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...

The elder brother of Kumbhakarṇa, worshipped by King Nalakūbara, set out with his army for Rathanūpura. When he heard that Rāvaṇa was coming, wise Sahasrāra said to his son Indra affectionately because of affection for his son:

“Son, our family has reached the highest position through you, who are very powerful, being born in it, and has taken away prosperity from other families. This has been done by you by power alone. Now you must give attention to principles of policy. Power alone sometimes leads to calamity. Śarabhas, et cetera perish from power alone. The earth produces stronger than the strong. Do not be conceited at the thought, ‘I am stronger than all.’ Now a hero has appeared, the thief of all heroism, a sun in splendor, the restrainer of Sahasrāṃśu by whom. Kailāsa was easily uprooted, the destroyer of Marutta’s sacrifice, he whose mind was unshaken by the Lord of Jambūdvīpa, the Indra of the Yakṣas, who has the trustworthy spear Amoghā from Dharaṇendra, whose mind was delighted by song with the lute of his arm in the presence of the Arhat, powerful from the three regal powers,[1] haughty from two brothers like himself, like his arms, Rāvaṇa, Lord of Laṅkā, sun of the family of Sukeśa. He crushed Yama and your vassal, Vaiśravaṇa, with ease and he made a vassal of the king of the Vānaras, Sugrīva, the brother of Vālin. The younger brother[2] of him who had entered the city Durlaṅgha with its wall of fire hard to cross bound and captured Nalakūbara. Now he is approaching you, violent as the fire at the end of the world. He must be calmed by the rain of nectar of humility, not otherwise. Offer him your beautiful daughter, Rūpavatī. So you will have the best alliance because of the connection.”

When he had heard this speech of his father, he said angrily:

“How can one’s own daughter be given to him, an enemy? Besides, the hostility with him is not recent, but inherited. Remember that my father Vijayasiṃha[3] was killed earlier by his adherents. What I did to his paternal grandfather, Mālin,[4] I shall do to him. Let the wretch come! Do not be timid from affection. Depend on your natural fortitude. Do you not know your son’s strength which you have always seen?”

As he was saying this, Daśakandhara, irresistible, came and surrounded his city, Rathanūpura, with an army. First, Daśāsya, whose strength was celebrated, sent a messenger, who approached Indra and said to him confidently:

“Whatever kings are here who are proud of their vidyās and strength of arm, Daśakandhara must be worshipped by them coming with gifts, et cetera. Through Daśakaṇṭha’s forgetfulness and because of your simplicity, so long a time as this has passed. Now it is time for devotion to him from you. Show devotion to him or show your power now. If you are lacking in devotion and power, in that case you will perish.”

Indra said: “Rāvaṇa has been worshipped by wretched kings, so he is crazed (with pride). Even crazed, he asks for a pūjā. Just as the time for Rāvaṇa’s happiness has passed, so the time, having the form of death, is present now for him. Go and show me your mister’s devotion or power. If he is deficient in devotion and power, he will perish in that case.”

When Rāvaṇa had been so informed by the messenger, he, harsh from anger, very impetuous, armed himself and all the soldiers. Indra armed himself quickly and left Rathanūpura. For heroes can not endure a lot of conceit in other heroes. Vassals with vassals, soldiers with soldiers, generals with generals of the two armies fought together. There was a conflict between the two armies raining weapons, like Puṣkarāvarta clouds at the end of the world. Saying, “What is the use of these wretched soldiers being killed like flies?” Rāvaṇa himself mounted the best of elephants, Bhuvanālaṅkāra, his bow strung for battle, and attacked Indra seated on Airāvaṇa. Indra’s and Rāvaṇa’s elephants met, weaving magic snares over each other’s faces, as it were, by coilings of their trunks. The two elephants, having great endurance, struck tusk against tusk, making sparks fly as if from rubbing a fire-stick. A row of golden circlets fell to the ground at once from their tusks from their blows against each other as if from the arms of women separated from their husbands. Streams of blood flowed from their heads crushed by the blows with their tusks, like streams of ichor from their cheeks. Now with darts, now with arrows, now with hammers Rāvaṇa and Indra fought like the two unequaled elephants. Very powerful, they ground missiles to pieces with missiles mutually. One was not inferior to the other, like the east and west ocean. The two of them, who had been initiated in the ceremony of battle, fought with magic missiles which quickly participated in the state of oppressed and oppressor like a general rule and the exception. While the two elephants, Airāvaṇa and Bhuvanālaṅkāra, were closely joined like two pieces of fruit on one stalk, Rāvaṇa, knowing tricks, leaped from his elephant, went to Airāvaṇa, killed the mahout, and captured Indra as well as the Indra of elephants. The elephant was entirely surrounded below by the Rakṣas-soldiers making a loud noise from joy, like a piece of honey by bees. When Śakra (Indra) had been captured by Rāvaṇa, his army fled in all directions. When the lord has been conquered, the soldiers are surely conquered. Rāvaṇa led Indra with Airāvaṇa to his own camp and he himself became chief in the two rows (of cities).

Then Daśakandhara returned to Laṅkā, threw Śakra into prison, like a parrot into a wooden cage. Sahasrāra, with the regents of the quarters, came to Laṅkā, bowed to Rāvaṇa, his hands folded submissively like a footman, and said:

“We are not ashamed because we were conquered by you, powerful, who lifted up Kailāsa as easily as a piece, of rock. You being such as you are, a petition is not a reason for shame at all. So I ask you: release Śakra and give me the alms of a son.”

Rāvaṇa said: “If I free Śakra, he with the regents and attendants must always do such work (as this). He must constantly keep the city Laṅkā everywhere as clean from grass, wood, et cetera, as the floor of a house. At every dawn he must sprinkle the city all over with divine perfumes like a cloud[5] with water, having made a waving of garments. After gathering and tying flowers himself always, like a gardener, he must present them on suitable occasions of the gods, et cetera. So performing various tasks, your son may take his kingdom again and rejoice in my favor.”

Sahasrāra said, “He will do so,” and Rāvaṇa released Śakra from his prison and entertained him like his own brother. Returning to Rathanūpura, Indra was exceedingly depressed. For loss of prestige to those having prestige is harder to bear than death.

One day a jñānin, Nirvāṇasaṅgama, stopped there and Indra went to pay him homage.

“Blessed One, because of what act did I suffer this humiliation from Rāvana,” asked by Śakra, the muni said:

Footnotes and references:

1.

See II, n. 117.

2.

Bibhīṣaṇa.

3.

Really his uncle.

4.

His great-uncle.

5.

Celotkṣepam. PE interprets celotkṣepa as a ‘rain of clothes,’ and it is often so interpreted, I believe. But Hemacandra makes it plain in other passages that he does not mean a shower of clothes, but a waving of garments. See 1. 3. 300, where there is a comparison with chauris, 2. 3. 291, 3. 1. 308, 3. 2. 115. One MS has the reading celaknopam, which has some appeal.