Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Incarnation as Vajrayudha (introduction) which is the first part of chapter III 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 1: Incarnation as Vajrāyudha (introduction)

In this very Jambūdvīpa in the East Videhas the province Maṅgalāvatī is located on the south bank of the Sītā. In it is the broad city Ratnasañcayā, like a bride of the ocean (ratnākara), because of its resemblance to heaps of jewels. Its king was Kṣemaṅkara, causing the acquisition and security of wealth, powerful as the wind. His wife was Ratnamālā, spotless as a wreath of jewels, delicate as a wreath of flowers.

Aparājita’s soul, the Indra of Acyuta, fell from Acyuta and developed in her womb, like a pearl in a pearl-oyster. The queen, comfortably asleep, saw during the last part of the night fourteen great dreams and also a fifteenth, a thunderbolt. When she awakened she related the dreams to her husband and he explained, “You will have a hero-son, a cakrin, like Vajrin (Indra).”

At the right time she bore a son, pure, with a pleasing form, with superior strength like a sixth Lokapāla.[1] Because the queen had seen a thunderbolt in a dream, while he was in embryo, his father gave him the name Vajrāyudha. He, having an extraordinary body, grew up gradually, protected every day from people’s evil-eye by a blooming garland. He, a traveler across the ocean of all the arts, attained youth alone confusing the heart of gods, asuras, men, and women. With the ribbon placed around his wrist, he married a princess, Lakṣmīvatī, like Lakṣmī embodied.

Anantavīrya’s soul fell from the heaven Acyuta and entered Lakṣmīvatī’s womb like rain from the sky entering the earth. At the right time she bore a son indicated by favorable dreams, complete with all the favorable marks, like a sun in splendor. On an auspicious day the parents named him Sahasrāyudha with a festival superior to the birth-festival. He grew up gradually filled with the collection of arts, like the moon with digits, and attained youth. He, Makaradhvaja in beauty of form, married Princess Kanakaśrī, who surpassed Śrī in beauty. A son, Śatabali, like the wind in strength, with all the male lucky marks, was borne by her to him.

One time King Kṣemaṅkara presided over the council with sons, grandsons, great-grandsons, friends, ministers, and vassals. At that time there was a conversation of the gods in Aiśānakalpa to this effect, “(All) the people with firm right-belief on earth are inferior to Vajrāyudha.” A god, Citracūla, who did not believe that speech, went to Kṣemaṅkara’s assembly, wearing a crown of various jewels and dangling earrings, his mind confused by wrong-belief, having become an unbeliever, evil-minded, wishing to make a test.

While various conversations were taking place there, the god, rejecting the light of belief, said resolutely: “There is no virtue, no vice, no soul, no other world. People suffer in vain from the idea that these exist.”

Vajrāyudha, possessing sincere belief, said: “Oh! an inconsistency on your part is apparent. What speech is this, eloquent sir? While you employ clairvoyant knowledge, consider carefully. For that power of yours is the fruit of the practice of dharma in a former birth of your own. In a former birth you were a mortal; now you are an immortal. If there is no soul, then explain how this happens. In this world you attained a mortal state; in the other world a divine state. So the other world is apparent, like this world, O wise man.”

Enlightened in this way by Kṣemaṅkara’s son, Citracūla said: “That was well-done, very well-done by you. I, falling into the ocean of existence, was lifted by you, compassionate. And yet, what is to be said of one whose father is a Tīrthaṅkara before our eyes? For a long time I have had wrong belief. I saw you by good fortune, even through malice. Give me the jewel of right-belief. The sight of the noble is not barren.”

Vajrāyudha, the best of the intelligent, knowing his character, taught him right-belief. For he was the son of the Omniscient.[2] Citracūla said again: “Prince, from today I obey your orders. Ask something now.” The prince replied, “I ask this from you: Henceforth have firm right-belief.” The god said: “This request of yours is for my benefit. So tell me some service that I may be free from debt to you. This is my service.” With these words he gave divine ornaments to his teacher Vajrāyudha who was free from desire like a god.

Citracūla went to the council of the Indra of Īśāna and said, “Vajrāyudha was fittingly praised by you as having right-belief.” Saying, “He, noble, will be a blessed Arhat,” the lord of Īśāna, weaponless, praised Vajrāyudha. So Vajrāyudha remained immersed in pleasure, magnificent as a god, with various discourses and charming amusements.

Footnotes and references:


There is a reference in the Kādambarī to 5 lokapālas, which the commentator (p. 625) explains as Indra, Yama, Varuṇa, Soma, and Kubera. Of course, 4 or 8 is the more usual number. It is possible that here the king himself makes the fifth lokapāla.


Kṣemaṅkara became a Jina in Videha. See below.

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