by Helen M. Johnson | 1931 | 742,503 words
This is the English translation of the Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Charita (literally “The lives of the sixty-three illustrious People”), a Sanskrit epic poem written by Hemachandra in the twelfth century. The work relates the history and legends of important figures in the Jain faith. These 63 persons include: the twenty four tirthankaras , the t...
Now Daśānana left Laṅkā, like the sun the slope of the eastern mountain, for an expedition of conquest. After conquering the Vidyādharas and the kings living within the continent, he went to Pātālalaṅkā. There he was humbly honored with gifts by Candraṇakhā’s husband, Khara, soft-spoken, like a servant. Khara, attended by fourteen thousand Vidyādharas, set out with Rāvaṇa who wished to conquer Indra. Then King Sugrīva with his army followed the powerful king of the Rakṣases like a fire following a wind. Daśānana advanced with unstumbling gait, with heaven and earth covered with many armies, like an agitated ocean. Then Daśānana saw the river Ṛevā flowing down from the Vindhya mountain, like a charming young woman, which had a tongue joined, as it were, by the groups of cooing marālas, adorned with hips, as it were, by the broad sandy beach, wearing curls, as it were, with the curling waves, casting glances often with the leaps of the śaphara, as it were. Daśakandhara camped on the bank of the Revā with his army like a powerful elephant-leader surrounded by his herd. He took a bath in the river, put on white clothes, set the jeweled image of the Arhat on a jeweled seat, bathed it with water from the Revā and, firmly seated in concentrated meditation, began a pūjā with blooming lotuses. Then suddenly a flood, like an ocean-wave, reached Daśagrīva occupied with the pūjā. The water advanced, uprooting trees by the roots as easily as bunches of grass, above the high banks. High waves in succession crushed like oyster-shells the boats that were tied to the banks with blows against the banks in every direction. The water filled up great caves in the banks resembling caverns in Pātāla, like food filling gluttons. The river covered the islands completely like moonlight of the full moon the aerial cars of the circle of heavenly bodies. The flood uncovered fish by its great waves advancing, like a fast wind the shoots of trees. The foamy, muddy water came swiftly and carried away the Arhats’ pūjā from Daśakaṇṭha as he was making it. More angered by the carrying away of the pūjā than by cutting off his head, Daśagrīva approached with harsh speech:
“Say! What enemy without cause released this water hard to restrain because of its speed to make an obstacle to the Arhats’ pūjā? Is some heretic-king present, or a Vidyādhara, or a demon, or a god?”
Then a Vidyādhara explained to Daśamauli: “Ahead of here there is a large city Māhiṣmatī. In it there is a powerful king, Sahasrāṃśu, like another sun, served by kings by the thousand. He obstructed the water in the Revā by a dam for the sake of water-sports. What is impossible for the powerful? Now this Sahasrāṃśu is playing comfortably in the water with a thousand queens, like an elephant with cow-elephants. His body-guards to the number of a lac, fully armed, stand on the two banks, with weapons raised like those of Hari. There is an assurance, never seen before, on the part of him having unequaled strength, so they are merely for looks, or rather, as witnesses of the action.
The water-goddesses were terrified and the water-animals were put to flight by the vigorous blows in water-sports of him, powerful. This water was surely rolled up because of the excessive obstruction and the overflow caused by him and a thousand women. After this high water had inundated both banks quickly, it submerged your pūjā to the gods here, Daśānana. Look at these remains of the garlands of his wives, actually floating on the bank of the Revā. That is the first indication. This water, very turbid from the women’s cosmetics made of musk, et cetera, is hard to restrain, O restrainer of heroes.”
At hearing this Daśānana was inflamed very much, like a fire that has received an oblation, and said:
“Listen! This pūjā to the gods was spoiled by that water spoiled by his own body by him wishing to die, like devadūṣya spoiled by collyrium. Therefore, go, soldiers of the Rākṣasas! Bind that wretch who thinks himself a soldier and bring him here, sirs, like fishermen a fish.”
Instructed emphatically to this effect, his followers, the Rākṣasa-soldiers, ran by the lacs, like extraordinary waves of the Revā. The Rākṣasas engaged in battle with Sahasrāṃśu’s soldiers standing on the banks, like elephants with elephants inside a forest. Standing in the air, bewildering very many of them by vidyās, they attacked them like clouds attacking śarabhas with hail. Seeing his men being attacked, his lip trembling with anger, Sahasrāṃśu reassured his wives by waving his hand like a pennant. Sahasrāṃśu left the Revā, like Airāvaṇa leaving the heavenly Sindhu, and strung his bow. Sahasrāṃśu, long-armed, put the Rakṣas-heroes in the air to flight with arrows, like a wind bunches of straw. When he saw that his men had been turned from the battle, Rāvaṇa himself, angered, approached Sahasrāṃśu, raining arrows. Both angry, both very strong, both determined, they fought for a long time with various weapons. Realizing that he could not be defeated by strength of arm, Rāvaṇa seized the king of Māhiṣmatī, after bewildering him like an elephant with a vidyā. Praising him as very heroic, Daśagrīva himself conducted him to the camp, very humble, considering himself conquered even though he had conquered.
While Daśānana was seated in his council, delighted, a flying ascetic, named Śatabāhu, arrived. Daśāsya left his lion-throne, took off his jeweled slippers, and stood to receive him, like a peacock a cloud. Rāvaṇa fell at his feet, touching the ground with five parts of the body, considering him equal to a gaṇadhara of the Arhats. After seating the muni on the seat offered by himself, Daśagrīva bowed to him and sat down on the ground. Like confidence embodied, a brother to reassurance of all the world, he gave him the blessing, ‘Dharmalābha,’ the mother of good fortune. The best of munis, questioned by Rāvaṇa with folded hands about the reason for his coming, replied with the harmless speech:
“I am Śatabāhu. I was king of Māhiṣmatī. I am afraid of this living in worldly existence, like a tiger afraid of fire. I bestowed my kingdom on my son, Sahasrakiraṇa, and resorted to the vow which resembles a chariot on the road to emancipation.”
When this was half-spoken, Daśagrīva said, his head bowed: “Is he your reverence’s powerful son?” The muni said, “Yes,” and Daśānana said:
“I came here to the river-bank in course of an expedition of conquest. Camp was made on that bank and, as I had made worship of the Jinas with blooming lotuses, I became absorbed in that, my mind concentrated on one object. When the pūjā was submerged by water which he caused to overflow, impure from his bathing, I did this in anger. I think he, noble, did that in ignorance. Why would your son show any disrespect at all to the Arhats?”
Saying this, Daśānana bowed and brought Sahasrāṃśu, and he bowed to his father, the muni, his face bowed in shame. Rāvaṇa said to him: “Henceforth, you are my brother. Muni Śatabāhu is my father as well as yours. Go, rule your own kingdom. Take additional territory, also. For you are a fourth to us three, taking a part of (our) wealth.”
Sahasrāṃśu, freed and so addressed, said: “For the future I have finished with the kingdom and the body.
I shall resort to the vow to which my father resorted, Which destroys worldly existence. For this road of the noble leads to emancipation.” Saying this, he entrusted his son to Daśāsya and he in his last body took the vow at his father’s feet. At the very time because of their friendship he sent word to King Anaraṇya that he had become a mendicant. The king of Ayodhyā thought, “There was an agreement between my dear friend and me that we would take the vow at the same time.” Recalling hio promise to this effect he gave his kingdom to his son Daśaratha and, having the wealth of truth, took the vow.
After paying homage to the ṛṣis, Śatabāhu and Sahasrāṃśu, Daśānana installed Sahasrāṃśu’s son on the throne and left through the air.