Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes The battle which is the twenty-first 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.

Then all the Vidyādharas, their arms itching for battle, were delighted at the master’s command, like thirsty people by water. Strong-armed, each one making a vow to fight, splitting the sky, as it were, by noise made by slaps on their arms, saying, “I hope no one else, either friend or foe, gets ahead of me from eagerness to fight,” hurrying past each other, beating their horses with whips; urging elephants with the yatas;[1] driving oxen with goads; striking camels with sticks; making sharp swords dance; banging shields frequently; fastening on quivers; making bow-strings resound; whirling hammers; shaking large clubs; brandishing tridents, and taking iron bludgeons, the soldiers of Aśvagrīva rushed to the attack, some through the air and some by the ground from eagerness, and arrived at Potanapura.

Hearing their confused murmur from afar, Jvalanajaṭin said to Prajāpati who was bewildered and asked, “What is this?” “These soldiers come here, certainly sent by Hayagrīva. Let them come. You see my eagerness. Do not let Tripṛṣṭha, do not let Acala fight with them ahead of me.” Ardently he made preparations and set out for battle. The soldiers of Aśvagrīva attacked him simultaneously with anger. For anger is especially severe with one’s friends when they have become enemies. Jvalanajaṭin without exception struck down their weapons with weapons, just as one refutes general rules by exceptions. He attacked them all with showers of sharp arrows, like an unexpected cloud attacking elephants with showers of hail. Jvalanajaṭin took away their insolence which had existed for a long time from the power of their vidyās and the power of their arms, like a snake-charmer that of serpents.

Agnijaṭin said to them: “Go away, quickly! Go, villains! Who will kill you, miserable creatures who have come here without your lord. Come to Mt. Rathāvarta with your lord Hayagrīva. We too shall meet there soon.” Addressed by him in this contemptuous way, the soldiers of Hayagrīva disappeared quickly like a flight of crows, saving their lives, terrified. With faces as gloomy from great shame as if smeared with lamp-black, they went and reported that to Mayūragrīva’s son. At once the son of Nīāñjanā [Nīlāñjanā?], possessing imperishable strength of arm, was inflamed by their words like a fire by an oblation. With his eyes red and wide open from anger, terrifying as a Rakṣas, he commanded his vassals, ministers, generals, et cetera:

“Ho! All of you assemble quickly with your entire forces. Ṇow let our army advance like the ocean with high waves. I shall soon kill Prajāpati, Tripṛṣṭha, Acala, and Agnijaṭin in a battle, like smoke killing mosquitoes.”

The chief-minister, the abode of the group of intellectual qualities,[2] said to Aśvakandhara who was excited and had spoken angrily: “In the past the master conquered three-part Bharata with ease. That took place for fame and fortune and you became at the head of the powerful. Ṇow, what fame, what fortune, will our lord gain, eager himself for the conquest of one vassal? No powerful person should be proud of the conquest of an inferior. What is there to boast of in the killing of a deer by a lion who tears asunder elephants? If you should by chance be defeated by an inferior, all the heap of glory gained before would disappear at once. The course of battle is varied. There is great occasion for fear that the speech of the astrologer is true because of its proof from the killing of the lion and the attack on Caṇḍavega. In this case it is fitting for the lord to observe the policy of encamping from among the six kinds of policy. For even a great elephant, running without ascertaining (the road), mires in the mud. Moreover, the boy,[3] acting rashly, will jump up quickly some place like a śarabha[4] and perish and you, though encamped, will derive the benefit. But if you cannot endure such a thing, then give orders to your army to fight, O king. Who can withstand your army?”

The king scorned this truthful and suitable advice. How can men have ‘any common sense in anger, as in drinking wine? Insulting the minister with the words, “You are a coward,” he, angry, had the marching-drum sounded at once by his servants. All the soldiers came with all their forces immediately at the sound of the drum even from a distance, just as if they had been at his side. Hayagrīva went to the bath-house and bathed with water from pitchers, like a swan with high spotless waves of the Gaṅgā. His body dried with fine cloth and perfumed with divine perfumes, his body made white with gośīrṣa-sandal taken from Nandana, wearing a fringed white garment, carrying a knife, wearing a tilaka made by the priest, he, the tilaka of kings, being praised by the bards, with a white umbrella and chauris mounted a great elephant, whose ichor wet the surface of the ground.

Hayagrīva set out, attended by irresistible elephants, horses, and chariots, shaking even the mountains. As he went along, the handle of his umbrella, shaken by a cruel wind that rose suddenly, was broken like a tree. Like a flower from a tree, like a star from the sky, the umbrella fell from Hayagrīva’s head. Then the elephant’s ichor

dried up at once; the pools were like pools in the month of Jyaiṣṭha, and the mud like that in autumn. Then the elephant made water, as if terrified of death, and gave a harsh cry, and did not hold his head erect. A rain of dust, a rain of blood, the sight of a constellation by day, the fall of a meteor, a flash of lightning—these portents took place. The dogs lifted up their faces and howled miserably; hares appeared, and kites wheeled in the sky. Ravens croaked and vultures spread out overhead, and a dove perched on the banner.[5] There were such unfavorable omens.

Aśvagrīva paid no attention to the bad portents and unfavorable omens, but was unhindered from starting out,[6] as if drawn by Yama’s noose. He was surrounded by Vidyādharas whose fortitude was gone, and by princes who were not eager for battle, like slaves who had been brought by force, even though they were free. In a few marches he arrived with a complete army at Mt. Rathāvarta by which the turning of chariots is made. At Aśvagrīva’s command the Vidyādhara-forces camped on the ground at the foot of that mountain resembling Mt. Vijayāḍhya.[7]

Now in Potanapura, the best of Vidyādharas, Jvalanajaṭin, said to Balabhadra and Bala’s younger brother:

“There is no rival whatever to you in natural power. Timid from affection—for affection produces fear even in unsuitable places—I say this. Hayagrīva with head erect (udgrīva) is arrogant from his vidyās, powerful, fiery, victorious in many battles. By whom is he not to be feared? Without vidyās you are not inferior to Hayagrīva. Nevertheless, I greatly wish for you to be able to kill him. You must make some effort here for acquiring vidyās in order that magic weapons created by his vidyās will be useless.” They agreed.

Jvalanajaṭin, delighted, taught vidyās to them, dressed in white, concentrated in meditation. Recalling the first syllables of the mantras, the two brothers passed seven nights, their minds devoted to one thing. On the seventh day, the lord of serpents (Śeṣa) having trembled, the vidyās approached Bala and Upendra absorbed in meditation. The vidyās Gāruḍī, Rohiṇī, Bhuvanakṣobhaṇī, Kṛpāṇastambhanī, Sthāmaśumbhanī, Vyomacāriṇī, Tamisrakāriṇī, Siṃhatrāsinī, Vairimohinī, Vegābhigāminī, Divyakāminī, Randhravāsinī, Kṛśānuvarṣiṇī, Nāgavāsinī, Vāriśoṣiṇī, Dharitrīvāriṇī, Cakramāraṇī, Bandhamocanī, Vimuktakuntalā, Nānārūpiṇī, Lohaśṛṅkhalā, Kālarākṣasikā, Channadaśadiś, Tīkṣṇaśūlinī, Candramauli, Vijayamaṅgalā, Ṛkṣamālinī, Siddhatāḍanikā, Piṅganetrā, Vacanapeśalā, Dhvanitāhiphaṇā, Ghoraghoṣiṇī, Bhīrubhīṣiṇī, and others said, “We are in your power.” Both completed meditation, though the vidyās had been won. Everything is attracted spontaneously by merit. What should not belong to the noble?

Then Tripṛṣṭha and his elder brother set out in style on an auspicious day with extensive forces and with Prajāpati, Jvalanajaṭin, et cetera. With tall horses going to and fro swift as eagles; with chariots, abodes of Śrīs of victory, going towards the enemy; with elephants lively from ichor, surpassing the elephants of the gods; with superior infantry leaping like tigers; completely covering the sky and earth with sky-travelers (Vidyādharas) and earth-travelers (humans); urged on by favorable omens as well as by his own people; splitting the sky by the noise of musical instruments increased by neighings and trumpetings: shaking the earth by the weight of a multitude of soldiers; Hari, the turning of whose chariot grinds the earth, arrived at Mt. Rathāvarta which was very much like a stone boundary-pillar of his own country.

The battle-drums of both armies were sounding as if to summon gods with the idea, “There should be judges of the battle.” The armies of Tripṛṣṭha and Hayakaṇṭha, who were very eager for battle like lords of the gods and demons, flew at each other. The loud tumult of the armored soldiers, as well as the dust of the earth crushed by the horses and army, invested the heavens. The heavens had a terrifying appearance, like a great forest, from the lions, śarabhas, tigers, elephants, and monkeys placed on the army-banners. Like relatives of Nārada,[8] eager for the sport of strife, bands of sworn comrades came together, skilled in arousing the enthusiasm of the soldiers. Then fighting was commenced by the vanguards of the two armies which made the sky appear to have birds in flight from the multitude of arrows. A great fire arose from the weapons of the vanguards of the two armies in battle, like a forest-fire from the rubbing together of the top branches of trees in a forest. In the van of the battle of the soldiers occupied with weapon against weapon, possessing unmeasured strength, there was angry conflict like that of sea-monsters in the ocean. Aśvagrīva’s vanguard was turned back by Tripṛṣṭha’s vanguard, like the water of a river by the waves of the ocean. The followers of Vājigrīva, the best of Vidyādharas, were enraged instantly by the crushing of the vanguard like the tip of the finger. They became vampires, eager for battle, cruel-armed; just like demons who had received the minister’s seal from Yama; ghouls with monstrous huge teeth and broad chests, dark and terrifying, like peaks of the Añjana Mountains; lions by whom the earth was split by blows with ploughs in the form of tails, with nails doing the work of scimitars; śarabhas with (four) feet on top like mountains with high peaks, by whom elephants are tossed up as easily as a bunch of straw by an elephant’s trunk; varālakas[9] beating the ground with their tails and grinding trees with their tusks, terrible from their form of a lion and elephant; others became beasts of prey, panthers, tigers, bulls, serpents, bears, et cetera, like Rākṣases that had become animals. Making terrifying noises, as if summoning Death, they quickly attacked Tripṛṣṭha’s army. Gloomy-faced, their eagerness broken in a moment, all the soldiers of Prajāpati thought:

“Have we mistaken the road here to a city of ghosts? Have we come to an abode of Rākṣasas, or have we come to the Vindhya-plateau? Have these cruel demons and animals come from their homes to fight with us at Aśvagala’s command? I think destruction caused by a girl is at hand for us. If Tripṛṣṭha himself should be victorious, our courage would last.”

While they, absorbed in such thoughts, their wits distracted, were turning back, Vahnijaṭin said to Tripṛṣṭha: “This is magic of the Vidyādharas. It is nothing real, I know. For the serpent, no one else, knows the track of the serpent.[10] His lack of power has been made known by themselves, slow of wit, in this way. Who, if he is powerful, creates something to terrify a child, as it were? So, arise, hero. Get into your chariot. Make the enemy descend from the high peak of conceit. With you in your chariot with your hand raised and with the sun in the sky with its lofty rays, whose splendor, pray, will spread?”

At this speech of Vahnijaṭin, Tripṛṣṭha, first of charioteers, got into his great chariot, encouraging his own army. Long-armed Rāma also got into his battle-chariot. At no time does he leave his younger brother alone. How much less in battle! The Vidyādharas, Jvalanajaṭin and others, mounted their chariots like lions a mountain-plateau. Then drawn by merit, the gods gave Tripṛṣṭha a divine bow named Śārṅga, a club Kaumodakī, a conch Pāñcajanya, and a jewel named Kaustubha, a sword Nandaka, and a garland Vanamālā. They gave Balabhadra a plough named Saṃvartaka, a pestle named Saumanda, and a club named Candrikā.

When they had seen these, all the other heroes, united, fought with their whole souls, like sons of Antaka. Tripṛṣṭha made the jewel of a conch, Pāñcajanya, by which the sky was filled with noise, play the prologue of the play which was taking place. Hayakandhara’s soldiers trembled at its noise which was like the thunder of the Puṣkaravārtaka clouds at the end of the world. Of some the weapons fell like leaves from trees; others fell to the ground themselves, as if they had epilepsy. Some disappeared quickly like timid jackals; some shut their eyes and cowered like hares. Some entered caves, like owls; some shrieked like conches out of water. When he heard of this collapse of his army, as unheard of as the drying up of the ocean, Hayagrīva said to his men:

“O wretched Vidyādharas, where are you going, terrified just at the sound of a conch, like deer, et cetera, in a forest at the bellow of a bull? What power of Tripṛṣṭha or Acala have you seen that you are terrified like cattle at the sight of a scarecrow? The glory that was gained by victory in various battles you have destroyed. A drop of collyrium is sufficient to destroy the beauty of á clean white cloth. Go back! Verily, this stumbling of yours has come by fate. What inhabitants of the earth are superior to you who are inhabitants of the sky? Or rather, do not fight. Be only witnesses. I, Hayagrīva, certainly am not asking for assistance in battle.”

Addressed in these terms by Hayakaṇṭha, their heads bowed, overcome by shame, the Vidyādharas turned back like the ocean that has beaten against a mountain. Then Hayagrīva, unconfused, set out in his chariot, like another cruel planet with the sky for a vehicle, to devour his enemies. Like a curious missile-cloud, he rained arrows, stones, darts and other missiles on Tripṛṣṭha’s army. Tripṛṣṭha’s army was worn out by this rain of missiles. What could earth-dwellers, even though resolute, do against sky-dwellers? Immediately Rāma, Tripṛṣṭha, and Jvalanajaṭin flew up in the air in their chariots with their own Vidyādharas. The Vidyādharas on both sides fought hard in the sky, showing each other the power of their vidyās, as if demonstrating to preceptors. The earth-people of the two armies also fought together, angry, like elephants with elephants in a forest. There was an unprecedented rain of blood, like a portent of calamity, from the Vidyādharas beating each other violently with weapons.

Some began fighting, staff against staff, like a show with single-sticks,[11] the sky resounding with the noise of their blows on each other. Some, cruel-armed, beat their opponents with their sword-handles like drums with drumsticks. Some, meeting each other, unable to endure the victory of another, shook their large shields like cymbals. Others threw their spears which parted the sky like hair, making the sound of lightning like lightning-douds. Some rained darts like cruel snakes; others arrows with gleaming feathers like garuḍas. Then the sky as well as the earth seemed to be made from various weapons by the weapons made to rise and fall in this way by the two armies. Some were seen with their enemies’ heads, which they had just cut off, held in their hands, like extraordinary field-guardians on the battle-field. Others looked like Gaṇeśas with elephant-faces; others like Kinnaras with faces of horses which had just fallen on headless bodies. Some looked as if faces had sprung from the navel because of their own heads just cut off which had fallen on their girdles and remained for a moment. The headless bodies of some powerful ones danced as if from joy produced by the svayaṃvara of some goddess. The fallen heads of some gave forth a humming sound, as if earnestly reciting charms for the purpose of ascending their trunks.

When the battle had gone on like this, terrible as the end of the world, Tripṛṣṭha directed his chariot against the chariot of Aśvakandhara. Rāma, the best of charioteers, urged forward his horses and went near Tripṛṣṭha’s chariot, drawn by the cord of affection. Hayagrīva, looking at them with eyes red from anger and starting out (of his head) as if he were thirsty, said to them:

“By which one of you was Caṇḍavega attacked, villains? Which of you is insolent because of killing the lion on the western border? Which of you married Svayamprabhā, the daughter of Jvalanajaṭin, who fully resembles a poison-maiden,[12] for his own slaughter? Which one, simple-minded, does not consider me his lord? Which of you has taken a leap against me, like a monkey against the sun? Why has the destruction of the soldiers been disregarded for so long? Ṇow, relying on what, have you approached me? Answer, boys! and fight in turn or together with me, like young elephants with a lion.”

Then the younger brother of Acala said with a smile: “I, Tripṛṣṭha, made the attack on your messenger. I slew the lion on the western border and I married Svayamprabhā. I do not consider you my lord and I have disregarded you for a long time. This is my elder brother, Bala by name, a Balasūdana (Indra) in strength, who has no rivals in the three worlds. What are you? If ‘Enough of slaughtering soldiers’ is also your opinion, take your weapon, great-armed one. You are the battle-guest of me alone. Let us have a duel. Let the desire of the arm be satisfied. Let the soldiers of us both remain as witnesses.”

Hayagrīva and the younger brother of Bala agreed on these terms and had the soldiers stopped from battle by the mace-bearer.

Footnotes and references:


Voice, foot, and goad. See I, p. 99.


There are 8 of these. See App. 1.




The belief is that śarabhas leap up at clouds under the delusion that they are elephants and so perish.


The dove is the messenger of Nirṛti or Yama (divinities of death). Crooke, p. 373. For Vedic references see Macdonell-Keith.


Also, ‘from death.’


Another name for Vaitāḍhya. See K. p. 223. Used here, of course, for its meaning, ‘rich in victory.’


Nārada, in addition to his many accomplishments, is considered a fomentor of strife. Cf. the Marāṭhī, ‘Muni Nārada, the starter of quarrels.’ Mainwaring, 1077.


I have not found this word elsewhere, but one of the Jain temples in Baroda is adorned with numerous figures of such an animal.


Cf. the Gujarati: coranāṃ pagalāṃ cor oḷakhe: ‘a thief knows the footprint of a thief.’


A very frequent feature of Indian entertainments.


For a detailed discussion of ‘The Poison-Damsel in India,’ see Penzer, Kathāsaritsāgara II, pp. 281 ff.

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