Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Rivalry for Svayamprabha which is the twentieth 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 20: Rivalry for Svayamprabhā

Now there is a city Rathanūpuracakravāla, the ornament of the southern row on Mt. Vaitāḍhya. There lived a king of the Vidyādharas, Jvalanajaṭin, whose magnificence was unequaled, resembling a flame in brilliance. His chief-queen was named Vāyuvegā, the supreme abode of Prīti, slow in gait like a swan. By this queen a son, who was named Arkakīrti from the sight of a sun in a dream, was borne to the king. In time he had a daughter, also, named Svayamprabhā, because of the sight in a dream of a digit of the moon by whose own light the sky was made white. The king established Arkakīrti, when he was grown, as his heir-apparent, long-armed, Mt. Hima to the Gaṅgā of fame.

In due time Svayamprabhā attained youth, like a place in the forest the enchanting wealth of spring. With her moon-face she looked like the full moon incarnate and with the blackness of her abundant hair she looked like amāvāsyā[1] embodied. Her eyes which extended to her ears were like lotus ear-ornaments; her ears were like banks of the spreading pools of the eyes. With red petals in the form of hands, feet, and lips she looked like a creeper with blossoms; and she was beautiful with high breasts like pleasure-mountains of Śrī. Her navel looked like a whirlpool in the river of loveliness and her broad hips were like an Antarādvīpa.[2] Among the women of the gods, asuras, and Vidyādharas there was no duplicate of her—the treasury of the beauty of the body.

Then two flying ascetics, Abhinandana and Jagannandana, wandering through the air, came to that city. With great magnificence, like one who has obtained another incarnation of the goddess Śrī, Svayamprabhā went and paid homage to the excellent munis. After hearing their instruction, an elixir of nectar for the ears, she adopted right-belief firm as the color of indigo. In their presence she assented completely to lay-duties. For pure souls are not in the least negligent, knowingly. Then the excellent munis went elsewhere to wander.

One day she undertook a fast on a moon-day.[3] On the next day, wishing to break her fast, after she had worshipped, et cetera, the Lord Jina, she brought the statue’s bath-water[4] and handed it to her father. The Vidyādhara-king, at once tender from delight, put the bath-water on his head and Svayamprabhā on his lap. Seeing that she was grown, the king became anxious in the search for a husband for her, like a man in debt. After he had dismissed her with favor, the king summoned ministers, Suśruta and others, and asked them about a suitable husband.

First Suśruta spoke: “In the city Ratnapura there is a king, the son of Queen Nīlāñjanā arid Mayūragrīva. He, having many vidyās acquired, lord of three-part Bharata, Indra of the Vidyādharas, Aśvagrīva by name, is the best husband.”

The minister Bahuśruta said: “He is certainly not a suitable husband for the Lady Svayamprabhā because he is past his youth. In the north row there are many excellent Vidyādharas, strong-armed, possessing beauty, youth, and grace. After consideration you should give the gazelleeyed maiden to one of them, Your Majesty, if you desire a suitable marriage.”

Then the minister Sumati said to the king: “That was well said by that minister of yours, lord. On this mountain there is a city Prabhaṅkarā, the sole abode of many wonders, which has reached the first place in the necklace of the north row. Its king is named Meghavana, possessing the power of Maghavan, fruitful like a cloud at dawn. He has a wife, Meghamālinī, like a wreath of jasmine with the fragrance of good conduct. They have a son, Vidyutprabha, by whom all kings are surpassed, with unrivaled beauty like Kandarpa. They have a daughter, Jyotirmālā, like a daughter of the gods, with a wealth of immeasurable beauty and grace. Princess Svayamprabhā is suitable for Prince Vidyutprabha as lightning, by which the heavens are lighted, is suitable for a cloud. On the other hand, Jyotirmālā is suitable for Prince Arkakīrti. Let a festival of the two take place with an exchange of maidens.”

Then Śrutasāgara declared to the king: “This maiden of yours who has become a jewel, by whom is she, like Śrī, not sought? A svayaṃvara, which would make no distinction between all the Vidyādhara-princes seeking her, is the proper thing for her. Otherwise, you will have trouble with all the Vidyādharas, if you give the girl to any one of them. Why this, needlessly?”

After hearing the advice of all the ministers and dismissing them, he questioned also an astrologer, Sambhinnaśrotas, “Shall I give my daughter to Aśvagrīva or to another Vidyādhara as her husband, or should she hold a svayaṃvara?” The astrologer said: “I have heard from the monks what the Blessed Ṛṣabhadhvaja said when he was questioned by Bharata.[5] There will be twenty-three Arhats in this avasarpiṇī equal to me and eleven kings equal to you; nine Balas, nine Vāsudevas, lords of half of Bharata; nine opponents of them (Prativāsudevas).’ Of these the Hari Tripṛṣṭha, after killing Hayagrīva, will enjoy the three-part Bharata with the cities of the Vidyādharas. He will bestow on you the lordship of all the Vidyādharas. Bet the girl be given to him. There is no one else like him on earth.”

Delighted, the king rewarded the astrologer and dismissed him; and sent the courier Mārīci to King Prajāpati about the matter. The Vidyādhara went to King Prajāpati, bowed, introduced himself, and said respectfully: “The Vidvādhara-king, Jvalanajaṭin, has a daughter, Svayamprabhā, the choicest of all maidens. King Vahuijaṭin has remained devoted to thought about a suitable husband for her for a long time, like a poet with fastidious taste. Although advised by ministers, he has found no one. The king then asked an astrologer about a suitable husband. He was told by the astrologer Sambhinnaśrotas: ‘Your daughter, suitable, should be given to Tripṛṣṭha, son of Prajāpati. He, the first Vāsudeva, will enjoy half of Bharata and graciously bestow on you the overlordship of the two rows.’ Delighted by this speech of the astrologer, my lord sent me. O master, consent to receive her for Tripṛṣṭha.”

King Prajāpati, who was very intelligent, agreed with pleasure and dismissed him with suitable gifts.

From fear of Aśvagrīva, King Jvalanajaṭin went to Prajāpati’s city to give the girl in marriage. With his Vidyādhara-vassals, with his ministers, army, and transport, he remained at the edge of the city, like the ocean at the shore. With his ministers and retinue, Prajāpati himself went to meet him. For a guest is the senior of every one. The two great armies that were joined by the friendly meeting of the two (kings) looked like the streams of the Gaṅgā and Yamunā. Both mounted on elephants because of equal dignity, they embraced each other like Sāmānika-gods.[6] The day became at once a new-moon day from the meeting of these two kings like the sun and moon.[7] King Prajāpati handed over ground to the Vidyādhara-king, like the ocean to Maināka.[8] There the Vidyādharas made a beautiful city with various palaces, like a second Potana, by the power of a vidyā. Jvalanajaṭin dwelt in the city’s principal palace, which had divine festoons, like the sun on Meru. The others, the vassals, ministers, generals, et cetera, lived in suitable palaces like the gods in celestial palaces.

After taking leave of the King of Vidyādharas, King Prajāpati went to his own abode, like the ocean turned back from the shore. Then Prajāpati sent gifts—food, ointment, ornaments, et cetera—to the king of the Vidyādharas. For the wedding both of them had pavilions erected, jeweled, beautifully shaped, like the council-halls of Camara and Bali. In the houses of both there were auspicious songs with the beauty of the teaching of the art made by elderly women of good family.

Glistening with fragrant sandal-ointment like a statue of sapphire, Tripṛṣṭha mounted a fine elephant and, surrounded by princely friends who had become attendants, went from his house to the house of Jvalanajaṭin. The younger brother of Bala stopped beneath the festoon on the front of the house, like the sun in the east, waiting for the collection of offerings.[9] Auspicious songs being sung by highborn women, Hari broke the fire-cup and went with his best man to the shrine.[10] Then Hari saw Svayamprabhā like Śaśiprabhā incarnate, dressed in a white fringed garment, delighting the eye. Then they both sat down on one auspicious seat, Svayamprabhā and Tripṛṣṭha, like Citrā[11] and the Moon. When the auspicious moment had been indicated by the sound of a gong, the priest joined their lotus-hands like two hemispheres. They both made a conjunction of the pupils of their eyes which resembled the sprinkling of the newly-appeared tree of affection. Svayamprabhā and Tripṛṣṭha united in that way like a creeper and a tree, went to the room with the fire-pit. With fuel from the pippal, et cetera, the Brahmans lighted the fire accompanied by the burning of the oblation on the altar. They circumambulated the altar-fire with auspicious blazing of the flame, the Brahmans reciting mantras from the Vedas.

After marrying Princess Svayamprabhā in this way, Bala’s younger brother mounted an elephant with her and started to his house. Hari went to his house, making Aryaman’s horses prick up their ears by the resounding echoes and the very loud sounds of musical instruments.

Hayagrīva learned of the occurrence through a spy. Already angered by the story of the lion, he became exceedingly angry. He thought, “Though I am here, Jvalanajaṭin gave the woman-jewel to another. Verily, every jewel belongs to the ocean. Let a messenger go to the giver and the receiver and ask for the girl. For in statecraft a messenger goes first.” After these reflections, he enjoined secrecy and sent a different messenger to the city Potanapura. The messenger went as quickly as a Samīraṇakumāra, entered the house of Jvalanajaṭin and said:

“I say this to you by the command of Hayagrīva, ruler of the southern half of Bharata, like the Indra of half of the world. Sir, there is a jewel of a maiden, named Svayamprabhā, in your house. Go and give her to the master. A jewel in Bharata belongs to no one else. Aśvagrīva is your master and your family’s master. Therefore, let your daughter be his. Indeed, a head does not shine without eyes. Why do you, angering Aśvagrīva, who has already been injured, by not giving your daughter, lose melted gold by (continued) blowing (with the blow-pipe)?”[12]

Jvalanajaṭin replied to this speech by the messenger: “The girl was given to Tripṛṣṭha and was received in marriage immediately, surely. There is no such thing as ownership of an article that has been given to some one else, much less of a high-born maiden. Let him consider that himself.”

So answered by Agnijaṭin, the messenger went to Tripṛṣṭha with evil in his heart. For he was the authorized agent of his lord. He said to Tripṛṣṭha:

“Aśvagrīva, the conqueror of the world, the Indra of the world, commands you by my voice: ‘This girl, suitable for us, has been taken by you from ignorance, like the fruit of a tree in the royal garden by a traveler by mistake. I am your lord and your relatives’ lord. You have been protëcted by me for a long time. Therefore, give up the girl. The command of the master is authority for servants.’”

Then Tripṛṣṭha, his forehead terrible with a monstrous frown, brilliant with red eyes and cheeks, said to him: “Your lord promulgates law in this way, as if he were the chief of the people. Alas for his family dignity! I think all the high-born maidens in his own territory have been destroyed by him. Does milk survive in the presence of a kitten? Pray, whence and how does he have lordship over us? His lordship elsewhere also will soon be fleeting. If he has had enough of life as well as eating rice, let him come here himself to take Svayamprabhā. You are not to be killed because you are a messenger. Go! Do not stay now! I shall certainly kill him, Hayagrīva, if he comes here.”

So answered by Viṣṇu, the messenger went quickly, as if struck by a goad, and told everything to King Aśvagrīva. When he heard that, Hayagrīva, his eyes inflamed, his hair and beard twitching, biting his lip with his teeth, his body trembling, his forehead dreadful with a terrifying frown, thus instructed the best of his Vidyādharas with contempt and anger:

“Oh, fate has surely given feeble wit to Agnijaṭin, who would be in my presence like a chameleon compared with the sun.[13] What kind of nobility has one who, ignoring me, married his daughter to the son of the husband of his own daughter?[14] Now Jvalanajaṭin, one fool eager to die; Prajāpati, a second; the son of his half-sister, another; and still another, the brother-in-law of his father,[15] shameless from their relationship, seek a fight with me, like jackals seeking a quarrel.[16] Go! Scatter them, like winds scattering clouds, like tigers scattering deer, like lions scattering elephants.”

Footnotes and references:


See I, n. 59.


See II, p. 119.


See I, 11. 270.


Śesā. But only the water in which an idol has been bathed, of all the offerings, may be accepted by reputable persons.


See I, pp. 347 ff.


See II, p. 125.


I.e., the sun and moon ‘dwell together’ on the night of the new moon.


A mountain between India and Laṅkā. When Indra clipped the wings of the mountains, Maināka took refuge in the ocean. Mai trāyaṇī Saṃhitā 1.10.13.


See I, n. 187. The ‘arghamaṇḍala’ is described by Muni Śrī Jayantavijayaji as follows: When the bridegroom waits at the door of the father-in-law, the mother-in-law goes to welcome him with a dish full of offerings. She marks his forehead with vermilion and applies rice to it and showers rice and flowers on him. She welcomes him by showing him a plough, a pestle, a churn, and a spindle, all in miniature. A small earthen cup with live charcoal in it is covered with another earthen cup and set on the floor. The bridegroom tramples on it and enters the father-in-law’s house.


Mātṛgṛha. See I, n. 183 and pp. 141-147. Anuvara is to be read here.


One of the nakṣatras, ‘asterisms.’ Mātṛgṛha. See I, n. 183 and pp. 141-147. Anuvara is to be read here.


According to a goldsmith, gold is quickly melted by a blowpipe and, if the heat is continued too long, the quantity of gold is diminished. See Appendix I.


The point is in the abhimukha and another name for the kṛkalāsa, i.e., pratisūrya. Abhi. 4. 365.


Tripṛṣṭha’s mother was his half-sister.


Acala, the full brother of Mṛgāvatī.


See Appendix I.

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