Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

by Helen M. Johnson | 1931 | 742,503 words

This page describes Refutation of Maya which is the twelfth 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.

Part 12: Refutation of Māyā

Svayambuddha said: “If an object is not real, how can it be useful? If illusion is such, then why does not a dream-elephant perform work? If the existence of cause and effect of objects is not considered real, then why are you afraid of a falling thunderbolt? That being as you say, you are not, I am not; there is no speech, and no speaker. How would the knowledge of the thing desired produce results?

Your Majesty, you are deceived by these learned in perverse arguments, themselves greedy for sense-objects, constantly averse to future welfare. Relying on discernment, keep far away from sense-objects. Rely only on dharma, O Master, for happiness in this world and next.”

Then the King said, his face charming with graciousness: “O very wise Svayambuddha, you have spoken very well. It is right that dharma should be adopted. We are not hostile to dharma. It should, however, be taken up at the right time like a missle accompanied by a charm. Who, pray, would be indifferent to youth, without showing suitable honor to it, like a friend who has come after a long time? So you did not give this instruction in regard to dharma at the right time. The recitation of the Veda to the accompaniment of a lute is not pleasing. For the next world as the fruit of dharma is still doubtful. Why at an inopportune time do you ward off the enjoyment of pleasures of this world?” Then Svayambuddha, with folded hands, affirmed: “Do not doubt in the least that the fruit of dharma is inevitable. Do you recall that we as boys went to the park Nandana, and saw a very beautiful god? Then the god spoke to you graciously, O King: ‘I am Atibala, your grandfather. Disgusted with worldly pleasures as with a cruel friend, I abandoned the kingdom like straw, and adopted the three jewels. I made renunciation of the world, the pinnacle of the palace of vows, at the last minute. By its power I became lord of Lāntaka. You must not act negligently.’ When he had spoken thus, he disappeared like lightning that has lighted up the sky. Remembering your grandfather’s words, believe in the next world. Why make another proof when visual evidence is present?” The King said, “I am reminded of my grandfather’s words to good purpose. I believe the next world to be dependent on dharma and non-dharma.”

The chief-minister, a cloud for the heap of dust of doctrine of wrong-belief, seized the opportunity, and joyfully began to relate: “In your family there were formerly a king, Kurucandra, his wife, Kurumatī, and his son, Hariścandra. The king was a Kaula[1] with great enterprises that caused injury and great possessions,. foremost in ignoble acts, pitiless like Kṛtānta. Even though wicked and cruel, he enjoyed the kingdom for a long time. Verily, the fruit of previously acquired merit is unequaled. At the time of his death, a change of humors took place that resembled just a sample of the torments of hell that were near at hand. His couch of cotton became as painful as a couch of thorns; his choice food became as bitter as a nimba.[2] Sandal, aloes, camphor, and musk became offensive to him. Sons, friends, etc., caused distress to his eyes, as if they were enemies. Singing tormented his ears, like the noises of a donkey, camel, and jackal. And yet everything becomes changed when merit is consumed. Kurumatī and Hariścandra watched beside him secretly with painful attentions that gave pleasure to his senses for a moment.[3] Afflicted by fever in all his body as if touched by charcoal, engaged in evil meditation, the King died. His son, Hariścandra, performed his funeral rites, and governed the kingdom properly, a traveler on the road of good conduct. As he had seen here his father’s death with the visible fruit of sin, he constantly praised dharma alone among the objects of existence, like the sun among the planets.

One day, he instructed Subuddhi, a layman, a friend from childhood, “After listening every day to dharma from those possessing it, you must teach it to me.” With great devotion, Subuddhi did so constantly. For an agreeable command is the cause of eagerness in the good. Daily Hariścandra, afraid of sin, warmly welcomed dharma taught by him, just as a man afraid of disease welcomes medicine.

One day, the gods came to a garden outside the city to honor Muni Śīlandhara who had acquired omniscience. The King was informed about this by Subuddhi and, his mind engraved with faith, went on horseback to the best of munis. After the King had saluted him and had seated himself, the Muni delivered a sermon that was moonlight to the darkness of wrong doctrine. At the end of the sermon, the King with folded hands asked him, ‘Master, to what condition of existence[4] did my father go after death?’ The Blessed One said, ‘O King, your father went to the seventh hell. There is no other abode for such people.’ When he heard that, the King felt disgust with the world. He sainted the Muni, arose, and went to his own palace. He handed Over the kingdom to his son, and said to Subuddhi, ‘I intend to become a mendicant. Always advise my son in regard to dharma, as you did me.’ He replied, ‘I shall become a mendicant with you, O King. My son will teach dharma to your son, as I did to you.’ The King and the minister took the vow, the thunderbolt for splitting the mountain of karma, and, after observing it for a long time, attained emancipation.

In your family there was another king, named Daṇḍaka, whose rule was cruel, like Yama in person to his enemies. He had a son, known as Maṇimālin, filling the sky with splendor like the sun. Daṇḍaka became infatuated with his sons, friends, and wife, jewels, gold, and money, which were more desired than life itself. In course of time Daṇḍaka died, absorbed in painful meditation and was born in his own treasury as a boa constrictor,[5] unrestrainable. Cruel, devouring everything like a fire that has started, he killed whoever entered the treasury.

One day he saw Maṇimālin entering the treasury, and from recollection of his former birth recognized that he was his son. As he presented a quiet appearance, like affection embodied, Maṇimālin knew that he was some relation in a previous birth. Through wise munis he knew that he was his own father and, seated before him, instructed him in the Jain religion. He comprehended the religion of the Arhats and adopted renunciation. He died absorbed in good meditation and became a god. Out of affection for his son, he descended from heaven and gave Maṇimālin the divine pearl-necklace which is now over your heart. You belong to the family of Hariścandra, and I to that of Subuddhi. Because of inherited affection I urged you in regard to dharma. Hear the reason why it was explained at an inopportune time. Today I saw two flying-ascetics in Nandana. Producing light for the world, destroying the darkness of delusion, they were like the sun and moon together in one place in person. Possessing supernatural knowledge, they delivered a sermon. At a suitable time, I asked them how long Your Majesty would live. They affirmed that Your Majesty would live only for a month. Therefore, I hurry you on to dharma alone, wise sir.”

Mahābala said: “O Svayambuddha, treasure-house of wisdom, you alone are my friend, since you are concerned about my affairs. You have rightly waked me who was overcome by worldly pleasures, sleepy with the sleep of confusion. Guide me. What shall I do henceforth?

How much, dharma can be acquired now in the little life left? What sort of well-digging can be done suddenly when the fire is dose behind?”[6] Svayambuddha replied: “Do not despair. Be courageous. Have recourse to the duties of monks, the only friend for the next world. A soul that becomes a mendicant even for one day attains emancipation, to say nothing of heaven.”

Mahābala agreed, and installed his son in his place, as an ācārya installs an image in a temple. From compassion he gave alms to such an extent to the poor and helpless people that there were no people distressed by begging thereafter. Like another Śakra, he made a pūjā in all the temples with various garments, jewels, gold, flowers, etc. Then he begged forgiveness[7] of his family and retinue, and at the feet of the best of munis took initiation, the friend of the Śrī of emancipation. Together with abandonment of all censurable activities the noble man renounced the four kinds of food.[8] Constantly immersed in the pool of nectar of abstract meditation,[9] he, like a lotus-bed, did not fade at all. He, the crest-jewel of the noble, had undiminished beauty, as if he had been eating food and taking drink. Engaged in meditation, recalling the homage to the Five Supreme Ones,[10] he died after fasting for twenty-two days. He went immediately to the Īśāna-heaven, hard to attain, by means of merit acquired, as if by divine horses.

Footnotes and references:


A follower of left-hand Śākta. See Sādhanamālā, Vol. II. (GOS XLI), Int. p. lx.


The Melia azadirachta. vern. nim. Its fruit is noted for its bitterness.


The meaning seems to be that they bestowed attentions on him that would normally have been disagreeable, but were pleasing to him because of his perverted humors.


Gati. There are four of these, divine (deva), human (manuṣya), animal (tiryañc), and hell-being (nāraka). They belong to nāmakarma.


That snakes guard treasures is one of the most universal of Indian superstitions. Cf. Folk Lore Notes of Gujarat, p. 140.


Cf. Bhartṛhari’s Vairāgyaśataka, 76. (ed. Kale, Bombay 1922).

.. proddīpte bhavane tu kūpakhananaṃ pratyudyamaḥ kīdṛśaḥ.

What is the use in trying to dig a well when the house is on fire?


Kṣamayitvā. It is still the custom for a person, on taking initiation, to ask forgiveness for any fault from his family and also others, especially any one with whom any hostility existed. If absent, he even writes. At the same time, he bestows forgiveness. Sādhus do this twice daily in ritual. Laymen ask and bestow forgiveness on the last day of paryuṣaṇa, the most important Jain festival.


Āśana, solid food; pāna, drink; khādya, fruit; svādya, betel, ginger, etc., usually taken after meal.


Samādhi, concentrated abstract meditation. It differs from the early stages of dhyāna which involve meditation on an object. It is practically the same as śukla-dhyāna. Hoernle, Uv. n. 163, defines it as a ‘state of bodily and mental coma.’


Pañcaparameṣṭhinamaskriyā. Namo arihantāṇaṃ, namo siddhāṇaṃ, namo āyariyāṇaṃ, namo uvajjhāyāṇaṃ, namo loe sabbasā-hūṇaṃ.

Homage to the Arhats, Siddhas, Ācāryas, Upadhyāyas, and to all the Sādhus in the world. Pañcaprati. I, p. I.

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