Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Kapila’s incarnation as Ashanighosha which is the ninth 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 9: Kapila’s incarnation as Aśanighoṣa

Then King Śrīvijaya went with Queen Sutārā to the garden Jyotirvana with a desire for amusement. At that time Aśanighoṣa, Kapila’s soul, was flying through the air, after subduing the vidyā Vipratāraṇikā, and saw Queen Sutārā, his wife in a former birth, a beautiful married woman, pleasuring with her husband. Though he did not remember the relation from the former birth, from infatuation he felt a longing for her like his own wife. By the power of a vidyā, he created a golden deer, captivating the eye, running before them like a divine ball. When Queen Sutārā saw it adorned with hooves and horns made of sapphire, with eyes shining like blue lotuses, throwing off gold, as it were, from the extremely yellow color of its body, adorning the sky with its leaps and the ground with its footprints, she said to her husband, “O master, bring the deer here. It might be a playmate for me.” The king, so told by his wife, ran after the deer that was like a loose horse, equal to the wind in speed. The deer, sometimes crooked, sometimes straight, like a river-stream, never stumbling, led the king far away. Sometimes visible, sometimes invisible, sometimes on the earth, sometimes in the air, it could not be caught, like an illusory divinity.

When Śrīvijaya had gone far away, Aśanighoṣa gradually approached and seized the queen like a solitary goddess of the forest. Then the vidyā, Pratāraṇī, commanded by the villain, assumed the form of Sutārā and cried out, “I have been bitten by a kurkuṭāhi.”[1] When he heard that, the king abandoned the deer and returned. On the part of the wise there is exertion for acquisition when there is security (of what they already have).[2] When he saw her fallen on the ground, her body powerless, the king treated her with the best amulets, charms, and herbs. All the medicine, et cetera, though seen to be reliable before, were useless for her, like benefits to a base person. Her lotus-eyes closed, the color of her face pallid, her thighs trembling, her breasts quivering, the ligaments, bones, and joints of her body and limbs relaxed, she soon died, while the king looked on.

When he saw her lifeless, the best of kings fell to the ground in a swoon, unconscious as if dead. Sprinkled with sandal-paste, his consciousness restored, the chief of kings cried out aloud:

“Oh! Oh! I have been robbed by fate leading you away, beautiful one. My life existed from breath having your form alone. Without you I here will fall from the weight of the burden of sorrow, like an old house deprived of the support of its pillars, wife. Oh! Oh! I, a fool, occupied with my wife’s command, was deceived by the golden deer which attracted my wife. In my presence not even Takṣaka could bite my wife, to say nothing of a kurkuṭāhi. But fate is strong. Abandoning my life to follow my wife into the fire, I shall make up the deficit today of an evil approaching fate.”

Resolute, the king adorned with her the funeral-pyre, which had been made at once, as if it were a couch in a pleasure-house. When the fire began to burn, immediately two Vidyādharas came there. One of them sprinkled the pyre with water and recited a mantra, and then Pratāraṇī fled with a burst of laughter. “Where is the blazing fire and where is my dead wife? Who gave that loud laugh? And what is this play of fate?” With these reflections, the king, uninjured, asked the two men of a pleasing appearance before him, “What happened?”

They bowed to the king and replied with suitable respect, “We are soldiers of the Vidyādhara-king, Amitatejas, father and son, Sambhinnaśrotas and Dīpaśikha. We set out of our own accord to worship the sacred places and images of the Jinas. As we were flying here, we heard this pathetic speech, painful to the ears to hear, which made even the animals prick up their ears: ‘Oh! Śrīvijaya, lord of my life, served by kings! Oh! brother Amitatejas, the equal of the sun in splendor! Oh! friend Vijayabhadra, equal in strength to Balabhadra! Oh! family-deities of Tripṛṣṭha always near! Save, oh, save Sutārā without delay from this wicked Vidyādhara, like a doe from a wolf.’ Learning that our master’s sister was being carried off by a villain, we followed that voice, like arrows striking an object from its sound. Soon we saw Sutārā, tremulous-eyed, seized by Aśanighoṣa, like a lotus by an elephant. Unable to overlook the master’s sister being kidnapped, frowning, we said to the enemy:

‘Look here, Vidyādhara, wretched Aśanighoṣa, where are you going after seizing Sutārā, like an outcaste seizing a statue of a god? Villain, you die. We are going to kill you. Draw your weapon. We are soldiers of the Vidyādhara-king, Amitatejas.’ Insulting him with these words, we approached with drawn swords with the intention of killing the basest of men, like cobras a partridge. Then Queen Sutārā said: ‘Stop your fighting. Go to the grove Jyotirvana. My lord Śrīvijaya is there. Stop Śrīvijaya who has been induced to abandon his life by Pratāraṇī who deceived him. I live only while he lives.’ At her command we came here to you quickly and extinguished the fire of the funeral pyre with charmed water. The vidyā Pratāraṇī in the form of Sutārā, excited, fled with loud laughter like a vampire.”

Knowing that Sutārā had been kidnapped, the king was depressed, the fire of separation burning more than the fire of the funeral-pyre. They said to him: “Master, do not grieve. He is not clever. He has not gone far from you like fate. Where will he go?” They bowed to the king, with knees touching the ground and, after begging him urgently, took him with themselves to Vaitāḍhya. Then Amitatejas, like victory embodied, at once arose with all his army to honor Śrīvijaya. After seating him on a suitable seat with great respect, Amitatejas eagerly asked the reason for his coming. The two excellent Vidyādharas, urged by Śrīvijaya, told in detail the story of Sutārā’s kidnaping.

Arkakīrti’s son, his brow wrinkled with a frown, his cheeks and eyes red with auger, said to the king: “How long shall Aśanighoṣa, basest of men, live, after kidnaping Sutārā, your wife and my sister, like scratching the mouth of the serpent Takṣaka, like lifting up a handful of the mane of a sleeping lion?” Then Arkakīrti’s son himself gave Śrīvijaya the vidyā obstructing weapons, capturing, and also releasing. He, causing death to enemies, sent fifty thousand of his sons:[3] Raśmivega, Amitavega, Ravivega, Arkakīrti, Bhānuvega, Ādityayaśas, Bhānu, Citraratha, Arkaprabha, Arkaratha, Ravitejas, Prabhākara, Kiraṇavega, Sahasrakiraṇa and others accompanied by an army with the best of heroes, Tripṛṣṭha’s son, to the city Camaracañcā to take Sutārā from Aśanighoṣa at once. Then Tripṛṣṭha’s soil went to Camaracañcā instantly, the whole sky being covered with the Vidyādhara-army; making hundreds of comets appear, as it were, in the sky from the soldiers’ weapons; making the horses of the sun neigh by the neighings of many horses; spreading another bank of clouds, as it were, in the sky by the elephants; showing portentous suns, as it were, by shining aerial cars.

Knowing that Aśanighoṣa was versed in vidyās, Arkakīrti’s son went with his son, Sahasraraśmi, not inferior in power, to Mt. Himavat to subdue for himself the vidyā named Mahājvālā, which destroys the vidyās of enemies. There he engaged in pratimā for seven days with a month’s fast[4] at the very purifying feet of Ṛṣi Jayanta engaged in pratimā and also of Dharaṇendra and he began the work of subduing the vidyā. Sahasraraśmi guarded his father thus occupied and a little less than a month passed while they were thus engaged.

Now King Śrīvijaya halted at a point outside Camaracañcā and sent a messenger to Aśanighoṣa. The messenger went and spoke fearlessly to Aśanighoṣa: “Shame on this shameless deed that you, like a crow, have done. Verily, manhood is only a pretense on the part of people lacking in courage and strength. Of such people you are the foremost, kidnaping the queen in this way. Shame on the behavior, never witnessed before, of you wearing a beard,[5] making the vidyā Pratāraṇī appear to Śrīvijaya then. Do you not know at all Śrīvijaya, a sun in splendor? The treks of such people as you are effective with a person lacking in splendor. Just as he has come here, after making the vidyā powerless, so he. will take away Sutārā by force. So surrender her yourself, wise sir. If you surrender the queen yourself and make submission, your life will prosper. Otherwise, Kīnāśa (Yama) is ready.”

Aśanighoṣa said in a voice terrible as thunder: “Oh! it is a good thing I have seen you, messenger. I have nowhere seen such a person. If Śrīvijaya comes here, then what about the poor wretch? Birds go to Sumeru. Is there manliness in them? By a single atom of effort on my part he will go away, his power destroyed. The current of a river does not tolerate a temple of sand. Let him depart to his own home by the road by which he has come; but if he asks for Sutārā, he will go to the home of Yama. Let him go or let him stay now, after considering the two possibilities. You go now and report to him what I say.”

The messenger, thus instructed by him, quickly left his city and reported the base creature’s message to Tripṛṣṭha’s son. When he had heard his message that was like a wind to the fire of anger, King Śrīvijaya made ready his army, though (already) ready. Knowing that Śrīvijaya’s soldiers were eager for battle, Aśanighoṣa instructed his sons for hospitality to battle. Aśvaghoṣa, Śataghoṣa, Sahasraghoṣa, Mahāghoṣa, Bhīmaghoṣa, Ghanaghoṣa, and others; and their sons, Meghaghoṣa and the rest—all with a complete army left by the gate of Camaracañcā for battle.

Battle-drums of both armies sounded with a very deep noise like an autumn-cloud. The two armies began a great battle which made the sky have a hundred moons from the bobbing umbrellas that had been cut by arrows; which had many Ṛāhus, as it were, congealed from the cut-off heads flying up; which had falling meteors, as it were, from the falling bright arrows; which had mountains striking together from the rutting elephants striking each other; which seemed to have a twilight-cloud resting on the ground from the bloody mud; which had a throng of demons intoxicated from drinking blood like wine; which seemed to have weapons (hurled) with muttered charms by roaring soldiers; which had a sky starred with pearls rising from the elephants’ protuberances[6] struck by arrows; which seemed to have night produced by the dust of the soldiers on all sides.

Some, completely dazed by terrible blows in attacks by clubs, were fanned by relatives who used the ends of their garments as fans. Some who were thirsty were given to drink again and again by their wives carrying jars of water, following them. Some, even while their wives looked on, were chosen by goddesses, saying eagerly, “He shall be my lord.” “He shall be mine.” One man, long-armed, after taking an enemy’s head, dances and the enemy’s corpse danced as if in rivalry with him. Another leaped from his first chariot which was broken and went to another chariot, like a monkey from one tree to another.

Another strong soldier, who had fought for a long time, whose weapons had fallen from his hand, struck an enemy with his helmet and killed him. Some, all of whose weapons had been lost, fought with their arms, like elephants with their tusks. A little less than a month passed while the two armies fought with missiles, weapons, and craft. The sons of Aśanighoṣa, injured by beatings, were broken by Śrīvijaya’s soldiers like trees by winds.

Then Aśanighoṣa, who had strength of arm and preeminent vidyās, raising a huge club like a thunderbolt, scolding the broken princes, intending to break the enemy, plunged into the enemy’s army, like a boar into a pool, like the churning-stick into the ocean. The sons of Amitatejas were quickly defeated by him. Wise men requite an action at once. Seeing Sutārā’s nephews defeated, King Śrīvijaya himself rushed into battle, saying to the enemy, “Halt! Halt!” Then the two, thundering and threatening each other, showing the power of weapons and the power of vidyās to be such, avoiding each other’s blows with great dexterity, watched by gods and asuras, long-armed, fought.

Then Śrīvijaya, angry, powerful, struck with a sword and divided Aśanighoṣa as easily as a plantain-stalk. The two parts became two Aśanighoṣas terrifying the soldiers by noise, like two banyan trees from a banyan root. When he made the two Aśanighoṣas twofold, they became four Aśanighoṣas raised up. When the king divided the four, eight Aśanighoṣas appeared on the battlefield. So by the Aśanighoṣas cut up by him again and again, there became thousands of Aśanighoṣas like stalks of rice. The King of Potana was seen surrounded by many Aśanighoṣas at the same time, like Mt. Vindhya by clouds.

When Śrīvijaya was exhausted from dividing them repeatedly, then Amitatejas came with Mahājvālā who had been subdued. Aśanighoṣa’s soldiers fled from the approaching Amitatejas, who was like the sun in brilliance, like deer from a lion. Arkakīrti’s son instructed the vidyā Mahājvālā, “These evil-souled enemies must not be permitted to escape.” The enemy, confused at once by the great vidyā, sought protection with Amitatejas offering protection. Like an elephant that has scented a rutting elephant, Aśanighoṣa fled unimpeded, when he saw Amitatejas. The great vidyā, Mahājvālā, was told by Amitatejas, “You must bring back this wretch, even from a distance.” Then the vidyā, destructive of all vidyās, followed Aśanighoṣa like an angry fate. Fleeing from her, he did not find shelter anywhere and entered the southern half of ‘Bharata, seeking protection.

An elephant-banner[7] had been set up then on Mt. Sīman in the shrine of Lord Śrī Ṛṣabha at the place of the samavasaraṇa. There the Baladeva Acala, fully conversant with the ocean of pūrvas,[8] absorbed in pure meditation, undertook pratimā for one night. Then from the destruction of ghātikarmas, the great muni’s omniscience arose, a mirror for the reflection of the universe. Gods and asuras came together quickly like servants, wishing to make his omniscience-festival. Abhinandana and Jagannandana, Vahnijaṭin, Trijaṭin, Arkakīrti, and Puṣpaketu; and flying ṛṣis, Vimalamati and others, circumambulated Bala, bowed, and sat down.

Aśanighoṣa, terrified by Mahājvālā’s appearance, immediately took refuge with Acala, the sole pool of the nectar of tranquillity. Mahājvālā abandoned Aśanighoṣa and returned. Even of Indra’s thunderbolt there is no manifestation in a kevalin’s assembly. The vidyā went to Amitatejas and told him the whole story, ashamed of her own failure. When he had heard the story, Amitatejas and King Śrīvijaya, also, rejoiced like a peacock at thunder. After giving instructions to Mārīci, “Take Sutārā from that city and bring her quickly,” his mind filled with eagerness, Amitatejas went with his soldiers and King Śrīvijaya to Mt. Sīman by aerial car, swift as the wind. There, after worshipping Ṛṣabhanātha’s image first, they worshipped Baladeva and sat down before him.

Now, Mārīci entered the city Camaracañcā and went to Aśanighoṣa’s mother in his house. There he saw Sutārā, like a lotus injured by cold, like a cow mired in mud, like a creeper reached by fire, like a doe caught in a snare, like a digit of the moon standing in the sky, like a fish lying on a bank, like a cow-elephant captured in an elephant-trap, like a haṃsī that has reached a desert, fasting, exceedingly grieved, repeating her husband’s name alone like a charm. Then he explained fully to Aśanighoṣa’s mother, “I am ordered by Amitatejas to take away Sutārā.” Aśanighoṣa’s mother took Sutārā with her and went to Acala Svāmn’s assembly where Sutārā’s husband was. She delivered at that time Sutārā to Śrīvijaya and Amitatejas, uninjured, just as if she had been deposited in trust. She worshipped Baladeva, a blessed omniscient, and sat down in the proper place, being in favor.

Then Aśanighoṣa asked forgiveness of the kings of men and Vidyādharas, Śrīvijaya and Amitatejas, in a conciliatory speech. Then all remained in the assembly, their hostility allayed, and Acala Svāmin delivered a sermon which conferred purification. At the end of the sermon Aśanighoṣa, his hands placed together touching his forehead, declared to the great muni, Balabhadra:

“Sutārā was not kidnapped by me, while she was occupying her own home, like a lotus by an elephant, with evil intention. But, formerly I had gone from the city Camaracañcā to the temple of the Blessed Muni Jayanta and there I, reciting something like a bee, and fasting for seven days, had subdued the vidyā Bhrāmarī. When I was on the way home, I saw Sutārā here with Śrīvijaya in the grove Jyotirvana. For some reason love that is outside the sphere of words arose in me at the mere sight of her. Then I thought, ‘I can not go without her.’ My mind is eager, as if it were completely joined (to hers). While she is by the side of powerful King Śrīvijaya, she can not be taken, like the crest-jewel of Śeṣa. After deluding the king by the vidyā Pratāraṇī, I seized her, like a kite a string of pearls. I released her, irreproachable, into the hands of my own mother. There is not the least spot on her, not even a moon-spot. I did not even mention anything improper to her. But tell me, Blessed One, the cause of my love for her.”

Footnotes and references:


A legendary serpent with the tail of a serpent and the head of a cock. The vehicle of the śāsanadevī of Pārśvanātha is usually portrayed as a kurkuṭāhi. There is an illustration in the Śrīcaturviṃśatijinānandastutayaḥ, facing p. 161. The Int. to the Dravyasaṅgraha (p. xxix) says: ‘dragons having the body of a fowl and the head and neck of a snake.’


I.e., he abandoned following the deer to save the queen.


I am convinced that the śatapañcaśatīṃ of the text is an error. This episode occurs in 3 other Śāntināthacaritras that I know: GOS 58, that of Munibhadra, and one in MS in the Baroda Oriental Institute to which Pandit L. B. Gandhi called my attention. This is by Devacandrasūri, Hemacandra’s guru. In all these the number of sons is 500. However, all the MSS that I have seen have the same reading as the ed. I think probably śūra or bhaṭa (which are used in the other works, but with a different construction) should be substituted for śata, but the construction would be somewhat awkward and there is no authority. I consider 50,000 an impossible number here. See App. I.


That is, he fasted continuously for a month and during the month he observed pratimā for 7 days continuously.


Though bearded, his conduct was not manly.


See I, n. 314.


A gajadhvaja is one of the 4 banners regularly set up in a samavasaraṇa. See Samavasaraṇastuti0 13 and IA, vol. 40, 125 ff. and 153 ff. This śloka about the gajadhvaja seems to have no connection with the story.


The 14 pūrvas, part of the original canon.

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