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...

One day Añjanā bore a son, his feet marked with the axe, goad, and discus, like a lioness bearing a superior lion. Vasantatilakā looked after her birth-rites with fuel, water, et cetera collected joyfully by herself. Añjanasundarī took her son on her lap, grieving, tearful, making the cave cry out, as it were, cried out, “What kind of birth-festival can I, wretched, devoid of merit, make for you born in this forest, noble one?” A Vidyādhara, Pratisūrya, saw her crying, approached, and in a gentle voice asked her the cause of her sorrow. Then her friend, weeping, told in detail the reason for Añjanā’s grief from the time of the marriage up to the birth of her son. Weeping, he said at once: “I am the lord of Hanupura, son of Sundarīmālā, younger brother of Citrabha, brother of your mother Mānasavegā, child. Thank heaven! I have seen you while you are still living. Be comforted for the future.”

After knowing that he was her uncle, she wept more and more. Generally grief becomes renewed at the sight of a friend. After he had stopped her crying, Pratisūrya asked an astrologer, who had come along, about the son’s birth, et cetera. He said:

“This child, possessing merit, born at a moment when auspicious planets prevailed, will certainly be a great king, and will reach emancipation in this same birth? Likewise, this lunar day is favorable, the eighth of the dark half of Caitra, the constellation is Śravaṇa, the lord of the day (of the week) is the Sun. The Sun is in Aries, having resorted to a high house, the Moon stands in Capricorn in the middle house, Mars is in Taurus in the. middle house, Mercury is in the middle house in Pisces, Jupiter is presiding over the highest house in Cancer, Venus is high in Pisces, and Saturn is in the same. All this is auspicious at the ascendency of Pisces in the division of time, named Brahman.

Pratisūrya put his niece with her friend and son into the best of aerial cars and started for his city. The child wished to take hold of the little bells of the high jeweled garlands hanging in the car and jumped up from his mother’s lap. He fell on the top of the mountain like a thunderbolt that had fallen from the sky. The mountain was reduced to pieces from the destructiveness of his fall. At once Añjanāsundarī beat her breast with her hand and, screaming, made the caves scream with echoes. Pratisūrya flew down rapidly, picked up his niece’s child and returned him uninjured like a deposit that had been lost. Pratisūrya went with them in his aerial car Manovega to the city Hanuruha, which celebrated immediately. He conducted Añjanā to his own house joyfully, set her down there, and the women of the harem honored her like’ a household-goddess who had come.

Since he had come to the city Hanuruha as soon as he was born, the uncle gave the name Hanumat (Hanuman) to her son. And because the mountain had been reduced to powder by his fall from the car, he gave him another name also, Śrīśaila. Hanumat grew up, playing happily, like a young rājahaṃsa in a bed of lotuses in Mānasa.

Añjanā was always sad, like one with an internal dart, at the thought, “The guilt that was laid upon me by my mother-in-law, how will it leave?”

Now Pavana made peace, released Khara and Dūṣaṇa from Varuṇa, and satisfied Rāvaṇa. Then Rāvaṇa and his followers went to Laṅkā; Pavana took leave of him and went to his own city. After bowing to his parents, he went to Añjanā’s house and saw that it was without Añjanā, like the moon without moonlight. “Where is Añjanā, my wife, the sight of whom is nectar-like collyrium for the eyes?” he asked a woman who was there. She explained: “A few days after you had gone on your expedition, she was banished by Ketumatī because she was pregnant. She was taken near Mahendranagara by guards and turned loose in a forest by the scoundrels, terrified like a doe.”

After hearing this, Pavana went to his father-in-law’s town with the speed of the wind, eager for his wife, like a pigeon. Not seeing his wife, he asked a young woman, “Has my wife Añjanā come here or not?” She replied, “She came here with Vasantatilakā, but she was banished by her father because of immoral behavior.” Struck by those words like a thunderbolt, Pavanañjaya wandered about on mountains, in forests, et cetera to search intensively for his wife. He did not find any news of her and he said in despair, like a god crushed by a curse, to his friend Prahasita:

“Friend, go tell my parents that up to now I, wandering over this earth, have not seen Añjanasundarī anywhere. But I shall search for her, wretched, in the forest. If I find her, very well; if not, I shall enter the fire.”

So instructed, Prahasita went quickly to Ādityapura and gave the message to Prahlāda and Ketumatī.

Ketumatī, struck to the heart by hearing that as if by a stone, fell to the ground in a faint and said, after she had regained consciousness: “Has he, determined on destruction, a friend (of yours), been left alone in the forest with this cruel intention, Prahasita? Yet she, entirely innocent, was banished by me, giving orders without reflection, wicked. The consequences of imputing guilt to her innocent are realized by me right here. For even in this world the consequences of extremely strong good and evil are felt.”

Prahlāda stopped her crying somehow or other and went with troops to search for his son as well as Añjanā. He sent men to all the Vidyādhara-kings who were his friends to search for Añjanā and Pavana. Looking for his son and daughter-in-law with the Vidyādharas, he himself, whose haste was apparent, went to the forest Bhūtavana in his wandering. In the meantime Pavana had prepared a funeral-pyre in the forest, and had lighted it when Prahlāda saw him. Pavana stood near the pyre and said:

“O gods of the forest, I am the son of the Vidyādhara-king, Prahlāda, and Ketumatī. My wife Añjanā, a virtuous wife, though without fault was mistreated by me, evil-minded, from the time of the wedding. Leaving her, I went on an expedition on my master’s business. Finding out by chance that she was without fault, I flew back again. After enjoying her freely and leaving her a token, I flew back to camp without my parents’ knowledge. When my wife became pregnant from my fault, she was banished by my elders fearful of guilt (or her part). Where she is now is not known. Now she innocent in the beginning, has suffered a cruel lot from the fault of ignorance on my part alone. Shame! shame on an ignorant husband. I have wandered over the whole earth searching for her thoroughly; but I, unfortunate have not found her, like a jewel in the ocean. So now I shall sacrifice this body of mine in this fire. The fire of separation as long as I live is unbearable to me living. If you see my wife, tell her this, ‘Your husband has entered the fire because of separation from you.’”

After this speech, Pavana flew up in the air to jump into the blazing fire on the funeral-pyre. After hearing that speech, Prahlāda quickly took him by the arms and pressed him eagerly to his breast. “What is this obstacle to my death, the remedy for the pain of separation from my wife?” Pavanañjaya said. Prahlāda said tearfully: “I, your father, am the criminal, who allowed the banishment of an innocent daughter-in-law. That one thing was done in the first place by your mother without thinking. Do not do a second. Be firm. You are intelligent. Vidyādharas have been sent by me by the thousands to search for the daughter-in-law, son. Wait their arrival.” At that time some of the Vidyādharas that he had sent went to Hanupura, looking for Pavana and Añjanā. They described to Pratisūrya and Añjanā Pavana’s determination to enter the fire from grief at separation from Añjanā. Añjanā heard that speech painful to hear and, crying, “Oh! I am killed,” fell to the ground in a faint, as if she had drunk poison. Sprinkled with sandal and water, fanned with palm-leaf fans, she became conscious, got up, and cried in a pathetic voice:

“Faithful wives enter the fire from grief over a husband, for life is a source of pain to them without a husband. But to wealthy husbands who enjoy thousands of women, grief for a wife is only temporary, so why enter the fire? This has become reversed in the case of you entering the fire, while I, alas! live even in separation for so long a time. Now this difference between you, very noble, and me, little noble, is noticeable, like that between a sapphire and a piece of glass. This is no fault of my parents-in-law, no fault of my father. Such a fault is because of the karma of unfortunate me, no one else.”

Pratisūrya enlightened her crying and put her with her son in his best of cars and went in search of Pavana. He came in his travel to that same forest, Bhūtavana, and was seen at a distance by Prahasita, tearful. Prahasita told Prahlāda and Pavanañjaya triumphantly that he (Pratisūrya) was coming immediately with Añjanā. Then Pratisūrya and Añjanā got out of the car and bowed to Prahlāda at a distance, their heads touching the ground from devotion. Prahlāda embraced Pratisūrya, set his grandson on his lap, and said earnestly in a loud voice: “You alone have rescued me and my family who were drowning now in the ocean of disaster. You are a relative at the head of relatives. This daughter-in-law who had become a joint of the bamboo of my family, a means for the continuance of the branches, abandoned without fault (on her part), was well-rescued by you.”

Pavana, delighted, the fire of grief having been extinguished, was turned away at once from the shore of disaster like the ocean. All the Vidyādhara-lords held a great festival, the moon to the ocean of joy, by the power of vidyās. Then all went joyfully to the city Hanuruha, making the sky composed of heavenly bodies, as it were, by their aerial cars. Mahendra also came there with Mānasavegā and Queen Ketumatī and all the other relatives came. The lords of the Vidyādharas held a great festival, finer than former festivals, with mutual connections and relatives. Then taking leave of each other, all went to their respective cities. Pavana with Añjanā and Hanumat (Hanuman) stayed there.