Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Rishabha’s marriage which is the seventh 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 7: Ṛṣabha’s marriage

One day, a pair of twins, as they were playing together in accordance with the nature of children, went together under a palm-tree. By the evil contrivance of fate, just then a large palm-fruit fell from the tree on the boy’s head like a stroke of lightning on a castor-bean plant. Struck on the head in the manner of the crow-and-palm-tree fable,[1] the boy died then by the first accidental death. Because he had very slight passions, the boy-twin went to heaven. Cotton indeed rises in the air from its lightness. Formerly, large birds at once lifted up the bodies of dead twins like nestwood, and threw them in the ocean. At that time, from the deterioration (of the times), the body remained just so. For the avasarpiṇī has decreasing power. Then the second one of the twins, the giri, by nature endowed with innocence, stood with tremulous eyes, like a remnant after a sale. Her parents took her and raised her, and gave her the name Sunandā. After a few days her parents also died. For the twins live but a short time after their children are born. The girl, dazed by wondering what to do, with restless eye, wandered alone in the forest like a deer lost from the herd.

Planting as it were blossoming lotuses in the ground at every step with feet having leaves of straight toes; with legs like the golden quivers of Kama, and gradually broad, round thighs like the trunk of an elephant; adorned with hips, fleshy, very large, having the appearance of a golden dice-board of the gambler Kandarpa; and with a waist that could be embraced by a hand like a magnet of Love, and also with the navel-region like a pleasure-pond of Love alone; having on the abdomen three waves of wrinkles, like three lines of victory over the women of the three worlds overcome by her beauty; with breasts like pleasure-peaks of Rati and Prīti,[2] and arm-creepers like the cords of their golden hammocks; exceedingly beautiful with a neck with three lines having the appearance of a conch; with the color of ripe bimba-fruit surpassed by her lower lip; exceedingly charming with teeth placed inside the pearl-oyster of the lower lip like seed-pearls; with a nose like the stalk of the lotus of the eye; having cheeks that were thieves of the beauty of the halfmoon as if in rivalry with the forehead; with hair dinging like bees to the lotus of the face; fair in the whole body, a river of the nectar of virtue and loveliness, wandering in the forest, she looked like a forest-goddess.

Then seeing her alone, young and beautiful, the twins bewildered as to what to do, approached Śrī Nābhi. “Let her be the lawful wife of Lord Ṛṣabha,” saying, Nābhi took her, full-moonlight for the (nightblooming) lotus of the eye. Just then, knowing by the employment of clairvoyant knowledge that it was time for the Lord’s wedding, Purandara went there. Bowing at the Lord’s feet, standing before him with folded hands like a footman, the Lord of heaven declared: “The man who, ignorant, thinks of encouraging by word or thought the Lord, who is the depository of knowledge, verily he is the abode of ridicule. By the great graciousness of the Master, servants who have been seen always (i.e., old servants), say anything they like at any time. They are (true) servants who, knowing the Master’s wish, declare it. That I speak without knowing, do not for that reason, O Lord, be displeased with me. I think the Master has been free from passion from the time that he was in the womb, devoted to the fourth object of existence (mokṣa), indifferent to the other three. Nevertheless, O Lord, the path, of conduct for the people will be made entirely plain by you alone, just like the path of mokṣa. I wish that the great festival of marriage should be established for the conduct of the people. Favor me. O Master, your ought to marry the Ladies Sumaṅgalā and Sunandā, ornaments of the earth, suitable for yourself, beautiful.” The Master knew by clairvoyant knowledge: “For sixty-three lacs of pūrvas we must destroy powerful karma which has pleasure as its fruit. This karma must be inevitably destroyed.” Thinking thus, the Master stood, nodding his head, downcast, like a lotus at evening.

Then having ascertained the Lord’s purpose, Purandara at once summoned gods for the tasks of the wedding-preparations. Then the Ābhiyogika-gods at the order of Pākaśāsana made a pavilion that was like the younger brother of Sudharmā.[3] Its pillars of gold, jewels, and silver shone like peaks of Meru, Lohaṇa, and Vaitāḍhya piled together. Golden pitchers, giving light, shone like the circles made by a Cakrin’s cowrie-jewel.[4] Golden daises shone there with rising rays of light, as if surpassing the sun, unable to endure another light. Some entering were reflected in the walls of jeweled slabs; some did not attain to the functions of the retinue in it. Set on the jeweled pillars, tall puppets shone, looking like dancers tired from a concert. There were arches in every direction with kalpa-shoots, like bows that had been made ready by Manobhū. Arches of sapphire on the crystal door-posts resembled a row of parrots placed in the center of a row of autumn clouds. In some places the pavilion gave the appearance of a pleasure-pool of nectar with its dense light from the floor paved with crystal. In some places it showed a collection of divine, extensive safflower-colored cloths (as it were) with shining piles of projecting ruby slabs. In some places it looked like sprouts of auspicious barley sowed repeatedly with its very beautiful shoots of light from sapphires. In some places, by its unbroken reeds of light from the emerald ground it caused fear to the green auspicious bamboos that had been brought. Under pretext of a canopy of white, divine doth, it was inhabited, as it were, by the heavenly Gaṅgā with a desire to see the ceremony. Around the canopy were hung pearl-wreaths that shone like joyful laughter of the eight quarters. Four lofty rows of jeweled pitchers, like treasures of Rati, were placed around by the goddesses. Green bamboos shone, giving support to the pitchers, indicating the growth of the Master’s family which was the support of all the world.

“O Lambhā, make the wreaths; prepare the dūrvā-grass, Urvaśī; Ghṛtācī, bring the ghee, curd, etc., for the groom’s reception; Mañjughoṣā, have women-friends sing sweetly auspicious songs; Sugandhā, prepare the perfumes. Tilottamā put the best svastikas on the door; Menā, receive with delightful conversation the ones who have arrived. Sukeśī, bring the hair-omaments for the brides and groom; Sahajanyā, show the place to the men of the wedding procession. Citralekhā, paint the various pictures in the shrine;[5] quickly make ready the vessels filled with gifts, Pūrṇinī. Puṇḍarīkā, decorate the full pitchers with lotuses; put the groom’s chair in the proper place, Amlocā. Bring the brides’ and groom’s shoes, Haṃsapādī; quickly smear the pavilion-ground with cow-dung, Puñjikāsthalā. Why are you playing elsewhere, Rāmā? Hemā, why do you look at gold? Kratusthalā, why are you confused, as if drunk? What are you thinking, Mārīcī? What are you looking at, Sumukhī? Why are you not on this side, Gāndharvī? Why do you joke idly, Divyā? Time for the ceremony is near. Then with all your heart hurry, each one of you, to your wedding-task that must be done.” From the bustling of the Apsarases instructing each other in this way, and frequently calling names, a mighty tumult arose.

Sumaṅgalā and Sunandā then were seated on a seat by some Apsarases for the sake of the auspicious bath. They anointed their bodies with fragrant oil, while a lowtoned auspicious song was being sung. They rubbed them with finely ground powder, the ground being purified by a falling heap of unguents. On their feet, knees, hands, shoulders, and forehead, they made tilakas, like nine pitchers of nectar, clinging to the body.[6] They touched their bodies on right and left with spindles of safflower-thread, as if to test the perfect symmetry. Carefully they made an application of ointment to the brides, restraining them from motion, like nurses.[7] Just then in the same way, excited with pleasure, they made an ointment-removal like a brother of the application. Seating them on another seat, they bathed them like their household-divinities with water from a golden pitcher. They dried their bodies with fragrant, red-brown cloths and bound their hair with a soft cloth. After putting linen garments on them and seating them on another seat, they squeezed water from their hair, like a rain of pearls from heaven. With divine perfumes they perfumed the hair somewhat moist, distinguished by an abundant beauty increased by unctuous smoke-creepers. They adorned their feet with the juice of red lac, resembling the luster of dawn falling on a lotus-bed. They smeared the bodies of these women-jewels with beautiful ointment, like gold with ocher.

On their necks, palms, breasts, and cheeks, they drew vines with leaves, like the glorification of Love. On their foreheads they made a beautiful sandal-tilaka like a new circle for the descent of the goddess Rati.[8] They decorated their eyes with collyrium so they resembled black bees that had gone to a cluster of blue-lotuses. They bound their coils of hair with wreaths of full-blown flowers, as if an armory had been made by the God of hove for himself. They put wedding clothes on them that had the moon’s-rays surpassed by the rows of fringe hanging down. On their heads they put diadems shining with various jewels like the sun and moon of the east and west quarters. They put jeweled ear-rings in their ears, thieves of the wealth of pride of the ground of Meru sprouting with jewels. They also put divine pearl ear-rings resembling new flower-dusters on their ear-creepers. They put on their necks gold ornaments, filling the sky with the light of various jewels, stealing away the beauty of contracted rainbows. On their arms they joined armlets adorned with jewes resembling insignia fastened to the bow of the God of Love. They put necklaces on their high breasts giving the appearance of rivers rising and falling on high ground. Pearl bracelets were put on their wrists, like basins full of water on the ground around creepers. They presented to their hips jeweled girdles that had a row of tinkling bells, like reciters of auspicious things of the goddess Lati. They put jeweled anklets on their feet, that tinkled, tinkled, as if praising their virtues. After the goddesses had prepared them thus, and had lifted them up and led them to the shrine, the Ladies were seated on a golden throne.

The Lord, Vṛṣabha-marked, begged persistently by Namucidviṣ, who had come, to be ready for the wedding, reflected, “Customs must be shown to the people; and I have karma with pleasure as its fruit to be destroyed,” and consented. Then Mahendra, knowing proper procedure for the occasion, after he had bathed and anointed him, adorned him, suitably with ornaments, etc. His path cleared ahead by Mahendra, as if by a staff-bearer, with salt being waved by the Apsarases at his sides, with very beautiful, auspicious songs being sung by the wives of the Indras, having the way shown by the Sāmānikās and other goddesses, with musical instruments being played by Gandharvas, etc., with spontaneous joy, the Master went to the door of the pavilion by means of a divine vehicle. The Master himself, knowing what was proper, descended from his chariot there, and stopped at the place which had a creeper for a boundary,[9] like the waves of the ocean (at the shore). There the Lord, supported by the Lord of the gods, shone like an elephant resting against a tree. The women of the pavilion set down in the door an earthenware covered box filled with fire and salt that made a crackling noise. One woman in front carried a silver dish characterized by auspicious things, such as dūrvā, etc., like the night of full moon carrying the moon. Another in front, lifting in her hand the churning-stick like auspiciousness personified, was clothed in a safflower-garment for the reception of the groom.

“O Arghadā, give a respectful reception to the one entitled to it (the groom); lift up instantly the fresh batter; take curd from the dish like nectar from the ocean. O Sundarī, take up the sandal-stuff brought from Nandana; joyfully raise the dūrvā brought from the ground of Bhadraśāla. The bridegroom, the best of the three worlds, with a living festoon made from the rows of eyes of the people that have come together, is at the festooned door. His body entirely covered by his upper garment, he stands erect like a young king-goose veiled by the Gaṅgā’s waves. The flowers are being blown away by the wind and the sandal is drying up. O Sundarī, do not keep, do not keep the bridegroom long at the door.”

Such auspicious songs being sung aloud by the goddesses, she gave a respectful reception to the bridegroom deserving a respectful reception from the three worlds. Her loud-tinkling armlets beginning an auspicious song, as it were, she, having bimba-lips, kissed the forehead of the Lord of the Three Worlds three times with the churning-stick. With the shoe on his left foot the Lord broke the earthenware dish filled with fire as easily as a jar filled with snow. Then the Lord went to the shrine, being dragged by a safflower-cloth thrown around his neck by the one giving the reception. The hand-thread, adorned with a maiṅphala[10] like a bulb of love, was tied on the hands of the brides and groom. In front of the mother-goddesses the Lord sat on a high golden throne like a lion on the peak of Meru. When they had ground the bark of the śamī and aśvattha trees, the women placed hand-ointment in the hands of the brides, like a pregnancy-whim of the tree of love. Then the Lord, clever, at the arrival of the auspicious moment quickly took with his own hands their hands with the hand-ointment. Then Sutrāman threw a ring[11] in the hand-ointment in the hollow of the hand, like a rice-seed in a pond. With these two fair ones taken bboth hands, the Lord looked like a tree with two creepers clinging to two branches. The eyes of the brides and groom sped toward each other, like the water of the rivers to the ocean on the auspicious occasion of the conjnnction of the stars. Then glance was joined with glance, motionless as water free from wind, as mind was joined with mind. Reflected in the pupils of each other’s eyes, they looked as if entering each other’s hearts from love.

Now, the gods, Sāmānikas, etc., having become servants, stood at the Lord’s sides, like Vidyutprabha, etc., at the sides of Meru. The two brides’ women-attendants clever in the art of ridicule, began to sing comic songs “Eager to eat the sweetmeats, like a man with fever to drink the ocean dry; what, pray, is the intention of the best man? His gaze fixed on the pastries, greedy like a confectioner’s dog; what is the intention of the best man? The best man is eager to eat cakes like a poor boy who has never seen them before in all his life; what is his intention? The best man is greedy for areca nuts like cātakas for water, like beggars for rich men; what is his intention? Now the best man is longing for the leaves of the betel-creeper, Hke a calf for grass; what is his intention? The best man is greedy for sandal-powder like a cat for fresh butter; what is the intention of the best man? The best man longs for ointment like a buffalo for the mud of a field; what is the intention of the best man? The best man, whose eye is wavering, desires the garlands, like a drunk man the remains of the sacrifice; what is his intention?”

Listening to comic songs of this kind, the gods stood, their ears pricked up from curiosity, as if painted in a picture. Thinking, “This custom must be taught to the people,” the Lord looked on indifferently like an umpire in a dispute. Balasūdana tied the garments of the Ladies with the garments of the Lord, like those of boats with those of a great ship. The Chief of the gods, like an Ābhiyogika-god, mounted the Master on his hip with devotion, and went to the house containing the altar. Quickly the Ladies were put likewise on their hips by two of Indra’s wives and made to go with the Master, their fingers unseparated. They entered the altar-house by the east door with the brides and groom who were the head-jewels of the three worlds. There a Trāyastriṃśa-god quickly made appear a fire in the altar-fire-hole, as if it had sprung up from the middle of the earth. From the lighting of the fuel, lines of smoke disappeared in the sky, after a long time forming ear-rings for the Khecara-women. To the accompaniment of auspicious songs by women, the Master circled the fire with Sumaṅgalā and Sunandā until the eighth circle was completed. When they let go hands, Vāsava untied their garments, while blessings were being sung.

Then Maghavan and his wives danced with graceful gestures of the hands. Joy arising from the Master’s festival acts as stage-manager. After him, other gods danced, delighted, like creepers on a tree made to dance by the wind. Some gods gave cries of “Hail! Hail!” like bards; some danced with various steps like actors; others sang charming melodies like Gandharvas; others played clearly with their mouths as musical instruments; some took quick leaps like monkeys; others made all the people laugh like clowns; others drove away the people like door-keepers. Devotion to himself being shown thus by the gods intoxicated with joy, the Lord, both sides adorned by Sumaṅgalā and Sunandā, ascended the divine vehicle and went to his own house. After performing in this way the wedding-ceremony, bowing to the Lord, Adribhid went to his own abode like a stage-manager whose play is finished. Beginning from that time, the wedding customs observed by the Master were followed.

For the practices of the great are for the guidance of others.

Footnotes and references:


I.e., the fable of the fruit falling unexpectedly just when the crow alighted, and killing it.


The two wives of the god of Love.


The Council-hall in the cities of the gods.


See Chap. IV.


Mātṛveśma. It is decorated with marks to indicate the seven Mātṛdevīs. Svastikas and other auspicious signs, and drawings for decorations are also made.


I have not been able to locate the origin of references to the ‘nine tanks of nectar.’ Below, 923, another reference places them in ‘nāgaloka.’ There is another allusion in the Kāvyakalpalatā, p. 354, but it throws no light on the subject.


Now this application of ointment is made morning and evening for three days in succession to both bride and groom. During this time they can not move from the house. After the third day they take the bath.


It is customary to draw a circle when invoking a deity.


At the present time, a toraṇa, or festoon, is placed over the door of the house, if the wedding takes place there, or of a pavilion erected for the marriage. Now this festoon is made of mango or aśoka. The bridegroom stops at this door and the bride’s mother comes to meet him, carrying grain and short pieces of bamboo which she scatters. The priest recites some mantras, and the groom enters the door. This is in the case of Gujarātī baniyas.


The maiṅphala (H), a small apple-like fruit, is tied to the wrist of the bride and groom in Gujarātī weddings. This is the madana of the text. Maiṅphala is the Randia dumetorum. Watt, Dict. Vol. VI, Part I, p. 391. The Marāṭhas use turmeric.


I have not been able to find any modern parallel for this use of the ring. The only use of a ring I have found is in a game played in Gujarātī baniya weddings. When the bride and groom have gone to the bridegroom’s house after the ceremony, the priest throws a ring and a rupee. Each one tries to get the ring—as symbol of which one shall rule the household. The throw is made seven times, and the one, who gets the ring the majority of times, wins. In Kathiawar, the game is somewhat different.

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