Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

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

Part 3: Origin of the Harivaṃśa

After falling from there he became an Arhat in the Harivaṃśa. Hence the origin of the line is told first. It is as follows: In the zone Bhārata of Jambūdvīpa there is the city Kauśāmbī, ornament of the country Vatsa. Its king was Sumukha, by whose glories like fragrant sandal-paste the face of the heavens was adorned. His command was not to be transgressed by kings, like a jungle by serpents, and his power became unique like that of Vajra-pāṇi. He was conciliating those suitable for conciliation like a tender-hearted father, bestowing gifts on those to be won by gifts, like a sorcerer on spirits, making a division among the crafty, like a loadstone in iron, carrying a staff for the guilty, like another Daṇḍapāṇi (Yama).[1]

One day when the spring season, a kinsman of Love, had arrived, the king started for the garden, eager for sport. As he went along on his elephant, he saw the lotuseyed wife, Vanamālā, of the weaver, Vīra. Seeing her with swelling, high breasts, with arms soft as lotus-fibres, with a waist small as a thunderbolt, with hips like a broad sandy beach, with a navel deep as the whirlpool in a river, with thighs like an elephant’s trunk, with hands and feet reddish like a young red lotus, with arched brows, holding with her left hand the garment falling from her hips and with her right hand the upper garment falling from her breasts, the king was instantly distracted by love and, slowing his elephant’s gait, reflected:

“Is she an Apsaras fallen from the sky because of some one’s curse, or is she a forest-Lakṣmī herself, or the Śrī of spring herself, or Rati separated from Smara, or a Naga-maiden come to earth, or a jewel of a woman made by the Creator from curiosity?”

With these reflections the king made his elephant roam about in the same place and did not go forward, as if waiting for some one. The minister, wishing to know his intention, said to the king, “Master, the whole company has arrived. Why is there a delay now?” Collecting his thoughts with difficulty at this speech of the minister, the king went to the large garden, Yamunodvarta. But the king took no pleasure in a grove of mangoes very beautiful with clusters of blossoms, nor in a grove of aśokas with an abundance of dancing young shoots, nor in a cluster of medlar filled with bees, nor in a thicket of plantains whose leaves had become fans, nor in a grove of karṇikāras whose Blossoms were earrings for the Śrī of spring, nor in anything else, his mind carried away by thoughts of her. Minister Sumati, knowing his heart, but pretending not to know it, said to the king thus depressed in mind:

“Is there some perturbation or has fear been caused by enemies? There could not be a third cause of confusion on the part of kings. There could not be fear of enemies on your part by whose power the world has been subdued. If there is some perturbation and if it must not be kept secret, tell me.”

The king said: “Enemies were reduced to subjection by you whose power is without trickery. My arms are witnesses. Even in some perturbation of the mind, you would surely have a remedy. That is my opinion. So why should I not tell you? As I was coming along just now, I saw on the road a woman, the thief of the wealth of beauty of all women. My mind, wounded by love, was seized by her. For that reason I am depressed. Make a suitable scheme in this matter, minister.”

The minister said, “I know her, lord. She is the wife of a weaver, Vīra, named Vanamālā. I will get her for you very quickly, lord, but the master should go to his house with his retinue.” At these words the king got into his palanquin, distrait like a sick man, and went to his own abode, thinking of Vanamālā. Then Sumati sent a mendicant nun,[2] Ātreyikā, who was skilled in various schemes, to Vanamālā. Ātreyī went immediately to Vanamālā’s house, was honored by her, and said with a blessing, “Child, why are you pale today like a lotus at the coming of winter? Why are your cheeks pale like digits of the moon in the daytime? Why do you keep on meditating, casting vacant glances? Formerly you told me everything. Why do you not tell me your trouble?”

Vanamālā, sighed and said, with folded hands: “What story, consisting of longing for an object hard to obtain, shall I tell? On the one hand, a she-ass, on the other hand, the king of steeds, noble Uccaiḥśravas; on one hand, a young jackal, on the other, a young lion; here, a miserable hen-sparrow, there, the king of birds; here, I, a weaver-woman, there, a lover hard to win. Even of those a union might take place some way or other by the will of the Creator; but his union with me lowborn would never take place even in a dream.”

Ātreyikā said, “I will accomplish your wish. What cannot be accomplished by the virtuous who know charms and spells?” Vanamālā said, “Today I saw the king on the road, seated on an elephant, like Manmatha in person. From the sight of him, which was like a stream of sandal, a powerful fever of love shot up in my body. A union with him, like the crest-jewel of Takṣaka as a remedy for fever, is hard for wretched me to obtain. What shall I do, Blessed Lady?” Ātreyī said, “Shall I drag down a god, a demon, the moon, the sun, or a Vidyādhara? What talk of charms in this case? I will cause your union with the king at dawn, innocent girl, or I will enter a blazing fire. Have confidence.”

After comforting Vanamālā in this way, the mendicant nun went away and told the minister Sumati that the king’s business was as good as done. The minister told the king this and comforted him. Generally the hope of winning the beloved is a source of delight. At dawn Ātreyikā went to Vanamālā’s house and said: “King Sumukha has been made affectionately disposed toward you by me. Get up, child. Now let us go to the king’s house. Sport with the king as you like, like a queen.” Vanamālā went with her to the king’s house, and the infatuated king placed her in the harem.

Wandering with her in pleasure-gardens, rivers, tanks, peaks, et cetera, King Sumukha experienced blissful pleasure.

New the weaver, Vīra, separated from Vanamālā, wandered about as if possessed by a demon, as if crazy, as if intoxicated. His body gray with dust like a piece of an old rag, his hair disordered, the hair on his body and his nails long, attended by boys of the town with loud tumult, crying: “Vanamālā, Vanamālā, where are you? Let me see you. Why have you deserted me, innocent, alone, suddenly? Or rather, you have deserted me as a joke. It is not right for so long a time. Or have you been kidnaped by a Rakṣas, a Yakṣa, a Vidyādhara or some one greedy for beauty?” at the junctions of three roads and four roads in the city, he passed the time, wretched like a poor man.

One day, crying aloud in this way, he went to the palace-courtyard, surrounded by crowds of children like a monkey. Covered with garlands made from the flowers left from sacrifices, looking like a piśāca, he was surrounded immediately by the king’s servants eager to see a spectacle. King Sumukha heard the noise of outcries mixed with the noise of loud clappings from the people following him. Wishing to know “What is this?” King Sumukha went with Vanamālā to the courtyard of his own palace. When they saw him so changed in appearance, dirty, vacant-miṅded, being abused by the people, tormented by dust, crying out “Vanamālā, Vanamālā, where are you?” Vanamālā and the king thought: “Alas! We, badly behaved like butchers, have committed this cruel act. Oh! he, unsuspecting, was deceived. I think in future no other crime will be pre-eminent, for we are foremost among the pre-eminently wicked. We are more debased than traitors even, since we made this wretched man have a living death. Shame, shame on this lust for sense-objects on the part of people with dull discrimination. Even in hell there is no place for us because of that crime. They are fortunate, who, high-minded, their senses always subdued, abandon pleasures of the senses which are the cause of pain in the end. The ones who listen to and practice the religion of the Jinas day and night, who benefit everyone, they are to be praised.”

As they were blaming themselves and praising those devoted to dharma, a stroke of lightning struck them and killed them. Because of the development of their mutual affection and of their pure meditation, after death they became twins in Harivarṣa. Their parents named them Hari and Hariṇī and they were never separated day or night, husband and wife as in the former birth. Their wishes were fulfilled by the ten wishing-trees and they remained there happily, enjoying themselves like gods.

When Vanamālā and the king were killed by the stroke of lightning, the weaver Vīra performed severe ‘fool’s penance.’[3] After death he became a god of the rank kilbiṣaka[4] in the heaven Saudharma, and he saw his own former birth by clairvoyance, and also Hari and Hariṇī. Red-eyed from anger at once, terrible with frowns like Yama, wishing to destroy them, he went to Harivarṣa. The god reflected: “Here they are inviolable and after death will certainly go to heaven from the power of the country. I shall take these enemies of a former birth to another place which will bestow death even unseasonably through the persistence of misfortunes.”

Thus resolving, the god took them both with wishing-trees to the city Campā in this Bharata. Just then the king in this city, Candrakīrti, belonging to the Ikṣvāku family, had died without a son. Then the ministers began to search on all sides for a man suitable to be king, like yogis searching for the soul. The god, astonishing all the people by his divine magnificence, standing in the air like a mass of light, said, “Listen! Royal counselors, ministers, vassals, etc. Your king has died without a son and so you are seeking a king. As if inspired by your merit, I have brought here this very day a twin, suitable to rule, named Hari, from Harivarṣa. This is his wife, Hariṇī, born at the same time. I have brought these wishing-trees to provide them with food. Therefore let him be your king, marked with the śrīvatsa, fish, pitcher, thunderbolt, and goad, lotus-eyed. The unimpaired fruit of the wishing-trees, the flesh of cattle and birds, and wine must be given to the twins for food.”

Saying, “So be it,” they bowed to the god, put the couple in a chariot, and took them to the palace. Then the vassals, et cetera, installed Hari on the throne accompanied by auspicious songs by priests, bards, and musicians. By his own power the god made their life of short duration, their height a hundred bows, and then went away, his purpose accomplished. Hari was king at the time of Śītala Svāmin’s congregation and from that time the Harivaṃśa has been on earth, named from him.

King Hari subdued the earth girdled by the ocean, and married many royal maidens resembling Śrīs. When some time had passed, a broad-chested son, named Pṛthvīpati, was born to Hari and Hariṇī. Hari, who had accumulated sin, died with Hariṇī, and their son, Pṛthvīpati, became king. After guarding the kingdom for a long time, he put his son Mahāgiri on the throne, practiced severe penance, and went to heaven. Mahāgiri in turn put his son Himagiri on the throne, practiced penance, and went to an imperishable abode. Then Himagiri put his eldest son Vasugiri on the throne, became a mendicant, and reached emancipation. Vasugiri put his son Giri in his place, adopted mendicancy, and went to emancipation, his karma destroyed. Giri put his son Mitragiri on the throne, became a mendicant, and went to heaven. So in succession there were numberless kings in the Harivaṃśa. Some reached emancipation and some heaven as a result of penance.

Footnotes and references:


The 4 upāyas. See Abhi. 3. 400.


Not a Jain, needless to say. See above, n. 45.


See III, n. 285.


The lowest rank among the gods. See II, p. 125.

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