Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Acceptable food and avagraha which is the fifth 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 5: Acceptable food and avagraha

At the end of the sermon, Bharata thought to himself with remorse at the sight of his brothers who had taken the great vows: “What have I done, taking the kingdoms from my brothers—I, never satisfied, like a fire! I am giving wealth to others which has pleasure as its fruit. That is without fruit to me foolish, like a sacrifice in ashes. Even a crow lives, summoning other crows and giving them food, etc. Therefore, I, inferior to the crows, enjoy pleasures without them. Would that, by my good fortune, they would take pleasures being given again, like ascetics taking alms after fasting for a month.”

After these reflections, at the feet of the Teacher of the World Bharata with folded hands invited his brothers to enjoyment. The Lord advised him: “O honest-hearted King, your noble brothers have professed the great vows. After realizing the worthlessness of saṃsāra and after abandoning pleasures completely, they can not take them again, like something vomited.” Checked in this way by the Master in regard to pleasures, the Lord of Bharata reflected again in his repentant mind, “Even if they, having abandoned worldly attachment, do not enjoy pleasure, nevertheless they eat food to sustain life.” With this idea, he had food brought in five hundred large carts and invited his brothers as before. The Master again said, “O Lord of Bharata, food that is brought, prepared for sādhus,[1] is certainly not suitable for sādhus.” Frustrated in this way, he invited them again with food not made nor caused to be made (for them). In simplicity everything seems all right. “O King, royal food is not suitable for great rishis.” With these words the Cakrabhṛt was frustrated by the Dharmacakrin. Thinking “I am always stopped by the Master,” he was devoured by great remorse like the moon by Rāhu.

Observing the King’s embarrassment, Sahasrākṣa (Śakra) asked the Master, “How many divisions has avagraha?” The Master explained: “Avagraha is fivefold with divisions related to Indras, cakrins, kings, householders, and sādhus.[2] Each one in succession is superseded by the one next named. The rule given last takes precedence in the case of two rules—one given first and one later.”[3] Śakra said, “I give permission to whatever sādhus wander in my jurisdiction to consider it as their own, O Lord.” When Hari had stopped, after saying this and paying homage to the Master’s feet, the Lord of Bharata reflected again: “If my food, etc., was not noticed by these munis, nevertheless, I would accomplish my purpose to-day by permission for dwelling in my jurisdiction.” Thinking this in his heart, the warmhearted King gave permission like Śakra, in the Master’s presence. He asked Vāsava like a fellow-student, “What must I do now with that food, drink, etc?” “Give it to those who are superior in merit,” Śakra said. He thought, “Who, except the sādhus, are superior in merit to me? Oh, I know. Certainly the laymen, both with and without worldly desire[4] are superior in merit to me. I must give it to them.”

While considering what must be done, the Cakravartin observed Śakra’s form with splendid appearance and said in astonishment, “Do you have such a form in heaven, or another form? For gods can change their forms as they like.” The Lord of gods said, “O King, this is not the form we have there. That form can not be seen by mortals.” Bharata said again, “O Sahasrākṣa, I have a very strong desire to see your (heavenly) form. Delight my eyes, O Indra, like the moon the cakora, by a sight of your divine form.” “Yon are the best of men. Your request must not be in vain. So I shall show you one part of my body, O King.” Saying this, Śunāsīra showed his finger with suitable ornaments, sole light of the house of the world. When the King saw Mahendra’s finger, shining with a brilliant light, he was delighted like the ocean when it sees the full moon. Then, bowing to the Blessed One and taking leave of the King, śatamanyu went away immediately like a twilight-cloud. Bowing low to the Master, like Śakra, the Cakravartin went to the city Vinītā, meditating on his duties. Bharata set up a śakra-finger made of jewels and made an eight-day festival. The noble must act with equal devotion and affection. Beginning then and even now, there is an Indra-festival celebrated by the people after erecting an Indra-pillar.386

Then the Blessed One wandered elsewhere from Aṣṭāpada from country to country, awakening the bhavya-lotuses, like the sun wandering from one sign of the zodiac to another.

Footnotes and references:


The first fault in food. See n. 17.


The idea of avagraha is that each one of the five has a certain jurisdiction, and one should obtain permission to enter that jurisdiction. For instance, if one sādhu is occupying an upāśraya and another desires to come, he must obtain permission from the first occupant. There seem to be differences of opinion as to the extent of avagraha. The com. to the Ācār. II. 7. 2. (J. p. 177) gives a sādhu’s jurisdiction as extending 10 miles. I had other figures given me, but without āgama authority. So far as I could ascertain, in actual practice the question of avagraha arises only in connection with a sādhu’s obtaining permission for lodging. The larger sphere of jurisdiction is annulled by the smaller one in the sense that one obtains permission from the person having the jurisdiction most directly affecting the applicant. See Ācār. II. 7. 2. and Āva. 360. p. 235a.


Haim. 7. 4.118 f.


See App. III.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: