Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Story of the horse which is the eleventh 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 11: Story of the horse

“Once upon a time there was a merchant, a layman, Jinadharma by name, in the city Padminīkhaṇḍa. He had a friend, Sāgaradatta, the head of the whole city, who went with him every day to the shrines because of a tendency to right-belief. One day he heard from the sādhus, ‘Whoever has statues of the Arhats made, he will obtain dharma, which destroys worldly existence, in another birth.’ After hearing this, Sāgaradatta had a golden statue of the Arhat made and had it installed by the sādhus with great magnificence.

Outside the city there was a lofty temple of Śiva, which he had had built formerly, and he went there on the winter solstice. Jars of congealed ghī had been stored there before and the priests of Śiva began to drag them out in a hurry to eat the ghī. Ants had formed clusters beneath the jars and many of them stuck to the jars and fell in the path. Seeing them crushed by the priests as they walked, Sāgara began to remove them with his garment from compassion. One of the priests said, ‘Say! have you been taught by the white mendicants?’[1] and crushed the ants with kicks. The merchant Sāgaradatta was embarrassed at once and then looked at their ācārya’s face for instructions from him. He too being indifferent to their sin, Sāgara thought: ‘Alas! these men are pitiless. How can they, cruel, be worshipped with the idea they are gurus, when they make themselves fall into an evil state of existence by performing sacrifices?’ With these reflections, Sāgara performed the rites at the insistence (of the ācārya), died without right-belief being found, possessing liberality and good conduct naturally, devoted to the care of wealth gained by large enterprises, and was born as this high-bred horse of yours. I came here to enlighten him. From the power of the Jina’s statue he had made in the former birth, he was enlightened at once by hearing our teaching.”

When the Blessed One had related this story, the horse was praised by the people many times and was set free by the king who asked his forgiveness. From that time the city Bhṛgukaccha became a sacred place, named Aśvāvabodha, famous among the people, very pure.

After he had finished his sermon, wishing to benefit the world, the Lord stopped one day in his wandering in Hastināpura. In this city Jitaśatru was king and there was a Jain layman, Kārtika, a merchant, the head of a thousand merchants. There was in the city a Vaiṣṇavite ascetic, wearing reddish garments, who fasted for a month at a time and was much worshipped by the citizens. At each fast-breaking he was invited by the people with great devotion, but not by the merchant Kārtika whose supreme treasure was right-belief. Devoted to searching for a weakness in the merchant, like a demon, he was invited one day by King Jitaśatru for his fast-breaking. The ascetic said, “If Kārtika waits on me, then I shall eat at your house, O king.” The king said “Very well,” went to Kārtika’s house and asked him, “You must wait on this holy man, good sir.” “Master, it is not fitting for us to do this among heretics, but this must be done at your command,” he agreed.

“If I had become a mendicant before, I would not do this,” reflecting in distress, the merchant went to the palace. The ascetic showed contempt for Kārtika while he was waiting on him by frequent pointing with his finger. The merchant was penetrated with disgust with the world from this unwilling service and together with a thousand merchants became a mendicant under the Master. Knowing the twelve Aṅgas, Kārtika kept the vow for twelve years completely, died, and was born as the Indra of Saudharma. The ascetic died also and because of ābhiyogyakarma became the elephant Airāvaṇa, vehicle. When he saw Śakra, angry, he began to run away; Śakra restrained him forcibly and mounted him. For he was lord. Then he made two heads and Vāsava became twofold, so there were as many Vāsavas as there were heads. Running away again, jealous from the former birth, he was quickly made submissive by Vajrin striking him with the thunderbolt.

Footnotes and references:


I.e., by the Śvetāmbaras.

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