Sutrakritanga (English translation)

by Hermann Jacobi | 1895 | 52,880 words | ISBN-10: 8120801466 | ISBN-13: 9788120801462

The English translation of the Sutrakritanga, which represents the second Agama of the 12 Angas in Shevatambara Jainism. It is traditionally dated to the 4th-century BCE and consists of two parts (verse and prose) explaining various doctrinal aspects of Jainism. Alternative titles: Sūtrakṛtāṅga (सूत्रकृताङ्ग), Sūtrakṛta-aṅga (सूत्रकृत-अङ्ग), Prakr...

Lecture 6: Praise Of Mahavira

Śramaṇas and Brāhmaṇas, householders and heretics, have asked (me): Who is he that proclaimed this unrivalled truly wholesome Law, which was (put forward) with true knowledge[1]? (1)

What was the knowledge, what the faith, and what the conduct of the Jñātṛputra? If you know it truly, O monk, tell us as you have heard it, as it was told you! (2)

This wise and clever great sage possessed infinite knowledge and infinite faith. Learn and think about the Law and the piety of the glorious man who lived before our eyes[2]! (3)

This wise man had explored all beings, whether they move or not, on high, below, and on earth, as well as the eternal and transient things. Like a lamp he put the Law in a true light. (4)

He sees everything; his knowledge has got beyond (the four lower stages)[3]; he has no impurity; he is virtuous, of a fixed mind, the highest, the wisest in the whole world; he has broken from all ties; he is above danger and the necessity to continue life[4]. (5)

Omniscient, wandering about without a home, crossing the flood (of the Saṃsāra), wise, and of an unlimited perception, without an equal, he shines forth (or he does penance) like the sun, and he illumines the darkness like a brilliant fire, (6)

The omniscient[5] sage, Kāśyapa, has proclaimed this highest Law of the Jinas; he, the illustrious one, is prominent (among men) like the thousand-eyed Indra among the gods of heaven. (7)

His knowledge is inexhaustible like the (water of the) sea; he has no limits and is pure like the great ocean; he is free from passion, unfettered, and brilliant like Śakra, the lord of the gods. (8)

By his vigour he is the most vigorous; as Sudarśana (Meru), the best of all mountains, or as heaven, a very mine of delight, he shines forth endowed with many virtues. (9)

(Meru) a hundred thousand yojanas high, with three tiers[6], with the Paṇḍaga (-wood) as its flag, rising ninety-nine thousand yojanas above the ground, and reaching one thousand below it; (lo)

It touches the sky and is immersed in the earth; round it revolve the suns[7]; it has the colour of gold, and contains many Nandana (parks)[8]; on it the Mahendras enjoy themselves. (11) This mountain is distinguished by (many) names; it has the colour of burnished gold; it is the greatest of all mountains, difficult to ascend on account of its rocks; this excellent mountain is like a part of the earth on fire. (12)

The king of mountains, standing in the centre of the earth, is seen in a pure light[9] like that of the sun. With such beauty shines forth this many-coloured, lovely (mountain), which is crowned with radiance. (13)

Thus is described the glory of mount Sudarśana, the great mountain; similar to it is the Śramaṇa Jñātṛputra, who is noble, glorious, full of faith, knowledge, and virtue. (14)

As Niṣadha[10] is the best of long-stretched mountains, and Rucaka of circular ones, so is he (Mahāvīra) among sages the wisest in the world, according to the declaration of the wise ones. (15)

After having taught the highest Law he practised the highest contemplation[11], which is the purest of pure, pure without a flaw, thoroughly white (as it were) like mother-of-pearl and the moon. (16)

Having annihilated all his Karman, the great sage by his knowledge, virtue, and faith reached the insurpassable, highest perfection, a state which has a beginning but no end. (17)

As the Śālmalī, in which the Suparṇa[12] gods take their delight, is most famous among trees, as Nandana is among parks, so is the Omniscient most famous through his knowledge and virtue. (18)

As thunder is the loudest of sounds, as the moon is the most glorious of heavenly bodies, as sandal is the best of perfumes, so of monks is he who had renounced all wishes or plans. (19)

As (the ocean on which sleeps) Svayambhū is the best of seas, as Dharaṇendra is the best of Nāgas, as the juice of sugarcane is, as it were, the flag of juices, so is he (Mahāvīra) the flag of monks by his austerities. (20)

As Airāvaṇa is the best of elephants, the lion of beasts, Gaṅgā of rivers, as Garuda, Veṇudeva[13], is the best of birds, so is Jñātṛputra the best of those who have taught the Nirvāṇa. (21)

As Vishvaksena[14] is the most famous of warriors, as the lotus is the best of flowers, as Dantavakra is the best of Kṣattriyas, so Vardhamāna is the best of sages. (22)

As giving safety is the best of gifts, as the best of true speeches is that which causes no distress, as chastity is the highest of austerities, so is the Śramaṇa Jñātṛputra the highest of men. (23)

As the Lavasaptamas[15] are the highest of those gods who live very long, as the palace Saudharman is the best of heavenly abodes, as Nirvāṇa is the chief object of the Law, so there is no wiser man than Jñātṛputra. (24)

He (bears everything) like the earth; he annihilates (his Karman); he is free from greed; he, the Omniscient, does not keep store (of anything); he has crossed the ocean of life like the sea: he, the Hero, who grants protection to all, and whose perception is infinite. (25)

Having conquered the passions which defile the soul: wrath, pride, deceit, and greed, the Arhat, the great sage, does not commit any wrong, nor does he cause it to be committed. (26)

He understood the doctrines of the Kriyāvādins, of the Akriyāvādins, of the Vainayikas, and of the Ajñānavādins[16]; he had mastered all philosophical systems, and he practised control as long as he lived. (27)

He abstained[17] from women, and from eating at night, he practised austerities for the removal of pain, he knew this world and that beyond; the lord renounced[17] everything at every time. (28)

Having heard and believing in the Law, which has been proclaimed and taught by the Arhat, and has been demonstrated with arguments, people will either make an end of their mundane existence, or they will become like Indra, the king of gods. (29)

Thus I say.

Footnotes and references:


The question is supposed to be addressed by Jambūsvāmin to Sudharman.


Cakkhupahe ṭhiyassa = cakṣuḥpathe sthitasya, literally, 'who stood (or stands) in the path of the eyes.' We are scarcely entitled to infer from this phrase that the author had actually seen Mahāvīra as tradition would make us believe.


Abhibhūya-nāṇī. Concerning the five stages or kinds of knowledge, see above, p. 352. The Kevala knowledge is intended.


To render anāyuḥ.


Āsupanna = āśuprajña, literally, 'quickly witted;' the word is usually explained by kevalin.


Kaṇḍaka, one of stone, one of gold, and one of turquoise.


As is well known the Jainas assume a plurality of suns.


The names of these four parks are, according to the commentary, p. 289 Śālavana, Nandanavana, Saumanasavana, and Paṇḍaka (or Pāṇḍuka) vana. The first is at the foot of Meru, the second 500 yojanas above it, the third 62,000 above the second, and the fourth 36,000 above the last, i.e. at the very top.


Suddha-lesse = śuddhaleśya. Here leśyā is equal to tejas.


Niṣadha and Rucaka are two fabulous chains of mountains situated beyond Jambūdvīpa.


This is the śukla dhyāna. As śukla, which I translate 'pure,' originally means white,' the comparison with the moon is natural in the original.


They belong to the Bhavanapatis, see above, p. 225.


The commentator says that Veṇudeva is another name of Garuḍa. Veṇu stands perhaps for veṇhu = viṣṇu; but I do not know that Garuḍa ever was directly identified with Viṣṇu.


Vīsasena. Vishvaksena is a name of Kṛṣṇa. The commentators make Viśvasena of Vīsaseṇa, and seem to take it as a synonym of cakravartin or universal monarch. Dantavakra is mentioned in my 'Ausgewählte Erzählungen,' p. 35, line 36.


The commentator identifies them with the fifth class of Anuttara gods (see Uttarādhyayana XXXVI, 215, above p. 227), and explains the name by saying if they lived seven lavas longer, they would reach perfection.'


Concerning these four principal heresies see note on Uttarādhyayana XVIII, 23, above p. 83.


Vāriya, literally 'forbade.'

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