Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Story of Ashvagriva which is the seventeenth part of chapter I of the English translation of the Shreyamsanatha-caritra, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. Shreyamsanatha in jainism is one of the 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.

Part 17: Story of Aśvagrīva

Now in the city Ratnapura, there was a Prativiṣṇu, Aśvagrīva, sou of Mayūragrīva, borne by Nīlañjanā. He was eighty bows tall, with the color of a new cloud,[1] with a life of eighty-four lacs of years, long-armed. The itch of his arms was not satisfied by beatings of his enemies, like that of a lion by rending the boss of an elephant. He, very powerful, long-armed, eager for a great war, was satisfied neither by enemies submissive nor by them fighting. His strength, constantly causing a flood of tears to flow from lotus eyes, was like a weapon sacred to Varuṇa[2] among his enemies’ wives. His cakra, by which the circle of directions had been subdued, appeared in his hand like a second sun that had become a portent to enemies. Thinking, “May he, being in our heart, not kill us, considering us hostile,” kings did not feel a lack of devotion even in their minds. All the kings did not put him at all out of their own hearts, like yogis the supreme spirit.

By his strength he subdued the three parts of Bharatakṣetra with Mt. Vaitāḍhya made into a stone boundary-pillar. The chief of the Vidyādharas, he conquered the two rows of the (cities of the) Vidyādharas, which were like arms of Mt. Vaitāḍhya, by means of vidyās and strength. He was worshipped with gifts by the lords of Māgadha, Prabhāsa, and Varadāman, and by gods as well as kings. His powerful command was constantly borne on their heads like crowns by sixteen thousand crowned kings. Enjoying his sovereignty of one umbrella, long-armed, he passed much time like Indra on earth.

One day, as King Aśvagrīva was sporting at will, this thought came into his heart unexpectedly, like an ill-omened cloud into the sky:

“Whatever kings there are in the southern half of Bharata are submerged in my power, like mountains in the ocean. Who among kings will be my slayer, since I am the sole powerful man on earth, like a lion among deer? This is hard to know, yet I will know it.”

Reflecting thus, he had the astrologer Aśvabindu summoned at once by the door-keeper. Asked by the king for his opinion, the astrologer said: “Heaven forbid! May this inauspicious speech be averted. For not even Yama causes the death of you who are the conqueror of the whole world. What wretch among mortals, certainly inferior (to Yama), will do so?”

Hayagrīva said: “Sir, leave aside polite talk and tell me the truth. Do not he afraid. For reliable persons are not flatterers.” Questioned so persistently by the king, the best of astrologers considered the horoscope, et cetera, and declared perspicuously, “He who will attack your messenger, Caṇḍavega, and who will kill the lion living on the western border, he will be your slayer also.” Depressed by that speech, like one away from home by thunder, the king dismissed him like a hostile messenger, after showing him hypocritical honor.

The king had rice planted in the country that had been depopulated by a young lion, in order to find out the slayer of the lion. The king ordered, the sixteen thousand kings to guard the rice-sowers in turn. The kings went in turn, armed, and protected the rice-cultivators from the lion, like herdsmen protecting fields from cows. Then the king summoned the assembly with dissimulation and said to his councillors—ministers, generals, vassals, et cetera,

“Now is there any long-armed sou of kings, generals, et cetera, who has unequalled strength?” They replied: “Your Majesty, who is brilliant in the presence of the sun? Who is powerful compared with the wind? Who is swift compared with Garuḍa? What is venerable compared with Meru? What is deep compared with the ocean? Who, indeed, is powerful compared with you by whose power the powerful have been subdued?”

The king said: “This is flattering talk, gentlemen, but not true. For there are stronger than the strong. This earth, indeed, has many jewels.”

Then a certain minister among them, Cārulocana, spoke like Vācaspati in language whose meaning was clear, “There are two sons of King Prajāpati who resemble gods, who look on all mortal heroes as straw.”

Footnotes and references:


I.e., dark.


Because of his connection with water.

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