Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

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

Part 5: Story of Namuci and Viṣṇukumāra

Now in the city Ujjayinī Śrīvarman was king and he had a well-known minister, named Namuci. One day, Ācārya Suvrata, initiated by Munisuvrata, tame to this city in his wandering and made a halt. King Śrīvarman, occupying the top of his palace, saw the people going from the city with great magnificence to pay homage to him. The king, whose mind was transparent, asked Namuci, “Where are the townspeople going with great magnificence when there is no religious procession?” He replied, “Some ascetics have come to a garden outside. They are going in haste to honor them with devotion.” “We also shall go,” the king said, and Namuci answered, “If you wish to hear dharma, I myself will teach it.” The king said again, “We shall go there, certainly.” The minister said: “The master must occupy an impartial position. I shall silence them all and defeat them in debate, for the learning of the heretics is spreading even among the common people.”

After this speech the king, the minister, and all the royal household went to Ācārya Suvrata, with various thoughts. Speaking as they liked, they asked the munis about dharma, but the munis remained silent at their loud speeches. Then Namuci, angered, blaming the teaching of the Arhats, said to the sūri, “Look! Do you know anything worth while?” Ācārya Suvrata said to the minister though rude, “If your tongue itches, then we shall talk about something.” Then a disciple said to Ācārya Suvrata: “It is not fitting for you yourself to talk with this man thinking himself learned. I shall defeat him in debate. Do you look on, having become only a spectator. Let him, a learned Brāhman, speak. I shall demolish his argument thoroughly.”

The Doctor Namuci, his voice harsh from anger, said: “Impure heretics, always outside of the three Vedas, you are not fit to live in our realm. That is my thesis. What is said by you in reply?”

The.disciple replied: “They know sexual pleasure to be impurity. One devoted to it, he to be sure is a heretic, outside the three Vedas. In the three Vedas this is the meaning: a water-jar, a mortar, a grindstone, a fireplace, a broom—these five means of slaughter lead to sin on the part of householders. The ones who make use of these instruments of slaughter, they certainly are outside the Vedas. How are we, deprived of these five means, outside the Vedas? For us free from sin, living among sinful people like Mlecchas of the lowest castes is not suitable.”

Contradicted in this way by the disciple with good arguments, the minister went to his own place, and the king, and the king’s attendants. During the night the minister got up, furious like a Rākṣasa, blazing, as it were, with excessive anger, and went to kill him. He was transfixed by a charm at once by the messenger-goddess,[1] like a serpent charmed by a snake-charmer, and was seen by the astonished people at daylight. When the king and many people had seen the miracle and had listened to dharma, they became quiet like elephants free from rut.

Because of the humiliation Namuci went to Hastināpura. For a foreign country is the place for proud persons who have been humiliated. The heir-apparent, Mahāpadma, made him his own minister. For when the minister of another king approaches, kings are eager.

Now, King Siṃhabala lived on the border, very strong because he occupied a fortress, like a Rākṣasa occupying the sky. He attacked Mahāpadma’s kingdom repeatedly and entered his own fortress again, and no one was able to capture him. Then Mahāpadma, angry, said to the minister Namuci, “Do you not know any means of any kind of capturing Siṃhabala?” He replied, “How shall I utter the words, ‘I know,’ Your Majesty? The reproach, ‘He shouts defiance at home,’ is easily gained by those boasting at home. After I have employed a device, I shall show it to the master by results alone. Even the learned are timid about explaining their plans.”

Immediately instructed by Mahāpadma with delighted heart, he went to the fortress (of Siṃhabala), unstumbling like the wind. By a clever plan he broke into the fortress, captured Siṃhabala, like a lion a deer, and went to Mahāpadma. Filled with joy, Mahāpadma said, “Choose a boon,” and the minister Namuci said, “I shall take a boon at the proper time.” His object accomplished, Mahāpadma looked after his duties as heir-apparent with Namuci as minister very well.

Footnotes and references:


The goddess attendant on the Tīrthaṅkara, but she assists others also. If any one prays for assistance with faith, he will receive it. These śāsanadevatās hold office until others come. Mahāvira’s śāsanadevatās are still on duty.

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