Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Quarrel with Nishumbha which is the sixteenth part of chapter V of the English translation of the Shri Dharmanatha-caritra, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. Shri Dharmanatha in jainism is one of the 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.

Part 16: Quarrel with Niśumbha

While they were so overwhelmed with sorrow for their father, a messenger from Ardhacakrin Niśumbha came there. Announced first by the door-keeper, he entered at his command, bowed to Baladeva and Vāsudeva, and said: “When he heard from the people that King Śiva had died, Niśumbha, your kind lord, felt great sorrow. Recalling your father’s devotion, he, the crest-jewel of the dutiful, sent me to your side with instructions to deliver the following message. ‘Now you are boys, indeed, the abodes of insults from enemies. This high rank of your father has been transferred by me to you. You boys come here to me and remain free from calamity. What can the forest-fire do to those standing in the middle of the river? You who are of little importance must be made of great importance by me wishing to pay the debt of devotion long shown by your father.’”

When they were addressed in these words, anger appeared and sorrow disappeared. For one emotion, though strong, is restrained by another emotion. Raising one eyebrow and frowning somewhat, Puruṣasiṃha spoke angrily, like a lion: “Who, who was not the abode of sorrow at the death of our father, moon of the Ikṣvāku-family, benefactor to everyone? Other kings also grieved. That Niśumbha grieved—if he did not send a message to that effect, that would be malignity on his part. Who, pray, offers territory to a young lion? Who rears him? Whence is there any insult to him? Is he not ashamed now speaking so to us? He is certainly an enemy, insulting us under the pretext of friendship. Let your lord be friend, foe, or neutral. We have no regard for him. The powerful have regard only for the arm.”

The messenger said: “O son of Śiva, your childishness is very apparent, since you do not wish happiness, making an enemy today of him who is equal to a father. O foolish prince, you are still unskilled in royal polity, since you create an enemy, like pressing your belly on a stake. I will not report this speech of yours to the master. So do as I say. By your favor let there be peace for a long time with your brother (Niśumbha). Otherwise, he will soon be your enemy. If he, like Kṛtānta, is angered, even your life is in doubt.”

Exceedingly angry at that speech, Hari replied: “You are, to be sure, a messenger indifferent to your own life, O messenger. By the speech of messengers like you, skilled in deceitful speech only, he will terrify kings, like a non-venomous snake by its hood. Go! Our words must not be concealed. Tell everything to your master. He has been placed full well in the category of persons to be killed because of the words, ‘He will be an enemy.’”

So answered with violence, the messenger got up hurriedly, went to Niśumbha, and told him everything in detail. After hearing that speech, Niśumbha, killer of enemies, angered, set out for Aśvapura, covering the earth with soldiers. When Viṣṇu, conqueror of enemies, heard that Niśumbha had started, he started at once with his whole army and his elder brother. Niśumbha and Puruṣasiṃha met in the middle of the road, eager to kill each other, like two rutting elephants. The soldiers of the two armies fought, shaking heaven and earth by the echoes of their shouts, of the twanging of their bows, and of slaps with their hands.[1] Destruction of the two armies indifferent to self-protection took place at once, like that of the end of the world. Followed by Halin like a fire by the wind, Śārṅgadhanvan, standing in his chariot, blew Pāñcajanya. At its loud sound, the enemy-soldiers on all sides trembled as if at the terrible sound of a falling thunderbolt.

“Stay! Stay! You who think yourself a soldier,” challenging aloud with these words, Pratihari started in his chariot toward Hari to fight. Hari and Pratihari twanged their bows, each one bending his brow in a frown terrible from anger. They both rained arrows, like clouds raining streams of water, making the Khecaras tremble like deer by their lion-roars. The battle-field had the appearance of the ocean covered with reeds from its piles of arrows that fell unceasingly. They fought with weapons thrown by hand, thrown by machines, ones which may be thrown or not thrown, and also other weapons,[2] like two timiṅgilas[3] in the ocean of battle.

Just then Niśumbha recalled the cakra, like Vajrin recalling the thunderbolt, voracious with its blazing row of flames, terrible with its sharp edge. Whirling it, which had appeared just from being recalled, on his finger in the air, Niśumbha made a terrifying speech arrogantly:

“You are to be pitied, you are a boy. What disgrace would it be to you if you retreat? So go, or serve me. Do you not have even a dog that gives advice to you? I split even mountains with this cakra when it is discharged, to say nothing of you tender as a young gourd.”

Puruṣasiṃha said: “The strength of you who are roaring aloud in this way, and the strength of the cakra must be seen. What have you done with other weapons? This cakra is carried by you like a rainbow by a cloud. What will it do to me, fool! Throw it! I shall see its uselessness.”

Niśumbha, to whom Puruṣasiṃha had spoken such harsh words, hurled the cakra at him with all his strength, wishing to destroy him. Striking Hari’s breast with the tip of the hub, like an elephant striking the slope of the Vindhya Mountains, it immediately became useless. Then Puṇḍarīkākṣa fell in a swoon, his eyes half-closed, and was sprinkled by Muśalāstra with gośīrṣa-sandal. Conscious again, he got up, took the cakra in his hand, and said to Niśumbha, “Do not stay! Go! Go!” Niśumbha said, “Throw it! Throw it!” and then he, the fifth Ardhacakrin, cut off his head with the cakra. At once a rain of flowers fell from the sky on the head of Hari, the chief of the bold, which resembled laughter of the Śrī of Victory.

Footnotes and references:


See I, n. 164.


Cf. Oppert, pp. 10ff.


Evidently considered a fighting-fish, though not so recorded elsewhere that I can find.

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