by Helen M. Johnson | 1931 | 742,503 words
This page describes Spring festival which is the second 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.
One day at spring-time a courtesan, Sudarśanā, carrying a bouquet of spring-flowers, announced to Vajrāyudha:
“Spring, the friend of the sports of young people, the best friend of the victories of Mīnaketu (Kāma), blooms today with sole dominion, master. Young wives who have recently attained youth, engaged in swinging in swings, are asked their husbands’ names by their women-friends holding switches. Even high-spirited women gather flowers themselves now, tie them together themselves, worship Puṣpāstra (Kāma) themselves, abandon pride themselves, become messengers themselves in this matter. Hail to this power of Spring! Noise like that of bards to awaken King Smara asleep is made by cries of cuckoos and humming of bees. Young men here wear ear-ornaments of flowers, necklaces of flowers, amulets and bracelets of flowers, like a heresy devoted to Puṣpeṣu. Queen Lakṣmīvatī informs you, Your Majesty, through me that Spring (Vasanta), resembling Vasantasakha (Kāma), is present. Today we wish to see the fresh beauty of Spring by going to the garden Sūranipāta which is like Nandana.”
The prince said, “Very well,” to her speech and went immediately with his retinue to the garden, the abode of Anaṅga. Seven hundred queens, Lakṣmīvatī, et cetera, follow the prince, like stars the moon. With the women of his household the prince, sometimes straightening up, sometimes bending, like a yogi entering a fissure, wandered over the garden which had only one umbrella, as it were, from the spreading shade-trees, which was like an empire of pure fragrance from its blossoming trees, with its water-basins muddy from the particles of falling pollen, the surface of its ground touched by the branches bending with the weight of fruit. Tired by this wandering over the garden and his wives being tired, he went to the tank Priyadarśanā for water-sports. The prince and his wives entered the beautiful tank, which was like a tank in Nandīśvaradvīpa, to destroy fatigue. Then Vajrāyudha began water-sports with his wives there, like an elephant in a mountain-stream. No difference could be seen between drops of mist and the pearls of necklaces which were lifted up by slaps in the water-sports. The meeting of the faces of the women of the harem with the golden lotuses was like that of friends after a long time. Puṣpāyudha then had a weapon of water, I think, from the handfuls of water, the syringes, the mouthfuls of water of the women. The dangling braids of hair of the fair women looked like fish prepared for a banner by Mīnadhvaja (Kāma). Tired out by the games in the water, the fair-bodied women, resting on the bank, looked like water-goddesses. The eyes of the fair-browed ones became red from blows by masses of water as if in competition with lotuses that had become rivals. The water became fragrant with the musk-ointment of the gazelle-eyed women, like the water of a forest-stream from the ichor of rutting elephants. So Prince Vajrāyudha, his mind completely intent on water-sports, was not a fit subject for fear on the part of his enemies.
The soul of Damitāri, his enemy in a former birth, attained the rank of a god, after wandering through births for a long time, and came there at that time, named Vidyuddaṃṣṭra. When Vidyuddaṃṣṭra saw Vajrāyudha, grinding his teeth, reflecting angrily, “Oh! where will he go alive?” he lifted up a mountain and threw it over the tank to crush the prince and his retinue like a handful of chick-peas. The rogue of an Asura bound Vajrāyudha below by his feet, like an elephant-keeper an elephant, with magic nooses resembling the noose of Varuṇa. Vajrāyudha shattered the mountain with his fist, like Vajrin with a thunderbolt, and broke the nooses like a web of lotus-stalks. Then the prince and his ladies left the tank, his body uninjured, long-armed, like Śeṣāhi leaving Pātāla.
Then Śakra, going on a pilgrimage to Nandīśvara, after bowing to the Jinas arising in Videha, saw him leaving the tank. Thinking, “In this birth he is a cakrin; in a future birth he will be an Arhat,” Purandara worshipped him. For reverence is due a future (Arhat) as well as a past one. “You are fortunate. You will be the sixteenth Tīrthakṛt, Śānti, in Bharatakṣetra in Jambūdvīpa,” Hari said and went away. After Vajrāyudha had engaged in numerous sports as he liked, he went to his city with the women of his household and his attendants.
Footnotes and references:
To make them speak their husbands’ names. See I, n. 206.
The noose with which he seizes transgressors.