Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Previous births of Shantimati and Ajitasena which is the sixth 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 6: Previous births of Śāntimatī and Ajitasena

Cakrin Vajrāyudha knew (the facts) from clairvoyant knowledge and said:

“Listen! Hear the connection of these people in a former birth. Vindhyadatta was king in the city Vindhyapura in Airāvata in this same Jambūdvīpa. He had a son, Nalinaketu, with all the male auspicious marks, by his wife, Sulakṣaṇā. In that same city there was the crest-jewel of traders, Dharmamitra, like the sun to the lotuses of friends. His wife, Śrīdattā, bore a son, Datta; and Datta had a wife, Prabhaṅkarā, of divine form.

One day in spring he went to play in a garden with his wife, like Makaradhvaja with Rati. The king’s son, Nalinaketu, came at that time, saw Prabhaṅkarā, and was struck by Smara’s arrows. ‘Oh! her beauty is to be praised and he who sports with her is to be praised, also,’ thinking to himself, afflicted with love, he kidnaped her. Nalinaketu, like Mīnaketu, sported with her at will constantly in pleasure-gardens, rivers, tanks, et cetera. Datta, tormented by the fire of separation from her, wandered like a crazy man in every direction in the garden, thinking of Prabhaṅkarā. As he was wandering there, he saw the best of munis, Sumanas, the sight of whom is a collyrium of nectar for the eye. At that time the omniscience of Muni Sumanas appeared, day for the destruction of the darkness of ignorance, from the destruction of the ghātikarmas. The gods celebrated the omniscience-festival and Datta worshipped the muni’s lotus-feet. After he had drunk nectar in the form of the muni’s sermon, Datta abandoned at once the misery of his former pain. His passions suppressed, devoted to liberality-dharma[1] constantly, engaged in pure meditation, he passed the maximum human life and was born in the best city, Svarṇatilaka, on Mt. Vaitāḍhya in the best province Sukaccha in East Videha in Jambūdvīpa as the son of the Vidyādhara-king, named Mahendravikrama, by his wife Anilavegā. His father gave him the name Ajitasena and duly gave him magic arts. For they are their principal wealth. When he was grown, he married Vidyādhara-girls and sported with them, wandering through the air, on mountains, in forests, et cetera.

Vindhyadatta died in the city Vindhyapura and Nalinaketu became king, eminent like Tārkṣyaketu (Viṣṇu). He enjoyed sense-pleasures with Prabhaṅkarā, the kidnaped wife of Datta, like a lustful god. One day he went to the top of the palace with Prabhaṅkarā, like a vaimānika to a shining heavenly palace with a goddess. Suddenly he saw lofty clouds with the shape of peaks of high mountains, thieves of the luster of antimony like the elephants of the quarters wandering around, with the circuit of the quarters terrified by thunder, in the sky, lighted up by lightning and having a rainbow, and he rejoiced. He saw them being blown by a strong wind here and there in the sky, like boats, as if they had been produced by magic. When Naliuaketu had seen the originating and dispersal of the clouds in this way in half a minute, from disgust with existence he reflected: ‘Just as these clouds arose in the sky in a moment and also perished in a moment, such is happiness in worldly existence. A man is young, old, rich, poor, master, footman, healthy, sick, even in one birth. Alas! everything in existence is transitory.’

After these reflections, he established his son in his kingdom immediately and adopted mendicancy under Tīrthaṅkara Kṣemaṅkara. In the course of time his omniscience arose from the destruction of ghātikarmas by severe penance and meditation. Destroying instantly the four karmas prolonging existence also, the sage Nalinaketu went to the eternal abode.

Queen Prabhaṅkarā, upright and fair by nature, practiced the moon-penance[2] at the side of the nun Suvratā. As the fruit of that penance, even without right-belief, et cetera, after death she became your daughter Śāntimatī. Datta’s soul became the Vidyādhara, Ajitasena, and he kidnaped her because of his former love. Do not be angry. Abandon persistence (in anger) and forgive him completely like a brother. For passions of infinite duration lead to hell, nowhere else.”

The three were freed from hostility by Vajrāyudha’s speech and pardoned each other, sharing haste in the desire for emancipation.

The Cakrabhṛt spoke again: “You three will soon adopt mendicancy under Kṣemaṅkara. Śāntimatī, however, will practice the ratnāvalī-penance[3] and, after death, will become the Indra Īśāna. At that very time, Pavanavega and Ajitasena, your omniscience will take place from destruction of the ghātikarmas. Īśāna will come and will hold your omniscience-festival with great magnificence and make a pūjā to his own body.[4] In the course of time, the Indra Īśāna will fall, become a mortal, become omniscient, and attain emancipation.”

When they had heard the Cakrin’s speech showing knowledge of the three periods of time, all the councilors were wide-eyed with astonishment. King Pavanavega, his daughter, Śāntimatī, and the Vidyādhara, Ajitasena, bowed to him and said:

“You are our father, master, teacher, god, Lord of the World. Who else would protect us intent on killing each other? After killing each other just now, we would have gone to hell, if your speech had not been a bar to its door for us. So, master, consent now that we, afraid of existence, should go to Lord Jina Kṣemaṅkara for protection.” After making this announcement, they received permission from the Cakravartin; and went and became mendicants under Tīrthaṅkara Kṣemaṅkara. They, gentlest minded, practiced severe penance for a long time, as if from fear of abandonment by their emaciated bodies.[5] Śāntimatī died and became lord of Īśāna and just then the omniscience of the other two took place. The Indra Īśāna came, held their omniscience-festival, and worshipped his own body. Then Īśāna fell and reached emancipation in another birth. The other two went to eternal bliss at the end of their life in this birth.

Footnotes and references:


See I, p. 19.


Food diminished by one mouthful in dark fortnight and increased in the light fortnight. Pañcā. 1. 9. 18.


See II, n. 51.


That is, to the body of Śāntimatī which his soul has just left.


I.e., they were afraid their emaciated bodies would leave them in death and they practiced penance before this could happen.

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