Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes The initiation-ceremony which is the ninth part of chapter III 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.

At the end of the year’s giving, Śakra’s throne shook, and he knew by clairvoyant knowledge that it was time for the Lord’s initiation. Hari went with the gods, the Sāmānikas, etc., to make the departure-festival at the time of the Blessed One’s initiation. Making the sky appear to have moving pavilions with the aerial cars, and to have mountains rising up with his tall fine elephants; reaching the sky with horses, like the ocean with waves; touching the chariot of the sun with chariots with unstumbling gait; making tilakas on the sky with flags carrying wreaths of bells and imitating the ear-flaps of the sky-elephants; being serenaded by some gods in a charming way in the gāndhāra-scale;[1] being praised by some with new poems; being instructed by some who had the borders of their garments placed over their mouths; being reminded by some of the ancient stories about the Tīrthakṛts, Divaspati went in a moment from heaven to the city Vinītā, considering it exceedingly purified by the Master’s feet.

The other Indras of the gods and asuras went likewise, knowing by the shaking of their thrones that it was time for the Lord’s initiation.

Then the Indras of the gods, Acyuta and others, and the Indras of men, Sagara and others, made in turn the initiation-bath of the Lord. Śakra rubbed his body which was wet with the bath-water with a devadūṣya-cloth, like a chief-jeweler rubbing a jewel. Vajrapāṇi rubbed the Teacher of the World with shining ointments with his own hand, like an appointed perfumer. Vāsava, having a wealth of knowledge derived from memory, at once put spotless garments of devadūṣya-cloth on the Lord of the World. Hari had the Lord take a crown, ear-rings, necklace, armlets, bracelets, and other ornaments.

His hair supplied with divine wreaths of flowers; shining with a tilaka like a third eye in his forehead; auspiciousness being introduced by songs by women of the gods, asuras, and mortals in a sweet manner with various languages; being praised by the gods, asuras, and kings like bards; with a wealth of incense made by Vyantaras carrying golden incense-jars; adorned with a large white umbrella with yellow barleria, like Mt. Hima with a pool on its peak; fanned by gods with beautiful chauris on both sides; supported by Biḍaujas like a respectful door-keeper; followed by King Sagara, confused by joy and sorrow, like a favorable wind, shedding tears; purifying completely the earth by his feet resembling the mallow, the Lord got into the palanquin, Suprabhā, which required a thousand men to carry it.

The palanquin, giving[2] the impression of a car of a planet in the sky, was lifted in front by men and Vidyādharas; and in the rear by gods. The Master’s palanquin, carried by them, advancing with an unstumbling gait in the sky, looked like a boat on the ocean. The Lord of the World seated on it on a lion-throne was fanned by both the Indras of Saudharma and Īśāna. The Lord of the World set out by the center road of Vinītā, eager to take initiation, like a bridegroom the hand of the bride. The bearers of the palanquin looked like moving wishing-trees, as they advanced, their ear-omaments dangling, their necklaces shaking, the edges of their garments fluttering.

The citizens—some, though their wives were always stumbling; some, though their necklaces were breaking by striking against their chests; some, though their upper garments were slipping from their shoulders; others, though their doors and courtyards were left empty; some, even though guests announced from a foreign country had arrived; others, though the birth-festival of a son had just started; others, though an auspicious time for marriage was present just then; and others, though the paraphernalia for a bath had been brought; some, who had taken the sip of water,[3] though the meal was half eaten; others, though their anointing, which had been undertaken at the right time, was half applied; others, though their ornaments, ear-rings, etc., were only half put on; others, though the news of the Master’s departure-festival was only half heard; some, the wreath of flowers being only half tied in the braid of hair; others, the tilaka being half made on the forehead; some, their household-orders only half spoken; others, the daily ceremonies only half performed—going on foot, though conveyances were near at hand, purified by devotion, came to see the Master.

Now in front, now behind, now at both sides of the Lord of the World the citizens stood, like young elephants around an elephant. Some climbed on top of shops, some on cottages, some on palace-roofs, and others on the tops of platforms; some scaled the copings of walls, some climbed to the tops of trees, and others to the backs of tall elephants from a desire to see the Master. The townswomen, delighted, waved the ends of their garments with the appearance of chauris—some of them; others threw parched rice on the ground like seed of dharma. Some lifted up the seven-branched fire-vessel like a fire; others set full dishes like (heaped-up) glory before the Lord. Some placed full pitchers like depositories of blessings; others waved cloths like twilight-clouds in the sky. Some sang auspicious songs, and some danced, and others laughed charmingly.

The sky was covered by devoted Vidyādharas, gods, and asuras, moving to and fro like flocks of Garuḍas. Numerous troops of actors belonging to the sixty-four Indras performed plays before the Master, considering themselves fortunate. Bands of musicians belonging to the Biḍaujases gave concerts, exerting themselves and being delighted at the same time. Here and there actors, followers of Sagara, gave plays with various roles in rivalry with the gods. The royal women-musicians, the ornament of Ayodhyā, gave shows capturing the gaze of every eye. Then the space between heaven and earth was filled with the loud noise of the tumult of the plays and concerts given by gods and mortals. The ground was covered with gravel from the broken and crushed necklaces of the numerous kings, vassals, and rich men advancing. The highways were muddy with mada of the best rutting elephants, divine and earthly. The three worlds looked like one world with one over-lordship from all the gods, asuras, and men who had come together in the presence of the Master.

The Lord of the World, exceedingly courteous because of the courtesy of the people, accepted blessings at every step, though indifferent. The Teacher of the World favored gods and men coming there together with a glance equally gracious. Thus a great festival being celebrated by gods and asuras, the Lord went gradually to the garden named Sahasrāmravaṇa. The Blessed One, Lord Ajita, entered the garden hedged in on all sides by ketakī-trees close together, with spaces difficult to penetrate for the swarms of bees intoxicated by the fragrance of flowers; with the space between trees and creepers cleaned by the town-boys, wishing to play, like slaves of rich men; the strong pregnancy-whim of its trees, the kurubaka, aśoka, bakula, etc., being fulfilled often by the townswomen fond of sport;[4] the sweet water of its channels being sipped eagerly by Vidyādharakumāras like travelers who had halted; a home being often made for sport in its lofty trees by Khecara-couples like pairs of birds; its ground sandy all over from the arka and kuśa with ankle-deep pollen like divine powdered camphor and musk; the water-basin at the root of the rājādana, orange, and citron trees being filled with milk by the gardeners; with large garlands of flowers commenced by flower-girls competing with each other in the twining of various wreaths; with people lying, sitting, and eating on adequate plantain leaves[5] from inclination, though there were divine couches, seats, and utensils; its ground kissed by numerous trees whose whole tops were hanging down and bent by the weight of their abundant fruit; with cuckoos intoxicated by eating mango-shoots; filled with noise by parrots excited by eating pomegranates; and with unbroken shade from the dense trees like rain-clouds.

Then the Teacher of the World descended from the jewel of a palanquin to cross existence himself, like a charioteer from a chariot to cross a river. After that, he took off his jewels, ornaments, etc., wishing to put on the three jewels[6] which are won with difficulty even by the gods. The Lord of the World received a spotless devadūṣya-cloth brought by Śakra together with equipment to indicate dharma.[7] Observing a, two days’ fast, on the ninth day of the bright half of Māgha, when the moon was in conjunction with the constellation Rohiṇī, under a saptacchada tree in the evening Ajita Svāmin himself plucked out his hair entirely in five handfuls, as well as love, etc.[8] The Lord of Saudharma received it in the end of his upper garment like an attendant receiving a magnificent object given from favor. Sahasrākṣa himself threw the Master’s hair in the Ocean of Milk, like a sea-faring merchant a pūjā. Returning quickly, Hari restrained the tumult of gods, asuras, and men by a gesture of his hand, as if remembering a charm for silence.

After he had made the namaskāra to the siddhas,[9] pronouncing the sāmāyika,[10] the Lord ascended right-conduct, a great chariot on the road to emancipation. Just then the Lord’s fourth knowledge, mind-reading knowledge (manaḥparyaya),[11] came into existence like a twin-brother of initiation. Then there was a moment of happiness even for hell-inhabitants, and in the three worlds there was a light like a flash of lightning. One thousand kings took initiation after the Lord. For that is suitable for those who have vowed to follow the Master.

After they had circumambulated and bowed to the Lord of the World, the Indras, Acyuta and others, began a hymn of praise as follows:


“Just as formerly you attained disgust with existence by regard for severe discipline, so in this birth its suitability came from birth. Just as disgust with existence is not conspicuous among causes of pain, so it is among the causes of bliss for you skilled in means of obtaining emancipation. Just as yon have sharpened the weapon of disgust with existence on the whet-stone of discernment, so it manifestly has made a sharp attack on emancipation. When the Śrī of gods and kings, which is called ‘pleasure,’ is enjoyed by you, O Lord, even then you have disgust with existence. Always disgusted with existence, when you attain union with the objects of love, thinking ‘Enough of these,’ then you have strong disgust with existence. When you are master of indifference to pleasure, pain, existence, emancipation, then there is certainly disgust with existence. When are you not disgusted with existence? Others are devoted to disgust with existence filled with pain, filled with delusion, but in you disgust with existence filled with knowledge has become the only object on which your thoughts are fixed. Homage to you, constantly bestowing benefits even in indifference, devoted to disgust with existence, protector, supreme spirit.”

After this hymn of praise to the Teacher of the World and after they had paid homage, the masters of the gods (Indras) and the gods went to the continent Nandīśvara. There śakra, etc., made an eight-day festival like the birth-festival, to the eternal images of the Arhats on the mountains, Añjana and other mountains. Saying, “When shall we see the Lord again?” the lords of the gods and the gods went to their respective abodes.


King Sagara bowed to the Supreme Lord, his hands folded in submission, and in a choking voice began a hymn of praise:

“O Blessed One, Ajita Svāmin, be victorious, Teacher of the World, sun for the blooming of a multitude of lotuses in the three worlds. O Lord, you are adorned with four kinds of unlimited knowledge—sense-, scripture-, clairvoyant-, and mind-reading knowledge, like the earth with four large oceans.[12] You are able to uproot karma easily, and these followers of yours will show the path to the people. O Blessed One, you are another soul of all creatures, I think. How can you strive for their peerless bliss, otherwise? Abandoning the passions like dirt, immersed in the water of compassion, you alone have a purified soul, free from stain, like a lotus-leaf. Even while you were king, for you devoted to the law there was no friend and no foe. This impartiality of yours now is suitable. What is to be said? I surmise, O Blessed One, that your bestowal of gifts for a year was indeed a prelude to the excellent play of the gift of fearlessness to the three worlds. Those districts, villages, cities, and towns through which you wander like the wind from Malaya, favoring them, are fortunate.”

After he had praised the Master thus, the King bowed with devotion and went slowly, slowly to his own city, his eyes wet with tears.

Footnotes and references:


See I, n. 79. 6


See below, this chapter.


Ācamana is a little cold water sipped after eating and rinsing the hands and mouth.


I.e., they lacked or kissed these trees, which made them blossom.


These leaves are very large and are still used for plates.


See I, pp. 201 ff.


A sādhu’s paraphernalia. See I, pp. 201 ff.


Hate and delusion.


See I, n. 71.


See I, n. 329.


See I, pp. 166, 201 ff.


I.e., the one ocean considered as four oceans in the four directions.

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