Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Story of Kapila which is the second part of chapter I of the English translation of the Shantinatha-caritra, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. Shantinatha in jainism is the sixteenth Tirthankara (Jina) and one of the 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.

Part 2: Story of Kapila

Now there is a very wealthy village, named Acalagrāma, a head-village in the Magadhas in this Bharata. In it there was the crest-jewel of Brāhmans, named Dharaṇījaṭa, famous throughout the earth, knowing the four Vedas and their supplements. He had a wife, Yaśobhadrā, devoted to welfare, well-born, beautiful as a household Lakṣmī. In course of time she bore two sons, lights of the house; the elder, Nandibhūti and the younger, Śrībhūti. The Brāhman also had a slave-girl, Kapilā, and he enjoyed pleasure with her also for a long time. Verily, the senses are difficult to subdue. To him enjoying her at will in turn, Kapilā bore a son, Kapila.

The Brahman, himself, modest, taught the Vedas and their supplements with their esoteric meanings to his sons borne by Yaśobhadrā. Kapila, who was extremely intelligent, listened in silence and became thoroughly conversant with the ocean of Vedas. What does not belong to the sphere of intelligence? With the appearance of a learned man, he left his father’s house, put the double sacred cord around his neck and, saying, “I am the best of Brāhmans,” in a voice like beating a drum, wandered in foreign countries. What country is foreign to the learned? As he wandered gradually, he arrived at the town Ratnapura and made a display of learning, thundering like a cloud of the rainy season.

In this town there lived a teacher of all the townsmen, a depository of arts, named Satyaki, adorned with pupils who were receptacles of intelligence. Kapila went every day to Satyaki’s school and solved the doubts of the students who asked questions. In astonishment Satyaki, knowing the collection of Vedic texts, questioned him from curiosity about the esoteric meanings, difficult to know, of the sacred books. Kapila recited them in detail to him, observed by the trusting students with the idea that he was a teacher. Satyaki made him head of his work in the school, like a king appointing an heir-apparent. Where are brilliant qualities not valuable? Daily, Kapila gave explanations to all the pupils and Satyaki, free from anxiety, treated him like his own son. Kapila showed extreme devotion to Satyaki like a father and Satyaki, delighted, thought, “What can I do for him?”

Then Satyaki’s wife, named Jambukā, said: “Even if you are giving it your attention, still I remind you: You have a daughter, Satyabhāmā, borne by me, endowed with infinite beauty and grace like a daughter of the gods, well-bred, modest, endowed with forbearance, humility, and sincerity. Why do you not search for a husband who has attained adolescence for her? How can a man sleep whose daughter, debt, enmity, or disease is increasing in size? Yet you sleep heedlessly.”

Satyaki replied: “That is very true, my dear. All this time I have not found a suitable husband for Satyabhāmā. This Brahman, Kapila, good-looking, foremost among the gifted, young, well-bred, is a suitable husband for Satyabhāmā.” Jambukā agreed; and at an auspicious moment Satyaki married Satyabhāmā and Kapila with suitable ceremonies. Honored by the citizens in all the city as much as Satyaki, daily he (Kapila) enjoyed pleasures with good-tempered Satyabhāmā. The people gave him special money, rice, et cetera, on all the festival-days, thinking, “He is more to be honored even than Satyaki.” Living in this way. best of living Brāhmans, Kapila became well-endowed with money as well as good qualities.

One day during the rains he left his home at night to see a show and stayed there for a long time. When he was half-way home, it rained very hard, causing a darkness that could be pierced by a needle. Then he stripped himself, as there was no one about, put his clothes under his arm, and dressed at the door of his house. Satyabhāmā thought to herself, “My husband’s clothes will be wet from the rain,” got other clothes, and approached him. Kapila said to his wife, “Foolish woman, my clothes are not wet from the power of a vidya. There is no need of other clothes.” Satyabhāmā perceived that his clothes were dry and his body wet all over and thought to herself, “If he protected his clothes from the rain by the power of a vidya, why did he not protect his body? He certainly came nude. From that conduct I think my husband is low-born. Because he is very intelligent, he learned the sacred texts just by hearing with the ear.” She reflected thus, and from that time she became indifferent, like a miserable woman who has been taken captive.[1]

It happened at that time that Dharaṇījaṭa became poor and, as he had heard that Kapila was rich, he came to get money from him. Kapila welcomed him by washing his feet, et cetera. An ordinary guest must be honored, how much more a guest who is a father. Then after his father had bathed and the customary rites had been performed, when it was meal-time, Kapila said to his wife, “He is my father. So, wife, prepare the best place for food apart[2] for my father.” When she had seen the different conduct of the father and son, Satyā was very terrified, for she herself was well-born. Knowing by his irreproachable conduct that her father-in-law was well-born, she honored him like a father, like a teacher, like a god.

One day she gave him in secret the Brāhman-murder-oath[3] and asked her father-in-law with great respect: “Is this son of yours of pure origin on both sides, or of a secret origin? Please tell me the truth.” Then Dharaṇījaṭa, noble by nature and afraid of breaking his oath, related the facts. Then dismissed by Kapila, the Brāhman Dharaṇījaṭa went again to his village, Acalagrāma.

Satyabhāmā went and informed Śrī Śrīṣeṇa as follows: “By chance this low-born man became my husband. So, now free me from him, like a cow from a tiger, like the moon from Rāhu, like a sparrow from a hawk. I, a very virtuous wife, released by him, will perform good deeds. I have been deceived for so long a time because of bad conduct in former births.”

Śrīṣeṇa summoned Kapila himself and said to him: “Let Satyabhāmā go for the sake of good conduct. What kind of pleasure will you have with her averse to you, as if she were another man’s wife taken by force?” Kapila replied: “I can not endure life for a moment without her. She alone is a life-giving herb to me. I will never abandon her, my own wife. Abandoning and causing abandonment are suitable for courtesans.” Satyabhāmā, angry, said, “If he does not let me go, I shall surely enter either fire or water.” The king said: “Do not make her abandon life. Let your wife remain several days in my house.” Kapila agreed to this; and she, given in charge to the queen by the king, continued to practice penance of many kinds.

At that time the King of Kauśāmbī, Bala by name, very powerful, sent his daughter, Śrīkāntā, daughter of Queen Śrīmatī, a beautiful young woman, in great style at her choosing[4] of Induṣeṇa, son of Śrīṣeṇa. Induṣeṇa and Binduṣeṇa noticed an extremely beautiful courtesan, Anantamatikā, who had come in attendance on her. Saying, “She is mine,” “She is mine,” angered, they both went to the garden Devaramaṇa. There the two, armed, powerful, fought like untamed bulls, because of the desire to enjoy the peerless beauty.

The king was not able to prevent their fight. For he had always held conciliation dear, whereas the arrogant must be subdued by assault.[5] The king could not prevent their conduct being seen and, after deliberating with Abhinanditā and Śikhinanditā, saying, “The time has come,” he smelled a lotus permeated with the poison tālapuṭa[6] and died immediately. Then both the queens smelled the same lotus and died. High-born women do not live at all without the husband. Satyabhāmā, deprived of protection, considering only evil could come from Kapila, also smelled the lotus and went the way of death.

Footnotes and references:


Vṛnda is to be corrected to vanda, in accordance with MSS. Vanda=banda, a deśi word meaning ‘captive,’ (PH). Cf. bandī (MW).


His father, as a pure Brāhman, of course could not eat with Kapila.


If he did not tell the truth, his sin would be as great as the killing of a Brāhman.


In such a case a princess who wishes to marry a prince of her own choice may be sent without preliminaries to the prince’s town and the marriage takes place there.


See I, p. 153.


Occurs elsewhere also as a very deadly poison, but I have not been able to identify it.

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