Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Divisions of time and description of the Golden Age which is the second part of chapter II 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 2: Divisions of time and description of the Golden Age

Then Sāgara and Priyadarśanā were born in the form of twins in the southern part of Bharatakṣetra in Jambūdvīpa, in the middle part of the space between the Gaṅgā and Sindhu,[1] in the third period in avasarpiṇī, when there was the eighth part of a palya remaining. In the five Bharata- and Airavata-zones the twelve-spoked wheel of time is the basis of the law of time. Time is two-fold from the division into avasarpiṇī and utsarpiṇī. There are six spokes in avasarpiṇī, beginning with Ekāntasuṣamā (Pure Bliss). Of these Ekāntasuṣamā lasts for four crores of crores of sāgaras, and Suṣamā (Bliss) for three; Suṣamāduḥṣamā (Bliss-Sorrow) for two, Duḥṣamasuṣamā (Sorrow-Bliss) for one crore of crores of sāgaropamas minus forty-two thousand years; Duḥṣamā (Sorrow) lasts for twenty-one thousand years, and Ekāntaduḥṣamā (Pure Sorrow) for the same measure of years. The spokes which are in avasarpiṇī, these have been described. They are the same in utsarpiṇī, but in reverse order. So in avasarpiṇī and utsarpiṇī together there are twenty crores of crores of sāgaropamas.

In the first of these spokes, human beings live for three palyas, are six miles tall, and eat every fourth day. They have symmetrical bodies,[2] marked with all the good marks, with joints firmly knit as if with mortise, collar and pin,[3] always healthy. They are free from anger, conceit, deceit, and greed, by their very nature shunning unrighteousness on all occasions. In it, ten wishing-trees, Madyāṅgas, etc., just as in the Uttarakurus, grant their desires day and night. The Madyāṅgas give sweet wines, as soon as asked; Bhṛṅgas give dishes, etc., like keepers of store-houses of them. Turyāṅgas distribute musical instruments producing concerts. Dīpaśikhās and Jyotiṣikas also give unequaled light. The Sucitrāṅgas produce variegated wreaths; Citrarasas, like cooks, produce many kinds of food. Maṇyaṅgas bestow ornaments at will; Gehākāras fine houses, instantly, like a city of the Gandharvas. With uninterrupted desire the Anagnas [Anaṅgas?] give clothes. Each of these give many other objects also. Then the ground is sweet like sugar, and the waters in the rivers, etc., are unexcelled by the sweetness of nectar. As that spoke passes, the joints, etc., and the powers of the kalpa-trees deteriorate very, very slowly.

In the second spoke, mortals live for two palyas, are four miles tall, and eat every third day. The powers of the wishing-trees are somewhat less; the waters and the ground-sugar are somewhat deficient in sweetness. In this spoke too, in course of time, as in the former one, abundance gradually decreases, like the size of an elephant’s trunk. In the third spoke, men live for one palya, are two miles tall, and eat every second day. And in this spoke, as before, body, age, sweetness of the ground, and power of the wishing-trees become still less. In the fourth spoke lacking former power, men live for a crore of pūrvas, five hundred bows tall. In the fifth, they live for one hundred years and are ten and a half feet tall; but in the sixth they live for sixteen years and are one foot and a half high, filled with pure sorrow. In utsarpiṇī also men must be known to be such (as in avasarpiṇī) in the six spokes in reverse order.

From being born at the end of the third spoke, the twins were nine hundred bows tall; they lived for the tenth part of a palya; their bodies had mortise-collar-and-pin joints, and they were provided with a perfectly symmetrical form. The man-twin with a complexion the color of pure gold together with his wife, the color of the priyaṅgu,[4] had the beautiful appearance of Sumeru with a mass of clouds. In the same place, because of the deceit practiced in the former birth, Aśokadatta became an elephant, snow-white, with four tusks, like an elephant of the gods. One day, as he was wandering at will, the elephant saw before him the man-twin, his friend of a former birth. Affection sprang up from his body expanded by the shower of nectar of his sight, like a shoot from a seed. He (the man), even though unwilling, was made to mount his shoulder by the elephant, who had seized him and embraced him with his trank at pleasure. From the two repeatedly seeing each other, the recollection of their former birth arose, just as if shown before their eyes. The other twins, their eyes wide-open with astonishment, saw him, like Indra, mounted on a four-tusked elephant. Then the twins called him by the name ‘Vimalavāhana’ (The White-vehicled), because “He is seated on an elephant white as the conch, jasmine, and moon.” Knowing ethics (nīti) from recollections of former births, having the white elephant as a vehicle, naturally handsome, he became head of all the people.

With the passing of time there the power of the wishing-trees diminished, like that of ascetics whose good-conduct has been violated. The Madyāṅgas gave wine tasteless, scanty, and slow, as if inferior trees had been brought by an evil fate that had changed them. As if powerless from reflecting, “Shall they be given, or not?” the Bhṛṅgas when asked gave dishes reluctantly. The Turyāṅgas did not produce such musical instruments, etc., like slave-Gandharvas who had been dragged there with abuse. Even though asked repeatedly for light, the Jyotiṣka-trees, as well as the Dīpaśikhās,[5] did not diffuse such light as before, like torches by day. The Citrāṅgas, like disrespectful servants, did not bestow wreaths, etc., quickly as the result of a wish. The Citrarasas did not give as before the fourfold food, like food-dispensary donors whose desire to give is being destroyed. The Maṇyāṅgas likewise did not deliver manifold ornaments, etc., as if filled with anxiety, “How will they be replaced again?” The Gehākāras made houses slowly, slowly, like poets whose powers and proficiency are dull producing good poems. Even the Anagnas gave clothes very reluctantly like clouds that have cruel planets[6] as obstacles giving rain.

As the consequence of such a time, the twins developed a sense of ownership in the wishing-trees, as if in their own bodies. When one of them approached a wishing-tree considered his own by another, it was a great insult to the one having first claim to ownership. Then unable to endure the mutual injuries, they made Vimalavāhana their chief, with authority as lord. Knowing nīti from recollections of former births, he divided the wishing-trees and gave them to the twins, as an old man divides property among members of his family. He promulgated the law of Hākāra for the punishment of any one who crossed the boundary from desire for another’s wishing-tree. As a result of his punishment with the words, “Hā! you did that wickedly,” the twins did not exceed the boundaries, as waters do not exceed the bank of the ocean. In regard to the Hā-punishment the twins thought, “Better corporal punishment, etc., than the disgrace of the Hā”.

When half a year only of his life remained, his wife Candrayaśas bore twins. A boy and girl, with lives of numberless pūrvas, with good bodies, having the first kind of joints, dark, eight hundred bows tall, named Cakṣuṣmat and Candrakāntā by the parents, born together, they grew up like a creeper and a tree. After caring for the twins for six months, Vimalavāhana died without old age or disease, and was born among the Suvarṇakakumāras. At the same time Candrayaśas died and was born among the Nāgas. Moonlight cannot remain when the moon has set. Having completed his own life there, the elephant too attained the state of being a Nāgakumāra. Such is the power of time. By the law of the Hā-punishment alone, Cakṣuṣmat preserved the boundaries of the twins, like Vimalavāhana. The last period of the life of Cakṣuṣmat and Candrakāntā having arrived, twins Yaśasvin and Surūpā were born. Having the (same) joints, figure and color (as their parents), a little shorter lived, they gradually attained growth, like strength and intellect. Always going together, seven hundred and fifty bows tall, the two had the appearance of pillars of an arch. In course of time Cakṣuṣmat died and was born among the Suvarṇas, and Candrakāntā at once among the Nāgas.

Then Yaśasvin, like his father, controlled all the twins easily for a long time, as a cow-herd controls cows. Then gradually the Hākāra was disregarded by the twins, like the elephant-goad by elephants whose internal-ichor is appearing. Yaśasvin made the Mākāra punishment to curb them. In a disease that can not be subdued by one remedy, another remedy must certainly be applied. He, having great judgment, used the first law for a small offense, the second one for a moderate offense; and both in a serious offense. When their lives were almost ended, Yaśasvin and Surūpā had a girl and boy together like knowledge and humility. They named the son, as bright as the moon, Abhicandra, and the daughter who resembled the priyaṅgu-creeper, Pratirūpā. Having shorter lives than their parents, six hundred and fifty bows tall, united like śamī and aśvattha trees, they gradually grew up. Always they had the beautiful appearance of the holy streams Mandākinī and Yamunā with their waters mingled. When his life was completed, Yaśasvin was born among the Abdhikumāras; and at the same time Surūpā among the Nāgakumāras.

Like his father, Abhicandra ruled all the twins for a long time by the same maintenance of discipline and by the same two laws. Finally twins were borne by Pratirūpā, just as the moon, desired by many creatures, is borne by the night. The parents gave the name Prasenajit to the son, and to the daughter the name Cakṣuḥkāntā, because she was pleasing to the eye. Having shorter lives than their parents, with the dark luster of the betel-vine, together they gradually grew up like intellect and vigor. Both six hundred bows tall, having equal beauty, they were like day and, night of the equinox. After death Abhicandra was born among the Udadhikumāras, but Pratirūpā among the Nāgakumāras at the same time.

Then in the same place Prasenajit became lord of the twins. For generally the sons of the eminent are also eminent. Then the twins gradually transgressed the Hākāra-law and the Mākāra-law, as those afflicted by love transgress modesty and the bounds of good behavior. Prasenajit made another law of Dhikkā, resembling a charm for terrifying the great bhūt of transgression. Clever in. their administration, by these three laws he ruled all the people like an elephant by the three yatas.[7] Then toward the end of the time (i.e. her life) Cakṣuḥkāntā bore twins, a boy and girl, whose lives were somewhat shorter. They were five hundred and fifty bows tall, and together increased in size like a tree and its shadow. The son became known among the people by the name Marudeva and the daughter by the name Śrīkāntā. Marudeva, gold-color, with his wife, who was the color of the priyaṅgu, had the beautiful appearance of Mt. Kanaka (Meru) with a row of trees in Nandana. Then after death Prasenajit was born among the Dvīpakumāras, and Cakṣuḥkāntā at the same time among the Nāgakumāras.

Then Marudeva directed all the twins by the same series of laws, as the king of the gods directs the gods. Finally, twins were born from Śrīkāntā, boy and girl, named Nābhi and Marudevī. Five hundred and twenty-five bows tall, together they grew up like forgiveness and self-control. Marudevā, with the beauty of the priyaṅgu, and Nābhi, having the color of pure gold, looked like images of their parents from the identity of color. The life of these two noble persons was measured by numbered pūrvas[8] and was somewhat less than Śrīkāntā’s and Marudeva’s. After death Marudeva attained the status of a Dvīpakumāra and Śrīkāntā that of a Nāgakumāra. After that Nābhi became the seventh patriarch of the twins, and ruled them properly by these three laws.

Footnotes and references:


All the MSS. I have seen have either the reading of the ed., gaṅgāsindhūttarasyāntarbhāge, which is quite impossible, as it has already been stated that it is the southern half of Bharata; or gaṅgāsindhvantarasyāntarbhāge, which is not satisfactory either, but seems the less undesirable of the two.


Caturasrasusaṃsthana. This is the first and best kind of body—of which there are 6 varieties. 1) Samacaturasrasaṃsthana (the more usual form) is a perfectly symmetrical body. 2) Nyagrodhaparimaṇḍala,0 the body is like a banyan-tree; the upper part is symmetrical but the lower does not correspond. 3) Sādi0 is the reverse of the second. The lower part is properly formed, but the upper part is not. 4) Kubja,0 hunchback. The neck, hands, and feet are property proportioned, but the torso is contracted and misshapen. 5) Vāmana,0 usually translated ‘dwarfish,’ but that is not accurate in this connection. It is the reverse of kubja. The torso is property formed, but the neck, hands, feet, etc., are not. These are the usually accepted definitions of kubja and vamana, and certainty the correct ones, but the Sth. reverses the definitions. 6) Huṇḍa,0 in which every part of the body is misshapen. Sam. 155, p. 150. Sth. 495, pp. 357-8.


Vajrarṣabhanārācasaṃhanana. There are also 6 varieties of joints, of which this is the best and first kind. Vajra is a ‘bolt,’ ṛṣabha, a ‘collar or binding,’ nārāca, a ‘double mortise’. The two bones are joined by a double mortise, bound with another bone, and fastened by a fourth as a bolt. The second kind is without the bolt and is called ‘ṛṣabhanārāca’; the third kind (nārāca) is joined only by the double mortise; the fourth (ardhanārāca) has a mortise on one side and a bolt on the other; in the fifth (kīlika) the bones are merely bolted together; in the sixth (sevārta) the bones only touch each other, Sam. 155, p. 150. Sth. 494, p. 357.


I.e., dark.


There must certainly be a double meaning to dīpaśikhā.


The cruel planets are Śani (Saturn), Maṅgala (Mars), Ravi (Sun), Rāhu, and Ketu. The favorable ones are Budha (Mercury), Śukra (Venus), Bṛhaspati (Jupiter), and Candra (Moon). Wilkins, p. 359. Martin, pp. 295 f.


The three are voice, foot and goad. Mātaṅgalīlā, 8 ff.


Heretofore the twins had lived for numberless pūrvas of years.

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