Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Description of Ashtapada which is the third part of chapter VI 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 3: Description of Aṣṭāpada

Then the Teacher of the World, most venerable in invocation, ascended the lofty mountain, eight yojanas high, like a heap of autumn-clouds gathered in one place; like a mass of solidified waves of the Ocean of Milk that had been brought; high-peaked like a long-homed bull—one of Punandara’s bulls made at the birth-bath—that had been fixed; like one of the Dadhimukha Mountains that had come from their homes in the lakes of the continent Nandīśvara; like a piece of the stalk taken from the lotus of Jambūdvīpa; like an extraordinary tiara, made of white jewels, belonging to the earth; appearing to have been bathed with water and dried with cloths constantly by troops of gods, because of its spotlessness and luster; with streams to be inferred by the women on its spotless crystal banks because of the lotus-pollen raised by the wind; (like) another existence for making the Vidyādhara-women resting on its peaks forget Vaitāḍhya and Kṣudrahimavat; like a mirror of heaven and earth; like unequaled laughter of the quarters; like an imperishable earthen cone reaching to the planets and constellations; with the appearance of several moons represented by its peaks with antelopes worn out by play seated in the center; having rows of cascades, as if it had put on a spotless garment; with a raised banner, as it were, with the rays rising from the sun-crystal; resembling the eastern mountain given to beautiful goddesses because of the sun placed on the high, spotless peak; with trees giving dense shade, bushy with green leaves, like broad umbrellas made of peacock-feathers; with a forest of creepers sprinkled by flowing doe’s milk, the young deer being petted by the Khecarīs out of curiosity; inhabited by celestial women, their eye-brows made into a row to see the lāsya-dance of the barbarian-women wearing garments of plantain-leaves; its forest wind deficient from being consumed by serpents tired out from pleasure; its forest of creepers made to dance in sport by the dancer—the forest-wind; with caves turned into houses for the love-affairs of the Kinnara-women; the water of its pools made into high waves by the displacement caused by the diving of the Apsarases; its interior filled with tumult by Yakṣas engaged in gambling with dice in one place, in another absorbed in drinking-parties, making wagers in another; having concerts begun in sport, here by the Śabara-women, there by the Kinnara-women, and in another place by Vidyādhara-women; in one place having cries made by parrots excited by the ripe fruit of grapes, in another place the fifth note uttered by cuckoos agitated by mango-shoots; here lively with the sound of the haṃsa stimulated by the taste of the fresh lotus-stalk, there talkative with the kren-call of the curlew excited by the river-bank; here filled with the ke-call of the peacocks exhilarated by the nearby cloud; there lovely with the sound of the crane going around the pool; in some places like a garment dyed with safflower[1] from the red aśoka-groves; in other places like the blue sky from the tamāla, palm, and date trees; here like a yellow doth from the palāśa trees studded with flowers, there like a white garment with forests of mālatī and mallikā.[2]

The mountain offered a respectful reception and water for cleansing the feet, as it were, to the Master of the Three Worlds, in the guise of the water of cascades and also with the flowers scattered by the wind. Mt. Aṣṭāpada, purified by the Master’s feet, considered itself in no way inferior to Meru purified by his birth-bath. Mt. Aṣṭāpada sang repeatedly, as it were, the merits of the Lord of the World, under the pretext of the warbling of the delighted cuckoo, etc. Instantly, the Vāyukumāras, like living brooms, took the grass, wood, etc., from the ground for a yojana. At once, the Meghakumāras made clouds like buffaloes carrying water and sprinkled the earth with perfumed water. The gods paved the whole ground with broad gold and jeweled slabs, so it was like the surface of a mirror. The Vyantara-gods rained flowers of five colors knee-deep like pieces of the rainbow. The Vyantaras made arches from fresh shoots, thieves of the beauty of the waves of the Kālindī. The figure of a makara glistened on the pillars on both sides of the arches, imitating the abundance of makaras always occupying the two banks of the Sindhu. On them gleamed four white umbrellas like silver mirrors of the four goddesses of the quarters. Banners waved by the wind shone on the pillars, giving the impression of tremulous waves of a Gaṅgā in the sky.[2] Beneath each arch was the pearl-svastika, etc., with the appearance of an inscription, “Here is the auspiciousness of the world.”

A dais having been made on the ground there, the Vaimānikas made a jeweled wall like the wealth of the Srī of Latnākara. They made a row of battlements of gems, like the circle of suns and moons at the boundary of the Mānuṣottara Mountains. The Jyotiṣpatis made a middle wall of gold, shining like a peak of Hemādri made into a circle. They made battlements of jewels, which had pictures, as it were, for a long time from reflections of the spectators. The Bhavanādhīśas made the lowest rampart of silver, giving the impression of the serpent śeṣa made into a circle. They made a row of golden battlements like a row of Garuḍas in the water at the bank of the Ocean of Milk. In each wall four gateways were made by them, like those of the city Vinītā by the Guhyakas (Yakṣas). In the gateways they made jeweled arched-doorways, made a hundred-fold, as it were, by their own rays streaming forth. At every door the Vyantaras set incense-vessels which had waves of smoke like streaks of collyrium for the protection of the eyes.[3] The gods made a dais in the northeast direction, like a temple in a house, inside the middle wall, for the lord’s rest. A caitya-tree, six miles high, was created inside the samavasaraṇa by the Vyantaras, like a mast inside a ship. Then they made a jeweled platform under the caitya-tree, which by its rays made the tree appear to have shoots from its root. Above the platform they made a jeweled dais which was rubbed frequently by the blossoms on the ends of the caitya-tree branches. In the middle of the dais they made a jeweled lion-throne with a foot-stool, facing east, like the pericarp of the seed-vessel of a blooming lotus. Above the dais they created three umbrellas just like the three streams of the Tripathagā (Gaṅgā) made into whirlpools. So, in a moment the samavasaraṇa was erected by the gods and demons, as if they had brought it from some place already made.

Then the Lord of the World entered it, the door to mokṣa, by the east door, like entering the hearts of the souls capable of emancipation. Then the Lord circumambulated the aśoka-tree, the blossoms on the ends of its branches becoming ear-ornaments (for him). Saying “Homage to the congregation,” facing the eastern quarter, the Lord sat on the lion-throne, like a king-goose on a lotus. The Vyantara-gods created images of the Supreme Lord placed on lion-thrones in the other three directions. The sādhus, sādhvīs, and Vaimānika-women entered by the east door, made the pradakṣiṇā, and bowed to the Jina and the congregation with devotion. All the sādhus sat down in the southeast direction inside the first wall, great trees in the garden of dharma; behind them stood the Vaimānika-women and behind them stood in the same way groups of sādhvīs. Entering by the south door according to precedent, the women of the Bhavaneśas, Jyotiṣkas, and Vyantaras stood in succession in the southeast. Entering by the west door iṅ the same way, the Bhavaneśas, Jyotiṣkas, and Vyantaras bowed, and stood in succession in the northwest. When Vāsava learned that the Lord had come to a samavasaraṇa, he came quickly, covering the sky with a multitude of cars.

Entering by the north door, Sutrāman made pradakṣiṇā three times, bowed, and with devotion recited a hymn of praise as follows:


“On the one hand are your virtues that can not be known by the best Yogis even with their whole minds; on the other hand, I, habitually negligent, am your praiser. Nevertheless, Lord, I shall praise your virtues in accordance with my ability. Does any one restrain a lame man from making a long journey? Protect us, Lord, the shade of whose feet is equal to the shade of an umbrella for persons subject to misery from the sunshine of the pain of existence. Only for the sake of the world you wander thus, your own purpose accomplished. Does the sun rise for its own benefit? From your power, Lord, people’s karma contracts completely, like their shadow from the sun at midday. Even animals are blessed, who see you always. Even gods are not blessed, if deprived of the sight of you. Superior to the superior, they are happy, Lord of the Three Worlds, in the shrines of whose hearts you alone are supreme god. So, I humbly ask—even though wandering from village to village, from city to city, please do not wander from my heart.”

After praising the Lord in these words, the Lord of the gods bowed, touching the earth with five parts of the body, and sat down in the northeast direction.

Footnotes and references:


Safflower, Carthamus tinctorius, yields both yellow and red dye, red being much more valuable. Watt, p. 279. A Westerner is likely to associate both safflower and saffron with yellow.


Two kinds of jasmine, Jasminum grandiflorum and Jasminum Zambac.


There is supposed to be also a heavenly Gaṅgā.


Collyrium, used by Indian women and children around the eyes, is believed to be beneficial as well as decorative.

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