Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Triprishtha and the musicians which is the thirtieth 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 30: Tripṛṣṭha and the musicians

Then Tripṛṣṭha spent his life for a certain time enjoying pleasure with the thirty-two thousand women of his household. Svayamprabhā bore two sons to Tripṛṣṭha, the elder named Śrīvijaya, and the younger Vijaya.

One day some singers, who excelled the Kinnaras[1] in sweetness, came into Tripṛṣṭha’s presence when he was immersed in a sea of pleasure. Singing beautifully with a diversity of very sweet melodies, they won the heart of Hṛṣīkeśa, the depository of all the arts. Tripṛṣṭha kept them always at his side because of the merit of their singing. Others shine by singing; how much more experts!

One time when Viṣṇu was resting on his couch at night, these men of his began to sing in loud tones, like Indras Gandharvas. Janārdana, whose heart was charmed by their singing, like an elephant,[2] instructed a chamberlain on duty: “Dismiss the singers while we are asleep. When the master is not attentive, exertion is useless.” The chamberlain said, "Very well,” in reply to the lord’s command. Instantly sleep sealed Śārṅgin’s eyes. But the chamberlain did not dismiss the singers because of his desire for their singing. The master’s command can slip away from those whose minds are charmed by sense-objects. Then Adhokṣaja wakened in the last watch of the night and heard them singing as before with undiminished sweetness of sound.

Questioned by Tripṛṣṭha, “Why did you not dismiss these poor people who are obviously worn out?” the chamberlain said, “Lord, my heart was ensnared by the singing of those very men and I did not dismiss the singers. I forgot the master’s order.”

Then Keśava, enraged, had him imprisoned at once, and presided over the council at dawn like the sun over the east. Adhokṣaja recalled the events of the night, showed the chamberlain, and gave orders to the guards: "Pour hot tin and copper into the ears of that man devoted to singing. This fault was committed by the ears.” They led away the chamberlain to a solitary place and did so. For the commands of kings whose commands are cruel are difficult to transgress. The chamberlain died from the pain and Śārṅgabhṛt acquired feeling-karma with evil consequences.

Footnotes and references:


Heavenly musicians.


Elephants are traditionally susceptible to music.

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