Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes The funeral ceremonies which is the eighteenth 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 18: The funeral ceremonies

Then Śunāsīra instructed the Ābhiyogika-gods promptly in regard to bringing the materials for the cremation of the Master’s body. Then at the command of Saṅ-krandana the gods brought instantly from the garden Nandana gośīrṣa-sandal as fuel. At Indra’s command they made a round funeral pyre of gośīrṣa-sandal in the east for the Master’s body. Likewise the gods made a triangular pyre in the south for the great rishis of the Ikṣvāku family. For the other ascetics the gods made a rectangular pyre in the west. Then Vāsava had water brought at once from the Ocean of Milk by the gods like Puṣkarāvartaka clouds. Vajrabhṛt bathed the Blessed One’s body with that water, and anointed it with gośīrṣa-sandal paste. Vāsava clothed the Supreme Lord’s body with a garment of fine cloth with a haṃsa-pattern. The Chief of the gods fully adorned the Supreme Lord’s body with divine jeweled ornaments.

Other gods did at once all that—the bathing, etc., for the other munis, with devotion, just as Indra had done. The gods made three litters to be carried by a thousand, each one from the best jewels of the three worlds that had been brought here. After he had bowed at the Lord’s feet and had placed his body on his head, Purandara himself put it in the litter. The gods put the bodies of the members of the Ikṣvāku-family who had gone to mokṣa on the second litter. On the third litter, the gods put the bodies of the other munis, placing them on their own heads. Then Hari himself lifted up the Master’s litter, and the other gods the litters of the other munis. While some Apsarases were making a circular dance with hand-dapping in one place, and others making a sweet-sounding concert in another; some gods placing jars of incense in front which poured forth tears of grief, as it were, in the guise of the smoke from the incense; some throwing wreaths of flowers on the litters, others taking the same ones as remains of a sacrifice; some making festoons of fine cloth; some sprinkling yakṣakardama-ointment ahead; some rolling in front like balls of stone dropped by a machine; others running behind as if injured by the powder of delusion; some crying aloud, “O Lord, O Lord”; some blaming themselves, “We unfortunate are lost”; some begging frequently, “Give us instruction, O Lord”; others saying, “Who will solve our doubts about dharma?” some saying regretfully, “Where shall we go now like blind people?” some longing, “May the earth give us a chasm”; Hari carried the Master’s litter to the funeral pyre, and the other gods the other two litters to the accompaniment of musical instruments. Prācīnabarhis slowly placed the Master’s body on the eastern funeral pyre, knowing what was proper, as if he were his son. The gods,[1] like blood-relations, placed the bodies of the Ikṣvāku-family on the southern pyre; and the other gods knowing what was proper placed those of the other ascetics on the west pyre.

Then at the command of Gotrabhid the Agnikumārika-gods created fire-bodies on the pyres. At Śakra’s command, the Vāyukumāras created winds, and they quickly made the fire flame up on all sides. At Indra’s command the gods put camphor, etc., by loads, and ghee, honey, etc., by pitcherfuls on the pyres. When the elements, except the bones, had been consumed, the Meghakumāras extinguished the fire of the pyres with water. Purandara took the Lord’s right upper molar tooth to his palace to worship like a statue. Īśāna took the left upper molar tooth, and Camarendra the lower right. Bali took the lower left; the other Indras the rest of the teeth, and the other gods the bones. The laymen, begging for the fire of the three pits, received it from the gods. From that time the Brāhmans[2] became fire-priests. For they constantly worshipped in their houses the fire from the Master’s pyre; and they guard it unextinguished like princes a lac of lamps.[3] With the fire from the Master’s pyre, they restore the extinct fires of the pyres of the Ikṣvāku and other ascetics. With the fire from the pyre of the Ikṣvāku Rishis, they revived the extinct fire of the pyre of the other ascetics. But they do not transfer the fire from the pyre of the other ascetics to the fire from the other two pyres. Even today that is the rule among the Brāhmans. Some took ashes and devotedly worshipped the ashes. From that time there have been ascetics decorated with ashes. In the places of the three pyres the gods made three jeweled stūpas that were like three new peaks of Mt. Aṣṭāpada. Then in the continent Nandīśvara the gods and Indras made a festival to the eternal images, and departed each to his own abode. The Indras—in their own separate palaces and in their assembly-hall, Sudharmā—put the Master’s teeth in round diamond boxes on top of Māṇava-pillars[4] and worshipped them constantly. By their power they (the Indras) always had victory and happiness.

Footnotes and references:


The other Indras.


It must be remembered that ‘Brāhmans’ were laymen.


It is customary to burn lamps before idols in connection with a prayer, or to vow to light so many lamps in return for a prayer granted. These may be lighted in the house, and ordinarily they are allowed to burn for a short time and then go out. But in the case of wealthy people the vow might be to keep them burning in perpetuity, as is done in temples. MW refers to a Lakṣadīpakalpa and a Lakṣadīpavratodyāpana which I have not seen, but Hemadri’s Caturvarga Cintāmaṇi has a chap, on Dīpadānavidbi, Part II, Vol. II, p. 475 ff.


Māṇava is the name of the pillars so used. Cf. Tri. 2. 6. 700, māṇavakābhidheṣu stambheṣu.

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