by Helen M. Johnson | 1931 | 742,503 words
This page describes Visit to Ashtapada which is the seventh part of chapter V 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.
When they saw the mountain having a continuous festival; made of crystal; with great pools, like a depository of nectar of the gods; looking as if it had put on a dark upper garment because of the thick green trees; having large wings, as it were, from the clouds on both sides; marked, as it were, by floating banners in the form of cascades; the pleasure-house of Vidyādharas, like a new Vaitāḍhya, singing, as it were, with the low sounds of the happy peacocks, etc.; presided over by Khecarīs, like a shrine with sandal-wood figures; like a tiara of the earth made of jewels; constantly visited by flying ascetics with the desire to worship the shrine, like Nandīśvaradvīpa, they asked the ministers, Subuddhi and others:
“What mountain is this, resembling one of the heavenly pleasure-mountains of the Vaimānikas which has descended to earth? By whom was this wonderful, lofty shrine made, resembling the eternal temple on Mt. Himavat?” Then the ministers said, “Formerly Lord Ṛṣabha, the founder of your family and of the congregation, lived in this Bharata. His son Bharata, the eldest of ninety-nine brothers, was the ruler of six-part Bharatakṣetra. This was the pleasure-mountain, the abode of many wonders, named Aṣṭāpada, of the Cakrin, like Sumeru of Vajrin. The Blessed Ṛṣabha Svāmin attained emancipation here on the mountain together with ten thousand sādhus. Immediately after Ṛṣabha Svāmin’s nirvāṇa, Lord Bharata erected here the shrine, named Siṃhaniṣadyā, out of precious stones.
With extreme devotion he erected here according to rule the statue of Ṛṣabha Svāmin and the statues of the twenty-three future Arhats, made of flawless precious stones, each one having its proper size, shape, color, and cognizance. He had these statues dedicated by flying-ascetics, and he erected burial mounds and statues of his brothers, Bāhuhali and others. While Vṛṣabha Svāmin was staying here, he declared to him (Bharata) the future Tīrthakṛts, Cakrins, Keśavas, Pratikeśavas, and Rāmas. Bharata made around it (the mountain) eight steps that have become stairs because of which it was called ‘Aṣṭāpada.’”
Saying with manifest joy, “This belonged to our ancestors,” the princes ascended the mountain with their retinues. They entered the shrine Siṃhaniṣadyā and bowed to the first Jineśvara from afar at the first sight of him. They bowed with equal devotion to the statue of Ajita Svāmin and to the statues of the other Arhats. For they were truly devoted at heart. Then the princes bathed the images of the holy Arhats at once with pure fragrant water drawn by a charm, as it were. Some brought pitchers with water, some handed them over, some emptied them, and some received the empty ones. Some recited the bathing-precept, some took chauris, and others took up golden incense-burners. Others threw the choicest incense in the incense-bumers, and some played musical instruments, conches, etc., aloud.
Then Mt. Aṣṭāpada soon had double cascades from the falling fragrant water of the bath. Like jewelers, they dried the jeweled images with downy, soft new cloths resembling devadūṣya-cloth. They anointed them with gośīrṣa-sandal, excelling maid-servants (in skill), voluntarily and zealously, full of devotion. They adorned the statues with variegated wreaths of flowers, divine jeweled ornaments and beautiful garments. They designed the eight auspicious things out of unbroken rice on boards in front of the statues of the Masters resembling the moon in beauty. Then they made the light-waving ceremony with divine camphor-unguent, and after they had worshipped, they set down the light-vessel resembling the sun.
After they have eulogized them with the Śakrastava, their hands folded submissively, they praised the Jinendras, Ṛṣabha Svāmin and the others:
“O Blessed Ones, equal to boats for crossing the boundless, terrible ocean of existence, you who have become the cause of nirvāṇa, purify us. Homage always to you, having the role of carpenters for the erection of the palace of the doctrine of Syādvāda by the modes of expressing things and means of acquiring knowledge. Homage to you refreshing the garden of the whole world very much by the streams of speech extending for a yojana. By the sight of you the greatest fruit of life up to the fifth division (of time) has been attained by us and all living things. Homage to you giving happiness to hell-inhabitants by the kalyāṇas of conception, birth, mendicancy, omniscience, and emancipation. May your impartiality, like that of the clouds, winds, moons, and suns, be for our prosperity. The birds here on Aṣṭāpada, who see yon every day without any obstacle, are indeed blessed. Now our life has good conduct as its object and our power has its purpose accomplished for a long time since we have seen and worshipped you.”
Footnotes and references:
Here is an inconsistency that I have not been able to solve. In 1. 6. 633-36 (I, p. 370) the mountain is made so that it can not be ascended. The steps, that are called ‘stairs’ here, were a yojana apart. Muni Jayantavijayaji suggests that in the long period of time that had elapsed, the mountain might have changed and become ascendible.
See I, n. 4.
Nayapramāṇa. See above, p. 101.
They were living in the fourth division. Ṛṣabha was born in the third division; all the other Tīrthaṅkaras in the fourth.
See I, n. 147.