by Helen M. Johnson | 1931 | 742,503 words
This page describes Sodasa (borne to king Naghusha and queen Simhika) which is the fifth 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.
In the course of time a son, Sodāsa, was borne to King Naghuṣa by Queen Siṃhikā. One day, King Naghuṣa handed over the kingdom to Sodāsa and took mendicancy, the one means to emancipation.
At the time of an eight-day festival to the Arhats in King Sodāsa’s realm, the ministers proclaimed a cessation of slaughter as in the former realms. They said to Sodāsa, “Your ancestors did not eat meat during the eight-day festival to the Arhats. You also should not eat it.” Sodāsa who had always been fond of eating meat said to his cook, “In future you must get meat secretly.” The cook could not find meat anywhere because of the cessation of slaughter that had been proclaimed. For the unlawful is not obtained anywhere by anyone, like a flower in the sky. “This failure to find meat at the king’s command worries me. What am I to do?” thinking, the cook saw a dead boy. The cook took the flesh of the same dead boy, perfected it by various arts and gave it to Sodāsa. Sodāsa praised the flesh as he ate it, “Indeed, there is a very pleasing flavor to this meat,” and he asked the cook, “This has an origin new to me. Tell me by all means of what sort of an animal is this the meat?” The cook said, “Human flesh,” and the king said, “In future, beginning today, give me human flesh daily, after preparing it.” The cook kidnaped young children daily in the city for that purpose. For there is no fear of committing crimes at the command of kings. Finding out that the king was engaged in such cruel acts, the ministers seized him and abandoned him in a forest like a serpent that has appeared in a house. Sodāsa’s son, Siṃharatha, was crowned king by them and Sodāsa wandered over the earth, eating flesh unchecked.
One day, as he wandered in the south, Sodāsa saw a great sage and asked him about dharma. Knowing that he was fit to be enlightened, the muni explained to him the dharma of the Arhats which is pre-eminent in avoidance of wine and meat. When Sodāsa had heard that dharma, he became frightened and became a very excellent layman, having become gentle in disposition.
Now, a certain king died childless in Mahāpura and Sodāsa became king there, consecrated by the five divine instruments. Sodāsa sent a messenger to Siṃharatha and the messenger said to him, “Execute Sodāsa’s command.” The messenger was dismissed by Siṃharatha, after he had abused him very much, and he went to King Sodāsa and told just what had happened. Then Sodāsa marched to fight Siṃharatha and he to fight King Sodāsa and the two fought together. After Sodāsa had defeated Siṃharatha, he took him by the hand, gave him the two kingdoms, and became a mendicant himself.
Siṃharatha’s son, Brahmaratha, became king next, then Cāturmukha, Hemaratha, Śataratha, Udayapṛthu, Vāriratha, Induratha, Ādityaratha, Māndhātṛ, Vīrasena in turn, King Pratimanyu, King Pratibandhu, King Ravimanyu, Vasantatilaka, Kuberadatta, Kunthu, Śarabha, Dvirada in turn, then Siṃhadaśana, Hiraṇyakaśipu, Puñjasthala, Kakutstha, Raghu. Among these kings some reached emancipation and some heaven.
Footnotes and references:
The first ‘black market’?
See above, n. 118.