Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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...

Asked by Daśamukha, “Who is this Mahākāla?” Nārada related: “There is a city here, Cāraṇayugala. Its king was Ayodhana and his wife’s name was Diti, and they had a beautiful daughter, Sulasā. Summoned by her father to her svayaṃvara, all the kings came and King Sagara was first among them. At Sagara’s command a woman door-keeper, named Mandodarī, went to King Ayodhana’s palace every day. One day Diti went into a plantain-house in the palace-garden with Sulasā and Mandodarī went also. Wishing to hear their conversation, Mandodarī clung to the creepers. Diti said to Sulasā:

‘Child, there is great anxiety to me in this svayaṃvara of yours. The choice depends on you. So listen to the whole thing from the beginning. There were two sons of Ṛṣabha Svāmin, Bharata and Bāhubali, who had descendants, whose sons were Sūrya and Soma. My brother, Tṛṇabindu, was born in the Soma-line; your father, King Ayodhana, was born in the Sūrya-line. Ayodhana’s sister, Satyayaśas, became the wife of King Tṛṇabindu and their son was Madhupiṅgala. I wish you to be given to him, fair maiden, but your father wishes to give you to a husband chosen at a svayaṃvara. I do not know whom you will choose. This is a worry to me. You must choose my nephew among the kings.’

Sulasā agreed to her instructions and Mandodarī told King Sagara what she had heard. Sagara instructed his family-priest, Viśvabhuti, and he, a poet, immediately composed a treatise on the characteristics of kings. In this he wrote in such a way that Sagara became endowed with all royal characteristics and Madhupiṅgala was devoid of them. He put the book in a box as if it were ancient and took it into the royal council one day at the king’s command. At the beginning Sagara said that whoever was deficient in proper characteristics according to this book when it was read should be killed and abandoned by every one. As the priest read the book, Madhupiṅgala became ashamed because he was lacking in proper characteristics. Madhupiṅgala went away and Sulasā chose Sagara. The wedding took place at once and they all went to their respective homes.

Madhupiṅgala practiced foolish penance because of his humiliation and died; he became an Asura, named Mahākāla, lord of sixty thousand. Then he knew by clairvoyance Sagara’s scheme which was the cause of his own humiliation in Sulasā’s svayaṃvara. The Asura said, ‘I will kill King Sagara and other kings also,’ and, as he was looking for opportunities, he saw Parvata at the river Śuktimatī. Then he assumed the dress of a Brāhman and said to Parvata, ‘I am a friend of your father, named Śāṇḍilya, noble sir. Formerly, Kṣīrakadamba and I together studied with the wise teacher Gautama. Hearing that you had been injured by Nārada and the people, I came. I shall make your side successful, bewildering every one by charms.’

Together with Parvata the Asura bewildered the whole people by means of wicked practices to make them fall into an evil state of existence. He produced afflictions, such as diseases, bhūts, et cetera, everywhere among the people and made them free from afflictions when the opinion of Parvata had been adopted. By the instructions of Śāṇḍīlya Parvata allayed illness and, as he had benefited them repeatedly, he fixed the people in his opinion. The Asura created diseases, severe and very numerous, in Sagara city, harem, and attendants. Even Sagara turned to Parvata because of the people’s confidence and he with Śāṇḍīlya allayed diseases everywhere.

What he taught:

‘Drinking wine in the Sautrāmaṇī[1] is not wrong according to the rules. Illicit relations with women must be practiced in the sacrifice named ‘Gosava.’[2] In the mātṛmedha the mother must be killed and in the pitṛmedha[3] the father must be killed at the sacrificial-ground; and there is no sin in it.

After making a fire on the back of a tortoise, one should satisfy (the fire) with an oblation, after saying, “Hail to Juhvaka,” zealously. When a tortoise can not be found, then a Brāhman should throw the oblation, having lighted a blazing fire on the head, resembling a tortoise, of a pure Brāhman, bald, of a tawny color, motionless, immersed in pure water up to his mouth.[4]

Everything is one and the same god: what has been; what will be; who is lord of immortality; what grows by food.[5] Since there is one god, who perishes here? Hence, kill as many animals as you like in the sacrifice. Eating of their flesh must be done in the sacrificial rites by the one sacrificing repeatedly. For an act committed at the direction of the gods is pure.’

By him advising in this way Sagara was converted to his doctrine and had animal-sacrifices made in Kurukṣetra, et cetera in the sacrificial-ground. Having begun, he made the sacrifices at the coronations of kings, et cetera, and the Asura showed those killed in sacrifice occupying heavenly palaces. Then the people converted to Parvata’s opinions, trusting him, fearlessly made sacrifices consisting of injury to animals. I saw that and said to a Vidyādhara named Divākara, ‘All the animals at the sacrifice must be taken away by you.’ He agreed with me; (but) when he took the animals in the sacrifice, a base god, a Paramādhārmika, knew it. Mahākāla set up a statue of Ṛṣabha to destroy his vidyā and the Khecara stopped (rescuing the animals). Then I went elsewhere silently, my scheme having been destroyed; and he encouraged Sagara in the sacrifices by deceit. He sacrificed Sagara with Sulasā in the sacrificial fire and, his purpose accomplished, Mahākāla went to his own abode. Thus sacrifices consisting of injury to animals were made by the Brāhmans through Parvata, a mountain of wickedness. They must be stopped by you.”

Daśānana consented to that, bowed humbly to Nārada, asked his forgiveness because of Marutta and dismissed him.

Footnotes and references:

1.

See Śatapathabrāhmaṇa, Kāṇḍa V. 5. 4 and XII. 7. ff., SBE, XLI, XLIV.

2.

For the Gosava, see p. 157 of Caland’s Das Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa in Auswahl; II. 113 of original. Also Garbe’s Śrautasūtra’of Āpastamba, 22.13.

3.

Pitṛmedha is the oblation made to the Pitṛs and is described in the Śatapathabrāhmaṇa XIII. 8. 1. ff. (SBE, XLIV), But it is a description of funeral rites and does not involve the slaying of a father or mother. I have not been able to find an explanation of this statement. See Appendix I.

4.

The sacrifice of a tortoise appears in the building of the fire-altar, but it does not correspond with this. See Śata. Br. 7. 5. 1. (SBE, XLI). The rest of the rite here corresponds very closely with Taitt. Br. 3. 9. 15. But that concerns the aśvamedha and a tortoise has nothing to do with it. I can not locate any rite to which Hemacandra’s description applies. See Appendix I.

5.

This is Ṛgveda 10. 90. 2.