Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Story of Virabhadra which is the tenth part of chapter II of the English translation of the Shri Aranatha-caritra, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. Shri Aranatha in jainism is one of the 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.

Part 10: Story of Vīrabhadra

A certain dwarf who had come to hear dharma sat down, and then Sheth[1] Sāgaradatta bowed to Kumbha and said:

“Blessed One, by the nature of existence all creatures are afflicted by pain. I am especially afflicted since there is not an atom of comfort. By my wife Jinamati I had a daughter, Priyadarśanā, who excelled goddesses in beauty. She attained an unusual skill in the arts and reached adolescence distinguished by a wealth of beauty and cleverness. I was troubled because I did not see a suitable husband for her and Jinamati asked me, ‘Why are you anxious, husband?’ ‘I am worried, fair lady, because I do not find anywhere a suitable husband for your daughter, though I am searching for him.’ Jinamati said, ‘Sheth, you must find the best husband, some one for whom we will feel no regret, husband.’ I said, ‘Fate is in control in this case. For everyone desires his own good. No one desires little for himself.’

After this conversation I went to the bazaar and saw Ṛṣabhadatta, a wealthy trader who had come from Tāmralipti. Because of the same religion, we had friendly conversation about business-news, like old friends. One day he came to my house for some reason and looks at my daughter Priyadarśanā for a long time. He asked me, ‘Whose daughter is she?’ and I replied, ‘She is my daughter. Why do you look at her for a long time?’ Ṛṣabhadatta said: ‘Sheth, I have a son, named Vīrabhadra, grown-up, well-behaved. He surpasses Kandarpa in beauty, Kavi (Śukra) in skill in poetry, Vācaspati in eloquence, Vardhaki (Tvaṣṭṛ) in skill in crafts, Hūhū in song, Tumbaru on the lute, Bharata in drama, Nārada in sports. He changes his form like a god by the use of pills, et cetera. What is the use of saying more? There is no art which he does not know as well as the Creator. I have not seen anywhere a girl suitable for him, but this girl whom I have seen after a long time is suitable for him.’

I said: ‘This daughter of mine is very expert in the arts. For a long time I have been worried about a suitable husband. By a favorable fate this meeting of ours was a good thing. At last let our children be united as bride and groom.’

Delighted at finding a suitable daughter-in-law he went to his own city and sent Vīrabhadra with a large procession of friends. When I saw Vīrabhadra, I felt great satisfaction because I saw that his beauty ánd virtues agreed with his father’s description. On an auspicious day Vīrabhadra married my daughter Priyadarśanā accompanied by blessings and auspicious songs of high-born women. He stayed for a few days and then went to his own city with his wife. For wise persons do not stay long in the house of their parents-in-law.

One day I heard that Vīrabhadra had deserted my daughter in the last watch of the night, while she was asleep, and had gone somewhere alone. A certain dwarf brought me the news just now, but he did not explain clearly. Explain it to me clearly, Lord.”

Thus informed by Sāgaradatta, the blessed Kumbha, the chief gaṇadhara, an ocean of compassion, said:

“Your son-in-law thought during the night: ‘I am versed in the arts and many charms have been acquired. The uses of divine pills are known, the source of astonishment, and much skill in all the crafts has been gained. All this is without result from lack of any demonstration at all, since I am restrained here by embarrassment in the presence of my elders. Alas! I am a contemptible man, like a frog in a well, if I remain. I will go to other places and show my own merits.’ With these reflections he got up, but again he thought, ‘If my wife is pretending sleep, that would be an obstacle to my going.’ Then he aroused his wife for sport, and she said, ‘I have a headache. Why do you disturb me, husband?’ He asked, ‘Whose fault is it that you have a headache?’ She said, ‘Your fault.’ ‘Why?’ he asked, and she replied, ‘Because of this clever talk of yours at this time.’ He said, ‘Do not be angry with me, dear. I will not do such a thing again.’

Talking to her this way with a purpose, he made love to her ardently and she went to sleep, fatigued by love, not knowing his deceitful speech. Thinking, ‘She is really asleep,’ he left her and, his garments girded firmly, Vīrabhadra left his own house, like a hero. By means of a pill he made himself dark-complexioned. For the form becomes different from a change in color, like poetry from a change in letters. He wandered at will in villages, cities, et cetera, like a Vidyādhara, showing his superiority in all the arts and crafts. Priyadarśanā took leave of her parents-in-law and went to her father’s house. For living elsewhere is not suitable for high-born women without husbands.

One day Vīrabhadra went in his wandering to the city Ratnapura, ruled over by King Ratnākara, in Siṃhaladvīpa. He sat down in the shop of Sheth Śaṅkha, who had a wealth of virtues fair as a conch, and was asked, ‘Where are you from, sir?’ Vīrabhadra replied, ‘I left my own home in Tāmralipti in anger and came here in the course of wandering, father.’ Sheth Śaṅkha said: ‘Going to a foreign country like that was not well done by you, a delicate youth, son. That crooked act of yours was made straight by fate, since you have come uninjured here into my presence, son.’

With these words Sheth Śaṅkha took him to his house like his own son, had him bathed and fed and said to him affectionately: ‘You alone are a son to me to whom no son was born. Having become master, enjoy and give my wealth. Amusing yourself, magnificent as a god, give satisfaction to my eyes. For wealth is easy to acquire, son, but a son to enjoy it is difficult to acquire.’ Vīrabhadra, said politely: ‘Though I left my father’s house, I came to a father’s house. I submit to your command. I am your disciple always. For one’s own son is the son of evil,[2] but I am a sou in religion.’

Then he dwelt pleasantly in the house of Sheth Śaṅkha, making the townsmen show open astonishment at his skill in arts and crafts.

King Ratnākara had a daughter, the only fair one of the universe, Anaṅgasundarī by name, who hated men. Vinayavatī, the sole abode of good-breeding, the daughter of Sheth Śaṅkha, went to visit her daily. One day Vīrabhadra asked her with brotherly affection, ‘Where are you going, sister?’ and Vinayavatī told him how it was. ‘With what amusements does your friend pass the time, sister?’ Vīrabhadra asked and she replied, ‘With the lute, et cetera.’ He said, ‘I am going with you,’ and she said, ‘Admittance is not allowed to any man, not even a boy. How will you get it?’ ‘I shall assume a woman’s appearance completely.’ She agreed and he immediately put on women’s clothes, like an actor. He went with her and when asked by Anaṅgasundarī, ‘Who is this girl with you, friend?’ she said, ‘It is my sister.’

Then Anaṅgasundarī began to paint a swan grieved at separation (from her mate) on a tablet with lovely new paints. Vīrabhadra said to her, ‘You began to paint her grieved by separation, but her eye, et cetera are not right.’ Anaṅgasundarī said, ‘You paint it,’ and gave the tablet and paints to Vīrabhadra. Vīrabhadra painted such a swan immediately and handed it to her. After examining it, she said, ‘Indeed, skill in painting shows the inner emotions. Just so, her eye is shedding tear-drops. The face is sickly looking; the bill is holding a lotus-stalk feebly; the neck is languid; the wings are unable to rise. This desolate appearance clearly describes her condition grieved by the separation, even though it is not described itself. Why, friend, did you not bring her, so skilled in the arts, for so long? Why did you put her in a house and keep her like a secret?’

Vīrabhadra said, ‘My sister did not bring me from fear of our elders. There is no other reason.’ Anaṅgasundarī said, ‘In future you must come every day with your sister. What is her name, fair lady?’ Vīrabhadra said quickly, ‘My name is Vīramatī.’ The princess said again, ‘Do you know other arts also?’ Vinayavatī said, ‘You will soon know, yourself. There is no confidence in wonderful accomplishments described by others.’ Anaṅgasundarī, delighted, said, ‘Wry well,’ and, after entertaining Vinayavatī, dismissed her together with him (Vīrabhadra).

Vīrabhadra laid aside his women’s clothing at the house and went back to the shop to join the merchant, restrained by devotion to his father. Then the sheth said to him affectionately, ‘Son, where have you been all this time? I have been embarrassed to reply to men asking for you here.’ Vīrabhadra said, ‘Father, I have gone to the garden.’ The sheth replied, ‘If that is so, you did a good thing.’

On the next day he, a depository of arts, went there in the same way, and saw Anaṅgasundarī playing the lute, Vīrabhadra said to her, ‘This string does not have the proper tone, because there is a human hair fastened to it. fair lady.’ ‘How do you know that?’ He replied, ‘I know from observation of the performance of the melody yon began.’ Then she handed the lute to Vīrabhadra and he, knowing the truth, unfastened the string immediately. He drew out a human hair from its center, like an arrow from the heart, and showed it to her, astonishing her. Then he replaced the string and fastened it again on the neck, and played the lute, surpassing Tumbaru in skill. He produced notes with very clear intervals in a stream and tānas and kūṭatānas and distinct vyañjanadhātukas.[3] Employing a kind of playing, he developed on the lute a melody with soft sounds and loud sounds, nectar to the ears. Anaṅgasundarī and her retinue, experiencing great joy, stood as if painted in a picture. Does, too, are to be caught by song. When she had heard the song of the lute, the princess reflected, ‘Such an accomplished person is hard for even the gods to find. Moreover, my birth is useless without her. A statue, though complete, is beautiful only with a wreath of flowers.’

He showed her his skill in other arts, seizing a proper occasion, a thief of the wealth of her mind. Vīrabhadra perceived that Anaṅgasundarī was in love with him and one day said to Sheth Śaṅkha secretly: ‘Following Vinayavatī, I have gone every day to Anaṅgasundarī, disguised as a woman. Do not fear that I shall do anything that will be a discredit to you; rather, there will be honor. If the king wishes to give you his daughter for me, you must not consent at first. There is honor, when there is great insistence. The sheth said, ‘You will know best, superior in intelligence, but one thing we will say: Your own welfare must be observed.’ Vīrabhadra replied, ‘Do not worry, father. Soon you will see your son’s creditable conduct with successful results.’ ‘Son, you know best,’ and the sheth was silent.

Then there was a rumor in King Ratnākara’s council: ‘A young man from Tāmralipti has come to the house of Sheth Śaṅkha. He distinguishes himself daily in the city by various arts. Because he comes from a foreign country, his family is not known, but his appearance indicates that he comes from a well-born family.’ Then the king thought: ‘This young man is like Manmatha in beauty, of good habits, of good appearance, an ocean of arts, intelligent. If he, suitable, pleases my daughter as a husband, there is no fault on the part of the Creator arranging a suitable alliance.’

Vīrabhadra said to Anaṅgasundarī privately, ‘Why are you averse to pleasure in such entirety, friend?’ Anaṅgasundarī replied: ‘Who does not like pleasure? However, a husband suitable for myself, well-born, is hard to find. Better a gem by itself than set in a glass ring; better a river without water than one filled with sea-monsters; better a house entirely empty than one filled with thieves; better a garden without trees than one with poisonous trees; better a woman unmarried, though young and beautiful, than one mortified by an ignorant, low-born husband. For so long a time I have not seen a suitable husband, friend. Why should I be an object of ridicule by choosing a husband with few attainments?’

Vīrabhadra said: ‘Do not say, “There is no husband, superior, suitable for me.” This earth is full of jewels. Shall I find a suitable husband for you this very day? Otherwise pleasure will not please you, you with fastidious taste.’ Anaṅgasundarī said: ‘Do you tear out my tongue by giving hope or are you lying? If you are speaking the truth, show me a suitable husband, that my arts, youth, beauty, et cetera may be satisfied.’

After this speech of hers, Vīrabhadra disclosed his own form and she said: ‘I am, indeed, submissive to you. You are my husband.’ He said: ‘Very well. There must be no gossip. In future I shall not come here. You must inform the king, so he will say urgently to Sheth Śaṅkha, “Anaṅgasundarī should be given to Vīrabhadra.”’ She agreed and Vīrabhadra went to his own house. She summoned her mother at once and said: ‘For so long I have been only a source of worry to my parents, like an arrow in the breast, from lack of a suitable husband, mother. I have discovered a husband, suitable because of his own arts, beauty, et cetera—Vīrabhadra, the son of Sheth Śaṅkha. Give me to him this very day. Then inform my father that he may ask Sheth Śaṅkha for him for me.’ Delighted at this speech, the queen went and said to the king: ‘Fortunately you are to be congratulated today on finding a suitable husband for your daughter. The son of Sheth Śaṅkha, a young mail named Vīrabhadra, has been discovered by Anaṅgasundarī herself as a husband suitable for her.’ The king said: ‘To me considering this matter, you have come with this news like a wishing-gem or like a cow of plenty. Indeed, our daughter showed perseverance and cleverness in discovering a husband, since such a husband was chosen after she had waited so long.’

Summoned at once by the king, Sheth Śaṅkha, accompanied by many merchant-princes, came there and bowed to the king. Then the king said to Sheth Śaṅkha: ‘A pertain young man has come to your house from Tāmralipti. He is reported to be proficient in the ocean of all the arts, possessing unique beauty and grace, and eligible from the number of good qualities.’ Śaṅkha said, ‘Your Majesty, the people know his merits.’ The king asked, ‘Is he subject to your command or not?’ Sheth Śaṅkha said, ‘Master, why do you say this? To him alone all the people are subject, won by his merits.’ The king replied, ‘Take Anaṅgasundarī for him this very day, sheth. At last, let the union of these two suited to each other take place.’ The sheth said, ‘You are our master. We are your subjects to be protected. Alliance and friendship are desirable between equals only.’ The king commanded,

‘Do you refuse me indirectly? Obey my command without hesitation. Go and prepare at once.’

Respecting the king’s command, Śaṅkha went home and told Vīrabhadra all the king’s command. Then Anaṅgasundarī’s and Vīrabhadra’s wedding was celebrated with great magnificence at an auspicious moment on an auspicious day. Their delight in each other increased from day to day. It should be very great on the part of husband and wife who are chosen by themselves. Teaching her the Jain doctrine, Vīrabhadra made her a laywoman. May the union of the good in this world result in joy in the next world also. He himself painted an image of the Arhat and the fourfold congregation on canvas, gave it to her, and enlightened her.

One day, Vīrabhadra thought, ‘She appears devoted to me. But there is no certainty of the stability of women fickle by nature. Very well. I shall find out her true disposition.’ After these reflections, agreeable from cunning, he said to Anaṅgasundarī: ‘Dearest, nothing is dearer to me than you. Nevertheless, I am going to leave you to go to my own country. Since my parents, pained by the long separation from me, are very unhappy, I shall go and comfort them. You stay here, fair lady. I shall return quickly. I cannot endure to stay any place else without you.’

Turning pale, she said: ‘That is well-said by you, at the mere hearing of which my life wishes to depart. It is evident that you are hard-hearted, since you are able to say that. If I were like you, I would be able to hear it.’

At this reply Vīrabhadra said, ‘Do not be angry, dear. I have thought of this means of taking you along.’

Then Vīrabhadra asked the king persistently for permission to go to his own country with Anaṅgasundarī. Reluctantly the king allowed Vīrabhadra to leave with his wife. For whom is separation from a daughter and son-in-law generally not hard to bear? Then they set out by water, embarked on a ship. Travel by land- or sea-routes is the same for the bold. The boat started, propelled by a favorable wind, like an arrow shot from the bow, like a bird started from the nest. When the ship had covered a certain distance, a great wind blew, like the wind at the end of the world. The sea rose as if at the end of the world, very terrifying, and lifted the boat, like an elephant lifting a bundle of straw. After being lifted up repeatedly and tossing about for three days, it split on a rock, like a crushed bird’s-egg. At the time the ship split, Anaṅgasundarī reached one of its planks. There is no death of one whose life-period is unbroken. Tossed up and down by the waves like a haṃsī, after five nights Anaṅgasundarī reached a shore covered with woods. Because of separation from her relatives and going to a foreign country, because of separation from her husband, the destruction of the ship, the loss of money, the pounding by waves, miserable from hunger and thirst, like a water-animal out of water, she had fallen as if unconscious and was seen by a young ascetic compassionate by nature with a sympathetic eye.

He lifted her up and led her like a sister to the hermitage. Stay here without fear, daughter,’ the abbot said to her. Cared for by the ascetics for several days she recovered and remained as if in her father’s house. The abbot reflected, ‘If she remains here, she will certainly destroy the concentration of the ascetics because of her extraordinary beauty.’ Then the old ascetic said to her: ‘Child, there is a town Padminīkhaṇḍa not far from here. People, for the most part good and wealthy, live there. If you stay there, you will have the greatest degree of comfort. Certainly you will meet your husband there. So go there, child, with some old ascetics.’

At this command of the abbot, she went to Padminīkhaṇḍa, like a haṃsī to a lotus-bed, escorted by elderly ascetics. Saying, ‘It is not permitted us to enter the city,’ the ascetics left her outside the city and returned home. Making the sky bloom with lotuses, as it were, by her glances; looking in all directions like a doe lost from the herd, she saw a head-nun, Suvratā, like her own mother, surrounded by nuns, coming for care of the body. She remembered, ‘These have been shown to me by my husband, painted on a canvas with his own hand, above reproach, worshipped by the world.’ Remembering this, she approached quickly and paid homage to Suvratā and the nuns in accordance with the rule learned before. ‘Praise the shrines of Siṃhaladvīpa by my voice, mother,’ she said to the nun Suvratā, her hands folded together. Suvratā said to her, ‘Have you come from Siṃhaladvīpa? And why are you alone? For there is not a good appearance without attendants.’ ‘I shall tell everything when I am safe,’ she said; and the head-nun Suvratā went with her to her rest-house quickly. Paying homage to the nuns with extraordinary devotion, she was seen there by your daughter Priyadarśanā. Questioned by Suvratā and Priyadarśanā, she told her story up to the sight of Suvratā. Priyadarśanā said to her, ‘Everything, the arts, et cetera, fits Vīrabhadra, fair lady. What complexion was he?’ ‘Dark.’ Priyadarśanā said, ‘The complexion alone does not fit my husband Vīrabhadra, high-born lady.’ The head-nun said, ‘Priyadarśanā here is your sister in religion. Devoted to the practice of religion, stay with her, child.’ So advised by Suvratā, Anaṅgasundarī stayed there, with great affection shown her by Priyadarśanā.

Now, Vīrabhadra also clung to a plank when the ship was broken and was pounded by the waves. On the seventh day he was seen by a Vidyādhara-chief, named Rativallabha, and was taken to the top of Vaitāḍhya. Childless himself, he presented him to his wife, Madanamañjukā, as a son, with great joy. Questioned by them, he told the story of his own and his wife’s fall into the ocean from the beginning, and said. ‘Father, I was snatched from the ocean, like the mouth of Yama, by you; but I do not know how Anaṅgasundarī fares.’ Rativallabha found out by means of the vidyā Ābhoginī and told him, ‘Your two wives, Anaṅgasundarī and Priyadarśanā, are in the rest-house of Suvratā in the city Padminīkhaṇḍa, practicing dharma like sisters.’

At the good news about both his wives, he breathes as if sprinkled with nectar on his body. At the very time that he was taken out of the ocean, he removed the pill that had made him dark and had resumed his natural fair color. Rativallabha married his daughter, Ratnaprabhā, borne by Vajravegavatī, to him. He announced there that his name was Buddhadāsa and enjoyed mundane happiness with Ratnaprabhā.

One day he saw Vidyādharas going in a crowd and asked his wile, ‘Where are they going in a hurry?’ She replied, ‘These Vidyādharas are hurrying to make a pilgrimage to the eternal Arhats on this mountain.’

After hearing this, he, a layman, named Buddhadāsa, wise, climbed the peak of Mt. Vaitāḍhya with her. There he paid homage to the statues of the eternal Arhats devotedly; and Ratnaprabhā danced, sang, et cetera before the god. He said, ‘This god is new to me, since I live in Siṃhaladvīpa and Buddha is our, family-deity, my dear.’ She replied, ‘Lord, for that reason only you say, “This god is new to me.” For this lord is god of gods, omniscient, by whom the faults, love, et cetera have been conquered, worshipped by the three worlds, telling facts as they are, god, Arhat, supreme lord. Buddha, Brahmā, et cetera are not gods, causing people to fall into the whirlpool of the ocean of existence, wearing rosaries, et cetera, indicating their own delusion, et cetera.’ As the two amused themselves daily with various amusements, immersed in an ocean of pleasure, a certain length of time passed.

One day during the last part of the night he said, ‘Dear Ratnaprabhā, after a long time we are going to amuse ourselves pleasantly today in the southern half of Bharata.’ She agreed and the two, she and he, went to Suvratā’s rest-house in Padminīkhaṇḍa by means of a vidyā. Stopping at the door of the rest-house, Vīrabhadra said to her, ‘You stay right here until I return, after sipping water.’ With these words he went a short distance and stayed in the same place, like a king’s spy, for hef protection. Alone, separated from her husband like a cakravākī, after a moment she began to cry aloud. Such is the nature of women. Hearing the pitiful sound, the head-nun, a river of compassion, herself opened the doors and saw her. The head-nun said: ‘Child, who are you and where are you from? How is it you are alone and why are you crying?’ She bowed and said: ‘I came here with my husband from Vaitāḍhya. My husband went just now to sip water and delays a long time. He can not endure an hour without me. I fear the reason for his delay and hence I am much distressed, noble mother. My mind is like an ichneumon on hot ground on his account. Now I can not hold on to life.’ Suvratā said to her compassionately, ‘Do not be afraid, devoted wife. Remain comfortably here in the rest-house until your husband comes.’ Thus advised by the head-nun she entered the rest-house.

When Vīrabhadra had seen his wife enter the place, he went away. Assuming the form of a dwarf at will, he wandered about the city for amusement, and fascinated the citizens’ minds, showing various arts. He delighted King Īśānacandra exceedingly. For even one art would fascinate the mind, to say nothing of all the arts.

Ratnaprabhā was asked by Anaṅgasundarī and Priyadarśanā, ‘Who is your husband and what is he like?’ She said, ‘My husband is a native of Siṃhala, fair, a depository of all the arts, named Buddhadāsa, a Smara in beauty.’ Priyadarśanā said, ‘My husband agrees with that description exactly, except the living in Siṃhala and the name Buddhadāsa.’ Anaṅgasundarī said, ‘The color, the living in Siṃhala, and the name Buddhadāsa differ from my husband.’

They remained in the hermitage like three sisters, devoted to penance and study, not receiving any news of their husbands. The fictitious dwarf saw his three wives daily and was delighted with their surpassing good behavior.

One day there was a rumor in King Īśānacandra’s council that in this city in the rest-house of the nun Suvratā there were three young women, beautiful, noble, purifying the earth like three jewels. Best among good wives, moving on the path suitable for a good family, no man is able to make them speak. The fictitious dwarf said, ‘I shall make them speak in turn. See my ability in this difficult task also.’ Attended by ministers and royal servants and accompanied by some citizens also, he went to the head-nun’s rest-house. Stopping at the door of the rest-house, he instructed his companions, ‘There you must ask, “Tell some story.”’ With a small retinue he entered the rest-house and paid homage to Suvratā and the other nuns with spotless vows. The fictitious dwarf went away and sat down in the door-pavilion. The three (wives) came with the nuns from curiosity to see him.

The dwarf said, ‘Until time to go to the king, we shall stay here, our minds charmed by amusement.’ A royal servant said, ‘Tell us some interesting story.’ The dwarf said, ‘Shall I tell you a kathā or vṛttaka?’ Questioned about the difference between a kathā and a vṛttaka the dwarf said, ‘A vṛttaka is one’s own experiences; a kathā is the adventures of men of former times.’ ‘Tell a vṛttaka.’ The dwarf related:

‘Here in Bharata there is a large city Tāmraliptī. A merchant, Ṛṣabhadatta, with very excellent qualities, lives there. One day he went to the town Padminīkhaṇḍa on business. There he saw Sāgaradatta’s daughter, Priyadarśanā, and married her to his son, Vīrabhadra. With her Vīrabhadra experienced mundane happiness. Once upon a time, during the night he aroused her pretending to be asleep. “Do not disturb me. I have a headache.” “Whose fault is that?” “Your fault,” she said. Questioned by him about his fault, she said, “Why at such a time is there this artful talk on your part, husband?” Saying, “I shall not do so again,” he caressed her, and leaving her, when she had really fallen asleep, her husband went to a foreign country.’

After the dwarf had related this, he got up hurriedly, saying, ‘Now the time for my attendance in the palace is passing.’ As he got up, he was asked further by Priyadarśanā eagerly, ‘Tell where Vīrabhadra has gone. Surely you know, dwarf.’ The dwarf replied, ‘I do not talk with another man’s wife, always afraid of a blemish on my own family.’ She said, ‘Indeed, is your conduct suitable for a good family? To answer politely, certainly that is the first characteristic of a well-born man.’ ‘I shall tell you tomorrow.’ Saying this, the dwarf went away. This story was told the king by his servants and he was astonished.

The next day he (the dwarf) went to the nun’s rest-house in the same way and told a story to them very eager.

‘He left the city, turned dark by a pill and, wandering through many countries, reached Siṃhaladvípa. There he sat down in Sheth Śaṅkha’s shop in Ratnapura and, when he had learned his story, the sheth took him to his own house. He was accepted as a son by the best of merchants and remained comfortably in that city, causing astonishment by his arts. He went in women’s attire with Vinayavatī, the merchant’s daughter, to the house of princess Anaṅgasundarī. His character being made known gradually, he married her whose mind was fascinated by his arts, bestowed by her father, and enjoyed, pleasures with her for a long time. As he was going with her to the city Tāmraliptī, by chance the boat was broken up in that same ocean. Now I am going, for it is time for attendance on the king. For without service the livelihood of servants perishes.’ Then Anaṅgasundarī said to him with importunity, ‘Sir, where is Vīrabhadra now? Explain fully.’ Saying, ‘I shall tell you tomorrow,’ he went to the palace. The king’s agents told this story also to the king.

On the third day the dwarf came there and related: ‘By chance Vīrabhadra reached a plank. Then a Vidyādhara, named Rativallabha, came, saw him, and took him to his own house on Mt. Vaitāḍhya. Just as he was taken out of the ocean, he removed the pill that made him dark and became fair as when in Tāmraliptī. When asked, he, very dear to Rativallabha, said that he lived in Siṃhala and was named Buddhadāsa. At his instructions he married his daughter Ratnaprabhā and continued amusing himself pleasantly in pleasure-groves, et cetera. With her he came here one day to sport, left her here under the pretext of sipping water, and went elsewhere. Now I am going.’ And he got up, after saying this. Ratnaprabhā asked, ‘Where is Buddhadāsa now?’ ‘I shall tell more tomorrow,’ saying, he got up and went away. The three women were greatly pleased at the concurrence of their husbands as one. The dwarf is your son-in-law, Sheth Sāgara. The husband of the three, he caused a separation as a joke.”

Bowing to the best of gaṇabhṛts, the dwarf said, “It happened just as it was seen by your eye of knowledge, not otherwise.”

Kumbha, the chief-gaṇabhṛt, stopped preaching at the end of the second watch. Such is the length of the sermon. After bowing to Gaṇadhara Kumbha, Sheth Sāgaradatta, delighted, went with the dwarf to the rest-house. When the three noticed the dwarf approaching, they went to meet him immediately. Who is not pleased at receiving news about a husband?

Sāgaradatta said, “He is the husband of the three of you.” They asked, “How is that?” and he related the whole affair. The three and the head-nun, also, were amazed. Going inside, the dwarf laid aside his character of dwarf. First he became such as he was when Anaṅgasundarī saw him. Next, he laid aside his dark color and assumed a fair color. Recognized by all the women, surrounded by them eager, he was asked by the nun, “Why did you do this?” He replied, “Madam, I left home for a joke; and for a joke the desertion of these three was disregarded by me.”

The nun Suvratā spoke this true speech: “At a distance, in a foreign country, in a forest, on a mountain, even on the ocean, or in any other unpleasant place, wherever the righteous go, there they obtain measureless pleasure just as if at home. The teaching of the Arhats is, ‘Pleasures are the consequence of gifts to suitable persons.’ To whom did he give? We shall ask the Jineśvara Ara.” The chief-nun, Sāgaradatta, and Vīrabhadra with his wives went to Ara Svāmin and bowed properly. Suvratā asked the Supreme Lord, “What did Vīrabhadra do in a former birth that had pleasure as its fruit?” He explained: “In my next to the last birth,[4] as a merchant’s son named Jinadāsa, he gave me alms with devotion in the city Ratnapura at the end of a four-month fast as I was wandering over the earth observing the vows, after abandoning a powerful kingdom in the East Videhas. From that good deed he became a god in Brahmaloka. Then he fell and was born in Kāmpīlya in Airāvata in Jambūdvīpa, enjoying great wealth. There also he practiced layman’s duties, being very powerful. After death he became a god in Acyuta and then he fell and became who he is now. By merit added to merit he enjoys pleasures in this birth. Merit attends upon men everywhere.”

After explaining this and enlightening many persons, the Blessed One went elsewhere, wandering, destroying the world’s delusion. After enjoying pleasures for a long time, Vīrabhadra became a mendicant in course of time and, seated in the chariot of firm merit, went to heaven.

Footnotes and references:


Śreṣṭhin seems to be used throughout this story quite in its modern use in the form Sheth (śeṭha), which is a form of address for persons prominent in the business world, generally Jains or Hindus of the vaiśya caste.


I.e. of worldly existence.


Fox-Strangways (p. 82) calls tāna a ‘melodic figure,’ of which there are 49; he also says (p. 287) that it = “‘division’ in our eighteenth century sense of the word.” Clements says (p. 59) of kūṭatāna: “The latter are simply permutations of a given number of svaras, such as sā ri ga, sā ga ri, ri ga sā, etc.” See also Saṅgītamakaranda 1. 99 for kūṭatāna. It gives 84 tanas (1. 97). For vyañjanadhātu, a musical composition for the lute, see I, p. 375 and n. 412.


I.e., the first birth in this biography.

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