Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Sermon on the four gatis: animal-births which is the twelfth part of chapter IV of the English translation of the Padmaprabha-caritra, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. Padmaprabha in jainism is one of the 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.

Part 12: Sermon on the four gatis: animal-births

Even when they have reached the animal condition of existence, and have attained the stage of one-sensed creatures, etc., and in it have acquired the form of earth-bodies, they are divided by implements such as plows; they are crushed by horses, elephants, etc.; they are submerged by streams of water; and are burned by forest-fires. They are pained also by water—salt-water, rice-water, etc., and when they have become salt, they are boiled in hot water. They are cooked by potters, etc., who have turned them into bricks for pots, etc.; and they are piled up in walls when they have reached the form of mud. Some are ground by grindstones by persons after they have heated them with layers of saline soil;[1] some are split by chisels and burst by mountain-streams.

On the other hand, when they are water-bodies, they are burned by the sun’s rays, congealed by frost, dried up by mud. They destroy each other from contact in sweet juices, and placed in a vessel, they are cooked thoroughly and drunk by the thirsty.

When they have become fire-bodies, they are extinguished by water, etc.; they are cut to pieces by hammers, etc.; and made to blaze by fuel, etc.

When they become air-bodies, they are beaten by fans, etc., and perish every moment from contact with objects, hot, cold, etc. All the winds, east, etc., injure each other; they are pained by the breath from the mouth, etc.; and are drunk by snakes, etc.

When they become plant-bodies of ten kinds,[2] bulb, etc., they are cut, split, and cooked by fire. They are dried up, crushed, and singed by rubbing each other; they are burned by caustics, and fastened together by consumers. In all conditions they are eaten; they are divided by storms; they are reduced to ashes by fires; and uprooted by floods of water. All plant-lives experience constantly a series of torments from all implements, as they have become food for everyone.

In the two-sensed state, the pūtara,[3] etc. are burned and drunk; insects are crushed by feet and devoured by sparrows, etc. Conchs, etc. are dug up and dragged from their water-home; worms, etc. are made to fall from the stomach by medicine, etc.

Even when the three-sensed state has been reached, lice, bugs, etc. are crushed by the body and burned by hot water. Ants are bruised by feet and brooms; the kunthu,[4] etc. unseen, are destroyed by seats, etc.

The bee, black bee, etc. with four senses are injured by honey-eaters by blows with sticks, clods, etc. Gnats, mosquitoes, etc. are soon beaten with fans, etc.; flies and spiders are devoured by house-lizards, etc.

The water-creatures with five senses devour each other eagerly; they are caught by fishermen and swallowed by cranes, etc. They are opened by persons skinning them, and are roasted on spits. They are cooked by people wishing to eat them and melted by people seeking grease.

Born among land-creatures, the weak, the deer, etc. are killed by the stronger, such as the lion, that desire their flesh. Innocent animals are killed by men, whose minds are devoted to hunting for sport and from desire for meat, by various means. They endure pain from hunger, thirst, cold, heat, imposition of excessive burdens, etc., and from blows with horse-whips, elephant-goads and ox-goads.

Birds, partridges, parrots, doves, sparrows, etc. are devoured by hawks, falcons, vultures, etc., greedy for their flesh. They are killed by hunters eager for their flesh, after they have caught them by a multitude of devices and by assuming various forms. How can animals’ universal fear, arising from water, fire, weapons, etc., originating in bondage to their respective karmas, be described?

Footnotes and references:


I.e., smelting.


The 10 kinds of vanaspati are: (1) mūla, root; (2) kanda, bulb; (3) skandha, trunk; (4) tvac, bark; (5) śākhā, branch; (6) pravāla, sprout; (7) patra, leaf; (8) puṣpa, flower; (9) phala, fruit; (10) bīja, seed. Sth. 773; Lokaprakāśa (Dravya) 5. 106 ff.


A small water-creature. PH s.v.; Haim. VIII. 1. 170.


A very small insect, frequently used as a synonym of invisibility.

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