Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Visit to Suri Arindama which is the sixth part of chapter I of the English translation of the Ajitanatha-caritra, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. Ajitanatha in jainism is the second Tirthankara (Jina) and one of the 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.

Part 6: Visit to Sūri Arindama

As the King was reflecting thus, Śrī Arindama Sūri, like a wishing-gem itself, came to the garden. When the King heard the news of his arrival, he felt as joyful as if he had drunk a draught of nectar. Joyfully, the King set out to pay homage to him, covering the sky with clouds, as it were, by umbrellas of peacock-feathers. Touched by two chauris, which were like sidelong glances falling from the goddess Lakṣmī on both sides; blockading all the heavens with golden-armored horses, like birds with golden wings, swift, their snorting suppressed; bending the surface of the earth with the weight of large elephants which were like living peaks of the Añjana Mountains;[1] himself surrounded on all sides with devotion by his vassals who resembled possessors of mind-reading knowledge because of their knowledge of their master’s mind; his arrival announced from afar by the sounds of auspicious drums pouring forth in the sky as if in rivalry with the uproar of the bards; attended on all sides by thousands of courtesans mounted on elephants, pools of water of the emotion of love; seated on an elephant, the King arrived at the garden, the abode of much shade, resembling Nandana.

The elephant of kings dismounted from the elephant’s shoulder and entered the garden, like a lion a mountain-cave. From afar the King saw there the great muni, Ācārya Arindama, like a grove of the trees of dharma, rejoicing in the supreme spirit, who was like adamantine armor impenetrable to the arrows of love, a physician for the disease of love, vexatious to the enemy hate, a new cloud for the fire of anger, a great elephant for the tree of conceit, a Garuḍa for the serpent of deceit, a thunderbolt for the mountain of greed, a sun for the darkness of delusion, a friction-stick for kindling the fire of penance, possessing a wealth of forbearance, a canal of water for the seed of enlightenment. He saw monks there, too, some in the utkaṭikā-posture, (see notes on postures) some in padma-posture, others in godohikā-, vīra-, vajra-, bhadra-, daṇḍa-, valgulikā-, krauñca-, haṃsa-, paryaṅka-, uṣṭra-, tārkṣya-, kapālī-karaṇa-, āmrakubja-, svastika-, daṇḍapadma-, and sopāśraya-posture, some engaged in kāyotsarga, and some in ukṣa-posture, indifferent to the body, who had carried out their vows in the midst of numerous attacks, like soldiers in battles, victorious over internal enemies, enduring trials, powerful from penance and meditation.

The King, with devotion sprouted in the guise of horripilation, as it were, approached Ācārya Arindama and paid homage to him. The best of sūris, his mouth-cloth[2] placed on his mouth, gave him the blessing ‘Dharmalābha,’ the mother of all good fortune. The King contracted his body like a tortoise from reverence "and, avoiding the avagraha-space,[3] sat down with hands joined in suppliant manner. The King listened with close attention to a sermon from the Ācārya, like Purandara to one from a Tīrthaṅkara. The King’s disgust with existence was increased by that sermon, like the whiteness of the moon by autumn. After he had paid homage to the Ācārya, his hands joined in suppliant manner, the King said in a voice full of reverence:

“People, even though experiencing the fruit, which has the form of endless pain, of the poison-tree of saṃsāra, do not attain disgust with the world at all. What caused your own disgust with the world? For it must have been from some particular condition as a cause.”

The moon of ācāryas, making white the surface of the sky by the moonlight of the rays of his teeth, graciously replied:

“Everything in worldly existence is a cause for disgust with the world on the part of the wise, hut there is a different occasion for disgust with the world in each case. I, formerly a householder, set out on an expedition of universal conquest, accompanied by the horse-, elephant-, chariot-, and infantry-branches of the army. Half way on the road, as f went along, I saw an exceedingly beautiful garden, charming with continuous, dense shade, like the rest-house of Śrī wearied by wandering in the world; dancing, as it were, with hands of the waving shoots of the aśoka; laughing, as it were, with the multitudes of blossom-clusters of the smiling jasmine; horripilated, as it were, with the rising heaps of kadamba-blossoms; being observed, as it were, by the eyes of the blooming ketakī; warding off the burning rays of the sun, though attacking from afar, by the raised arms, as it were, of the sāl and palm trees; with resting-places offered[4] for the sake of travelers, as it were, by the banyan trees; with water for the feet prepared, as it were, by canals here and there; with a cloud chained, as it were, by large water-wheels; summoning travelers, as it were, by the sounds of humming bees; provided with darkness, as it were, by tamāla trees, palm, date, and sandal trees inside it, because of fear of the sun’s rays; extending the sole umbrella of the world for the Śrī of fragrance by the mango, campaka, punnāga, nāgakesara, and kesara trees; making without effort a pleasure-pavilion for young travelers, by the continuous arbors of betel vines, lavalī-creepers, and grape vines, as if Bhadraśāla had come from the foot of Mt. Meru

After I had spent a long time in the expedition of conquest, on my return I came again with the army to the garden. With my retinue I got out of the conveyance from curiosity, entered it, and saw that it was very different from what it was before. I thought, ‘Have I come to the wrong place by mistake, or has this been transformed? Such is magic.’ Where there were leaves and vines warding off the advance of the sun’s rays, (now) there is leaflessness, the sole umbrella against heat. Where there was beauty of young women resting in bowers, now there is harshness of sleeping pythons. Where there were sweet sounds of peacocks, cuckoos, etc., now there is the confusion of the harsh sounds of a multitude of ravens moving to and fro. Where there was an abundance of green bark hanging down from limbs of trees, now there are snakes swinging from the ends of dry branches. Where the sky was made fragrant by the perfume of flowers, now there is a disagreeable odor from kites, doves, crows, etc. Where the earth was moist from trickles of juice from flowers, now there is dust hot as sand in a blazing fire-pit. Where there were trees bent with the burden of fruit, now tin? trees have fallen, devoured by ants at their roots. Where compounds were beautiful, enclosed by numerous vines, now these are dreadful with large snake-skins cast off by snakes. Where there were beautiful heaps of flowers under the trees, now there are immense thorns of the sthalaśṛṅgāta[5] which has grown up.

I considered, ‘Just as this garden has become changed now, so all creatures in saṃsāra (become changed). Such is the condition of saṃsāra. The very one who is proud of his own beauty becomes a skeleton, consumed by terrible disease. The very one who is eloquent with clever speech in course of time suddenly becomes very tongue-tied with a stumbling tongue. The very one who walks like a high-bred horse with the power to move gracefully becomes lame, his walk broken by wind, etc. The one who is like Hastimalla[6] with a powerful hand becomes maimed, his hand powerless from disease, etc. The one who is like a vulture with the power to see far becomes blind, unable to see right in front of him. People’s bodies, too, alas! are beautiful and ugly within a moment, capable and incapable within a moment, seen and not seen within a moment.’

As I was reflecting thus, disgust with saṃsāra became elevated to the highest pitch, as if I were whispering a powerful charm. Then I took the vow, which is fire for the fuel of karma, the wishing-gem of nirvāṇa, in the presence of munis.”

The King, who possessed discernment and devotion, bowed again to the best of ācāryas, Arindama, and said: “These honored feet, indifferent to all things, free from self-interest, wander over this earth because of the merit of just such persons as me. People fall into this terrible sarhsāra because of worldly pleasures, like a cow falling into a hidden well covered with grass on its edges. Therefore, the Blessed One here, full of compassion, delivers a sermon like a proclamation, day after day, to protect living creatures. Neither wealth, nor wives, nor sons, nor relatives are of value in this worldly existence without value; but the words of a preceptor are of value. For me, enough of wealth which is as uncertain as a streak of lightning. Enough of sense-objects which are sweet for the moment, resembling poison. Enough of wives, children, friends, etc., companions of this world. Give me initiation, a boat for crossing the ocean of existence. Favor me. Until I return, after establishing the prince on his throne, this place must he adorned by you, honored sir, devoted to compassion.”

The Ācārya replied with an encouraging speech: “This desire of yours, O King, who have lofty desires, is very good, very good! O King, you have known the truth before from the mental impressions of former births. The sermon was only the occasion, like support given to a strong man. When mendicancy is adopted by persons like you, it bears fruit up to a Tīrthaṅkara’s glory. A cow surely gives different milk according to its keeper. We shall remain in this same place, desiring to grant your wish. We wander only for the benefit of souls capable of emancipation.”

Footnotes and references:


See Chap. III.


A mouth-cloth is part of the equipment of every monk. It is supposed to be held over the mouth during speech.


The distance—the length of the body—within which one should not sit before a god or guru. PH, sub uggaha.


The text here, dattagupyadgurum, is perhaps corrupt, but the MSS. give no help. I think the meaning surely is that the banyan trees offer resting-places and I have so translated, but I can do nothing with the text.


The Tribulus Lanuginosus, whose fruit is armed with 3 spines. Dutt, p. 125.


Indra’s elephant.

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