Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Description of the memorial caitya which is the nineteenth 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 19: Description of the memorial caitya

Near the Master’s cremation-ground Bharata had the carpenter-jewel erect a temple of jeweled slabs, a yojana square, three gavyūtis high, named Siṃhaniṣadyā, like a foot-print of the house of nirvāṇa. It had four doors made of crystal, beautiful as those of the Master’s samavasaraṇa. On both sides of each door were sixteen jeweled sandal-wood pitchers, like treasuries of the Śrīs of mokṣa. At each door were sixteen jeweled arches made of jewels like creepers of puṇya that had sprung up on all sides before one’s eyes. At each door were sixteen auspicious groups of the eight auspicious things, like the letters of an inscription placed on the palace gate. At these doors there were extensive entrance-pavilions, as if the assembly-halls of the four Dikpālas had been brought. In front of these four entrance-pavilions were theater-pavilions inside śrīvalli-pavilions.[1] In the center of the theater-pavilions were courts made of diamond which put to shame the sun.

In the center of each court was a beautiful jeweled lion-throne like a pericarp in a lotus. In front of each theater-pavilion was a jeweled platform and on it was a jeweled caitya-stūpa. In front of each of the caitya-stūpas in each direction was an extensive jeweled platform which lighted up the sky. On each one of them were beautiful immortal statues of the Jinas, moonlight to the lotus of the eye, like those inside a shrine in the Nandīśvaradvīpa, five hundred bows tall, facing the caitya-stūpas, the body made of jewels, Ṛṣabha, Vardamāna, Candrānana and Vāriṣeṇa[2] in the paryaṅka posture. In front of each of the caitya-stūpas was a large beautiful platform made of priceless gems. In front of each of these platforms were caitya-trees and in front of each caitya-tree was a jeweled platform. Above each one of these was an indradhvaja, and in each direction a pillar of victory as if set up by dharma. In front of each of the indradhvajas was a lotus-pool named Nandā, with three flights of steps with arches, filled with clear, cool water, abounding in varied lotuses, beautiful as the lotus-pool containing the Dadhimukha Mountains.

In the broad central part of the great caitya Siṃhaniṣadyā was a large jeweled platform. Above it, just as in a samavasaraṇa, was a dais made of various jewels. Over it was canopy of cloth of various colors, the effect of a mass of twilight-clouds at the wrong time. Inside the canopy and at its sides were diamond hooks; nevertheless, the beauty of the canopy was unchecked. Garlands that were like streams of nectar were hung on the hooks, made of pearls as large as a myrobalan,[3] to be measured by kumbhas. On the ends of the garlands were shining jeweled wreaths, like samples taken from the jewel-mines of the three worlds. On the ends of the jeweled wreaths were bright diamond wreaths embracing each other with arms of luster, like women-friends. In the walls of the caitya were round windows made of various jewels, with curtains, as it were, produced by masses of their own light. In the windows quantities of smoke from burning aloes gleamed, giving the impression of new sapphire peaks to the mountain (Aṣṭāpada). On the dais were shining jeweled statues of the twenty-four Arhats, beginning with Ṛṣabha Svāmin. The images, having the respective figures, size, and color, were like the Masters in person engaged in śaileṣīdhyāna. Sixteen of these were golden, two were lapis lazuli, two of crystal, two of cat’s eye, and two of ruby. The nails of all of these Arhat-statues were of aṅka[4] with insets of lohitākṣa.[5] The navel, scalp, tongue, palate, śrīvatsa, nipple, soles, and palms were gold. Eyelashes, pupils, beard, eyebrows, hair of the body, and hair of the head, were made of riṣṭa,[5] and the lips of coral. The teeth were of crystal, the skulls diamond, the noses gold with insets of lohitākṣa at the end. The eyes were made of aṅka with insets of lohitākṣa at the corners. The statues shone, made of various jewels as described.

Behind each of them was a statue of an umbrella-carrier, made of jewels, the proper size, carrying a white umbrella which had a handle made of crystal with a wreath of yellow amaranth, marked with a mass of pearl and coral. At the side of each of them were two statues of chauri-bearers, made of jewels, holding raised jeweled chauris. In front of each of the statues of the Blessed Ones were two statues each of Nāgas, Yakṣas, Bhūtas and pitcher-carriers. These, their hands folded together, made of jewels, their bodies dazzling, seated, looked like the Nāgas, etc., in person. On the dais twenty-four shining jeweled bells and mirrors of gems like contracted suns; immovable lights and golden baskets of jewels; handsome flower-baskets, round like a whirl-pool in a river; baskets of ornaments; heaps of woolen brushes; golden incense burners and vessels for waving lights; jeweled auspicious lamps and jeweled pitchers; large jeweled dishes and golden vessels; jeweled sandal-wood pitchers and jeweled lion-thrones; the eight auspicious tilings made of jewels; golden oil-boxes; golden incense-vessels and golden lotus-flowers were in front of the twenty-four holy Arhats.

Made of various jewels as described, very beautiful in the three worlds, beautified by a moonstone rampart as if by dharma embodied, with wonderful and varied patterns made with the wolf, ox, makara, horse, man, and Kinnara, bird, boy, antelope, śarabha, yak, and elephant, forest-creepers and lotus-tendrils; filled with jeweled pillars like a garden with many trees; beautiful with pennants that were like waves of the sky-Gaṅgā; having teeth, as it were, in the form of the tall golden flag-staffs; imitating the sound of a circle of Khecara-women’s tongues by the sounds—constantly pouring forth—of the small bells on the banners; shining on top with a ruby finial with great brilliance, like a finger-ring with a ruby; in some places it seemed to have shoots, in other places a coat of mail, in others hair erect from joy, and in others to be anointed by the sun’s rays; decorated with marks of gośīrṣa-sandal paste; apparently made of one stone because the stones were joined so closely; its ridge occupied by jeweled puppets beautiful with a variety of gestures, like the peak of Meru by Apsarases; on both sides of the doors marked with two pitchers anointed with sandal-paste like lotuses growing on dry ground; charming with fragrant wreaths suspended horizontally; with heaps of five-colored flowers made on the ground; inundated day and night by constant smoke from incense of camphor, aloe, and musk, like Mt. Kalinda by Kālindī; crowded with throngs of Apsarases, like Pālaka (Śakra’s car) descended from heaven; surrounded by Vidyādharīs, like a piece of Vaitāḍhya’s terrace; adorned in front, at the sides and at the back with beautiful caitya-trees and jeweled platforms like ornaments; like a jeweled head-ornament on the summit of Aṣṭāpada; very purifying as if in rivalry with the shrines of Nandīśvara, etc., the shrine was made properly by the carpenter-jewel, knowing the arts, simultaneously with the command of Bharata.

At the same place the Lord of Bharata had statues of his ninety-nine brothers made of divine precious stones. There also the King had made a statue of himself listening attentively. For he was insatiable in devotion. The Lord of Bharata had the Blessed One’s stūpa and those of his ninety-nine brothers made outside the shrine. With the idea, “Men must not cause damage here by coming and going,” the King had mechanical iron guardsmen made. Because of these mechanical iron guardsmen the place became as inaccessible to men as if it were outside the world. The Lord of Jewels cut off the projections on the mountain with the staff-jewel, and it, straight, became as impossible for men to climb as a pillar. The King made eight steps around it in the form of terraces impossible for men to cross and a yojana apart. From that time the mountain was called ‘Aṣṭāpada.’ Among the people it was known as ‘Harādri,’ ‘Kailāsa,’ and ‘Sphaṭikādri.’

Footnotes and references:


Śrīvalli (?). Quoted in MW as ‘Acacia concinna and a kind of jasmine.’ Neither seems appropriate here. But it is very usual for temporary pavilions for weddings, etc., to be erected with only a framework of wood covered with strings of flowers in which jasmine is abundant. Perhaps such a pavilion is meant,


Ṛṣabha and Vardhamāna (Mahāvīra) are the first and twenty-fourth Tīrthaṅkaras of the present era in Bharatakṣetra. Candrānana is one of the present era in Videhakṣetra (see Śāśvata-jinastavana) and Vāriṣeṇa the twenty-fourth of the present era in Airavatakṣetra (Pravac. 298, p. 81b).


Its fruit varies from about ½ in. to ¼ in. in diameter.


Some kind of white jewel. Cf. Uttar. 36. 76.


Some kind of red jewel. See Uttar. 36. 76, Jñāta. 15. P. 34.


Some kind of jewel, evidently dark.

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