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 5: Śānti’s birth-bath

Then Vajrabhṛt knew of the Jina’s birth by the shaking of his throne and came there with his retinue by his aerial car Pālaka. “Reverence to you, bearer of a jewel in the womb,” saying, Śakra gave a sleeping-charm to the queen and laid down another figure of the Arhat. Then he became fivefold, as if by means of four mirrors, and with one of these he took the Lord in his hands. Carrying chauris with two forms and a shining umbrella with one, twirling the thunderbolt beautifully with one in front, he proceeded. In a moment Śakra reached the rock Atipāṇḍukambalā on Meru’s peak and sat down on the lion-throne with the Lord on his lap. Then the sixty-three Indras, Acyuta and others, came to that mountain, as if they had an appointment, because of the shaking of their thrones. Acyuta bathed the Lord with pitchers filled with water brought from the oceans, rivers, ponds, et cetera. Then the sixty-two other Indras, holding pitchers, bathed the sixteenth Tīrthaṅkara and his mother. Then Īśāna became five forms and with one form took the Lord, and with three the chauris, et cetera, and with the other stood in front, holding a trident. At the four sides of the Lord Śakra created instantly four crystal bulls like spotless light of the heavens. Hari bathed the Master with the water that had come from the tips of their horns as clear as if it had come from a fountain. Hari dried the Lord with devadūṣya, anointed him with gośīrṣa-sandal, and adorned him with divine ornaments and garlands.

After he had waved the light for the Master properly, he began a purifying hymn of praise in a voice choking with joy.


“Blessed One, reverence to you, benefactor of all the world, wonderfully magnificent, the only shade-tree on the road of the desert of saṃsāra. The sight of you, dawn for the night of accumulated sins, has been attained by me by good fortune, Supreme Lord. The eyes are blessed by which you have been seen, Lord of the World. The hands of those people are blessed by whom contact with you has been experienced. One time yon were a magnificent Cakravartin of the Vidyādharas; once a god of high rank; once a Baladeva. Once you were the Indra of Acyuta; once a knowledgeable[1] cakrabhṛt; and once an Ahamindra, the ornament of Graiveyaka. One time you were a noble king with clairvoyant knowledge; and once an Ahamindra, the ornament of Sarvārthasiddha. In what birth were you not superior, Supreme Lord? Now the songs of praise are completed by your birth as Tīrthakṛt. I am not capable of telling your virtues. However, I shall tell my own purpose. May my devotion to your lotus-feet exist in every birth.”

After this hymn of praise, Vajrabhṛt took again the Lord from Īśāna, went quickly, and deposited him at Queen Acirā’s side, according to custom. Hari fastened up high a śrīdāmagaṇḍaka[2] to amuse the Master’s eyes, and deposited two garments of devadūṣya and a pair of earrings on the pillow. Then Maghavan, whose words are not in vain, had proclaimed by the gods: “Whoever, evil-minded, of gods, demons, or mortals, shall think anything unfavorable to the Arhat and the Arhat’s mother, his head shall burst into seven pieces, like the clusters of blossoms of the arjaka.”

Vaiśravaṇa, at Pākaśāsana’s command, made a great shower of jewels and gold in the city Hastināpura. Hari took the sleeping-charm away from the queen, like the sun from the day-blooming lotus, and the Arhat’s image at once. Hari appointed five Apsarases as nurses for the Arhat; and then the other Vāsavas went to Meru in Nandī-śvara. All, delighted, held an eight-day festival to the images of the eternal Arhats properly and went to their respective places.

Then the queen, when sleep had gone away, saw her son with divine ornaments and garments, divine unguents, and a flood of light. The queen’s attendants, excited by joy and eagerness, went and told the king about the birth of a son and the actions of the Dikkumārīs, et cetera. Then, delighted, the king gave them a gratuity and held his son’s birth-festival with great magnificence. Because unfavorable conditions had subsided while he was in the womb, the king, delighted, gave the name Śānti to his son. Sucking his own thumb which had nectar injected by Śakra, when hungry, the Lord gradually grew up, tended by nurses.

Although mature in knowledge from birth, he engaged in various childish amusements. Everything suitable to the time is proper. Gods, very much afraid of disrespect, made the Lord play, wishing to make themselves important by means of mudpies with the Master. The Lord did not defeat them too easily in games, foot-races, et cetera. For the noble are followers of compassion, even when another emotion is strong. So the Lord, playing in various games, the playhouse of Śrī, forty bows tall, attained youth.

The king married princesses to Śānti. For the very powerful are not satiated with wedding-festivals of their sons. At the end of twenty-five thousand years the king installed Śānti on the throne, but he himself attended to religious duties. The son of Viśvasena protected the earth properly. For the incarnation of the great is for the sake of the protection of all. The son of Acirā enjoyed himself with his wives. For the to-be-enjoyed-karma, even of Arhats, which has pleasure as its fruit must be experienced. Queen Yaśomatī was at the head of all his female household. She saw in a dream a cakra entering her mouth, like a sun entering a cloud.

Footnotes and references:


The cakrabhṛt had clairvoyant knowledge. Hemacandra regularly uses jñānin of one who has the superior kinds of knowledge. Cf. I, p. 201.


See I, n. 167 and II, n. 104.