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 in this same Bharata on Mt. Dantin near the ocean there was a Vidyādhara king, Mahendra, in the city Mahendra. By his wife Hṛdayasundarī he had a daughter, Añjanasundarī, besides a hundred sons, Arindama, et cetera. When she was grown and her father was thinking about a husband, the ministers described young Vidyādharas by the thousand. At Mahendra’s instructions the ministers had accurate pictures made on canvas of each one and brought them and showed them to him. Among these one day the minister showed Mahendra the portrait of Vidyutprabha, the son of the Vidyādhara-lord, Hiraṇyābha, and his wife, Sumanas, and the handsome portrait of Pavanañjaya, the son of Prahlāda. The king said to the minister, “These two are handsome and well-born. Which one of them is the husband for the girl?” and the minister replied: “Vidyutprabha will attain emancipation at eighteen years of age. So the astrologers have already stated clearly, master. But Prahlāda’s son, Pavanañjaya, will have a long life. So he is a suitable husband. Give Añjanasundarī to him.”
Just then all the Vidyādhara-kings and their retinues went with great magnificence to Nandīśvara for a festival. Prahlāda saw the girl and said to Mahendra, “Please give your daughter, Añjanasundarī, to my son.” Mahendra agreed, for that was his intention in the beginning. Prahlāda’s request was merely a reason.
They said, “The wedding must take place on the third day from this at the best of lakes, Mānasa,” and went to their proper places. Then Mahendra and Prahlāda went to Lake Mānasa joyfully with their households and built a house.
Pavanañjaya said to his friend, Prahasita, “You have seen Añjanasundarī. Tell me what she is like.”
Prahasita laughed a little and said: “I think Añjanasundarī is fairer than Rambhā, et cetera. Her unequaled beauty, as it is seen by the eye, can not be described by the voice even by Bṛhaspati.”
Pavanañjaya said: “The time of the wedding is far away. How can she be brought within my range of vision, friend? To those eager from love an hour becomes a day, a day becomes a month. How much more three days!
Then Prahasita replied: “Be calm. By going there at night, you will see your beloved, unobserved.” Flying up, Pavanañjaya left with Prahasita for the seven-storied palace presided over by Añjanasundarī. Concealing themselves like spies, Pavanañjaya and his friend succeeded in seeing Añjanasundarī fully. “You are lucky to get Pavanañjaya for a husband,” her friend, Vasantatilakā, said to Añjanasundarī. “Friend, who is to be praised as a husband, except the noble Vidyutprabha, who has his last body?” her friend Miśrakā said. The first one said, “Foolish girl, do you not know anything? How can Vidyutprabha with a short life be suitable for the mistress?”
The second one said, “Friend, it is you who are stupid. Even a little nectar is better than a lot of poison.”
Hearing this conversation of theirs, Pavanañjaya thought, “This is certainly agreeable to her, as she does not stop it.” Angry at this thought, Pavanañjaya drew his sword and appeared like a Rākṣasa who has suddenly risen from darkness. Saying angrily, “I shall cut off the heads of the two in whose hearts is Vidyutprabha,” Pavañañjaya started. Holding him by the arm, Prahasita said: “Do you not know that a woman, even though guilty, must not be killed, like a cow? How much more Añjanasundarī entirely innocent. She did not stop the girl talking in this improper way from bashfulness.”
Restrained by Prahasita urgently, Pavanañjaya flew up and went to his own abode and stayed awake, grieving. At dawn he said to Prahasita: “Friend, what would be the good of her for a wife? Even a servant who is indifferent is a source of trouble, to say nothing of a wife. So, come. Let us go to our own city, employing great haste. What is the good of food, even though sweet, if it does not please one?”
Even as he was saying this, Pavanañjaya started, but Prahasita held him and reasoned with him gently.
“The transgression of one’s own promise is not suitable for the great, to say nothing of a promise made by the elders who are not to be sinned against. Whether one sells for money or gives as a favor, the elders are the authority for the noble. There is no other course. Moreover, in this case there is not an atom of blame in Añjanasundarī. My friend’s heart is hurt by the fault of fate. If you go away because of your own wilfulness, brother, will you not put to shame the noble parents, hers and yours, who are well-known?”
Pavanañjaya reflected at this talk of Prahasita’s and remained as before, somehow or other, with a thorn in his heart, as it were. On the appointed day, Pavanañjaya’s and Añjanasundarī’s wedding-festival took place which was a moon to the night-blooming lotuses of their parents’ eyes. Prahlāda was honored affectionately by Mahendra and went to his own city joyfully with the bride and groom and his household.
Prahlāda gave Añjanasundarī a seven-storied palace for a home like a heavenly palace placed on earth. Pavanañjaya did not salute her even with words. For the proud do not forget a slur from any source at all. Without Pavanañjaya, like the night without the moon, her face dark from tears, she remained a receptacle of distress. The nights seemed very long, like a year, to her tossing against both sides of the couch, again and again. Giving her undivided attention, her lotus-face resting on her knee, she spent the days only with paintings of her husband. Even when her friends talked to her often with flattery, she did not abandon silence, like a cuckoo in winter.
One day, as time passed in this way, a messenger from the king of the Rākṣasas came to King Prahlāda and said:
“Now the wicked king of sea-animals (Varuṇa) is at intense enmity with the lord of the Rākṣasas, disregarding submission. Asked for homage, the wretch, a mountain of conceit, looking at his arms, said: ‘Who, indeed, is this Rāvaṇa? What has he done? I am not Indra, nor Kubera, nor Nalakūbara! I am not Sahasraraśmi, nor Marutta, nor Yama, nor Mt. Kailāsa; but I am Varuṇa! If there is arrogance on the part of the wretch because of the jewels presided over by deities, let him come and I shall remove his insolence accumulated for a long time.’
Angered by this speech, Rāvaṇa marched to battle with an army and surrounded his city, like ocean waves a mountain on the coast. Varuṇa came out of the city for battle, red-eyed, surrounded by his sons, Rājīva, Puṇḍarīka, et cetera, and fought. Khara and Dūṣana were led away (prisoners) by the heroes, the sons of Varuṇa, who had fought and captured them in this great battle. Then the army of the Rākṣasas was destroyed completely and Varuṇa entered his own city, considering his purpose accomplished. Rāvaṇa sent messengers to summon the Vidyādharas, one to each, and now I was sent to you.”
When Prahlāda himself started to give aid to Daśāsya, Pavanañjaya said to him, “Stay here, father. I shall satisfy Daśagrīva’s wish. I am your son.” Saying this persistently, Pavanañjaya obtained his father’s consent, talked with the rest of the people, and started out. Añjanā heard about her husband’s expedition from the people’s talk and, eager, came down from the top of the palace like a goddess from the zenith of the sky.
Leaning against a pillar, in order to see him, she stood like a puppet, her eyes unwinking, her heart shaken by anxiety. As he went along, Pavana saw Añjanā resting against the door-post, thin as a new moon, her forehead covered with disheveled hair, without any cosmetics, the vines of her arms, relaxed and feeble, resting on her hips, the blossoms of her lips gray without the red of the betel, her face washed with the water of tears, standing before him, her face upturned, her eyes devoid of collyrium.
Observing her, Prahlāda’s son thought at once: “Oh! the shamelessness and the fearlessness of this evil-minded woman! Yet I knew her evil-mindedness before, but I married her, afraid to disobey my father’s command.”
She fell at his feet and said, her hands folded submissively: “You have talked with every one else, but not at all with me. Nevertheless, you are asked that I should not be forgotten by you. May your paths be blessed with a quick return.”
Completely ignoring her so speaking, miserable, though with excellent conduct, Pavanañjaya went to victory. Wounded by her husband’s contempt and by separation from him, after she had gone into the house, she fell to the ground, like the bank of the Sindhu whose ground has been penetrated by water. Then Prahlāda’s son flew up like the wind, went to Bake Mānasa, and stopped there at night-fall. Pavanañjaya created a palace there and inhabited it. A vidyā of the Vidyādharas alone is a cow of plenty for all supernatural powers. Occupying his couch there on the ground near the lake, he saw the cakravāk! grieved by separation from her mate. Seeing her not eating even the lotus-tendrils gathered before, burned from the cold like hot water, pained by the moonlight like a mass of flames, crying pitifully, he reflected:
“The cakravākīs enjoy themselves with their mates all day, but are not able to endure separation from them at night. The woman who was deserted by me at the wedding, to whom I have never spoken, who was scorned, like another man’s wife, by me when I went away, crushed completely by a load of sorrow like a mountain, how, alas! will she be happy at an unforeseen union with me! Shame! Shame! She, miserable, is dying from my lack of discernment. Where shall I go, evil-faced from the sin of her murder?”
He told Prahasita these thoughts. For no one, except a friend, is a suitable person for telling one’s grief. Prahasita said: “It is well that you have realized this even after a long time. She is, indeed, perishing now from separation, like a blue crane. She is suitable for you to console even now. After taking leave of her with friendly words, you should fly again on your own business.” Urged by his friend, like his heart, agreeing with his inclination, Māruta flew up and went to Añjanasundarī’s house. Pavanañjaya stopped a little way off, just at the door, and Prahasita went ahead and entered the house. Prahasita saw Añjanasundarī there tossing on her couch like a large fish in a little water, distressed by the moonlight like a lotus by the cold, the pearls of her necklace bursting from the heat in her heart, the wreaths of hair waving from the deep sighs breathed out, with broken jeweled bracelets on her feeble and relaxed arms against the sides of the bed, being consoled repeatedly by her friend, Vasantatilakā, her eyes vacant, her mind vague, as if she were made of wood.
“Who has come here suddenly like a Vyantara?” she said to him, relying on her courage, though terrified. “Say! Who are you who have come here? Or rather, it is enough to know that you are a strange man. Do not remain here in the house of another man’s wife. Vasantatilakā, take him by the arm and put him but side. I am as pure as the moon. I can not even look at him. No one, except Pavanañjaya, has authority to enter this house of mine. Why do you hesitate?”
Prahasita bowed and said: "Mistress, by good fortune you have occasion to rejoice from meeting Pavanañjaya who has come eagerly after a long time. I am Prahasita, his friend, like Mādhava of Manmatha. I have come in advance. Know that your husband has followed.”
Añjanā said: “Do not ridicule me who have been ridiculed by Fate indeed. This is no time for joking, Prahasita. And yet this is not your fault, but the fault of my past actions—that such a well-born husband should Abandon me. How can it be otherwise? Twenty-two years have passed since the wedding when I was deserted by my husband. I, wicked, am alive even yet.”
Then Pavanañjaya, to whom the former load of her sorrow had been transferred, went inside and said, his voice choked with tears:
“From the time of our marriage you, though faultless, have been burdened with faults. You have been scorned by me, wretch that I am, ignorant, thinking myself wise. You have reached such an evil condition hard to bear from my fault, my dear. Though haying been driven to death, by my good fortune you have barely escaped death.”
Embarrassed when she had seen her husband saying this, she rose up to honor him, leaning on the rail of the, couch, her face downcast. Taking hold of her with his arm encircling her, like an elephant taking a vine with the trunk, Pavanañjaya sat down on the couch. Pavana said to her again, “You, blameless, have been troubled by me of little wit. Forgive me for that, my dear.”
Añjanā said, “Do not say this, husband. I am your slave always. Bestowing forgiveness is not suitable for me.”
Prahasita and Vasantatilakā went away. For clever people do not 'stay near when husband and wife are together privately. Añjanā and Pavanañjaya enjoyed themselves as they liked there. The night stopped at the entrance of love, like one watch. When Pavanañjaya noticed that night had become day, he said: “I am going away for conquest, wife. Otherwise, the elders will know. In future, do not worry. Remain surrounded by your friends comfortably. When I have discharged my duty to Daśāsya, I shall return, fair lady.”
She said: “That duty is certainly incumbent on you, powerful. When your duty has been performed, return quickly, if you wish me to live. Moreover, I have just taken a purifying bath. If conception should take place, in your absence slanderers would criticize me.”
Pavana said: “I shall return quickly, honored wife. When I have come, how will there be the slightest opportunity to criticize you? Yet take this ring with my name showing that I have been here. You can show it at the proper time.”
Pavanañjaya gave her his ring, flew up, and went to his camp on the shore of Lake Mānasa. Then he went through the air like a god to Laṅkā with his army and bowed to Rāvaṇa. Rāvaṇa entered Pātāla with his army and went to Varuṇa, like a newly-risen sun in brilliance.
Now, Añjanasundarī conceived on that day, and her whole body became extremely fair. Her mother-in-law, Ketumatī, saw her face with cheeks somewhat pale, her breasts dark and swelling, her gait extremely languid, her eyes wide and shining, and the other signs of conception apparent in her body and said contemptuously:
“Friend, what have you done, bringing disgrace on both families, that you are pregnant when your husband is in a foreign country, wretch! My son’s fault through ignorance in his contempt for you I knew, but for so long a time I did not know that you were licentious.”
Abused in this way by her mother-in-law, Añjanasundarī tearfully showed the ring as a token of her husband’s visit. Her face bent from shame, she was reviled again by her mother-in-law:
“How would there be any meeting with him who has not spoken your name? How can you deceive us by a mere ring? Licentious women know many kinds of deceit. Leave my house now, harlot! Go to your father’s House. Do not stay here. This is not such a place.”
Blaming Añjanā in this way like a pitiless Rākṣasī, she instructed guards to take her to her father’s house. They put her in a conveyance with Vasantatilakā, took her near the town Mahendra and, weeping, set her free. After bowing to her like a mother and begging forgiveness, they went away. For servants have the same conduct for the master’s child as the master. Then the sun set, as if pained by her pain. For the noble can not endure seeing a calamity of the noble. She passed the night miserably, awake, her ears burst, as it were, by the terrible hootings of owls, by the calls of female jackals, by the howls of packs of wolves, by the many noises of porcupines, and by the sounds of ichneumons, like concerts of Rākṣasas. At dawn she got up, wretched, and went slowly from shame, like a modest woman, to the door of her father’s house, unattended like a mendicant nun. After the door-keeper had seen her and questioned her respectfully, he told the king her condition as described by her friend. His face dark and bowed from shame, the king thought: “The conduct of women is as unpredictable as the results of destiny. Añjanā, unchaste, has come to the house to the disgrace of the family. Even a speck of collyrimn spoils a clean cloth.”
As he was reflecting thus, his son, Prasannakīrti, intent on prudence, his face becoming ungracious, said to him: “She should be sent away quickly. For the family has been injured by her. Does not a wise person cut off his finger if bitten by a snake?”
Then the minister, Mahotsāha, said to the king: “In case of trouble with the mother-in-law, the refuge of daughters is the protection of the father. Moreover, the mother-in-law Ketumatī, cruel, would banish her, though innocent, having invented some fault. Until there is an explanation of guilt or innocence, protect her here secretly Because she is your daughter, show compassion.”
The king said: “A mother-in-law is like this everywhere. But nowhere should there be such conduct of young women. Moreover, we heard in the beginning that she was disliked by Pavana. How then could her embryo originate from Pavana himself? She is certainly guilty and was properly banished by her. She must be banished from here quickly. We will not look upon her face.”
At the king’s command the door-keeper drove away Añjanā who was watched unhappily by the people lamenting and sad. Hungry, thirsty, tired, sighing, weeping, reddening the earth with blood from her feet pierced by thorns, stumbling at every step, resting at every tree, Añjanā went with her friend, making the very heavens cry out. Into whatever city or village she went, she was prevented from stopping by the king’s agents who had been there in advance.
On her wandering, she came to a large forest, sat down at the foot of a tree in a mountain-thicket, and lamented:
“Alas! From lack of consideration on the part of my elders, first there was punishment of me, unfortunate; afterwards consideration of the fault. Ketumatī, the disgrace to the family was warded off by you, well-done! Father, yon decided well from fear of the connection! The mother is the source of comfort to women in trouble. Mother, I was disregarded by you in accordance with your husband’s wish. Brother, there is no fault on your part, the father being alive. Husband, you being far away, everyone is hostile to me. Certainly, I, a woman without a husband, alone, should not live. For I, alone, live as the crest-jewel of the unfortunate.”