensuing great battle. Then they organised the four-fold army consisting of the infantry, cavalry, elephantry and chariots. Having completed all arrangements, they came back to the king and communicated to him the due fulfilment of his orders.

Thereon the king came to his bathroom and entered into it. Having completed all the accessories, he finished his bath. Thereafter he fulfilled the rituals for the removal of all obstacles and propitiated good omens. Then he decorated his person with arms and ornaments, duly protected himself with armour, placed necklaces on his breast, picked up the curved bow and decorated himself with the chosen orders of a warrior. He took a necessary stock of arms and weapons and had an umbrella decorated with a garland of koraṇṭaka flowers over his head. He was fanned by camaras and hailed by shouts of victory all around. In this manner, King Konika, as per the description of the Aupapātika Sūtra, took his seat on the elephant.

Then King Konika, with his breast covered with necklaces, giving delight to the people, and being incessantly fanned by white camara, as per the description of the Aupapātika Sūtra, and attended by the four-fold army consisting of the infantry, cavalry, elephantry and chariots, came for the Mahāśilākaṇṭaka battle. He encountered the challenge of Śakra, (he king of the gods, who transformed himself and stood before him like an impenetrable wall. It looked as if a duel had started between two Indras, one the Indra of the gods and the other the Indra of men. King Konika was, however, so very powerful that he was capable to attain victory over his adversaries with a single elephant. (So Konika won over Indra to his side.)

In the battle, King Konika hurt, wounded or killed all the great warriors of the Mallas, the Licchavis and the gaṇa-kings, snatched away their flags and ensigns bearing their respective marks and put the vassal kings whose life was in danger to their heels.

Q. 144. Bhante! Why is the battle called Mahāśilā-kaṇṭaka?

A. 144. Gautama! As the battle raged in full fury, horses, elephants, infantrymen and charioteers, though hit by straw, wood, leaf or pebble, had the feeling as if they had been hit by big slabs or rocks. Hence it has been called Mahāśilākaṇṭaka.

Q. 145. Bhante! How many hundred thousand men were killed in the battle?

A. 145. Eighty-four hundred thousand men were killed.

Q. 146. Bhante! Being devoid of conduct, till devoid of confession and fast, full of bitterness, full of anger, wounded and without rest, where did these men go after death, and where have they been reborn?

A. 146. Gautama! Mostly they have taken a fresh life in the hells or in the subhuman world of animals.

Notes (based on commentary of Abhayadeva Sūri):

Q/A. 143. The background of the Mahāśilākaṇṭaka battle is as follows: After the death of Śreṇika Bimbisāra, his son Konika Ajātaśatru shifted his capital from Rājagṛha to Champa and began to live there. One of his younger brothers was Vihalla. During his life-time, Śreṇika had bestowed on Vihalla a fragrant elephant and an eighteen-fold necklace named Baṅkachuḍa; Vihalla used to go to the bank of the Ganga with his harem on the back of this elephant and enjoyed bath there. This became a talk of the city, viz., that Vihalla was the person who was having the real enjoyment of the worldly life. When Queen Padmāvati, the consort of Konika, heard this, she became immensely jealous. She desired that the king should requisition this elephant from his brother and give it to her. Vihalla agreed to part with his possession only when he would get a due share in the parental kingdom. This was too much of a condition for the king to accept. Under the circumstances, considering that he would be too helpless at the palace, Vihalla fled to take shelter with his maternal grand-parent, King Ceṭaka of Vaiśāli. When Konika came to know of this, he demanded the immediate restoration of his brother.

Apart from being Ceṭaka’s own grand-child like Konika himself, Vihalla had taken a political asylum. So there was no question of his being handed over to his brother. On his own part, Konika held that all the best things of the kingdom belonged to the king. As there was no common ground between the two positions, the parties involved went to war. Ceṭaka mobilised his confederate kings, the Licchavis and the Mallas and the rulers of Kaśī and Kośala. So this was a great war in which virtually the whole of northern India was involved. The outcome of the war was the destruction of the Licchavi Confederacy.

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