by Helen M. Johnson | 1931 | 742,503 words
This page describes Story of Simharatha which is the sixth part of chapter IV 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.
The footstool of his lotus-feet rubbed by the crowns of throngs of kings, King Megharatha ruled over the earth, with Dṛḍharatha. One day King Megharatha himself went to the garden Devaramaṇa at the people’s request with the intention of amusing himself. Under an aśoka there he and his wife Priyamitrā began to have a harmonious concert performed. Just then Bhūtas by the thousand appeared before the king with the wish to perform an unprecedented concert. Some with very large bellies resembled Lambodara; some with very lean ones looked as if they supported the lower regions; others with rough feet hanging down looked as if they were mounted on palm-trees; others with long arms looked like trees with pythons; some were ornamented with snakes and some with ichneumons; some were dressed in leopard-skins and some in tiger-skins; some were smeared with ashes and some with red ointment; some had wreaths of owls and some of vultures; some were garlanded with moles and some with lizards; some wore garlands of skulls and some carried skeletons. Some gave bursts of laughter and some raised a tumult; some neighed and others trumpeted; some gave slaps with their hands and some clapped their hands; some made musical instruments from their faces and others of their arm-pits. Splitting the earth, as it were, bursting the heavens, as it were, they began an acrobatic dance extraordinary in its use of dance-steps.
While they were dancing an acrobatic dance for the king’s pleasure an aerial car appeared in the air. A man of noble appearance was seen in it, accompanied by a young woman, like Manobhava by Rati. Then Queen Priyamitrā spoke to the king, “Who is he? And who is she? And whence and why have they come here, lord?”
Then Megharatha related: “In this Jambūdvīpa in Bharata in the northern row on Vaitāḍhya there is a fine city Alakā. A Vidhyādhara-king, Vidyudratha, and his agreeable wife, Mānasavegā, lived there. He had a son by her, the tree of whose arm was blooming with power, named Siṃharatha, because of a dream of a chariot with lions for steeds. He married a maiden, Vegavatī, belonging to an eminent family, suitable to himself, like the Moon marrying Rohiṇī. King Vidyudratha made him yuvarāj. For that is a suitable thing for kings to do when the son has reached military age. Siṃharatha, devoted to pleasures, happily amused himself as he liked in pleasure-spots, gardens, tanks, et cetera, like a lion in a forest.
One day Vidyudratha, knowing that everything in saṃsāra has the inherent uncertainty of lightning, felt extreme disgust with existence. After he had installed Siṃharatha on the throne, King Vidyudratha at once undertook restraint of everything censurable in the presence of a guru. Having attained supreme desire for emancipation by self-control and vows, having destroyed eight karmas by meditation, he became emancipated.
King Siṃharatha, resembling the Sun in rising splendor, acquired the cakrinship of the Vidyādharas hard to acquire. One time at night, sleepless like a yogi, he meditated, ‘My birth is in vain like that of a jasmine in a forest. I have not seen and have not worshipped the Arhats in a samavasaraṇa, omniscient lords, boats for crossing the ocean of saṃsāra. Therefore I shall purify myself by seeing the Lord Jina in person. For the sight of him even one time is like a cow of plenty in a lucky dream.’
With these reflections, he went with his wife to the city Khaḍgapura in the province Sūtra on the north bank of Sītodā in the West Videhas in the continent Dhātakīkhaṇḍa and saw the Arhat Amitavāhana. After bowing to the Blessed One, the king listened to an important sermon resembling a boat on the ocean of existence. When he had heard the sermon, a mass of water for the fire of pain, and had bowed to the Arhat, he went to his own city. As he was going above here there was a stumbling in his gait, like that of a boat in an ocean filled with beds of strong reeds.
‘My gait has been hindered by someone.’ To find out he cast down his eyes and saw me standing here. In a fit of anger he approached to lift me up and this wretch was seized by me with the left hand. He gave a harsh cry like an elephant seized by a lion and his wife and attendants came to me for protection. Then I released him and, after he had been released, he created various figures before me and gave this concert.”
Again Priyamitrā said, “My dear, what did he do in a former birth because of which this very great magnificence is his?”
Megharatha said: “In the East Bharata of the half of Puṣkara there is a great city, Saṅghapura by name. There was a son of a noble family, Rājyagupta, very poor, who always made his living by working for other people. He had a wife, Śaṅkhikā, devoted to him and devoted religiously, and both of them worked in other people’s houses.
One day for the sake of fruit they went together to the big mountain Saṅghagiri covered with various trees. Wandering over this for the wild fruit, they saw a muni, Sarvagupta, delivering a sermon. Approaching him seated in an assembly of Vidyādharas, they bowed to him with devotion and sat down before him. The great muni explained dharma to them especially. For the great are especially tender to the poor.
At the end of the sermon they bowed to him and said: ‘That you have been seen, Lord, is merit for us, though sinful. You are, beneficent to everyone of your own accord; nevertheless, we, miserable, ask you: command some penance for us, O you worthy of worship by the world.’ In accordance with what was suitable for them, Muni Sarvagupta ordered for them the penance named ‘dvātriṃśatkalyāṇaka.’ They agreed, went home, and performed the penance consisting of two three-day and thirty-two one-day fasts. At the time for breaking their fasts, they looked at the door and searched for some muni as a guest. They saw the sādhu Dhṛtidhara entering and they both gave him devotedly food, water, et cetera.
One day Muni Sarvagupta came there again in his wandering and they listened to dharma at his side. They, devoted to discernment, adopted mendicancy, the fruit of the wish-granting tree of human birth, before Muni Sarvagupta. The Ṛṣi Rājyagupta observed the severe penance, ācāmāmlavardhamāna at the order of his guru. At the end he fasted, after resorting to the fourfold refuge, died, and was born in Brahmaloka with a life-term of ten sāgaras.
Falling from Brahmaloka he became the Vidyādhara-lord Siṃharatha, the son of King Vidyudratha. His wife, Śaṅkhikā, practiced manifold penances and became a god in Brahmaloka. After she had fallen, she became his wife. Now, after going to his own city and establishing his son in his kingdom, he, wise, will take initiation from my father. After he has destroyed the eight karmas by penance, meditation, et cetera, with omniscience arisen, he will attain emancipation.”
After he had heard this narrative and had bowed to Megharatha with devotion, Siṃharatha went to his own city and established his son on the throne. His mind subdued, he adopted mendicancy at the feet of holy Ghanaratha Svāmin, practiced penance, and attained emancipation.
Footnotes and references:
Their bellies were so emaciated that they were sunken like the hells.
This name does not occur in the usual Jain cosmography.
I.e., there would be fasting for 3 days, followed by fast-breaking, then 32 fast-days alternated with 32 fast-breaking days, then a three-day fast, followed by a fast-breaking day. Thus the entire penance consisted of 72 days.
One ācāmāmla meal is eaten, then a day’s fast, then two meals (one a day), then a fast. The meals are increased by one each time: 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. up to 100. There are 5,050 days on which an ācāmāmla meal is eaten and 100 fast days, making a total of 14 years, 3 months, and 20 days. Anta. 32, B.p. 106. For ācāmāmla itself, see I, n. 324 and above, n. 252.