Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Founding of Vidyadhara cities which is the fourth part of chapter III 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 4: Founding of Vidyādhara cities

Now, the sons of Kaccha and Mahākaccha, Nami and Vinami by name, men of good training, had gone previously to distant foreign countries at the Master’s command. Returning by the road through this forest, they saw their fathers, and reflected: “Why have our fathers come to such a state, as if they were without a lord, when Vṛṣabhanātha is their lord? Then they had garments of Chinese silk; now garments of bark suitable for Kirātas. Then there was ointment on their bodies; now dust suitable for animals. Then their hair was coiled with wreaths; now it is matted like a fig-tree. Then they rode on elephants; now they go on foot like foot-men.” Thus reflecting, they bowed and questioned their fathers. Kaccha and Mahākaccha said: “Abandoning the kingdom, the Lord of the World, blessed Ṛṣabha-bannered, divided the earth, gave it to Bharata and others, and took the vow. Then under the influence of excitement the vow was undertaken by all of us along with the Master, like the eating of sugar-cane by an elephant. Oppressed by sufferings, hunger, thirst, cold, heat, etc., we gave up the vow, just as a yoke is put down by disobedient bullocks. Even if we are not able to follow the Master’s course, nevertheless we have given up being house-holders, and live in this ascetics’-grove.”

Saying, “We too shall ask the Master, for a share of the earth,” Nami and Vinami approached the Master. Thinking, “He is free from worldly attachment,” not knowing that the Lord was engaged in pratimā, bowing, both spoke as follows: “While we were in a distant divided the earth and gave it to Bharata and your other sons. Why was no territory, not even the size of a cow’s hoof, given to us? By your favor give that now, O Lord of All. Has the God of gods seen some fault in us that you do not give even an answer, to say nothing of anything else?” The L,ord made no reply to them speaking at that time; for those free from worldly attachments are not contaminated by any one’s worldly anxiety. Reflecting, “Even if the Master does not speak, this is our course, nevertheless,” they began to serve the god (Ṛṣabha). To lay the dust near the Master, they sprinkled water brought constantly from a pond in lotus-leaves. At dawn they put before the Dharmacakrin a heap of flowers intoxicating a multitude of bees by its perfume. With drawn swords, they served the Master as attendants day and night, like the Sun and Moon around Mt. Meru. Three times a day they bowed with folded hands and asked, “There is no other Master. Give ns a kingdom, O Master.”

One day, Dharaṇa, the lord of the Nāgakumāras, a layman, came there wishing to honor the Master’s feet. With amazement the Nāga-king saw them serving the Master, asking him for wealth like simple children. He said to them in a voice resembling a stream of nectar, “Who are yon? And for what do you, full of perseverance, ask resolutely? For a year the Master of the World gave unceasingly great gifts, whatever desired. Where were you then? Now the Master is free from worldly attachment, without property, free from anger, joy, etc., indifferent even to the body.” Thinking, “He is some worshipper of the Master,” both answered respectfully the lord of the serpents, Dharaṇa. “We were servants, and he our lord. He himself sent us away somewhere. Then dividing the kingdom, he gave it all to his sons. Even if his wealth has been given away, he is the one to bestow a kingdom on us. What thought is there, ‘There is or there is not’? Service must be done by servants.” “Go ask Bharata; the son of the Master is the same as the Master,” the Indra Dharaṇa told them. They spoke again, “We do not make any one else our Master, after having him, the Lord of All. After resorting to the wishing-tree, who will care for the karīra-tree?[1] We do not seek any one else except the Supreme Lord. Does the cātaka seek another except the cloud? Enough of that idea of yours—‘Prosperity may come from Bharata and others.’ Whatever happens from this Master, that may happen. What has any one else to do with it?”

Answered by them in this way, the lord of the serpents said, “I am lord of Pātāla, a servant of the Master only. This firm resolve of yours, O fortunate and noble ones, ‘The Master alone, and no one else, is to be served,’ is a very good thing. By service to him, the Master of the World, royal wealth comes quickly to a man as if drawn by a noose. By service to him the Indraship of the Vidyādharas on Mt. Vaitāḍhya is exceedingly easy for men here to acquire, like hanging fruit. Just by service to him, the Śrī of the lordship of the Bhavanas is attained without effort, like treasure deposited at one’s feet. The Śrī of the Indras of the Vyantaras attends upon those serving him, completely submissive as if from magic. The Śrī of the lordship of the Jyotiṣkas quickly chooses of her own accord his servant, like a young woman choosing a fortunate youth in a svayaṃvara. From service to him alone comes the splendor suitable for Indras, just as varied splendors of flowers are produced by spring. From service to him they attain quickly the Śrī of the Ahamindras, hard to win, who is like a younger sister of emancipation. A person serving him alone, the Lord of the World, obtains an abode from which there is no return (i.e., mokṣa), always joyful. In this world, lord of the three worlds; in the other world, a siddha in form, a person can be like him by service to him, the Master, alone. I am the Master’s slave; you are his servants. As the fruit of service to him, I give you lordship over the Vidyādharas. Know that it has been obtained only by service to the Master, look you, not otherwise. For light on earth, even though produced at dawn, is produced only by the sun.” After enlightening them in this way, he gave them the forty-eight thousand vidyās,[2] Gaurī, Prajñapti, etc., which accomplish results by (their) recitation. He instructed them: “Go to Vaitāḍhya, found two rows of cities there, establish imperishable sovereignty.” Bowing to the Arhat, they made (by magic) a car named Puṣpaka. Ascending it, they set out with the lord of serpents. They went and told their fathers, Kaccha and Mahākaccha, about their new prosperity that was the fruit of the tree of service to the Master. They went and told their success to the Lord of Ayodhyā. For the fruitful accomplishment of their purpose on the part of the determined is shown by position.

Footnotes and references:


Capparis aphylla. A thorny desert plant.


The vidyās here are mantras. The KS. 1.212 (K. p. 153a) gives the number as 48 only, but does not give the names, except of 4 mahāvidyās, Gaurī, Gāndhārī, Rohiṇī, Prajñapti.

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