Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Reincarnation of Abhicandra (sixth of Malli’s six former friends) which is the twelfth part of chapter VI of the English translation of the Shri Mallinatha-caritra, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. Shri Mallinatha in jainism is one of the 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.

Part 12: Reincarnation of Abhicandra (sixth of Malli’s six former friends)

Now Abhicandra’s jīva fell from Vaijayanta and became King Jitaśatru in Kāmpīlya. He had a thousand wives, of whom Dhāriṇī was first, like a band of Apsarases drawn from heaven by merit. Now a clever mendicant nun,[1] Cokṣā, came to Mithilā and told in the houses of kings and lords: “Dharma always has a root in liberality, also arises from sprinkling with the waters of sacred places, and is the source of heaven and emancipation. Our words to this effect are true.” So making the people of the cities and the country progress in this religion, she came one day in her wandering to the house presided over by Malli. Carrying the triple staff, wearing reddish garments, after sprinkling the ground with water from the water-jar with darbha grass,[2] she sat down on her mat.

She explained (her) dharma as it was to Malli, as she had to other people; but Malli, having the three kinds of knowledge, said: “Liberality alone does not lead to dharma. If it did, the feeding of cats, cocks, et cetera would be for its sake. How can purity be from sprinklings with water from sacred places which are rooted in destruction of life? Does a smear of blood become clean by being washed with blood? Dharma has its root in discernment; there is none of one lacking in discernment. Penance on his part results merely in torment of the body without a doubt.” Spoken to in this way by Malli, Cokṣā was ashamed, her face downcast. By whom can a proper speech by a superior be resisted? She was reviled by slave-girls, et cetera saying, “How long have you deceived the world by your false teaching, O heretic?”

Cokṣā reflected: “Since I have been abused as they liked by her, arrogant because of royal prestige, and by her attendants following their mistress’s wish, I will cast her among many co-wives by my own wit, to pay the debt of their hostility.”

She went away, her mind inflamed with anger, and went to King Jitaśatru in Kāmpīlya. She was received by the king with great respect; after she had bestowed a blessing, auspicious in speech, she sat down on her mat. She was honored with devotion by the king and the women of his family; and there also she explained dharma as caused by liberality and sprinkling with holy water. The king said:

“Blessed lady, you have wandered over the whole earth independently. So I ask you: Have you seen before anywhere else such a fine group of women as this of mine, Cokṣā?”

Cokṣā said, smiling,: “O king, do you think these women of yours of any importance, like a frog in a well thinking the well big? In the city of Mithilā there is Malli, King Kumbha’s daughter, a jewel of a maiden, the crest-jewel of gazelle-eyed women. Such beauty is not seen in goddesses and Nāga-maidens as there is in her mere finger. The beauty of her figure is extraordinary; her beauty is extraordinary; her wealth of grace is extraordinary. What else is to be said?” Because of this speech of hers and his former affection, Jitaśatru sent a messenger at once to King Kumbha to ask for her.

Footnotes and references:


Parivrājikā in Hemacandra means a Hindu nun, in contrast with its use in Hindu texts. Cf. Bloomfield, On False Ascetics and Nuns in Hindu Fiction, JAOS, 44. It is an error to say there are no Brahmanical nuns.


A bunch of darbha is kept in the mouth of the water-jar and is used to sprinkle the water.

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