Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Building of the samavasarana which is the thirteenth 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.

Part 13: Building of the samavasaraṇa


For the space of a yojana the Vāyukumāra-gods removed gravel, etc., since they are the superintendents in this matter. The Meghakumāra-gods showered perfumed rain resembling an autumn-rain, just enough to lay the dust, in this space. The gods paved the surface of the ground very attractively, like the interior of a shrine, with gold and jeweled slabs. The Śrīs of the seasons, like winds of the dawn, rained blooming five-colored flowers knee-deep. After they had made a jeweled dais in the center, the Bhavanapatis made around it a low wall[2] of silver with a coping of gold. The Jyotiṣkas made a second wall of gold with a coping of jewels like their own brilliance condensed. The Vaimānika-gods made the upper wall of jewels with a coping of rubies.

In each wall there were four beautiful doors, just as in the wall around Jambūdvīpa, abodes for the relaxation of the mind. At every door there were ornamental arches with leaves of emerald resembling beautiful rows of parrots flying in the sky. On the two sides of the arches were set pitchers with lotuses in their mouths like cakravākas on the two sides of a river at evening. At every door there was a tank full of golden lotuses like an auspicious pitcher[3] filled with clear, sweet water. At each door golden incense-jars were placed by the gods, increasing the size of the emerald arches, as it were, by the smoke from the incense.[4] Inside the middle wall in the northeast direction the gods made a dais for the Master’s rest. In the ground inside the third wall the Vyantaras set a caitya-tree, one gavyūti and fourteen hundred bows high.[5] Then the Vyantara-gods made a lion-throne, a dais,[6] two chauris, and three shining umbrellas. In this manner the samavasaraṇa was made by the gods, the sole refuge for one frightened by existence, the destroyer of all calamities.

Then attended on all sides by the gods to the number of a crore crying “Hail! Hail!” like bards, the Lord of the World, setting his lotus-feet in turn on nine golden lotuses moved forward by the gods, entered the east door and circumambulated the caitya-tree. For a prescribed ceremony must not be disregarded even by the great. After he had paid homage to the congregation with the speech “Homage to the congregation,” the Lord seated himself on the lion-throne, facing the east. At once the Vyantaras created images of the Master in the other directions. For they are superintendents of the remaining tasks. These copies of the Master’s form were (made) by his power. For they themselves (the Vyantaras) are not able to make such images of the Master. Behind him a halo, in front of him a dharmacakra and śakradhvaja,[7] and the sound of the drum in the sky appeared at once.

The monks, nuns, and the Vaimānika-women entered by the east door, circumambulated the Lord of the Three Worlds three times and bowed to him. The monks sat down in the southeast quarter, and the Vaimānika-women and nuns stood behind them. The Bhavaneśa-, Jyotiṣka-, and Vyantara-women came by the south door, circumambulated the Lord, and stood in succession in the southwest. The Bhavaneśas, Jyotiṣkas, and Vyantaras came by the west door, bowed to the Lord together with cir-cumambulation, and sat in succession in the northwest. The Vaimānikas[8] with the Indras entered by the north door, bowed to the Lord with circumambulation, and sat down in succession in the northwest.

Śakra bowed again to the Lord, his hands folded submissively, the hair on his body erect from devotion, and began a hymn of praise as follows:


“O Lord, you delight the people, kind to all, because of friendliness to all arising from Tīrthakṛtnāmakarma.[9] Animals, men, and gods by the crore with their retinues are accommodated in the preaching-hall which is a yojana in size. Your speech, bestowing enlightenment in regard to dharma, though in only one form, is delightful by transformation into each of their dialects. In more than one hundred yojanas[10] clouds of disease that have risen formerly are quickly dispersed by the wind-waves of your wandering. Plagues of the seasons—mice, grasshoppers, parrots—disappear from the earth at once like injustice dismissed by the king. The fire of enmity arising on account of women, fields, villages, etc., becomes extinct on the surface of the earth as if from rain of the Puṣkarāvarta-clouds[11] of your compassion. Pestilences, the enemies of the world, do not exist while your power is wandering on earth, a drum for the destruction of misfortune, O Lord. While you, alone devoted to all, are raining love on the people, there can be neither an excess of rain nor a drought, causing distress. Cruel attacks from one’s own country and from another country disappear quickly because of your power, like elephants at the roar of a lion. Famine is destroyed while you, endowed with all miraculous powers, a living kalpa-tree, wander on earth. A great light, surpassing the sun, is collected at the back of your head, as if with the idea ‘May it be easy to see his body.’[12]

To whom does not the power of the sovereignty of Yoga, known to all, arising from the destruction of karma, cause amazement! No one but you roots up completely by the roots the grass of karma, though accumulated through endless time, though endless. You have employed such a method with repetition of action that even without desire you have attained the highest glory of the undertaking. Reverence to you, a pure vessel of friendship, possessing the fragrance of joy, to be venerated because of your compassion and indifference, whose soul is Yoga.”

Footnotes and references:


For a detailed description of a samavasaraṇa, see the Samavasaraṇastavana, IA 40, pp. 125 ff., 153 ff.


This is the outer wall. One would expect it to be made last. Cf. I, pp. 190 ff.


Probably referring to the pitcher of the 8 auspicious things. See I, n. 153.


For the comparison of smoke with an emerald, cf. I, n. 213.


Gavyūti can mean either 1 kos or 2 kos. Hem. himself, Abhi. 3. 551, gives 2000 bows as equal to 1 gavyūta (°ti) or 1 kos. This is the usual Jain mensuration. But it is also used as equivalent to 2 kos. Hem. so uses it in Abhi. 1. 60. According to the Samavasaraṇastavana, IA 40, p. 130, the caitya-tree should be 12 times the height of the Arhat. Ajita was 450 bows tall, so 5400 bows was the correct height for the caitya-tree.


I.e., the lion-throne was on the dais, and the dais itself was on a platform not mentioned here. Cf. I, pp. 190 ff.


I.e., an indradhvaja. See I, n. 154.


This makes only 10 groups—men and women being omitted. They belong with the Vaimānikas. All accounts do not agree on which ones sat and which stood. Cf. IA, ref. in n. 193.


See I, App. II.


The extent of immunity is 123 yojanas, according to Abhi. 1. 60.


See I, n. 211.


These are the 11 supernatural powers arising from the destruction of karma. See I, n. 11.

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