by Helen M. Johnson | 1931 | 742,503 words
This page describes Fourth incarnation as Mahabala which is the sixth part of chapter I of the English translation of the Adisvara-caritra, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. Adisvara (or Rishabha) in jainism is the first Tirthankara (Jina) and one of the 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.
When he had fallen from Saudharma, then he was born as a son of King Śatabala, the crest-jewel of the Vidyādharas, by his wife Candrakāntā, in the West Videhas, in the province Gandhilāvatī, on Mt. Vaitāḍhya, in the country named Gandhāra, in the city Gandhasamṛddhaka. He was exceedingly strong, and was named ‘Mahābala’ because of his strength. Protected by guards and cherished, he gradually grew up like a tree. Gradually filled with all the arts, like the moon with digits, highly distinguished, he became a festival to the eye of the people. At the proper time his parents, who knew the proper time, married him to a maiden Vinayavati, who was the Śrī of modesty embodied. He attained young manhood, which is the sharp weapon of Kāma, magic for young women, the pleasure-grove of Rati. His feet had smooth soles and were gradually arched like a tortoise; his waist excelled the waist of a lion; his chest bore a resemblance to a slab from Svarṇaśaila; his high shoulders assumed the beauty of the hump of an ox; his arms had the beauty of the serpent-king’s coils; his forehead had the charm of the full moon half-risen; his compact figure bore the full beauty of Meru because of the golden luster of his body and the resemblance of his teeth and nails to jewels.
One day, Śatabala, King of the Vidyādharas, pious, noble, knowing the fundamental principles, reflected thus: “How long, alas! is this body to be preserved by making it, impure by nature, repeatedly renewed by adornment? Surely, surely even the best body ends in dissolution, whether it is repeatedly cared for, or not cared for at all. Alas! people are disgusted with impurities outside the body; why not by those inside the body? Diseases arise in this body causing endless pain like cruel snakes in the hollow of an old tree. This body is perishable by nature like an autumn-cloud, and the glory of youth in it disappears instantly like a flash of lightning. Life is wavering like a banner. Wealth is unsteady like a wave. Pleasures resemble the coils of a serpent. Friendships are like a dream. The soul, burned day and night by the fires of love, anger, etc., is cooked within the body like drugs cooked inside of a leaf. People, alas! thinking that they are happy in the painful objects of the senses, are not at all disgusted, just as a worm in impurity is not disgusted with impurity. People, whose minds are devoted to the pleasures of the senses that end in misery, do not see death, as a blind man does not see a well, at their feet. The soul, made unconscious by poison-like pleasures of the senses momentarily sweet, does not become conscious for its own benefit. Of the four equal objects in life, the soul, alas! tries only for the evil—love and wealth, but not for dharma and emancipation. In this ocean of boundless samsāra, a human birth is very difficult for creatures to obtain, like a priceless jewel. Even though a human birth has been attained, the Blessed Arhat as a divinity and very good gurus are obtained as a result of merit. If we do not use the fruit of this human birth, we are robbed of it now (as if) by thieves in an inhabited town. Therefore, today we will impose the burden of the kingdom on Prince Mahābala, who is of martial age, and accomplish our own desire.”
After these reflections Śatabala summoned Mahābala and informed him, well-trained as he was, in regard to taking the kingdom. At his father’s command he consented to bear the burden of the kingdom. For the noble are fearful of breaking the commands of their elders. Then Śatabala seated Mahābala on the lion-throne, sprinkled him, and made the auspicious tilaka with his own hand. The new king, beautiful as a jasmine shone with the tilaka of sandal like the eastern mountain with the moon. With his father’s umbrella, white as a haṃsa’s feather, he resembled lofty Himavat with an autumn-cloud. With a pair of beautiful chauris in motion, he resembled a cloud with a pair of white cranes. At his coronation the auspicious drum sounded with a very deep tone, making the heavens resound like the ocean at the rise of the moon. When all his ministers and vassals had met, they considered him a second Śatabala in a different form.
After he had thus installed his son in the kingdom, Śatabala himself assumed the sovereignty of tranquillity at the feet of an ācārya. He discarded the worthless objects of the senses and took the valuable three jewels; nevertheless, his equanimity of mind was always unbroken. His senses were conquered, and he rooted up passions by the roots, as the current of a river roots up trees on its bank. His mind delighted in the supreme spirit, his speech was suppressed, his conduct was restrained; noble, he endured trials hard to endure. With unbroken meditation augmented by the mental attitudes—friendliness, etc., plunged in great joy, he remained always in emancipation, as it were. After passing his life in meditation and penance with great ease, noble, he attained the abode of the gods.
Mahābala ruled the earth, surrounded by powerful Vidyādharas, his commands unbroken like Ākhaṇḍala’s. Surrounded by beautiful women he amused himself in beautiful rows of gardens, delighted like a haṃsa in lotus-beds. The caves of Vaitāḍhya repeated the concerts, as it were, by the echoes of the concerts constantly given in his presence. Surrounded by women in front, at his sides, and at his back, he resembled the Love-rasa embodied. To him always engaged in pleasures of the senses at will, time had equal days and nights like the equinox.
One day, he occupied his assembly-hall which was adorned by many ministers and vassals as if by additional jeweled pillars. All the councilors sat down in their proper places after bowing to him and, with their eyes fixed on him, had the appearance of yogis. The ministers Svayambuddha, Sambhinnamati, Śatamati, Mahāmati were present there. There Svayambuddha, an ocean of nectar of devotion to his master, a mountain of jewels of wisdom, the possessor of right belief, thought thus: “While we look on, our Master devoted to pleasure of the senses is carried away by his senses like wicked horses. Shame on us indifferent! The life of our Master engaged in such amusements passes in vain. At that thought my mind is distressed, like a fish in little water. If he does not attain a high place through us ministers, what difference between us and the ministers of pleasure? The Master must be led on the right path by us, informing him about this. For kings, like streams, go wherever they are led. Even if those who live by the Master’s sins, revile (us), nevertheless it must be said. Do people refrain from sowing barley from fear of deer?”
After those reflections, Svayambuddha, the foremost of the wise, with folded hands, spoke as follows to the king: “As long as saṃsāra lasts, is the ocean satisfied with the water of the rivers? Or the submarine fire with the water of the ocean? Is death satisfied with lives? Or fire with fuel? Will the soul, in the same way, ever be satisfied with pleasures of the senses? The shade of a bank, wicked people, poison, the objects of the senses, and snakes, if resorted to, always cause disaster. When Love, con taining pain within the immediate pleasure, is served, it increases excessively like a skin disease that is scratched. This love is a messenger from hell; love is an ocean of sin; love is the bulb of the creeper of calamity; love is the stream for the tree of evil. People, overcame by love as if by wine, wander off the path of good conduct, and fall into the pit of existence. Love gains an entrance and digs like a rat into wealth, dharma, and emancipation like the houses of householders. Women, like poisonous creepers, through the sight, touch, and enjoyment of them, serve only for intense confusion. Maidens are willingly nets of the hunter, Love, and a source of evil to men who are like deer. The ones who are friends in pleasure are friends only for eating and drinking, since they do not consider the Master’s good in the next world. These low profligates, devoted only to their own advantage, confuse their own Master, alas! by stories about women and talk about singing, dancing, and pleasure. How could there be prosperity to well-born people from evil association? Does a plaintain tree thrive near a jujube tree? Therefore, O Lord of my family, please do not become confused. You are wise. Leave devotion to sin. Put your mind on dharma. What good is a man without dharma, like a tree without shade, like a pool without water, like a flower without scent, like an elephant without tusks, like a figure without grace, like a kingdom without a minister, like a shrine without a god, like a night without a moon, like an ascetic without good conduct, like an army without weapons, like a face deprived of eyes?
Even a cakravartin, if without dharma, experiences that birth in which the acquisition of bad food seems like a kingdom. Even one who is born in a great family, if he is deprived of acquiring dharma, will in his next birth eat food left by others, like a dog. Even a Brahman, deficient in dharma, always having attachment to evil, having evil conduct like a cat, will be born in the Mleccha-birth-nuclei. Creatures, devoid of dharma, are born in many births in the nuclei of cats, vicious-elephants, tigers, hawks, vultures, etc. Those people lacking in dharma frequently become worms in manure, etc., and are crushed by the bills and feet of cocks, etc. Men devoid of dharma are tormented in hell by demons with anger as if from enmity. Oh, alas for creatures without dharma who are like balls of tin in the flame of excitement of endless sin. From dharma one obtains protection as from a best friend; one crosses the water of calamity by dharma as if by a boat. Men devoted to the acquisition of dharma are like crest-jewels of men, and are surrounded by wealth like trees by creepers. Pain, disease, calamity, etc.—everything that is the cause of distress is extinguished by dharma like a fire by water. Dharma alone has strength equal to any work, a bail for the acquisition of the wealth of complete happiness in the next birth. What else is to be said? O Master, by very powerful dharma alone people attain emancipation like the top of a palace by a ladder. Only by dharma have you attained the lordship over the Vidyādharas. Henceforth rely only on dharma for the highest gain.”
Footnotes and references:
Parīṣaha. There are 22 of these. Hunger, thirst, cold, heat, stinging insects, nudity, discontent, women, wandering, place for meditation (must sit alone in deserted place, unafraid), lodging (good or bad), abuse, injury, begging, failure in begging, illness, injury from thorns and prickly grass, personal uncleanliness, kind treatment (should not be influenced by it), knowledge, ignorance, and right-belief-doubt. This is according to Uttar. Chap. 2, where they are discussed in detail. See also T. 9. 9, and Uv. App. III, p. 47.
‘The shade of a bank’ does not seem especially dangerous, but during the monsoon in India river-embankments frequently break, and there is an idea of danger associated with them.
Paramādhārmika. These are demons engaged in torturing souls in hell. There are 15 divisions of them. They are given in detail in Sam. 15, p. 29 f. See also com. to T. 3. 5. and to Uttar. 31. 12.