Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra

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

This page describes Story of Kirtidhara and Sukoshala which is the third part of chapter IV 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.

Now in the city Nāgapura lived King Ibhavāhana and his wife? Cūḍāmaṇi, and daughter, Manoramā. When she had reached rising youth, Vajrabāhu married her with a great festival, like the moon marrying Rohiṇī. He took Manoramā and started for his city with his wife’s brother, Udayasundara, accompanying him from devotion. As he went along, he saw the great muni, Guṇasāgara, practicing penance on Mt. Vasanta, like the sun on the eastern mountain, powerful with the brilliance of penance, looking up like a spectator of the road to emancipation, engaged in endurance of the sun’s heat. Delighted at seeing him, like a peacock at the sight of a cloud, the prince halted his mount at once and said:

“Look! Some noble muni worthy to be honored has been seen by me, like a wishing-gem, because of great merit.” Udayasundara said, “Prince, do you wish to take mendicancy?” He said, “That is my thought.” Udaya said again in a joke, “If that is your intention, then do not hesitate now. I will be your companion in this.” The prince said, “Do not abandon this agreement of yours, like the ocean its shore,” and he said, “Certainly not.”

The prince got down from his vehicle like delusion and climbed Mt. Vasanta, accompanied by Udayasundara and others. Then the son of Ibhavāhana said to Vajrabāhu: “Master, do not become a mendicant today. Shame on me joking. It was a joke on our part. What fault is there in its transgression? For a joke is generally not true, like auspicious songs.[1] You will be a companion even in all misfortunes. Do not destroy our families” hopes suddenly in this way. Now there is this auspicious ribbon[2] on your wrist. How can you abandon suddenly the pleasures that are the fruit of this marriage? How will Manoramā, deceived by the taste of worldly happiness, live, abandoned like grass by you, lord?”

Prince Vajrabāhu said to Udayasundara: “Fair fruit of the tree of human birth is a characteristic of good conduct. Even your joke became the highest good for us, just as rain-water in Svāti[3] becomes pearls in pearl-oysters. If your sister is well-bred, she will take mendicancy; if not, good luck to her. But enough of pleasures for me. Give your approval of the vow for me and do you follow us. Surely the keeping of an agreement is the family-religion of kṣatriyas.”

After enlightening Udaya in this way, Vajrabāhu approached the sage Guṇasāgara, an ocean of the jewels of virtues. Vajrabāhu became a mendicant at his feet, and also Udaya, Manoramā, and twenty-five princes.

When King Vijaya heard that Vajrabāhu had become a mendicant, he became disgusted with existence at the thought, “He, though a boy, is better than I.” Then Vijaya installed his son, Purandara, in his kingdom and took the vow under Muni Nirvāṇamoha. Purandara put on the throne his son, Kīrtidhara, borne by Pṛthivī, and became an ascetic under the sage, Kṣemaṅkara. Then King Kīrtidhara enjoyed pleasures of the senses with his wife Sahadevī, like Purandara with Paulomī.

One day, when he was desirous of becoming a mendicant, the ministers said to him: “Taking the vow is not suitable for you while you have no son. If you take the vow, childless, this earth will be without a lord. So wait until you have a son, master.”

Then in the course of time a son, Sukośala, was borne by Sahadevī to Kīrtidhara who had remained a householder. Sahadevī concealed him as soon as born with the idea that “My husband will become a mendicant, if he knows that the boy has been born.”

The king found out about the boy even though hidden. Who is able to conceal the sun when it has risen? Their the king, expert in his own good, put Sukośala on the throne and took the vow under Sūri Vijayasena. Practicing severe penance, enduring the trials, he went elsewhere in his wandering which was solitary by permission of his guru.

One time, after he had fasted for a month, he came to Sāketa to break his fast and wandered about in it at noon for alms. Sahadevī, who was on the roof of the palace, saw him and reflected: “When he, my husband, became a mendicant, I was bereft of a husband in the past. If my son Sukośala should become a mendicant now after seeing him, then I would have no son. After that, I would be deprived of husband and son. Therefore he, ‘though innocent of crime, though my husband, though an ascetic, must be banished from the city because of a desire to preserve my son’s government.”

With this thought, the queen expelled him with the other ascetics. How long would there be discernment on the part of minds overcome by greed? Sukośala’s nurse wept unrestrainedly, when she knew that her master observing the vow had been expelled from the city. Asked by King Sukośala, “Why do you weep?” she explained in words choked from grief: “Your father, Kīrtidhara, put you on the throne, when you were a child, and became a mendicant. Today he entered this town for alms. Your mother had him expelled because she was afraid you would take the vow now at the sight of him. I am weeping because of this sorrow.”

After hearing that, Sukośala went into his father’s presence, his hands folded submissively, his soul disgusted with existence, and asked him for the vow. His wife, Citramālā, who was pregnant, came with the ministers and said, “Master, you ought not to abandon the kingdom without a master.” The king said, “A son of yours by me, though in your womb, has been installed on the throne, noble lady. For usage is like the past.”

After saying this and talking with all the people, Sukośala became a mendicant under his father and practiced severe penance. Free from selfishness, free from passions, the father and son, great munis, wandered together, purifying the earth. Grieving at the separation from her son, Sahadevī, absorbed in painful meditation, died and became a tigress in a mountain-cave. Ṇow, the two munis, Kīrtidhara and Sukośala, their minds subdued, free from attachment to their own bodies, devoted to study and meditation, remained in a mountain-cave to pass the four months of the rainy season, having a well cared-for appearance. When the month Kārtika came, as they went to break fast, they were seen on the road by the tigress, who was like an evil messenger of Yama. The tigress ran toward them swiftly with her mouth yawning. From afar the approach of enemies and friends is the same. Even when the tigress attacked them, the two excellent Jain ascetics who were engaged in picus meditation remained in kāyotsarga. The tigress fell like lightning on Sukośala first and knocked him to the ground by the blow of her leap from a distance. Splitting his skin repeatedly with the hooks of her nails with the sound, ‘caṭat, caṭiti,’ wicked, she drank his blood unsatisfied, like a desert-traveler drinking water. After tearing his flesh again and again with her fangs with the sound ‘traṭat, traṭiti,’ she devoured it like a poor woman a cucumber. Cruel, she made his bones the guests of her teeth, making the sound ‘kaṭat, kaṭiti,’ like an elephant crunching sugar-cane. Thinking, “She is an assistant in the destruction of karma,” the muni did not blench, but had a coat of mail of hair erect from joy all over. While he was being eaten by the tigress, he reached pure meditation and, omniscience having arisen at that time, Muni Sukośala reached emancipation. Muni Kīrtidhara, whose omniscience had arisen, in turn reached the place which is the abode of pure happiness.

Footnotes and references:


Such as are sung at weddings. Cf. 1. 2. 786.


The wedding-ribbon.


See I, n. 107.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: