Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This is the English translation of the Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Charita (literally “The lives of the sixty-three illustrious People”), a Sanskrit epic poem written by Hemachandra in the twelfth century. The work relates the history and legends of important figures in the Jain faith. These 63 persons include: the twenty four tirthankaras , the t...

Notes on Āsana (postures)

I give the explanations of these postures (āsana) according to Yogaśāstra 4. 125 ff. Some of his definitions differ widely from those of Patañjali’s school (Yogasūtra, II. 46).

1) utkaṭikā, squatting with heels on the ground with heels and buttocks touching. Yogaśāstra 4. 132.

2) padma, ‘in which there is pressing together in the middle part of shin by shin.’ Yogaśāstra 4. 129. Just what posture Hem. has in mind is not clear. Padmāsana (as well as paryaṅka) is usually used for the posture of the Tīrthaṅkara-idols, but that is not adequately described in these terms. See 4) and 11) below. Perhaps here he has in mind a much easier posture, in which one shin is merely laid on top of the other, without the feet touching the thighs.

3) godohikā, the same as utkaṭikā, but with the heels raised from the ground; so named from the position in milking a cow Yogaśāstra 4. 132.

4) vīra, the left foot on top of right thigh and right foot on top of left thigh; the hands the same as in paryaṇka (see 11). In his commentary to Yogaśāstra 4. 126, Hem. says, “This is suitable for heroes, Tīrthakaras, etc., not for inferior persons. Some call this ‘padmāsana.’ If one foot only is placed on the thigh, it is ardhapadmāsana.” The description of ‘left foot on right thigh, and right foot on left thigh’ is an accurate description of the posture of the Jina-idols. See the frontispiece to I. In Yogaśāstra 4. 128, Hem. says that others call it ‘vīrāsana’ when the position is that of one sitting on a lion-throne (but without any actual seat) with the feet on the ground. This interpretation of vīrāsana is illustrated in Ardha-Māgadhī Koṣa, Vol. II, p. 104. In his com. to this verse, Hem. remarks that the followers of Patañjali call it vīrāsana when one foot of a man standing is placed on the ground and the other is placed on top of the contracted knee. Hem. uses the expression ‘ūrdhvasthitasya’ which would indicate that the ‘sthitasya’ in Patañjali should be translated ‘standing’ rather than ‘settled down’ (Woods).

5) vajrāsana, has the same position as vīrāsana, but with the arms crossed on the back in the shape of a thunderbolt and holding the big toes. (This seems a very difficult position.) “Some call this vetalāsana.” Yogaśāstra 4. 127. Bālarāma in his gloss to Patañjali gives this position of the arms for padmāsana, but that is certainly unusual.

6) bhadra, the soles of the feet are put together in a hollow in front of the scrotum, and the hands in tortoise-position over them. In the tortoise-position of the hands (pāṇikacchapikā) the fingers of the hands are interlaced (Muni Jayantavijaya).

7) daṇḍa, seated with big toes and ankles pressed together and thighs pressed on ground, the person stretches out his legs. Yogaśāstra 4. 131. In Ardha-Māgadhī Koṣa II, p. 104, daṇḍāsana is illustrated with the figure stretched out full length.

8) valgulikā, the ‘bat’-posture, hanging head downwards, apparently. Usually called śīrṣāsana (Muni Jayantavijaya).

9) krauñca and 10) haṃsa, the shape of the sitting curlew and the haṃsa. Yogaśāstra 4. 133 com.

11) paryaṅka, Hem.’s description of this posture (Yogaśāstra 4. 125) also presents difficulties. He says that the lower part of the shin is placed above the foot, and that the hands are placed, palms up, near the navel, with the right on top of the left. He adds in the commentary that this is the position of the eternal images (of Arhats) and of Mahāvīra at the time of his nirvāṇa. But in fact this verbal description does not fit the posture of the idols, but does describe the ordinary sitting posture with crossed feet, as does also the description of padmāsana, 2), so far as it goes. I have not obtained any explanation for this apparent contradiction on Hemacandra’s part. Abhayadeva in his com. (p. 302a) to Sthānāṅgasūtra 400, p. 300b, says that paryaṅkāsana and padmāsana are synonymous in conventional use and are the posture of the Jinas. In the Yogaśāstra, vīrāsana is the term that really describes that posture.

12) uṣṭra and 13) tārkṣya are postures in the shape of the sitting camel and eagle.

14) kapālīkaraṇa, the head is put on the ground and the feet raised.

15) āmrakubja, the shape of a mango.

16) svastika, the right foot is contracted and put between the left thigh and shin, and vice versa.

17) daṇḍapadma, the same as kapālīkaraṇa with the addition (very difficult!) of the shins being in padmāsana.

18) sopāśraya, ‘from union with a yogapaṭṭaka’ (Hem.). In his gloss to Patañjali, II. 46, Bālarāma says that ‘yogapaṭṭaka’ is a kind of wooden support for the arms of a yogi engaged in meditation, known by the name of caugāna (misprinted (?) in Woods as ‘changan’).

19) kāyotsarga, standing or sitting with arms hanging down, with indifference to the body.

20) ukṣa, like a sitting bull. Nos. 12-19 are defined in Yogaśāstra 4. 133 and com.

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