Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Story of origin of animal sacrifices which is the eighth part of chapter II of the English translation of the Jain Ramayana, contained within the “Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra”: a massive Jain narrative relgious text composed by Hemacandra in the 12th century. This Jain Ramayana contains the biographies of Rama, Lakshmana, Ravana, Naminatha, Harishena-cakravartin and Jaya-cakravartin: all included in the list of 63 illustrious beings or worthy persons.

Part 8: Story of origin of animal sacrifices

“There is a city, Śaktimatī, famous throughout the world. It is adorned by the river Śaktimatī like a pleasure-companion. When many kings had come and gone since Munisuvrata of good vows, Abhicandra, best of kings, was king in this city. Abhicandra had a son, Vasu by name, very intelligent, known for speaking the truth. Under the guru Kṣīrakadamba, his son Parvataka, Prince Vasu, and I—the three of us—studied. One night when we were asleep on the top of the house from fatigue from study, two flying ascetics were talking to each other, as they went through the air. Kṣīrakadambaka heard, ‘One of these will go to heaven, but the other two will go to hell.’

Hearing this, Kṣīrakadamba was crushed and thought: ‘Oh! oh! With me as a teacher, two of my pupils will go to hell. Which one of these will go to heaven and which to hell?’ Wishing to know this, the teacher summoned the three of us at the same time. The guru gave each one of us a dough-cock and said, ‘Kill these where no one sees.’ Vasu and Parvataka went to deserted places and destroyed the dough-cocks as well as a state of existence beneficial to themselves. I went to a very distant place outside the city, stopped in a spot without any people, looked in all directions, and thought: ‘Though the order was given by the guru, “Son, you must kill this cock where no one sees,” he (the cock) sees, I see, and the Khecaras see, the Lokapālas see, and the jñānins[1] see. There is no place where no one sees. “The cock certainly must not be killed,” is the meaning of the guru’s speech. The reverend guru, compassionate, always averse to injury, surely gave this command to test our intelligence.’

With these reflections I returned without killing the cock and explained to the guru the reason for not killing the cock. The guru embraced me with pride, thinking, ‘He will go to heaven,’ and said, ‘Well done! Well done!’ Vasu and Parvataka returned later and said, ‘We killed the cocks where no one could see.’ The guru reviled them, O wretches, you saw in the first place; the Khecaras, et cetera saw. Why were the cocks killed?’ The idea of teaching forgotten because of that pain, the teacher, thought: My trouble in teaching Vasu and Parvata was wasted. The teaching of the guru develops here according to the recipient. Rain-water becomes pearls or brine according to the difference in place. My son Parvataka is dear to me; Vasu is dearer than a son even. They will go to hell. So enough for me of being a householder.’ From disgust with existence at these thoughts, the teacher became a mendicant then and Parvata sat at his feet, expert on occasion of exposition. As I had become expert in all the sciences by favor of the guru, I returned to my own place then.

Abhicandra, the moon of kings, took the vow at the proper time and then Vasu became king, equal to Vāsudeva in splendor. He acquired a reputation through the world, ‘He tells the truth,’ and he spoke only the truth in order to protect his reputation.

Then one day a hunter, who was deer-hunting, shot an arrow and it stumbled on the intervening slope of the Vindhya. He went to find out the reason for the arrow’s stumbling on it and, touching it with his hand, found it was atmospheric crystal. He thought: ‘I think I saw the deer moving somewhere else reflected in this, like the shadow of the earth reflected in the moon. Unless you touch it, this is not observed at all. Surely this is suitable to give to King Vasu.’ The hunter went to the king secretly and told him about the stone. The king accepted it with delight and gave him much money. He (the king) had a base for his throne made from it in secret and had the artisans killed. For kings are subject to no one. The king of Cedī’s lion-throne was set on this base and the people believed that it stood in the air from the power of truth: ‘Pleased by the truth, gods attend him,’ and so his strong reputation spread over the world. Kings, terrified by his reputation, submitted to him. For reputation, whether true or false, conquers men.

Footnotes and references:


This would include persons with the 3 higher kinds of knowledge. See I, pp. 201 ff.

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