Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Description of Airavana which is the ninth 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 9: Description of Airāvaṇa

Then the thrones of all the Indras shook, as if to urge them in the business of the Master’s kevala-festival. The bells in the heavens rang at once with a penetrating sound, like messengers in the business of summoning their respective people. From the mere thought of the Lord of Saudharma wishing to go to the Master’s feet, the god Airāvaṇa, turned into an elephant, approached. With his body a lac of yojanas long he shone like Meru which had become alive, wishing to see the Master. He spread sandal-ointment, as it were, all over the sky with the light of his body white as frost; and made the ground in heaven marked with a quantity of musk by the fragrant ichor trickling from his cheeks. By the waving fan-like flaps of his ears, he kept off a row of bees blind from the perfume falling on the surface of his cheeks. The newly-risen sun-disc was surpassed by his forehead-protuberance; the King of the Nāgas was surpassed by his trunk, round, and increasingly fat. His eyes and tusks resembled honey in color; his palate was like a tāmra-leaf; his neck was round and white like a drum; there was hair on his broad fore-quarters. His back-bone looked like a strung bow, his belly was lean, he was adorned with a circle of nails like the moon-circle; his breath was fragrant and deep; the end of his trunk quivering and long, his lip-buds long, his liṅga long, his tail long; he was marked with bells on his sides like Meru with the sun and moon; he wore a girth covered with flowers of the trees of heaven.

His faces, with their foreheads ornamented with golden frontlets, looked like pleasure-grounds of the Śrīs of the eight quarters. In each face eight tusks, curved, long, and turned upwards, massive, looked like peaks of a large mountain. In each tusk was a lotus-pond with sweet, spotless lotuses, like the lake on each zone-bounding mountain. In each pond were eight lotuses that were like faces put outside the water by the water-nymphs. In each lotus eight full-blown petals looked like islands for resting-places of goddesses at play. On each petal shone eight companies of actors, each endowed with the fourfold modes of conveying pleasure.[1] In each company there were thirty-two actors, like cascades with a wealth of waves of sweet emotions. Then Vāsava with his retinue mounted the best of elephants in the seat of honor, his nose concealed by the top of the protuberance. When Vāsava and his retinue were seated, the lord of elephants set out impetuously, like the whole Saudharma-kalpa. In a moment he arrived at the garden purified by the Master Ṛṣabha, gradually contracting his body like Pālaka.[2] The other Indras, Acyuta and the rest, came there with troops of gods making great haste as if from the desire to be first.

Footnotes and references:



“Mode of conveyance of the theatrical pleasure to the audience, which pleasure, called rasa, is pure and differs from the pleasure we derive from the actual contact with the objects of the world which is always mingled with pain.” (Nāṭyaśāstra, GOS XXXVI, p. 7.)

The four are:

  1. sāttvika, conveyed by effort of the mind;
  2. āṅgika, conveyed by the body;
  3. vācika, conveyed by expression;
  4. āhārya, conveyed by dress, deportment and mise-en-scène.

The Jain work, Nāṭyadarpaṇa, (pp. 188 ff.) gives the same.

The Āva. (p. 189b) gives the 4 abhinayas as

  1. dārṣṭāntika,
  2. pratiśrutika,
  3. vinipātika,
  4. and lokamadhyāvasānika,

but no explanation of the meaning of these terms in this connection.


Indra’s car, which he used in Chap. II.

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