by Helen M. Johnson | 1931 | 742,503 words
This page describes Story of Brahman boy which is the eighth 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.
In this very Bharata in the city Vijaya there lived a good Brāhman, named Rudrasoma. He had been childless but, because of great offerings with prayers, a son, Śikhin, was borne by his wife, Jvalanaśikhā. Once upon a time, a very cruel Rākṣasa came there, installed by a cruel fate, fond of human flesh. Daily he kills many humans, but eats only a little and leaves the rest like refuse. The king said to him conciliatingly: “Why do you kill many men uselessly? Even tigers, et cetera, ignorant, kill one creature, a cure for hunger. Every day you too must take one man for food. He himself will come there in turn determined by myself.” This arrangement was endorsed by the Rākṣasa.
The king made name-balls of the people living in his city to determine their turn. The one to whose lot the ball fell when it was drawn by hand, went forth, turned into food for the Rakṣasa, to protect the city. One day the ball of the Brāhman’s son appeared. His name inside was read like a letter from Yama. When his mother heard that, she made even the cattle weep, crying pathetically, “Oh, son, you are dead! You are dead!” Near her house was a large haunted house and her wailing, painful to the ears to hear, was heard by the demons. Their sympathy, was aroused and they said to the Brahman’s wife: “Do not cry. Be at ease. Let your son go to the Rakṣas. We will bring him back to your presence in front of the Rākṣasa. He will not transgress the law and neither will he die.” Just as she said, “Good, O gods! good!” the guards seized her son and led him away like a goat. When the Rākṣasa receives the Brāhman’s son delivered by the guards, the bhūts take him away and lead him to his mother. Terrified, foreseeing dreadful events, the Brāhman’s wife put her son at once into a mountain-cave for protection. He was devoured by a vigilant python living there. Likewise, other future events would not be changed in any place.
The fourth minister said: ‘This man foretold that a bolt of lightning would fall on the lord of Potana, not on Śrīvijaya. Therefore some one else should be made king in the city for seven days. The thunderbolt will fall on him. Let your danger pass through him.’
Then the astrologer, delighted, said to the minister:
‘Your sense-knowledge is better than my knowledge of omens. Make him (king) quickly to ward off misfortune. The king should remain in a shrine, engaged in worship of the Jinas.’ I said, ‘How can I consider the destruction of the innocent man who would be crowned king today? It is very painful to all creatures—from Śakra to a worm—to abandon life. How shall a miserable man perish while I look on? Our chief duty as a human being is to protect the life of other creatures. How can we kill another to save our own life?’
The ministers said: ‘Your Majesty, we have indeed a twofold purpose. Calamity will pass away from the master and no man will perish. O king, install a statue of Vaiśravaṇa (Kubera) as king. All the people will attend it, like you, for seven days. If there should be no calamity, because of the god’s power, it would be a good thing; if there should be, there will not be the evil of the destruction of life.’
I agreed, ‘That is a suitable idea,’ and went to the Jina’s temple and remained there on a bed of darbha, observing pauṣadha. They conducted themselves toward Vaiśravaṇa’s statue as if it were the king. For wise men go to another master even for their master’s benefit. When the seventh day came, a cloud arose in the sky at noon, thundering very violently, terrible like the clouds at the end of the world. From that dreadful cloud, as if splitting the universe, a thunderbolt fell on this Yakṣa who had been made king. When the bolt of lightning fell on that Yakṣa, there was a rain of jewels, et cetera on the astrologer, made by the women of the household, et cetera. The best of astrologers endowed the town of Padminīkhaṇḍa with unbroken wealth and was dismissed by me. I had a new statue of Vaiśravaṇa made at once of divine jewels, since he was my brother in misfortune. So these citizens, ministers, et cetera are holding a great festival, the crest-jewel of all festivals, from joy at the allaying of my trouble.”
When he had heard this story, Amitatejas joyfully honored his sister, Sutārā, with gifts of clothes and ornaments. After he had passed some time with Sutārā and Śrīvijaya, Amitatejas went to his own city.
Footnotes and references:
Nikācita. See I, p. 402.
See I, n. 248.
See I, p. 208.