Kalpa-sutra (Lives of the Jinas)

by Hermann Jacobi | 1884 | 24,941 words | ISBN-10: 8120801237 | ISBN-13: 9788120801233

The English translation of the Kalpa Sutra of Bhadrabahu, which represents one of the Cheda-sutras in Shvetambara Jainism. Traditionally dated to the 4th-century BCE, it contains the biographies of Mahavira and Parshvanatha, two of the twenty-four Tirthankaras. Alternative titles: Kalpa-sūtra (कल्प-सूत्र) or Kalpasūtra (कल्पसूत्र, kalpasutra)...

Life of Mahavira, Lecture 3

In that night in which the embryo of the Venerable Ascetic Mahāvīra was removed from the womb of the Brāhmaṇī Devānandā of the Jālandharāyaṇa gotra to that of the Kṣatriyāṇī Triśalā of the Vāsiṣṭha gotra, the former was on her couch taking fits of sleep in a state between sleeping and waking; and seeing that these fourteen illustrious, beautiful, lucky, blest, auspicious, fortunate, great dreams were taken from her by the Kṣatriyāṇī Triśalā, she awoke. (31)

In that night in which the embryo of the Venerable Ascetic Mahāvīra was removed from the womb of the Brāhmaṇī Devānandā of the Jālandharāyaṇa gotra to that of the Kṣatriyāṇī Triśalā of the Vāsiṣṭha gotra, the latter was in her dwelling-place, of which the interior was ornamented with pictures, and the outside whitewashed, furbished and cleansed, the brilliant surface of the ceiling was painted, the darkness was dispelled by jewels and precious stones, the floor was perfectly level and adorned with auspicious figures; which, moreover, was furnished with offerings of heaps of delicious, fragrant, strewn flowers of all five colours, was highly delightful through curling, scented fumes of black aloe, the finest Kundurukka and Turuṣka[1], and burning frankincense; was exquisitely scented with fine perfumes, and turned as it were into a smelling-bottle; on a couch with a mattress of a man’s length, with pillows at head and foot, raised on both sides and hollow in the middle, soft as if one walked on the sand of the banks of the Ganges, covered with the cloth of a robe of ornamented linen, containing a well-worked towel, and hung with red mosquito curtains, delightful, soft to the touch like fur, wadding, Pūra[2], butter, or cotton, with all the comforts of a bed, such as fragrant, excellent flowers and sandal-powder--(in such a room and on such a bed Triśalā was) taking fits of sleep between sleeping and waking, and having seen the following fourteen, &c. (see § 3), dreams, viz. an elephant, &c. (see § 4), she awoke. (32)

1. Then Triśalā saw in her first dream a fine, enormous elephant, possessing all lucky marks, with strong thighs and four mighty tusks; who was whiter than an empty great cloud, or a heap of pearls, or the ocean of milk, or the moon-beams, or spray of water, or the silver mountain (Vaitāḍhya); whose temples were perfumed with fragrant musk-fluid, which attracted the bees; equalling in dimension the best elephant of the king of the gods (Airāvata); uttering a fine deep sound like the thunder of a big and large rain-cloud. (33)

2. Then she saw a tame, lucky bull, of a whiter hue than that of the mass of petals of the white lotus, illumining all around by the diffusion of a glory of light; (a bull) whose lovely, resplendent, beautiful hump was delightful through the collection of its charms, whose glossy skin (was covered with) thin, fine, soft hairs; whose body was firm, well made, muscular, compact, lovely, well proportioned, and beautiful; whose horns were large, round, excellently beautiful, greased at their tops, and pointed; whose teeth were all equal, shining, and pure. He foreboded innumerable good qualities. (34)

3. Then she saw a handsome, handsomely shaped, playful lion, jumping from the sky towards her face; a delightful and beautiful lion whiter than a heap of pearls, &c. (see § 33), who had strong and lovely fore-arms, and a mouth adorned with round, large, and well-set teeth; whose lovely lips, splendent through their proportions, and soft like a noble lotus, looked as if they were artificially ornamented; whose palate[3] was soft and tender like the petals of the red lotus, and the top of whose tongue was protruding; whose eyes were like pure lightning, and revolved like red-hot excellent gold just poured out from the crucible; (a lion) with broad and large thighs, and with full and excellent shoulders, who was adorned with a mane of soft, white, thin, long hair of the finest quality; whose erect, well-shaped, and well-grown tail was flapping; the tops of whose nails were deeply set and sharp; whose beautiful tongue came out of his mouth like a shoot of beauty. (35)

4. Then she, with the face of the full moon, saw the goddess of famous beauty, Śrī, on the top of Mount Himavat, reposing on a lotus in the lotus lake, anointed with the water from the strong and large trunks of the guardian elephants. She sat on a lofty throne. Her firmly placed feet resembled golden tortoises, and her dyed, fleshy, convex, thin, red, smooth nails were set in swelling muscles[4]. Her hands and feet were like the leaves of the lotus, and her fingers and toes soft and excellent; her round and well-formed legs were adorned with the Kuruvindāvarta[5], and her knees with dimples. Her fleshy thighs resembled the proboscis of an excellent elephant, and her lovely broad hips were encircled by a golden zone. Her large and beautiful belly was adorned by a circular navel, and contained a lovely row of hairs (black as) collyrium, bees, or clouds, straight, even, continuous, thin, admirable, handsome, soft, and downy. Her waist, which contained the three folds, could be encompassed with one hand. On all parts of her body shone ornaments and trinkets, composed of many jewels and precious stones, yellow and red gold. The pure cup-like pair of her breasts sparkled, encircled by a garland of Kunda flowers, in which glittered a string of pearls. She wore strings of pearls made by diligent and clever artists, shining with wonderful strings, a necklace of jewels with a string of Dīnārās[6], and a trembling pair of earrings, touching her shoulders, diffused a brilliancy; but the united beauties and charms of these ornaments were only subservient to the loveliness of her face[7]. Her lovely eyes were large and pure like the water lily. She sprinkled about the sap from two lotus flowers which she held in her splendid hands, and gracefully fanned herself. Her glossy, black, thick, smooth hair hung down in a braid. (36)

5. Then she saw, coming down from the firmament, a garland charmingly interwoven with fresh Mandāra flowers. It spread the delicious smell of Campaka[8], Aśoka[9], Nāga[10] Punnāga[11], Priyaṅgu[12],

Śirīṣa[13], Mudgara[14], Mallikā[15], Jāti[16], Yūthika[17], Aṅkolla[18], Koraṇṭakapatra[19], Damanaka[20], Navamālikā[21], Bakula[22], Tilaka[23], Vāsantika[24], Nuphar, Nymphaea, Pāṭala.[25], Kunda[26], Atimukta[27], and Mango; and perfumed the ten divisions of the universe with its incomparably delightful fragrance. It was white through wreaths of fragrant flowers of all seasons, and brilliant through splendid, beautiful embellishments of many colours. Towards it came humming swarms of different kinds of bees[28], and filled with their sweet noise the whole neighbourhood. (37)

6. And the moon: white as cow-milk, foam, spray of water, or a silver cup, glorious, delighting heart and eyes, full, dispelling the compact darkness of the thickest wilderness, whose crescent shines at the end of the two halves of the month, opening the blossoms of the groups of Nymphaeas, adorning the night, resembling the surface of a well-polished mirror. She was of a white hue, like a flamingo, the stars' head-ornament, the quiver of Cupid’s arrows, raising the waters of the ocean, burning as it were disconsolate people when absent from their sweethearts, the large, glorious, wandering headmark of the celestial sphere--beloved in heart and soul by Rohiṇī[29]. Such was the glorious, beautiful, resplendent full moon which the queen saw. (38)

7. Then she saw the large sun, the dispeller of the mass of darkness, him of radiant form, red like the Aśoka, the open Kiṃsuka, the bill of a parrot, or the Guñjārdha[30], the adorner of the lotus groups, the marker of the starry host, the lamp of the firmament, throttling as it were the mass of cold, the illustrious leader of the troop of planets, the destroyer of night, who only at his rising and setting may be well viewed, but (at all other times) is difficult to be regarded, who disperses evil-doers that stroll about at night, who stops the influence of cold, who always circles round Mount Meru, whose thousand rays obscure the lustre of other lights[31]. (39)

8. Then she saw an extremely beautiful and very large flag, a sight for all people, of a form attractive to the beholders. It was fastened to a golden staff with a tuft of many soft and waving peacock’s feathers of blue, red, yellow, and white colours, and seemed as if it would pierce the brilliant, celestial sphere, with the brilliant lion on its top, who was white like crystal, pearlmother, Aṅka-stone, Kunda-flowers, spray of water, or a silver cup. (40)

9. Then she saw a full vase of costly metal[32], splendent with fine gold, filled with pure water, excellent, of brilliant beauty, and shining with a bouquet of water lilies. It united many excellencies and all-auspicious marks, and stood on a lotus-(shaped foot), shining with excellent jewels[33]. It delighted the eyes, glittered and illumined all about; it was the abode of happy Fortune, free from all faults, fine, splendid, exquisitely beautiful, entwined with a wreath of fragrant flowers of all seasons. (41)

10. Then she saw a lake, called Lotus Lake, adorned with water lilies. Its yellow water was perfumed by lotuses opening in the rays of the morning sun; it abounded with swarms of aquatic animals, and fed fishes. It was large, and seemed to burn through the wide-spreading, glorious beauty of all kinds of lotuses[34]. Its shape and beauty were pleasing. The lotuses in it were licked by whole swarms of gay bees and mad drones. Pairs of swans, cranes, Cakravākas, ducks, Indian cranes, and many other lusty birds resorted to its waters, and on the leaves of its lotuses sparkled water-drops like pearls[35]. It was a sight, pleasing to the heart and the eye. (42)

11. Then she whose face was splendid like the moon in autumn, saw the milk-ocean, equalling in beauty the breast of Lakṣmī, which is white like the mass of moon-beams. Its waters increased in all four directions, and raged with ever-changing and moving, excessively high waves. It presented a splendid and pleasant spectacle as it rushed to and from the shore with its wind-raised, changeable, and moving billows, its tossing waves, and its rolling, splendid, transparent breakers. From it issued camphor-white foam under the lashing (tails) of great porpoises, fishes, whales, and other monsters of the deep[36]. Its agitated waters were in great uproar, occasioned by the vortex Gaṅgāvarta, which the vehemence and force of the great rivers produced; they rose, rushed onwards and backwards, and eddied. (43)

12. Then she saw a celestial abode excelling among the best of its kind, like the lotus (among flowers). It shone like the morning sun’s disk, and was of a dazzling beauty. Its thousand and eight excellent columns (inlaid with) the best gold and heaps of jewels diffused a brilliant light like a heavenly lamp, and the pearls fastened to its curtains glittered. It was hung with brilliant divine garlands, and decorated with pictures of wolves, bulls, horses, men, dolphins, birds, snakes, Kinnaras, deer, Śarabhas, Yaks, Saṃsaktas[37], elephants, shrubs, and plants. There the Gandharvas performed their concerts, and the din of the drums of the gods, imitating the sound of big and large rain-clouds, penetrated the whole inhabited world. It was highly delightful through curling, scented fumes of black aloe, the finest Kundurukka and Turuṣka, burning frankincense and other perfumes. It (shed) continuous light, was white, of excellent lustre, delighting the best of gods, and affording joy and pleasure. (44)

13. Then she saw an enormous heap of jewels containing Pulaka, Vajra, Indranīla, Sasyaka, Karketana, Lohitākṣa, Marakata, Prabāla, Saugandhika, Sphaṭika, Haṃsagarbha, Añjana, and Candrakānta. Its base was on the level of the earth, and it illumined with its jewels even the sphere of the sky. It was high and resembled Mount Meru. (45)

14. And a fire. She saw a fire in vehement motion, fed with much-shining and honey-coloured ghee, smokeless, crackling, and extremely beautiful with its burning flames. The mass of its flames, which rose one above the other, seemed to interpenetrate each other, and the blaze of its flames appeared to bake the firmament in some places. (46)

After having seen these fine, beautiful, lovely, handsome dreams, the lotus-eyed queen awoke on her bed while the hair of her body bristled for joy.

Every mother of a Tīrthakara sees these fourteen dreams in that night in which the famous Arhat enters her womb. (46 b)

End of the Third Lecture.


Footnotes and references:


Different kinds of the resin of Boswellia.


Name of a tree.


Another reading noticed in the commentary has tala, upper-side of the tongue, instead of tālu, palate.


Literally, elevated and fat.


An ornament according to the commentary.


This word, corresponding to the Greek δηνάριον, proves the late composition of this part of the Kalpa Sūtra.


I cannot accurately construe this passage; my translation is therefore rather free, but, I believe, comes near the meaning of the original.


Michelia Champaka.


Jonesia Asoka.


Mesua Roxburghii.


Rottlera Tinctoria.


Panicum Italicum.


Acacia Sirisa.


A species of jasmine.


Jasminum Zambac.


Jasminum Grandiflorum.


Jasminum Auriculatum.


Alangium Hexapetalum.


Not specialised in our dictionaries.


Artemisia Indica.


The many-flowered Nykanthes or Jasminum Zambac.


Mimusops Elengi.


Clerodendum Phlomoides or Symplocos Racemosa.


Gaertnera Racemosa.


Bignonia Suaveolens.


Fragrant Oleander.


Diospyros Glutinos or Dalbergia Ougeinense.


Ṣaṭpada, madhukarī, bhramara. The ṣaṭpada are literally six-footed bees, as Stevenson correctly translated, but he strangely reckons them among the preternatural animals, like the four-tusked elephants, dear to the imagination of the Jains!


The commentators understand this passage (Rohiṇīmaṇahiyayavallabhaṃ) differently by explaining hiyaya by hitada, the lover of Rohiṇī who did her mind good.


According to Stevenson: the red side of the retti seed.


Or if we adopt a various reading, mentioned in the commentary, payaḍiya, we must translate: whose luminous glory was set forth by his thousand rays.


The original has rayaya, silver, but as the commentary remarks, this would be in conflict with the epithet which we have put next, but which, in the original, is separated from it by many lines. Unless the author has blundered, which from his vague style seems far from impossible, the word must here have a more indefinite meaning than it usually has.


This passage may also be translated: standing on a lotus filled with pollen, of excellent workmanship.


Specialised in the text as kamula, kuvalaya, utpala, tāmarasa, and puṇḍarīka.


According to the commentary; the textus receptus is, many water-drops.


The original has timiṅgila-niruddha-tilitilika.


Saṃsakta, which I do not find mentioned elsewhere, is explained, 'a kind of beast of prey;' I think that saṃsakta may be an adjective specifying the following word, and mean 'fighting' elephants.

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