Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Duel between Triprishtha and Hayagriva which is the twenty-second 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 22: Duel between Tripṛṣṭha and Hayagrīva

Placing one hand on the middle of the bow and the other on the side of the notched end, Hayagrīva strung his bow which was terrifying like Yama’s brow. With his hand Mayūragrīva’s son made the bowstring resound like the string of a lute in a concert for the amusement of the Śrī of battle. Śārṅgapāṇi (Tripṛṣṭha) also strung his bow at once, indicating the destruction of enemies, like a matsya which has appeared at night.[1] Viṣṇu made a noise with the bow that was as terrible as the noise of a thunderbolt, a charm for the summoning of death, destroying the strength of enemies. Hayakandhara drew an arrow from the quiver, like a serpent from a cave, fitted it to the bow, and drew it back to his ear. He discharged the terrible arrow, blazing with light, that was like a leer from Death, like a flame of the fire at the end of the world. Keśava, whose power was unbroken, cut it as it fell, with an arrow discharged at once, like cutting a lotus-tendril. The younger brother of Acala split Hayagrīva’s bow with a second arrow like the first in speed. Again and again, whatever bow Hayagrīva took up, Tripṛṣṭha cut down, as well as his Wish, with arrows.

With one arrow Hari cut down Pratihari’s banner and with another overthrew the chariot from afar like a piece of a castor-bean plant. Hayagrīva, angered, got into another chariot and came from a distance raining arrows, like a cloud showers of rain. Neither the chariot, nor the charioteer, nor Tripṛṣṭha, nor anything else, was visible in the air darkened by Hayagrīva’s arrows. Tripṛṣṭha drove back the shower of arrow with showers of arrows, like the blessed sun dispelling darkness with a mass of rays. Then Hayagrīva, enraged, the first of the powerful, strong as a rock, long-armed, raised up an arrow that was like a sister of lightning, like a companion of the thunderbolt, like the mother of death, like the tongue of the serpent-king, hard as rock. He made it whirl around his head like a shooting-wheel[2] on a pillar, like a dancer of Kīnāśa (Yama) with a girdle of tinkling bells. With all his strength he discharged it rapidly at Tripṛṣṭha, a path being made for it by the gods fearing the destruction of their aerial cars. Then Tripṛṣṭha picked up in his hand the club Kaumodakī from the chariot, a third arm, a second staff of Samavartin (Yama). Bala’s younger brother struck the arrow as it fell with the club, like an elephant striking a toy-bellows[3] with his trunk. Instantly reduced to fragments it fell to the ground like a clod, imitating the fall of a hundred meteors with bright sparks.

Hayakandhara hurled an iron-bound dub, terrifying as an uplifted tusk of Airāvaṇa, at the lord of the club.[4] Hari broke it, as it fell, with his club, like Patraratheśvara[5] breaking a serpent with the end of his beak. Hayagrīva threw a club that was shaped like a thunderbolt and hard as a rock, like a tusk of Pitṛpati (Yama), like a sister of Takṣaka. Adhokṣaja (Tripṛṣṭha), long-armed, broke it, like a mud-pie, beautifully in the air with Kaumodakī. When his weapons had been broken in this way, Vājikandhara was embarrassed.

Then the hero thought of the serpent-missile like a brother in time of distress. Fitting the serpent-missile to the bow, he discharged it, and numerous serpents appeared just as if bursting forth from an ant-hill. Running on the ground and giving loud hisses in the air, the serpents turned the Middle World into Pātāla at once. Pendent, cruel, black, flashing, the serpents at once spread terror a thousand times more than that of a comet that has appeared. The Khecara-women fled far away, terrified by the serpents moving in the sky like spies of Death. Very great terror arose in Tripṛṣṭha’s soldiers, also. Such a thing happens from devotion and from ignorance of the master’s power.

Then Garuḍadhvaja (Tripṛṣṭha) fitted the garuḍa-missile to his bow and discharged it. Verily the serpents of the missile were like plantain-leaves. Garuḍas appeared, making the sky seem to be covered with one hundred golden umbrellas from the moving mass of wings. At the sound of their wings, the serpents disappeared completely, like darkness at sunrise. Astonished, when he saw that the serpent-missile was useless also, Hayakandhara thought of the irresistible fire-missile. After fitting the fire-arrow to the bow, he discharged it. It made the sky appear to have a hundred meteors from its flames. Then Tripṛṣṭha’s whole army, submerged in fire, as it were, became confused like sea-monsters terrified by the submarine-fire. Hayagrīva’s soldiers, excited, rejoiced, laughed, whirled around, jumped up, danced, sang, and clapped their hands.

Then the younger brother of Acala, red-eyed from anger, fitted to the bow the water-missile, which could not be warded off, and discharged it quickly. At once clouds spread, like the wishes of Hari, darkening the sky as well as Hayagrīva’s face. They rained like clouds in the rainy season, with unceasing streams of water, extinguishing completely the fire of the weapons like a forest-fire. When he saw his missiles destroyed by Śārṅgin like straw, Prativiṣṇu remembered his unerring cakra, causing death. Summoning it shining with a hundred flames like one hundred intervals between spokes, as if it had been brought from the chariot of Mārtaṇḍa, like an ear-ring that had been taken by force from Yama, like the serpent Takṣaka made into a circle, having a multitude of tinkling bells, terrifying the Khecaras, presenting itself merely from being recalled, he took it and said:

“You are a stripling, boy. Slaughtering you is like killing an embryo,[6] nothing else. Now go away. Today I am embarrassed before you. Verily, this weapon of mine, the cakra, never stumbles and never becomes dull, like Indra’s thunderbolt. If it is discharged, you are deprived of life. There is no alternative. Do not show a warrior’s pride. Obey my command. You are a boy. Therefore I endured your bad behavior in the past, because it was only boyish impetuosity. Go! Save your life unexpectedly.”

Astonished, Tripṛṣṭha said: “You are an old man, Hayakandhara. Otherwise, who would make such a foolish speech, like a crazy man? Even a young lion does not flee from elephants though large. Does a young garuḍa run from even a large serpent? Does the sun, though newly risen, tremble at the Rakṣases of twilight?[7] Why should I, though a boy, run from you on the battlefield? You have seen how much force these weapons had which you have already used. When you have discharged it (the cakra), observe its force. Before you have seen it, why do you thunder?”

When he heard this, Hayagrīva whirled his very terrifying cakra around his head, like the submarine fire of the ocean of the sky. After whirling it for a very long time, he hurled the cakra with all his strength and it gave at once the impression of the sun falling. The cakra fell on Hari’s breast hard and broad as a mountain-crag with just a slap, but not with the edge. Struck by the end of the cakra’s hub which was very hard, Viṣṇu fell unconscious, as if struck by a thunderbolt. The cakra remained in the same place in the sky, as if watching, and a cry of “Ha! Ha!” arose in all of Viṣṇu’s army. When he saw his brother unconscious from his enemy’s blow, Balabhadra, devoted to his younger brother, fainted immediately, though he had not been struck. Hayagrīva gave a lion’s roar, just like a lion, and the cry “Kila! Kila!” as if announcing a victory was made by his soldiers. Rāma regained consciousness in a moment and when he heard that loud noise, he asked the soldiers, “Whose inopportune joy is this?” They replied, “Your Majesty, this loud shouting is made by Hayagrīva’s soldiers delighted at the prince’s death just now.”

Rāma said, “Is my brother dead? My younger brother, worn out by battle, lies for a moment in the chariot. Considering in my own mind that this death of my brother is unreal, I shall take away the joy from them rejoicing. Stay, Hayagrīva! Now at once I am going to make powder out of you and your chariot and your retinue with a club, as if you were a handful of flies.” With these words he took up the club that was like a peak of Mt. Rathāvarta. As he ran forward, Tripṛṣṭha became conscious. “Sir! Sir! What is this exertion on your part when I am here?” Janārdana got up like one who had been asleep. When he saw Tripṛṣṭha standing up, Lāṅgalin embraced him, like one from (one’s own) village who has been met, with outstretched arms. Hṛṣīkeśa’s soldiers made a joyous outcry, announcing the awakening of their lord, which was like an arrow in their enemies’ hearts. Adhokṣaja saw the cakra standing near him as if wishing to obtain a penance for the crime of the blow. The younger brother of Balabhadra took it, terrifying from brilliance, resembling an heir of the sun, and made this excellent speech:

“You have seen the strength of the cakra which you hurled at me, after making such a loud roaring, like the strength of an elephant against a mountain. Go! Go, now! Who will kill you, fool, an old man, badly behaved like a cat?”

When he heard that, Hayagrīva, biting his lip with his teeth, his body trembling with anger, frowning, said: “Miserable boy, you are intoxicated by obtaining that piece of iron, all the more by getting it from me, like a lame man by obtaining fruit that has fallen from a tree. Throw it! Throw it! See my strength also. I will split the cakra, as it falls, with my fist.”

Then Vaikuṇṭha (Tripṛṣṭha), whose force was unblunted, angered, whirled the cakra in the sky and hurled it at Hayakaṇṭha. It cut off Aśvakaṇṭha’s head like a plantain-stalk. For the Praticakrins are killed by their own cakras. The Khecaras, delighted, rained flowers on Śārṅgin’s head and gave loud cries of “Hail! Hail!” The sound of lamentation arose in the wretched army of Hayagrīva, making the atmosphere, too, lament with echoes. His people held Hayagrīva’s cremation-ceremonies, making the oblation of water, as it were, with tears flowing from their eyes. After his death Hayagrīva became a hell-inhabitant in the seventh hell with a life of thirty-three sāgaropamas.

Just then the chief-gods in the sky, said: “O kings, all of you give up your pride entirely. Give up your support of Hayagrīva which was honorable for a long time and, furthermore, seek Tripṛṣṭha, the best refuge, with devotion. He, the first Vāsudeva, has arisen here, long-armed, lord of the land of three parts of Bharatakṣetra.” When they heard this divine speech, all of Hayagrīva’s kings approached and bowed to the younger brother of Acala. With hands folded submissively they said, “Pardon us for whatever crime we committed from ignorance and subjection to another. Henceforth, lord, we shall follow only your command, like your servants. Therefore, command us, lord.”

Tripṛṣṭha replied: “There was no crime on your part. Fighting at the master’s order is certainly the course of warriors. Dismiss fear. Now I am your master. Henceforth remain in your respective kingdoms, having become subject to me.” After reassuring the kings in this way, Tripṛṣṭha went with his retinue to Potanapura, like another Purandara.

Footnotes and references:


Niśāmatsyamivodgatam is rather puzzling. PH gives ‘Rāhu’ as one meaning for maccha (matsya), which seems a possible interpretation here. Rāhu is an ominous planet. I owe this suggestion to Muni Jayantavijayaji. Possibly it refers to an eclipse, which is one meaning of Rāhu.


Rādhāvedha. See I, n. 360.


I have not been able to find any explanation of this allusion. Cf. below, 7. 196 and 7. 2. 571.


See App. I.


Jaṭāyuṣ, king of the vultures.


Bhrūṇa may also mean ‘child,’ L., but I think the exaggerated comparison is intended here.


The Rakṣas is believed to be especially active at twilight. Crooke, p. 210.

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