Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Fifth incarnation as the Ishana god which is the thirteenth 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 13: Fifth incarnation as the Īśāna god

Then he was born[1] in the hollow[2] of a couch in the palace Śrīprabha, like a mass of lightning in a cloud. He had a divine form, symmetrical, his body free from the seven elements,[3] his body was soft as a śirīṣa-flower, the sky was filled with his beauty, he had an adamantine body, was very powerful, was marked with favourable characteristics, could change his form at will, possessed clairvoyant knowledge, was proficient in all kinds of knowledge, endowed with magic-powers to make himself small, etc.,[4] was free from blemishes, had inconceivable glory, and was named ‘Lalitāṅga’ in the true sense of the word. On his feet were jeweled anklets, a girdle around his hips, a pair of bracelets on his wrists, a pair of armlets on his arms, a string of pearls on his chest, a necklace on his neck, ear-rings in the lobes of his ears, and a wreath and diadem on his head—such a collection of ornaments and divine garments, and with them youth, the ornament of the whole body.

A drum sounded, making the heavens resound with its echoes, and bards recited: “Hail! O Delight of the the World,” etc. The palace, filled with the sounds of song and music and outcries of the bards, thundered as it were with delight at the arrival of the lord. Then he, like one who had just arisen from sleep, seeing this, wondered: “Is this magic? Is it a dream? Is it illusion?, What sort of thing is it? Are the singing, dancing, etc., for my benefit? Are these respectful people here for my benefit as their lord? How did I obtain this abode, luxurious, beautiful, enjoyable, pleasant, the abode of joy?” With folded hands the door-keeper gently informed him whose doubt was apparent: “Today, O Lord, we are fortunate, having you as our lord. Show favor to us, humble, with your nectar-like glance. O Master, this is the Īśāna-heaven, granting anything wished for, with great and imperishable glory, always the abode of happiness. In that heaven you now adorn the palace Śrīprabha which was gained by your merit. These are your Sāmānika gods, the ornament of your assembly; with them in the palace you appear like many persons, even though one. These are the Trāyastriṃśas, O Master, the abode of priest- and ministership. They await your commands. Instruct them at the proper time. These are the Pāriṣadya gods, the ministers of pleasures. They will divert your mind in assemblies of sport and pleasure. These are your body-guard (ātmarakṣa), always armed, keen, carrying thirty-six weapons, expert in guarding their master. These are the Lokapālas, superintendents of your city-police, and these generals (anīkapati) are the chiefs of your army. These Prakīrṇaka gods are the subjects in the city and country. Your Majesty, they will bear on their heads the purity of your command. The Abhiyogyas, suitable to be used as conyeyances by you, serve you here. The Kilbiṣika gods perform your menial tasks. The palaces, made of jewels, possessing court-yards very beautiful with beautiful young women, giving pleasure to the mind, are yours. Those tanks are made of jewels and have heaps of golden lotuses. Your pleasure-mountains have ridges of jewels and gold. These pleasure-streams have clear water causing instant delight. These pleasure-gardens have perennial fruit and flowers. This assembly-hall of yours, made of gold and jewels, lights up the sky with its brilliance like the sun. These courtesans, who hold chauris, mirrors, and fans in their hands, always have festivals in your service only. This band of Gandharvas is always ready for a concert in your presence, skilled in the use of fourfold musical instruments.”[5]

Employing concentrated attention,[6] then from clairvoyant knowledge he recalled his former birth like a day that occurred yesterday as follows: “I was a king of the Vidyādharas and was instructed in the religion of the Jinas by my minister, Svayambuddha, my friend in religion. I fasted as soon as I undertook mendicancy, and as the result of that I have obtained this. Oh, the power of dharma!” After he had recalled this, he rose and, leaning on the door-keeper’s arm, adorned his throne amidst cries of “Hail! Hail!” that burst forth. Then the gods consecrated him and fanned him with chauris, and the Gandharvas sang to him with songs, sweet and auspicious. His mind filled with devotion, he arose and went to the temple, and worshipped the eternal images of the Arhats. He sang manifold hymns of praise to the Lord of Jinas, while auspicious songs with a sweet rendering of the three scales[7] were sung by the gods. Then he read aloud the sacred books, lamps of knowledge, and worshipped the Arhats’ bones placed on pillars in the pavilion. Then, shining with a divine umbrella that was like a full moon carried (over him), he went to the pleasure-house.

There the lord of Śrīprabha, greatly delighted, saw a goddess, Svayamprabhā by name, who surpassed the lightning in radiance. She was like a bed of lotuses in a river of loveliness under the guise of exceedingly tender feet, hands, eyes, and face. She had round and tapering thighs like Puṣpadhanvan’s quivers that had been deposited. She was adorned with broad hips clothed in-white, like a river with a sandy beach covered with groups of kalahaṃsas. She looked like the middle part of a thunderbolt with her waist very slender as if from carrying the weight of her high, swelling breasts. She shone with a neck that had three folds, and a deep voice announcing the great victory of King Love as if by a conch. She was adorned with lips that surpassed the bimba (in redness),[8] and with a nose that had the beauty of the stalk of the eye-lotuses. She stole away the heart by her lovely smooth cheeks and forehead that stole the wealth of the Lakṣmī of the full moon divided. She had ears that were thieves of the grace of Ratipati’s pleasures-wing, eye-brows that stole the beauty of Smara’s bow. She was decorated with a braid of hair that had the glossy beauty of collyrium, that was like a circle of bees following her lotus-face. From the wealth of jeweled ornaments on her body, she gave the impression of a kalpa-creeper endowed with motion. She was entirely surrounded by thousands of charming lotus-faced Apsarases, like the Gaṅgā by rivers. When he was far off, she rose to do him honor with wonderful affection, and the Chief of the gods seated himself with her on a couch. Seated together, they looked like a tree and a creeper in one basin of water. Their hearts were always united by mutual love, as if bound by a firm chain. Enjoying himself with her, having the fragrance of unbroken love, he passed si long time like a moment.

Then Svayamprabhā fell from heaven like a leaf from a tree. For when age-karma has expired, even Indra can not remain. Lalitāṅga swooned from grief at his wife’s fall, as if he had been crushed by a mountain, or struck by a thunderbolt. When he had regained consciousness, he immediately began to wail again and again, making the palace Śrīprabha wail with echoes. He did not find pleasure in a garden; he was not refreshed in a tank; he was not happy on a pleasure-mountain, and he did not delight in Nandana. Wailing, “Oh, my love, where are you? Where are you, my love?” he wandered everywhere, seeing everything as Svayamprabhā.

Now, Svayambuddha felt disgust with the world at his Master’s death, took initiation under Śrī Siddha Ācārya, piously observed the vow for a long time without any transgressions, and became an Indrasāmānika, named Dṛḍhadharma, in Aiśāna. Inclined to affection like a kinsman because of their relations in the previous birth, and wise, he spoke to console Lalitāṅga. “Why are you bewildered on account of a mere woman, O noble sir? Wise men do not reach such a state even at death.” Lalitāṅga replied: “Friend, what are you saying? For death is easy to bear, but separation from a wife is very hard to bear. A gazelle-eyed woman is the only thing of value in the world; without whom all wealth, even such, is valueless.”

Afflicted by his grief, the Sāmānika god of Īśāna, having employed concentrated attention, knew (the facts) from clairvoyant knowledge, and said: “Do not be downcast, noble sir. Be at ease now. I have found your wife as I searched for her. In the continent Dhātakīkhaṇḍa, in the East Videhas in the village. Nandi, there is a miserable householder, named Nāgila. Wandering like a ghost daily to fill his stomach, he goes to bed hungry and thirsty and gets up the same. He has a wife, like hunger to poverty, named Nāgaśrī, crest-jewel of the unfortunate. He has six daughters, daughter after daughter, like boils on the body of a man with skin-disease, boil under boil. These daughters were voracious by nature, ugly, ridiculed by all, like offspring of village swine. In course of time, his wife conceived again. For generally the women of the poor conceive quickly. Then he reflected: ‘Of what karma is this the fruit, that I experience the calamities of hell in this world? I am destroyed by this poverty, fully developed at birth, hard to cure, very great, as a tree is destroyed by ants. Now I am tormented by these daughters, as if by enemies of a former birth, whose bodies have no lucky marks, like misfortune personified. If another daughter is born now, then I intend to go to a foreign country and surely leave behind the family.’

While he was reflecting thus, his wife bore a child, and he heard the news of the birth of a daughter like a needle piercing his ear. His face upturned, Nāgila deserted his family and went away, like a vicious bull that has suddenly thrown off its load. To her (his wife) suffering from, child-birth, the pain of her husband’s departure was like acid thrown on a wound. In her great sorrow Nāgaśrī did not even give her a name, and the people called her ‘Nirnāmikā.’ She took no care of her at all, but still she grew up. For there is no death for a person, whose life-term has not expired, even if struck by a thunderbolt. Very ill-favored, causing distress even to her mother, she spends the time performing menial tasks in others’ houses.

One day in a festival she saw sweetmeats in the hands of rich children and asked her own mother for some. Grinding her teeth, her mother told her: ‘You ask for sweetmeats! That is fitting! Did your father eat sweetmeats? If you want to eat sweetmeats, take a rope, go to Mt. Ambaratilaka for a load of wood, Ugliness.’ Burned by that speech as if by a dung-fire, crying, she took a rope and went to the mountain.

At that time omniscience had come to Muni Yugandhara, engaged in pratimā[9] for one night on the peak of the mountain. Then a great festival called ‘the festival of omniscience’ was being celebrated in his honor by the gods at hand. Then the people living in the towns and villages near the mountain competed with each other to show him honor. When she saw the people, decorated with many ornaments, going there, Nirnāmikā stood in astonishment, as if she were painted in a picture. She found out the reason for the people coming continuously and, throwing aside her load of wood like a load of pain, she set out. With the people Nirnāmikā ascended the mountain, since tīrthas are common to all. Considering the muni’s feet to be a kalpa-tree she honored them with joy. The wish is in accordance with fate.

Then the muni, benefiting all the world, delivered a sermon in a deep voice, delighting the world like a cloud: ‘The enjoyment of pleasures of the senses by men causes a fall to the ground of existence, like ascending a bed woven of unseasoned ropes. All creatures’ association with son, friend, and wife is like travelers’ sleeping in a dwelling made in one village. The burden of pain is endless, arising from the manifestations of their karma, for those wandering here in the eighty-four lacs of birth-nuclei.’[10] Then Nirnāmikā with folded hands said to the Blessed One, ‘From what you say there is equality between king and beggar. You have declared that saṃsāra is the abode of sorrow. Is there any one in it more afflicted than I am?’ The Blessed One replied: ‘What pain is yours, lady, thinking yourself afflicted? Hear the afflictions of others. From the modifications of their karma souls are born in hell, doomed to be cut apart, doomed to mutilation, and to have their heads cut off. Some are pressed by machines as if they were pressing sesame-seed; some are torn by cruel saws just as if they were tearing a piece of wood. Some are made to lie constantly on couches with cotton made of spikes; some are thrown on rocks by demons, as if they were clothes. Some are beaten like iron-pots by hard iron-hammers; some are divided into many pieces like a handful of vegetables. Their bodies are put together again, and the same thing is done again and again. Experiencing that pain they wail piteously. When they wish to drink, they have to drink hot tin repeatedly; seeking shade, they are seated under a tree that has leaves as narrow as swords. The hell-inhabitants, reminded of their former actions, are not allowed to exist even a moment in hell without pain. O child, the hell-eunuchs’[11] pain causes pain to people just from being heard in entirety.

Furthermore, one can see with one’s own eyes that creatures of water, land, and air suffer all kinds of pain arising from their karma. The sea-creatures devour each other voluntarily and eagerly. They are caught by fishermen, and devoured by cranes, etc. They are opened by people skinning them, they are roasted as if roasted on a spit; they are cooked by people wishing to eat them, and swallowed by those wishing their marrow. Creatures on land—the weak, such as the deer, are killed by the stronger, such as the lion, who devour their flesh. Innocent, they are killed by this or that device by men whose minds are devoted to hunting for sport, or from desire for the meat. They endure pain from hunger, thirst, cold, heat, imposition of excessive burdens, etc., from thongs, goads, and whips. The birds, such as partridges, parrots, doves, sparrows, etc., are seized by the carnivorous hawks, falcons, vultures, etc. After they have been caught by various stratagems and tricks by fowlers greedy for their flesh, they are killed with various kinds of abuse. Always animals have fear, arising from water, etc., from weapons, etc., that has uninterrupted course, dependent on the bondage of their own karma.

Even when human birth is attained, some persons are born blind and deaf; some are lame from birth, and some are leprous from birth. Some men addicted to theft, some to unchastity, are punished by ever new punishment, like hell-inhabitants. Some, unceasingly afflicted by various diseases, looking to others (for help), are ignored even by their sons. Some, who are slaves, are beaten like mules, bear very heavy loads, endure thirst, etc. There is also unceasing sorrow even of the gods, troubled by mutual injuries, bound by the relationship of master and servant. In this ocean of worldly existence which is valueless and extremely cruel by nature, there is no limit to pains like sea-monsters in the ocean. In existence, the abode of pain, the religion of the Jinas is the only remedy, like a charm in a place filled with ghouls, ghosts, etc. Certainly, injury must not be committed, for by injury people sink in the whirlpool of hell, as a boat sinks from an excessive load. Falsehood must always be avoided, since from the utterance of falsehood a creature wanders a long time in existence, like a straw before a wind. One should not take an object that has not been given, since certainly there is no comfort from the taking of a thing not given, just as from the touch of kapikacchū fruit.[12] Unchastity should be avoided, for by unchastity a man is led to hell, as a poor man is led by some one having seized him by the throat. Possessions should not be acquired, since by the power of possessions a man sinks in the mire of pain, just as an ox sinks from an excessive burden. Whoever avoids these five—injury, etc., even in part, he is the partaker of the wealth of higher and higher happiness.’

Then she acquired a wonderful desire for emancipation, and her knot of karma, indivisible as an iron ball, was broken. Under the great muni she adopted right belief completely, and sincerely assumed the lay-duties as taught by the Jina. She adopted at that very time the five lesser vows—non-injury, etc., food for a traveler to the next world. Then bowing to the lord of munis and taking her load of wood, she went to her own house, delighted as if she had accomplished her purpose. From that time on she piously practiced penance of various kinds, remembering the speech of Muni Yugandhara as well as her own name. No one, to be sure, married her, ill-favored as she was even in youth. Who, pray, likes to eat the fruit, even ripe, of an acrid gourd? At present, because of extreme disgust with the world she has undertaken a fast in the presence of Muni Yugandhara, who has come again to that mountain. Therefore, go and show yourself to her. Dying devoted to you she will be your wife. For whatever the thought is at death, that surely is (one’s) destiny.” Lalitāṅga did so. She died devoted to him, and was born as his wife, Svayamprabhā, as before. Then he enjoyed himself exceedingly, after he had gained his wife, lost as if by the feigned anger of a coquette for her lover. In heat shade is conducive to pleasure.

When some time had passed in dalliance with her, Lalitāṅga observed signs of his own fall. His jeweled ornaments became lusterless, and the wreaths on his head withered as if from fear of the separation. His body-garments became soiled at once. Even the Lord of Lakṣmī (Viṣṇu) is deserted by Lakṣmī, when calamity is near. He had excessive devotion to pleasure with neglect of dharma. Generally there is a change in the nature of creatures at death. All his retinue spoke inarticulately from grief and pain. Utterance of those talking issues in accordance with the future. He was deserted by Beauty and Modesty, who had been won at the proper time and were always dear, just as if he had committed a crime. Even though not poor, he was attended by Poverty, and by Sleep, though not sleepy, just as an ant is provided with wings at the time of death.[13] His ligaments relaxed together with his heart, and the kalpa-trees unshakable even by winds shook. The joints of his body and limbs, though healthy, separated as if from fear of pain arising from going to a future evil state. In the same way, his sight became dull in grasping objects, as if unable to see the presence of others. Just then his limbs became tremulous and unsteady, as if from fear of the coming of pain caused by dwelling in the womb. Like an elephant with a driver, he took no pleasure in pleasure-mountains, rivers,, tanks, lakes, nor groves, though beautiful.

Then Svayamprabhā said, “Have I committed some fault, my lord, since you look so melancholy?” Lalitāṅga replied: “My dear, there is no fault of yours. The fault is mine, that I practiced so little penance formerly, fair-browed one. I, always like a person awake in regard to pleasures, and asleep in regard to dharma, was indeed lord of the Vidyādharas in a former birth. Enlightened by my minister Svayambuddha sent by my good fortune, as it were, I adopted the Jain dharma toward the end of my life. From the power of that dharma I became lord of Śrīprabha for so long a time. I am going to fall from here. What is not to be gained is not gained.” As he was speaking thus, the god Dṛḍhadharma came to him at Biḍaujas’s command, and said, “The Indra of Aiśāna-heaven intends to go to Nandīśvara, etc., to make a pūjā to the statues of the Jinas. You go also at his command.” Saying, “By my good fortune the Master’s command comes at just the right time,” Lalitāṅga delighted set out with his wife. He went to Nandīśvara and worshipped the eternal statues of the Arhats. From great joy his imminent fall was forgotten. Then as he was going to other tīrthas with a pure mind, he died, since his life was expired, just as a lamp goes out when its oil is consumed.

Footnotes and references:


‘Birth’ is not a strictly accurate translation of upapāda. The gods and hell-inhabitants are not ‘born,’ but come into existence spontaneously.


Śayanasampuṭa. The usual description of the couch is ‘high on both sides and depressed in the middle’ (Tri. 2. 2.53. B. p. 16). I think sampuṭa must refer to the depression.


Dhātu. In Jain terminology these are chyle, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow, semen. KG I. 48, p. 46a.


See note 111.


I.e., drums, stringed instruments, perforated (such as flute), and solid (like cymbals). Abhi. a. 200. Pravac. p. 315a.


Upayoga, a technical term meaning the expression of the activity of the soul through jñāna and darśana, knowledge and perception. J. G. Vol. 21, p. 251. T. 2. 8 ff.


Grāmatraya. A grāma is a ‘collection of notes,’ i.e., a scale. The conventional three are saḍja-, madhyama- and gāndhāra-grama. The first two were made on earth, the third in heaven, according to the Saṅgītamakaraṇḍa 1. 49 ff.


504. Cephalandra indica. Its fruit is scarlet when ripe, and is commonly used as a synonym for unsurpassable redness. Watt, Dict. Vol. II, p. 252.


Pratimā in this sense of meditating in a particular posture is practically the same as kāyotsarga. But they must always stand in pratimā, whereas kāyotsarga may be either standing or sitting.


There are 84 lacs of species of birth-nuclei.


Nārakaṣaṇḍha. Hell-inhabitants and jīvas arising from coagulation are neuter, napuṃsaka. T. 2. 50.


The Mucuna pruriens, a plant causing great irritation. Watt, p. 400.


Though kīṭikā in Sk. includes all kinds of insects, here it is evidently used for ‘ant.’ Cf. Guj. kīḍī, ant.

There are two similar Hindusthānī proverbs (H. P. pp. 57-8):

When the ant’s wings come out his death has come.
When the ants are about to die they get wings.

This is true biologically in the sense that as soon as the ants emerge as complete insects, they take a nuptial flight and the male dies immediately.

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