Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This is the English translation of the Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Charita (literally “The lives of the sixty-three illustrious People”), a Sanskrit epic poem written by Hemachandra in the twelfth century. The work relates the history and legends of important figures in the Jain faith. These 63 persons include: the twenty four tirthankaras , the t...

Part 1: Incarnation as Śānti (introduction)

There is a magnificent city, Hastināpura, in the country of the Kurus in the zone Bharata in Jambūdvīpa. The golden finials on the tops of its palaces have the appearance of a garden of mallows that are always up.

Around it gleams a circular moat with pure, pellucid water, like a mirror of the wall. Glossy trees on the banks of the canals in its gardens look like clouds that have descended to take water. At night the moon reflected in the jeweled roofs of its houses is licked by cats with the idea that it is a ball of curds. The long spirals of smoke from aloes burning in its shrines become petticoats, produced without effort, for the Khecarīs. Jeweled garlands are observed there, suspended on the row of shops, that are like the wealth of jewels brought from all the oceans. The shadows of banners on the floors of its shrines, moving to and fro, look like serpents guarding the treasury of religion. Its dwellings with floors of sapphire show a resemblance to pleasure-pools filled with water.