Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes The killing of the lion which is the nineteenth 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 19: The killing of the lion

With this reflection, he then commanded Prajāpati through another messenger, “Protect the rice-fields from the lion.” Prajāpati summoned the princes and said: “Your bad behavior has resulted unexpectedly in guarding (the fields) from the lion. If the command is broken unexpectedly, then Hayagrīva acts like Yama. If his command is not broken, then the lion acts like Yama. In either case sudden death is present for us. Nevertheless, I go now to the guarding from the lion, sons.”

The princes said: “Aśvagrīva’s courage is known, by whom, like an animal, an animal (the lion) is considered terrifying. Stay here, father. We will go now and soon kill the lion. O man-lion, why should you go there yourself, lord?”

Prajāpati, depressed, said: “You are young boys, ignorant of what should and should not be done. One such act was committed by you while in my jurisdiction, behaving badly like a rogue-elephant, little princes. This result of that action has appeared at once. What will be the result of what you will do when you are far away?”

Then Tripṛṣṭha said: “What is this fear of the lion shown by him, foolish, like that of foolish kings? Now, father, do us a favor. Stay here. We will go and destroy the lion together with Aśvagrīva’s wishes.”

So, finally persuading the king, they went with small, superior retinues to the country inhabited by the lion. The princes saw the bones of many soldiers killed by the lion at the foot of a mountain, like a heap of his glory incarnate. They asked the rice-cultivators who had climbed tall trees, “How do the kings keep off the lion?” The cultivators replied: “O heroes, after the kings had made a disposition of forces, they made a blockade of the lion in a cave with armored elephants, horses, chariots, and soldiers, like a dam of a stream, like a moat of an elephant. The kings, feeling doubtful of their lives, guarded us against the lion with soldiers who were continually killed and torn to pieces.”

When they heard this speech of theirs, Bala and Keśava smiled, left their army there, and went to the lion’s cave. The lion awakened at once at the noise of their chariot resembling thunder, like a king at the noise of bards. Opening a little his eyes, which were like torches of Yama, shaking his lofty, massive mane, which was like Yama’s chauri, opening his mouth, which was like a door to hell, with a yawn, his neck contracted a little, the lion took a look. When he saw only two men with a retinue of only a chariot, he pretended to go to sleep from contempt.

“He has certainly been made arrogant by the kings guarding the rice-fields with complete armies, offering oblations with elephants, et cetera.”

So addressed by Acala, the man-lion went ahead a little and challenged the best of lions, like a wrestler challenging a wrestler. Hearing the bragging noise of Viṣṇu, the lion, his ears erect, was astonished, thinking, “This is some hero.” The lion came out of his cave with his ears firmly propped up on his head like posts in high ground, with eyes exceedingly red like terrifying torches, with a mouth, like an armory of Yama, filled with tusks and fangs, his tongue outside his mouth like a Takṣaka (Nāga) outside Pātāla, with tusks above his mouth like a festoon of Yama’s house, with a mane like the flames of a fire of anger burning within, with nails like hooks for drawing out the life from creatures, his tail twitching like a hungry serpent, his mouth open, frightful with roaring like the emotion of cruelty in person.

The lion struck the earth with his large, cruel tail, like Indra striking a mountain with his thunderbolt. At the sound of the beating with his tail, creatures disappeared on all sides like sea-animals in the ocean at the sound of a drum.

“Stop, sir! When I am present there is no occasion for you to fight,” with these words Tripṛṣṭha stopped Acala right there. Viṣṇu got out of the chariot, saying, “It is not in accordance with military ethics for me now in a chariot to fight with him as a foot-soldier.” Saying, “It is not fitting for me armed to fight with him unarmed,” Hari, possessing a wealth of heroism, threw away his weapons. “Come, come, sir, I am going to take away your itch for battle, lion,” Tripṛṣṭha, surpassing Purandara in strength, said. The lion, too, furious with a spasm of anger, uttered that same speech, as it were, in the guise of a mountain-echo. The young lion reflected: “Oh, that boy acts very impetuously, since he came without an army, since he got down from his chariot, threw away his weapons, and challenged me aloud, Like a silty frog that has jumped against a serpent, let him take the consequences of his boldness.”

With these reflections, the lion, holding his tail erect, having the appearance of a lion that has fallen from a Vidyādharas chariot in the sky, leaped at once. As he fell, Keśava caught his jaws in his hands, one in one hand, the other in the other hand, like the jaws of a serpent in a pair of pincers. Pulling one jaw in one direction, and the other in the other direction, Viṣṇu tore him apart, like tearing a piece of cloth, with a ripping sound. Just then a cry of “Hail! Hail!” filling the space between heaven and earth, was made repeatedly by the people like councillors, like bards. The Vidyādharas, gods, and demons who had assembled in the sky from curiosity rained flowers on him, like a wind from Malaya. The two parts of the lion’s body, which had been thrown on the ground instantly, quivered, consciousness being retained voluntarily from anger.

The lion, whose body had been subjected to another with great disgrace, though divided in two parts, quivering, thought: “I who, falling like a thunderbolt, was not conquered by powerful princes, surrounded by armed soldiers, and also armed themselves, have been killed, alas! by this boy alone, unarmed, with his soft hand. That is what grieves me, not merely being killed.” Knowing his thoughts as he rolled on the ground, like a serpent, with this anxiety, Viṣṇu’s charioteer spoke gently: “O lion, by whom rutting elephants were torn apart with ease, unsubdued by a hundred armies, why do you grieve so from pride? This one is surely the best of soldiers, Tripṛṣṭha by name, first of the Śārṅgins in Bharata, a child in age, but not in prestige. He is a lion among men; but you are one among animals. What shame is there to you killed by him? Rather there is reason for boasting of a fight with Him.”

Soothed by this speech of his which was like a rain of nectar, the lion died and was born as a hell-inhabitant in hell, having acquired that birth.

Acala’s younger brother, handing over the skin to the Vidyādharas who had come to know the news at Hayagrīva’s command, said: “Hand over this skin, which indicates the lion’s slaughter, to Ghoṭakakaṇṭha, the frightened animal. He, greedy for sweet food, must be delivered this message: Be free from anxiety. Eat rice at ease.’”

The Vidyādharadārakas assented; and Balabhadra and Tripṛṣṭha went to their own city. There the two brothers bowed at their father’s feet and Bala told him the entire story. King Prajāpati looked upon his sons as if reborn and was delighted by his son who had kept his promise. The Vidyādharas told Vājigrīva the story of Tripṛṣṭha in detail, which was like a clap of thunder.

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